Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo


Before I started reading Heaven Is For Real, I had heard a lot of "hype" about it - "Everyone should read it!", "Amazing story!", "I cried all the way through it!" and so on.  I hate to admit it, but I usually steer clear of books, movies, music, etc that enthralls the masses.  Yeah, I'm a rebel like that, haha.  

Anyhow, when I had the chance to review this at no cost to myself, I said, "Why not? Let's see what the hype is all about."  So, I got the book and read it... with a box of tissues at my side, in amazement.  Mmmmhmmm.  I did cry through much of it and it is an amazing story.  It also makes you THINK about your priorities in life and what's to come in the future.

Colton Burpo had an "out of body" experience during which he went to Heaven.  Through his various and sporadic revelations of that time, we see that Heaven Is For Real and Colton's experience of Heaven  actually matches up to what the Bible says about Heaven.  It amazes his parents when he talks about his older sister that died, when his parents had never told him they had miscarried a baby.  It's also amazing when he tells them about Todd's Grandfather that Colton had never met.  Colton talked about the beautiful rainbow in Heaven and about seeing his dad fight in a battle against Satan.  The biggest thing that stood out to me, was the fact that in Todd's weakest moment [when Colton's life was in danger], he cried out to God and God was merciful and spared Colton's life.  We can share our anger with God, and not only does He understand, He loves us anyway.

So, if you hear a lot of positive hype about this book-- BELIEVE IT!  It's an excellent read, and would even make a great book to give as a gift!

Monday, December 12, 2011

God Gave Us Love by Lisa T. Bergren

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:

WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


LISA BERGREN is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty books, with more than two million copies sold. A former publishing executive, she now splits her time working as a freelance editor and writer while parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of the family’s next visit to Taos.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

As Little Cub and Grampa Bear’s fishing adventure is interrupted by mischievous otters, the young polar bear begins to question why we must love others… even the seemingly unlovable.

In answering her questions, Grampa Bear gives tender explanations that teach Little Cub about the different kinds of love that is shared between families, friends, and mamas and papas. Grampa explains that all these kinds of love come from God and that it is important to love others because…

“Any time we show love, Little Cub, we’re sharing a bit of his love.”

This sweet tale will warm the hearts of young children as they learn about all the different sorts of love, while the gentle explanations of each provide a valuable opportunity to encourage children to share with others a “God-sized love.”  Now in a sturdy format, ideal for the littlest hands at storytime, bedtime, or anytime. Would make a great Christmas gift!

Product Details:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 0 and up
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Brdbk edition (December 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307730271
ISBN-13: 978-0307730275

Here's an excerpt from the first book in the series: God Gave Us You (Board Book). (Click on images to see them larger):







Friday, December 9, 2011

The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Cindy Woodsmall is one of my favorite authors! I just love her books.  I recently read The Christmas Singing and it was just as good or better than her previous books.  Here's a video about it:




And the first chapter:

The Christmas Singing (Chapter 1 Excerpt)                                                                                           

If you are interested in purchasing The Christmas Singing please visit  WaterBrookMultnomah.com and use the code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout to get 30% off. The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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 authors are:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Susan Otis, publicist, Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


M. R. Wells is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection.  She has written extensively for children’s animated television and video programs, including several Disney shows, Adventures from the Book of Virtues and Bibleman. She shares her Southern California home with her cats and dogs Muffin, Bo, Munchie, Becca and Marley.

Connie Fleishauer is a retired teacher and writer, and is the co-author of Four Paws from Heaven, Purr-ables from Heaven, and Paws for Reflection. The wife of a Bakersfield, California farmer, she is a mother of three and grandmother of one. While many cats have warmed her home, currently, she has two dogs.

Dottie P. Adams is a teaching director for Community Bible Study in the Los Angeles area where she has taught a Bible class for twenty years. Co-author of Purr-ables from Heaven, she is the wife of a retired physicist, the mother of three children, grandmother of five, and currently has cats Midnight and Mooch.

Visit the authors' website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



A new devotional for cat lovers will delight and impart truth about God’s ways, workings in our lives and our relationship with Him. Entertaining true accounts of the antics and personalities of cats are interwoven with anecdotes from the lives of the people who love them and timeless biblical truth. Suitable for adults, youth or children, the stories are filled with gripping moments that reveal God’s love and would lend themselves well to family or personal devotions.






Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736928812
ISBN-13: 978-0736928816

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Midnight’s Not-So-Rapid Transit

Relationships Take Time

We always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.

JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE

I love sitting at the dining room table on spring mornings, watching the stark darkness turn into a misty dawn as the birds sing to announce the new day. It’s a great time to be alone with the Lord. The house is quiet because I’m the only “early bird” up besides the real ones chirping outside.

As I sat praying one particular morning I heard a loud thump on the window behind me. It was Midnight, asking to come in for breakfast. She always bangs her head against the windowpane to get my attention. Then she rubs her nose against the window frame and meows softly, knowing I will come outside to fetch her. I call this her “rapid transit,” even though she could come in much more quickly through the cat door. But it’s not the quickness she desires—it’s the contact.

As Midnight softly meowed and rubbed that morning I pulled on a jacket and headed outdoors to perform the rite we both love. I cozy up to the air conditioner, which is exactly the height of my shoulders. She steps from the machine to my shoulder as I guide her. She drapes herself around me with her front paws on my left shoulder, her belly nestling the back of my neck, and her back paws hanging down over my right shoulder. As her face presses against me, she purrs into my left ear. I understand that this is her ride to her food bowl—but it’s so much more. Not only do I get a smell of the morning air, I have precious moments of special closeness with my “living fur shawl.” It’s a joy to have this relationship with one of God’s little four-foots—a joy I treasure!

Like my cat, my youngest grandchild also loves to cuddle. He and his brother and their parents live with us right now. I often spend part of the morning upstairs working on lectures for the Bible study class I teach. Eli and Jayden are awake by the time I come downstairs. Jayden (age two and a half) is content to smile, call to me, and continue his play. But Eli (18 months) wants more. He rushes over to me, crying “Maw-Maw!” Then he tugs at my clothes till I pick him up so he can snuggle. As soon as he’s in my arms, he lays his head tightly against me, his ear pressed against my chest. He stays that way for what is a long time for a toddler. It’s a joy to have this special time with him, and I treasure it too!

I also treasure the special relationship time I spend with God. Most mornings I go to Him in prayer, even if it’s just to ask His blessing on my family. I spend a few moments reading the Bible, even if it’s just one verse to connect my mind to Him. I call this “having coffee with Jesus.”

I get my coffee and intentionally ask Jesus to sit with me as if He were here in the flesh. I picture Him sitting right across the table. I talk about the previous day or the day to come. I weep with Him over hardships I’m facing or the suffering of others. I laugh and rejoice with Him over answered prayer. I share my needs and thank Him for being my friend. Sometimes I imagine Him smiling back at me, and other times I believe He brings a verse of Scripture into my mind to correct me or give me hope or courage.

Building close relationships takes time. It must be intentional. It can’t only happen when it’s convenient. Jesus lived this out when He walked the earth. He called each of His disciples and poured His life into them for three years. And He always took time to pray and be with His Father in heaven.

Midnight intentionally bumps the window to begin our special time together. I intentionally respond, even if she’s interrupting something pressing. When Eli wants to snuggle, I take time to enjoy his toddler love, even if I’m in a hurry. I have coffee with Jesus in the same way. Whether it’s convenient or not, I take the necessary time not just to go through my prayers, but to be with my Lord. I believe He delights to hear me purring in His ear as I start the day with Him!

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly (Psalm 5:3).
Consider This:

Do you set aside time to be with God each day? If so, how does it enhance your relationship? If not, would you be willing to try?

Perry’s Good Shepherd

Be a Shepherd for God

The King of love my Shepherd is,

Whose goodness faileth never;

I nothing lack if I am His,

And He is mine forever.

HENRY W. BAKER

Perry is a very special kitty, the first to live indoors with my in-laws, Harold and Doris. They got him from relatives who could no longer keep him. He is totally enjoying his new life as he chooses where to sleep and whose lap to jump on for some pampering. This gorgeous fluffy orange cat with bright peridot eyes knows just what he wants and how to get it. He loves Harold and Doris, but like all ornery kids he knows how to work them.

On one particular evening when I’d been visiting with them, Perry decided to be a bit more playful than anyone desired. When we walked out the back door, Perry slipped out behind us and followed. He darted under my car to hide. I saw him first and began to call him, but there was no way he was going to obey me. This was playtime. He raced to the back of the vehicle and sprinted down the long driveway.

Harold and Doris live in the country, but their home is near a popular road where cars drive fast. Perry could have been in great danger. He would have had little chance of survival on this road in the dark of night. Fortunately, his faithful master took care of him. As I started to go after the truant, Harold stopped me. He said, “Cover me with the flashlight and I’ll go get him.”

Although Perry was ornery, perhaps this cat had some “horse sense.” He got close to the road but turned aside. He darted into the pasture at the east end of the farm. Perry slunk down in the high grass while Harold, age 82, tried to sneak up on the mischievous feline in his stocking feet in the dark. I felt bad that Harold would not let me join him in the pursuit, but this was his cat, his “child,” his responsibility. He was Perry’s “good shepherd,” and he was acting as any good shepherd would. Giving up or giving in was never an option.

Finally, Perry seemed to realize that Harold was in charge (or he chose to let Harold think he was). Perry hunkered down and let his human grab him. I could tell that even though Harold was tired and his stocking feet were muddy, he was pleased to have Perry back safely in his arms.

Harold probably just thought of this as another one of many chases he had with Perry. But to me, it was more. It was a reenactment of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus talks about the shepherd who left the rest of his flock to search for the one little lost sheep that had wandered off.

Many years ago, I was just such a lost sheep. Just before entering high school, I had been making some very poor choices. I had accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was six years old, and I had gone to church all my life. But at this time, I decided to explore my small world in ways I didn’t need to. I had chosen to be with some “friends” who weren’t true friends, and we had done some things we needed to confess.

My older brother talked to me about what I was doing. He asked if I really wanted to go to high school with that baggage. He stayed with me until I prayed and promised that I would try to obey God and behave like His child. Darrell was my shepherd at that point, and many other times through my teenage years. When I was lost, he went looking for me till he found me. He’d bring me home and nurture me the way a brother or a shepherd would.

The story of the lost sheep had great meaning to me as I was growing up. I loved thinking about the caring shepherd picking up the scared, tired little lamb in his strong arms and carrying it home. I still take comfort in this parable today. It is a way of telling us that we will never be left alone. No matter what our age, if we choose to run off by ourselves, like Perry did that night, our Good Shepherd will always go after us and bring us home in His loving arms, if we allow Him to.

Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, “Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.” I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:4-7).

Consider This:

Have you ever strayed from God? What lured you away? How did your Good Shepherd pursue you? Did you let Him carry you home? If not, would you like to do that right now? Is there someone God might want you to shepherd for Him?

Undying Love

Be “Otherly”

True happiness is found in unselfish Love, a Love which increases in proportion as it is shared.

THOMAS MERTON

Tigret was my dear friend Patty’s treasured four-footed kitty soul mate for 17 wonderful years. He was her first real pet and best buddy. They lived together in New York, and when Patty moved to California, Tigret made the cross-country journey with her.

When Patty watched TV, Tigret would curl up beside her. He slept on her bed at night. When she gave parties, he sat on his very own chair. But he was more than a faithful companion. Patty once heard someone say that God gives us each a pet to teach us something special. She feels Tigret was given to her to teach her to be “otherly”—to love others and God with an unselfish love.

Tigret knew Patty’s moods. He sensed when she was sad or happy. He would put his paw on her lap or hand in a gesture of kitty comfort. He also seemed to know when she was sick—sometimes even before she did. He would stay close by his beloved human until he sensed she was better.

Tigret’s ultimate expression of unselfish love was to care for Patty even when he was dying. He was 17 and had developed kidney problems. He couldn’t drink enough water to stay healthy, and giving him fluids subcutaneously didn’t work well. He would yelp when the needle was inserted. Patty decided not to force this on him. Tigret got sicker and sicker until it took all his strength just to go upstairs. Clearly Tigret’s time on this earth was ending. Patty made him as comfortable as she could…even as her own heart was breaking.

One day, as Patty tended Tigret in tears, he reached out his paw and placed it on her arm. It was as if he was saying, “You’ll be okay.” When Tigret died, Patty wasn’t with him. She believes he knew it would be easier for her that way.

Someone else in Patty’s life also tried to care for her while dying. Patty’s mother passed away just one month after Tigret. She had battled cancer before—but no one knew it had come back.

Patty’s mom was a pediatric cardiologist. In her later years she semiretired from private practice and became involved in teaching and mentoring medical interns and residents. She kept this up even when the cancer returned, and Patty would not have realized that something was wrong except for God’s intervention.

It was a Sunday after church, and Patty had gone up front for prayer on a completely unrelated matter. The gentleman who prayed with her asked Patty how her mother was. “As far as I know, okay,” Patty answered. The man suggested Patty ask her mom about her health. When Patty did, her mom admitted her cancer had come back.

Just like Tigret, Patty’s mom was concerned for the needs of others, even as her own health was failing. She tried to keep teaching. She talked to Patty about taking care of her dad. When Patty finally persuaded her to go to the doctor, he said she had six to nine months to live. They could try chemotherapy, but there was no guarantee.

Patty’s mom took her first dose of chemo—and passed away a week later.

Patty recalls a moment in her mother’s hospital room. Her mom was on a ventilator. Patty saw two angels in a corner by the bed. Patty knew her mom loved Jesus and would go to be with Him. She died soon after. That experience feels to Patty like a special gift from God.

Our loving Lord Jesus was also “otherly” when it was time for Him to die. As His betrayal and crucifixion approached, His focus was to teach and prepare His disciples. In John 16:5-7, He told them, “Now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Even as He hung on the cross, Jesus asked His disciple John to care for His mother.

But Jesus’ sacrificial love went far deeper. He willingly took upon Himself the penalty for our sins. By doing so, He conquered sin and death so that all who put their trust in Him could enjoy eternal life. Patty has given her life to her Savior, and she knows that when she leaves this earth she will go to her loving Lord, who will wipe away all her tears, including the ones she shed for Tigret and her mother. And she’ll be reunited with her mom again.

Being “otherly” isn’t something that starts when we are dying. It’s a way of life. It’s what Jesus calls us to do. If you live and love with an “otherly” focus, as Tigret and Patty’s mom did, you will show that you are Jesus’ disciple!

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another (1 John 4:10-11).

Consider This:

Is there someone in your life who loves you unselfishly? How do they do that and how does it make you feel? How could you focus more on others and be more sensitive to their needs? What could you do to show them “otherly” love?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Protection for Hire by Camy Tang





Protection for Hire by Camy Tang was really different from the books I am used to reading by her.  It is categorized as "general, Christian, fiction" and most of what I have read by her has been "chic-lit."  While it was different, Protection for Hire was just as good as her Sushi Series.

Tessa Lancaster, niece of the head of a Japanese mafia gang, is an enforcer with skills that earned her a position in the otherwise "all-guy" mafia.  Her position earns her respect (or fear as the case may be), but also a prison sentence that she doesn't deserve when she takes the blame for a murder she didn't commit.  While in prison, Tessa turns her life over to Christ and decides to change her ways.  Three months after her release, she meets socialite Elizabeth St. Amant while volunteering at a domestic abuse shelter.  Elizabeth is running from an abusive husband and hires Tessa to be her bodyguard.

Tessa has several problems to overcome: her Uncle Teruo, who doesn't understand why she can't return to the mafia, Elizabeth's husband, who is relentless in coming after her, even trying to kill her,  Alicia her own sister who drives her crazy and is constantly snipping at her and Charles Britton, Elizabeth's lawyer, who is the one who made sure that Tessa served the maximum time behind bars, unbeknownst to Tessa.

Tessa and Charles have to work together to protect Elizabeth and her son and try to get her inheritance back from Elizabeth's husband in the midst of deadly circumstances and hidden truths coming to light.

There is definitely some suspense and a little darkness in this book.  It's still a "good read" filled with hope, growth and a budding romance!  I can't wait until the second book in the series comes out, especially after the teaser excerpt at the end of this book.
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:

Hannibal Books (August 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson of Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Susan Keen is a mother of two, teacher, reader, and world traveler. A native of Mississippi, she holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi College, Clinton, MS. She has written and published two cookbooks, was an interior designer, is a graduate of several French cooking schools, and is a gourmet cook. She and her husband, Jack Keen, M.D., live in Fort Worth and are active members of Travis Avenue Baptist Church.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The Vietnam War, though an uncomfortable part of America's conscience, is past history. Military personnel are home. Missing are found. Bodies are buried. Relations are normalized with Vietnam. Four decades later, we're over it. Right?

Not for Mary Lou Hall and her children, Heather and Harley Stephen. Their husband and dad, accomplished and decorated U.S. aviator Harley Hall, who unflinchingly signed on for last-gasp missions over Vietnam even in the war's waning seconds in 1973, disappeared after his shootdown—his whereabouts never pinpointed. For his loved ones and for all who still miss him urgently, the question lingers: where is Harley? how could he so utterly vanish? why did the U.S. not charge in and demand an accounting for this one who had such a brilliant future ahead as a military star? why was he left alive to die?

Susan Keen, whose physician husband once served alongside Harley as Hall commanded the celebrated Navy's Blue Angels flight-demonstration team, masterfully and heartwrenchingly profiles Harley, last American pilot shot down before the cease fire; chronicles jarring evidence indicating that Hall remained alive for years after his capture; and outlines our government's humiliating response to his wife's and others' pleas to garner attention for this compelling case.

No American can read Keen's shocking book without being moved to impassioned prayer for those such as Mary Lou who have no closure and whose lives forever are devastated by a war that many would like to believe never happened.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (August 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613150105
ISBN-13: 978-1613150108

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Eject! Eject!”

CDR Harley Hall, handsome former commander of the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team, walked across the flight deck of the gigantic carrier USS Enterprise and over to his F-4 Phantom. The time was around noon, January 27, 1973. Hall, the Executive Officer of VF-143, was preparing to fly his last mission over Vietnam before the ceasefire. On the flight deck he saw LCDR Ernie Christensen and waved. Christensen wandered over near Hall’s aircraft.
“Boss, I guess this is it; neither of us will ever get our MiG!” Christensen, who had been a pilot on Hall’s Blue Angels Team, reverted to the familiar term of respect for his former commander.1 Christensen, the Operations Officer of Harley’s sister squadron VF-142, had flown Blue Angels No. 4 on Hall’s 1970 team but in 1971 returned to combat on the Enterprise.

“Yes, looks like we missed our chance,” Hall answered. The MiG, the supersonic jet-fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau for the USSR and flown by the enemy during the Vietnam War, posed serious threats for American aircraft and ground troops. American crews that successfully shot down a MiG had a red star painted on the fuselage of their aircraft—one red star for each MiG. These pilots were highly revered.
Hall and Christensen talked for a few seconds more. Christensen headed back to his plane. That afternoon a quiet and growing elation of the “last real”  combat mission over Vietnam underscored actions and thought. If one had been bold enough to stick his head up and look around for hope, he almost could see the end of this high-risk life—that of being a naval fighter pilot stationed on a carrier flying missions over Vietnam.
Hall climbed into his F-4 and joined his Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), LCDR Al Kientzler, who sat behind him. Kientzler was replacing Hall’s regular RIO, LCDR Gary Hughes, who was Squadron Duty Officer (SDO) that day. Hall strapped in, scanned his instruments, and completed his pre-flight check.
Streaking off the deck of the USS Enterprise, the powerful General Electric J79 engines threw rocket-like plumes behind as the catapult in two-and-a-half seconds hurled the big Mc-Donnell Douglas jet 300 feet through the sky at 165 mph and pinned Hall and Kientzler against the backs of their seats. For about two seconds Hall’s vision, affected by the G-forces, saw a blur rather than the buttons and dials of the instrument panel. “Catapult shots feel like being shot from a cannon!” he commented over the loud engines.2

Hall’s plane, still in afterburner, continued climbing to top speed and correct altitude to hook up with the overhead tanker and take on fuel. Over his left shoulder Hall saw his wingman, LT Terry Heath, with his RIO, LT Phil Boughton, also flying an F-4. “Taproom 113 to 114. Let’s go get ’em!” Hall said over the flight frequency designated for the two-aircraft formation.

“Let’s do it!” Heath, Taproom 114, answered.

After checking in with Hillsborough (the U.S. Air Force controller working northern South Vietnam) they were assigned to the Forward Air Controller (FAC) Covey 115 and directed to their target area. They reached their target at the Cua Viet River just south of the Demilitarized Zone. Then Covey 115 assigned them their mission—enemy trucks moving south from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). On this last day of war, communist

Vietnamese troops rushed south to occupy as much land in non-communist South Vietnam as possible, while United States bombers did everything they could to stop the aggressive Viet Cong troops. Heath made his bomb run to the north, while Hall went one mile south to work a different group of trucks. Finding his target quickly Hall called in to his FAC and released his bombs.

Climbing out after his last bomb run Hall heard the dull thud of bullets or shrapnel hitting his plane. Instantly his master caution light flashed red; this indicated serious danger.

“Taproom 113 to 114. Mayday! Mayday! I’m hit!” Hall reported calmly.
“Mayday! This is Taproom 113! I’m hit! Lost PC-1 and utilities, heading feet wet!” Hall repeated.

Hall’s warning light continued flashing red. His jet became a flying boulder with no maneuverability. With the tail section hit and hydraulics lost, this meant no flight control, with all hope of flying the aircraft gone. Somehow though, through sheer guts, Herculean and adrenalin-fueled body strength, and technical skill, Hall managed the jet into an almost-level position and turned east.

“Give us your position! Give us a flare—anything to tell us where you are!” Heath’s backseater RIO Boughton called. Heath spotted Hall’s plane two or three miles to the southeast, about 4,000 feet below. Hall’s plane blazed fire from the tail section but remained flying and aloft.
“Taproom 113, I’ve got you! You’re on fire!” Heath shouted over the radio. “Get feet wet!”

Hall needed to maneuver the plane over the water to eject so a rescue team more easily could find them. The dense jungles of the area in which Hall and his wingman were working made them vulnerable to being captured by waiting enemy ground troops. The vegetation of the jungles also prohibited clear sighting by airborne rescue operations. Landing in water also meant enemy ground troops could not capture them as easily. Thus, feet wet gave Hall and Kientzler more advantages than feet dry.
“We’re trying, Terry!” Hall replied calmly.

But by the second the jet became heavier and continued to fall.

“Al, eject! Eject!” Hall told his backseater.

Al Kientzler yanked the face curtain, an action which set in motion the ejection sequence. This instantly fired the canopy away and ejected Kientzler through the sky. Three-fourths of a second later the rocket under Hall’s seat fired. Both flyers shot clear of the plane and over water.
Heath watched as Hall and Kientzler ejected. Their plane suddenly did a roll, went into a spin, and pitched vertically— straight down to the ground.
Strong winds blew the downed crewmen away from the water; Hall’s parachute was higher than that of Kientzler’s. Unfortunately both men were blown west back over land to feet dry. Feet dry put them into a critical situation, since they were trying to stay over water to be rescued.
“Mayday!” Boughton called over the universal guard frequency. “Attack and radio, two F-4 crewmen are in the air!”

“Roger, I’ve got them,” FAC Nail 89, who along with LCDR Christensen’s division of aircraft had watched the ejection and crash, answered. He immediately called people to help with the rescue. Hall’s plane had gone down in the target area of Christensen, whose Dakota section of F4-J aircraft was working against VC headquarters area south of the Cua Viet River. During their runs moments earlier they had received SA- 7 and 37 fire. A USSR-made portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude, surface-to-air missile, the SA-7 Grail presented threats to low-flying aircraft. Antiaircraft Artillery 37-millimeter guns posed additional threats. Christensen, who had just finished his final bombing run when he saw Hall’s F-4 pass in front of him, immediately sent the remainder of his division into high holding and remained at 5,000 feet of altitude for support.
Within moments another SA-7 raced through the air. It fired straight at Heath and Boughton and went just under their plane’s nose.

“Wow! That was real close!” Boughton said.

Heath descended to 3,000 feet, near the spot in which Hall and Kientzler hung from their parachutes. Heath could see that the two men looked OK, with no arms or legs missing. They still hung in normal positions from their parachutes.
“Taproom 114 Bravo, how do you read?” Kientzler called. However, trying over and over, he raised no response. Heath continued to descend to 1,000 feet, at which he saw the two chutes land about a half-mile apart. Kientzler landed first. Heath saw Hall, as soon as he landed, instantly get up and run. His parachute drifted off in the opposite direction from that of Kientzler’s. Kientzler was hit in the thigh; a bullet tore through his leg and passed out the other side. This left him semiconscious and unable to run. Heath and Boughton saw that Hall and Kientzler’s landing area was barren sand and dirt with few trees on an island in the Cua Viet River at the point the river empties into the Gulf of Tonkin. Visible from the air and unfortunately too visible from the ground, the two men had few chances of hiding. The area was covered with North Vietnamese troops. Heath and Boughton knew for certain Hall did get up and run; therefore, he was alive, but they weren’t sure about Kientzler.
“SA-7! SA-7!” FAC Covey 115 shouted on guard; this alerted Taproom 114.
“Break right! Break right,” Boughton ordered. As the backseater, part of his duties were to scan the sky forward and aft, right and left, above and below for possible enemy aircraft or missiles.

Heath quickly turned the plane right. The F-4 barely missed the SA-7 missile as it shot past their canopy. “Well, that was the second SA-7, just like they are plenty cheap!” Boughton replied.

Meanwhile Hillsborough, monitoring the guard frequency and in control of multiple aircraft ready to be assigned to bombing missions, began to vector aircraft into a holding area above the search and rescue (SAR) position. Each reported ordnance on board and time available before fuel exhaustion.
Since the shootdown was in his target area, Nail 89 was assigned SAR On-Scene Commander. “Roger, I’m on-scene commander,” FAC Nail 89 answered.
Almost immediately Nail 89 radioed Covey 115, “We can’t see them moving. I’m going down for a low pass to get a better fix on the situation. Cover me high; I’ll be low. Stack all the other planes on top. Keep ordnance [bombs] overhead. Give me a report of any SA-7s.”

“Watch your six! Been SA-7 fire here,” Covey 115 warned.

“Rog, 115,” Nail 89 acknowledged the warning.

“SA-7! SA-7!” Covey 115 shouted on guard.

Directly overhead of Nail 89, his FAC, Christensen, on guard frequency with Covey 115 saw an SA-7 lift and knock the tail off SA-7 Nail 89’s plane—an OV-10, a two-seater spotter aircraft. End over end the plane began to tumble.

“I can’t get out! I can’t get out!” Nail 89 Bravo screamed into the radio.
Seconds before impact, both Nail 89 A, Lt. Mark Peterson, in the front seat, and Capt. George W. Morris, Nail 89 B in the back seat, managed to escape the aircraft. Because they were at less than 500-feet altitude, they landed almost immediately. Overhead, Christensen watched.
Peterson and Morris hit the ground. Nail 89 yelled on his PRC survival radio, “This is Nail 89 Bravo. Looks like I’m going to be captured! Yeah, I’m going to be captured! Out!” Immediately his transmission continued, “Oh, my God! I’m getting hit! I’m getting hit! Oh, my God!”
Heath and Boughton were farther away and couldn’t hear the radio transmission, because they weren’t on the same radio frequency. But they did see Nail 89’s plane impact. In total amazement Heath and Boughton saw Nail 89 pilots eject from their plane, their parachutes sailing above the ball of fire, but the two crew members drew heavy fire from the ground as they landed. Heath saw about 30 Viet Cong soldiers in the area looking for downed pilots and firing at Peterson and Morris as they parachuted to the ground. Nail 89’s plane crashed south of the Cua Viet River, near the site on which Hall and Kientzler’s parachutes landed, but not on the island. Heath and Boughton continued circling. They searched for Hall and Kientzler and the downed FAC pilots and broadcast the landing site to Covey 115. AAA and SA-7 missile fire was intense and incessant. Although flying too low to the ground was suicide, they kept looking.
Shortly after the first shootdown, USS Enterprise officers in the Carrier Intelligence Center (CVIC) listened as Heath and other crews scrambled to find the downed pilots. An A-6, an E-2, and six A-1E Skyraiders (Sandys) arrived; they hoped that from the downed pilots they would hear a beeper or radio or see a flare. Several times Heath and Boughton, with the Sandys, went through the clouds. They dodged AAA and SA-7 fire and pointed out the site on which Hall and Kientzler landed but saw no sign of the downed pilots. Heavily burdened in heart, Heath and Boughton returned to the USS Enterprise.

Recently Christensen commented, “Returning to the carrier was horrible after the terrible combat day—having seen and heard what occurred and realizing there was nothing I could do to influence their survival. I had released my ordnance and didn’t have an absolute spot on the survivors. Watching people walk around in their clean, starched khakis—people who had nothing more on their minds than what the movie of the evening was going to be or when the next big mail call would take place—was surreal.”
Officers on the USS Enterprise later debriefed Heath that South Vietnamese Bright Light Soldiers, trained by the U.S. to rescue downed pilots, reported finding Nail 89 pilots Morris and Peterson tied to a tree and decapitated. The officers received no word about Hall or Kientzler.

What happened to Hall? Herein lies the story of Harley Hall, husband and father, U.S. Navy pilot, Blue Angels Commander, Prisoner of War.
1 & 2Christensen and Heath furnished much of the material for chapter 1. This includes tapes of flights and debriefings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Triple Dog Dare Devotional by Jeremy Jones

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:

Jeremy Jones

and the book:

David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jeremy V. Jones is an award-winning journalist who has served as senior associate editor of Breakaway magazine. He has authored several books, including Toward the Goal: The Kaka Story and The Keeper: The Tim Hoard Story. He also writes for magazines such as Clubhouse and Christianity Today. He resides with his wife and two children in Colorado.                              



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Boys want action. They don’t want to sit around and talk—that’s for grown-ups and girls. They engage life and relationships by doing something: skateboarding, playing games or re-creating favorite movie scenes. So why should faith be any different? That’s why Jeremy V. Jones created Triple Dog Dare: One Year of Dynamic Devotions for Boys—to provide the action boys need in order to grow their faith.

The Bible is full of action. Remember how David slew Goliath, Daniel faced those lions, Paul survived a shipwreck and Jesus stood up for a woman about to be killed? God made boys to take His truth and do something with it, to man up and change the world. These action-packed devotions for boys ages 9 to 12 are filled with godly truth and bold spiritual challenges that transform time with God into the adventure of the day.

Triple Dog Dare connects God’s Word to boys’ hearts and hands with real-life scenarios and activities. Each day is filled with short Scriptures, concise biblical truth and a daily dare, all challenging them to put their faith into practice. Scripture readings from every book of the Bible open up the action-packed Word of God. Whether it’s drawing comic strips of biblical battles, dreaming up a life list of goals, making snack packs for the homeless or producing Bible-based movies, boys will go on daily dynamic experiences with God, taking faith off the page and setting it into motion. Themes cover the daily realities of pre-teen males, including bullying, peer pressure, girls, sibling rivalry, honesty and more.

These exciting devotions will inspire boys’ hearts toward godly characteristics such as integrity, generosity and kindness. Parents will appreciate watching Christ-like traits emerge as each dare is undertaken. It is a manual that will deepen boys’ friendships with Jesus as they look forward to spending time with Him every day. So if you know a boy who is up for the challenge, triple dog dare him!




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404576
ISBN-13: 978-0781404570

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER (Click on images to enlarge):
























Monday, November 21, 2011

One Silent Night by FFH


I was recently sent FFH's newest release, One Silent Night, a Christmas CD.  I was really excited to get to hear it, since I haven't heard anything new from them in a while.  For a while, their songs where our family's theme songs... through the struggles we endured in ministry they were an uplifting voice that helped us keep our eyes on Jesus.

So, after downloading the CD to my iPod, I forced my family to listen to the CD in the middle of November trying to get us all "in the mood" for Christmas.  We were instantly thrilled with the beautiful harmonies and classic songs.  I love this CD because, not only does it include some beautiful favorite hymns, but it also includes some fun upbeat songs that the whole family with love!    This new CD features: 


BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE
JINGLE BELL ROCK
ONE SILENT NIGHT
I’LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
THE BIRTHDAY OF A KING
O COME O COME EMMANUEL
WINTER WONDERLAND
GLORIOUS IMPOSSIBLE
O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM
HEAVEN AND NATURE SING

I know you need a new Christmas CD-- this is a good one to add to your collection!!  You can download it now from Amazon.com and on iTunes.   You can also check out FFH on their Website, on FB, on Twitter  or on YouTube.


"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee

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 authors are:


and the book:

Center Street (September 13, 2011)
***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:




TED DEKKER is a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels with a total of more than 5 million books in print. He is known for thrillers that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil.



Visit the author's website.





TOSCA LEE left her position working with Fortune 500 Companies as a Senior Consultant for the Gallup Organization to pursue her first love: writing. She is the critically-acclaimed author of Demon and Havah and is best known for her humanizing portraits of maligned characters. She makes her home in the Midwest.


Visit the author's website.

Check out the Forbidden Facebook!

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Many years have passed since civilization's brush with apocalypse. The world's greatest threats have all been silenced. There is no anger, no hatred, no war. There is only perfect peace... and fear. But a terrible secret has been closely guarded for centuries: Every single soul walking the earth, though in appearance totally normal, is actually dead, long ago genetically stripped of true humanity.

Fleeing pursuit, with only moments to live, a young man named Rom stumbles into possession of a vial of blood and a piece of cryptic writing. When consumed, the blood will bring him back to life. When decoded, the message will lead him on a perilous journey that will require him to abandon everything he has ever known and awaken humanity to the transforming power of true life and love.

But the blood will also resurrect hatred, ambition, and greed.

Set in a terrifying, medieval future, where grim pageantry masks death, this tale of dark desires and staggering stakes peels back the layers of the heart for all who dare to take the ride.




Product Details:

List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Center Street (September 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599953544
ISBN-13: 978-1599953540

AND NOW...CLICK ON THE OPEN BOOK WIDGET TO VIEW THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul

If you have read my blog much, you know I love Donita K Paul's writings.  Well, here's a new one and I can't wait to read it!:


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:

WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Donita K. Paul is the author of The Dragons of Chiril, Dragons of the Valley, and the bestselling DragonKeeper Chronicles with more than a quarter of a million books in print. She enjoys cooking, beading, stamping, knitting, and her grandsons. Not necessarily in that order.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Trapped in a forgotten city, bound by secrets, Ellie and Bealomondore must enlist the dragons of the watch to find freedom.

Ellie knows exactly where she is going. She just wants to experience the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding, then settle into a simple life with a country husband.

With too many choices, Bealomondore’s future is a tangle of possibilities. He is respected, well-known, and admired among the elite of Chiril, but Wulder demands he narrow his focus and follow his Creator, one step at a time.

Both Ellie and Bealomondore’s plans are thwarted when they find themselves lost in an isolated city. As they discern the needs of a group of wild children and a very old man, clues began to surface and a bigger picture is revealed. With the help of the dragons of the watch, can the two tumanhofers find the way out—and perhaps discover their connection to something greater than themselves?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073413
ISBN-13: 978-1400073412

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Invitation

     Ellie sat on her favorite boulder and looked Tak right in the eyes, telling him what was on her mind. “Gramps shouldn’t have taught me to read.”

     Tak responded as he usually did when he received Ellie’s confidences. He lowered his head, placing it on her knee for a rub.

     Ellie obliged her pet, stroking the white hair between his nubby horns with one hand while digging in the pocket of her homespun pinafore with the other. The mountain breeze toyed with the paper she withdrew. With difficulty, she smoothed the small poster out on her other knee. Dirty and wrinkled, it still made her heart beat a little faster.

               

                             Royal Wedding and Coronation

                                         Princess Tipper

                                                  and

                    Prince Jayrus, Dragonkeeper and Paladin

           

                             All invited to the celebration

     “All invited. But Ellicinderpart Clarenbessipawl and her goat Tak can’t come. No chaperone, no travel. Ma and Da aren’t interested. And Gramps just laughs. ‘You’ll see. You’ll see,’ is all he says. He should take me himself.”

     Her younger brother’s shrill yell came from the knoll rising out of the river to the east. “Ellie! Ellie!”

     He stood on the hill, grinning like a bear with a paw in the honey hive and his face red from running. His stubby tumanhofer body bounced with excitement. He held his fists above his head and whirled them around in circles. Something had set him off.

     She stood and hollered back. “You be calling me by my proper name out in the open ’n’ at the top of your lungs, Gustustharinback. Ma will tan yer hide if she’s finding out you disgrace the family with such shabby care of our dignity.”

     When he saw her, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Yer wanted at home. Itta be good news.”

     That information didn’t impress her. Probably a delivery of the bolt of muslin ordered, which meant she’d be cutting and dyeing lengths for making new clothes. Not exciting news at all.

     “Can it wait?” She gestured behind her to the scattered goat herd. “I’ll have to gather Tak’s clan if I’m to come home now.”

     “I’ll come help you.” Gustus charged down the hill toward the footbridge across the river.

     Ellie stared at him for a moment with her mouth hanging open. The good news had nothing to do with cloth. Her brother would never voluntarily help bring in the goats for something as mundane as new clothes. He scurried down the path, slipping some on the loose rocks. But the precarious descent did not slow him a bit. Even in the narrower patches, where exposed roots of arranndon bushes tripped careless hikers, her sturdy brother skidded downward.

     Folding the royal celebration notice into a small square, Ellie stuffed it back in her pocket. She turned away from watching her brother’s progress and nudged the goat. “Come on, Tak. You find the nannies, and I’ll find the billies.”

     Ellie went one direction and Tak another. In a few minutes, she located the fifteen goats that formed the herd. Mostly young males, these animals preferred the rockier terrain. She suspected it had to do with their perpetual game of I’m-up-highest.

     She clicked her tongue and tapped her staff on a rock. Their heads rose as if all attached to the same string, though they didn’t come right away. Each one chewed what was in his mouth and casually left his place one by one. Taking a serene amble down the hillside, they passed her, heading toward the bridge and home.

     When the last one clomped by, Ellie rested her staff on her shoulder and followed. Tak already had the nannies plodding along the bank toward the footbridge. Gustustharinback trailed the nannies and carried the smallest of the baby goats in his arms.

     He shouted when he caught sight of his sister. “Hurry! Aunt and Uncle Blamenyellomont are at the house. I can’t tell you the surprise, and I’m gonna burst with keeping my tongue from waggin’ and you from knowin’.”

     She tapped her staff on the rock beneath her feet. The billies scampered before her, picking up her impatience and gratefully heading for home. Even after eating all day, they appreciated the handfuls of button grain they got from the farmer’s younger children.

     With the goat hoofs pounding on the wooden bridge, Ellie couldn’t hear or be heard. So she waited until she’d caught up with her brother on the other side.

     “What’s with all the falderal, Gustus?”

     She watched as he forced a glare onto his face, erasing the impudent grin he’d been wearing. “You are to call me by my proper name if I have to call you by yours.”

     “There’s a difference between shouting ‘Ellie’ and speaking ‘Gustus’ quietly.” She grabbed his arm. “Now tell me, or I’ll toss you into the river.”

     He pressed his lips together and gave her his most obstinate glower. The corners of his lips twitched, and she knew he wanted to laugh. She let go. She couldn’t really dunk him while he carried the small kid.

     “Why are our aunt and uncle here?”

     “Can’t tell you that either. But they’s only stopping, not staying. We’d better hurry.”

     Ellie lost Gustustharinback’s help as soon as they came in sight of the pens. He scuttled down the last hill and opened the gate but then ran through the goat barn, across the yard, and into the house.

     The herd followed the leader through the opening and took up different places to observe their world. Ellie and Gustus had put many odd things within the goat pen for the animals to climb on. Old wooden benches, barrels, a huge thick branch they had pulled with the donkey’s help, and crates littered the ground. The goats enjoyed scrambling up, over, and around the obstacles.

     Tak stayed at Ellie’s side as she put water in the trough and fastened the barn door securely open so the animals could come in if they wanted. He followed her out the door on the other side of the barn and waited patiently while she latched it shut.

     Entering the back door so she could wash before meeting their visitors, Ellie noticed that the kitchen showed signs of serving tea. Her mother must have prepared refreshments to carry into the common room. Through the pantry door, she could see empty spots on the shelves, which meant the good china pot and the blue glass dishes were being used.

     Warm water sat in a tub in the sink, and she used that to wash her face and hands. She pulled the scarf off her head, gathered her long, curly black locks into a ponytail and used the scarf to tie it in place. Wisps of hair immediately escaped and framed her tanned face. She washed her face again as if she could rid herself of the look of a farm girl. Hopefully Aunt Tiffenbeth wouldn’t make that tired old comment: “Your blue eyes would be more attractive if you scrubbed away some of that mud you use for face cream.”

     Voices from the family’s conversation drifted through the partially open door. Aunt Tiffenbeth quarreled with Ellie’s father.

     “Brother, you are wrong in this. Ellicinderpart is your eldest child and way past the age to be in the village looking for a husband.”

     “If there’s a man good enough for her, he can just come courting here.” Her father’s voice rumbled in the wood-paneled room, and Ellie did not even have to strain to hear him. She stepped closer to the door in order not to miss a single word her aunt spoke.

     “You are the most vexing man. That is not going to happen. It isn’t the way of things, and you know it. You’re selfish and your mind is rootbound.”

     Only his older sister could get away with talking like that to Ellie’s father. She probably ought to go in before the discussion escalated to verbal warfare. She finished wiping her hands and draped the towel over one of the kitchen chairs around the square table.

     “The girl is needed here.”

     “The young woman is your unpaid servant.”

Excerpted from Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul Copyright © 2011 by Donita K. Paul. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

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:

WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award-winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A house shrouded in time. A line of women with a heritage of loss. As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn't believe that Susannah's ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband's home, it isn't long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide's richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.





Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458857
ISBN-13: 978-0307458858

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Excerpt

     The bride stood in a circle of Virginia sunlight, her narrow heels clicking on Holly Oak’s patio stones as she greeted strangers in the receiving line. Her wedding dress was a simple A-line, strapless, with a gauzy skirt of white that breezed about her knees like lacy curtains at an open window. She had pulled her unveiled brunette curls into a loose arrangement dotted with tiny flowers that she’d kept alive on her flight from Phoenix. Her only jewelry was a white topaz pendant at her throat and the band of platinum on her left ring finger. Tall, slender, and tanned from the famed and relentless Arizona sun, hers was a girl-nextdoor look: pretty but not quite beautiful. Adelaide thought it odd that Marielle held no bouquet.

     From the parlor window Adelaide watched as her grandson-in-law, resplendent in a black tuxedo next to his bride, bent toward the guests and greeted them by name, saying, “This is Marielle.” An explanation seemed ready to spring from his lips each time he shook the hand of someone who had known Sara, her deceased granddaughter. His first wife. Carson stood inches from Marielle, touching her elbow every so often, perhaps to assure himself that after four years a widower he had indeed patently and finally moved on from grief.
   
Smatterings of conversations wafted about on the May breeze and into the parlor as received guests strolled toward trays of sweet tea and champagne. Adelaide heard snippets from her place at the window. Hudson and Brette, her great-grandchildren, had moved away from the snaking line of gray suits and pastel dresses within minutes of the first guests’ arrival and were now studying the flower-festooned gift table under the window ledge, touching the bows, fingering the silvery white wrappings. Above the children, an old oak’s youngest branches shimmied to the tunes a string quartet produced from the gazebo beyond the receiving line.
   
Adelaide raised a teacup to her lips and sipped the last of its contents, allowing the lemony warmth to linger at the back of her throat. She had spent the better part of the morning readying the garden for Carson and Marielle’s wedding reception, plucking spent geranium blossoms, ordering the catering staff about, and straightening the rented linen tablecloths. She needed to join the party now that it had begun. The Blue-Haired Old Ladies would be wondering where she was.
   
Her friends had been the first to arrive, coming through the garden gate on the south side of the house at five minutes before the hour. She’d watched as Carson introduced them to Marielle, witnessed how they cocked their necks in blue-headed unison to sweetly scrutinize her grandson-in-law’s new wife, and heard their welcoming remarks through the open window.
   
Deloris gushed about how lovely Marielle’s wedding dress was and what, pray tell, was the name of that divine purple flower she had in her hair?
   
Pearl invited Marielle to her bridge club next Tuesday afternoon and asked her if she believed in ghosts.
   
Maxine asked her how Carson and she had met—though Adelaide had told her weeks ago that Carson met Marielle on the Internet—and why on earth Arizona didn’t like daylight-saving time.
   
Marielle had smiled, sweet and knowing—like the kindergarten teacher who finds the bluntness of five-year-olds endearing—and answered the many questions.

     Mojave asters. She didn’t know how to play bridge. She’d never encountered a ghost so she couldn’t really say but most likely not. She and Carson met online. There’s no need to save what one has an abundance of. Carson had cupped her elbow in his hand, and his thumb caressed the inside of her arm while she spoke.

     Adelaide swiftly set the cup down on the table by the window, whisking away the remembered tenderness of that same caress on Sara’s arm.

     Carson had every right to remarry.

     Sara had been dead for four years.

     She turned from the bridal tableau outside and inhaled deeply the gardenia-scented air in the parlor. Unbidden thoughts of her granddaughter sitting with her in that very room gently nudged her. Sara at six cutting out paper dolls. Memorizing multiplication tables at age eight. Sewing brass buttons onto gray wool coats at eleven. Sara reciting a poem for English Lit at sixteen, comparing college acceptance letters at eighteen, sharing a chance letter from her estranged mother at nineteen, showing Adelaide her engagement ring at twenty-four. Coming back home to Holly Oak with Carson when Hudson was born. Nursing Brette in that armchair by the fireplace. Leaning against the door frame and telling Adelaide that she was expecting her third child.

     Right there Sara had done those things while Adelaide sat at the long table in the center of the room, empty now but usually awash in yards of stiff Confederate gray, glistening gold braid, and tiny piles of brass buttons—the shining elements of officer reenactment uniforms before they see war.

     Adelaide ran her fingers along the table’s polished surface, the warm wood as old as the house itself. Carson had come to her just a few months ago while she sat at that table piecing together a sharpshooter’s forest green jacket. He had taken a chair across from her as Adelaide pinned a collar, and he’d said he needed to tell her something.

     He’d met someone.

     When she’d said nothing, he added, “It’s been four years, Adelaide.”

     “I know how long it’s been.” The pins made a tiny plucking sound as their pointed ends pricked the fabric.

     “She lives in Phoenix.”

     “You’ve never been to Phoenix.”

     “Mimi.” He said the name Sara had given her gently, as a father might. A tender reprimand. He waited until she looked up at him. “I don’t think Sara would want me to live the rest of my life alone. I really don’t. And I don’t think she would want Hudson and Brette not to have a mother.”

     “Those children have a mother.”

     “You know what I mean. They need to be mothered. I’m gone all day at work. I only have the weekends with them. And you won’t always be here. You’re a wonderful great-grandmother, but they need someone to mother them, Mimi.”

     She pulled the pin cushion closer to her and swallowed. “I know they do.”

     He leaned forward in his chair. “And I…I miss having someone to share my life with. I miss the companionship. I miss being in love. I miss having someone love me.”

     Adelaide smoothed the pieces of the collar. “So. You are in love?”

     He had taken a moment to answer. “Yes. I think I am.”

     Carson hadn’t brought anyone home to the house, and he hadn’t been on any dates. But he had lately spent many nights after the children were in bed in his study—the old drawing room—with the door closed. When she’d pass by, Adelaide would hear the low bass notes of his voice as he spoke softly into his phone. She knew that gentle sound. She had heard it before, years ago when Sara and Carson would sit in the study and talk about their day. His voice, deep and resonant. Hers, soft and melodic.

     “Are you going to marry her?”

     Carson had laughed. “Don’t you even want to know her name?”

     She had not cared at that moment about a name. The specter of being alone in Holly Oak shoved itself forward in her mind. If he remarried, he’d likely move out and take the children with him. “Are you taking the children? Are you leaving Holly Oak?”

     “Adelaide—”

     “Will you be leaving?”

     Several seconds of silence had hung suspended between them. Carson and Sara had moved into Holly Oak ten years earlier to care for Adelaide after heart surgery and had simply stayed. Ownership of Holly Oak had been Sara’s birthright and was now Hudson and Brette’s future inheritance. Carson stayed on after Sara died because, in her grief, Adelaide asked him to, and in his grief, Carson said yes.

     “Will you be leaving?” she asked again.

     “Would you want me to leave?” He sounded unsure.

     “You would stay?”

     Carson had sat back in his chair. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to take Hudson and Brette out of the only home they’ve known. They’ve already had to deal with more than any kid should.”

     “So you would marry this woman and bring her here. To this house.”

     Carson had hesitated only a moment. “Yes.”

     She knew without asking that they were not talking solely about the effects moving would have on a ten-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. They were talking about the strange biology of their grief. Sara had been taken from them both, and Holly Oak nurtured their common sorrow in the most kind and savage of ways. Happy memories were one way of keeping someone attached to a house and its people. Grief was the other. Surely Carson knew this. An inner nudging prompted her to consider asking him what his new bride would want.

     “What is her name?” she asked instead.

     And he answered, “Marielle…”
   
Excerpted from A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner Copyright © 2011 by Susan Meissner. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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