Monday, March 31, 2008

"Ryan Watters and the King's Sword" by Eric Reinhold

It is April FIRST--no foolin'--, time for the
FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day
of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's
FIRST chapter!

The special feature author is:

and his book:

Ryan Watters and
the King's Sword

Creation House (May 2008)

Illustrated by: Corey


Eric J. Reinhold is a graduate of the U.S. Naval
Academy. The former Naval officer writes extensively for a variety of
national financial publications in his position as a Certified Financial
Planner® and President of Academy Wealth Management. His passion for
writing a youth fantasy novel was fueled by nightly impromptu storytelling to
his children and actively serving in the middle and high school
programs at First Baptist Sweetwater Church in Longwood, Florida.

Visit him at his website.



It first appeared as a gentle glow, almost like a
child’s night-light. Heavy shadows filled the room as the boy lay face up,
covers tucked neatly under his arms. A slight smile on his face hinted
that he was in the midst of a pleasant dream.

Ryann Watters,
who had just celebrated his twelfth birthday, rolled lazily onto his
side, his blond hair matted into the pillow, unaware of the glow as it
began to intensify. Shadows searched for hiding places throughout the
room as the glow transformed from a pale yellow hue to brilliant

Ryann’s eyelids fluttered briefly and then flickered at the
glare reflecting off his pale blue bedroom walls. Drowsily, he turned
toward the light expecting to see one of his parents coming in to check
on him. “What’s going on?” his voice cracked as he reached up to rub the
crusty sleep from his eyes.


Under a pale half-moon, Drake Dunfellow’s
house looked just like any other. A closer inspection, however, would
reveal its failing condition. Water oaks lining the side of the curved
driveway hunched over haggardly, like old men struggling on canes. The
lawn, which should have been a lively green for early spring, was
withered and sandy. A few patches of grass were sprinkled here and there.
Rust lines streaked down the one jagged peak atop the tin-roof house. The
flimsy clapboard sides were outlined by fading white trim speckled with
dried paint curls. Hanging baskets containing a variety of plants and
weeds all struggling to stay alive shared the crowded front porch with
two mildew-covered rocking chairs. Inside, magazines and newspaper
clippings both old and new were carelessly strewn about. Encrusted dishes
from the previous day’s meals battled each other for space in the
bulging kitchen sink. In the garage, away from the usual living areas, was a
boy’s room. Dull paneling outlined the bedroom, while equally dreary
brown linoleum covered the floor. The bedroom must have been an
afterthought because not much consideration had been given to the details. A
bookcase cut from rough planks sat atop an old garage sale dresser.

Moonlight pressing through the dust-covered metal blinds tried to
provide a sense of peacefulness. Instead it revealed bristly red hair
atop a young boy’s head poking out from beneath a mushy feather pillow.
His heavy breathing provided the only movement in the quiet room. Tiny
droplets of perspiration lined his brow as he began jerking about under
the thin cotton sheets.

Starting at the edge of the window,
the blackness spread downward, transforming all traces of light to an
oily dinginess. Drake was slowly surrounded and remained the only thing
not saturated in the darkness. Bolting upright to a stiff-seated
attention, Drake’s bloodshot eyes darted back and forth. He stared into the
black nothingness shuddering and aware that the only thing visible in
the room was his bed.

“Who . . . who’s there?” Drake cried
out, puzzled by the hollow sound that didn’t seem to travel beyond the
edge of his mattress. Beads of sweat trickled down his neck, connecting
his numerous freckled dots. He strained, slightly tilting his head, ears
perked. There was no reply.


Neatly manicured
streets wandered through the Watters’s sleepy, rolling neighborhood.
If someone had been walking along in the wee morning hours of March 15,
they would have noticed the brilliant white light peeking out from
around Ryann’s shade. Below his second-story window the normally darkened
bed of pink, red, and white impatiens was lit up as in the noonday

Ryann was fully awake now and quite positive that the
dazzling aura facing him from in front of his window was not the hall light
from his parents entering the bedroom. Golden hues flowed out of the
whiteness, showering itself on everything in the room. It reminded Ryann
of sprinkles of pixie dust in some of his favorite childhood books. His
blue eyes grew wide trying to capture the unbelievable event unfolding
before him.

“Fear not, Ryann,” a confident, yet kind, voice
began. “I have come to do the bidding of one much greater than I and
who you have found favor with.”

Rapid pulses in his chest
gripped Ryann as he struggled to understand what was happening.
Instinctively he grasped his navy blue bed sheets and pulled them up so that only
his eyes and the top of his head peeked out from his self-made cocoon.
Squinting to reduce the brilliance before him, Ryann stared into the
light, trying to detect a form while questions scrambled around his mind.
What had the voice meant by “finding favor,” and who had sent him? As
Ryann struggled to work this out, the center of the whiteness began to
take the shape of a man. Human in appearance, he looked powerful, but
there was a calmness about his face, like that of an experienced
commander before going into battle. Ryann recalled hearing about angels in his
Sunday school class at church. He wondered if this could be one.

“Ryann, thou have found favor with the One who sent me. You will
be given much and much will be required of you.”

shaking, Ryann was fairly certain he was safe. “S-s-s . . . sir, are you an

“You have perceived correctly.” “And . . . I’ve been
chosen by someone . . . for something?” Ryann asked.

One who knows you better than you know yourself,” the angel answered.

Ryann knew he must be talking about God, but what could God
possibly want with him?

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Thou must search out and put on the full armor of God so that you can
take a stand against the devil’s schemes. For your struggle is not
against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and
against the forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

“The devil?
Forces of evil? I’m just a kid,” Ryann said. “What could I possibly
have to do with all of this? You’ve got to be making a mistake.”

“There are no mistakes with God. Thou have heard of David?”

“You mean the David from David and Goliath?” Ryann asked.

The angel nodded. “He was also a boy chosen by God to accomplish great
things. God chooses to show His power by using the powerless.”

Ryann tried to comprehend the magnitude of what this mighty being
was saying to him. Realizing he was still sitting in his bed, covers
bunched around him, he pulled them aside and swung his feet out, never
taking his eyes off the angel. Landing firmly on the carpet, Ryann’s
wobbly knees barely supported him, the bed acting as a wall between him and
the angel.

“Who are you?”

“I am Gabriel and have
come to give you insight and understanding.”

“Wow!” Ryann
couldn’t believe this was the same angel who had appeared to Joseph and
Mary in the Christmas story he heard every December. The lines of
excitement on his face drooped as he fidgeted, thinking about the angel’s
words. “I don’t want to . . . seem . . . ungrateful,” Ryann hesitated,
“but . . . is there any way you can . . . ask someone else?”

“Only you have been given this trial, Ryann, yet you shall not be

“Who will help me?”

“As the young shepherd boy
David spoke, ‘The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
and He delivers them. For He commands His angels to guard you in all
your ways.’” Gabriel’s twinkling gaze rose as he stretched his arms
heavenward, “And these will assist you along the way.”

Beckoning Ryann from behind the bed, the angel glided
effortlessly forward to greet him. Walking to within a foot of Gabriel,
Ryann bowed humbly, basking in the radiant glow that emanated all
around him. Reaching out, the angel grasped Ryann’s left hand firmly and
slipped a gold ring, topped by a clear bubble-like stone, onto his
finger. Before he could inspect it, the angel took his other hand and placed
a long metal pole in it. Ryann’s hand slid easily up and down the
smooth metal finish. Its shape and size were similar to a pool cue.
Bone-white buttons protruded from just below where he gripped the staff. They
were numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7. Mesmerized by the gifts that
begged for more attention and questions, Ryann hardly noticed Gabriel loop
a long leather cord through his arm and around his neck. From it a
curved ivory horn hung loosely below his waist, resting on his hip.

As Gabriel finished and backed away, Ryann continued marveling at
each of the gifts. Reaching down to inspect the horn, he ran his hands
along its smooth, yet pitted surface, until he reached the small
gold-tipped opening. He wondered how old the horn was and if it had been used

“What do I do with these? How do I use them?”

“It is not for me to reveal,” answered the angel calmly. “You
shall find out in due time.”

“But what do I do now?”

“Thou must seek the King’s sword.”

“How? What King? Where do
I look?” Ryann blurted out, panicking as questions continued to pop
into his head.

“The Spirit will lead you, and the ring will
open the way,” the angel replied as he began floating backwards, the
light peeling away with him.

“Wait, wait! Don’t leave—I don’t
know enough—where do I go now?”

“Remember,” Gabriel’s clear
voice began to fade, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for
teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that you
may be thoroughly equipped for all good works.”

the mysterious heavenly gifts he had been given, Ryann collapsed in a
heap on his bed, body and mind drained from his supernatural encounter.
He drifted into a welcomed sleep.


It seemed
Drake’s bedroom no longer existed. Only his bed remained, an island
floating in a sea of darkness that completely surrounded him. His eyes
bulged, darting about for anything that would give him a hint of what was
going on. A cool draft drifted down his neck, chilling him despite the
safety of his covers. Caught between reality and a nightmare, he let
loose a scream that normally would have been heard throughout the house and
beyond, but now was absorbed into the heavy darkness enveloping

“Who’s there?” he said again. He pinched himself to see if he
was dreaming.

With a loud swoooooooosh, huge wings shot out
of the darkness surrounding his bed. Drake dove for the safety of his

A thunderous, commanding voice ordered, “Come out
from hiding and stand up!”

Drake hesitated, knuckles tense and
white as they curled tightly around the edges of his blanket.

“Now!” the voice thundered.

Jerking his covers off, Drake
scurried to the edge of the bed, lost his balance, and awkwardly fell
face-first onto the cool floor. Petrified at what he might see, yet too
scared to disobey, he raised his head slightly. Half expecting some
hideous beast, Drake was surprised at what he was facing. The
black-winged warrior towering over him was imposing enough to paralyze anyone with
fear, but his face was what captivated Drake. Instead of a hideous
three-eyed ghoul with fangs, like Drake imagined, he stared into one of
the most ruggedly handsome faces he had ever seen. Drake froze,

“Sit up and listen closely, human,” the dark angel began,
closing his wings in an effortless swish. Lowering his voice, he spoke
in a precise, but less threatening tone. “I have chosen you to carry
out my wishes.”

Drake raised himself to a clumsy crouch. The
face he looked intently into was perfect in almost every way, except
for a long thin scar that traveled from his left ear to his jaw. He was
convinced now that this wasn’t a monster trying to devour him.

“Why me?”

The angel’s scar became more noticeable when he
smiled at Drake. “I have been here before with great success and have
reason to believe you will serve me well.”

“What do you want
me to do?” Drake blurted.

“The one who seeks to bind me must
be stopped!”

Drake stumbled backwards, putting a hand on
the floor to keep from falling. Swallowing hard, he could feel the black,
penetrating eyes staring deep into his.

“You are the one,”
the creature said confidently.

No one had ever chosen Drake
for anything, yet this powerful being wanted him. He didn’t know if he
could trust the dark angel or not, but the chance for power excited
Drake. “How do I do it?”

The dark angel continued to smile,
sensing the blackness in Drake’s heart spreading murkily throughout his

“I will be your eyes and ears, a guide to lead you in
the right direction, and,” he hesitated, “I will give you these.”

The dark-winged angel stretched out his hand, his index finger
pointing toward the empty floor in front of him. Immediately three items
appeared before Drake’s eyes. He blinked again. They were still there.
Drake’s hand shot out in a blur to grab the closest item.


Drake froze, and then cowered, his eyes shifting back to
the booming voice as he slowly retracted his hand. His eyes darted
back and forth between the three items and the dark angel in the awkward

“You move when I tell you to move. Now . . . kneel
before me, child of the earth, while I make you ready for your task.”

Still hunched-over, Drake pitched forward onto his knees with
his head bowed, eyes glancing upward in anticipation.

first gift to you is a cloak of darkness. It will provide you with cover
at night. You and the night shall become one.”

Drake reached
out his hands to receive the cloak. It felt smooth and slippery.
Looking intently at it, the cloak seemed several feet thick, as if it was
projecting darkness.

“My second gift to you is a ring of
suggestion. With it you will have the ability to project persuasive thoughts
to those who are weak-willed or in the midst of indecision.” Powerful
hands with long curled fingers took hold of Drake’s hand, spreading an
icy chill from the tip of his fingers to his wrist. As the creature
slipped the black band onto his finger, Drake briefly noticed a red blotch
on the top. His hand felt stiff, then the numbness traveled up his arm
and throughout his body. Chattering clicks from his own teeth broke
the silence as he awaited the angel’s next words. “Lastly, I provide you
with a bow and arrows of fire. These arrows were formed in the lake of
fire and will deliver physical and mental anguish to those they

“Thank you . . . uhh . . . what should I call you?” Drake

“I am one of the stars that fell from heaven. My
master is Shandago and I am his chief messenger. You may call me Lord

“Thank you, Lord Ekron, for these gifts. I may be young,
but I’ll do as you ask to the best of my ability.”

“It is
expected. Also, these items I have given to you are not for use in this
world. When the time is right, you will find a passage into another land.
There you will put these gifts to work.”

The darkness in
the room began to rush toward Lord Ekron, as if he were absorbing it,
except he wasn’t getting bigger—only darker. Drake kept staring at him,
trying not to blink, so he wouldn’t miss anything. Despite his efforts,
the dark angel began to fade, and Drake found himself peering into the
darkness at the blank wall. When he was sure his eyes weren’t playing
tricks on him and enough time passed so that he felt safe to move, he
stood up.

Drake would have thought this was all a bad dream,
but the items he held in his hand were proof that it was real. He ran his
hands through the dense blackness of the slick cloak, wondering how he
might use it. Drake was anxious to try the bow and arrows as well. He
didn’t dare pull the arrows out of their quiver right now, but decided
that he would have to buy a regular bow and quiver of arrows as soon as
possible so that he could begin practicing. Looking down at his hand,
he examined the unusual ring he now wore. The entire band was a glossy
black, except for the unusual red marking on the top, which resembled a
flying dragon.

Not much had gone right for Drake during the
first thirteen years of his life. “Now things are going to be different,”
he thought. The smile inching across his face looked evil. He knew with
Lord Ekron at his side no one would be able to tell him what to


Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Cassidy" by Lori Wick and Giveaway

Spring is here! I will be really busy studying for the next four weeks for my orals. I am almost done with graduate school. :) And work is crazy busy so I will still post but I will not be reading books for the next four weeks. (We will see how long I can go before I break down and read ;) I will catch up after that though. For now I really feel like doing a giveaway and the book will be the first in the Big Sky series by Lori Wick: Cassidy. You have until Friday April 4th at midnight to enter by leaving a comment on this post. :)

About the book:
Token Creek, Montana Territory, 1880
Cassidy Norton is a fine seamstress who makes her living sewing for others. Amid the bustle of a busy frontier town, her life is rich. What time her business doesnt take, her friends and church family fill. But Cassidy hasnt always lived in Token Creek, and few people know her full story. So she struggles with a nagging unsettledness in her heart.
Cassidys friend Meg is married to a rancher and has a baby, something Cassidy wants for herself. But that would mean revealing the details of her life. Will Cassidy find the strength to take that risk?

My Review: I was disappointed in this book. It had the plot line of being a good book but the delivery was off. I have heard the second in this series is much better but I have not read it. I have read many books by her and some of my all time favorites are by her. I read the first book in the Tucker Mills trilogy and then quit. So I had high hopes for this new series. I want to let one of you read it and tell me what you think. So leave a comment if you would like to win a copy. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Betrayed by Jeanette Windle

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


Tyndale House Publishers (February 6, 2008)


Jeanette Windle


Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.

My Review: I am still reading. I am about a hundred pages into it. It is great! I will post a full review when finished.


As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.

Monday, March 24, 2008

For Pete's Sake by Linda Windsor

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

For Pete's Sake

Book Two of the Piper Cove Chronicles

(Avon Inspire - April 1, 2008)

Linda Windsor

For Pete's Sake is a remarkable story about the unlikely live between a grown-up tomboy and the millionaire next door.Ellen Brittingham isn’t sure true live exists until she contracts to do the landscaping of the estate of the sophisticated widower next door, Adrian Sinclair. Adrian has it all—at least on the surface, He’s engaged to a beautiful woman who helped him build a successful business and he’ll soon have a mom for his troubled son Pete.Yet, from the moment Ellen rescues a stranded Adrian on her Harley, his well-ordered world turns upside down, cracking his thin fa├žade of happiness and revealing the void of faith and love behind it. Even more, his son seems to have his own sites set on Ellen – as his new mom.As Ellen’s friendship grows with Pete, she realizes that his father is about to marry the wrong woman for the right reasons. And despite her resolve to remain “neighbors only” with the dad, the precocious boy works his way into her heart, drawing Ellen and Adrian closer. Close enough for heartbreak, for Pete’s sake!But how can her heart think that Adrian Sinclair is the one when he’s engaged to a sophisticated beauty who is everything Ellen isn’t. When Ellen’s three best friends see she’s been bitten by the love bug, they jump into action and submit her to a makeover that reveals the woman underneath her rough exterior and puts her in contention for Adrian’s love.But Ellen must ask herself whether she’s ready to risk the heart that she’s always held close. Will Ellen be able to trust that God brought this family into her life for a reason? Or will her fear of getting hurt cause her to turn away from God’s plan and her one true chance at love?

My Review: I loved this book. Romance with a little mystery. Quirky, lovable characters.Unique real feeling plot lines. My favorite Linda Windsor book ever. I highly recommend this book :)


Maryland author Linda Windsor has written some twenty-nine historical and contemporary novels for both the secular and inspirational markets, but she is most noted for delivering “The Lift of Laughter and Spirit” in her modern inspirational romances.

A Christy finalist and winner of numerous industry awards, Linda has written for Multnomah Publishing (historical fiction and contemporary romances), Barbour Publishing (romcom novella), and Westbow Press (the Moonstruck romantic comedy trilogy). Wedding Bell Blues the first book in her new The Piper Cove Chronicles series, is featured on Avon Inspire's launch list.

In addition to writing and doing fiction-writing workshops at conferences across the country, Linda continues a music and lay speaking ministry started by her and her late husband, and she is a part-time financial analyst. She also works on “as desperately needed” home improvement projects on the 18th-century-plus house that she and her husband began restoring in 1986. Wallpaper and paint are definitely in her near future.

The Sunday Salon March 23 Edition

The Sunday

Sunday March 23, 2008
I did not read very much today. For several reasons including it is a holiday and I was cooking and visiting with family most of the day and night. But I did go to Barnes and Noble and while I was there I persued a few books and I ended up buying Danny Gospel by David Atheny. I started reading late last night and so far it is good but odd. I will have a full review when I am finished. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Winner of Experiencing the Resurrection and Happy Easter

And the winner of Experiencing the Resurrection is Carole! Congratulations. Stay tuned for more contests. :)
Happy Easter!

Between Two Worlds: The Spirtual Journey of an Evangelical Catholic by Mike Timmis

Introducing the new blog alliance devoted to Non~Fiction books, Non~FIRST, a component of Fiction in Rather Short Takes (FIRST). (Join our alliance! Click the button!) This is our very first blog tour. Normally, we will post every 15th day of every month, featuring an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!
The special feature author is:
Mike Timmis
and his book:
Between Two Worlds: The Spiritual Journey of an Evangelical Catholic
NavPress (February 2008)

Mike Timmis had it all.How does a kid from working-class Detroit become an international ambassador for Christ? And what motivated an evangelical-based ministry to choose this Catholic as its chairman? Mike Timmis’s inspiring life as a Catholic and evangelical leader reveals how our unity in Christ transcends the two worlds’ differences. From him, we learn how Catholics and evangelicals can go into an alienated world together as ministers of reconciliation and witnesses to God’s salvation and love. Mike Timmis is a chairman of both Prison Fellowship in America and Prison Fellowship International. He was also a practicing lawyer and businessman. A Roman Catholic, Mike is deeply involved in ministry in his hometown of Detroit as well as projects in Africa and Central and South America. He and his wife, Nancey, are parents of two and grandparents of four.

Chapter One
Taking Life into My Own Hands
On January 18, 1991, I was flying in a small two-engine plane in east-central Africa from Burundi to Kenya. Our party had just come from a wonderful meeting with Burundi’s President Pierre Buyoya where we’d shared the gospel with him and a number of cabinet ministers. Still, we were somewhat anxious because the Persian Gulf War had started the previous day. Right then, American fighters were in the air against Iraqi positions.My wife, Nancy, and my son, Michael Jr., were with me, as well as Gene Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, a fellow believer then living in Nairobi. This trip was part of the quiet diplomacy I had undertaken as a member of a group called The Fellowship. We worked on behalf of the poor by raising up Jesus with world leaders, one means of pursuing the ministry of reconciliation that Christ entrusted to His followers.As we flew over northern Tanzania, the pilot was suddenly issued an order that we were to land immediately. I was sitting close enough to the cockpit to hear the squawking instructions coming over the radio. I quickly assured the pilot that we had the requisite permission to fly over Tanzanian air space. The State Department had issued an order to American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania, an Iraq ally, so I made sure—or thought I had—that we had permission to fly over Tanzania en route to Kenya. The pilot relayed my protest to the Tanzanians.“No, you do not have permission!” came the reply. “You must land immediately, or we will force you down.”We landed at the small city airport of Mwanza. As we stepped down onto the tarmac, a military jeep pulled up. A cadre of officials and police officers met us and immediately arrested the pilot and impounded the plane.Their leader also demanded our passports. I was reluctant to give these up, because no matter what alternative flight arrangements we might be able to make, we would be stranded without passports. Because I had requested—and been granted—permission to fly over Tanzania, our detention was making me angry. (Later I found out that the flight service we were using had previously flouted Tanzanian regulations and had again on this occasion.) Because my family was with me, I restrained my temper. My jaw clenched, I reluctantly handed over my passport.We were allowed to find our own accommodations in Mwanza, and we found a car that took us to the New Hotel Mwanza. I would hate to have seen the old Hotel Mwanza. We were the hotel’s only guests, and for good reason. The first thing I did was check under the bed for bugs and rats.As we caught our breath in our hotel room, I asked Nancy if she was afraid. “No, I’m not afraid,” she said. “You are with me, our son is with us, and God is with us.”Even though we were stranded in an African backwater, I felt the same. I knew I was where God wanted us to be and felt—as I always have in my travels to what are now 114 nations—that God was going before me. In my many years of traveling on various missions, I’ve always felt protected by the special anointing that comes with God’s commission. Lost geographically, I was still at home spiritually, and for that reason at peace.Our party of five met for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. My family is Catholic, and Gene Dewey and Sam Owen were evangelicals, but the unity we knew in the Lord sustained us, even when the dinner turned out to be rancid.After a little while, the hotel manager, having no other guests, joined us at our table. This made way for the night’s entertainment. Four strapping young men in red overalls—the kind gas station attendants used to wear—came out, and with lamplight smiles launched into song:My baaaaah-dy lies over the ocean,My baaaaah-dy lies over the sea. . . .Yes, they said “body” not “bonnie,” and since we all felt an ocean away from home, the song struck us as hilarious. Then the quartet followed with “Home on the Range,” and we nearly wept from laughing. We clapped and cheered, showing our appreciation to the young men. They had done us more good than they could possibly have known.I spent the next day searching for transportation out of Mwanza. The others paid special attention to BBC radio reports on the progress of the war.Within thirty-six hours, a plane flew in for us from Nairobi. We went out to the airport to meet it, eager to hightail it out of there. But when we arrived at the airport, no one seemed inclined to return our passports. Thankfully, Gene Dewey was already anticipating this. Because of his time with the United Nations, Gene had the most experience in dealing with government officials. He had also been a colonel in Vietnam and had a knack for being cool and fiercely determined at the same time. I kept asking him when he thought we’d get our passports back—and how. “Mike, don’t worry about it,” he’d say.As we were walking out to the plane, bags in hand, with a couple of Tanzanian officials to the rear in escort, I looked over at Gene and said as forcefully as I could under my breath, “Gene, our passports!”“Not now, Mike,” he replied quietly but just as forcefully. “Just don’t worry about it. Keep walking.”It wasn’t until we were in the air that Gene unbuttoned his shirt and fished out all our passports.“How did you get those?” I asked.“I came out to the airport last night,” he said. “I broke into the office and took them. If you had kept talking, they might have found out!”Gene’s street smarts reminded me of how I’d grown up and made my way. I asked myself, “How did I get here? How did a kid from the rough and gritty streets of Detroit end up on a trip to see international dignitaries? How could a guy born and raised Catholic go on a mission representing a largely evangelical organization?”I’ve had many amazing, frightening, and heart-rending experiences as I’ve traveled the world in service to the King of kings. And one thing I can say for certain: when you entrust yourself completely to God and make yourself available to Him, you’re in for an adventure.***“Mike, the only way you can be ensured of success,” my father once told me, “is if you take it into your own hands and go into the professions.” I was an Irish Catholic kid from the battling West Side of Detroit, the youngest of five children, keen on finding my own place in the world.My father remains the strongest man I think I’ve ever known, with enormous hands, a powerful physique, and an energy that stayed with him into his nineties. I saw him lift a car out of a ditch when he was in his sixties, although he did injure his back. As young men, he and his brother Brian went out to western Canada, where they took jobs as real-live cowboys, breaking horses. Brian stayed, became a Mounty in Regina, Saskatchewan, and played professional football there. My dad returned to Ottawa and played wingback for the Ottawa Roughriders.1 There he met an Irish girl who was both passionate and practical, and he had the good sense to ask for her hand.My parents emigrated from Canada to Detroit in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression. My mother’s uncle had moved there earlier from Ottawa and convinced my parents that the Motor City was one of the last places in North America where a man could find regular employment. Our relatives soon moved back to Ottawa, but my father and mother stayed, and Dad hired on with the city as a bus driver. He eventually worked his way up through the civil service system and retired as a bus station manager.Most of his working life turned out to be far different from the spirited and reckless days as a cowboy and pro football player. I was the last of five children, separated in age by twelve years from my eldest sibling, Margaret Claire. My parents were well into their forties when I was born in 1939, and so I never knew my father as a young man. Or a particularly happy man—not at least until much later in his life when, in retirement, he was able to live on a farm and keep horses.While I was growing up, I remember my dad collapsing into his chair at the end of his long days. He’d take up one of Luke Short’s westerns—he probably read ten times every novel the man had ever written. I can’t say for certain whether he ever graduated from high school. I know he served in the Canadian forces in World War I, beginning in 1914 at seventeen. And since he was born in 1897, so he might have left for the war before graduating.We were a serious family, always working or studying or going to St. Brigid’s, our local Catholic parish. Our faith was a great comfort to both my father and mother, but it was also a cause of concern as to the children’s futures. My father felt that Irish Catholics were discriminated against, so he insisted that my brothers and I become doctors.At the time, all of Detroit was divided into ethnic neighborhoods of Poles, Eastern European Jews, Irish, Germans, Italians, and so on. We lived in an Irish Catholic enclave. The houses stood one against the other on forty-foot lots, with bay windows to one side of half porches. The weave of that community was very close-knit. As a ten year-old, I once cursed on a playground a block from home and received a slap for it when I came in ten minutes later for supper. A neighbor had heard what I said and promptly telephoned my mother.But such strictures helped keep the city a safe and open place where I was free to roam. Not only did we not lock our front door, but I don’t remember there being a key. From the age of eight or nine, I could walk down to the local candy store and then hop busses down to Woodward Avenue, where Hudson’s, the giant department store, mounted huge Christmas window displays.At the same time, the neighborhood had its own pugnacious code: You stood up to a fight or you simply couldn’t live there. Taking a beating was far better than being constantly harassed, so I did a lot of fighting as a kid. I can remember coming home from school one winter day. My sister had taken the bus home from college, and one of the neighborhood bullies, whom I’ll call Larry, had thrown an “ice ball” that hit her in the face.My dad said to me, “Take care of him.”Larry’s reputation as a bully was well earned, and I said, “Dad, this guy is going to kill me!”“I don’t care,” Dad replied sternly. “You go out and you take care of him—now!”Anger with my father for ordering this confrontation drove me out into the streets. When I caught sight of Larry, I ran after him, yelling at him vehemently. He hardly knew what hit him! I was so angry with Dad that I beat the living daylights out of the kid. I had him down on his back by the curb, where water was running from the snowmelt, and I whaled on him.My father may have been so concerned about prejudice against Catholics because he’d had to overcome that obstacle when he started courting my mother. My dad’s family was high-church Anglican. He converted when he married my mother, which wasn’t much of a stretch, since high-church Anglicans worship in a liturgical style as close to Catholicism as Protestantism gets. Still, crossing to Rome was always an issue, especially at a time when Help Wanted signs included the postscript “No Irish Need Apply.”My mother’s family, the O’Reillys, originally from County Clare, were Irish Catholics to the core. My mother was a petite woman, not more than five feet tall. In appearance, she was what they call dark Irish, with mahogany and cherry wood strands in her hair and a flame in her light-blue eyes. The O’Reillys, who owned brickyards, were far more well-to-do than my dad’s family.The pictures of my mother that I keep close by are candid shots; they show her as a young woman with the new bob of short hair that came in with the 1920s, striking a jaunty attitude. I can imagine this young Irish lass losing her head over my powerful, handsome father.She was told never to have children because of a weak heart, and then she went and had five. Better educated than my dad, she had been to what was called a “normal school,” or teacher’s college. I would guess that many of our family’s intellectual and creative gifts came through my mother. My brother Gerry, who the family called Sonny, would go on to be a famous cardiologist; Hilary, an outstanding surgeon; and both my sisters, Margaret Claire and Agnes Cecile, went to college and had marriages and careers that took them well up the economic ladder.Once married, my mother never worked outside the home but gave herself completely and utterly to her husband and children. That didn’t keep her from having a sharp tongue, or so my sisters claim; I never was cut deeply enough to remember her that way. It was not so much that I was the “baby” of the family, but that my mother’s health was in serious decline by the time I reached early adolescence. She was too exhausted to protest against much of anything by then.Both my father and my mother led our family in practicing our Catholic faith. In fact, when I think of my religious formation, I remember the faith as a distinctly family affair. Our devotions as a family made a great impression on me. We devoted the month of May to praying with Mary—not to Mary—to her son, Jesus.Every Sunday night, my whole family knelt down at seven o’clock and prayed for the conversion of Russia. My brothers Sonny and Hilary began to protest against the practice when they became busy medical students, but even then my parents insisted that the time be set aside.On Tuesday evenings, we went to St. Brigid’s for devotions, praying the rosary, making novenas, or listening as a “mission” was preached—what evangelical Protestants know as a revival service. These devotions largely disappeared from the Catholic Church after Vatican II in the early sixties and only now are being reinstated. The piety they encouraged came to be regarded as old-fashioned. Through these devotions, the Catholics of my parents’ generation—and generations before them—experienced the Catholic faith as intensely personal. The devotions also encouraged them to recognize their faith as God’s work in their lives. I experienced enough of this to clearly understand that my salvation was dependent on the completed work of Christ—not on my own righteousness. There was never a time when I was under the misimpression that my “works” would get me into heaven.I attended the local parish school, St. Brigid’s, where I was prepared for First Communion and Confirmation by the sisters who taught us. My first confession at the age of six saw me truly penitent, if confused. There were no secrets in our Irish Catholic family, and everyone wanted to know to what I had confessed. I told my brothers and sisters that I had admitted to adultery about a hundred times.“You did?” they asked. “What did you mean?”“That I picked my nose!”I’m sure the priest about fell off the chair as he smothered his laughter.Still, my First Communion was a memorable experience at which I received a child’s prayer book—one that I only recently parted with when I gave it to my granddaughter on the occasion of her First Communion. It meant that much to me. Even as a young child, I took the privilege of being invited into communion with God very seriously. I think most children do, because they understand intuitively what it means to be God’s child.At St. Brigid’s, we were schooled in the Baltimore Catechism, so when I was confirmed in the Catholic faith in fifth grade, I knew all the right answers to the classic questions. Who made us? Who is God? Why did God make us? In retrospect, I wish I had understood and experienced these rites of passage more in terms of an evolving relationship with Christ rather than as childhood milestones. Confirmation comes later now, when a child is about twelve or thirteen, which I think is good; older children are better equipped to understand Confirmation as a personal commitment. At the same time, I’ve always been glad that the rudiments of the faith were drilled into me. This provided me with certainty and hope at many difficult times in my life, especially in the crises that crouched around the next corner.***My peaceful, happy childhood was disturbed by illness when I was about twelve years old. I returned home from a Boy Scout retreat with pneumonia and what the doctors suspected was rheumatic fever. I was sicker than I probably knew for a number of months and missed virtually all of eighth grade. After I regained my strength the first time, I had a relapse, and our doctor became worried about the condition of my heart. He ordered that I not participate in any sports. When I entered U of D High (University of Detroit High School, now called University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy), I was allowed to climb the stairs to the freshman and sophomore classrooms only once a day.This was especially frustrating because I’d always had amazing stamina; I really didn’t pay much attention to the doctors’ orders except when under the direct supervision of my parents or the school. Still, the inactivity led to weight gain, and I became a pudgy kid, which I hated. What’s more, the physical isolation my illness brought with it became an emotional isolation. Like my father, I took refuge in books, becoming a voracious reader. I liked history and novels especially, and, as I often had trouble sleeping, I would grab a book and read long into the night.My mother worried over me because of my health, of course, and that added to my brothers’ and sisters’ complaints that I was being spoiled. One time, Hilary was especially upset with me. We were arguing, and my mother admonished him to lay off me.“He’s turning into a spoiled jerk,” Hilary insisted.“Look at me,” she replied. “You’ve had a mother. He’s not going to have a mother. Leave him alone.”Anyone could see by her pallor that her health was in decline. Indeed, her heart condition was growing rapidly worse. I vividly remember the night she died, April 11, 1955. It was Easter night. Sonny, a senior, and Hilary, a junior in medical school, were attending to her. They were talking on the phone to her doctor, their voices rising and becoming more strained as they followed his instructions with little effect. I came into her room while this was going on and heard Sonny yell into the phone, “I’ve already given her a shot of adrenaline and it’s not working!”I looked at her, propped up on two pillows. I asked her, “Mama, what’s wrong?”She was always a very prayerful woman, and she chose to answer in the only way she could. She took out her rosary from between the pillows and with her thumb held up the crucifix to me. That was the last thing she did. I was fifteen years old.My father had always revered and worshiped my mother. He mourned her loss terribly. It so happened, as well, that her death came as the nest was about to empty. Long before my mother’s final illness, Margaret Claire and Sonny each had been planning their weddings. Both were married and gone within two months of my mother’s death. Hilary left for the University of Pennsylvania to begin his residency in surgery. The following year, Agnes Cecile, married as well.My father never had many friends. He didn’t go out with the boys, and he drank hardly at all. For many years, he had lived a life of heroic, if quiet, sacrifice as he devoted himself to his wife and children. Our at-home family of seven had quickly dwindled to two.Within a year after my mother’s death, my father and I fell into a grim Sunday regimen. We would go to Mass at ten o’clock, then drive to the cemetery, where my father would weep so uncontrollably that I would have to drive us home.I was very lonely, but also very religious. We had Mass every day at U of D High, and that was important to me. I thought long and hard about becoming a priest.Every day, when school let out at 2:35, I would stop by the chapel once more. I’d sit there and talk to my mother and pray, then hitchhike or take the bus home to an empty house, which was difficult.I was fortunate to have my sisters and brothers and good friends to lean on. They made up much of what was lacking at home. Margaret Claire became like a second mom; as the eldest she had always nurtured me. When she married two months after my mother died, she and her husband, Russ Hastings, rented a small apartment only two or three miles from where we lived. She was extremely good to me, providing a desperately needed last dose of mothering.I would often ride over to their apartment on my bike. Margaret Claire taught me manners, particularly how to behave around young women—a subject of increasing interest. She also taught me how to dance. She would put “Peg of My Heart” and the other romantic ballads of the mid-fifties on her old phonograph and show me how to glide with my partner around the dance floor. She’d let me cadge a cigarette from her pack now and again, but “only one,” she’d say, keeping to a motherly moderation.Margaret Claire had worked as an executive secretary before marriage and would later raise seven children of her own. Russ was a CPA and became comptroller of Dodge Truck. They were the first among my family members to enter a whole new socioeconomic class.Within eighteen months of my mother’s death, I underwent a transformation that was partly physical, certainly emotional, and had unexpected spiritual extensions. I began to realize that my brothers and sisters were off making their own lives. I felt that I was completely on my own and that I would rise or fall on my own strength. My father’s admonition that I take my success into my own hands became an implacable necessity. At the deepest level, I decided that I was going to live my life and not be a victim. I wasn’t going to feel sorry for myself. I was going to carve out my own life, whatever it took. I began hardening myself and maturing swiftly.Between my junior and senior years of high school, I determined not to be fat anymore. I fasted, eating sparingly, all summer while working as a house painter in the sticky Detroit heat. My last growth spurt hit at the same time, taking me over the six-foot mark. I lost thirty pounds and grew about four inches. When I came back to school for my senior year, people hardly recognized me. The following summer, when I was working as a scaffold painter with a crew of older men, they took to calling me “Six O’clock,” because I was as thin and straight as clock hands at six o’clock.Losing so much weight renewed my confidence and helped me reconnect with the tremendous stamina and energy I’d known as a child. I felt powerful and ready to meet life’s demands—on my own terms.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008

Spring Reading Thing 2008 is simply an opportunity for you to set some reading goals, share them with the blogosphere, and work toward them this spring. Perhaps you want to add some variety to your fiction reading. Or maybe you've had very good intentions as far as reading that book on budgeting or marriage or starting a home business, haven't even cracked the cover yet. Some might want to read more with their children; others might feel guilty for never having read Wuthering Heights.Or maybe you just love to read and want to share your reading list and check out everyone else's.If any of those situations resonate with you, then the Spring Reading Thing is for you!
A few more details:
Who: Anyone! Everyone! If you read, you can join Spring Reading Thing 2008.What: Spring Reading Thing 2008 is a casual, low-pressure challenge. The point is simply to provide motivation to read, and to provide an opportunity to set some goals or structure for your personal (or family) reading. As a participant, all you'll have to do is make a list of books you'd like to read (or books you'd like to finish!) this spring. We'll share our goals with each other, and then share our experience and results when the challenge is over.
When: I bet you can guess: Spring 2008. The official dates are March 20th through June 19th.
Where: Here at Callapidder Days
and on blogs all over the blogosphere. I'll put up a Mr. Linky on March 20th where everyone can submit a link to their own Spring Reading Thing 2008 blog post. All I ask is that you share your goals and list of books in your post, and that you include a link back to the post here that contains the Mr. Linky.
Why: Because I love reading, and I know many of you do, too. Because I enjoyed meandering from book to book all winter, but am ready to set some goals and work through those "I've been meaning to read that" books on my shelf. Because I love to see what everyone else is reading. Because it's fun to read together. Because we can all use a little encouragement, motivation, and camaraderie in our reading adventures.
How: Spring Reading Thing 2008 starts in only two weeks, so start thinking about your goals now. Keep a list. Make a pile. Dig out the books that are under your bed. Visit the library. Pick up a coffee and browse the aisles at Barnes & Noble. Before long, you'll have an idea of what you want to read this spring. Work on your post and then come back here on March 20th, ready to submit your link!

Visit Katrina at Callapidder Days to sign up:

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Winter Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Wrap Up Post:
* I finished 47 books total
* Only 2 were nonfiction
* I took a few off over the weeks.
* I did not finish 4 of the books on my list
* I found a few books for my favorites of 2008 list:
* My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Synder
* Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren
* Stuck in the Middle by Virgina Smith
* Sisters Ink by Rebecca Seitz
* Only Uni by Camy Tang
* Blue Heart Blessed by Susan Meissner
* I was only disappointed a little in Barefoot Believers by Annie Jones.
* Overall I enjoyed the challenge!
* I look forward to seeing everyone at the Spring Reading Thing at Callapidder Days

Winter Reading Challenge

The Winter Reading Challenge is being hosted by Karlene at InkSplasher
For Rules and Details and to sign up please visit her site:

So ... here is Brittanie's List for the Winter Reading Challenge:
(I will be more Conservative this time in the number :) )

"A Walk With Jane Austen" by Lori Smith
"Cold Tangerines" by Shauna Niequist

"Snow Angel" by Jamie Carie
"Between Sundays" by Karen Kingsbury
"For Better or Worse" by Diann Hunt
"Only Uni" by Camy Tang
"A Time to Mend" by Sally John and Gary Smalley
"Death of a 6ft Teddy Bear" by Sharon Dunn
"Searching for Eternity" by Elizabeth Musser
"Next Door Daddy" by Debra Clopton
"Kissing Adrian" by Siri L. Mitchell
"A Passion Most Pure" by Julie Lessman
"The Other Daughter" by Miralee Ferrall
"In Search of Eden" by Linda Nichols
"Splitting Harriet" by Tamera Leigh
"Days and Hours" by Susan Meissner
"One Little Secret" by Allison Bottke
"Finding Marie" by Susan Davis
"Deadly Texas Rose" by Lenora Worth
"Just Cause" by Susan Page Davis
"Winter Haven" by Athol Dickson
"Healing Stones" by Stephen Arterburn and Nancy Rue
"My Name is Russell Fink" by Mike Snyder
"Stuck in the Middle" by Virginia Smith
"Awaken My Heart" by Diann Mills
"Sisters Inc." by Rebecca Seitz
"First the Dead" by Tim Downs
"Skizzer" by A. J. Kiesling
"Taming Rafe" by Susan May Warren
"Lady of Milkweed Manor" by Julie Klassen
"Killing Floor" by Lee Child
"Bath Tangle" by Georgette Heyer
"Truffles by the Sea" by Julie Carobini
"The Perfect Life" by Robin Lee Hatcher
"Sweet Caroline" by Rachel Hauck
"The Stones Cry Out" by Sibella Giorello
"A Soldier's Family" by Cheryl Wyatt
"Blue Heart Blessed" by Susan Meissner
"Elvis Takes a Back Seat" by Leanna Ellis
"Bayou Corruption" by Robin Caroll
"You had me at Goodbye" by Tracey Bateman
"Picket Fence Promises" by Kathyrn Springer
"The Next Level" by David Gregory
"For Pete's Sake" by Linda Windsor
"Her Baby Dreams" by Debra Clopton
"On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson
"Barefoot Believers" by Annie Jones
"Hearts in the Highlands" by Ruth Axtell Morren
"Homespun Bride" by Jillian Hart
"On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson
"Military Daddy" by Patricia Davids

**I will probably add some more later**
**Purple means I have finished it**

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness" by Andrew Peterson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness

WaterBrook Press (March 18, 2008)


Andrew Peterson

Author/Singer/Songwriter Andrew Peterson, a 2005 Audie Award finalist for his readings of Ray Blackston’s Flabbergasted trilogy, wrote and produced the popular Christmas play and musical Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of the Christ, and the album by the same name, which received the 2004 Best Album of the Year, World Christian Music’s Editors Choice Award. Andrew’s received critical acclaim for his seven albums and is at work on an eighth. He lives with his wife Jamie and their three young children near Nashville, Tennessee, where he reads storybooks aloud to his family each evening.

Artist Justin Gerard has illustrated several children’s books, including The Lightlings storybooks for young readers by R.C. Sproul. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and works as the chief creative officer for Portland Studios.

Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

“So good–smart, funny, as full of ideas as action.”
–Jonathan Rogers, author of The Wilderking Trilogy

“A wildly imaginative, wonderfully irreverent epic that shines with wit and wisdom–and features excellent instructions on how to cope with Thwaps, Fangs, and the occasional Toothy Cow.”

–Allan Heinberg, writer/co-executive producer of ABC’s Grey's Anatomy, and co-creator of Marvel Comics Young Avengers

“Totally fun! Andrew Peterson, a natural storyteller in the oral tradition, has nailed the voice needed to translate a rip-roaring fantasy tale to the written page.”

–Donita K. Paul, author of DragonSpell, DragonKnight, DragonQuest, and DragonFire

The book link is:

My Review: This was a good solid fantasy book. It was interesting but started off slow for me. I am not normally a fantasy reader but I did enjoy this book. Can def. tell his one of his big influences is C.S. Lewis. I look forward to reading book two in the series.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Experiencing the Resurrection" by Henry and Melvin Blackaby and Giveaway

***Leave a comment on this post by Friday March 21 at midnight to win a copy***

What does the resurrection of Christ really mean for us? What does it reveal about the heart and mind of God? And what real differences can the miracle of the resurrection make in your life today?

Discover answers to those and other questions as you examine God’s Word with this companion study guide to the book Experiencing the Resurrection by Henry Blackaby and Melvin Blackaby.

Packed with practical notes, advice, and questions for reflection, this highly interactive guide—ideal for small group or individual use—shows you how to witness Christ’s resurrection in and through your life. Each chapter of the book is explored in a flexible one-week format with “life change objectives” that arise from applying the truth for each day to your life.

Author Bio:

Dr. Henry Blackaby, president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries, is the author of more than a dozen books, including the best-selling classic Experiencing God. He has spent his life in ministry, serving as a music director and as a senior pastor for churches in California and Canada . Today he provides consultative leadership on prayer for revival and spiritual awakening on a global level. He and his wife make their home in Atlanta , Georgia .

Dr. Melvin Blackaby coauthored with his father, Henry Blackaby, the Gold Medallion winner Experiencing God Together. He travels extensively as a conference speaker. He and his wife and their three children live in Cochrane , Alberta , Canada , where he serves as senior pastor of Bow Valley Baptist Church .

My Review: I am still reading. My thoughts coming soon. I love these authors. I have done the devotional to Experiencing God and loved it. :)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Salon

The Sunday

I read several different things this weekend among them:
1. I finished Homespun Bride by Jillian Hart
* Sweet Historical
* Last 50 pages the best
* Maybe a tad unrealistic in some of the reationships
2. I read Sunday's Devotation in My Utmost For His Highest
Updated Version by Oswald Chambers
* "We must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ ..."
* 2 Corinthians 5:10
* Am I ready?
3. Read Parts of the local Sunday paper
* USA Weekend (I love reading the questions from the readers)
* Job Section
4. Read On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
* It was interesting but started off slow for me
* I am not normally a fantasy reader but I did enjoy this book
* Can def. tell his one of his big influences is C.S. Lewis

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Only Uni" by Camy Tang

It is March 15th,
but no need to worry about the Ides of
when we have a special blog tour for one of our FIRST
members! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) Normally, on the FIRST day of
every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST
chapter! As this is a special tour, we are featuring it on a special day!

The special feature author is:

and her book:

Only Uni

Zondervan (March 2008)


Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is
a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in
Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband
and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist
researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing
full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church
youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for
One? (Sushi Series, Book One)
was her first novel. Her second, Only Uni
(Sushi Series, Book Two)
is now available. The next book in the series,
Sashimi (Sushi Series, Book Three)
will be coming out in September

Visit her at her website.


Chapter One

Trish Sakai walked through the door and the entire room hushed.

Well, not exactly pin-drop hushed. More like a handful of the several
dozen people in her aunty’s enormous living room paused their
conversations to glance her way. Maybe Trish had simply expected them to laugh
and point.

She shouldn’t have worn white. She’d chosen the Bebe dress from her
closet in a rebellious mood, which abandoned her at her aunt’s doorstep.
Maybe because the explosion of red, orange, or gold outfits made her
head swim.

At least the expert cut of her dress made her rather average figure
curvier and more slender at the same time. She loved how well-tailored
clothes ensured she didn’t have to work as hard to look good.

Trish kicked off her sandals, and they promptly disappeared in the sea
of shoes filling the foyer. She swatted away a flimsy paper dragon
drooping from the doorframe and smoothed down her skirt. She snatched her
hand back and wrung her fingers behind her.

No, that’ll make your hips look huge.

She clenched her hands in front.

Sure, show all the relatives that you’re nervous.

She clasped them loosely at her waist and tried to adopt a regal

“Trish, you okay? You look constipated.”

Her cousin Bobby snickered while she sneered at him. “Oh, you’re so
funny I could puke.”

“May as well do it now before Grandma gets here.”

“She’s not here yet?” Oops, that came out sounding a little too
relieved. She cleared her throat and modulated her voice to less-than-ecstatic
levels. “When’s she coming?”

“Uncle picked her up, but he called Aunty and said Grandma forgot
something, so he had to go back.”

Thank goodness for little favors. “Is Lex here?”

“By the food.”

Where else would she be? Last week, her cousin Lex had mentioned that
her knee surgeon let her go back to playing volleyball three nights a
week and coaching the other two nights, so her metabolism had revved up
again. She would be eating like a horse.

Sometimes Trish could just kill her.

She tugged at her skirt—a little tight tonight. She should’ve had more
self-control than to eat that birthday cake at work. She’d have to run
an extra day this week … maybe.

She bounced like a pinball between relatives. The sharp scent of ginger
grew more pungent as she headed toward the large airy kitchen. Aunty
Sue must have made cold ginger chicken again. Mmmm. The smell mixed with
the tang of black bean sauce (Aunty Rachel’s shrimp?), stir-fried
garlic (any dish Uncle Barry made contained at least two bulbs), and fishy
scallions (probably her cousin Linda’s Chinese-style sea bass).

A three-foot-tall red streak slammed into her and squashed her big toe.

“Ow!” Good thing the kid hadn’t been wearing shoes or she might have
broken her foot. Trish hopped backward and her hand fumbled with a low
side table. Waxed paper and cornstarch slid under her fingers before the
little table fell, dropping the kagami mochi decoration. The sheet of
printed paper, the tangerine, and rubbery-hard mochi dumplings dropped
to the cream-colored carpet. Well, at least the cornstarch covering the
mochi blended in.

The other relatives continued milling around her, oblivious to the
minor desecration to the New Year’s decoration. Thank goodness for small—

A childish gasp made her turn. The human bullet who caused the whole
mess, her little cousin Allison, stood with a hand up to her round lips
that were stained cherry-red, probably from the sherbet punch. Allison
lifted wide brown eyes up to
Trish—hanaokolele-you’re-in-trouble—while the other hand pointed to the mochi on the floor.

Trish didn’t buy it for a second. “Want to help?” She tried to infuse
some leftover Christmas cheer into her voice.

Allison’s disdainful look could have come from a teenager rather than a
seven-year-old. “You made the mess.”

Trish sighed as she bent to pick up the mochi rice dumplings—one large
like a hockey puck, the other slightly smaller—and the shihobeni
paper they’d been sitting on. She wondered if the shihobeni
wouldn’t protect the house from fires this next year since she’d dropped

“Aunty spent so long putting those together.”

Yeah, right. “Is that so?” She laid the paper on the table so it
draped off the edge, then stuck the waxed paper on top. She anchored
them with the larger mochi.

“Since you busted it, does it mean that Aunty won’t have any good luck
this year?”

“It’s just a tradition. The mochi doesn’t really bring prosperity, and
the tangerine only symbolizes the family generations.” Trish tried to
artfully stack the smaller mochi on top of the bottom one, but it
wouldn’t balance and kept dropping back onto the table.

“That’s not what Aunty said.”

“She’s trying to pass on a New Year’s tradition.” The smaller mochi
dropped to the floor again. “One day you’ll have one of these in your own
house.” Trish picked up the mochi. Stupid Japanese New Year tradition.
Last year, she’d glued hers together until Mom found out and brought a
new set to her apartment, sans-glue. Trish wasn’t even Shinto. Neither
was anyone else in her family—most of them were Buddhists—but it was
something they did because their family had always done it.

“No, I’m going to live at home and take care of Mommy.”

Thank goodness, the kid finally switched topics. “That’s wonderful.”
Trish tried to smash the tangerine on top of the teetering stack of
mochi. Nope, not going to fly. “You’re such a good daughter.”

Allison sighed happily. “I am.”

Your ego’s going to be too big for this living room, toots. “Um
… let’s go to the kitchen.” She crammed the tangerine on the mochi
stack, then turned to hustle Allison away before she saw them fall back
down onto the floor.

“Uh, Triiiish?”

She almost ran over the kid, who had whirled around and halted in her
path like a guardian lion. Preventing Trish’s entry into the kitchen.
And blocking the way to the food. She tried to sidestep, but the
other relatives in their conversational clusters, oblivious to her,
hemmed her in on each side.

Allison sidled closer. “Happy New Year!”

“Uh … Happy New Year.” What was she up to? Trish wouldn’t put anything
past her devious little brain.

“We get red envelopes at New Year’s.” Her smile took on a predatory

“Yes, we do.” One tradition she totally didn’t mind. Even the older
cousins like Trish and Lex got some money from the older relatives,
because they weren’t married yet.

Allison beamed. “So did you bring me a red envelope?”

What? Wait a minute. Was she supposed to bring red envelopes for
the younger kids? No, that couldn’t be. “No, only the married people
do that.” And only for the great-cousins, not their first cousins,
right? Or was that great-cousins, too? She couldn’t remember.

Allison’s face darkened to purple. “That’s not true. Aunty gives me a
red envelope and she’s not married.”

“She used to be married. Uncle died.”

“She’s not married now. So you’re supposed to give me a red envelope,

Yeah, right. “If I gave out a red envelope to every cousin and
great-cousin, I’d go bankrupt.”

“You’re lying. I’m going to tell Mommy.” Allison pouted, but her sly
eyes gave her away.

A slow, steady burn crept through her body. This little extortionist
wasn’t going to threaten her, not tonight of all nights.

She crouched down to meet Allison at eye level and forced a smile.
“That’s not very nice. That’s spreading lies.”

Allison bared her teeth in something faintly like a grin.

“It’s not good to be a liar.” Trish smoothed the girl’s red velvet
dress, trimmed in white lace.

“You’re the liar. You said you’re not supposed to give me a red
envelope, and that’s a lie.”

The brat had a one-track mind. “It’s not a lie.”

“Then I’ll ask Mommy.” The grin turned sickeningly sweet.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Trish tweaked one of Allison’s
curling-iron-manufactured corkscrews, standing out amongst the rest of her
straight hair.

“I can do whatever I want.” An ugly streak marred the angelic mask.

“Of course you can.”

Allison blinked.

“But if you do, I’ll tell Grandma that I found her missing jade
bracelet in your bedroom.” Gotcha.

“What were you doing in my bedroom?” Allison’s face matched her dress.

Trish widened her eyes. “Well, you left it open when your mom hosted
the family Christmas party …”

Allison’s lips disappeared in her face, and her nostrils flared.
“You’re lying—”

“And you know Grandma will ask your mommy to search your room.”

Her face whitened.

“So why don’t we forget about this little red envelope thing, hmm?”
Trish straightened the gold heart pendant on Allison’s necklace and gave
her a bland smile.

A long, loud inhale filled Allison’s lungs. For a second, Trish
panicked, worried that she’d scream or something, but the air left her

Trish stood. “See ya.” She muscled her way past the human traffic cone.

She zeroed in on the kitchen counters like a heat-seeking missile.
“Hey, guys.”

Her cousins Venus, Lex, and Jenn turned to greet her.

“You’re even later than Lex.” Venus leaned her
sexy-enough-to-make-Trish-sick curves against a countertop as she crunched on a celery stick.

“Hey!” Lex nudged her with a bony elbow, then spoke to Trish.
“Grandma’s not here yet, but your mom—”

“Trish, there you are.” Mom flittered up. “Did you eat yet? Let me fill
you a plate. Make sure you eat the kuromame for good luck. I
know you don’t like chestnuts and black beans, but just eat one. Did you
want any konbu? Seaweed is very good for you.”

“No, Mom—”

“How about Aunty Eileen’s soup? I’m not sure what’s in it this year,
but it doesn’t look like tripe this time—”

“Mom, I can get my own food.”

“Of course you can, dear.” Mom handed her a mondo-sized plate.

Trish grabbed it, then eyed Venus’s miniscule plate filled sparingly
with meat, fish, and veggies. Aw, phooey. Why did Venus have to always be
watching her hourglass figure—with inhuman self-control over her
calorie intake—making Trish feel dumpy just for eating a potsticker? She
replaced her plate with a smaller one.

Lex had a platter loaded with chicken and lo mein, which she shoveled
into her mouth. “The noodles are good.”

“Why are you eating so much today?”

“Aiden’s got me in intensive training for the volleyball tournament
coming up.”

Trish turned toward the groaning sideboard to hide the pang in her gut
at mention of Lex’s boyfriend. Who had been Trish’s physical therapist.
Aiden hadn’t met Lex yet when Trish had hit on him, but he’d rebuffed
her—rather harshly, she thought—then became Christian and now was
living a happily-ever-after with Lex.

Trish wasn’t jealous at all.

Why did she always seem to chase away the good ones and keep the bad
ones? Story of her life. Her taste in men matched Lex’s horrendous taste
in clothes—Lex wore nothing but ugly, loose workout clothes, while
Trish dated nothing but ugly (well, in character, at least) losers.

Next to her, Jennifer inhaled as if she were in pain. “Grandma’s here.”

“No, not now. This is so not fair. I haven’t eaten yet.”

“It’ll still be here.” Venus’s caustic tone cut through the air at the
same time her hand grabbed Trish’s plate. “Besides, you’re eating too
much fat.”

Trish glared. “I am not fat—”

Venus gave a long-suffering sigh. “I didn’t say you were fat. I said
you’re eating unhealthily.”

“You wouldn’t say that to Lex.” She stabbed a finger at her athletic
cousin, who was shoveling chicken long rice into her mouth.

Lex paused. “She already did.” She slurped up a rice noodle.

Venus rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. “All of you eat terribly. You
need to stop putting so much junk into your bodies.”

“I will when Jenn stops giving us to-die-for homemade chocolate
truffles.” Trish traded a high-five with Jenn, their resident culinary genius.

“Besides, chocolate’s good for you.” Lex spoke through a mouthful of
black bean shrimp.

Venus, who seemed to know she was losing the battle, brandished a
celery stick. “You all should eat more fiber—”

Trish snatched at a deep-fried chicken wing and made a face at her.
“It’s low carb.” Although she’d love to indulge in just a little of those
Chinese noodles later when Venus wasn’t looking …

She only had time to take a couple bites before she had to drop the
chicken in a napkin and wipe her fingers. She skirted the edge of the
crowd of relatives who collected around Grandma, wishing her Happy New

Grandma picked up one of Trish’s cousin’s babies and somehow managed to
keep the sticky red film coating his hands from her expensive Chanel
suit. How did Grandma do that? It must be a gift. The same way her
elegant salt-and-pepper ’do never had a hair out of place.

Then Grandma grabbed someone who had been hovering at her shoulder and
thrust him forward.

No. Way.

What was Kazuo doing here?

With Grandma?

Her breath caught as the familiar fluttering started in her ribcage.
No, no, no, no, no. She couldn’t react this way to him again. That’s what
got her in trouble the last time.

Trish grabbed Jenn’s arm and pulled her back toward the kitchen. “I
have to hide.”

Jenn’s brow wrinkled. “Why?”

“That’s Kazuo.”

Jenn’s eyes popped bigger than the moon cakes on the sideboard.
“Really? I never met him.” She twisted her head.

“Don’t look. Hide me.”

Jenn sighed. “Isn’t that a little silly? He’s here for the New Year’s

Trish darted her gaze around the kitchen, through the doorway to the
smaller TV room. “There are over a hundred people here. There’s a good
chance I can avoid him.”

“He probably came to see you.” A dreamy smile lit Jenn’s lips. “How
romantic …”

A mochi-pounding mallet thumped in the pit of Trish’s stomach. Romantic
this was not.

“What’s wrong?” Venus and Lex separated from the crowd to circle around

“That’s Kazuo.”

“Really?” Lex whirled around and started to peer through the doorway
into the front room. “We never met him—”

“Don’t look now! Hide me!”

Venus lifted a sculpted eyebrow. “Oh, come on.”

“How does Grandma know him?” Jennifer’s soothing voice fizzled Venus’s

“She met him when we were dating.”

“Grandma loves Kazuo.” Lex tossed the comment over her shoulder as she
stood at the doorway and strained to see Kazuo past the milling

Venus’s brow wrinkled. “Loves him? Why?”

Trish threw her hands up in the air. “He’s a Japanese national. He
spoke Japanese to her. Of course she’d love him.”

Jennifer chewed her lip. “Grandma’s not racist—”

Venus snorted. “Of course she’s not racist, but she’s certainly

“That’s not a good enough reason. Don’t you think there’s something
fishy about why she wants Trish to get back together with him?”

Venus opened her mouth, but nothing came out. After a moment, she
closed it. “Maybe you’re right.”

Trish flung her arms out. “But I have no idea what that reason is.”

“So is she matchmaking? Now?”

“What better place?” Trish pointed to the piles of food. “Fatten me up
and serve me back to him on a platter.”

Venus rolled her eyes. “Trish—”

“I’m serious. No way am I going to let her do that. Not with
him.” The last man on earth she wanted to see. Well, that wasn’t exactly
true. Her carnal body certainly wanted to see him, even though her brain
and spirit screamed, Run away! Run away!

“Was it that bad a breakup?” Lex looked over her shoulder at them.

Trish squirmed. “I, uh … I don’t think he thinks we’re broken up.”

“What do you mean? It happened six months ago.” Venus’s gaze seemed to
slice right through her.

“Well … I saw him a couple days ago.”

Venus’s eyes flattened. “And …?”

Trish blinked rapidly. “We … got along really well.”

Venus crossed her arms and glared.

How did Venus do that? Trish barely had to open her mouth and Venus
knew when she was lying. “We, um … got along really well.”

Jennifer figured it out first. She gasped so hard, Trish worried she’d
pass out from lack of oxygen.

Venus cast a sharp look at her, then back at Trish. Her mouth sprang
open. “You didn’t.”

“Didn’t what?” Lex rejoined the circle and the drama unfolding. She
peered at Jenn and Venus—one frozen in shock, the other white with anger.

Trish’s heart shrank in her chest. She bit her lip and tasted blood.
She couldn’t look at her cousins. She couldn’t even say it.

Venus said it for her. “You slept with him again.”

Lex’s jaw dropped. “Tell me you didn’t.” The hurt in her eyes stabbed
at Trish’s heart like Norman Bates in Psycho.
Well, it was true that Trish’s obsessive relationship with Kazuo had
made her sort of completely and utterly abandon Lex last year when
she tore her ACL. Lex probably felt like Trish was priming to betray
her again. “It was only once. I couldn’t help myself—”

“After everything you told me last year about how you never asked God
about your relationship with Kazuo and now you were free.” Lex’s
eyes grew dark and heavy, and Trish remembered the night Lex had first
torn her ACL. Trish had been too selfish, wanting to spend time with
Kazuo instead of helping Lex home from one of the most devastating things
that had ever happened to her.

“I just couldn’t help myself—” Trish couldn’t seem to say anything

“So is Kazuo more important to you than me, after all?” Lex’s face had
turned into cold, pale marble, making her eyes stand out in their

A sickening ache gnawed in Trish’s stomach. She hunched her shoulders,
feeling the muscles tighten and knot.

Her cousins had always been compassionate whenever she hurt them,
betrayed them, or caused them hassle and stress by the things she did. She
knew she had a tendency to be thoughtless, but she had always counted on
their instant hugs and “That’s okay, Trish, we’ll fix it for you.” But
now she realized—although they forgave her, they were still hurt each
and every time. Maybe this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Where’s Trish?” Grandma’s refined voice managed to carry above the
conversations. “I’m sure she wants to see you.” She was coming closer to
the kitchen.

“I can’t face him.” Trish barely recognized her own voice, as thready
as old cobwebs. “I can’t face Grandma, either.” A tremor rippled through
her body.

Venus’s eyes softened in understanding. “I’ll stall them for you.”

Trish bolted.

Out the other doorway into the living room. She dodged around a few
relatives who were watching sports highlights on the big-screen TV. She
spied the short hallway to Aunty’s bedroom. She could hide. Recoup. Or

She slipped down the hallway and saw the closed door at the end. A
narrow beam of faint light from under it cast a glow over the carpet. Her
heart started to slow.

Maybe she could lie down, pretend she was sick? No, Grandma might
suggest Kazuo take her home.

She could pretend she got a phone call, an emergency at work. Would
Grandma know there weren’t many emergencies with cell biology research on
New Year’s Eve?

The worst part was, Trish hadn’t even gotten to eat yet.

She turned the doorknob, but it stuck. Must be the damp weather. She
applied her shoulder and nudged. The door clicked open. She slipped into
the bedroom.

A couple stood in the dim lamplight, locked in a passionate embrace
straight out of Star magazine. Trish’s heart lodged in her throat.
Doh! Leave now! She whirled.

Wait a minute.

She turned.

The man had dark wavy hair, full and thick. His back was turned to her,
but something about his stance …

The couple sprang apart. Looked at her.


Kissing a woman who wasn’t her mother.

Taken from Only Uni, Copyright © 2008 by
Camy Tang. Used by permission of Zondervan.

Here is one place to purchase this great book:

Classics Club Spin 18

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