Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Salon May 31, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

This has been a busy weekend. I have not read as much as I needed and wanted to. Friday I read a wonderful book called Stealing Home by Allison Pittman. I will have a giveaway for it starting Tuesday. I have done a lot of cleaning this weekend. My two teenage cousins came to spend the night and watch movies. It was crazy :) They complained about my driving as though they drive any better. lol

I have a lot of book tours scheduled for tomorrow. I am not through with all the books yet but I am trying. I am partcipating in a Summer Reading Blitz starting June 1. It will be for the month of June and is hosted by Shauna at Readings and Ruminations. The goal is to read 30 books in the 30 days of June. The link to my post is here:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/05/summer-reading-blitz.html
We will both be doing giveaways. I am really excited. My TBR pile is out of control.

Today I am trying to finish Breathe by Lisa Bergren. I have a little more cleaning up to do also. Come on Brittanie, focus. :)

Have a good week!

Evolution: The Grand Experiment by Dr. Carl Werner

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



Evolution: The Grand Experiment


New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Carl Werner received his undergraduate degree in biology with distinction at the University of Missouri, graduating summa cum laude. He received his doctorate in medicine at the age of 23. He was the recipient of the Norman D. Jones Science Award and is both the author of Evolution: The Grand Experiment book and executive producer of Evolution: The Grand Experiment video series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 262 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216816
ISBN-13: 978-0892216819

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



The Origin of Life:

Two Opposing Views


What Are We to Believe?

How did life begin? One view is that an all-powerful God created the universe and all forms of life. Another view proposes that the universe began billions of years ago as a result of the big bang. Later, life in the form of a bacterium-like organism arose spontaneously from a mixture of chemicals. Subsequently, this single-cell organism slowly began to evolve into all modern life forms. A third view is that life evolved, but God formed the first living organism and then helped the process along.


The Origin of Life

How life came about has been the subject of debate for almost as long as mankind has existed. Did life originate as a result of the intervention by a supernatural deity? Or did life come about as a result of natural laws acting over time? Scientists continue to search for definitive answers to these questions.

The publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859 was a significant catalyst in propelling man’s search for a natural understanding of past and present life. Unraveling the mystery of how life began and how life may have changed over time has been the focus of many scientists. Since Darwin’s theory first made public, scientists have collected over 200 million fossils, described the structure of DNA, and identified how genes are passed on to the next generation. These major scientific developments provide us with relevant and thought-provoking information. They lead us to pause and examine our ideas in view of today’s ever-increasing and heated debate over the history of life on earth.

The purpose of this book is to address these important scientific discoveries and present the reader with rare and remarkable facts concerning the origin of life — from spontaneous generation, through Darwin’s ideas on evolution, to the present-day understanding of mutations and natural selection


Americans Are Split on Their Beliefs.

According to a Gallup poll taken in 2006, many Americans believe that God created man in the last 10,000 years. This is surprising given the fact that scientists have been teaching evolution for more than a century.

Do most Americans not believe the theory of evolution because it is implausible? Do they not believe evolution because of their religious views? Or, do they not believe in the theory because they are unfamiliar with its concepts?


What do you think?


(chart showing many Americans surveyed don’t believe Darwin’s theory)


Do You Believe in Evolution?


CON:

“No, I don’t believe in evolution at all. I think if you just look at the facts, it’s pretty clear, it just can’t be.”


“Did we come from monkeys? I don’t know. There is evidence for it, but there is also some stuff missing, so making that leap with a missing link there, I have some problems with that.”


“From what I’ve seen and heard, we have not evolved from apes for the simple fact that apes are still around. I mean, if we evolved from them, why are they still here?”


PRO:

“Yes, I do believe in the theory of evolution because I think that we had to come from some place and you know from ape to man to what we are today. I definitely believe in evolution.”


“I think it’s a very sad thing that we’re getting religious views mixed up with governmental involvement with education. I think it’s a sad comment on how people are trying to fix what they see as social problems in today’s world by falling back on religious dogma.”


Evolution: Scientists Can’t Agree

Ever since Darwin’s time there have been scientists who strongly disagree with the theory of evolution. But since the middle of the twentieth century, there have been a growing number of scientists who reject the theory of evolution based on the discovery of processes and structures of which Darwin was unaware. These scientists cite multiple “lines of evidence” that evolution did not occur, including gaps in the fossil record, problems with the big bang theory, the amazing complexity of even the simplest organisms, and the inability of scientist to explain the origin of life using natural laws.

Scientists who support evolution state that the evidence for the theory is clear and overwhelming. They offer observations of natural selection in action, the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, the evolution of man from apes, as some of the most convincing proofs for evolution.


Con: “Life could not have created itself. Theories on the origin of life, that is the evolutionary origin of life, are modern-day fantasies; they are fairy tales.” – Dr. Duane Gish, Biochemist, Institute for Creation Research.


Pro: “You really have to be blind or three days dead not to see the transitions among these. You have to not want to see it.” – Dr. Kevin Padian, Paleontologist, University of California, Berkeley.


Evolution and Education

Recent Gallup polls reveal that the majority of Americans want both evolution and creationism taught in public schools. This is somewhat surprising given the fact that the majority of scientists believe in evolution and dismiss supernatural creation theories as myths.

There are different reasons parents want both theories taught to their children. Some refer to a sense of fairness. They want their children to learn both sides of the issue and then decide for themselves.

The problem of how to teach students such a controversial topic is challenging for educators. Some fear that teaching two opposing theories would confuse the students while some believe this approach would encourage students to think critically and openly about the world around them. Others believe that creation is a religious idea and should not be taught in government schools.


(Poll asking, “Do you think creationism should be taught in public school science classes?” 54%, yes; 22% no; 24% unsure)


What Should Be Taught?

“I believe it is good for students to get a balance of both sides so that they can make up their minds for themselves without being forced into one way or another. I know that if I went to school and they taught all evolution, that I would feel somehow a little gypped.”

“I do feel that everyone is capable of making their own decisions, and I think that students, even at a young age, should be respected enough to be given various kinds of information, various amounts of information, and let to make their own decisions.?

“I really don’t have a problem with evolution being taught in the schools just so long as all the information is given and it is shown that it is not quite fact. And it needs to be very scientific in its presentation as far as listing its faults and its strengths. I think that science that only lists strengths, and not weaknesses, in not science at all.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Reading Blitz

Shauna @ Readings and Ruminations is doing a June Reading Challenge for herself. She is going to read 30 books in the 30 days of June. I asked if I could participate and she said yes! If you saw my stacks from Whats on Your Nightstand Tuesday you will completely understand why I am doing this. I need to catch up fast. Go read Shauna's post for more information about why she is doing it and the giveaways etc. she has planned.
http://readingandruminations.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/the-reading-and-ruminations-summer-reading-blitz/#comments
I will also be doing a few book giveaways. I am so excited. I love Shauna and her blog plus the accountability will be nice. :)

P.S. If you want to participate just let her know.

The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner





About the book:

The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus’s discoveries. At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents’ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII.


Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire. At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders. But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything.


With brilliant, lyrical prose, novelist and historian C. W. Gortner conjures Juana through her own words, taking the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England. The Last Queen brings to life all the grandeur and drama of an incomparable era, and the singular humanity of this courageous, passionate princess whose fight to claim her birthright captivated the world.


My Review:

I am not quite finished with the book yet but I feel as though I can recommend it now. The writing is beautiful. The plot is interesting and fresh. The characters are well developed. The author shows a different perspective on the woman known as Juana la loca. I recommend this book espcially to historical fiction lovers. I look forward to reading more books by this author. :)




About the Author:
He holds a MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and has taught university seminars on the 16th century. In addition, he travels extensively to research his books. He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch—or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glass—as many artifacts of the era as he can find.
A regular contributor to the Historical Novels Review and Solander, publications of the Historical Novel Society, C.W. is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Born in Washington D.C. and raised in Málaga, Spain, he is half-Spanish by birth and lives in Northern California.



For more information, please visit http://www.cwgortner.com/


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Amish Love

Amish Love

What’s all the hubbub about Amish fiction? Major media outlets like Time and ABC Nightline are covering it, and authors like Cindy Woodsmall are making the New York Times bestseller list regularly. What makes these books so interesting?

Check out the recent ABC Nightline piece here (http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=7676659&page=1) about Cindy and her titles When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. It’s an intriguing look at Amish culture and the time Cindy has spent with Amish friends.

And don’t forget that Cindy’s new book The Hope of Refuge hits store shelves August 11, and is available for preorder now.

Me: I am not known here as a huge fan of Amish fiction but I do like some of it. I have heard lots of good things about this author and her books.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

City of the Dead by T. L. Higley

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


City of the Dead (Seven Wonders Series)

B&H Books (March 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From her earliest childhood, there was nothing Tracy loved better than stepping into another world between the pages of a book. From dragons and knights, to the wonders of Narnia, that passion has never abated, and to Tracy, opening any novel is like stepping again through the wardrobe, into the thrilling unknown. With every book she writes, she wants to open a door like that, and invite readers to be transported with her into a place that captivates. She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel and Jordan to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as the Seven Wonders series continues. It’s her hope that in escaping to the past with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through desert sands, explored ancient ruins, and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805447318
ISBN-13: 978-0805447316



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

In my dreams, it is often I who kills Amunet. Other nights it is Khufu, in one of his mad rages. And at other times it is a great mystery, destined to remain unknown long after the ka of each of us has crossed to the west.

Tonight, as I lay abed, my dreams reveal all the truth that I know.

Merit is there, like a beautiful lotus flower among the papyrus reeds.

“Hemi,” she whispers, using the shortened form of my name in the familiar way I long for. “We should join the others.”

The tufts of reeds that spring from the marsh’s edge wave around us, higher than our heads, our private thicket.

“They are occupied with the hunt,” I say.

A cloud of birds rises from the marsh in that moment, squawking their protest at being disturbed. Merit turns her head to the noise and I study the line of her jaw, the long curls that wave across her ear. I pull her close, my arms around her waist.

Her body is stiff at first, then melts against mine.

“Hemi, you must let me go.”

Some nights in my dreams I am a better man.

“Merit.” I bury my face in her hair, breathe in the spicy scent of her. “I cannot.”

I pull her into my kiss.

She resists. She pushes me away and her eyes flash accusation, but something else as well. Sorrow. Longing.

I reach for her again, wrapping my fingers around her wrist. She twists away from my grasp. I do not know what I might have done, but there is fear in her eyes. By the gods, I wish I could forget that fear.

She runs. What else could she do?

She runs along the old river bed, not yet swollen with the year’s Inundation, stagnant and marshy. She disappears among the papyrus. The sky is low and gray, an evil portent.

My anger roots me to the ground for several moments, but then the potential danger propels me to follow.

“Merit,” I call. “Come back. I am sorry!”

I weave slowly among the reeds, searching for the white flash of her dress, the bronze of her skin.

“Merit, it is not safe!”

Anger dissolves into concern. I cannot find her.

In the way of dreams, my feet are unnaturally heavy, as though I fight through alluvial mud to reach her. The first weighted drops fall from an unearthly sky.

And then she is there, at the base of the reeds. White dress dirtied, head turned unnaturally. Face in the water. My heart clutches in my chest. I lurch forward. Drop to my knees in the marsh mud. Push away the reeds. Reach for her.

It is not Merit.

It is Amunet.

“Amunet!” I wipe the mud and water from her face and shake her. Her eyes are open yet unfocused.

I am less of a man because, in that moment, I feel relief.

Relief that it is not Merit.

But what has happened to Amunet? Khufu insisted that our royal hunting party split apart to raise the birds, but we all knew that he wanted to be with Amunet. Now she is alone, and she has crossed to the west.

As I hold her lifeless body in my arms, I feel the great weight of choice fall upon my shoulders. The rain pours through an evil gash in the clouds.

Khufu is my friend. He is my cousin. He will soon wear the Double Crown of the Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt. And when Khufu is Pharaoh, I will be his grand vizier.

But it would seem that I hold our future in my hands now, as surely as I hold this girl’s body.

I lower Amunet to the mud again and awake, panting and sweating, in my bed. I roll from the mat, scramble for a pot, and retch. It is not the first time.

The sunlight is already burning through the high window in my bedchamber.

The past is gone. There is only the future.

And I have a pyramid to build.




1

In the fifth year of Khufu, the Golden Horus, Great in Victories, Chosen of Ra, as the pyramid rose in the desert like a burning torch to the sun god himself, I realized my mistake and knew that I had brought disorder.

“Foolishness!” Khons slapped a stone-roughened hand on the papyri unrolled on the basalt-black slab before us, and turned his back on the well-ordered charts to study the workforce on the plateau.

I refused to follow his gaze. Behind me, I knew, eight thousand men toiled, dragging quarry stones up ramps that snaked around my half-finished pyramid, and levering them into beautiful precision. Below them, intersecting lines of men advanced with the rhythm of drumbeats. They worked quickly but never fast enough.

My voice took on a hard edge. “Perhaps, Khons, if you spent more time listening and less blustering—”

“You speak to me of time?” The Overseer of Quarries whirled to face me, and the muscles in his jaw twitched like a donkey’s flank when a fly irritates. “Do you have any idea what these changes mean?” He waved a hand over my plans. “You were a naked baboon at Neferma’at’s knee when he and I were building the pyramids at Saqqara!”

This insult was well-worn, and I was sick of it. I stepped up to him, close enough to map every vein in his forehead. The desert air between us stilled with the tension. “You forget yourself, Khons. I may not be your elder, but I am grand vizier.”

“My good men,” Ded’e interrupted, his voice dripping honey as he smoothed long fingers over the soft papyrus. “Let us not quarrel like harem women over a simple change of design.”

“Simple!” Khons snorted. “Perhaps for you. Your farmers and bakers care not where Pharaoh’s burial chamber is located. But I will need to rework all the numbers for the Giza quarry. The timeline for the Aswan granite will be in chaos.” Khons turned on me. “The plans for the queen’s pyramid are later than grain in a drought year. A project of this magnitude must run like marble over the rollers. A change like this—you’re hurling a chunk of limestone into the Nile, and there will be ripples. Other deadlines will be missed—”

I held up a hand and waited to respond. I preferred to handle Khons and his fits of metaphor by giving us both time to cool. The sun hammered down on upon the building site, and I looked away, past the sands of death, toward the life-giving harbor and the fertile plain beyond. This year’s Inundation had not yet crested, but already the Nile’s green waters had swelled to the border of last year’s floodplain. When the waters receded in three months, leaving behind their rich silt deposits, the land would be black and fertile and planting would commence.

“Three months,” I said. In three months, most of my workforce would return to their farms to plant and till, leaving my pyramid unfinished, dependent on me to make it whole.

Khons grunted. “Exactly. No time for changes.”

Ded’e scanned the plateau, his fingers skimming his forehead to block the glare, though he had applied a careful line of kohl beneath his eyes today. “Where is Mentu? Did you not send a message, Hemiunu?”

I looked toward the workmen’s village, too far to make out anyone approaching by the road. Mentu-hotep also served as one of my chief overseers. These three answered directly to me, and under them commanded fifty supervisors, who in turn organized the twelve-thousand-man force. Nothing of this scale had ever been undertaken in the history of the Two Lands. In the history of man. We were building the Great Pyramid, the Horizon of the Pharaoh Khufu. A thousand years, nay, ten thousand years from now, my pyramid would still stand. And though a tomb for Pharaoh, it would also bear my name. A legacy in stone.

“Perhaps he thinks he can do as he wishes,” Khons said.

I ignored his petty implication that I played favorites among my staff. “Perhaps he is slow in getting started today.” I jabbed a finger at the plans again. “Look, Khons, the burial chamber’s relocation will mean that the inner core will require less stone, not more. I’ve redesigned the plans to show the king’s chamber beginning on Course Fifty. Between the corbelled ascending corridor, the burial chamber, five courses high, and the five relieving chambers that will be necessary above it, we will save 8,242 blocks.”

“Exactly 8,242? Are you certain?” De’de snorted. “I think you must stay up all night solving equations, eh, Hemi?”

I inclined my head to the pyramid, now one-fourth its finished height. “Look at it, De’de. See the way the sides angle at a setback of exactly 11:14. Look at the platform, level to an error less than the span of your little finger.” I turned on him. “Do you think such beauty happens by chance? No, it requires constant attention from one who would rather lose sleep than see it falter.”

“It’s blasphemy.” Khons’s voice was low. It was unwise to speak thus of the Favored One.

I exhaled and we hung over the plans, heads together. Khons smelled of sweat and dust, and sand caked the outer rim of his ear.

“It is for the best, Khons. You will see.”

If blasphemy were involved it was my doing and not Khufu’s? I had engineered the raising of the burial chamber above ground and, along with it, Khufu’s role as the earthly incarnation of the god Ra. It was for the good of Egypt, and now it must be carried forward. Hesitation, indecision—these were for weak men.

“Let the priests argue about religious matters,” I said. “I am a builder.”

Ded’e laughed. “Yes, you are like the pyramid, Hemi. All sharp angles and unforgiving measurements.”

I blinked at the observation, then smiled as though it pleased me.

Khons opened his mouth, no doubt to argue, but a shout from the worksite stopped him. We three turned to the pyramid, and I ground my teeth to see the workgangs falter in their measured march up the ramps. Some disorder near the top drew the attention of all. I squinted against the bright blue sky but saw only the brown figures of the workforce covering the stone.

“Cursed Mentu. Where is he?” Khons asked the question this time.

As Overseer for Operations, Mentu took charge of problems on the line. In his absence, I now stalked toward the site.

The Green Sea Gang had halted on the east-face ramp, their draglines still braced over their bare shoulders. Even from thirty cubits below I could see the ropy muscles stand out on the backs of a hundred men as they strained to hold the thirty-thousand-deben-weight block attached to the line. Their white skirts of this morning had long since tanned with dust, and their skin shone with afternoon sweat.

“Sokkwi! Get your men moving forward!” I shouted to the Green Sea Gang supervisor who should have been at the top.

There was no reply, so I strode up the ramp myself, multiplying in my mind the minutes of delay by the stones not raised. The workday might need extending.

Halfway up the rubble ramp, a scream like that of an antelope skewered by a hunter’s arrow ripped the air. I paused only a moment, the men’s eyes on me, then took to the rope-lashed ladder that leaned against the pyramid’s side. I felt the acacia wood strain under the pounding of my feet, and slowed only enough for safety. The ladder stretched to the next circuit of the ramp, and I scrambled from it, chest heaving, and sprinted through the double-line of laborers that snaked around the final ramp. Here the pyramid came to its end. Still so much to build.

Sokkwi, the gang supervisor, had his back to me when I reached the top. Several others clustered around him, bent to something on the stone. Chisels and drills lay scattered about.

“What is it? What’s happened?” The dry heat had stolen my breath, and the words panted out.

They broke apart to reveal a laborer, no more than eighteen years, on the ground, one leg pinned by a block half set in place. The boy’s eyes locked onto mine, as if to beg for mercy. “Move the stone!” I shouted to Sokkwi.

He scratched his chin. “It’s no good. The stone’s been dropped. We have nothing to—”

I jumped into the space open for the next stone, gripped the rising joint of the block that pinned the boy and yelled to a worker, larger than most. “You there! Help me slide this stone!”

He bent to thrust a shoulder against the stone. We strained against it like locusts pushing against a mountain. Sokkwi laid a hand upon my shoulder.

I rested a moment, and he inclined his head to the boy’s leg. Flesh had been torn down to muscle and bone. I reached for something to steady myself, but there was nothing at this height. The sight of blood, a weakness I had known since my youth, threatened to overcome me. I felt a warmth in my face and neck. I breathed slowly through my nose. No good for the men to see you swoon.

I knelt and placed a hand on the boy’s head, then spoke to Sokkwi. “How did this happen?”

He shrugged. “First time on the line.” He worked at something in his teeth with his tongue. “Doesn’t know the angles, I suppose.” Another shrug.

“What was he doing at the top then?” I searched the work area and the ramp below me again for Mentu. Anger churned my stomach.

The supervisor sighed and picked at his teeth with a fingernail. “Don’t ask me. I make sure the blocks climb those ramps and settle into place. That is all I do.”

How had Mentu had allowed this disaster? Justice, truth, and divine order—the ma’at—made Egypt great and made a man great. I did not like to see ma’at disturbed.

On the ramp, a woman pushed past the workers, shoving them aside in her haste to reach the top. She gained the flat area where we stood and paused, her breath huffing out in dry gasps. In her hands she held two jars, brimming with enough barley beer to allow the boy to feel fierce anger rather than beg for his own death. The surgeon came behind, readying his saw. The boy had a chance at life if the leg ended in a stump. Allowed to fester, the injury would surely kill him.

I masked my faintness with my anger and spun away.

“Mentu!” My yell carried past the lines below me, down into the desert below, perhaps to the quarry beyond. He should never have allowed so inexperienced a boy to place stones. Where had he been this morning when the gangs formed teams?

The men nearby were silent, but the work down on the plateau continued, heedless of the boy’s pain. The rhythmic ring of chisel on quarry stone punctuated the collective grunts of the quarry men, their chorus drifting across the desert, but Mentu did not answer the call.

Was he still in his bed? Mentu and I had spent last evening pouring wine and reminiscing late into the night about the days of our youth. Some of them anyway. Always one story never retold.

Another scream behind me. That woman had best get to pouring the barley beer. I could do nothing more here. I moved through the line of men, noting their nods of approval for the effort I’d made on behalf of one of their own.

When I reached the base and turned back toward the flat-topped black basalt stone where I conferred with Khons and Ded’e, I saw that another had joined them. My brother.

I slowed my steps, to allow that part of my heart to harden like mudbricks in the sun, then pushed forward.

They laughed together as I approached, the easy laugh of men comfortable with one another. My older brother leaned against the stone, his arms crossed in front of him. He stood upright when he saw me.

“Ahmose,” I said with a slight nod. “What brings you to the site?”

His smile turned to a smirk. “Just wanted to see how the project proceeds.”

“Hmm.” I focused my attention once more on the plans. The wind grabbed at the edges of the papyrus, and I used a stone cubit rod, thicker than my thumb, to weight it. “The three of us must recalculate stone transfer rates—”

“Khons seems to believe your changes are going to sink the project,” Ahmose said. He smiled, his perfect teeth gleaming against his dark skin.

The gods had favored Ahmose with beauty, charm, and a pleasing manner that made him well loved among the court. But I had been blessed with a strong mind and a stronger will. And I was grand vizier.

I lifted my eyes once more to the pyramid rising in perfect symmetry against the blue sky, and the thousands of men at my command. “The Horizon of Khufu will look down upon your children’s grandchildren, Ahmose,” I said. I leaned over my charts and braced my fingertips on the stone. “When you have long since sailed to the west, still it will stand.”

He bent beside me, his breath in my ear. “You always did believe you could do anything. Get away with anything.”

The animosity in his voice stiffened my shoulders.

“Khons, Ded’e, if you will.” I gestured to the charts. Khons snorted and clomped to my side. And Ded’e draped his forearms across the papyrus.

“It must be gratifying,” Ahmose whispered, “to command men so much more experienced than yourself.”

I turned on him, my smile tight. “And it must be disheartening to see your younger brother excel while you languish in a job bestowed only out of pity—”

A boy appeared, sparing me the indignity of exchanging blows with my brother. His sidelock identified him as a young prince, and I recognized him as the youngest of Henutsen, one of Khufu’s lesser wives.

“His Majesty Khufu, the king, Horus,” the boy said, “the strong bull, beloved by the goddess of truth—”

“Yes, yes. Life, Health, Strength!” I barked. “What does Khufu want?” I was in no mood for the string of titles.

The boy’s eyes widened and he dragged a foot through the sand. “My father commands the immediate presence of Grand Vizier Hemiunu before the throne.”

“Did he give a reason?”

The prince pulled on his lower lip. “He is very angry today.”

“Very well.” I waved him off and turned to Khons and Ded’e, rubbing the tension from my forehead. “We will continue later.”

The two overseers made their escape before Ahmose and I had a chance to go at it again. I flicked a glance in his direction, then rolled up my charts, keeping my breathing even.

Behind me Ahmose said, “Perhaps Khufu has finally seen his error in appointing you vizier.” Like a sharp poke in the kidneys when our mother wasn’t watching.

“Excuse me, Ahmose.” I pushed past him, my hands full of charts. “I have an important meeting.”

I am not actually on this tour but I wanted to do my review with it so my blog readers would have a chance to see the first chapter.

My Review:

I loved this book. It is the second in the Seven Wonders of the World series. Each book stands alone. City of the Dead is set in Ancient Egypt. This book features mystery, romance, and history. The history part is not overwhelming it adds to the book. I was drawn in from the first page and read it in one night. Pharoah's Grand Vizier, Hemiunu, oversees the building of the grand pyramid. Hemi and the Pharoah have been friends from childhood. The share an incident in the past that is complicated and not talked about. People Hemi care about start turning up dead. First is the Pharoah's wife and the object of Hemi's not so secret love. When more follow Hemi decides to investigate in between his regular duties. There is a lot more to this fascinating book. I highly recommend this book and the first Shadows of Collosus. I am eagerly waiting the third: Guardian of the Flame, the story of the Lighthouse of Alexandria in the fall. :)


Jillian Dare: A Novel by Melanie M. Jeschke


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Jillian Dare: A Novel

Revell (May 1, 2009)

by

Melanie M. Jeschke



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Morey Jeschke (pronounced jes-key), a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from University of Virginia as a Phi Beta Kappa with an Honors degree in English Literature and a minor in European and English History.

A free-lance travel writer, Melanie contributed the Oxford chapter to the Rick Steves’ England 2006 guidebook. She is a member of the Capital Christian Writers and Christian Fiction Writers as well as three book clubs, and taught high-school English before home-schooling most of her nine children. Melanie lectures on Lewis and Tolkien, Oxford, and writing, and gives inspirational talks to all manner of groups, including university classes, women’s clubs, young professionals, teens, and school children.

A fourth generation pastor’s wife (her father Dr. Earl Morey is a retired Presbyterian minister), Melanie resides in the Greater Washington, D.C. area with her children and husband Bill Jeschke, a soccer coach and the Senior Pastor of The King’s Chapel, an non-denominational Christian church in Fairfax, Virginia.



ABOUT THE BOOK

Jillian Dare leaves her Shenandoah Valley foster home behind and strikes out on her own as a nanny at a large country estate in northern Virginia. She is delighted with the beauty of her new home, the affection of her young charge Cadence Remington, and the opportunity for frequent travel to the Remington castle in England.

She is less certain about her feelings for her handsome but moody employer, Ethan. In spite of herself, Jillian realizes she is falling for her boss. But how can a humble girl ever hope to win a wealthy man of the world? And what dark secrets from the past is he hiding? This contemporary story, inspired by the well-loved classic Jane Eyre, will capture readers' hearts.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Jillian Dare: A Novel, go HERE

What's On Your Nightstand Tuesday May 26, 2009






I have a lot of reading deadlines coming up really soon that I need to finish books for and the stack of books that I want to read with no deadlines is getting bigger and bigger too. I understand the phrase so many books so little time better and better. Sometimes I wish I had taken a speed reading class but I want to enjoy the books I read. It only takes my aunt 45 minutes to an hour to read one of the Love Inspired books which takes me two hours. Everybody is different. :)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir(AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy. Deadline is Monday June 1 at midnight.***

Back Cover:
Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game–until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth–at any cost.

My Review:
I loved this book. It is a great mystery/suspense book. One of the best well written I have read all year. The author's personal experiences make the story. The characters and plot are interesting. I was drawn in from the first page and held until the end. I look forward to reading more books featuring Ex Detective Ray Quinn. Highly Recommended. :)


Author Bio:
A detective with the Criminal Investigations Unit of the Palm Bay Police Department, Mark Mynheir investigates violent crimes and writes riveting Christian fiction. A U.S. Marine with a passion for martial arts and firearms training, Mark has worked on narcotics units, SWAT teams, and myriad high-risk situations. His four novels offer a realistic glimpse into the gritty world of law enforcement and the rarely seen raw emotions behind the badge. Mark lives in Florida with his wife and three children.

For Buying Information:
http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781590529355&ref=externallink_mlt_thenightwatchman_sec_0414_01

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sunday Salon May 24, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* I did not have a good reading weekend. The only book I really read is a nonfiction title. The Lost City of Z by David Grann. I just posted my review. Here is the link to my review:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/05/lost-city-of-z-by-david-grann.html
Overall I enjoyed it. Nonfiction is harder for me to read so I am proud of myself for finally reading this book.

* Today we went to a family reunion on my Dad's side. It was nice to see family we have not seen since we were little. I did not know a lot of people there. Being the crazy cousin I am I let my two teenage girl cousins drive my car on the country roads for a little while. I only thought I was a bad driver. They need lots more practice. Beware to other drivers. Its hard to believe they are old enough to drive already.

* For memorial day we are having a cookout tomorrow on my Mom's side of the family. Yummy! I am looking forward to the BBQ chicken, garlic bread, twice baked potatoes, fresh grilled corn, baked beans, chocolate cake, and ice cream. :)

* I have several books I need to finish for reviews this week. I have a giveaway starting tomorrow for The Night WatchMan by Mark Mynheir if anybody is interested it will be up tomorrow night.

* I have several reading challenges ending in the next month so I will hopefully be able to focus on finishing them more. :)

* I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day. Thank you to our troops alive and dead!

The Lost City of Z by David Grann


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obession in the Amazon by David Grann

Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
ISBN: 978-0385513531
352 pages
Nonfiction
Biography/History/Travelogue

Description:

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was the last of a breed of great British explorers who ventured into 'blank spots' on the map with little more than a machete, a compass and unwavering sense of purpose. In 1925, one of the few remaining blank spots in the world was in the Amazon. Fawcett believed the impenetrable jungle held a secret to a large, complex civilization like El Dorado, which he christened the 'City of Z'. When he and his son set out to find it, hoping to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history, they warned that none should follow them in the event that they did not return. They vanished without a trace. For the next eighty years, hordes of explorers -- shocked that a man many deemed invincible could disappear in a land he knew better than anyone, and drawn by the centuries-old myth of El Dorado -- searched for the expedition and the city. Many died from starvation, disease, attacks by wild animals, and poisonous arrows. Others simply vanished.

In The Lost City of Z, David Grann ventures into the hazardous wild world of the Amazon to retrace the footsteps of the great Colonel Fawcett and his followers, in a bracing attempt to solve one of the greatest mysteries. It is an irresistibly readable adventure story, a subtle examination of the strange and often violent encounters between Europeans and Amazonian tribes and a tale of lethal obsession.


My Review:
The Lost City of Z is a fascinating look at the adventurer Percy Fawcett and his obsession with the Amazon. He disappeared along with his son Jack on his last venture into the Amazon. The book is written by reporter David Grann. It is well researched and reads more like a story than nonfiction. It is written using flashbacks to Percy Fawcett's time in between chapters in the present where David Grann is tracking down information and planning his own journey to follow Percy's trail. It worked and I was never lost reading. My only wish is that more time would have been spent on David Grann's part of the journey which is what I expected reading the blurbs of the book. I am not sorry I read it because overall it is a interesting well written book. :)

About the Author:

David Grann has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. He has written about everything from New York City's antiquated water tunnels to the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang, from the hunt for the giant squid to the mysterious death of the world's greatest Sherlock Holmes expert. His stories have appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic, where he is also a contributing editor.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Deceptive Promises by Amber Miller


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Deceptive Promises

Barbour Publishing, Inc (2008)

by

Amber Miller




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30's, married the love of my life in July 2007, live in Colorado and just had an incredibly beautiful daughter named Victoria.

I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.

I got involved with web design in 1997, when I was asked to take over running the official web site for the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. That eventually led to a series of negotiations where I was offered the job of running world-renowned actress Jane Seymour's official fan site. That has branched into doing web sites for a variety of clients, including: authors J.M. Hochstetler, Trish Perry, Kathy Pride, Louise M. Gouge, Susan Page Davis, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson, actor William Shockley (the voice of AT&T and Toyota) and many others. With the help of a handful of other web site "technos," Eagle Designs was born! Feel free to visit and see our other clients.

Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are Quills And Promises (July 2008) and this one, Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Liberty's Promise. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010.


ABOUT THE BOOK

MARGRET WANTS TO BELIEVE SAMUEL'S PROMISES.

Is deception fair in wartime Margret Scott must deal with this question as she finds herself attracte to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret cannot always tell where Samuel's loyalties lie.





"If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity." -Job 31:5-6



Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he often finds himself torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can a relationship built in uncertainty survive?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Deceptive Promises, go HERE.

My Review:

This is a sweet short historical. It is third in a series but stands alone fine. I have read the first two so it meant more for me. This book is about the third generation of the family too. It is full of historical details about the beginnings of our country. Since it is heavy on details if you do not like historical proceed with caution. Overall I recommend it. :)

My post is late because of computer/Internet troubles with the CFBA website. I am really sorry. :)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Reunion by Therese Fowler



About the book:

Celebrity talk show host Blue Reynolds is the queen of daytime television—she is smart, funny, and as down-to-earth as her adoring fans. In the eyes of the world, she has it all. But no one knows about the secret she has harbored for the last twenty years—a secret that could destroy her image, her reputation, and her career. Twenty years ago, she gave birth to a son and put him up for adoption through illegal channels. And every day since, she’s been filled with regret. Now Blue has hired a private investigator to find her son, knowing full well the consequences.

A week in Key West to do her show on location brings Blue a much-needed change of pace—and an unexpected reunion with an old flame, Mitch Forrester. Helping him launch a television series may help her recapture the kind of genuine romance and affection long missing from her life. But it also means having to deal with Mitch’s disapproving son, Julian, who is only nine years younger than Blue. Emotionally battered from his years as a war photographer in the world’s most dangerous hotspots, Julian struggles to get close to his father while making his disdain for Blue crystal clear—which makes his desire for her all the more shocking.

My Review:
Reunion is a wonderful book to escape too and perfect for summer reading. I love the book cover. I really enjoyed reading it. I read it in two days only because I had to go to work or I would have finished it in one night. It has an interesting plot with a twist. The author does a good job at descriptions particularly the Key West location. I wanted to know what happened to the characters. There is some alcohol and s*x. I loved the ending which is definitely open to a sequel to me which I would read immediately. :)




About the author:
Therese Fowler is the author of Souvenir. She holds an MFA in creative writing. She grew up in Illinois and now lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman


About the Book:
Carley Marek experiences culture shock when she visits her friend Lillian's family on their farm deep in Amish country. She'll get an article out of the visit--and maybe some of Lillian's newfound peace will somehow rub off on her.


Just when Carley is getting used to the quiet nature of the Plain community, Lillian and Samuel's son falls ill. But the local doctor who can offer the most help has been shunned by the community and forbidden to intervene.


As David's condition deteriorates, Dr. Noah determines to do whatever it takes to save the boy's life. Carley is caught in the middle--drawn to Noah, wanting to be helpful in the crisis--and confused by all their talk about a God she neither knows nor trusts.


Carley must decide what in life is worth pursuing . .


and what to do when she's pursued by a love she never expected.
My Review:
This is the second book in the Daughters of Promise series. I liked the first book Plain Perfect but I loved this book Plain Pursuit. It can stand on its own fine. Carley Marek is forced by her work to take a month off because they do think she is recovered from the car accident and her mothers death. She is a newspaper writer. She decides to go visit her friend Lillian in Amish Country. Lillian is from Texas the way Carely is and they were good friends. Carely envys the peace her friend Lillian has now. Lillian's husband Samuel has a brother that he has not told her about. His name is Dr. Noah. They meet when their early teenage son falls ill and they have to take him to the ER. Carley and Dr. Noah feel an instant conection. Dr. Noah has been shunned from the Amish community for leaving after his baptism to become a Doctor. Samuel does not want him treating his son or being around his family.
This is a well written story with interesting characters and plot. I love the romance between Carely and Dr. Noah. I am not a fan of all Amish books but I am a fan of this series. I cannot wait to read book three in this series. I highly recommend this book. :)
About the Author:
When best-selling novelist Beth Wiseman was introduced to the Amish, she gained an appreciation for their simple way of life and began writing love stories featuring this beloved group of people. Her first novel was the best-selling Plain Perfect. Beth and her family live in Texas. Visit bethwiseman.com

Gold of Kings by Davis Bunn

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Gold of Kings

Howard Books (May 12, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Davis Bunn is the author of over nineteen national bestsellers, and his books have sold over six million copies in sixteen languages. The recipient of three Christy Awards, Bunn currently serves as writer-in-residence at Oxford University.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $24.00
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (May 12, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416556311
ISBN-13: 978-1416556312

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The rain pelting Seventh Avenue tasted of diesel and big-city friction. Sean Syrrell stared out the limo’s open window and let the day weep for him.

Sean gripped his chest with one hand, trying to compress his heart back into shape. His granddaughter managed to make the end of the block only because her aunt supported her. They turned the corner without a backward glance. Not till they were lost from view did Sean roll up his window.

Storm’s survival demanded that she be cut loose. He had fired her because it was the only way he could protect her. Sean knew the enemy was closing in. He had felt the killer’s breath for days. Storm was his last remaining hope for achieving his lifelong dream, and establishing his

legacy.

But the knowledge he had been right to fire her did little to ease the knife-edged pain that shredded his heart.

The driver asked, “Everything okay, Mr. Syrrell?”

Sean glanced at the young man behind the wheel. The driver was new, but the company was the only one he used ever since the danger had been revealed. If the enemy wanted a way to monitor his movements in New York, he’d handed it to them on a platter. “Why don’t you

go for a coffee or something. I’d like a moment.”

“No can do, sir. I leave the wheel, they pull my license.”

Sean stared blindly at the rain-streaked side window. He could only hope that one day Storm would understand, and tell Claudia, and the pair of them would forgive him.

Unless, of course, he was wrong and the threat did not exist.

But he wasn’t wrong.

“Mr. Syrrell?”

Sean opened his door and rose from the car. “Drop my bags off at the hotel. We’re done for the day.”

Sean passed the Steinway showroom’s main entrance, turned the corner, pressed the buzzer beside the painted steel elevator doors, and gave his name. A white-suited apprentice grinned a hello and led him downstairs. Sean greeted the technicians, most of whom he knew by

name. He chatted about recent acquisitions and listened as they spoke of their charges. The ladies in black. Always feminine. Always moody and temperamental. Always in need of a firm but gentle hand.

Among professional pianists, the Steinway showroom’s basement was a place of myth. The long room was clad in whitewashed concrete. Beneath exposed pipes and brutal fluorescent lights stood Steinway’s most valuable asset: their collection of concert pianos.

All but one were black. The exception had been finished in white as a personal favor to Billy Joel. Otherwise they looked identical. But each instrument was unique. The Steinway basement had been a place of pilgrimage for over a hundred years. Leonard Bernstein, Vladimir

Horowitz, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Leon Fleisher, Elton John, Glenn Gould, Alfred Brendel, Mitsuko Uchida. They all came. An invitation to the Steinway basement meant entry to one of the world’s most exclusive musical circles.

Sean Syrrell had not been granted access because of his talent. As a pianist, he was mechanical. He did not play the keys so much as box with the music. He lacked the finesse required for greatness. But fifteen years ago, he had done Steinway a great favor. He had located and salvaged the grand that had graced the White Palace, summer home to the Russian czars.

After the Trotsky rebellion, the piano had vanished. For years the world believed that Stalin had placed it in his dacha, then in a drunken rage had chopped it up for firewood. But Sean had found it in a Krakow junk shop the year after the Berlin Wall fell, just one more bit of communist flotsam. He had smuggled it west, where Germany’s finest restorer had spent a year returning it to its original pristine state. It was now housed in the Steinway family’s private collection.

The basement was overseen by Steinway’s chief technician. He and an assistant were “juicing” the hammers of a new concert grand. Sean spent a few minutes listening and discussing the piano’s raw tones. Then he moved to his favorite. CD‑18 was more or less retired from service after 109 years of touring. Occasionally it was brought out as a favor to a special Steinway client. The last time had been for a voice-piano duet—Lang Lang and Pavarotti. For fifteen years, Van Cliburn had begged Steinway to sell him the instrument. Yet here it remained.

Sean seated himself and ran through a trio of exercises. His hands were too stubby for concert-quality play, his manner at the keys too brusque. Added to that were his failing ears, which had lost a great deal of their higher-range tonality. And his strength, which these days was

far more bluster than muscle. And his heart, which still thudded painfully from firing Storm.

This time, it took a great deal longer than usual to leave the world behind. He hovered, he drifted, yet he was not transported. The tragic elements of his unfolding fate held him down.

When peace finally entered his internal realm, Sean switched to an étude by Chopin. It was a courtly dance, even when thumped out by his bricklayer’s hands. The instrument was bell-like, a radiant sound that caused even his antiquated frame to resonate.

Between the first and second movement, his playing transported him away from the realm of business and debt and his own multitude of failings. He knew others believed he harbored an old man’s fantasy of playing on the concert stage. But that was rubbish. He was here because twice each year, for a few treasured moments, an instrument brought him as close to divinity as Sean Syrrell would ever come. At least, so long as he was chained to this traumatic ordeal called life.

Sean detected a subtle shift in the chamber’s atmosphere. He was well aware of what it probably meant. He shut his eyes and turned to his favorite composer. Brahms was so very right for the moment, if indeed he was correct in thinking the moment had arrived.

Brahms above all composers had managed to form prayer into a series of notes. Yet Brahms had always been the hardest for Sean to play. Brahms required gentle eloquence. Normally Sean Syrrell played with all the gentleness of a drummer.

Today, however, Sean found himself able to perform the melody as it should be performed, as a supplicant with a lover’s heart.

Then Sean heard a different sound. A quiet hiss, accompanied by a puff of air on his cheek.

Sean opened his eyes in time to see a hand reflected in the piano’s mirrored surface, moving away from his face. It held a small crystal vial.

Sean’s cry of alarm was stifled by what felt like a hammer crashing into his chest. He doubled over the instrument, and his forehead slammed into the keyboard. But he heard none of it.

His entire being resonated with a single clarity of purpose, as strong as a funeral bell. He had been right all along.

Sean did not halt his playing. Even when his fingers slipped from the keys, still he played on.

His final thought was of Storm, which was only fitting. She was, after all, his one remaining earthbound hope.

He was carried along with notes that rose and rose until they joined in celestial perfection, transporting him into the realm he had prayed might find room for him. Even him.

My Review:

Gold of Kings is a mystery/suspense story reminiscent of Indiana Jones. Sean Syrell is a dealer in arts/antiquities. He believes that somebody is going to kill him and they do. His granddaughter Storm was also part of the family business until Sean fired her to protect her. She is very upset by her grandfather's death and the fact that the business is in so much trouble that everything has to be auctioned off. Meanwhile in a Barbados prison Sean's old friend Harry Bennett (39) is released by the dead Sean's influence. He asks that Harry watch over Storm for he fears for her life too. FYI Harry is a treasure seeker and was wrongly imprisoned. Harry contacts Storm after going to England on Sean's request. Undercover agent Emma Webb contacts Storm about her grandfather. What follows is an interesting adventure/mystery/suspense tale that goes around the world. There are a lot of historical details regarding the treasure that can be tedious in spots but overall it shows that it is well researched. I had a little trouble connecting with the characters but the overall plot and good writing made the book. I hope there is a second book featuring these characters. :)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ulterior Motives by Mark Andrew Olsen


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Mark Andrew Olsen




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

MARK ANDREW OLSEN whose novel The Assignment was a Christy Award finalist, also collaborated on bestsellers Hadassah (now the major motion picture: One Night With the King), The Hadassah Covenant, and Rescued. Two of his last books were the supernatural thriller The Watchers, and The Warriors.

The son of missionaries to France, Mark is a Professional Writing graduate of Baylor University. He and his wife, Connie, live in Colorado Springs with their three children.


ABOUT THE BOOK

When an al-Qaeda email is intercepted, threatening an attack on America, it leads to the capture of the group's leader. Yet even under fierce interrogation, the terrorist clings to his jihadist beliefs and refuses to divulge any information. Desperate, the Army resorts to extreme measures--a controversial protocol designed to break a subject's resistance. But the attempt must be masked as an offer of clemency and rely on an outside party, someone who is unaware of the protocol's aims.

They find that someone in Greg Cahill, a disgraced soldier who now serves in a prison ministry. Lured by the chance to restore his reputation, Greg befriends a man the entire country despises. And the result proves combustible, the two men having to flee for their lives. With both in need of redemption, they set out to prevent a major catastrophe...

If you would like to read the first chapter of HERE

My Review:

Ulterior Motives is a wonderful suspense novel that explores an interesting concept. I was literally glued to the pages to find out what happens next. I did not see the somewhat twist/unexpected departure from what I expected to happen. In order to fully enjoy the story for what it is a story you have suspend belief in places. The sharing of the Christian faith plays a prominent role in the lead character Greg Cahill's current life so it inherent in the book. It is wrapped up nicely in the end which I liked. Overall a great book which I recommend. I look forward to reading more novels by this author. :)

Dear Mom by Melody Carlson



Every mom knows how communicating with a teenage girl can be difficult, even impossible at times. One-word answers. Defensive conversations. Daily arguments. How typical for teens to put up such barriers. All the while, moms truly long to know what their daughters really think.

Best-selling author Melody Carlson, whose books for women, teens, and children have sold more than three million copies, bridges this chasm with trusted insight. She speaks frankly in the voice of the teen daughters she’s written for and she tells it like it is: struggles with identity, guys, friendship, and even parents—it’s all here. The straight-talk to moms covers such things as “I need you, but you can’t make me admit it,” “I’m not as confident as I appear,” and “I have friends. I need a mother.”
Instead of focusing on outward behaviors, Dear Mom looks at a young woman’s heart and reveals to moms:
· how to talk to teens so they hear,
· how to connect despite the differences of perspective or years and experiences,
· and how strengthen the bond every mom and daughter ultimately wants.

The lively chapters in Dear Mom can be dipped into topically or used as a read-through tool by moms and daughters alike to understand what motivates or deflates, troubles or inspires—and just in time for Mother’s Day and all the Mother’s Days ahead.

Author Bio:
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of more than one hundred books for adults, children, and teens, with sales totaling more than three million copies. Beloved for her Diary of a Teenage Girl and Notes from a Spinning Planet series, she’s also the author of the women’s novels Finding Alice (in production now for a Lifetime-TV movie), Crystal Lies, On This Day, These Boots Weren’t Made for Walking, and A Mile in My Flip-Flops. A mother of two grown sons, Melody lives in central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. She’s a full-time writer and an avid gardener, biker, skier, and hiker.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blood Bayou by Karen Young

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Blood Bayou

Howard Books (May 5, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Karen Young is the author of thirty-four novels with more than ten million copies in print. Romantic Times magazine and the Romance Writers of America have given her fiction numerous awards. She is a frequent public speaker and lecturer who lives in Houston. This is her first Christian novel.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416587500
ISBN-13: 978-1416587507

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


PROLOGUE

Luanne Richard opened the door to her killer wearing a smile and little else. With a drink in one hand and invitation and mischief dancing in her eyes, she sensed no danger. After several martinis, her instinct for danger was hazy at best.

She’d been lounging on the patio in her bikini when the doorbell rang. It had occurred to her that a cover-up might be the proper thing, but she wasn’t much into doing the proper thing. Never had been. It got really boring trying to live life properly. Now, glancing through the peephole, she saw he was alone and thought it might be fun to tease him a little. No one

around, as far as she could tell. So she let him in, closed the door, and turned to face him.

That is when she saw the knife.

She sobered instantly. And when he raised it and lunged, aiming for her throat, she recoiled on instinct alone, tossed her drink at his face and somehow—miraculously—managed to

evade that first vicious slash. While he cursed and blinked gin from his eyes, she turned and ran on bare feet.

She raced through the huge house wondering frantically how to escape. She cursed her carelessness in leaving the gate open when she drove home from the club. It came to her that

she stood no chance while inside, so she flew through the living room and made for the den and beyond—the patio. She prayed the door was open, that she’d failed to close it when she got up

and came back in.

Please, oh, please . . .

Halfway there, she took a quick look over her shoulder and screamed. He was close and gaining. He would be on her if she didn’t do something. As she streaked past a very expensive Chinese vase, she gave it a push to tip it over, thinking to trip him. He stumbled but didn’t go down. He picked it up, tossed it aside, and laughed. Laughed!

This couldn’t be real. This kind of craziness happened in nightmares to other people, not to her. Hadn’t she had enough grief in her life? Hadn’t she tried her best to fight the demons that tormented her? Hadn’t she often resisted temptation? Was she to be damned for the times she didn’t?

I’m sorry, God. I’m sorry. I’m sorry . . .

No! She wasn’t going to let this happen. She had a lot of life to live yet. She would change. She had changed. Nobody understood how hard it was for her to keep to the straight and narrow. She kept to the path. Almost always.

Once out on the lawn, she realized she couldn’t make it to the front. It was too far away. He’d overtake her before she got halfway there. And there was no time to punch in the security

code to open the gate. She was trapped. Mad with fear, she ducked around lush landscaping, making for the walk that led to the pier and boathouse. She veered to avoid the cherub fountain and stumbled, twisting her ankle painfully. She flung out a hand for balance only to have it slashed on the lethal thorns of a pyracantha. Sobbing now, she dashed through a grove of wax myrtles, wincing at the slap and sting of limbs before finally reaching the pier jutting over the bayou. It was her only chance.

She looked again over her shoulder. He’d slowed, knowing she had no place else to run. The knife blade glinted brightly in the sun. She whimpered, trying to think. Blood dripped from

the gash on her hand and her ankle throbbed. Scalding tears ran down her cheeks. What to do?

“Gotcha now, Luanne,” he taunted. “The boathouse or the bayou, babe. What’s it gonna be?”

Not the bayou. Never the bayou.

She had a fear of Blood Bayou. It had almost claimed her once. None of the romantic legends spun about it held any charm for her. The water was too dark, too still, too deep, too alive with slimy things, predatory things. The bayou was death.

She was out of breath and in pain when she remembered the telephone in the boathouse only a few feet away. Checking behind her, she saw that he was still coming, but moving almost

leisurely, as if enjoying the chase, savoring her fear. Anticipating the kill?

The thought made her leap onto the pier. Hot from the August sun, the wooden planks burned the soles of her bare feet. Below the pier, black water slapped against the pilings, disorienting her. Don’t look down! Eyes straight ahead, she finally reached the boathouse door, grabbing at the latch, fingers clawing. Panic and blood from her wounded hand made her clumsy,

all thumbs, as she worked at the strange fastener. But at last she got it, wrenched it open.

Inside it was dark and dank and, like the bayou, smelled of rotting vegetation and decaying fish. But it was sanctuary and she scrambled inside, slammed the door shut, and set the bolt. It would not keep him out for long, but it offered a few precious seconds. Her eyes struggled with the dark. It was her only chance. But one thing nagged: Why was he giving her this chance? No time to worry about that. She flew to the wall-mounted phone, grabbed the receiver, and punched in 911.

He was at the boathouse now, rattling the door. Terror leaped in her chest. With her heart in her throat, she strained to hear the ring connecting her to 911. But nothing. In a panic, she jiggled the button up and down. Listened for a dial tone. Nothing. She frantically pressed the button up and down again. And again nothing. She gave an anguished cry and slammed the receiver against the wall. The phone line was dead!

She screamed at the thunderous crash. He kicked the door open. It slammed against the wall, shaking the boathouse to its foundation. As she watched, petrified, he took an unhurried step inside, filling the doorway. With the sun behind him, he loomed as large as a truck. He paused, no doubt to let his eyes adjust to the dark interior. He took his time. Then he began to move slowly toward her. “I’ve got you now, sugar,” he taunted, his smile grotesque.

Incoherent with terror, all she saw was the knife. She scrambled backward, desperate to get out of his reach. But he kept coming. With a bump, she backed against the sleek hull of a

boat. Trapped! Below was bottomless, black water. Sobbing, she looked at him piteously. She was going to die. The bayou was going to claim her after all.

My Review:

Camille St. John is a lawyer for the Truth Project. They focus on freeing people in jail who are really innocent. On the same day she is in a press conference about their latest victory they find out that he is the main suspect in the killing of a woman in the same town he is from Blood Bayou. Her ex sister in law was the victim. Camille's ex husband Jack also lives there and is a preacher now. They got a divorce because he was a drunk and killed a student on accident. Camille's mother and stepfather live in Blood Bayou. So when this happens she goes back to see Jack knowing how hard it would be to tell him she is sorry about his sister's death. Since the truth project was canceled and Camille has a mandatory vacation she decides to spend it in Blood Bayou with her family. While there she is convinced her man is innocent. As she forms a relationship with Jack again she investigates the killing. This is a wonderful mystery/suspense novel. Their are even more interesting characters and plot details to uncover. It was a page turner for me. :)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Beloved Counterfeit by Kathleen Y'Barbo


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Counterfeit

Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 2009)

by

Kathleen Y'Barbo




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


KATHLEEN MILLER Y’BARBO 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 and an award-winning novelist of Christian fiction whose first published work jumped onto the Christian Booksellers Association bestseller list in its first month of release. 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.


ABOUT THE BOOK

LOVE CAN COVER A MUTITUDE OF SINS

Washed ashore on Fairweather Key, Ruby O’Shea and her three nieces─the offspring of the pirate Thomas Hawkins and Ruby’s late sister─have a chance for a new beginning as Ruby takes a job in a boardinghouse and the girls are passed off as her daughters. But will Ruby be able to confess all when she falls for Micah Tate, a widower, wrecher, and soon-to-be preacher?

Micah is determined to marry the young woman who has captured his heart despite knowing she has something to hide. But will he be able to remain true to his vows when his lady love’s shady past comes to light?

Captain Thomas Hawkins will go to any length to discover the whereabouts of his daughters. What will his determination cost the folks of Fairweather Key?

When Ruby finds herself bereft of her newfound love and protector, will she run away in an attempt to escape her present as she did her past? Will Micah’s love cover the multitude of Ruby’s sins, or will Ruby’s duplicity cost her everything?


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

My Review:

The above description of the book is very good. I love the island setting of the book. Perfect for summer reading! All of the characters are interesting and although the plot is a little predictable it is interesting too. This is book three in the Fairweather Key series but for the most part it can stand alone. You might miss some of the background on other characters that make a appearance in this book. I hope there is a book four soon. This book centers mainly on Ruby and Micah though. They face different issues including trust regardless of the past. I liked the development of their characters including spiritually. :)