Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A-Z Reading Challenge 2009

Becky is hosting the 2009 A-Z Reading Challenge at http://atozchallenge.blogspot.com/

There are more options this year but I am sticking to the original. I will hopefully read again 52 books. One for each author and book title A-Z. I will keep up with my list on my sidebar by posting a link to this list and updating.

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O
Odom, Mel, Blood Lines (Done)
P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W
Without a Trace by Colleen Coble (Done)

X

Y

Z

A-Z Reading Challenge 2008 Finished



YAY! I finished the A-Z reading Challenge. :)
I really enjoyed the majority of the books I read. A few I would not recommend include: Barefoot Believers by Annie Jones, Girl in Hyacinth blue by Susan Vreeland, and Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. Otherwise I recommend any of the other books I read. I ended up liking or appreciating Sky Burial by Xinran and Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr which are two secular books I read just for this challenge and I was very wary. :)


Here is my list:

A

Awaken My Heart by Diann Mills (Done)

Arterburn, Stephen and Nancy Rue, Healing Stones (Done)

B

Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner (Done)

Bottke, Allison, One Little Secret (Done)

C

Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White (Done)

Copeland, Lori, Now and Always (Done)

D

Death of a 6 ft Teddy Bear by Sharon Dunn (Done)

Downs, Tim, First the Dead (Done)

E

Elvis Takes a Back Seat by Leanna Ellis (Done)

Eason, Lynette, River of Secrets (Done)

F

For Better or Worse by Diann Hunt (Done)

Fabry, Chris, Dogwood (Done)

G

Grits and Glory by Ron and Janet Benrey (Done)

Giorello, Sibella, The Stones Cry Out (Done)

H

Her Baby Dreams by Debra Clopton (Done)

Hauck, Rachel, Sweet Caroline (Done)

I

In the Company of Secrets by Judith Miller (Done)

Ishiguro,Kazuo, Remains of the Day (Done)

J

Just Cause by Susan Page Davis (Done)

Jones, Annie, Barefoot Believers (Done)

K

Kissing Adrian by Siri Mitchell (Done)

Klassen, Julie, Lady of Milkweed Manor (Done)

L

Legacy of Secrets by Sara Mitchell (Done)

Leigh, Tamera Splitting Harriet (Done)

M

My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Synder (Done)

Mangum, Erynn, MatchPoint (Done)

N

Next Door Daddy by Debra Clopton (Done)

Niequist, Shauna, Cold Tangerines (NF) (Done)

O

Only Uni by Camy Tang (Done)

Overstreet,Jeffrey, Cyndere's Midnight (Done)

P

Picket Fence Promises by Kathryn Springer (Done)

Plieter, Allie, Bluegrass Hero (Done)

Q

The Queen of Sleepy Eye by Patti Hill (Done)

Quindlen, Anna, How Reading Changed my Life (NF)(DONE)

R

Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson (Done)

Roper, Gayle, Fatal Deduction (Done)

S

Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith (Done)

Seitz, Rebecca, Sisters Ink (Done)

T

Truffles by the Sea by Julie Carobini (Done)

Thrasher, Travis, Out of the Devil's Mouth (Done)

U

Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin (Done)

Urban,Linda, A Crooked Kind of Perfect (Done)

V

Valley of Betrayal by Tricia Goyer (Done)

Vreeland,Susan, Girl in Hycanith Blue (DONE)

W

White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunsetter (Done)

Wyatt, Cheryl, A Soldier's Family (Done)

X

The X'ed Out X-Ray by Ron Roy (YA)(DONE)

Xinran, Sky Burial (Done)

Y

You Had me at Goodbye by Tracey Bateman (Done)

Young, Nicole, Kill Me if you Can (Done)

Z

Zero G by Alton Gansky (Done)

Zarr,Sarah, Sweethearts (Done)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen(AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment by January 5 at midnight to be entered to win a copy.***

Summary:
Every woman longs for change in some area of her life. Unfortunately, fear, fatigue, adversity, heartbreak, past failures, and even the choices of other people get in the way and make lasting change seem out of reach. Having been there herself, Karen Linamen knows exactly how to take readers from where they are to where they want to be.

In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, she examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of a woman’s life.

Blending laugh-out-loud humor and sage advice, Linamen shows readers the link between dissatisfaction and transformation, how to remodel habits, the little-known truth about procrastination, how to generate the energy they need to pursue the life they desire, how to benefit from options and resources they never dreamed they had, and much, much more!

My Review:
I am not finished reading yet. I keep stopping to think. For me this is not a book to sit and read all the way through in one sitting. There are questions at the end of each chapter to help prompt you on the questions to ask yourself.

Author Bio:
Karen Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs , Colorado . Visit her website at http://www.karenlinamen.com/.





Buy on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400074002

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Salon December 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon.com

* Today I finished reading Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. I only read it for the A-Z reading challenge and it was really dry and boring to me. I could sense some of what makes other people say it was great but not all.
* I also read the short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scot Fiztgerald. I actually read like 3 chapters before we went and saw it in the movies and then finished after. The only thing that is similar is the name and him being born old. All the other details were changed. The movie was very different and much longer. They are too different to compare and both were good in their own right.
* I am currently reading The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane and it is extremely dry and boring. I think I am missing something. I am half way through and I can not see why it is considered a classic yet.
* This weekend I read Sky Burial by Xinran which was actually better than what I expected.
* I also read Sweethearts by Sarah Zarr this week. It was also better than I expected. The ending is the only thing that made me go Ugh! I wanted to know more about the characters and how things ended.
* This week I have about 4 books left to read before the new year and I have to work all day so hopefully at night I will be able to cram them in. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

100+ Reading Challenge 2009


I loved this reading challenge for 2008. So 2009 here I come.
January
1. Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
2. Kristy's Great Idea by Ann M. Martin
3. Escape from the Drooling Octopod! by Robert West
4. Rocky Mountain Legacy by Lois Richer
5. Blood Lines by Mel Odom
6. Without a Trace by Colleen Coble
7. Fireflies in December by Jennifer Valent
8. Claudia and the Phantom Phone Calls by Ann M. Martin
9. The Truth About Stacey by Ann M. Martin
10. Beyond a Doubt by Colleen Coble
11. Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter
12. Face-Off by L. E. Blair
13. Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healey
14. Mary Anne Saves the Day by Ann M. Martin
15. Into the Deep by Colleen Coble
16. Dawn and the Impossible Three by Ann M. Martin
17. Claudia and Mean Janine by Ann M. Martin
18. Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus
19. Kristy's Big Day by Ann M. Martin
20. Boy-Crazy Stacey by Ann M. Martin
21. Dawn in Eclipse Bay by Jayne Ann Krentz
22. Babysitters on Board! by Ann M. Martin
23. The Spring of Candy Apples by Debbie Viguie
24. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
25. The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall
26. Coming Unglued by Rebecca Seitz
27. Scrapping Plans by Rebecca Seitz
28. The Ghost at Dawn's House by Ann M. Martin
29. Logan Likes Mary Anne by Ann M. Martin
30. Kristy and the Snobs by Ann M. Martin
31. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin
February
32. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (a memoir) by Bill Bryson
33. Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate
34. Word Gets Around by Lisa Wingate
35. Claudia and the New Girl by Ann M. Martin
36. Just Another Girl by Melody Carlson
37. Against All Odds by Irene Hannon
38. Good-bye Stacey, Good-bye by Ann M. Martin
39. This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury
40. Hello Mallory by Ann M. Martin
41. Cry in the Night by Colleen Coble
42. Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer
43. Little Miss Stoneybrook by Ann M. Martin
44. Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy
45. Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer
46. Their Small Town Love by Arlene James
47. Deadly Reunion by Florence Case
48. Tender Grace by Jackina Stark
49. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
50. Last Mango in Texas by Ray Blackston
51. The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie
52. Out of Time by Paul McCusker
53. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo
54. Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith
55. Daisy Chain by Mary E. DeMuth
56. Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale
57. Sundays at Tiffanys by James Patterson
58. On a Killer's Trail by Susan Page Davis
59. Heart of the Night by Lenora Worth
60. A Soldier for Keeps by Jillian Hart
March
61. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Laura Willig
62. A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury
63. Cream Puff Murder by Joanne Fluke
64. Just Beyond the Clouds by Karen Kingsbury
65. The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
66. Breach of Trust by Diann Mills
67. Juliet's Moon by Ann Rinaldi
68. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
69. Turning the Paige by Laura Jensen Walker
70. The Hand-Me-Down Family by Winnie Griggs
71. Diary of a Teenage Girl: It's a Green Thing by Melody Carlson
72. A Silent Terror by Lynette Eason
73. The Rivers Run Dry by Sibello Giorello
74. Boo by Rene Gutteridge
75. The Negotiator by Dee Henderson (reread)
76. Boo Who by Renee Gutteridge
77. If Tomorrow Never Comes by Marlo Schalesky
78. The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler
79. For Whom the Wedding Bell Tolls by Nancy Mehl
80. Texas Ranger Dad by Debra Clopton
81. Healing Waters by Nancy Rue, Stephen Arterburn
82. Salty Like Blood by Harry Kraus M.D.
83. And Only to Decieve by Tasha Alexander
84. The Masque of the Black Tulip by Laura Willig
April
85. The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Laura Willig
86. The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Laura Willig
87. Jessi's Secret Language by Ann M. Martin
88. Mary Anne's Bad Luck Mystery by Ann M. Martin
89. Stacey's Mistake by Ann M. Martin
90. Claudia and the Bad Joke by Ann M. Martin
91. Kristy and the Walking Diaster by Ann M. Martin
92. Mallory and the Trouble with Twins by Ann M. Martin
93. Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
94. The Light, Dark, and Ember Between by J. W. Nicklaus
95. Miss Match by Sara Mills
96. The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
97. Boo Hiss by Rene Gutteridge
98. Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge
99. The Lost Hours by Karen White
100. Murder at Eagle Summit by Virginia Smith
101. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
102. So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones
103. Killer Cargo by Dana Mentink
104. A Flickering Light by Jane Kirkpatrick
105. A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher
106. Looking for Alaska by John Green
107. A Love to Last Forever by Tracie Peterson
108. Tides of Hope by Irene Hannon
109. The Baby Bond by Linda Goodnight
110. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
111. Flashover by Dana Mentink
112. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
May
113. According to Their Deeds by Paul Robertson
114. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (reread)
115. Blood Bayou by Karen Young
116. Saving Sailor by Renee Riva (reread)
117. Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva
118. Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren
119. Always Watching by Brandilyn and Amberly Sanders
120. Twice Upon a Time by Lois Richer
121. Perfect Target by Stephanie Newton
122. Memory's Gate by Paul McCusker
123. The Moment Between by Nicole Baart
124. Beloved Counterfeit by Kathleen Y'Barbo
125. Deceptive Promises by Amber Miller
126. Ruby Unscripted by Cindy Coloma
127. Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen
128. Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn
129. Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman
130. Reunion by Therese Fowler
131. Protecting Her Children by Debby Giusti
132. The Lost City of Z by David Grann (NF)
133. The Night Watch Man by Mark Mynheir
134. A Ring and a Promise by Lois Richer
135. City of the Dead by T. L. Higley
136. Stealing Home by Allison Pittman
137. Breathe by Lisa T. Bergren
138. Saints in Limbo by River Jordan
June
139. Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center
140. Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes by Robin Jones Gunn
141. The Note II: Taking a Chance on Love by Angela Hunt
142. A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist
143. What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley
144. Framed! by Robin Caroll
145. Cold Case Murder by Shirlee McCoy
146. A Cloud of Suspicion by Patricia Davids
147. Deadly Competition by Roxanne Rustard
148. Never the Bride by Renee Gutteridge
149. The Family He Wanted by Karen Sandler
150. A Weaver Wedding by Allison Leigh
151. Her Last Chance by Terri Reed
152. The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt (reread)
153. Breaking Up is Hard to Do by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
154. You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke
155. The Inheritance by Tamera Alexander
156. Scent of Murder by Virginia Smith
157. A Dream to Call My Own by Tracie Peterson
158. Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg
159. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
160. Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn
161. Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
162. Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
163. Blackmail by Robin Caroll
164. Sonnet to a Dead Contessa by Gilbert Morris
165. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (reread)
166. Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott (reread)
167. Lone Star Cinderalla by Debra Clopton
168. Heidi by Johanna Spyri
169. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
July
170. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn by Liz Johnson
171. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
172. Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant
173. Try Fear by James Scott Bell
174. Hometown Courtship by Diann Hunt
175. Through the Fire by Shawn Grady
176. Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson
177. Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus
178. Code of Honor by Lenora Worth
179. Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith
180. Offworld by Robin Parrish
181. June Bug by Chris Fabry
August
182. This is Your Brain on Joy by Dr. Earl Henslin (Non-fiction)
183. Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate (Non-fiction)
184. The Noticer by Andy Andrews (Non-Fiction)
185. Montana Rose by Mary Connealy
186. A Man of His Word by Kathleen Fuller
187. Me, Just Different by Stephanie Morrill
188. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
189. The Blue Enchantress by M. L. Tyndall
190. Meltdown by Chuck Holton
191. Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
192. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
193. My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi
194. The End of Overeating by David Kessler M.D. (Non-fiction)
195. My Cat Spit McGee by Willie Morris (Non-Fiction)
196. The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
197. Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander
198. Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland
199. A Texas Ranger's Family by Mae Nunn
200. Gone to Green by Judy Christie
201. Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
202. Stray Affections by Charlene Ann Baumbich
September
203. Sweet Waters by Julie Carobini
204. Eye for an Eye by Irene Hannon
205. Lonestar Secrets by Colleen Coble
206. Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones
207. Look to the East by Maureen Lang
208. Forgiven by Shelley Sheppard Gray
209. Ends of the Earth by Tim Downs
210. Love's First Light by Jamie Carie
211. Seeing Things by Patti Hill
212. Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson
213. Faith and Honor by Robin Maderich
214. Plain Promise by Beth Wiseman
215. Race to Rescue by Dana Mentink
216. The Secret of Indigo Moon by G. P. Taylor
217. The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
218. Moving Target by Stephanie Newton
219. Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
220. The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters
221. Austenland by Shannon Hale
222. All-Of-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
223. More All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
224. The Mummy Case by Elizabeth Peters
October
225. Betsy Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
226. Taking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove
227. Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin
228. Words Unspoken by Elizabeth Musser
229. The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller
230. Piece De Resistance by Sandra Byrd
231. Things Worth Remembering by Jackina Stark
232. Betsy Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
233. That Certain Spark by Cathy Marie Hake
234. The Sound of Sleigh Bells by Cindy Woodsmall
235. A Victorian Christmas by Catherine Palmer
236. Last Breath by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins
237. Betsy Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace
238. What Matters Most by Melody Carlson
239. A Little Help From My Friends by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
240. The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason
241. eye of the god by Ariel Allison
242. Limelight by Melody Carlson
243. Plum Pudding by Joanne Fluke
244. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffengegger
November
245. Leaving Carolina by Tamera Leigh
246. A Slow Burn by Mary DeMuth
247. Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters
248. Fit to be Tied by Robin Lee Hatcher
249. His Cowgirl Bride by Debra Clopton
250. White Picket Fences by Susan Meissner
251. Sometimes a Light Surprises by Jamie Langston Turner
252. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
253. The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
254. The Thanksgiving Target by Laura Scott
255. A Silent Pursuit by Lynette Eason
256. Hearts in the Crosshairs by Susan Page Davis
257. Final Warning by Sandra Robbins
258. Return Policy by Michael Synder
259. Mistletoe and Murder by Florence Case
260. How Do I love Thee? by Nancy Moser
261. An Unexpected Match by Dana Corbit
262. His Christmas Bride by Dana Corbit
263. Green by Ted Dekker
264. Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick and Frances Wilkinson
265. An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott
266. Healing the Boss's Heart by Valerie Hansen
267. Marrying Minister right by Annie Jones
268. Rekindled Hearts by Brenda Minton
269. The Matchmaking Pact by Carolyne Aarsen
December
270. The Marriage Wish by Dee Henderson (reread)
271. A Family for Thanksgiving by Patricia Davids
272. Jingle Bell Babies by Kathryn Springer
273. Blessings of the Season by Annie Jones and Brenda Minton
274. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
275. Paper Towns by John Green
276. Lone Star Blessings by Bonnie K Winn
277. A Wedding in Wyoming by Deb Kastner
278. A Forever Christmas by Missy Tippens
279. Jenna's Cowboy Hero by Brenda Minton
280. Yultide Protector by Lisa Mondello
281. 99 Ways to Stretch Your Home Budget by Cheri Gillard
282. Wishin and Hopin by Wally Lamb
283. What Women don't know(and men don't tell you) by Michelle Mckinney Hammond and Joe Brooks
284. The Sheriff's Surrender by Susan Page Davis
285. Christmas Peril by Margaret Daley and Debby Giusti
286. The Solider's Holiday Vow by Jillian Hart
287. the Christmas Lamp by Lori Copeland
288. The Lightkeeper's Daughter by Colleen Coble
289. The Face by Angela Hunt
290. The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
291. Ivy and Intrigue by Lauren Willig
292. Railway Children by E. Nesbit
293. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
294. the Great Christmas Bowl by Susan May Warren
295. How Sweet It Is by Alice Wisler
296. Dracula by Bram Stoker
297. The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne

Friday, December 26, 2008

Book Blogger Christmas Swap


I recieved my Book blogger Christmas Swap present today. I wanted to say thank you and give a shout out to Sue at http://www.booksbooksthemagicalfruit.blogspot.com/.

She sent me a very interesting historical book.
Thank you!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

What's in a Name? Reading Challenge 2009



What's in a Name 2 Reading Challenge



*Dates: January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2009


*The Challenge: Choose one book from each of the following categories.


1. A book with a "profession" in its title. Examples might include: The Book Thief, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Historian

2. A book with a "time of day" in its title. Examples might include: Twilight, Four Past Midnight, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

3. A book with a "relative" in its title. Examples might include: Eight Cousins, My Father's Dragon, The Daughter of Time

4. A book with a "body part" in its title. Examples might include: The Bluest Eye, Bag of Bones, The Heart of Darkness

5. A book with a "building" in its title. Examples might include: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Little House on the Prairie, The Looming Tower

6. A book with a "medical condition" in its title. Examples might include: Insomnia, Coma, The Plague
My List will be posted in my sidebar as soon as I figure out what to read. :)

First in a Series Reading Challenge 2009

I participated in this challenge 2008 and wanted to in 2009 also. The challenge involves reading 12 books each the first book in a series. 2008 it was hosted by Joy at Thoughts of Joy and 2009 J. Kaye will be taking over at
I do not have a list ready yet but it will be posted in my sidebar so everyone can see what I am reading. :)

What's in a Name? Reading Challenge Finished List



Animal - "Death of a 6 ft Teddy Bear" by Sharon Dunn (DONE)
Color - "Blue Heart Blessed" by Susan Meissner (DONE)
First Name - "My Name is Russell Fink" by Michael Synder (DONE)
Place Name - "Lady of Milkweed Manor" by Julie Klassen (DONE)
Plant Name - "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith (DONE)
Weather Event- "Snow Angel" by Jamie Carie (DONE)
My favorite is a tie between Blue Heart Blessed and My Name is Russell Fink. I would recommend any of the books on this list. :)
Thanks to Annie for hosting. I will definitely be participating in the 2009 with all new categories.

First in a Series Challenge Completed List



First in a Series Challenge Finished List:
"A Treasure Worth Keeping" by Kathryn Springer (DONE)
"Child of the Mist" by Kathleen Morgan (DONE)
"From a Distance" by Tamera Alexander (DONE)
"House of Dark Shadows" by Robert Liparulo (DONE)
"In the Company of Secrets" by Judith Miller (DONE)
"Killing Floor" by Lee Child (DONE)
"Miss Fortune" by Sara Mills (DONE)
"Shadows of Colossus" by T. L. Higley (DONE)
"Sisters Inc" by Rebecca Seitz (DONE)
"Stuck in the Middle" by Virginia Smith (DONE)
"The DoppleGanger Chronicles:The First Escape" by G. P. Taylor (DONE)
"Twice Loved" by Lori Copeland (DONE)
I pretty much liked all the books I read for this challenge. I was surprised I liked the DoppleGanger Chronicles and House of Dark Shadows but I did and they are YA. The only book I did not like and would not recommend at all is Killing Floor by Lee Child. It is not Christian fiction and it is full of murder, gory stuff, s*x, and cursing. The concept was cool but it was ruined for me by all the other junk. My sister likes the series and is on book ten so different books for different people. My two absolute favorite Christian fiction off the list is Stuck in the Middle by Virgina Smith and A Treasure Worth Keeping by Kathryn Springer but I recommend any on the list. :)
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling

One more holiday book review for this season. :)

One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (October 22, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446582107

From Publishers Weekly
Two mothers. Two children. One tragedy. One miracle. Snelling, whose novels have sold more than two million copies, is sure to grab readers from the start of this holiday melodrama. Nora Peterson wants to create the perfect Christmas for what may be the last year her twins are home before leaving for college. Her husband's long business trip threatens her plans, but her world is about to turn upside down from far worse. As she faces tragedy, emergency room nurse Jenna Montgomery faces a miracle: her dying daughter, Heather, is getting a new heart. Snelling moves from one mother's viewpoint to the other's with ease, keeping readers riveted to Nora's emotional and spiritual healing and Jenna's understanding of her daughter's new life, as well as her own. Subplots—Nora's relationship with her daughter, Christi, and Jenna's surprise romance—add layers to this spiritually challenging and emotionally taut story. Fans of Christian women's fiction will enjoy this winning novel. (Oct. 22) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

My Review:
This is a captivating story about two mothers each dealing with strong emotions during the holiday season. The chapter title has which mother is speaking for the chapter so it easy to keep it separate. I do not want to reveal too much because as the story evolves it all comes out. This is a beautiful novel that deals with some hard topics like organ donation. I recommend it and even though it is set mostly at Christmas it is okay to read it after the season too. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's On Your Nightstand? December

On My nightstand I have a few challenge books to finish before December 31, 2008. Also some review books coming up and a few contests too. :)


By the Decades:
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Chamber Music by James Joyce
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Hobbit by J. R. Tolkien


The A-Z Challenge
Sky Burial by Xinran
A Valley of Betrayal by Tricia Goyer
Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro


Review Books
The American Patriot's Handbook by William Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen
Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs
Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo
Blood Lines by Mel Odom
Fireflies in December by Jennifer Vanlent
Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter


Other
How Not to Die by Dr. G
Hamlet by William Shakespeare (for 5 Mintues for Books Classics Challenge)





The Winter of Cany Canes by Debbie Viguie



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 Winter of Candy Canes

Zondervan (October 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Debbie ViguiƩ has been writing for most of her life. She has experimented with poetry and nonfiction, but her true passion lies in writing novels.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from UC Davis. While at Davis she met her husband, Scott, at auditions for a play. It was love at first sight.

Debbie and Scott now live on the island of Kauai. When Debbie is not writing and Scott has time off they love to indulge their passion for theme parks.


The Sweet Seasons Novels:

The Summer of Cotton Candy
The Fall of Candy Corn
The Winter of Candy Canes
The Spring of Candy Apples


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310717523
ISBN-13: 978-0310717522

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Candace Thompson was once again eye-to-eye with Lloyd Peterson, hiring manager for The Zone theme park. This time, though, she felt far more confident. She had already spent her summer working as a cotton candy vendor, and she had worked one of the mazes for the annual Halloween event. She had even saved the park from saboteurs.

Now she was back, and this time she was interviewing for a job working the Christmas events at the park. Surely after everything she had done for the Scare event, she had nothing to worry about. She tucked a strand of red hair back behind her ear as she gazed intently at the man across from her.

“So you want to work Holly Daze?” he asked.

She nodded. Christmas at The Zone was a big deal, and the park began its official celebrations the day after Thanksgiving.

“You keep hiring on for short bursts of time and then leaving. Do you have some sort of problem committing to things?” he asked, staring hard at her.

She was stunned, but answered, “I don’t have any problem with commitment. I signed on to do specific things, and the jobs ended. That’s not my fault. I didn’t quit.”

“So, you plan on making a habit of this?” he demanded. “Are you going to show up here again in a -couple of months expecting me to give you some kind of job for spring break?”

“No, I — ”

“I know your type,” he said, standing up abruptly. “You’re just a party girl. No commitments . . . no cares . . . just grab some quick cash and get out. You think you can handle Holly Daze? Well, you can’t! You’re weak and a quitter. You’re going to bail on me as soon as your school vacation starts, and then what? Well, let me tell you, missy. You aren’t wanted here. So just pack your bags and get out!”

By the end of his tirade, he was shouting, eyes bulging behind his glasses and tie swinging wildly as he shook his finger under her nose. Candace recoiled, sure that he had finally flipped out. I’m going to end up as a headline: Girl Murdered by Stressed-Out Recruiter, she thought wildly. Well, I’m not going down without a fight! She jumped to her feet and put some distance between her and the wildly wagging finger.

“You need to calm down!” she said, projecting her voice like her drama teacher had taught her. Her voice seemed to boom in the tiny office. “Pull yourself together. You’re a representative of this theme park, and there is no call to insult me. Furthermore, I’m not a quitter. I’ll work for the entire Christmas season. Then the next time I come in here, I’ll expect you to treat me with some respect. Do you even realize what I’ve done for this park so far? Seriously. Take a chill pill.”

She stopped speaking when she realized that he had gone completely quiet. She held her breath, wondering when the next explosion was going to come. Instead, he sat down abruptly and waved her back to her chair.

“Very good. You passed the test,” he said, picking up a pen.

“What test?” she asked, edging her way back into the chair.

“The ultimate test. You’re going to be one of Santa’s elves.”

“Doesn’t Santa, you know, have his own elves?” she asked, still not sure that he was completely in charge of his senses.

“Of course Santa has his own elves. However, when he’s here at The Zone we supply him with courtesy elves so that they can continue making toys at the North Pole,” Mr. Peterson told her.

“So, I’m going to be a courtesy elf?” she asked.

He nodded and handed her a single sheet of paper. “Sign this.”

She took it. “What? Just one thing to sign?” She had expected another huge stack of forms that would leave her hand cramped for hours afterward.

He nodded curtly. “You’re now in our system as a regular seasonal employee. All of your other paperwork transfers.”

“Regular seasonal” sounded like some kind of contradiction to her, but she was still not entirely convinced his outburst had been a test. She scanned it, signed her name, and then handed it back to him.

“Good. Report to wardrobe on Saturday for your costume fitting,” he said.

“Okay, thank you,” she said, standing up and backing toward the door.

“Welcome back, Candy,” he said, smiling faintly.

“Thanks,” she said, before bolting out the door.

As soon as she was outside the building, she whipped out her cell phone and called her friend Josh, a fellow employee of The Zone.

“Well?” he asked when he picked up.

“I think Mr. Peterson has seriously lost it,” she said. “He totally flipped out on me.”

Josh laughed. “Let me guess. You’re going to be an elf.”

“So he was serious? That was some whacked-out test?”

“Yeah. Elves are considered a class-one stress position, and it can get pretty intense.”

“How hard can it be to be an elf?” she asked.

She was rewarded by a burst of laughter on the other end.

“Josh, what is it you’re not telling me?”

He just kept laughing.

“Okay, seriously. You were the one who convinced me to work Holly Daze. I think it’s only fair you tell me whatever it is I need to know.”

“Sorry!” he gasped. She wasn’t sure if he was apologizing or refusing to tell her.

A girl bounced around the corner and slammed into Candace.

“Josh, I’ll call you later,” she said, hanging up.

“Sorry,” Becca apologized.

Becca was one of Candace’s other friends from the park, one who had some sort of bizarre allergy to sugar that made her uncontrollably hyper. Candace looked suspiciously at Becca. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were glistening, and she was hopping from one foot to the other.

“You didn’t have sugar, did you?” Candace asked, fear ripping through her.

“No! Promise,” Becca said.

“Then what gives?”

“Roger made me laugh really hard,” Becca explained.

Roger had a crush on Becca and had wanted to ask her out since Halloween. It hadn’t happened yet.

“Oh,” was all Candace could think to say.

“So, are you working Holly Daze?” Becca asked.

“Yeah. I’m going to be an elf.”

Suddenly, Becca went completely still, and the smile left her face. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Why?” Candace asked.

Becca just shook her head. “I’ve gotta get back to the Muffin Mansion. I’ll catch you later.”

She hurried off, and Candace watched her go. Okay, now I know there’s something -people aren’t telling me.

She debated about following Becca and forcing her to spill, but instead she headed for the parking lot where her best friend Tamara was waiting. She walked through the Exploration Zone, one of the several themed areas in the park.

The Zone theme park was created and owned by John
Hanson, a former professional quarterback who believed in healthy competition at work and play. His theme park had several areas, or zones, where -people could compete with each other and themselves at just about anything. Almost everyone who worked at The Zone was called a referee. The exceptions were the costumed characters called mascots. Most of them, including Candace’s boyfriend, Kurt, were to be found in the History Zone. -People visiting the park were called players, and the areas of the park they could reach were called on field. Only refs could go off field.

Candace cut through an off field area to get to the referee parking lot. She waved at a few other -people she recognized from her time spent working there. Finally, she slid into her friend’s waiting car.

“So are you going to be the Christmas queen?” Tamara asked.

“What am I, Lucy VanPelt? There’s no Christmas queen in Charlie Brown’s Christmas play, and there’s no Christmas queen in The Zone,” Candace said.

Tamara fake pouted. “Are you sure? I think I’d make a beautiful Christmas queen.”

Candace laughed. Tamara was gorgeous, rich, and fun. Her whole family practically redefined the word wealthy, and, with her dark hair and olive skin, Tamara was usually the prettiest girl in any room. She didn’t let it go to her head, though. Anybody who knew Tamara would vote for her as Christmas queen.

“Although I think you would, they’re only hiring elves.”

“You’re going to be an elf?” Tamara smirked.

“Hey, it beats being a food cart vendor,” Candace said.

“But you’re so good at it. Cotton candy, candy corn . . . you can sell it all.”

“Thanks, I think. So, what are we doing tonight? Kurt’s going to swing by at six to pick us up.” Just mentioning her boyfriend’s name was enough to make Candace smile. She closed her eyes for just a minute and pictured him as she had first seen him — wearing a Lone Ranger costume. With his charm and piercing blue eyes, she had fallen for him right away.

“You told him my house, right?” Tamara said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yeah. So, who’s this guy you’re taking?”

Tamara sighed. “Mark.”

“Uh-huh. And?”

“Remember my cousin Tina?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, she broke up with him over the summer, and he’s been all shattered since then. He won’t date other girls; he just mopes over her.”

“Attractive,” Candace said sarcastically.

“Tell me about it. Well, Tina asked me if I could help him get his confidence back and get over her or something.”

“A pity date? Are you kidding me? You want Kurt and I to double date with you on a pity date?”

“You don’t think I’m about to go by myself, do you? No way. That’s the best-friend creed. When you’re happy, I’m happy. When I’m miserable, you have to be too.”

“Great,” Candace said, rolling her eyes. “So, where are we going?”

“That’s the problem. I was thinking dinner, but then we’d have to talk, and frankly, I don’t want to hear him go on about Tina. Then I thought we could see a movie.”

“You wouldn’t have to talk to him,” Candace confirmed.

“Yeah, but what if — ”

“He tries to grab a hand or put his arm around you.”

“Exactly, and I don’t think me giving him a black eye was what Tina had in mind.”

“I guess that also rules out any kind of concert possibilities?” Candace asked wistfully.

“Yup. Sorry.”

“So, what did you come up with?”

“I was thinking . . . theme park?”

“No way. Kurt doesn’t like to spend his downtime there.”

“I thought he took you to that romantic dinner there over the summer.”

“It was the nicest restaurant he knew, and he got an employee discount.”

“Charming,” Tamara said.

“Plus, ever since we got trapped in there overnight, he’s been even more adamant about avoiding it when he’s off work.”

“I can’t believe you two get to be the stuff of urban legend, and you don’t even appreciate it.”

Candace sighed. It was true that she and Kurt had spent one of the most miserable nights of their relationship trapped inside the theme park. Urban legend, though, had since transformed the story so that they were supposedly chased through the park by a psycho killer. It was still embarrassing to have -people point at her and say that she was the one. Around Halloween she had given up trying to correct -people. They were going to believe what they wanted.

“Earth to Candace. Helloooo?”

“Sorry. So, what does that leave us with? Shopping?”

“No need to torture both our dates,” Tamara said.

“Then what?”

“I don’t — miniature golf!” Tamara suddenly shrieked, so loudly that Candace jumped and slammed her head into the roof of the car.

“Tam! Don’t scare me like that.”

“Sorry. Miniature golf. What do you think? Built-in talking points, lots of movement, and zero grabby potential.”

“I like it. I’ll have to borrow one of your jackets though.”

“At least you’ll have an actual excuse this time,” Tamara teased.

A few minutes later they were at Tamara’s house and upstairs raiding her wardrobe. As Tamara considered and discarded a fifth outfit, Candace threw up her hands.

“Maybe if you’d tell me what you’re looking for, I could help.”

“I’m looking for something, you know, nunlike.”

Candace stared at her friend for a moment before she burst out laughing. She fell to the floor, clutching her stomach as tears streamed down her face. Tamara crossed her arms and tapped her foot, and Candace just laughed harder.

“I don’t know why you think that’s so funny. You know I don’t go past kissing.”

“Tam, nuns can’t even do that. And if you’re looking for something that will completely hide your body, then you’re going to have to go to the mall instead of the closet. You don’t own anything that doesn’t say ‘look at me.’ I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

“Really? Maybe we should go to your house. Think I could find what I’m looking for in your closet?”

“Not since I started dating and mom made me throw out all my old camp T-shirts,” Candace said with a grin.

“Then hello, you’ve got no call to laugh.”

Candace stood up, stomach still aching from laughing so hard. “Tam, I’m not criticizing. I’m just telling you, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for.”

Tam reached into the closet. “Oh, yeah, what about this?” she asked, producing jeans and a black turtleneck.

“If you’re going for the secret agent look, it’s a good choice.”

Tamara threw the jeans at her, and Candace ducked.

“I could wear some black pants with this. Would that be too funereal?

“For a pity date? Go for it.”

Candace opted to borrow Tamara’s discarded jeans instead of wearing the skirt she had brought with her. They turned out to be slightly tighter on her than they were on Tam, and she had to admit when she paired them with her red scoop-neck top that she looked really good.

When Kurt arrived a few minutes later, he whistled when he saw her.

“Keep the jeans,” Tamara whispered to her. “Obviously, they work for you.”

Kurt then looked at Tamara and frowned slightly. “Did you just come from a funeral?”

“No, but thank you for thinking so,” Tamara said with a smirk.

“I don’t — ”

Candace put her finger over his lips. “Don’t ask,” she advised him.

He smiled and kissed her finger, which made her giggle.

The doorbell rang again, and Candace turned, eager to see the infamous Mark.

Tamara opened the door, and Candace sucked in her breath. Mark was gorgeous. He had auburn hair, piercing green eyes, and model-perfect features. He was almost as tall as Kurt, and he was stunning in khaki Dockers and a green Polo shirt.

“Hi,” he said, smiling.

Tamara glanced at her and rolled her eyes.

“Hi, Mark.”

Kurt drove, and Candace was quick to slide into the front seat with him, leaving Tamara and Mark to the back. She shook her head. Mark was not her idea of a pity date in any sense of the word. Maybe Tamara would come around if she actually talked to him.

They made it to the miniature golf course and were soon on the green. Candace got a hole in one on the first time up to putt, and Kurt gave her a huge reward kiss.

When they moved on to the next hole, Tamara whispered in her ear, “Thanks a lot. This is supposed to be a no grabby zone. Now Mark will be getting ideas.”

“Tam, you really need to relax a little.”

They made it through the course in record time, and Kurt gave Candace another kiss for winning by one stroke. After turning in their clubs, the guys headed inside to order pizza while Candace and Tamara went to the restroom.

“This date is the worst,” Tamara groaned once they were alone.

“What’s wrong with you? He’s gorgeous.”

“Really? I guess I just can’t see past the Tina mope.”

“What mope? He hasn’t even mentioned her, and he’s done nothing but smile all night. You should totally take him to Winter Formal.”

“No way. This is a one-date-only kind of thing. I’m not taking him to Winter Formal.”

“Fine. Suit yourself. I’m just telling you that if it weren’t for Kurt, I’d be taking him to Winter Formal.”

Tamara laughed.

“As if. There’s no way you’d ask a guy out.”

“I don’t know. You might be surprised.”

“It’s a moot point anyway. I’ll find someone to take.”

“You could always take Josh,” Candace suggested.

“You’re not setting me up with Josh, so just forget it.”

“Fine.”

“Find out for me, though, if Santa needs a Mrs. Claus,” Tamara said.

“You’re going to find some way to be the Christmas queen, aren’t you?” Candace asked.

“Even if I have to marry old Saint Nick.”

They both laughed.

My Review: I am actually not a part of this tour but I loved this series so I wanted everyone to see it. This is book three in the series. I recommend reading them in order. They are YA but this 25 year old loved them as much as my 12 year old cousin. I cannot wait for the Spring of Candy Apples to come out. I do not want to see the series end! I highly recommend the whole series. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard



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:


Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925511
ISBN-13: 978-0736925518

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chesterton, Hertfordshire

England

1813

Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”

My Review: I loved loved loved this book. This is the first Christian Regency Romance Novel I have heard of and it is definitely a niche to be filled. I was swept away to England in the early 1800s. I love the characters and their interactions. The beginning was a little slow but it picked up pace quickly. The author did an excellent job at describing without bogging the story down. I was on pins and needles turning the page. It is not a Jane Austen redo at all but a wonderful novel on its own. I highly recommend this book that is going on my 2008 favorites list. :)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Salon December 21, 2008

The Sunday Salon.com

* I finished the Fall Into Reading Challenge this weekend. I read 69 books. I only read 52 for it last year but I was still in school. It is offically winter. I live in the Deep South so it was unseasonably warm this weekend but it is supposed to be really cold for us tomorrow. I posted a full wrap up with list yesterday.
* This was a slow reading weekend.
* I read Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard which is a new Christian Regency Romance novel that I absolutely loved. My full review will be up tomorrow.
* Today I reread The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo
* I heard the movie was coming out and I read a blogger review that said the movie added three major plot elements. So I wanted to reread it before I saw the movie. I am glad I did because it is truly a children's classic. I have not gone to see the movie yet so I will have to update after that.
* I still have my other challenges to finish so hopefully I will make the December 31 deadline for the Decades, A-Z, and Classics challenge. :)

The Sword and the Flute by Mike Hamel


It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour! This is the very last Teen FIRST tour as Teen FIRST has merged with FIRST Wild Card Tours. If you wish to learn more about FIRST Wild Card, please go HERE.




and his book:



Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mike Hamel is a seasoned storyteller who has honed his skill over theyears by telling tall tales to his four children. He is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles.

Mike and his wife, Susan, live in Colorado Springs, CO. Their four children are now grown and their two grand children will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

From His Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with sixteen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneur’s Creed (Broadman, 2001), Executive Influence (NavPress, 2003), and Giving Back (NavPress, 2003). I also edited Serving Two Masters: Reflections on God and Profit, by Bill Pollard (Collins, 2006).


My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. It’s based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 34 years, Susan.

As you read this blog, remember that I’m a professional. Don’t try this level of writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

BTW – I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer.


Mike's Blog, Cells Behaving Badly, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please visit the Matterhorn the Brave Website!

Product Details

List Price: 9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0899578330
ISBN-13: 978-0899578330


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Emerald Isle


Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

“Are you okay?” the Baron asked. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of a Marines’ recruiting poster. “We’ll have to work on your landing technique.”

“How about warning me when we’re going somewhere,” Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. “It makes no difference which way we go,” he said at last. “The horses will find us.”

“What horses?”

“The horses that will take us to the one we came to see,” the Baron answered.

“Are you always this vague or do you just not know what you’re doing?”

“I don’t know much, but I suspect this is somebody’s field. We don’t want to be caught trespassing. Let’s go.”

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, “Do you know what these are?”

“Gorse, of course,” the Baron said without turning.

“Never heard of it.”

“Then I guess you haven’t been to Ireland before.”

“Ireland,” Matterhorn repeated. “My great-grandfather came from Ireland.”

“Your great-grandfather won’t be born for centuries yet.”

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.”

“How can that be!” Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. “How can I be alive before my great-grandfather?”

The Baron shrugged. “That’s one of the paradoxes of time travel. No one’s been able to figure them all out. You’re welcome to try, but while you’re at it, keep a lookout for the horses.”

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

That’s where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands high—five-foot-eight-inches—at the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

“These horses are free,” the Baron said as he stroked the stallion’s neck. “They choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.”

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhorn’s pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. “That one’s got a sweet tooth,” he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. “I take it we’re riding without saddles or bridles,” Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

“Bridles aren’t necessary,” Aaron the Baron explained. “Just hold on to his mane and stay centered.” He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. “The horses have been sent for us. They’ll make sure we get where we need to go.”

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horse’s neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animal’s neck. “Hey, Baron; check out this birthmark.” He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnut’s right shoulder. “It looks like a piece of broccoli. I’m going to call him Broc.”

“Call him what you want,” the Baron said, “but you can’t name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you what’s on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.”

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. “You get some wood,” Aaron the Baron said, “while I make a fire pit.” He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. “Cool!”

“Cool is what we’ll be if you don’t get going.”

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didn’t touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didn’t feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fall Into Reading 2008 Wrap-Up Post


I cannot believe it but Fall is Almost Over and it is the end of the Fall Into Reading 2008 Challenge already. I love this challenge. I did it last year and hopefully will do it again next year.
Now some questions from Katrina at Callpidder Days(our hostess)
Did you finish reading all the books on your fall reading list? If not, why not?
Yes and No. I read all the books listed below but my acual list changed over the course of the challenge. Some books I never received and I added quite a few of them.
Did you stick to your original goals or did you change your list as you went along?
See above answer.
What was your favorite book that you read this fall? Least favorite? Why
I cannot pick just one favorite and least favorite so here are a few of them.
I did not like Godly Love at all. I also did not enjoy the Number 1 Ladies Dective Agency first book.
My favorites include Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard which is an inspirational Regency fiction novel that I loved, Fall of Candy Corn and Winter of Candy Cane by Debbie Viguie, Single Sashimi by Camy Tang, and both books by Nicole Baart. Nicole is a new favorite author for me. I cannot wait for her next book. My favorite of the nonfiction books is Multiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosselin and Beth Carson.
Did you learn something new because of the Fall Into Reading challenge?—something about reading, or yourself, or a topic you read about?
I learned that I am growing as a reader. I am reading many genre's now that I have not previously been accustomed to reading. I am reading more of a variety including mysteries, suspense, classics, historicals, etc. I am reading more nonfiction books than ever. I read too fast without reviewing everything I read which I hope to work on for the new year.
What was your favorite thing about the Fall Into Reading challenge?
I loved finding new blogs to read and seeing other people's lists and reviews.
Brittanie's Final Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008 Completed books list:
Nonfiction-

1. The Sighing of the Winter Trees by Laura Grossman (Poetry)

2. Mutiple Blessings by Jon and Kate Gosslin and Beth Carson

3. The Yellow Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee

4. A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

5. Godly Love: A Rose Planted in the Desert of our Hearts by Stephen Post

6. The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham


Fiction-

7. John 3:16 by Nancy Moser(ARC)

8. Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner

9. Cyndere's Midnight by Jeffrey Overstreet

10. A Cut Above by Ginny Aiken

11. Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis(ARC)

12. Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie(ARC)

13. Shadows of Colossus by T. L. Higley

14. Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard

15. A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

16. More Than a Cowboy by Susan Hornick

17. Par for the Course by Ray Blackston

18. The Dopple Ganger Chronicles: The First Escape by G. P. Taylor

19. After the Leaves Fall by Nicole Baart

20. Quills and Promises by Amber Miller

21. Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

22. Kill Me If You Can by Nicole Young

23. Zero G by Alton Gansky

24. Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

25. My Sister Dilly by Maureen Lang

26. Ripple Effect by Paul McCusker

27. Infidel Graphic Novel by Ted Dekker

28. A Military Match by Patricia Davids

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

30. Homefront Holiday by Jillian Hart

31. Home Another Way by Christa Parrish(ARC)

32. A Beautiful Fall by Chris Coppernell

33. Bundle of Joy by Robin Lee Hatcher

34. Less the Dead by Tim Downs

35. Dangerous Heart by Tracey Bateman

36. My Mother's Wish (An American Christmas Carol) by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt

37. Rain Song by Alice Wisler

38. Out of her Hands by Megan DiMaria

39. Until We Reach Home by Lynn Austin

40. One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler

41. White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

42. Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

43. Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

44. Season of Glory by Ron and Janet Benrey

45. Leave it to Chance by Sherri Sand

46. When Mother was Eleven-foot-Four by Jerry Camery-Hoggatt

47. A Matter of the Heart by Patricia Davids

48. Courting Miss Adelaide by Janet Dean

49. Back to Life by Kristen Billerbeck

50. Plain Perfect by Beth Wiseman

51. Long Journey Home by Sharlene MacLaren

52. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Reread)

53. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

54. An Irish Christmas by Melody Carlson

55. Hannah Grace by Sharlene MacLauren

56. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

57. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

58. A Texas Thanksgiving by Margaret Daley

59. Family Treasures by Kathryn Springer

60. Holiday Illusion by Lynette Eason

61. The Fall of Candy Corn by Debbie Viguie

62. The Winter of Candy Cane by Debbie Viguie

63. A Promise to Believe In by Tracie Peterson

64. Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn (reread)

65. The Promise by Chaim Potok (reread)

66. Summer Snow by Nicole Baart

67. Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
68. How Reading Changed my Life by Anna Quindlen (NF)
69. Wanted by Shelley Sheppard Gray

Friday, December 19, 2008

Update

Hi everyone
I have lots of great books to review. My life has been kind of crazy this week. Work is busy of course. This weekend will be absolutely crazy. I still have shopping and baking to do. I will try and post at least on Sunday. :)
Brittanie

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Jesus Who Never Lived: Exposing False Christs and Finding the Real Jesus by H. Wayne House


It's the 15th, time for the Non~FIRST blog tour!(Non~FIRST will be merging with FIRST Wild Card Tours on January 1, 2009...if interested in joining, click HERE!)




The feature author is:


and his book:



Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

H. Wayne House (ThD, JD) is a Distinguished Research Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Faith Evangelical Seminary (Tacoma, WA). and Adjunct Professor of Law, Trinity Law School of Trinity International University. He is the New Testament editor of the Nelson Study Bible and Nelson Illustrated Bible Commentary, and the General Editor of Nelson Exegetical Commentary (42 vols), Israel: the Land and the People, and Charts of Bible Prophecy, among the 30 books that he has authored, co-authored, or edited.

Dr. House has been a professor of biblical studies, theology or law for more than thirty years at such places as Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon; Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas; Simon Greenleaf School of Law, Anaheim, California; Michigan Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Michigan, and Trinity Graduate School and Trinity Law School, Santa Ana, California, California campus of Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL. Through this internet office we hope to help those who are interested in several topics within apologetics, including Christianity and culture, law, science, cultism, philosophy, theology, and biblical studies. Dr. House also leads Bible study tours to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Turkey.

Visit his
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


What’s It All About?

In the Broadway play and later film Jesus Christ Superstar, Mary Magdalene asks, “What’s it all about?” as she tries to figure out who this man called Jesus really is. Certainly there are aspects about the song she sings, and suggestions made in the play, contrary to what we know from the canonical Gospels about the relationship of Mary and Jesus. But she does pose some important issues. She is puzzled about how to relate to Jesus as she has with other men, and this association with Him has made major changes in her emotions, actions, and thoughts. The reason she struggles is her perception that “he’s just a man.” If Jesus is just a man, then why does He captivate her so and cause her to evaluate herself to the depths of her soul? Such questions about Jesus and the impact of His ministry, death, and resurrection have been asked for two millennia.

Every year around Christmas and Easter the news media show an interest in Jesus. Rarely do they speak to people who believe in the Jesus who has been worshipped by the church since its earliest period until now. Rather, the fascination is with a Jesus re-imaged by people who have little interest in the historical record preserved in the New Testament.

This interest in Jesus, unconnected to the earliest tradition and history we have of Him, is not a new phenomenon. Toward the end of the first century of the Christian era, perceptions of Jesus began to arise that were different from what He said about Himself as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and proclaimed by the apostle Paul. Jesus has become the favorite of ancient heretics, founders of various world religions, modern novelists, Hollywood and documentary filmmakers, New Age teachers, adherents of popular religion, and over-the-edge liberal scholars. He is by far the most popular, and possibly most distorted, figure of history.

When Christianity was less than a hundred years old, we find two groups at different ends of the spectrum in their views of Jesus. One Jewish group, known as the Ebionites (late first century), accepted Jesus as the Messiah from God, acknowledged His humanity, but rejected His deity. On the other side were the Gnostics (early second century), who accepted Jesus as a divine figure but denied His true humanity. This rise of Gnosticism coincides with the demise, though not extinction, of Jewish Christianity, toward the end of the first century and beginning of the second century. Such views of the Christ were rejected by the apostolic church, and the view supported by the New Testament was finally put in creedal form, in a number of creeds, by the end of the fifth century.

Since those early centuries various religions have been enamored of Jesus. Eastern religions see Jesus as one of the avatars, or manifestations of God, and Islam considers Him a prophet (see chapter 8 for both topics). In the former, Jesus is an Eastern mystic, sometimes even viewed as having been trained in India, and in the latter as one who promoted Islam.

Muhammad was a pagan who had contact with Jews and Christians from Arabia and finally became monotheistic, in the first quarter of the seventh century after Christ embracing one of the over 300 Arabian deities: Allah, the moon god. In his limited investigation into Christianity, he came to believe, as is recorded in the Qur’an, that Jesus was born of a virgin, was sinless throughout His life, performed miracles, ascended to God, and will come again in judgment. He acknowledged all of these things about Jesus, considering none of these to be true of himself. Nonetheless, Jesus is never considered more than one of the prophets of Islam; He is not God in the flesh. Inside the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, the walls are inscribed with statements that God does not have a Son, specifically addressed against the Christian doctrines of the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. As we shall see in a later chapter, Muhammad and his followers misunderstood the Christian doctrine of God.

In the eighteenth century, with the Enlightenment came skepticism about Christianity and absolute truth in religion. Biblical scholars and philosophers began to scrutinize claims that Jesus was more than human, and for over 200 years a search, or “quest,” for the historical Jesus has been pursued. We have now entered the third quest. While many within the second quest remain skeptical, there is growing support among some in the third quest for the credibility of the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament. In contrast to those who have little regard for biblical and extrabiblical history, scholars of both liberal and conservative persuasion now agree that within a couple of years following the death of Christ, the church preached a consistent message about His death and resurrection. Christ’s followers considered Him both God and man, Lord and Savior. And those who became believers in the latter part of the first century and early second century continued to accept Jesus as portrayed in the Gospels. The church’s belief in Jesus’ deity and humanity did not begin with the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, as encouraged by the Emperor Constantine; that belief was present from the church’s very beginning.

The Importance of Jesus

Though contemporary novelists and media sensationalists never tire of trying to find some new angle on Jesus to attract an audience, most serious historians and biblical scholars are impressed with the evidence in the Gospels for the Jesus who lived, taught, performed miracles, died, was buried, and rose again from the dead. An early twentieth-century composition by a devoted believer captures the wonder of Jesus:

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.

He was only thirty-three when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He had on earth. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. All the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.

But believers in the divine Jesus aren’t the only ones who admire Him. Marcus Borg, a member of the Jesus Seminar and distinguished professor emeritus of philosophy and religion at Oregon State University, speaks as a skeptical historian about the significance and uniqueness of Jesus:

The historical Jesus is of interest for many reasons. Not least of these is his towering cultural significance in the nearly two thousand years since his death. No other figure in the history of the West has ever been accorded such extraordinary status. Within a few decades of his death, stories were told about his miraculous birth. By the end of the first century, he was extolled with the most exalted titles known within the religious tradition out of which he came: Son of God, one with the Father, the Word become flesh, the bread of life, the light of the world, the one who would come again as cosmic judge and Lord. Within a few centuries he had become Lord of the empire that had crucified him.

For over a thousand years, thereafter, he dominated the culture of the West: its religion and devotion, its art, music, and architecture, its intellectual thought and ethical norms, even its politics. Our calendar affirms his life as a dividing point in world history. On historical grounds alone, with no convictions of faith shaping the verdict, Jesus is the most important figure in Western (and perhaps human) history.

These words of exuberant praise from a historian who does not accept Jesus as God in the flesh further indicates the amazing manner in which a human being was able to draw devoted followers by the magnetism of His life and teachings. Jaroslav Pelikan, noted historian of Yale University, has said of Jesus,

Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of supermagnet, to pull up of that history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left? It is from his birth that most of the human race dates its calendars, it is by his name that millions curse and in his name that millions pray.

The world would be a considerably different place, with far less progress, peace, and hope than we possess today, had He not lived.

Liking Jesus Without Knowing Him

Just about everyone likes Jesus. How could they not, in view of the outstanding reception He has received throughout history, right? Not really. Much of the fascination with Jesus comes from those who really don’t know much about Him. Were He to confront them with His teachings and call them to a life of obedience to His will, they might be part of the recalcitrant crowd crying out, “Crucify, crucify him!” (Luke 23:21).

Today a large number of people say they are attracted to Jesus but dislike His church. They see within the church people who are inconsistent in their practice of Christian ethics and fail to follow what they understand to be the teachings of Jesus. The church is viewed as judgmental, whereas Jesus said not to judge. The church speaks against sins such as homosexual relationships, whereas Jesus loved all people regardless of their sin, such as the woman caught in adultery. The church has interest in political matters, but Jesus did not involve Himself in politics and worked only to ease people’s burdens. (Whether these notions are true or not will be briefly discussed in chapter 12.)

This attempt to understand Jesus is often done without any reference to what we really know about Him. We simply guess who He is and how He acted—most often, how we think He ought to be and act to be acceptable to the twenty-first-century mind. Apart from the appeal to divine revelation, this is the manner in which He has been viewed over the centuries, including the century in which He lived on earth.

“Who Do People Say That I Am?”

As Jesus traveled with His disciples to Caesarea Philippi, He posed an important question: “Who do people say that I am?” (Mark 8:27). The response to this question divides light and darkness, death and life. The disciples said that some believed Him to be an important prophet, but the apostles—specifically Peter—proclaimed His deity, a truth revealed to him by the Father. It is this authentic Christ, based on credible biblical and extrabiblical sources, whom we must encounter.

Each of us is confronted with important questions and priorities in this life. Some are of minor importance, but others have lasting, even eternal significance. The most important issue we must squarely confront is our relationship with God and, consequently, our final destiny. This is true not only for people today, it was also important in the first century when Jesus the Messiah came to earth. This is evident in the words of Christ that if people did not believe that He was “from above” (heaven), they would die in their sins (John 8:21-24).

Jesus the Prophet of God

In general, people liked Jesus Christ, as is true even today. The Scripture says that “the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). Saying this, however, does not mean they always understood His message (Matthew 13:10-17) or understood who He was:

When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-17).

The people during that time enjoyed what so many of us greatly desire—personal communication with the Son of God—yet they failed to understand Him. Many of them were miraculously fed and healed by Him. They heard His word with their own ears and saw Him with their own eyes. No doubt many also touched Him with their hands. To have the opportunity these people enjoyed seems too wonderful to imagine.

But when Jesus asked the disciples who the people thought He was, they cited many important figures of Jewish history, from John the Baptist (apparently thought to have been raised from the dead) to Elijah, who was to be forerunner of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5), to Jeremiah, who confronted the Northern Kingdom of Israel for its sins, or to some other prophet, as seen below:

John the Baptist. John the Baptist would have been a natural choice for the identification of Jesus, particularly by those who had not encountered John personally and maybe hadn’t heard the news of his death. John spent his ministry in the desert, baptizing in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, whereas the people in view here are in Galilee or maybe the Golan. Otherwise it seems unlikely they would have made such a connection, unless they believed that Jesus was the resurrected John, which is what Herod Antipas thought: “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him’” (Matthew 14:1-2). In the words of D.A. Carson:

His conclusion, that this was John the Baptist, risen from the dead (v. 2), is of great interest. It reflects an eclectic set of beliefs, one of them the Pharisaic understanding of resurrection. During his ministry John had performed no miracles (John 10:41); therefore Herod ascribes the miracles in Jesus’ ministry, not to John, but to John “risen from the dead.” Herod’s guilty conscience apparently combined with a superstitious view of miracles to generate this theory.

Though Herod’s superstition may be the cause for his comments, such a view is not unheard of in literature that precedes the New Testament. Albright and Mann say, “)The reappearance of dead heroes was a well-known theme in contemporary Jewish thought…[Second Maccabees 15:12-16] speaks of Jeremiah and Onias appearing to Judas Maccabaeus, and [2 Esdras 2:18-19] refers to the coming of Isaiah and Jeremiah.”

Elijah. Identifying Jesus as Elijah may appear surprising, except that Jesus’ ability to do miracles and the expectation of Messiah’s coming might have caused the people to believe He was preparing the way for the Messiah in agreement with Malachi’s prophecy:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

—Malachi 4:5 nkjv

The disciples had similar expectations about Elijah, whom Jesus connected to John the Baptist as His forerunner (Matthew 17:10-12).

There are indeed many similarities between Elijah and Jesus. Elijah exercised control over the forces of nature, telling Ahab his land would have no precipitation for several years (1 Kings 17:1-2).

In the midst of this judgment against Israel, God sent Elijah to the Phoenician city of Zarephath of Sidon, to a widow and her son who were facing starvation. To test her faith, Elijah asked her to make him some bread from the handful of flour and the little oil she had left. After she complied with Elijah’s request, the jar of flour and the jug of oil did not become empty until the famine ended (17:14-16).

Later, the woman’s son died, and the prophet of God brought him back to life (17:17-24). These spectacular miracles performed for a non-Israelite mother and her son reveal not only the power of God but also the love of God for all people.

Those people who saw the ministry and attitude of Jesus no doubt considered Him to be like Elijah because He also controlled the forces of nature. On the mountain near the shore of the Lake of Galilee He multiplied bread and fish (Matthew 15:29-38), and He raised a widow’s son who had died (Luke 7:11-17).

Jeremiah. The last prophet to whom Jesus is likened is Jeremiah. What in the life and character of Jeremiah served as a basis for comparison with Jesus?

Donald Hagner says there are a “number of obvious parallels between Jesus and Jeremiah, such as the preaching of judgment against the people and the temple, and especially in suffering and martyrdom.” The message of Jeremiah was God’s judgment against an unfaithful people (Jeremiah 1:16). Jesus presented a similar kind of message when He pronounced woe against Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:20-24).

Jesus offered healing and solace to the sick and downtrodden, but to the proud and rebellious, the words of this “prophet from Nazareth” (Matthew 21:11) were sharp and powerful. Another point of similarity may be Jesus’ cleansing of the temple and His indictment of those there (Matthew 21:10-13), and Jeremiah’s rebuke in his famous temple sermon (Jeremiah 7:1-15). Both texts even accuse the unfaithful of making God’s house a “den of robbers.”

One of the prophets. Even if there was disagreement among the people about Jesus’ identity, one thing is certain: They knew He was special, for He was viewed at minimum as a prophet. Just listening and watching Jesus revealed that He was powerful and insightful. This testimony—that the people identified Jesus with the prophets—demonstrates they held diverse eschatological expectations but there was no mass acknowledgment of Him as Messiah. The occasional reference to Jesus as the Son of David, found several times before Matthew 16, does not contradict the lack of recognition of Him as Messiah.

Fortunately, we also see among some non-Jews a different response. The Samaritan woman at the well first viewed Jesus as a Jewish man, then a prophet, then the Messiah, and finally the Savior (John 4:4-42).

Whether they believed He was God’s Messiah or one of the great prophets of Israel, all thought He was a person of great importance with divine authority and a powerful presence and message.

Messiah, Son of God

After the disciples responded to Jesus’ question about how the people viewed Him, He asked, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29). Would the disciples have a more accurate perception of their master than the general populace? You would think that their intimate relationship with Jesus would have made His identity clear in their minds. Yet this is not what we find. Though Peter correctly says that Jesus is the Messiah (christos, Greek translation of Hebrew mashiach, “anointed one”), the Son of the living God (16:16), Jesus says that the knowledge that gave rise to this confession came from heaven rather than from human insight (Matthew 16:13-17).

Is this confession true? Or is Jesus no more than a man, as the character of Mary sings in Jesus Christ Superstar? The Jesus who came to earth 2000 years ago has spawned a myriad of ideas about who He was and is. No more important subject than this confronts us today. Even among those who do not embrace the bodily resurrection of the crucified Messiah and His claims to deity, there is considerable praise. As Borg said of Him, “On historical grounds alone, with no convictions of faith shaping the verdict, Jesus is the most important figure in Western (and perhaps human) history.”

But is He only this—or is He, as Peter confessed, the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Our crucial quest in this book is to discover the true Jesus among the various visions of Him that have been constructed since His death and resurrection.