Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shadow of Colossus by T. L. Higley



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 the book:


Shadow of Colossus

Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


T.L. Higley holds a degree in English Literature and has written three previous novels, including Fallen from Babel, and more than fifty drama productions for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece and other myth systems, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publishers (August 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080544730X
ISBN-13: 978-0805447309

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Rhodes, 227 bc

Seven Days Before the Great Quake


In the deceitful calm of the days preceding disaster, while Rhodes still glittered like a white jewel in the Aegean, Tessa of Delos planned to open her wrists.

The death of her body was long overdue. Her soul had died ten years ago.

Ten years this day.

Tessa took in a breath of salty air and shivered. From her lofty position outside Glaucus's hillside home, she watched the populace's torches flicker to life in the dusk. Across the city the day's tumult at the docks slowed. The massive statue of Helios at the harbor's frothy mouth caught the sun's last rays as it slipped into a cobalt sea. The torch he thrust skyward seem to burst aflame, as though lit by the sun god himself.

He had been her only constant these ten years, this giant in the likeness of Helios. A silent sentinel who kept vigil as life ripped freedom and hope from her. Painful as it was, tonight she wanted only to remember. To be alone, to remember, and to mourn.

"Tessa!" A wine-sodden voice erupted from the open door behind her.

The symposium had begun only minutes ago, but Glaucus was already deep into his cups. Bad form in any company, thought Tessa, but Glaucus rarely cared. Tessa inhaled the tang of sea air again and placed a steadying hand against the smooth alabaster column supporting the roof. She did not answer, nor turn, when she heard her fat master shuffle onto the portico.

"Get yourself back into the house!" Glaucus punctuated his command with a substantial belch.

"Soon," she said. "I wish to watch the sun god take his leave."

A household servant crept out and set two torches blazing. An oily smell surged, then dissipated. From the house floated harsh laughter mingled with the tinny sound of a flute.

Glaucus pushed his belly against her back and grabbed her arm. The linen chitôn she'd taken care to arrange perfectly fell away, exposing her shoulder. She reached to replace it, but Glaucus caught her hand. He brought his mouth close to her ear, and she could smell his breath, foul as days-old fish.

"The others are asking for you. `Where is your hetaera?' they say. `The one with more opinions than Carthage has ships.'"

Tessa closed her eyes. She had long entertained Glaucus's political friends with her outspoken thoughts on government and power. While his wife remained hidden away in the women's quarters, Glaucus's hetaera was displayed like an expensive pet with sharp teeth. Tessa had once believed she led an enviable life, but the years had stripped her of her illusions.

She stroked the polished filigree of the gold necklace encircling her throat and remembered when Glaucus fastened it there, a gilding for his personal figure of bronze.

"Now, Tessa." Glaucus pulled her toward the door.

Her heart reached for the statue, clinging to her first memory of it, when Delos had been home and innocence had still been hers.

When I open my wrists, I will do it there.


Ω


The andrôn, central room of the men’s quarters, smelled of roasted meat and burning olive oil. Glaucus paused in the doorway, awaiting the attention of those who had curried enough of his favor to be invited tonight. When the small crowd lounging on low couches at the room’s perimeter turned his way, he pushed her into the lamp-lit center. “Tessa, everyone,” he shouted. “Making a grand entrance!”

The room laughed and clapped, then returned their attention to the food and wine on the low tables beside them. In the corner, a young girl dressed in gauzy fabric blew thin streams of air into a small flute. Tessa’s eyes locked onto the girl’s for a moment. A private understanding passed between them that they were both objects of entertainment, and the girl looked away, as though ashamed to be seen so clearly. A desire to protect the girl surfaced in Tessa, a maternal feeling that of late seemed only a breath away.

Glaucus pulled her to a couch and forced her down onto the gold-trimmed red cushions. He lowered himself at her right and leaned against her possessively. A black bowl with gold designs waited in the center of their table, and Glaucus ladled wine from it into a goblet for her. To the room he said, “To Tessa—always the center of attention!” He raised his own cup, and his guests did the same.

Tessa’s gaze swept the room, taking in the majority of men and the few women reclining against them. The moment was suspended, with cups raised toward her, drunken and insincere smiles affixed to faces, lamplight flickering across tables piled with grapes and almonds and figs, and the flute’s lament behind it all.

Will I remember this night, even in the afterlife?

“To Tessa!” Shouts went round the room, cups were drained and thumped back to tables, and the party quickened around her.

Glaucus reached for her, but she pushed him away. He laughed. “It would appear my Tessa is a bit high-spirited tonight,” he said to the others. “And what shall be done with a mischievous hetaera?” His thick-lipped smile and raised eyebrow took in the room and elicited another round of laughter. He nodded, then turned his attention to the man on his right, resuming a conversation whose beginning she must have missed.

“Your objections earlier to the naturalization of the Jews are noted, Spiro. But to extend citizenship to the foreigners among us can often be expedient.” Tessa could not see Spiro, his frame completely blocked by the bulk of Glaucus beside her, but his voice poured like warm oil. Yet underneath his smooth tones, Tessa heard the cold iron of anger. He was one of few among the strategoi to contradict Glaucus publicly.

“Like-minded foreigners, perhaps,” Spiro said. “But the Jews make it no secret that they despise our Greek ways. They disdain even our proudest achievement, our Helios of the harbor. They must be expunged, not embraced by weak-willed politicians who—”

Glaucus raised a pudgy hand. “You presume an authority not yours, Spiro.”

“Only a matter of time, Glaucus.”

Glaucus snorted. “Again you presume. The people of this island are too clever to choose seductive charm over solid leadership.”

Spiro laughed quietly. “Why, Glaucus, seductive charm? I didn’t realize you had noticed.”

Glaucus shook his head. “Perhaps the women are affected, but it is the men who vote.”

Tessa sensed Spiro lean forward, his eyes now on her. “And we both know where men find their opinions.”

Glaucus snorted again and swung his legs to the floor. It took several tries to raise his ponderous body from the cushions. “Get drunk, Spiro. Enjoy your delusions for one more night. But next week I sail to Crete, and I expect them to fully support my efforts.”

He nudged Tessa with a sandaled toe. “Don’t go anywhere. I will be back.”

Tessa watched him leave the room, relief at his temporary absence flooding her. She was to travel to Crete with him next week, though she had no intention of ever stepping onto the ship.

The previously unseen Spiro slid to her couch now, an elbow on the cushion Glaucus had just vacated. He was older than she, perhaps thirty, clean-shaven like most of the others but wore his jetblack hair longer, braided away from his face and falling just above his shoulders. His eyes, deep set and darker than the night sea, studied hers. A smile played at his lips. “What are you still doing with that bore, Tessa? You could do better.”

“One slave master is as another. To have something better is only to be free.” She was not truly Glaucus’s slave in the usual sense, and Spiro knew it, but it made little difference.

Spiro smiled fully now, and his gaze traveled from her eyes, slowly down to her waist. He took liberties, but Tessa had long ago become heedless of offense.

“That is what I like about you, Tessa. One never meets a hetaera who speaks of freedom; they are resolved to their place. But you are a woman like no other in Rhodes.”

“Why should I not be free?”

Spiro chuckled softly and inched closer. “Why, indeed? Ask the gods, who make some women wives and give others as slaves.”

Spiro’s hand skimmed the cushions and came to rest on her thigh. “If you were mine, Tessa, I would treat you as the equal you deserve to be. Glaucus acts as though he owns you, but we all know he pays dearly for your favors. Perhaps it is you who owns him.” Spiro’s fingers dug into her leg, and his eyes roamed her face and body again. Tessa felt neither pleasure nor disgust, a reminder that her heart had been cast from bronze. But a flicker of fear challenged her composure. Spiro, she knew, was like one of the mighty Median horses: raw power held in check, capable of trampling the innocent if unleashed.

A shadow loomed above them, but Spiro did not remove his hand. Instead, he arched a perfect eyebrow at Glaucus and smiled. Tessa expected a flash of anger, but Glaucus laughed. “First, you think to rule the island, Spiro, and now you think to steal Tessa from me, as though she has the free will to choose whom she wants?” Spiro shrugged and moved to the next couch.

Glaucus plopped down between them again. “She will never be yours, Spiro. Even when I am dead, her owner will only hand her to the next man in line to have paid for her.” He waggled a finger at Tessa. “She is worth waiting for, though, I can tell you.” Another coarse laugh.

Something broke loose in Tessa then. Caused perhaps by the vow taken while drinking in the sight of the harbor’s bronze statue, and the assurance that soon nothing she did now would hold consequence for her. Or perhaps it was ten years of bondage, commemorated this night with nothing more than continued abuse.

Whatever the reason, she rose to her feet. The room silenced, as though a goddess had ascended a pedestal. She lifted her voice. “May the gods deal with you as you have mistreated me, Glaucus of Rhodes. I will have no part of you.”

Glaucus grabbed her arm. “Your heart is not in the festivities tonight, my dear. I understand. I will meet you in the inner courtyard later.”

He did this to save face, they both knew. Tessa wrenched her arm free of his clutches, glanced at Spiro, and felt a chill at the look in his eyes. She raised her chin and glided from the room.

In the hall outside the andrôn, she looked both directions. She had no desire to stay, yet the world outside the house was no more pleasant or safe for her. She turned from the front door and moved deeper into the house.

The hallway opened to a courtyard, with rooms branching in many directions. Along the back wall, a colonnaded walkway, its roof covered with terra-cotta tiles, stretched the length of the courtyard. A large cistern gaped in the center. Beside it stood a large birdcage; its lone inhabitant, a black mynah with an orange beak, chirped in greeting.

Glaucus had said he would meet her here later, but from the sounds of the laughter behind her, the party raged without her. She should be safe for a few minutes at least. She crossed to the bird she had adopted as her own and simply named Mynah. Tessa put a finger through the iron bars and let Mynah peck a hello.

Her head throbbed, as it always did when she wore her hair pulled back. She reached above her, found the pin that cinched her dark ringlets together, and yanked it. Hair loosed and fell around her, and she ran her fingers through it in relief.

A sharp intake of breath from across the room startled her. She whirled at the sound. “Who’s there?”

A soft voice in the darkness said, “I am sorry, mistress. I did not mean to startle you.”

Tessa’s heart grasped at the kindness and respect in the voice, the first she had encountered this evening. She put a hand to her unfastened hair. Somehow she still found it within herself to be embarrassed by this small impropriety.

The man took hesitant steps toward her. “Are you ill, mistress? Can I help you in some way?” He was clean-shaven and quite tall, with a lanky build and craggy face, Glaucus’s Jewish head servant, Simeon.

“No, Simeon. No, I am not ill. Thank you.” She sank to a bench.

The older man dipped his head and backed away. Tessa reached out a hand. “Perhaps—perhaps some water?”

He smiled. “I’ll only be a moment.”

She had disgraced Glaucus tonight, in spite of his effort to laugh off her comments. How would he repay the damage she had done him? His position as a strategos of the polis of Rhodes outranked all other concerns in his life, and he would consider her disrespect in the presence of other city leaders as treasonous.

In the three years since Glaucus had paid her owner the hetaera price and she had become his full-time companion, they had developed an unusual relationship. While he would not allow her to forget that she was not free, he had also discovered her aptitude for grasping the intricacies of politics, the maneuvering necessary to keep Rhodes the strong trading nation that it was, and to maintain Glaucus’s hold on leadership within this democratic society. Power was a game played shrewdly in Rhodes, as in all the Greek world, and Glaucus had gained a competitive edge when he gained Tessa.

Rhodian society had declared her to be a rarity: beautiful, brilliant, and enslaved. But the extent to which the decisions of the city-state passed through her slave-bound fingers was unknown to most. And in this she held a measure of power over Glaucus. She recalled Spiro’s astute comment earlier: Perhaps it is you who owns him.

Simeon returned with a stone mug in his hands. He held it out to her and covered her fingers with his own gnarled hand as she reached for it. His eyes returned to her hair. “I—I have never seen you with your hair down,” he said. He lowered his gray head again but did not back away, and his voice was soft. “It is beautiful.”

Tessa tried to smile, but her heart retreated from the small kindness. “Thank you.”

He didn’t look up. “If you are not ill, Tessa, perhaps you should return to the symposium. I should not like to see Glaucus angry with you.”

Tessa exhaled. “Glaucus can wait.”

Another noise at the courtyard’s edge. They both turned at the rustle of fabric. A girl glided into the room, dressed in an elegant yellow chitôn, her dark hair flowing around her shoulders. She stopped suddenly when she saw them.

“Simeon? Tessa? What are you doing here?”

Simeon bent at the waist, his eyes on the floor. “The lady was feeling ill. She requested water.” His eyes flicked up at Tessa, their expression unreadable, and he left the room.

Tessa turned her attention to the girl, inhaling the resolve to survive this encounter. At fourteen, Persephone hovered on the delicate balance between girl and woman. Glowing pale skin framed by dark hair gave her the look of an ivory doll, but it was her startlingly blue eyes that drew one’s attention. In recent months, as she had gained understanding of Tessa’s position in her father’s life, Persephone had grown more hostile toward her.

She raised her chin and studied Tessa. “Does my father know you’re out here?” Her tone contradicted the delicacy of her features.

Tessa nodded.

“So he let his plaything out of her cage?”

Tessa’s eyes closed in pity for the girl, whose mother had abandoned her for the comfort of madness.

The girl flitted to where Mynah cheeped inside its bars. She picked a leaf from a potted tree and held it out to the bird. “But who am I to speak of cages?” she said. She raised her eyes to Tessa. “We are all trapped here in some way. You. Me. Mother.”

“Cages can be escaped,” Tessa said, surprising herself. She had never dared to offer Persephone wisdom, though her heart ached for the girl.

Persephone turned toward her, studying her. “When you find the key, let me know.”

"Tessa!" Glaucus's voice was thick with wine and demanding.

Tessa turned toward the doorway. The girl beside her took a step backward.

"There you are," he said. "I've sent them all away." He waddled toward them. "I am sick of their company." He seemed to notice the girl for the first time. "Persephone, why are you not in bed? Get yourself to the women's quarters."

Tessa could feel the hate course through the girl as if it were her own body.

"I am not tired. I wished to see the stars." She pointed upward.

Glaucus stood before them now, and he sneered. "Well, the stars have no wish to see you. Remove yourself."

"And will you say goodnight to Mother?" Persephone asked. The words were spoken with sarcasm, tossed to Glaucus like raw bait. Tessa silently cheered the girl's audacity.

Glaucus was not so kind. "Get out!"

"And leave you to your harlot?" Persephone said.

In a quick motion belying his obesity, Glaucus raised the back of his hand to the girl and struck her against the face. She reeled backward a step or two, her hand against her cheek.

Tessa moved between them. "Leave her alone!"

Glaucus turned on Tessa and laughed. "And when did you two become friends?"

Persephone glared into her father's corpulent face. "I despise you both," she said.

Glaucus raised his arm again, his hand a fist this time, but Tessa was faster. She caught the lowering arm by the wrist and pushed it backward. Glaucus rocked back on his heels and turned his hatred on her.

Tessa kept her eyes trained on Glaucus but spoke to the girl, her voice low and commanding. "Go to bed, Persephone." She sensed the girl back away, heard her stomp from the room.

The anger on Glaucus's face melted into something else. A chuckle, sickening in its condescension, rumbled from him.

"High-spirited is one thing, Tessa. But be careful you do not go too far. Remember who keeps you in those fine clothes and wraps your ankles and wrists in jewels. You are not your own."

But I soon will be.

Glaucus reached for her, and she used her forearm to swat him away like a noisome insect. "Don't touch me. Don't touch her. Take your fat, drunken self out of here."

The amusement on Glaucus's face played itself out. The anger returned, but Tessa was ready.

Glaucus's words hissed between clenched teeth. "I don't know what has come over you tonight, Tessa, but I will teach you your place. You belong to me, body and spirit, and I will have you!" His heavy hands clutched her shoulders, and his alcohol-soaked breath blew hot in her face. Every part of Tessa's inner being rose up to defend herself.

It would all end tonight.

My Review:

I really liked this historical novel. It is the first in a new series on the seven wonders of the world. The first is set on the Greek island of Rhodes and in the background is The Colossus. I am not a historical buff so some of the historical things I was not familiar with but that did not stop the plot from keeping me moving forward. I read this book in one night. The characters and plot line were wonderful.

The book centers around Tessa of Delos. She is the hetaera of Glaucus, a powerful member of the government. Tessa is really smart (and pretty) and she influences him and often sits in on the political discussions. A hetaera is a personal companion. Tessa is owned by a woman named Servia and men pay her to use Tessa. Tessa's mom left her as a child with this woman. Tessa is the most famous and powerful of the hetaera on the island. This is both good and bad for her.

The book opens with Tessa contemplating ending her life. The setting is Rhodes 227 BC, seven days before the great quake. Her soul died ten years ago on this day when she first became a hetaera. She has tried to make herself into a statue so she does not feel anything and not desire freedom and love and hope. When Glaucus is accidentally killed Tessa sees the chance to be free-if she can hide the truth of his death and maintain the masquerade until escape is possible. To help her is the old Jewish head servant Simeon and the new servant Nikkos. Nikkos is not who he claims to be though.

Through Simeon and his family Tessa sees her life as being worth something. I love the scenes in the Jewish area with Simeon's daughter and her family. The book contains lots more good stuff that I am not going to spoil here.

I highly recommend this great new historical novel. I have an ARC of the second, City of the Dead, that I cannot wait to read. :)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

25 Days of Christmas Reviews



Deena at A Peak At My Bookshelf is holding a 25 days of Christmas Reviews along with some giveaways. Her blog address is http://deenasbooks.blogspot.com/

Go check her out! I love her blog and read it everyday. :)

I am going to post some Christmas reviews in December also. There will be a few giveaways also. :)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day Poem

Thanksgiving Day
by Laura Grossman

Thanksgiving Turkey
And pie, we give thanks
To the pilgrims who came
Over with a sigh, a very
Long journey to a new
Land, oh how grand America
A land fill of beauty and
We give thanks on Thanksgiving
Night

Published in The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman
Copyright 2007

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo(AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy. Ends Wednesday December 3 at midnight. ***



This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Beloved Captive


Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


by


Kathleen Y’Barbo




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


ABOUT THE BOOK

In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beloved Captive, go HERE.


My Review:

Although this is book two in a series it is fine by itself. The author does a good job providing enough details from the previous book for everything to make sense. This is a good mixture of the high sea adventure with land. Emilie heads home to see her dying father and ask for money for the island school she teaches at. She finds out painful secrets and leaves to go by herself to the island. She has quite at trip at sea. lol No Spoilers. This is a great story. I enjoyed it and the ending is satisfying.

Winner of My Mother's Wish

The winner of My Mother's Wish is

Cheri2628

Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand? November 25, 2008 Edition

What's On Your Nightstand is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The purpose is share what you are currently reading and see what others are reading. Currently I have bookmarks in a lot of books but most have been moved to the TBR shelf. My current stack I keep on my dresser and sometimes nightstand. My camera is dead and we cannot find the charger so I will just list what I am working on right now. :)



1. The Truth About You- Your Secret to Success by Marcus Buckingham (Nonfiction)





2. Shadows of Colossus by T. L. Higley (Fiction)









3. Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins (Fiction)










4. The Jesus Who Never Lived by H. Wayne House (Nonfiction)






5. Healing Waters by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn (Fiction) Cannot wait to read;loved the first Healing Stones.








6. Every Now and Then by Karen Kingsbury (Fiction)











Plus the various other books that I need to finish for the Fall Reading Challenge 2008 which ends on December 20. And the other books for challenges I need to finish before December 31.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The First Escape by G.P. Taylor



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 the book:


The First Escape

SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A motorcyclist and former rock band roadie turned Anglican minister, Graham Peter (G. P.) Taylor has been hailed as "hotter than Potter" and "the new C. S. Lewis" in the United Kingdom. His first novel, Shadowmancer, reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 2004 and has been translated into 48 languages. His other novels include Wormwood (another New York Times bestseller which was nominated for a Quill book award), The Shadowmancer Returns: The Curse of Salamander Street, Tersias the Oracle, and Mariah Mundi. Taylor currently resides in North Yorkshire with his wife and three children.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $ 19.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: SaltRiver (August 20, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414319479
ISBN-13: 978-1414319476

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

















My Review:

This book is written in a format called the Illustra-Novel. It is part novel, part pictures some with words, and part graphic novel. It has an interesting plot line. I enjoyed the combination. Twin sisters, Sadie and Saskia Dopple, have been abandoned by their mother to Isambard Dunstan’s School for Wayward Children which has all girls and one boy named Erik Morrisey Ganger who works there. The fourteen year old girls are known troublemakers. The school is not a very nice place to go; they do not have enough food and the teachers are mean. One day a wealthy benefactor of the school comes and adopts Saskia. Saskia discovers many wierd secretive things about her new home. At the same time Sadie discovers the school is lonely without her twin. Sadie and Erik end up escaping the school and the adventures begin. I highly recommend this interesting illustra-novel for kids and adults. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Infidel Graphic Novel by Ted Dekker



It's the 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 (November 11, 2008)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of TedDekker.com.

Here are some of his latest titles:

Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)

Adam

Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)

Saint


Product Details

List Price:$15.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546049
ISBN-13: 978-1595546043


AND NOW...THE FIRST TWO PAGES:

(Click Pictures to Zoom!)



















My Review: This is the first graphic novel I can remember reading. I really liked it. I was drawn into the story and the characters. Also it is easier to read than I thought it would be. This is intended for Young Adults but this 25 almost 26 year old liked it too. This is book two of the series. I intend on finding the other full length books to read too. I think I will start with the Circle trilogy then read all of this series. I want to read the book form and graphic form. I highly recommend this book. :)

Winner of Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman

And the Winner of Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman is...

Katie!

Congratulations :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin and Mark Tabb


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips

FaithWords (November 5, 2008)

by

Stephen Baldwin
&
Mark Tabb


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

STEPHEN BALDWIN - actor, family man, born-again Christian - makes his home in upstate New York with his wife and two young daughters.

Equally adept at drama and comedy, Baldwin has appeared in over 60 films and been featured on such top-rated television shows as Fear Factor and Celebrity Mole. He has his own production company that is developing projects for television and the big screen. These days, however, his role as director, co-producer and host of Livin' It - a cutting-edge skate video is bringing out his white hot passion for evangelism.

Writer and communicator Mark Tabb calls himself an “internationally unknown author.” Although his books have been published around the world, he is best known for his collaborative works. His 2008 release, “Mistaken Identity”, written with the Van Ryn and Cerak families, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list for two weeks, and remained on the list for over two months. He and actor Stephen Baldwin teamed up on their 2005 New York Times bestseller, “The Unusual Suspect,” and with their first work of fiction, “The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips,”


ABOUT THE BOOK

Even years of experience haven't prepared Officer Andy Myers for this case---

When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he'd respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son's body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.


If you would like to read the first chapter of The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips, go HERE

*STRONG LANGUAGE*



My Review: Although there is a lot of very strong offensive language I am thankful I read this book. I cannot believe a Christian publisher published a book with this kind of language in it though. I am not used to reading books with cursing in them. That is one of the reasons I read Christian fiction and some other clean fiction. There are some redemptive parts of the story. The overall plot line is unique and powerful and interesting. Thankfully the last half of the story features almost no cursing. I think the goal of the cursing was to portray the lead character more realistically as he is an unchristian cop. The main plot line includes finding the son of his girlfriend dead at his father's apartment and convicting the father of the crime even if he is really innocent as he says. The father is a Christian and portrays a powerful witness throughout the whole book. The story is told through the voice of the cop's son. I recommend this book with a strong language warning.

Another review and chance to win by Kim at Window to My World:

http://berlysue.blogspot.com/2008/11/death-and-life-of-gabriel-phillips-by_19.html

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jesus Take The Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God by Stuart Migdon



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 the book:


Jesus Take the Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God

WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008) )


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Stuart Migdon was raised in Reformed Judaism. He married and became a father at the age of 18. He supported his family, and in four years he graduated college with honors. Through persistence he became a CPA and later a successful insurance agent. With a commitment to hard work and excellence, Stuart continued to achieve every goal that he set for his life. However, all the success in the world could not fill the emptiness that was growing within. In 1991, Stuart came to know the Messiah and began learning what it meant to let Jesus take the wheel of his life. Since then, Stuart has become an avid student of the Bible. Over the last five years, his thirst for more has led him into a detailed study of Gods Word, and specifically the lives of the Bibles two central figures, Jesus and Moses. His book, Jesus Take the Wheel 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God is the result of that study. He and his wife Jeanne have two grown children and one grandson.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 24.95
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: WinePress Publishing Group (July 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1579219322
ISBN-13: 978-1579219321

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Perhaps you are like so many, who long for a more intimate relationship with the Lord, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about getting started.

Introduction

Pack the Car/Get Ready for the Journey

“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
(Ephesians 2:10)


Introduction
Where are you going?

If life were a road trip, what kind of journey would you say yours has been so far? Are you cruising along on a wide-open stretch of highway under clear, blue skies without a care in the world? Or, like most of us, do traffic jams, unexpected detours, and frustrating dead ends seem to hinder you from getting where you need to be at times? Have you run out of gas lately…lost your way…or realized, after blowing a tire on that last pothole, that your spare was also flat? Would you like to enjoy your journey a little more, and get the most out of it no matter what obstacles you may have to face?

The Christian life can indeed be an incredible journey; unlike any other road trip you have ever taken. Because before you even thought of putting the key in the ignition and starting the engine, the One who created you already had a perfectly planned route mapped out for you to travel on. It is the journey of your lifetime—the one God prepared specifically with you in mind. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If you want to experience God’s incredible journey for your life, the question you need to ask and answer today is: Who’s really behind the wheel? Is it Jesus? Is He in control of your life, or somewhere along the way have you decided to venture down some back roads, all on your own?

What matters most isn’t the wrong turns you may have made in the past or even that the road you are on today looks a little tricky up ahead. What is most important is that you know who is in control of your life right now. Asking Jesus to take the wheel is more than just a catchy phrase it is the only way to fully enjoy the Christian life. Unless Jesus is truly in the driver’s seat, you will not be able to live the life that God prepared for you, and you won’t feel the peaceful breeze that comes from being on God’s route. Who controls your life is your choice, and it is a choice that you are making—whether you realize it or not—everyday.

In Jesus Take the Wheel: 7 Keys to a Transformed Life with God, I will be sharing some of the lessons I have learned as a Christian, and how by letting Jesus take the wheel, my life has been transformed. Like many Christians, when I first came to know the Lord I was filled with enthusiasm and wanted to share what I knew about Him with others. However, early on in my walk with Jesus, I also felt a strong desire growing within me to live a life that would really be pleasing to God—a life that I somehow new was radically different than the one I was currently living. Something was missing in my experience with Jesus. It wasn’t that I was given over to any particular sin, it was just that I sensed within me a knowing that there was so much more to this new life that God had called me to, and with every ounce of my being, I wanted to live that life. The only way I new to find what I was missing was to open up the Word of God, which is what I’ve done for the last seventeen years.

Over the past five years, my thirst for more has led me into a detailed study of God’s Word, and specifically the lives of the Bible’s two central figures, Jesus and Moses, which has literally transformed my life. I was intrigued and challenged each day as I delved deeper into the biblical accounts surrounding their lives. I developed insight that was humbling me and transforming me as I grew more acquainted with these two biblical personalities. I also began to realize that what had been driving me in my own study was more than just a personal quest for knowledge, it was actually a calling from the Lord. I felt strongly that what had become an apprenticeship in God’s Word, was not just for me personally but for others as well, and this book is the fruit of those years of study. My hope is that what is contained on these pages would encourage others to begin a journey with the Lord that would transform their lives.


The Key To Maximizing The Principles In This Book

By picking up this book today, you are acknowledging a desire that is already in your heart to have Jesus take the wheel of your life. Perhaps you are like so many, who long for a more intimate relationship with the Lord, but aren’t exactly sure how to go about getting started. In essence, you are hungry for more.

Jesus Take the Wheel will not only help you to become disciplined in your time with God each day, but through applying the biblical principles and truths it contains, you will begin to discover that what has been impossible for you alone, is very possible with God. He will open your eyes to new horizons, as you slip out of the driver’s seat and let Him take the wheel.

This book is written in such a way that you can read a little each day. You can use it as part of your own personal devotional time, or with others in a larger group setting. Each day’s reading is followed by an application. This Daily Action Step in the section entitled (GPS) God’s Positioning System is a short, practical reflection that is aimed at helping you apply that day’s biblical truths and principles to the circumstances of your life. To get the most out of this study, it is essential that you commit to spending time each day both reading the daily entry and working through the application. As you proceed in this manner, you will notice an accumulative effect as one day builds upon the next.

Plan to do one chapter per week. At that pace, you will complete the study in approximately two months. Each chapter, with the exception of the last one, is broken into seven daily readings. The last day of each week summarizes each of the main points that were covered throughout the week. Your application on that day should be to reflect upon all that you’ve learned during your study that week.

You will also find that the GPS Daily Action Step is a directive that will help navigate your life with Jesus. Assimilating these concepts is so important that you should consider keeping a daily journal. Jesus Take the Wheel: Daily Journal for a Transformed Life is a tool that you may find helpful for this very purpose. It is a journal, that has been designed to be used in conjunction with this book and is filled with additional soul-searching questions, which correspond to each chapter. It is available for no additional cost, at www.letjesustakethewheel.com.

While many of us know we need and want change, we often neglect to allow Jesus to have His rightful place behind the wheel of our lives. As you work through each chapter, realize that no matter how great your initial desire was to draw closer to the Lord, it is not going to happen without a renewed commitment to the process each day. Start the journey today by yielding your life fully to Jesus, fastening your seat belt, and expecting Him to do a transforming work in you.


In order for us to truly grow in our relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to change our lives, it’s important to be moldable and teachable like a little child.

Chapter 1
Ignition: Who is at the Wheel? /Be a Humble Passenger

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest

in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)


DAY 1—Let Go and Let’s Go!


I’ve Always Had An Interest In Being Behind the Wheel

Family drives were a big deal when I was growing up. Whenever all four of us kids piled into the car, we were always bickering and fighting over who got what seat, and who sat behind which parent—position meant everything back then. So, on those rare occasions when I actually nabbed one of those prized window seats, life couldn’t be better. My dad always drove in those days and I can still remember the sense of security I had as I watched him sitting behind the wheel of our car. I felt safe knowing that dad was in control not only of the car, but also of our family and where we were going. Perhaps that memory still means so much to me today because that feeling of security was shattered at such a young age. My parents separated when I was fourteen, and suddenly it seemed as though no one was in control of our lives anymore.

Like most teenage boys, when I turned seventeen I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. I equated being behind the wheel of my own car with having more control over the direction of my own life. My first car cost $150, but the promise of newfound freedom it brought was priceless. However, that freedom didn’t actually last very long. The car broke down the second day I owned it and cost me another $125 to repair. On the third day, the engine blew and that was the end of my car, my money, and my short-lived independence. Not one to give up easily—I drove my mom’s old Volkswagen Beetle around until I found a way to get myself back into the driver’s seat of my own car once again. With such an urgency to be in charge of my life, it didn’t take long for me to save enough money to buy another $100 clunker. I didn’t care what the car looked like as long as I was sitting behind the wheel. Freedom! It meant so much to me. It meant I could drive wherever I wanted, when I wanted, without relying on anyone else. Yet, even with that sense of freedom and control, I was still uneasy about so many of the decisions I had to make—I was unsure of my life’s direction.

Then at the age of eighteen, my life took an unexpected detour when my girlfriend, Jeanne, told me she was pregnant. That is when I moved out of my mother’s house to start a new life as a husband and, shortly thereafter, a father. With the birth of our daughter, Jennifer, I was now responsible for two precious lives, and I still hadn’t found a direction for my own. We had no money and barely paid our bills each month. At the time, I couldn’t even afford to fix the car we owned, which had a broken defroster and heater. I remember driving to work on cold winter days wearing an extra layer of socks and two pairs of gloves so I could keep warm. I also had to drive with the driver’s side window open in order to clear off the frost that kept blocking my vision. Being at the wheel of that car was both an interesting and uncertain experience, which seemed to parallel my shaky life as a husband and father at such a young age. Although I tried to make it seem as though I was in total control, life was difficult then and continued to be for a number of years to come. I needed someone to go to; the only problem was—I was the only “go to” guy I knew.


The New “Ride” That Changed Everything

A few years later, at the age of twenty-five, I started a new job and bought my first brand new car—a maroon, 1984 Toyota Celica. I’ll never forget the night I picked up that car. Our three-year-old son, Jason, was antsy and hungry, so Jeanne kept buying him peanuts from the vending machine. After a few hours, we had completed all the necessary paperwork and the four of us eagerly jumped into our new car and headed home. It was the first time I ever experienced that new car smell that everyone talks about. But less than five minutes into that brave new world, we heard Jason complaining that “his belly hurt,” and without any further warning he threw up all over the back seat. Goodbye new car smell! As you can imagine, I was a little upset. Later that night when I had settled down enough to realize the slight humor in the situation, Jeanne and I decided that Jason had officially christened our first brand new car.

For the next several months, I was on top of the world whenever I was behind the wheel of that car. I actually looked forward to my drive to work each morning. What a difference it made not to be behind the wheel of a clunker! In fact, life in general had taken a turn for the best—a new car, a new job, a new sense of control.

However, before long, some complicated issues began creeping into my life creating “road-blocks” that I had to learn how to maneuver around. The stress eventually caught up with me. I felt an overwhelming lack of peace and purpose. Being behind the wheel of my life in those days became exhausting—I was running on empty. I had nowhere to turn, and once again, no one who could help me. That is when I finally turned to Jesus.

Being raised in a Jewish home, the idea of becoming a Christian was not something that I had ever really, seriously considered. But, hearing the gospel made me realize that my greatest need was for a Savior, and that Jesus—the Jewish Messiah—had paid the price for my sin on the cross. So, I gave my heart to Him. At that moment, I knew that the sense of security I had once known as a child watching my father behind the wheel, was now fully realized by asking Jesus to take the wheel of my life. The secret of being able to live a transformed life in this world is first to know Jesus as your Savior, and then to give Him full control over the direction of your life, as Lord.

At the age of thirty-three, I now had a fresh perspective and I was eager to experience all the Lord had for me—the peace, purpose, and freedom that came from being His child. At this point, I no longer wanted to be in control. I just wanted to sit behind Him and watch Him as He steered my life in a brand new direction. I possessed a renewed sense of security knowing Jesus was in charge and would always be there for me. The more I trusted Him, the more secure I felt, and I quickly began to realize that my only struggles came when I once again tried to assume control and go off in my own direction. I learned that what I needed most was to let Jesus take the wheel, every day.

My Review: This is a daily devotional. I am on day 8. It takes about two months. Each day has a two to three page devotional with a daily action step or God's Positioning System. The last day of each week is a summary of points from day 1-6.

Each of the "7 Keys to a Transformed Life With God" are covered over a one week period. They include Key #1 Which driver is most important?-Selfless Life, Key #2 Ask for directions-Gain Wisdom from God's Helpers, Key #3 Listen to Your Navigation System-Listen and Follow God's Direction, Key #4 Rely on Your Driver-Trust,Acknowledge, and Rely on God, Key #5 When the Four Car Pile-Up Happens-Peace in the Trials, Key #6 Stop Clinging to the Steering Wheel-Cling to God, Key #7 What Being a Passenger is all about-Find Joy on the Journey.

The author found the seven keys by studying the lives of Moses and Jesus. The pages of the book also feature stories from other biblical characters even though Moses and Jesus are the main ones. The author also uses experiences from his life.

There is a free journal available online at www.letjesustakethewheel.com

So far I have learned something on every day. I recommend this devotional for everyone.

Monday, November 17, 2008

White Christmas Pie by Wanda E. Brunstetter


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

White Christmas Pie

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)

by

Wanda E. Brunstetter




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.

This year Wanda also publishedA Sister's Hope


ABOUT THE BOOK

Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.

Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?

When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?

If you would like to read the first chapter of White Christmas Pie, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

My Review: When Will Henderson was six years old his father seemingly abandoned him to the care of Mark and Regina an Amish couple. His father did not return so the couple raised Will as their own. Will grows up Amish and becomes a member of the Amish faith and is engaged to Karen Yoder. But Will holds onto a lot of bitterness and anger toward his father for leaving him. There was supposed to be a note but Regina and Will never found it. Will knows he needs to be at peace with his past and father in order to move on in life. He does not know that his father is equally upset and depressed by the situation and had looked for him in the past. Frank Henderson, Will's father, begins to look for his son again. This is a wonderful heartwarming story set during Christmas. I enjoyed the development of the characters and story. Recommended.

My Mother's Wish by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt(AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment on this post until November 24 at midnight to be eligible to win a copy.***


Summary:
A grandfather’s song turns a diner into hallowed ground, like a church. A contrary girl with a gypsy heart feels the tug of home. A mother, far away, confronts impossible expectations. And a truck driver named Jedidah keeps his foot on the gas to sweep you into an unforgettable story of belonging and grace.


Readers looking for a meaningful, powerful read on a winter’s evening or with the family will love the rich 1960s nostalgia captured in the Midwest of Jedidiah’s and Ellee’s story; the peace found when family strife boils over, and the gentle reminders of the influence and effect every life has on another.


My Mother’s Wish is an unforgettable, powerful tale that ends on a memorable Christmastime note, but will be cherished and reread year-round for its bold message of grand hopes, impossible expectations, and the gift of grace that comes in between.

My Review:
Although this is a quick read it is an excellent one. It will stay with you for a long time. I highly recommend it. :)


Author Bio:
Jerry Camery-Hoggatt, Ph.D., is professor of New Testament at Vanguard University , in Costa Mesa , California . A professional storyteller, he is the author of the highly-acclaimed Christmas stories When Mother Was Eleven-Foot-Four (in trade adult and children’s picture book editions) and Givers of Gifts; plus Irony in Mark’s Gospel and Grapevine: A Spirituality of Gossip. His passion is theology and storytelling, which he believes are meant to go together. Jerry and his wife, Shaleen, are the parents of three children.

Buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1400074053/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1226968844&2115R1BAVL7AZERK60HelpfulReviews3.v=1&sr=8-1&voteError=0&2115R1BAVL7AZERK60HelpfulReviews3.s=SUCCESS

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday Salon November 16, 2008

The Sunday Salon.com
* This morning I reread The Chosen by Chaim Potok for the Read Through the Decades challenge. I did not realize this book was first published in the 1960s. I read it over ten years ago in middle school I think. I thought it was great then and I still think it is great today.

* It is about a Hasidic Jew named Daniel and regular Jew named Reuban. They became friends under unlikely circumstances. Daniel plays on an opposite baseball team and he beams Reuban in the eye. Reuban was wearing glasses and has glass in the eye and a concussion. He has to go to the hospital. Danny visits him there to ask for forgiveness. Eventually Reuban gives it and they become friends. This book is the telling of their friendship and life as they grow up in Brooklyn in different Jewish sects. I highly recommend this book.

* I have read the sequel The Promise a long time ago and I remember it being good too. Now I want to track down a copy of it read asap. :)

* I also read The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips by Stephen Baldwin (yes the actor) and Mark Tabb today. My review will be up on Wednesday.

* This week will be crazy on my blog. I am doing six blog tours starting tomorrow. I will be posting at least one giveaway possibly two this week. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (February 19, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1424161134
ISBN-13: 978-1

Product Description:The Sighing of the Winter Trees is as soothing as a hot cup of tea on a winter’s night. Winter, one of the most coldest and darkest of seasons is personified. There are ordinary situations such as “An I Love You on a Friday Afternoon,” like a gift of lollipops…imagine, an I love you on a Friday afternoon helps add spice to life. I’ve written poetry about a winter storm that is especially beautiful. In the midst of a winter storm think of the joyous days our hearts whispered. Think of the joyous days.

My Review: This was an enjoyable collection of simple poems featuring themes such as love, seasons, nature, holidays, the colors blue and purple, and flowers. I love the cover of the collection and the title. I like how they are easy to understand but still interesting. My favorite ones are probably the autumn themed poems. I only wish it had been organized into sections maybe so it would be easier to revisit certain parts of the collection at a time. Overall recommended because I did like them. :)

Harvest Moon by Laura Grossman

It is the night of

The harvest moon

The moon so beautiful

In the late autumn sky

Plays a harvest tune

The harvest moon

So beautiful in the

Late sky

To read another review and interview with Laura Grossman go here: http://savvyverseandwit.blogspot.com/2008/11/sighing-of-winter-trees-by-laura.html

http://thebluestockings.com/2008/11/the-sighing-of-the-winter-trees/


About the Author:
Laura Grossman graduated from Lehman College with a degree in English Literature and several awards from poetry contests. She is the author of The Sighing of the Winter Trees, available from Publish America.

Thank you Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for asking me to be part of the tour. :)