Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DragonLight by Donita Paul (And Giveway)

***Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy. Deadline is Wednesday August 6 at midnight. ***

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

DragonLight

(WaterBrook Press - June 17, 2008)

by

Donita K. Paul



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Donita is an award-winning author of the Dragon Keeper Chronicle series including DragonFire and DragonKnight.

When not writing, she is often engaged in mentoring writers of all ages. Donita lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado where she is learning to paint–walls and furniture! Visit her website at www.dragonkeeper.us.



ABOUT THE BOOK
The fantastic land of Amara is recovering from years of war inflicted on its citizens by outside forces–as well as from the spiritual apathy corroding the Amarans’ hearts. With Kale and her father serving as dragon keepers for Paladin, the dragon populace has exploded. It’s a peaceful, exciting time of rebuilding. And yet, an insidious, unseen evil lurks just beneath the surface of the idyllic countryside.

Truth has never been more important, nor so difficult to discern.

As Kale and her father are busy hatching, bonding, and releasing the younger generation of dragons as helpers throughout the kingdom, the light wizard has little time to develop her skills. Her husband, Sir Bardon–despite physical limitations resulting from his bout with the stakes disease–has become a leader, serving on the governing board under Paladin. When Kale and Bardon set aside their daily responsibilities to join meech dragons Regidor and Gilda on a quest to find a hidden meech colony, they encounter sinister forces. Their world is under attack by a secret enemy… can they overcome the ominous peril they can’t even see?

Prepare to experience breathtaking adventure and mind-blowing fantasy as never before in this dazzling, beautifully-crafted conclusion to Donita K. Paul’s popular DragonKeeper Chronicles fantasy series.

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


"DragonLight is a delight, but I wouldn't expect anything less from the marvelous Donita K. Paul. I heartily recommend her books to all ages who love inspirational fantasy and wonderful creatures. Ms Paul not only supplies imagination and talent, she provides heart and soul. Another winner!"
~KATHRYN MACKEL, author of Boost


"Donita K. Paul is amazing! DragonLight has the allegorical depth to satisfy the most discerning adult seeking spiritual depth, yet it is fun enough to fascinate a child. This book will enthrall, uplift, and if allowed, change lives--as we are gently drawn to realize that each of us is flawed and must have patience with other flawed believers."
~HANNAH ALEXANDER, author of Double Blind

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Classics Bookclub hosted by 5 Minutes for books

Classics Bookclub

I am joining another somewhat reading challenge. This one is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. With this challenge a different book considered to be a classic will be picked for every month and on the first Tuesday of that month a discussion will take place.

From their website:

So here's the challenge:

Read or re-read the book in question (this month it's Pride and Prejudice).

If you'd like write a "before" post stating why you are reading the book, or what your impressions are going into it, feel free.

Whether or not you write a before post, link up your after post on the day in question. Our host (this month it's Lisa) will give you some questions to ponder or address in your wrap-up post if you'd like.

If you'd like to visit and comment on other's wrap-up posts, you can truly enjoy the virtual book club.

So, grab the book and start reading! On September 2 you'll find us here waiting for you to share your thoughts. Lisa will post some questions sometime the week before if you'd like a little guidance.

What's On Your Nightstand?

5 Minutes for Books is hosting a What's On Your Nightstand? Meme every fourth Tuesday of the month. You can take pictures and post them or write a description etc. of what books are on your nightstand.


I took pictures(somewhat blurry and off centered ;) I took the books off my nightstand and put them on my bed to take the picture. Then I took a picture of the books on my dresser. And then I took a picture of the books on my shelves that are TBR just for extra.



Little Baby is my reading buddy. :)










On that shelf only the ones that are stacked are in the TBR pile. The ones behind vertical I have read. The two shelves above that are in the TBR pile and yet I still keep buying books. ;)

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Pattillo



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and his/her book:


The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society

WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth Pattillo is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and holds a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University. She and her family make their home in Tennessee. Her novel, Heavens to Betsy, won the prestigious RITA award from the Romance Writers of America. The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is her fourth novel.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073944
ISBN-13: 978-1400073948


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One

Over the top of her reading glasses, Eugenie Pierce eyed the teenage girl sprawled across two chairs at the long table in the Sweetgum Public Library’s reading area. Late afternoon sunlight spilled through the tall windows and fell like a spotlight on the youthful offender. The city council could make noises about forcing Eugenie to retire in six months’ time, but that didn’t mean she would neglect her library in the interim. Not that it was her library personally. It belonged to the good citizens of Sweetgum, Tennessee. But the library had been in her care for almost forty years, and no teenager since the Nixon administration had put his or her feet anywhere but on the floor, where they belonged.

Eugenie moved a step closer to the girl and continued to stare. Usually her narrowed gaze moved mountains—or at least wayward adolescent limbs. But this child was not so easily motivated. Another two steps, sensible pumps tapping against the tile floor, and now Eugenie stood within three feet of the girl.

“Ahem.” She resorted to clearing her throat. Still the girl did not respond. Eugenie moved closer. She tapped the table in front of the girl and cleared her throat again.

“What?” The girl looked up, rolled her eyes, and slumped even lower. She had those white wires hanging from her ears, which meant she wasn’t reading but listening to that awful rap music. The girl finally pulled one of the buds from her ear. “I said, ‘What?’ ”

“Please take your feet off the chair,” Eugenie replied, snipping each word. She lowered her glasses to the tip of her nose and looked pointedly at the girl’s cheap plastic flip-flops and black-lacquered toenails. True, none of the furniture in the Sweetgum Public Library was anywhere near new, but every stick of it was in pristine condition.

“I’m not hurting anything.” The girl spoke too loudly because of the remaining bud wedged in her right ear.

“Shh. You’re disturbing the other patrons.” Granted, the only other people in the library at the moment were Mr. and Mrs. Hornbuckle, who couldn’t hear a train wreck between them, but it was the principle of the thing that mattered. A library was a holy place, like church, and you wouldn’t find people sitting in a house of worship with their feet on the pews and headphones jammed in their ears. At least not in Sweetgum.

The girl looked around, saw the Hornbuckles, and laughed. “You’d have to shoot off a cannon to disturb them.” Eugenie sighed. She wasn’t up for this. Maybe Homer Flint and his cronies were right. Maybe it truly was time for her to retire. She’d had the same conversation with four decades’ worth of teenagers. Her track record, of course, spoke for itself. She’d steered any number of wayward youth onto the straight and narrow, although lately not as many as she used to.

“Library patrons do not put their feet in the chairs. And please turn down the volume on your CD player. Others may not share your taste in music.”

The girl bristled. “It’s an iPod.”

“A what?”

“An iPod. Not a CD player.” The scorn in her voice shouldn’t have bothered Eugenie. But she was tired of people who treated her as if she was an ignorant civil servant instead of a well-educated woman with a master’s degree in library science.

And then she saw the book lying on the table in front of the girl.

Knitting for Beginners.

Eugenie eyed the girl again. “Do you knit?” she asked in a slightly kinder tone. Eugenie was a firm believer in productive activities, and if this girl was a knitter, perhaps she wasn’t such a lost cause after all.

“Huh?” Finally, the girl removed the remaining bud from her other ear. “What’d you say?”

“Are you a knitter?” Eugenie gestured toward the book on the table.

The girl stiffened, her mouth tightening as if she’d bitten into a lemon. “Why do you care?”

“Well, if you knit,” Eugenie said patiently, “you might be interested in a group that meets the third Friday of every month at the Christian church. The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society. All knitters are welcome.” Although she silently wondered just how welcome the other women would make this grungy girl feel. The ties that bound the group were tenuous at best, yet Eugenie managed to hold them together by sheer dint of will.

The girl shoved the book away. “I was just looking at it.” The angry defensiveness of the girl’s reply caught Eugenie off guard.

“I merely intended to—” But she stopped herself before she could utter the fateful word. Help. I merely intended to help. The unfinished sentence lay between them, unspoken but entirely present. The girl’s blue eyes narrowed in her round face. She shoved a hank of dirty blond hair off her forehead with one hand. “I don’t need your help.”

And then Eugenie heard the telltale rustle of paper from underneath the table.

“What’s that?”

More rustling. The girl’s face turned red. “Nothing.”

Eugenie reached out and took the knitting book. With practiced efficiency, she flipped through the pages. She saw immediately where the little heathen had defaced Knitting for Beginners.

“You’ve ruined it.” Disgusted by the jagged edges where the pages had been ripped from the binding, Eugenie snapped the book closed. “You’ll pay to replace it.”

But despite the iPod—Eugenie had heard they were quite expensive—the girl didn’t look like she had enough money to buy a decent pair of shoes, much less replace a hardback book.

“I didn’t do it. It was already like that.” The girl spoke too loudly, not because of her headphones but because she was lying.

Eugenie extended one hand. “The pages, please.” The girl stared back, mutinous, before finally giving in.

“Here.” She pulled the wad of glossy paper from beneath the table and thrust it at Eugenie, who took the pages, glancing down to see what the girl had torn from the book. A pattern for a scarf. Why hadn’t she simply checked out the book if she wanted the pattern?

“I’ll look up the price and let you know what this will cost. There are processing fees in addition to the cost of the book.”

“It doesn’t matter.” The girl slumped farther still in the chair. “I don’t have any money.”

“What’s your name?” Eugenie asked. “I’ll need your parents’ names as well.” She knew the girl heard her question because her cheeks went pale beneath the smear of blush that failed to cover the thicket of freckles.

“I don’t have any parents.”

Again, Eugenie could tell she was lying. “Then who is responsible for you? A relative?”

The girl turned her head away. A library was also similar to a church in that it often provided shelter for lost souls. Temporary shelter for the most part, but Eugenie had found that everyone from latchkey children to battered wives and lonely senior citizens might wander into her library on any given day.

“If you can’t give me the name of the adult who’s responsible for you, I’ll have to call Theda Farley over at Family Services.”

The girl’s head whipped back around to Eugenie. “Don’t you dare.” She scrambled out of the chair. Eugenie might be old enough to retire, but she was still spry. With a quick snag, she caught the girl’s arm.

“Hey! You can’t touch me!”

“Young lady, in my library, I can do as I see fit.”

“This is child abuse!”

“You’ve ruined one of my books. You don’t have the money to pay for it, and you won’t tell me who you are. Perhaps I should call the police.”

The girl’s kohl-smeared eyes widened. “All right. All right. I’ll tell you my name. Just no cops.”

Eugenie held in a sigh of relief. She wouldn’t have called the police anyway, not for so minor an infraction, but the girl didn’t have to know that.

“So what is your name?” Eugenie demanded, releasing the girl’s arm.

“Hannah.”

“Hannah what?”

“Hannah Simmons.”

The name rang a bell. “You’re Tracy Simmons’s daughter?” She knew Tracy. Wild. Promiscuous. She’d had her first child, this child, at sixteen. That was the thing about a small town like Sweetgum. Everyone knew everyone else’s business, unless of course you knew how to be very, very discreet. Tracy Simmons had been the antithesis of discreet.

“Tracy’s my mom. So what?”

Well, that explained the tattoos the child had drawn up and down her arms with ballpoint pen, the too-tight tank top, and the cheap flip-flops. She was definitely her mother’s daughter.

And then Eugenie remembered something else. A hazy picture of Tracy Simmons when she was eight years old, sitting on the floor between the stacks in the juvenile section of the library, her dirty blond head buried in a book. Her mother would drop her off at the library for hours at a time, at least until Tracy had entered junior high school, developed a figure, and been left elsewhere to fend off the attention of adolescent boys. Within a couple years, she’d become one of those girls who rode around the town square on a Saturday night in the back of a pickup, a bottle in a plain brown bag in one hand and a cigarette in the other. By then it had been a long time since she’d darkened the door of the library. Tracy was one of the few who had escaped Eugenie’s influence. The memory startled Eugenie, and it changed her mind about how to handle Hannah’s debt.

“If you can’t pay for the book, you’ll have to work off the cost.”

“What?” Hannah had chewed off most of her metallic pink lipstick, leaving only a rough stain around the edges of her mouth.

“You’ll have to do some work for me here at the library to pay for the book.”

Her eyebrows shot up. “You can’t make me work. I’m thirteen. What about child labor laws?”

Eugenie smiled. “Well, you’re welcome to call the police if you think I’m violating the law.”

Hannah’s shoulders slumped. “You’re evil.”

Now Eugenie could laugh. “No, Hannah. I’m not evil.”

She paused for effect. “I’m a librarian.”

“So what do I have to do?” Hannah demanded, one hand on a bony hip that jutted out. “Shelve books, sweep, stuff like that?”

“For today, yes.”

Hannah scowled. “I have to work for more than a day?”

“We’ll start with an hour a day on weekdays and a halfday on Saturday.”

“You’re kidding. For how long?”

“For as long as it takes.”

The girl grumbled, but she didn’t protest further. Eugenie thought she looked secretly relieved. Something to do after school. A way to get out of the house on Saturday. Both were probably a blessing to Tracy Simmons’s daughter.

“And one other thing.” Eugenie looked down at the torn pages in her hand. “You have to participate in the Knit Lit Society.”

“I don’t want to be in your nitwit society.”

“And I don’t think you have a choice.”

“They won’t want me.”

“Of course they will,” Eugenie answered, but she spoke with more confidence than she felt. “They’ll help you learn to knit as well as broaden your mind through reading.” Eugenie’s words were met with silence.

“What do you like to read?”

Again silence.

“What were your favorites when you were younger?” she persisted. “Little Women? The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?” She couldn’t remember this Hannah coming to the library before, now that she thought about it.

“I never read any of those.”

“A Little Princess? Pollyanna?” Eugenie asked with rising incredulity.

Hannah shook her head. “I tried that one about the girl on the mountain. You know, the one where her mother died and she went to live with her grandfather.”

Eugenie was afraid she could see the appeal Heidi might have held for Hannah. “Well then, I think I know what the Knit Lit Society will be reading next.” She turned toward the information desk and motioned Hannah to follow. “Come on. We’ll start with some dusting. After I close up, we can walk over to Munden’s Five-and-Dime to buy some yarn and needles.”

“I told you I don’t have any money.”

“You can work the needles and yarn off as well. Besides, the Knit Lit Society meets tomorrow evening, so you’ll need them.”

“My mom won’t let me come down here on a Friday night.”

Eugenie doubted that Tracy Simmons cared about Hannah’s whereabouts on a Friday night. Or any other night for that matter. The last Eugenie had heard, Tracy worked as a cocktail waitress at a seedy bar on the outskirts of Sweetgum.

“You leave that to me,” was all she said in response to the girl’s protest. She stepped behind the circulation desk and reached into a cubby for a dust cloth. “Here.” She held it out to Hannah. “Start in the fiction section over there with the A’s. And when you see Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, pull it out. That will be our first book.”

Hannah’s eyes widened. “I can’t read that by tomorrow night.”

“Of course not. That will be next month’s selection.

Tomorrow you’ll just meet the other members of the society. And learn to knit.”

Hannah looked skeptical. “Whatever.” But in spite of her resistance, she took the dust cloth.

“Don’t forget the lower shelves,” Eugenie admonished as she walked away.

Half an hour later, Eugenie looked around to find Hannah Simmons sitting on the floor between the stacks of the Sweetgum Public Library, her head buried in a copy of Little Women, a forgotten dust cloth on the floor beside her. Eugenie watched the girl from behind the information desk and allowed herself a small, satisfied smile.

Now all she had to do was convince the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society to welcome their newest member.

From Publishers Weekly

Take five knitters, put them in a book club, expand it to include a rebellious teen and you've got this agreeable "yarn" by Pattillo. Eugenie Pierce is a 60-something "tough love" librarian in Sweetgum, Tenn. who finds the neglected 13-year-old Hannah Simmons tearing out pages of a library book. In reparation, Hannah must attend Eugenie's "Knit Lit Society" at Sweetgum Christian Church. Pattillo offers a mélange of additional characters: Merry McGavin is an overwhelmed mother; single gal Ruthie Allen is 55 and at odds with her sister, Esther Jackson; Camille St. Clair is a 24-year-old committed to caring for her terminally ill mother. All five women harbor secrets that Hannah's presence in the group will prompt them to reveal. Though the plot can be predictable, the story grows smoothly in Pattillo's competent hands. As each woman's situation comes to a crisis point, the tension never escalates past a gentle simmer. Pattillo, a Rita Award-winning writer author (Heavens to Betsy) creates a sweet story of redemption that will go down well with knitters as well as the knitting-challenged. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Review: I loved this book. I have the desire to learn to knit now and join a book club. I laughed, I gasped, and I wanted to cry in parts- this book evoked those emotions and more. This is a great book that explores the relationships between five knitters who are in a book club together and how they evolve. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Falcon and the Sparrow by M. L. Tyndall


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Falcon And The Sparrow

(Barbour Publishing, Inc - August 1, 2008)

by

M. L. Tyndall



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she's only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption



ABOUT THE BOOK
When Mademoiselle Dominique Dawson sets foot on the soil of her beloved homeland, England, she feels neither the happiness nor the excitement she expected upon her
return to the place of her birth. Alone for the first time in her life, without family, without friends, without protection, she now faces a far more frightening prospect, for she has come to the country she loves as an enemy-a spy for Napoleon.

Forced to betray England or never see her only brother alive again, Dominique has accepted a position as governess to the son of Admiral Chase Randal, a harsh man, still bitter over the loss of his wife. Will Dominique find the strength she needs through God to follow through with the plan to rescue her brother? Will Chase find comfort for his bitter heart in God's arms and be able to love again?

And what new deceptions will they both find in France when they arrive to carry out their plan?

If you would like to read an excerpt of The Falcon And The Sparrow, go HERE

Organic for Health by Sandy Powers


Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: iUniverse, Inc. (December 24, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0595473083
ISBN-13: 978-0595473083

Book Description
Organic for Health explains in detail the toxic pesticides and fertilizers that are used in growing conventional foods and the detrimental role they are playing in our family's health. Studies have shown malignancies in children are linked to the pesticide residues in our food. Over forty antioxidant-packed recipes are included in Organic for Health to help fight diseases and boost the immune system.

My Review
This is a very informative book. It does not take long to read. It has lots of recipes to try. I feel convicted but still unfortunately am eating junk food. I really know better since I have two biology degrees also. Not sure what it is going to take to get me to do what I know I need to do. I admire other people who have made the leap and are doing good.

About the Author
A breast cancer survivor, Sandy Powers turned to organic foods to heal her liver and fight breast cancer recurrence. Sandy and her husband, Mike, live in Englewood, Florida, where they enjoy chasing after their grandsons.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Salon July 27, 2008

The Sunday Salon.com
* Even though I only read one book today at least it is a great one. I had a busy Saturday so I did not read any. I am going to the beach on Friday(August 1) so hopefully I will read tons of books and have lots of new reviews.

* I read book four in the Kanner Lake series by Brandilyn Collins- Amber Morn. I highly recommend the whole series. It is full of suspense and sometimes a little romance. She is known for seatbelt suspense. When I start one of her books I know I will not be able to put it down.
*ABOUT THE BOOK
The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”
* ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences. Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Websiteto read the first chapters of all her books

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Southern Reading Challenge 2008 Wrap Up

I loved all three of my choices for this challenge. Being a southern girl I have read many great books set in the south for school and fun. So it was hard and not so hard to narrow the list down to three. I already had these three in my to be read soon pile. I was looking forward to all of them.

I read:
Bayou Judgement by Robin Caroll
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2008/06/update-7.html

Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White -See my review here
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2008/07/controlling-interest-by-elizabeth-white.html

She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2008/06/she-always-wore-red-by-angela-hunt-and.html

I recommend all of them!

Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White



THERE'S TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY

Matt Hogan's Memphis detective agency has been on the skids since a recent attack of conscience cost him an important case. When a wealthy investor steps in and saves River City Investigations, Matt thinks all his prayers have been answered until he finds out that with the investor comes a new partner.Fresh out of criminal justice school and a two-year stint in the Tunica County Sheriff's Department, Natalie Tubberville is out to prove she can cut it in the world of private investigations. But her reluctant partner is just as determined to have nothing to do with her until Natalie makes him an offer he cant refuse! If Matt solves the next case before she does, she will return her share of the company.And the race is on. As two strong personalities compete, mutual attraction grows while a simple case of a runaway bride threatens to become an international incident. Will Matt and Natalie call off the competition or discover an entirely new arrangement?
My Review: I eagerly anticipated this novel. Matt Hogan is a secondary character from Off the Record and I loved that book. Eddie Tubberville is the new silent partner in Matt's struggling detective agency but his daughter Natalie is a budding cop/detective so he arranges for her to work with Matt. Natalie is a pretty blond with a knack for getting herself in awkward situations. Matt is def. not happy with having a working partner especially her. The case he is working on involves a missing Pakistani bride to be. To make things more complicated she is an oil Barron's princess daughter. Her husband to be Jarrar Haq does not seem to be who he says he is. This novel is full of suspense, romance, mystery, action, and humor. I love this combination especially from this author. I highly recommend this book and the first Off the Record.

About the author:
Elizabeth White (www.elizabethwhite.net) is the author of Controlling Interest, Off the Record, Fair Game, Fireworks, and the Texas Gatekeepers series for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line. She lives in Mobile, Alabama.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Be Last by Jeremy Kingsley



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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




Today's Wild Card author is:




and his book:


Be Last

Tyndale House Publishers (Jun 15 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Touching the hearts of more than 65,000 people a year, Jeremy Kingsley is passionate about seeing the lost come to Christ and the saved walk more intimately with Him. Jeremy, the founder and president of Onelife Ministries, is a highly respected teacher and one of the most sought-after speakers today. He has interacted with hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and has also been involved in ministry in Africa, Mongolia, India, and Central America. His servant spirit, transparent heart, and deep love for Jesus challenge listeners to live authentic lives dedicated to Christ. Jeremy and his wife, Dawn, live in Columbia, South Carolina, with their sons, Jaden and Dylan.

Visit him at his website.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


1

How Do I Become Great?

“Being Last” by Living a Life of Service

What tops your list of things that you’re good at? Is it writing or cooking or dancing or accounting or music? Are you an accomplished engineer or the chairman of a board or a decorated athlete? Maybe you’re the guy who can fix any computer problem or the woman who can parallel park on any street in the city. The options for showing off what you do well are nearly endless.

But being good at something and being great at it are not the same. There is a difference between having strong skills and being great with those skills. The same is true for our Christian experience. Maybe you’re known as “pretty good,” a Christian who can teach well or sing well or lead well or memorize well or serve well. Have you ever wanted your Christian experience to become great? Maybe you’re not even very good at following Jesus right now but you still want to become great. That kind of hunger usually resides in those who have met Jesus and have seen how amazing he is.

When you think about your Christian experience, would you call it “great”? Would you say that you have achieved “greatness” or at least are headed in that direction? The question may be a bit too hard to ponder, but the quest for greatness is a topic worth pursuing. Of course, there is no way to determine the “greatness” of one’s life with Christ until we define the word itself. And that can be a difficult task because our presumed definitions are often skewed by the surrounding culture’s values.

When it comes to business, music, or sports, greatness is easier to define. For example, the statement that Michael Jordan was a great basketball player is hardly contestable. His six championships, Olympic gold medal, MVP awards, appearances on All-Star teams, scoring records, and game-winning shots prove it. His actions and awards place him above all his competitors. Boxer Muhammad Ali, football receiver Jerry Rice, and golfer Tiger Woods have accomplished similar feats in their own sports, feats that demonstrate greatness. But how do we define greatness in the Christian life? Can checking stat sheets and lists of awards provide a clear standard for evaluating the greatness of a Christian? How do I become great?

Is it worth expending the energy required to experience God’s great life for us? Well, if I’m defining greatness, I don’t know whether it’s worth pursuing. And if you’re defining greatness, I’m not sure you’ll want to chase an arbitrary idea that you made up for yourself. But if the greatest One of all defines greatness for us, we would be wise to learn what he says—and the greatest One who has ever lived has spoken about greatness. The King of kings and Lord of lords has told us how we should approach the journey toward greatness. So just like golfers who pay thousands of dollars for instruction from Tiger or computer software engineers who listen intently to Michael Dell, we should drop everything and tune into Jesus’ approach to greatness.

God’s Cheering Section

The John 12:41 the writer explains that the prophet Isaiah saw and described the glory of Jesus in Isaiah 6. So if we want to get a taste of how great Jesus was before he came to earth as a human being, we should check out what Isaiah saw in his vision of the Messiah’s glory hundreds of years before Christ came. It may take a little time for us twenty-first-century Americans to understand how profoundly Isaiah’s vision depicts Jesus’ greatness, but stick with me, and I’ll try to explain. First, let’s see what Isaiah 6:1-4 says:

It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

Words certainly do not do justice to what this experience would have been like for Isaiah. One moment he is praying, and the next moment he is swept into a vision of the Lord himself. He sees the inside of God’s heavenly home—a temple different from the one Solomon built on Mount Zion because of the giant throne in it—and he encounters a sanctuary full of creatures bringing down the house with their alternating chants focused on Jesus.

In this vision Isaiah sees a room filled with seraphim. Now these are not the type of angels who look human or your classic “two wingers.” These are special beings that have three pairs of wings. Each pair of wings has a specific purpose. When these beings are in the presence of Jesus, they use one pair of wings to cover their faces out of humility. With the second pair they cover their feet out of respect. They use the third pair to maintain flight. Apparently it takes specially designed body parts to give Jesus the honor he deserves when you’re in a room filled with his magnificence.

The job of the seraphim is simpler to describe than their unique physique. The seraphim have only one reason to exist: to tell God all the time how awesome he is. All they do is shout back and forth, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” and let their chants about his global glory blow up the decibel meter. They were created to be his constant cheering section, like a “divine dawg pound”! What a life! Imagine constantly getting to cheer for your favorite sports team in its home stadium and knowing that your team is the eternally undisputed world champion.

Do you understand what all this hoopla means? These heavenly beings have been created for the single purpose of chanting and cheering about Jesus’ glory. That’s all they do. Think about it. You’ve got to be indescribably great if angels have been created just to shout about you forever. Suppose you went up to one of these angels and asked, “Excuse me, Angel 3058, what is it that you do?”

Angel 3058 would reply, “I yell about how amazing Jesus is.”

If you asked him, “What do you do after work?” he’d say, “There is no ‘after.’ I just keep calling out how great Jesus is.”

If you begged him to come help you with something, he’d have to respond, “I can’t stop telling Jesus how amazing he is. We’re about to start the MVP chant, and there’s just no way we can have one less voice publicizing God’s fame. I’ve got to go!”

That gives Jesus the right to define greatness for us if he desires.

When Does Jesus Teach Us How to Become Great?

If Jesus is so great, then he knows that we need him to show us how to become great. A few times in his life would have seemed prime opportunities for him to do that. Maybe his birth would have been a great time? If he was going to teach us how to be great, he should probably have started off his time on earth with a grand entrance. Christmas morning should have been more like the Fourth of July, with fireworks coming out of heaven to light up the whole earth. Jesus should have flown in like a comet whose blazing light dwarfed the radiance of the sun so that every human being would have been awakened by his arrival and overwhelmed by the warmth of his presence. Then he could have ordered his seraphim posse to start up a universal chant and shake the atmosphere with their shouts of his holiness. The ensuing light, heat, and earthquake would certainly have moved all the people on the planet to cover their eyes, tremble in awe, and acknowledge that someone greater than all others had descended on their world.

He could have been born in a palace to a great king and queen. Lived in the most luxurious “crib” ever built. Had silk diapers, cashmere blankets, the purest baby food, gold teething rings—the whole nine yards. But nothing of the sort happened. Jesus took an entirely different approach.

Instead, he came out of Mary’s womb to an audience of animals in a small Judean town called Bethlehem. His parents were from Nazareth, a town in the Galilean backwoods with a reputation for producing nothing good (see John 1:46). His adoptive dad was a blue-collar worker struggling to make an honest shekel, and his mom got pregnant with him before she was married. That had to have had people talking—a pregnant girl “showing” before the wedding. That was not a great situation. To all appearances, Jesus came on the scene like just one more illegitimate child, born into a poor backwoods family, with little hope of doing anything great in his life. Remember, there was no room for him in the inn. But suppose there had been room in the inn. What if you had been born in a Motel 6? Would that be embarrassing to you, or humiliating? Well, Jesus didn’t even get that. When he was born, his mother laid him in a manger, a feeding trough for farm animals. Why would Jesus—the One with angels created to tell him how great he is—come to earth that way, birthed around smelly farm animals and dung droppings? Now God did supply angels to make a special announcement to a group of local shepherds, but otherwise the world went on essentially undisturbed. Only some rich guys from the Far East saw any other sign that the glorious One had come to earth. Few people even knew he had come. That just doesn’t seem to communicate greatness.

If Jesus’ greatness was not revealed in a big way at his birth, then maybe that revelation came during his adult life? The closest we do come to an event where Jesus reveals his glory on earth is the Transfiguration. As Mark 9 records, Jesus took three of his disciples and went up on a mountain, where he was transformed into a figure shining with glorious light. The disciples who were with him fell down in awe and could only stumble for words. They were getting a view of Jesus’ true glory and didn’t know how to react. At one point Peter even asked if they could build shelters for Jesus and his two glorious companions, Moses and Elijah, to inhabit.

For the three disciples, this experience would have been a lot like Isaiah’s experience. Is that what Isaiah saw? They got to see God’s glory glowing around Jesus and hear the thunderous voice of the Father say, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him” (Mark 9:7).

And we should. But seeing a bit of Jesus’ glory for a few moments was different from having him teach the disciples how to be great. All of his miracles—healing the blind, bringing people back to life, walking on water, and casting out demons—showed his greatness, but then Jesus was fully God and fully human. What about giving us humans a chance to be great? Where was the recipe for greatness?

The friends Jesus made and the people he touched showed no signs of having achieved greatness through meeting the right people in places of power and influence. Jesus himself was actually known as a friend of low-life Jews who collected taxes for the oppressive Roman government. He spent time with drunks and prostitutes in his effort to call Israel back to holiness. He did not wine and dine at fancy Roman parties or get chummy with the priests who controlled the Temple and ran the Jewish law courts. His compatriots were anything but great, and he did more to make the famous and powerful leaders of Roman Palestine angry at him than he did to win their respect and honor. So he certainly did not teach us how to be great by working his way up the ancient corporate food chain into a place of authority and prominence.

So if not at his birth and not throughout his life, maybe he would teach us greatness during his final entrance into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover, just a few days before he died? That would have been a great time to show us. He could have slowly gathered a mass of followers who would all rise up and crown him king when he entered the city. He could have taken a patient and covert approach that waited until enough people recognized his greatness before he called on them to declare it publicly in word and deed. In this approach, the disciples could have organized music and choirs. There could have been a Jewish army of 500,000 soldiers and an angelic army of one million, with other followers dressed in fancy robes and carrying banners. All of these could have descended on the city in full battle array with a thousand chariots and great stallions leading the charge. Now that would have been great!

But no such rise to greatness occurred during the Triumphal Entry. Instead of a parade of chariots and stallions leading an army marked by banners proclaiming Jesus’ kingship, Jesus came waddling down the Mount of Olives toward Jerusalem on a young donkey. Instead of a band with music echoing through the valley, a crowd of ordinary people came out, shouting his praise and throwing branches and clothes on the ground in front of him. Those with power and influence in Jerusalem gave him no respect, and a few Pharisees even told Jesus to make his little followers stop shouting. Although his small band of followers showed their support, Jesus did not show us how to unleash greatness and ascend to status and prestige at just the right time in one’s career. He came to a city where influential people plotted his death.

In our search to find out where Jesus teaches us how to become great, we seem to be running out of time. He didn’t seem to show us how to do it when he came on the earthly scene or while growing up here, and he didn’t seem to show us how to do it when he arrived at Jerusalem for his final days. Or did he? He certainly had a ministry full of great acts, but he spent most of his time with the poor and rejected elements of the Jewish population instead of working his way up to the top. But now, with only days left before his death, there’s another chance. Do you remember? He broke up a conversation among his disciples about who was the greatest, and he dropped a huge bombshell: The last will be first. The humble person is the greatest. Jesus had actually been showing us the whole time, from his birth all the way to this point. But he had been saving a special final lesson for the night before his death. And now for everyone who had missed it being displayed his whole life, he would show us very plainly how to become great.

Getting Down and Dirty

In John 13 we find Jesus around a table with his disciples for the Last Supper. They have all just come in from a day of ministry in the dusty streets of Jerusalem. Their feet are dirty, and there is no servant to wash the filth from them. So Jesus picks up a towel, gets some water, and decides to be the humble servant among his disciples.

Now the other men in that room knew how inappropriate it would be for any of them to touch one another’s feet, much less the One who had angels created to praise him! The job of foot washing was saved for the lowest of the low, the servants of the servants. Only the least important, most underprivileged people—in other words, those who had been born poor, among a bunch of farm animals—got stuck with that duty. In fact, rabbinic documents show that rabbis and Pharisees in the time after Christ would force their disciples to serve them in every way that slaves would serve their masters except for one thing: They were never, ever to touch anyone’s feet. That was simply too demeaning for any “respectable” human being to endure.

So the statement Jesus made by washing his disciples’ feet would have been profound. He had said before that greatness came from humbling oneself. He had said, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first” (see Matthew 19:30), but now he was showing it. He was getting down and dirty. Most kings get served. His greatness would not be achieved by working his way up through the political or religious ranks. He did not try to schmooze powerful people or gather an armed crowd that could rise up against the establishment and make him king. His greatness was being worked out as he went out of his way to serve those around him. In a move that ran counter to his culture, he descended to greatness.

Do I Know How to Serve?

When I was twenty-two, I spent a couple of years as an intern under Adrian Despres, an itinerant evangelist with Kingdom Building Ministries and the current chaplain for Steve Spurrier and the University of South Carolina Gamecocks football team. I was under the impression that the internship was designed to help me improve as a speaker. I traveled with Adrian to different speaking events all over the world to see what he could teach me about effective communication.

To my chagrin, I found myself attending a bunch of events for my “speaking internship” but never speaking. Adrian would invite me along, tell me where to sit, and then have me listen to him. Eventually he let me start introducing him before I took my seat, but still I didn’t get a chance to speak. I constantly wondered whether I had misunderstood the point of the internship. Did Adrian not know that he was supposed to help me become a better communicator, a professional speaker, and not a better audience member? He did finally carve out a one-minute opening spot where I could share a story before sitting down, but that hardly gave me a chance to warm up before taking my seat.

As I kept tagging along to different events, I became more and more bewildered about how I could learn to improve my communication skills. Instead of speaking and getting his feedback, I got to participate in his strange “rituals” before and after his presentations on stage—offstage actions that I thought had nothing to do with speaking. Sometimes we would arrive early at a camp or a church, and he’d have me set up tables and chairs, maybe even vacuum or volunteer in the kitchen. Adrian was the kind of guy who picked up trash and put away shopping carts that other patrons had left scattered around the parking lot. I tried to remind him that “people get paid to do those jobs,” but he didn’t much care. He would say, “I know. I just want to help ’em out!” Those “rituals” were part of his approach to life and ministry. Maybe somehow these things were linked to Adrian’s speaking ministry.

One day, about a year into my internship, Adrian asked if I thought my internship was going okay. On the inside I was thinking, Not really! How in the world can I get better at speaking if I don’t speak? Doesn’t practice make perfect or something like that? Of course, I didn’t come out and say those things. I just answered his inquiry with an affirmative and waited for an explanation. That’s when he said something that I’ll never forget: “Before we started this whole thing, I knew you could speak. I didn’t know if you could serve.”

Adrian’s comments changed my life. I wanted to be a great speaker. Adrian wanted me to be great spiritually.

Let those words ring in your head for a while, and fill in the blank with whatever you are good at. I know you can organize; I just don’t know if you can serve. I know you can set up a network in a day; I just don’t know if you can serve. I know you can lead a Bible study and pray in public; I just don’t know if you can serve. I know you are good at any number of things; I just don’t know if you can serve.

You see, Adrian knew that humility + service = greatness. Prideful people usually don’t serve unless they do it out of wrong motives. Do you know how to be last? Let that question sink into your conscience. Let it measure your true greatness. And ask yourself, If someone tested you for the next year on whether or not you were a humble servant, what would that person find? Would you show yourself to be great? Would you imitate Jesus and descend to greatness? Or do you have trouble taking a backseat and being last?

I Came to Serve

Jesus’ ultimate act of humility is described in a poetic formula that Paul likely borrowed from a first-century hymn. The song tells the story of Jesus in his glory making the tough choice to get down and dirty on earth as a human servant. Paul writes, “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8). What “divine privileges” did he give up? Jesus did not give up his deity. But he did give up his rights to full glory, complete majesty, a sinless environment, and continuous praise. The Greatest gave all that up to be last.

When you think about it, Jesus gave up majesty for a mud hole. He came from a trophy room to a cold, smelly manger and a sickly world. Hollywood’s Cribs has nothing on the mansion and glory Jesus left behind. He gave up a throne room of perfect peace for a place of conflict, where abuse, criticism, suffering, ridicule, and indescribable pain would follow him for thirty-three years and ultimately take his life.

Paul’s words in Philippians 2:6-8 make it clear that Jesus’ painful and humble service was no accident. He didn’t come expecting to receive glory and the accolades of the world. He knew all along that true greatness lives in the form of lowly service. He knew that the path to success in God’s economy required a descent to greatness—an unusual twist in our expectations.

Our culture presumes that being first, richest, hippest, happiest, and most liked is the key to finding joy and contentment, the key to being great. The good life is marked by convenience and freebies. Even the church, in some instances, mistakes a blessed life with an easy and unchallenged life. But Jesus calls us to give up our pretensions of greatness defined by fame, carefree living, or accomplishment. Contrary to popular opinion, greatness is defined by the humble and often hidden actions of a person who has given up on coming out on top. It’s consistently putting Jesus and others first. Living a life of greatness is actually walking a difficult path of self-sacrifice and inconvenience, driven by a greater concern for others. A truly great person does not need to be served but is bent on serving others. Jesus said it himself: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 28:20).

So now, let us begin the journey of being last and descending to greatness.

Painted Dresses by Patricia Hickman


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Painted Dresses

(WaterBrook Press - July 15, 2008)

by

Patricia Hickman



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Patricia Hickman is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction, whose work has been praised by critics and readers alike.

Patricia Hickman began writing many years ago after an invitation to join a writer's critique group. It was headed up by best-selling author Dr. Gilbert Morris, a pioneer in Christian fiction who has written many best selling titles. The group eventually came to be called the "Nubbing Chits". All four members of the original "Chits" have gone on to become award-winning and best selling novelists (good fruit, Gil!).

Patty signed her first multi-book contract with Bethany House Publishers. After she wrote several novels "for the market", she assessed her writer's life and decided she would follow the leanings of her heart. She says, "It had to be God leading me into the next work which wound up being my first break-out book, Katrina's Wings. I had never read a southern mainstream novel, yet I knew that one lived in my head, begging to be brought out and developed." She wanted to create deeper stories that broke away from convention and formula. From her own journey in life, she created a world based upon her hometown in the 70's, including Earthly Vows and Whisper Town from the Millwood Hollow Series.

Patty and her husband, Randy, have planted two churches in North Carolina. Her husband pastors Family Christian Center, located in Huntersville. The Hickmans have three children, two on earth and one in heaven. Their daughter, Jessi, was involved in a fatal automobile accident in 2001. Through her writing and speaking, Patty seeks to offer help, hope and encouragement to those who walk the daily road of loss and grief.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this story of sisterhood and unexpected paths, Gaylen Syler-Boatwright flees her unraveling marriage to take refuge in a mountain cottage owned by her deceased aunt. Burdened with looking after her adult sister, Delia, she is shocked to find a trail of family secrets hidden within her aunt’s odd collection of framed, painted dresses. With Delia, who attracts trouble as a daily occupation, Gaylen embarks on a road trip that throws the unlikely pair together on a journey to painful understanding and delightful revelations.

Steeped in Hickman’s trademark humor, her spare writing voice, and the bittersweet pathos of the South, Painted Dresses powerfully captures a woman’s desperate longing to uncover a hidden, broken life and discover the liberty of living authentically, even when the things exposed are shrouded in shame.

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

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Winners of Love as a Way of Life by Dr. Gary Chapman

And the winners are:

WindyCindy

Bookfool (Nancy)

Congratulations!

The Falcon and the Sparrow by M. L. Tyndall



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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



Today's Wild Card author is:


and his/her book:


Barbour Publishing, Inc (August 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MaryLu spent her early years in South Florida where she fell in love with the ocean and the warm tropical climate. After moving to California with her husband, she graduated from college and worked as a software engineer for 15 years. Currently, MaryLu writes full time and resides in California with her husband and 6 children.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602600120
ISBN-13: 978-1602600126

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chapter One

Dover, England, March 1803


Dominique Celine Dawson stepped off the teetering plank of the ship and sought the comfort of solid land beneath her feet, knowing that as she did so, she instantly became a traitor to England. Thanking the purser, she released his hand with a forced smile.

He tipped his hat and handed her the small embroidered valise containing all her worldly possessions. “Looks like rain,” he called back over his shoulder as he headed up the gangway.

Black clouds swirled above her, stealing all light from the midmorning sun. A gust of wind clawed at her bonnet. Passengers and sailors unloading cargo collided with her from all directions. She stepped aside, testing her wobbly legs. Although she’d just boarded the ship from Calais, France, to Dover that morning, her legs quivered nearly as much as her heart. She hated sailing. What an embarrassment she must have been to her father, an admiral in the British Royal Navy.

A man dressed in a top hat and wool cape bumped into her and nearly knocked her to the ground.

Stumbling, Dominique clamped her sweaty fingers around her valise, feeling as though it was her heart they squeezed. Did the man know? Did he know what she had been sent here to do?

He shot her an annoyed glance over his shoulder. “Beggin’ your pardon, miss,” he muttered before trotting off, lady on his arm and children in tow.

Blowing out a sigh, Dominique tried to still her frantic breathing. She must focus. She must remain calm. She had committed no crime—yet.

She scanned the bustling port of Dover. Waves of people flowed through the streets, reminding her of the tumultuous sea she had just crossed. Ladies in silk bonnets clung to gentlemen in long-tailed waistcoats and breeches. Beggars, merchants, and tradesmen hustled to and fro as if they didn’t have a minute to lose. Dark-haired Chinamen hauled two-wheeled carts behind them, loaded with passengers or goods. Carriages and horses clomped over the cobblestone streets. The air filled with a thousand voices, shouts and screams and curses and idle chatter accompanied by the incessant tolling of bells and the rhythmic lap of the sea against the docks.

The stench of fish and human sweat stung Dominique’s nose, and she coughed and took a step forward, searching for the carriage that surely must have been sent to convey her to London and to
the Randal estate. But amidst the dizzying crowd, no empty convey-
ance sat waiting; no pair of eyes met hers—at least none belonging to a coachman sent to retrieve her. Other eyes flung their slithering gazes her way, however, like snakes preying on a tiny ship mouse. A lady traveling alone was not a sight often seen.

Lightning split the dark sky in two, and thunder shook it with an ominous boom. For four years she had longed to return to England, the place of her birth, the place filled with many happy childhood memories, but now that she was here, she felt more lost and frightened than ever. Her fears did not completely stem from the fact that she had never traveled alone before, nor been a governess before—although both of those things would have been enough to send her heart into a frenzy. The true reason she’d returned to her homeland frightened her the most.

Rain misted over her, and she brushed aside the damp curls that framed her face, wondering what to do next. Oh Lord, I feel so alone, so frightened. Where are You? She looked up, hoping for an answer, but the bloated clouds exploded in a torrent of rain that pummeled her face and her hopes along with it. Dashing through the crowd, she ducked beneath the porch of a fish market, covering her nose with a handkerchief against the putrid smell.

People crowded in beside her, an old woman pushing an apple cart, a merchantman with a nose the size of a doorknob, and several seaman, one of whom glared at Dominique from beneath bushy brows and hooded lids. He leaned against a post, inserted a black wad into his mouth, and began chewing, never taking his gaze from her. Ignoring him, Dominique glanced through the sheet of rain pouring off the overhang at the muted shapes moving to and fro. Globs of mud splashed from the puddle at her feet onto her muslin gown. She had wanted to make a good impression on Admiral Randal. What was he to think of his new governess when she arrived covered in filth?

Lightning flashed. The seaman sidled up beside her, pushing the old woman out of the way. “Looking for someone, miss?”

Dominique avoided the man’s eyes as thunder shook the tiny building. “No, merci,” she said, instantly cringing at her use of French.

“Mercy?” He jumped back in disgust. “You ain’t no frog, is you?” The man belched. He stared at her as if he would shoot her right there, depending on her answer.

Terror renewed the queasiness in her stomach. “Of course not.”

“You sound like one.” He leaned toward her, squinting his dark eyes in a foreboding challenge.

“You are mistaken, sir.” Dominique held a hand against his advance. “Now if you please.” She brushed past him and plunged into the rain. Better to suffer the deluge than the man’s verbal assault. The French were not welcome here, not since the Revolution and the ensuing hostilities caused by Napoleon’s rise to power. Granted, last year Britain had signed a peace treaty with France, but no one believed it would last.

Dominique jostled her way through those brave souls not intimidated by the rain and scanned the swarm of carriages vying for position along the cobblestone street. If she did not find a ride to London soon, her life would be in danger from the miscreants who slunk around the port. Hunger rumbled in her stomach as her nerves coiled into knots. Lord, I need You.

To her right, she spotted the bright red wheels of a mail coach that had Royal Mail: London to Dover painted on the back panel. Shielding her eyes from the rain, she glanced up at the coachman perched atop the vehicle, water cascading off his tall black hat. “Do you have room for a passenger to London, monsie—sir?”

He gave her a quizzical look then shook his head. “I’m full.”

“I’m willing to pay.” Dominique shuffled through her valise and pulled out a small purse.

The man allowed his gaze to wander freely over her sodden gown. “And what is it ya might be willing to pay?”

She squinted against the rain pooling in her lashes and swallowed. Perhaps a coach would be no safer than the port, after all. “Four guineas,” she replied in a voice much fainter than she intended.

The man spat off to the side. “It’ll cost you five.”

Dominique fingered the coins in her purse. That would leave her only ten shillings, all that remained of what her cousin had given her for the trip, and all that remained of the grand Dawson fortune, so quickly divided among relatives after her parents’ death. But what choice did she have? She counted the coins, handed them to the coachman, then waited for him to assist her into the carriage, but he merely pocketed the money and gestured behind him. Lifting her skirts, heavy with rain, she clambered around packages and parcels and took a seat beside a window, hugging her valise. She shivered and tightened her frock around her neck, fighting the urge to jump off the carriage, dart back to the ship, and sail right back to France.

She couldn’t.

Several minutes later, a young couple with a baby climbed in, shaking the rain from their coats. After quick introductions, they squeezed into the seat beside Dominique.

Through the tiny window, the coachman stared at them and frowned, forming a pock on his lower chin. He muttered under his breath before turning and snapping the reins that sent the mail coach careening down the slick street.

The next four hours only added to Dominique’s nightmare. Though exhausted from traveling half the night, rest was forbidden her by the constant jostling and jerking of the carriage over every small bump and hole in the road and the interminable screaming of the infant in the arms of the poor woman next to her. She thanked God, however, that it appeared the roads had been newly paved or the trip might have taken twice as long. As it was, each hour passed at a snail’s pace and only sufficed to increase both her anxiety and her fear.

Finally, they arrived at the outskirts of the great city capped in a shroud of black from a thousand coal chimneys—a soot that not even the hard rain could clear. After the driver dropped off the couple and their vociferous child on the east side of town, Dominique had to haggle further for him to take her all the way to Hart Street, to which he reluctantly agreed only after Dominique offered him another three precious shillings.

The sights and sounds of London drifted past her window like visions from a time long ago. She had spent several summers here as a child, but through the veil of fear and loneliness, she hardly recognized it. Buildings made from crumbling brick and knotted timber barely held up levels of apartments stacked on top of them. Hovels and shacks lined the dreary alleyways that squeezed between residences and shops in an endless maze. Despite the rain, dwarfs and acrobatic monkeys entertained people passing by, hoping for a coin tossed their way. As the coach rounded one corner, a lavishly dressed man with a booming voice stood in an open booth, proclaiming that his tonic cured every ache and pain known to man.

The stench of horse manure and human waste filled the streets, rising from puddles where both had been deposited for the soil men to clean up at night.

Dominique pressed a hand to her nose and glanced out the other side of the carriage, where the four pointed spires of the Tower of London thrust into the angry sky. Though kings had resided in the castlelike structure, many other people had been imprisoned and tortured within its walls. She trembled at the thought as they proceeded down Thames Street, where she soon saw the massive London Bridge spanning the breadth of the murky river.

Her thoughts veered to Marcel, her only brother—young, impetuous Marcel. Dominique had cared for him after their mother died last year of the fever, and she had never felt equal to the task. Marcel favored their father with his high ideals and visions of heroism, while Dominique was more like their mother, quiet and shy. Marcel needed strong male guidance, not the gentle counsel of an overprotective sister.

So of course Dominique had been thrilled when a distant cousin sought them out and offered to take them both under his care. Monsieur Lucien held the position of ministère de l’intérieur under Napoleon’s rule—a highly respectable and powerful man who would be a good influence on Marcel.

Or so she had thought.

The carriage lurched to the right, away from the stench of the river. Soon the cottages and shabby tenements gave way to grand two- and three-level homes circled by iron fences.

Dominique hugged her valise to her chest, hoping to gain some comfort from holding on to something—anything—but her nerves stiffened even more as she neared her destination. After making several more turns, the coach stopped before a stately white building. With a scowl, the driver poked his open hand through the window, and Dominique handed him her coins, not understanding the man’s foul humor. Did he treat all his patrons this way, or had she failed to conceal the bit of French in her accent?

Climbing from the carriage, she held her bag against her chest and tried to sidestep a puddle the size of a small lake. Without warning, the driver cracked the reins and the carriage jerked forward, spraying Dominique with mud.

Horrified, she watched as the driver sped down the street. He did that on purpose. She’d never been treated with such disrespect in her life. But then, she’d always traveled with her mother, the beautiful Marguerite Jean Denoix, daughter of Edouard, vicomte de Gimois, or her father, Stuart Dawson, a respected admiral in the Royal Navy. Without them by her side, who was she? Naught but an orphan without a penny to her name.

Rain battered her as she stared up at the massive white house, but she no longer cared. Her bonnet draped over her hair like a wet fish, her coiffure had melted into a tangle of saturated strands, and her gown, littered with mud, clung to her like a heavy shroud. She deserved it, she supposed, for what she had come to do.

She wondered if Admiral Randal was anything like his house—cold, imposing, and rigid. Four stories high, it towered above most houses on the street. Two massive white columns stood like sentinels holding up the awning while guarding the front door.
The admiral sat on the Admiralty Board of His Majesty’s Navy, making him a powerful man privy to valuable information such as the size, location, and plans of the British fleet. Would he be anything like her dear father?

Dominique skirted the stairs that led down to the kitchen. Her knees began to quake as she continued toward the front door. The blood rushed from her head. The world began to spin around her. Squeezing her eyes shut, she swallowed. No, she had to do this. For you, Marcel. You’re all I have left in the world.

She opened her eyes and took another step, feeling as though she walked into a grand mausoleum where dead men’s bones lay ensconced behind cold marble.

She halted. Not too late to turn around—not too late to run. But Marcel’s innocent young face, contorted in fear, burned in her memory. And her cousin Lucien’s lanky frame standing beside him, a stranglehold on the boy’s collar. “If you prefer your brother’s head to be attached to his body, you will do as I request.”

A cold fist clamped over Dominique’s heart. She could not lose her brother. She continued up the steps though every muscle, every nerve protested. Why me, Lord? Who am I to perform such a task?

Ducking under the cover of the imposing porch, Dominique raised her hand to knock upon the ornately carved wooden door, knowing that after she did, she could not turn back.

Once she stepped over the threshold of this house, she would no longer be Dominique Dawson, the loyal daughter of a British admiral.

She would be a French spy.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Try Darkness by James Scott Bell


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Try Darkness

(Center Street - July 30, 2008)

by

James Scott Bell



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JAMES SCOTT BELL is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, TRY DYING, was released to high critical praise, while his book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica’s, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancée and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his “office” at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.
One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won’t back down. He’s going to fight for the woman’s rights.
But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.
The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.
But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.
Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.
Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.

If you would like to read chapters 1 & 2, go HERE


“Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists.”
—Booklist

“Engaging whodunit series kickoff . . . Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development.”
—Publishers Weekly

“James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Times

“A master of suspense.”
—Library Journal

“One of the best writers out there, bar none.”
—In the Library Review

My Review: I loved this book. This series keeps getting better and better. And a cliffhanger of a last sentence. I can't wait to read book three (which is coming mid 2009). This is a great legal thriller/suspense all around neat unusual book/series. The author has inspiration partly from the film noir of 1940s and crime fiction of the 1940s and 50s. Plus these books have awesome cover art to go with the great characters. Kim has a great interview with James Scott Bell at her blog www.berlysue.blogspot.com

I love this whole series and I highly recommend them. Here is the link to my review of the first book Try Dying. http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2007/11/try-dying-by-james-scott-bell.html

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo



It's May 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!


and his book:



Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert Liparulo is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book 1)

Comes a Horseman

Germ

Deadfall


Product Details

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544968
ISBN-13: 978-1595544964


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

1

At twelve years old, David King was too young to die. At least he thought so.

But try telling that to the people shooting at him.

He had no idea where he was. When he had stepped through the portal, smoke immediately blinded him. An explosion had thrown rocks and who-knew-what into his face. It shook the floor and knocked him off his feet. Now he was on his hands and knees on a hardwood floor. Glass and splinters dug into his palms. Somewhere, all kinds of guns were firing. Bullets zinged overhead, thunking into walls—bits of flying plaster stung his cheeks.

Okay, so he wasn’t sure the bullets were meant for him. The guns seemed both near and far. But in the end, if he were hit, did it matter whether the shooters meant to get him or he’d had the dumb luck to stumble into the middle of a firefight? He’d be just as dead.

The smoke cleared a bit. Sunlight poured in from a school-bus-sized hole in the ceiling. Not just the ceiling—David could see attic rafters and the jagged and burning edges of the roof. Way above was a blue sky, soft white clouds.

He was in a bedroom. A dresser lay on the floor. In front of him was a bed. He gripped the mattress and pushed himself up.

A wall exploded into a shower of plaster, rocks, and dust. He flew back. Air burst from his lungs, and he crumpled again to the floor. He gulped for breath, but nothing came. The stench of fire—burning wood and rock, something dank and putrid—swirled into his nostrils on the thick, gray smoke. The taste of cement coated his tongue. Finally, oxygen reached his lungs, and he pulled it in with loud gasps, like a swimmer saved from drowning. He coughed out the smoke and dust. He stood, finding his balance, clearing his head, wavering until he reached out to steady himself.

A hole in the floor appeared to be trying to eat the bed. It was listing like a sinking ship, the far corner up in the air, the corner nearest David canted down into the hole. Flames had found the blankets and were spreading fast.

Outside, machine-gun fire erupted.

David jumped.

He stumbled toward an outside wall. It had crumbled, forming a rough V-shaped hole from where the ceiling used to be nearly to the floor. Bent rebar jutted out of the plaster every few feet.

More gunfire, another explosion. The floor shook.

Beyond the walls of the bedroom, the rumble of an engine and a rhythmic, metallic click-click-click-click-click tightened his stomach. He recognized the sound from a dozen war movies: a tank. It was rolling closer, getting louder.

He reached the wall and dropped to his knees. He peered out onto the dirt and cobblestone streets of a small village. Every house and building was at least partially destroyed, ravaged by bombs and bullets. The streets were littered with chunks of wall, roof tiles, even furniture that had spilled out through the ruptured buildings.

David’s eyes fell on an object in the street. His panting breath froze in his throat. He slapped his palm over his mouth, either to stifle a scream or to keep himself from throwing up. It was a body, mutilated almost beyond recognition. It lay on its back, screaming up to heaven. Male or female, adult or child, David didn’t know, and it didn’t matter. That it was human and damaged was enough to crush his heart. His eyes shot away from the sight, only to spot another body. This one was not as broken, but was no less horrible. It was a young woman. She was lying on her stomach, head turned with an expression of surprised disbelief and pointing her lifeless eyes directly at David.

He spun around and sat on the floor. He pushed his knuckles into each eye socket, squeegeeing out the wetness. He swallowed, willing his nausea to pass.

His older brother, Xander, said that he had puked when he first saw a dead body. That had been only two days ago—in the Colosseum. David didn’t know where the portal he had stepped through had taken him. Certainly not to a gladiator fight in Rome.

He squinted toward the other side of the room, toward the shadowy corner where he had stepped into . . . wherever this was . . . whenever it was. Nothing there now. No portal. No passage home. Just a wall.

He heard rifle shots and a scream.

Click-click-click-click-click . . . the tank was still approaching.

What had he done? He thought he could be a hero, and now he was about to get shot or blown up or . . . something that amounted to the same thing: Dead.

Dad had been right. They weren’t ready. They should have made a plan.

Click-click-click-click-click.

David rose into a crouch and turned toward the crumbled wall.

I’m here now, he thought. I gotta know what I’m dealing with, right? Okay then. I can do this.

He popped up from his hiding place to look out onto the street. Down the road to his right, the tank was coming into town over a bridge. Bullets sparked against its steel skin. Soldiers huddled behind it, keeping close as it moved forward. In turn, they would scurry out to the side, fire a rifle or machine gun, and step back quickly. Their targets were to David’s left, which meant he was smack between them.

Figures.

At that moment, he’d have given anything to redo the past hour. He closed his eyes. Had it really only been an hour? An hour to go from his front porch to here?

In this house, stranger things had happened. . . .