Monday, May 28, 2012

WALKS ALONE by Sandi Rog

After reading The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog, I decided to look for something else she'd written. I bought Walks Alone for my Kindle and wasn't disappointed.

Ms. Rog has a way of capturing the imagination and holding it. Walks Alone is the name given to a young woman kidnapped by Cheyenne indians. At age 12 she travels from Holland to New York  with her father. His dream is to take her to Denver to begin a new life, but his death changes her future dramatically. Sent to live with a cruel uncle, she grows up longing to escape and find her way to Denver. 

An interesting and sympathetic look at indian culture combined with a pleasing romance between Anna and White Eagle. With a French father and a Cheyenne mother, White Eagle's own background is as unique as Anna's. This is a Christian romance, so it carries positive messages that fit into the story without being preachy. A highly enjoyable, moral tale suitable for all ages.

The hard copy is due to be released next month, but can be pre-ordered. Or, read it as an eBook as I did.
--Gail Lewis

Product Details:
  • Paperback
  • Publisher: WhiteFire Publishing (June 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983455651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983455653
  • Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Novel, LOST, free offer ends at Midnight tonight.

    At midnight tonight, Pacific Daylight Time, will remove LOST from its FREE category. Download the eBook before this free offer is lost. Pun intended.

    An Oregon newspaper publisher and a physicist from India join forces to outsmart an evil corporation and locate a missing Alaskan cruise ship. A mystery with state-of-the-art technology and filled with loveable, humorous characters.

    Friday, May 18, 2012


    - WOW! FREE BOOK! -

    Get a FREE copy of the exciting novel LOST by E.G. Lewis
    Between May 20, 2012 and May 24, 2012 only

    This is a special announcement! There is a Promotion for a FREE copy of the novel, LOST. That’s right, the Kindle edition will be free on beginning this Sunday, May 20 through Thursday, May 24. No strings attached. 

    We urge you to follow THIS LINK on Sunday to download your free copy. If you don't have a Kindle, you can download an application for your computer or for other eReaders. Then, download LOST for free between 5/20/12 to 5/24/12. 

    Be sure to tell your friends. 

    Below is a synopsis and excerpts for this novel, as well as several reviews. It's not to be missed!

    Three Good Ideas Converge to Form One Great Catastrophe. LOST a story about love, a special love that binds two hearts together transcending time and space. Told through parallel storylines, their point of convergence is the disappearance of the cruise ship, Paradise Voyager, while in Alaskan waters. The common thread linking them together is the impact they had upon the life of Oregon newspaperman, Thomas Jenkins, whose wife and granddaughter were aboard the ship.

    When officials declare the Voyager irretrievably lost, Tom rejects their conclusion and strikes out on his own. Assembling the unlikely team of two Vietnam Vets, an Indian scientist and a supermodel, he goes on the offensive and eventually unravels the mystery. When the final piece of the puzzle turns out to lie not in the Gulf of Alaska, but in the Oregon woods Tom sets off into the forest alone determined to save his wife and granddaughter...or die trying.

    What  reviewers are saying...
    "Lost is a character-driven mystery with touches of high-finance, science fiction, love and ethics adding to its depth. Set solidly in the years leading up to the millennium, in beautifully described countryside with forest, pine and ocean, rain and sun, with a plot uniting elements from Indian mythology to the local Chinese restaurant, it's a wonderfully evocative telling of high-jinks on the high seas tempered with human care and concern."

    "The author shows enviable skill in building believable science without weighing down the story. The humorous timing is as enjoyable as the well-drawn action and adventure. A great adventure, some intriguingly imaginative concepts, wonderful characters, and a beautiful sense of Southern Oregon scenery and community (with touches of India, London, and more besides), this is a very enjoyable novel which really does satisfy."

    "Military secrets, corruption, greed, international intrigue; tenderness, human frailty, devotion, and loyalty. All of these describe Lost by E.G. Lewis. ...breathtaking descriptions of the Oregon scenery, with touching glimpses into the emotional make up of the characters flow seamlessly into scenes of high intensity action. It’s a mystery, romance, action, thriller rolled into one. I highly recommend this book to readers looking for a great mystery."

    "A storyline you don't expect; a tale you won't forget. In Lost, Mr. Lewis treats us to glimpses of the past, present, and a possible future, and ties them together in an intriguing tale that juxtaposes deception with integrity, and grief with hope. Mr. Lewis has produced a unique story that pits the staying power of love and devotion against the forces of fate as manipulated by the intervention of greedy men. Well researched and thoughtfully written, this is a story you'll ponder well beyond the final page."

    Get your free copy of LOST for the Kindle today!

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    EVERYBODY'S DAUGHTER by Michael John Sullivan

    Thank you to the The B&B Media Group for offering us a free review copy of Everybody's Daughter.  I love time travel and Biblical fiction. Combine the two and I was excited to read this novel and jumped at the opportunity to receive it.

    I recommend reading Michael J. Sullivan's first novel, Necessary Heartbreak, before this one. Everybody's Daughter can stand alone, however, I think I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd read the other book first. It takes Michael Stewart and his daughter, Elizabeth, on their first journey into First Century Jerusalem via the tunnel of an old church that unexpectedly appears. The second novel discusses events that happened in the first, but their second trip back via that same tunnel finds the two of them separated by two different time periods.

    You meet the woman, Leah, that Michael fell in love with in the first novel, but they are not exactly reunited in this one. There is tragedy and heartbreak ahead for several of the characters and Elizabeth plays a very dramatic role.

    In the first novel, Michael and his daughter are in Jerusalem during the crucifixion of Jesus. In this one, he meets Jesus before that and is present for the Sermon on the Mount.

    The story is not just about the time spent in the First Century, however. Michael's present-day family is introduced, complete with family conflicts. Much of the book is about the value of forgiveness, and Michael's difficulty in doing so. And, because of Elizabeth's sudden disappearance, and a bit of her blood found in his car, Michael becomes a prime suspect in her disappearance. It's family and friends who protect him from arrest and aid in his return to the past in an effort to find Elizabeth. Does he? You'll have to read it to see.

    An unusual story with a twist at the end. 
    Gail Lewis 
    Product Details:
    Paperback: 328 pages
    Publisher: Fiction Std (May 16, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1936558440
    ISBN-13: 978-1936558445
    Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012

    MARTYR by E.G. Lewis

    The organism of a literary series owns a curious personality. One may birth well, but struggle to keep its pace, its conclusion hinting that author was relieved when it finally ended. Another begins a little off-balance, perhaps from too much anticipation of its conclusion, but matures from volume to volume until it ends with so strong a finale, you sense the author wished it hadn't--and the reader empathizes. Others begin to languish soon after the beginning, dragging on from volume to seemingly endless volume until you give up and set it aside before you even find out what the conclusion might have been. Mr. Lewis' Biblical-fiction series, "The Seeds of Christianity," displays a unique personality as well: a solid start with Witness, acceleration and anticipation through Disciple and Apostle, finally a heart-wrenchingly poignant finale with Martyr. Just what you want from a series.

    Mr. Lewis has novelized the founding and early growth of the 1st-Century Church with an excellent blend of meticulously researched fact, and well-written, imaginative fiction. Remaining true to the Scriptural account, we experience with Rivka and Shemu'el the Incarnation, Crucifixion and Resurrection, then travel with them to Antioch and finally Rome with Peter, Paul, Mark, Barnabas. Mr. Lewis provides us with fascinating renderings of the early church fathers, but he delivers the real joy through a solid supporting cast of fictional characters whose lives reflect the uncertainties, frailties, victories, and failures of our own--those to whom we can relate when the historical heroes of the faith seem so much bigger than life.
    Martyr presents a very satisfying conclusion to the series, tempering the poignancy and sadness implied by the title with the certainty of hope we have not only through the arc of the story, but the knowledge of church history. Vividly portrayed, deeply instructive, emotionally satisfying; there is much to commend the entire series. It's a journey that will change you--for the better.
    Martyr is available in both softcopy or in eBook versions. 
    —Bruce Judisch

    Product Details:
    Paperback: 330 pages
    Publisher: Cape Arago Press (February 20, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 098259495X
    ISBN-13: 978-0982594957

    Monday, May 14, 2012

    WICKFLICKER by Teric Darken

    In a style reminiscent of Charles Williams and old-fashioned Christian horror, author Teric Darken tells thoroughly modern stories of that thoroughly ancient battle for the human soul. A slightly formal, carefully reasoned, first-person narration gives the story immediacy and rapidly creates a very believable college-age protagonist. Rebelling against his father’s fame, taking risks with sex drugs and alcohol but never quite losing his way, young Caleb and his lifelong friend Gat go from experimenting with a Ouija board to standing in front of what might be the devil himself to make a deal.
    The friends part ways, each to his own temptation. The thrill of the chase, the excitement of the lure and the horror of the monstrous maze ensue. While one protagonist passes his hand through flickering flame and accepts the coin, the other strives to resist. While one ignores all that stands in his way, the other tries to save. And while one falls, the other still might redeem him.
    Caleb is the son of  Kill FM 100's Cart-man, from the author’s previous work, and there’s just as vibrant a modern musical soundtrack to this tale. A dark horror story with tireless moral undertones, and a starkly genuine portrait of modern temptation, this is definitely “edgy Christian fiction.” The characters and horrors may seem a touch predictable at times and the telling a bit slow, but there’s a movie-like feel to the sights and sounds, and a truly intriguing sting at the end of the tale. Plus there’s music and the Cart-man in cameo.

    Disclosure: I was lucky enough to get a copy of this novel when it was offered free.
    —Sheila Deeth

    Product Details:
    Paperback: 286 pages
    Publisher: TreasureLine Publishing
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1617520918
    ISBN-13: 978-1617520914

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012


    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:

    Authentic Media (March 1, 2012)

    ***Special thanks to Mike Parker for sending me a review copy.***


    GP Taylor is a New York Times best selling author whose works include Shadowmancer, Wormwood, Tersias, The Curse of Salamander Street and The Tizzle Sisters. He lives on the banks of a river in the midst of a dark wood, an arrow's flight from the Prince Regent Hotel near the 'town at the end of the line'. He spends his days writing and collecting firewood. Visit him online at

    Paula K. Parker is a nationally recognized playwright, author, and freelance writer whose works include the stage plays, “Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility” and “Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.” She is highly respected in the Christian entertainment industry and is frequently called upon to write about it. Visit her online at


    YESHUA: The King, The Demon & The Traitor is the second volume in the “Ancient Mysteries Retold” series from U.K.-based publisher, Authentic Media. This two-volume collection recounts some of the most wondrous stories from the greatest book of all time - the Bible. The first volume, YHWH: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant included 20 stories from the Old Testament while the new volume includes 29 stories from the New Testament, specifically from the life of Christ. Far from being simply a rehash of old Sunday school stories, these are rich, compelling tales that stand up to anything Harry Potter or Percy Jackson can dish out.

    Product Details:
    List Price: $12.99
    Paperback: 320 pages
    Publisher: Authentic Media (March 1, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1860248292
    ISBN-13: 978-1860248290


    Chapter 1
    The Birth
    The remnants of the evening fire smouldered in the ring of stones. It had lasted long into the night but now, the moon had set long before and the sky was filled with bright stars. They clung to the canopy of the sky as if they were diamonds sewn on to the velvet of the night.
    A small boy no more than ten years old lay huddled in the long cloak that belonged to his older brother. It was wrapped around him, covering all but his sun burnt face and dark eyes. It had been discarded in the panic. He was alone. The hillside was deserted. Stirring from his sleep as if the whispering wind was speaking to him of his fate, the boy slowly opened one eye and then the other. He was fearful of what he would see.
    Looking out across the valley, the stars burned brighter than they had ever done before. It was as if they had come to life and moved across the galaxy, pushed by an unseen hand. It was then that he had the sudden and dreadful feeling that all was not well. Gone was his father. Gone was his brother. Gone were the rest of the men who had been on the hillside. Gone were the sheep. Yet, the boy knew he was not alone. He had the feeling before, one night when he was seven years old. Sleeping on the roof he had dreamt that something was staring at him from the darkness. It was only when he woke from his sleep and opened his eyes that he had seen the snake at the foot of his bed. Its head had been folded back as if about to strike. The long black tongue had flickered in the darkness and then… the hand of his father had snatched it around the neck and cast it from the roof.
    Now, as he lay alone on the hillside in the dark of night with only the ever-brightening light of the stars, he felt the same.
    ‘Do you always sleep so deeply?’ the dark voice behind him asked. The boy dare not turn. He looked at the sky, convinced that the heavens were falling as the stars drew closer. ‘Daniel – do you hear me?’ the voice asked.
    Daniel turned slowly. Whoever was there, knew his name.
    ‘Where is my father… my brother?’ he asked as his words fell from his mouth and then suddenly stopped. Terror gripped his throat as he looked up at the biggest man he had ever seen. His mouth fell open as he panted and gripped a tuft of grass.
    The man threw his head back and laughed. He loomed above the boy, bright and radiant, a long sword in his hand.
    ‘Fear not, Daniel. I will not harm you.’
    ‘What…’ Daniel answered slowly, the only word his feeble mind could think of. He licked his lips and croaked, ‘…are you?’
    ‘An Angel – that is what I am – a messenger of the King of kings and I bring the word to you…’
    The boy-shepherd screamed in terror. With every word that the Angel spoke he glowed brighter and brighter. It was then that Daniel realised that there was not one man standing before him but a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand. They were not stars in the sky but Angels that swooped back and forth above his head. As if in one voice they all sang, filling the night air. The boy fell back and lay on the ground staring up at the Angel who stood over him.
    ‘My father….’ Daniel screamed hoping his words would be heard. ‘What have you done with him?’
    The Angel laughed, bent down and then, with one hand gripped around the boy’s waist, lifted Daniel from the ground and held him in the air.
    ‘The Heavens declare… that tonight… in Bethlehem … the KING is born and YOU… will be a witness to HIM…’ The Angel roared, his words like the howling of a volcano that echoed across the valley and around the mountains. ‘Go… find your father and you brother… they have gone to the town. NOW RUN…’ the Angel shouted as he put the boy on the ground and nudged him in the back. ‘As fast as you can – go… quickly…’
    Daniel dared not look back. He ran through the parting phalanxes of radiant creatures that stood around him. As he passed each one, they turned into wisps of silver mist. Daniel ran and ran, tears streaming down his face as the words of the Angel echoed through his mind again and again.
    ‘A King… the baby…’ he said over and over as he ran towards the town on the path he had walked a hundred times.
    In the town below, at the back of a small tavern above where the landlord kept the animals, an old man tapped on the door.
    ‘Congratulations!’ The old man paused. ‘There are some men – shepherds – who want to see the child.’
    Inside, a man stood up and moved to the doorway, so as not to wake the woman who slept on a small bed by the fire. ‘What?’ he asked.
    ‘Yosef – wake Miriam… a rabble of dirty shepherds just arrived at my house and they stink more than my animals,’ the host explained. ‘They want to see the child. I told them, “No, leave the young couple alone,” but when they told me their story, I changed my mind,’ he said quickly, his voice raising in excitment.
    ‘Their story?’ Yosef asked. ‘What happened… how do they know we are here?’
    ‘I should let them tell you,’ the old man said as he walked away.
    ‘Yosef?’ his wife Miriam called to him. He crossed the floor and knelt by her, giving her a drink of water. Then he lit the lamp and set it back on the top of the post. ‘What is happening?’ she asked, her voice still weak with fatigue.
    ‘The owner of the house said that shepherds have arrived, wanting to see our baby.’
    Before Yosef could finish speaking there was a knock at the door. The old man stepped inside, followed by six dirty, disheveled men. They were hesitant and wide-eyed as they entered. Each looked around the room as if expecting to see more than was before them. When they saw the sleeping baby, they gasped and fell to their knees.
    ‘It is the child!’ one of them said.
    ‘Just as we were told,’ another agreed.
    Yosef and Miriam looked at each other and then at the shepherds. ‘Who told you about our baby?’ Yosef asked.
    The shepherds looked at each other as though uncertain what to say. Finally, the one who spoke first turned to them. His words were hesitant. ‘An…angel,’ he whispered. ‘We were watching our sheep nearby. It was like any other night then suddenly a man appeared in the sky. He was an angel!
    The door burst open a young boy rushed in and dived into the arms of one of the shepherds
    ‘Father! He was huge!’ Daniel said, ‘Taller than Goliath must have been, with a robe that was blinding white!’
    ‘Daniel, please, let me tell the story,’ his father said. He turned back to Miriam and Yosef. ‘I am not ashamed to say that we were terrified. We cried out and fell to the ground. This…angel…told us to not be afraid. Then he said he had good news. “It will be for everyone in the world,” he said. “Today, in the birth place of King David, a Saviour has been born. He is the Messiah. You will know it is him when you find a new born baby lying in a feeding trough.’
    Daniel pushed free from his father and took hold of Yosef by the hand.
    ‘Suddenly the whole sky was filled with other angels,’ the boy told Yosef. ‘I have never heard anything like it; it sounded like all of creation was singing. Then they turned and – flew – upwards. This child is the KING…’
    His father pulled Daniel back apologetically.
    ‘We had to come and see the child they had told us about.’ The shepherd peered at the sleeping baby. ‘And here he is, just as the angel said.’

    This book is a real gem. YESHUA The King, The Demon & The Traitor paraphrases the New Testament for the Harry Potter generation. It's a wonderful collection of exciting tales, rich scenery and great characters. It will grab your child's imagination and turn a reluctant reader into a Bible enthusiast. Read it with your children or grandchildren. They'll love it and you will too!
    E G Lewis

    Saturday, May 5, 2012

    VAMPIRE POND by Peter Joseph Swanson

    Driven by dialog with the author’s trademark dark humor, and set in the mud and murk of England in the early days of Christianity, Peter Joseph Swanson's Vampire Pond blends myth and legend from Greek gods to Celts and Druids to Noah’s Ark. The gypsy widow and her dwarfish brother are marooned in the misery of a village not yet on any maps and find themselves drawn into poverty faith and politics. There’s even a touch of modern ecology as villagers wonder if the cutting down of trees might have caused the mud to prevail and crops to fail. “God gave us trees so they are to be used,” says one protagonist. “Now it’s all barren.”
    The author’s excellent feeling for history is clear in his language and characters, from “tart” being short for “sweetheart” to barber surgeons who just might want to burn witches in order to take over the doctoring trade. Hilarious misunderstandings of familiar Bible tales have people arguing over whether God would really have drowned rabbits and small children. And the greed of someone who may or may be sent by the church leads to complex machinations over whether or not it’s murder to send someone to a monster.
    This story really takes off halfway through when veiled references to evil and mystery suddenly come to life and horrors abound, all with that trademark mix of the ludicrous and the haunting. The characters have a pleasing consistency, their responses and their timing perfect, giving the reader the same sense of shock and surprise as they endure.
    A story as slippery, dark and muddy as the world it portrays, this tale builds nicely on humor balanced like tumble-down buildings sinking in the mire, and offers escape or redemption at the hands of a very practical woman and her brother.

    Disclosure: I was lucky enough to find a copy of this novel when it was offered free.
    —Sheila Deeth

    Product Details
    Paperback: 280 pages
    Publisher: Publishing (February 15, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1600763294
    ISBN-13: 978-1600763298

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012


    That's right, we said FREE BOOKS!!

    As a participating review site, Summit Book Reviews is pleased to help author Tracy L. Higley give away 5,000 free copies of her books. This is a great opportunity for Home-Schoolers, Church Libraries, and all readers. The following titles are available now: Shadow of Colossus, City of the Dead, Guardian of the Flame, and Petra: City in Stone.

    Order individual copies, a full set, or mixed groups of 16 or 36 books through her website by clicking  HERE.

    Order your free books offer like this can't last long.

    See Our Reviews of the following Tracy L. Higley Novels.
    Click a Link Below.

    and her latest novel  Garden of Madness

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012


    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:

    Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)

    ***Special thanks to Ruthie Dean of Thomas Nelson for sending me a review copy.***


    Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After earning a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University, she spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry before beginning to write fiction. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt, Rome and Persia, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past.

    She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures.

    Visit the author's website.


    The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar's Daughter.

    For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.

    Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent but oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes her newfound independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own is freedom threatened.

    As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family's secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.

    Product Details:
    List Price: $9.99
    Paperback: 400 pages
    Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (May 1, 2012)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 140168680X
    ISBN-13: 978-1401686802



    Babylon, 570 BC

    My name is Nebuchadnezzar. Let the nations hear it!
    I am ruler of Babylon, greatest empire on earth. Here in its capital city, I am like a god.
    Tonight, as the sun falls to its death in the western desert, I walk along the balconies I have built, overlooking the city I have built, and know there is none like me.
    I inhale the twilight air and catch the scent of a dozen sacrifices. Across the city, the smoke and flames lift from Etemenanki, the House of the Platform of Heaven and Earth. The priests sacrifice tonight in honor of Tiamat, for tomorrow she will be wed. Though I have questioned the wisdom of a marriage with the captive Judaeans, tomorrow will not be a day for questions. It will be a day of celebration, such as befits a princess.
    Tiamat comes to me now on the balcony, those dark eyes wide with entreaty. “Please, Father.”
    I encircle her shoulders in a warm embrace and turn her to the city.
    “There, Tia. There is our glorious Babylon. Do you not wish to serve her?”
    She leans her head against my chest, her voice thick. “Yes, of course. But I do not wish to marry.”
    I pat her shoulder, kiss the top of her head. My sweet Tia. Who would have foretold that she would become such a part me?
    “Have no fear, dear one. Nothing shall change. Husband or not, I shall always love you. Always protect you.”
    She clutches me, a desperate grip around my waist.
    I release her arms and look into her eyes. “Go now. Your mother will be searching for you. Tomorrow will be a grand day, for you are the daughter of the greatest king Babylon has ever seen.”
    I use my thumb to rub a tear from her eye, give her a gentle push, and she is gone with a last look of grief that breaks my heart.
    The greatest king Babylon has ever seen. The words echo like raindrops plunking on stones. I try to ignore a tickling at the back of my thoughts. Something Belteshazzar told me, many months ago. A dream.
    I shake my head, willing my mind to be free of the memory. My longtime Jewish advisor, part of my kingdom since we were both youths, often troubles me with his advice. I keep him close because he has become a friend. I keep him close because he is too often right.
    But I do not want to think of Belteshazzar. Tonight is for me alone. For my pleasure, as I gaze across all that I have built, all that I have accomplished. This great Babylon, this royal residence with its Gardens to rival those created by the gods. Built by my mighty power. For the glory of my majesty. I grip the balcony wall, inhale the smoky sweetness again, and smile. It is good.
    I hear a voice and think perhaps Belteshazzar has found me after all, for the words sound like something he would say, and yet the voice . . . The voice is of another.
    “There is a decree gone out for you, Nebuchadnezzar. Your kingship has been stripped from you.”
    I turn to the traitorous words, but no one is there. And yet the voice continues, rumbling in my own chest, echoing in my head.
    “You will be driven from men to dwell with beasts. You will eat the herbs of oxen and seven times will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men. To whom He wills power, He gives power.”
    The tickling is there again, in my mind. I roll my shoulders to ease the discomfort, but it grows. It grows to a scratching, a clawing at the inside of my head, until I fear I shall bleed within.
    The fear swells in me and I am frantic now. I rub my eyes, swat my ears, and still the scratching and scraping goes on, digging away at my memories, at my sense of self, of who I am and what I have done, and I stare at the sky above and the stones below and bend my waist and fall upon the ground where it is better, better to be on the ground, and I want only to find food, food, food. And a two-legged one comes and makes noises with her mouth and clutches at me but I understand none of it and even this knowledge that I do not understand is slipping, slipping from me as the sun slips into the desert.
    And in the darkness, I am no more.

    Chapter 1

    Seven years later

    The night her husband died, Tia ran with abandon.
    The city wall, wide enough for chariots to race upon its baked bricks, absorbed the slap of her bare feet and cooled her skin. She flew past the Ishtar Gate as though chased by demons, knowing the night guard in his stone tower would be watching. Leering. Tia ignored his attention.
    Tonight, this night, she wanted only to run.
    A lone trickle of sweat chased down her backbone. The desert chill soaked into her bones and somewhere in the vast sands beyond the city walls, a jackal shrieked over its kill. Her exhalation clouded the air and the quiet huffs of her breath kept time with her feet.
    Breathe, slap, slap, slap.
    They would be waiting. Expecting her. A tremor disturbed her rhythm. Her tears for Shealtiel were long spent, stolen by the desert air before they fell.
    Flames surged from the Tower and snagged her attention. Priests and their nightly sacrifices, promising to ensure the health of the city. For all of Babylon’s riches, the districts encircled by the double city walls smelled of poverty, disease, and hopelessness. But the palace was an oasis in a desert.
    She would not run the entire three bêru around the city. Not tonight. Only to the Marduk Gate and back to the Southern Palace, where her mother would be glaring her displeasure at both her absence and her choice of pastime. Tia had spent long days at Shealtiel’s bedside, waiting for the end. Could her mother not wait an hour?
    Too soon, the Marduk Gate loomed and Tia slowed. The guard leaned over the waist-high crenellation, thrust a torch above his head, and hailed the trespasser.
    “Only Tiamat.” She panted and lifted a hand. “Running.”
    He shrugged and shook his head, then turned back to his post, as though a princess running the city wall at night in the trousers of a Persian were a curiosity, nothing more. Perhaps he’d already seen her run. More likely, her reputation ran ahead of her. The night hid her flush of shame.
    But she could delay no longer. The guilt had solidified, a stone in her belly she could not ignore.
    She pivoted, sucked in a deep breath, and shot forward, legs and arms pounding for home.
    Home. Do I still call it such? When all that was precious had been taken? Married at fourteen. A widow by twenty-one. And every year a lie.
    “I shall always love you, always protect you.”
    He had spoken the words on the night he had been lost to her. And where was love? Where was protection? Not with Shealtiel.
    The night sky deepened above her head, and a crescent moon hung crooked against the blackness. Sataran and Aya rose in the east, overlapping in false union.
    “The brightest light in your lifetime’s sky,” an elderly mage had said of the merged stars. The scholar’s lessons on the workings of the cosmos interested her, and she paid attention. As a princess already married for treaty, she was fortunate to retain tutors.
    Ahead, the Ishtar Gate’s blue-glazed mosaics, splashed with yellow lions, surged against the purpling sky, and to its left, the false wooded mountain built atop the palace for her mother, Amytis, equaled its height. Tia chose the east wall of the gate for a focal point and ignored the Gardens. Tonight the palace had already seen death. She needn’t also dwell on madness.
    Breathe, slap, slap, slap. Chest on fire, almost there.
    She reached the palace’s northeast corner, where it nearly brushed the city wall, slowed to a stop, and bent at the waist. Hands braced against her knees, she sucked in cold air. Her heartbeat quieted.
    When she turned back toward the palace, she saw what her mother had done.
    A distance of one kanû separated the wide inner city wall from the lip of the palace roof, slightly lower. Tia kept a length of cedar wood there on the roof, a plank narrow enough to discourage most, and braced it across the chasm for her nightly runs. When she returned, she would pull it back to the roof, where anyone who might venture past the guards on the wall would not gain access. Only during her run did this plank bridge the gap, awaiting her return.
    Amytis had removed it.
    Something like heat lightning snapped across Tia’s vision and left a bitter, metallic taste in her mouth. Her mother thought to teach her a lesson. Punish her for her manifold breaches of etiquette by forcing her to take the long way down, humiliate herself to the sentinel guard.
    She would not succeed.
    With a practiced eye, Tia measured the distance from the ledge to the palace roof. She would have the advantage of going from a higher to a lower level. A controlled fall, really. Nothing more.
    But she made the mistake of looking over, to the street level far below. Her senses spun and she gripped the wall.
    She scrambled onto the ledge, wide enough to take the stance needed for a long jump, and bent into position, one leg extended behind. The palace rooftop garden held only a small temple in its center, lit with three torches. Nothing to break her fall, or her legs, when she hit. She counted, steadying mind and body.
    The wind caught her hair, loosened during her run, and blew it across her eyes. She flicked her head to sweep it away, rocked twice on the balls of her feet, and leaped.
    The night air whooshed against her ears, and her legs cycled through the void as though she ran on air itself. The flimsy trousers whipped against her skin, and for one exhilarating moment Tia flew like an egret wheeling above the city and knew sweet freedom.
    This was how it should always be. My life. My choice. I alone control my destiny.
    She hit the stone roof grinning like a trick monkey, and it took five running steps to capture her balance.
    Across the rooftop, a whisper of white fluttered. A swish of silk and a pinched expression disappeared through the opening to the stairs. Amytis had been waiting to see her stranded on the city wall and Tia had soured her pleasure. The moment of victory faded, and Tia straightened her hair, smoothed her clothing.
    “Your skill is improving.” The eerie voice drifted to Tia across the dark roof and she flinched. A chill rippled through her skin.
    Shadir stood at the far end of the roof wall, where the platform ended and the palace wall rose higher to support the Gardens. His attention was pinned to the stars, and a scroll lay on the ledge before him, weighted with amulets.
    “You startled me, Shadir. Lurking there in the shadows.”
    The mage turned, slid his gaze the length of her in sharp appraisal. “It would seem I am not the only one who prefers the night.”
    Long ago, Shadir had been one of her father’s chief advisors. Before—before the day of which they never spoke. Since that monstrous day, he held amorphous power over court and kingdom, power that few questioned and even fewer defied. His oiled hair hung in tight curls to his shoulders and the full beard and mustache concealed too much of his face, leaving hollow eyes that seemed to follow even when he did not turn his head.
    Tia shifted on her feet and eyed the door. “It is cooler to run at night.”
    The mage held himself unnaturally still. Did he even breathe?
    As a child, Tia had believed Shadir could scan her thoughts like the night sky and read her secrets. Little relief had come with age. Another shudder ran its cold finger down her back.
    Tia lowered her chin, all the obeisance she would give, and escaped the rooftop. Behind her, he spoke in a tone more hiss than speech. “The night holds many dangers.”
    She shook off the unpleasant encounter. Better to ready herself for the unpleasantness she yet faced tonight.
    Her husband’s family would have arrived by this time, but sweating like a soldier and dressed like a Persian, she was in no state to make an appearance in the death chamber. Instead, she went to her own rooms, where her two slave women, Omarsa and Gula, sat vigil as though they were the grieving widows. They both jumped when Tia entered and busied themselves with lighting more oil lamps and fetching bathwater.
    In spite of her marriage to the eldest son of the captive Judaean king, Tia’s chambers were her own. She had gone to Shealtiel when it was required, and only then. The other nights she spent here among her own possessions—silk fabrics purchased from merchants who traveled east of Babylon, copper bowls hammered smooth by city jewelers, golden statues of the gods, rare carved woods from fertile lands in the west. A room of luxury. One that Shealtiel disdained and she adored. She was born a Babylonian princess. Let him have his austerity, his righteous self-denial. It had done him little good.
    One of her women stripped her trousers, then unwound the damp sash that bound her lean upper body. Tia stood in the center of the bath chamber, its slight floor depression poked with drainage holes under her feet, and tried to be still as they doused her with tepid water and scrubbed with a scented paste of plant ash and animal fat until her skin stung.
    When they had dressed her appropriately, her ladies escorted her through the palace corridors to the chamber where her husband of nearly seven years lay cold.
    Seven years since she lost herself and her father on the same day. Neither of them had met death, but all the same, they were lost. Seven years of emptiness where shelter had been, of longing instead of love.
    But much had ended today—Shealtiel’s long illness and Tia’s long imprisonment.
    She paused outside the chamber door. Could she harden herself for the inevitable? The wails of women’s laments drifted under the door and wrapped around her heart, squeezing pity from her. A wave of sorrow, for the evil that took those who are loved, tightened her throat. But her grief was more for his family than herself. He had been harsh and unloving and narrow-minded, and now she was free. Tia would enter, give the family her respect, and escape to peace.
    She nodded to one of her women, and Gula tapped the door twice and pushed it open.
    Shealtiel’s body lay across a pallet, skin already graying. The chamber smelled of death and frankincense. Three women attended her husband—Shealtiel’s sister, his mother, and Tia’s own. His mother, Marta, sat in a chair close to the body. Her mourning clothes, donned over her large frame, were ashy and torn. She lifted her head briefly, saw that it was only Tia, and returned to her keening. Her shoulders rocked and her hands clutched at a knot of clothing, perhaps belonging to Shealtiel. His sister, Rachel, stood against the wall and gave her a shy smile, a smile that melded sorrow and admiration. She was younger than Tia by five years, still unmarried, a sweet girl.
    “Good of you to join us, Tia.” Her mother’s eyes slitted and traveled the length of Tia’s robes. Tia expected some comment about her earlier dress, but Amytis held her tongue.
    “I was . . . detained.” Their gazes clashed over Shealtiel’s body and Tia challenged her with a silent smile. The tension held for a moment, then Tia bent her head.
    She was exquisite, Amytis. No amount of resentment on Tia’s part could blind her to this truth. Though Amytis had made it clear that Tia’s sisters held her affections, and though Tia had long ago given up calling her Mother in her heart, she could not deny that her charms still held sway in Babylon. From old men to children, Amytis was adored. Her lustrous hair fell to her waist, still black though she was nearly fifty, and her obsidian eyes over marble cheekbones were a favorite of the city’s best sculptors. Some said Tia favored her, but if she did, the likeness did nothing to stir a motherly affection.
    Tia went to Shealtiel’s mother and whispered over her, “May the gods show kindness to you today, Marta. It is a difficult day for us all.” The woman’s grief broke Tia’s heart, and she placed a hand on Marta’s wide shoulder to share in it.
    Marta sniffed and pulled away. “Do not call upon your false gods for me, girl.”
    Amytis sucked in a breath, her lips taut.
    Tia’s jaw tightened. “He was a good man, Marta. He will be missed.” Both of these statements Tia made without falsehood. Shealtiel was the most pious man she had ever known, fully committed to following the exacting requirements of his God.
    Marta seemed to soften. She reached a plump hand to pat Tia’s own, still on her shoulder. “But how could the Holy One have taken him before he saw any children born?”
    Tia stiffened and brought her hand to her side, forcing the fingers to relax. Marta rocked and moaned on, muttering about Tia’s inhospitable womb. Tia dared not point out that perhaps her son was to blame.
    “But there is still a chance.” Marta looked to Amytis, then to Tia. “It is our way. When the husband dies without an heir, his brother—”
    The single word came from both her mother’s and her own lips as one. Marta blinked and looked between them.
    “It is our way.” Marta glanced at Rachel against the wall, as though seeking an ally. “My second son Pedaiah is unmarried yet. Perhaps Tia could still bear a son for Shealtiel—”
    “You have had your treaty marriage with Babylon.” Amytis drew herself up, accentuating her lean height. “There will not be another.”
    Tia remained silent. Her mother and she, in agreement? Had Amytis watched her languish these seven years and regretted flinging her like day-old meat to the Judaean dogs? Did she also hope for a life with more purpose for Tia now that she had been released? Tia lifted a smile, ever hopeful that Amytis’s heart had somehow softened toward her youngest daughter.
    “Jeconiah shall hear of your refusal!” Marta stood, her chin puckering.
    Amytis huffed. “Take the news to your imprisoned husband, then. I shall not wait for his retribution.” She seemed to sense the unfairness of the moment and regret her calloused words. “Come, Tia. Let us leave these women to grieve.” She meant it kindly but it was yet another insult, the implication that Tia need not remain for any personal grief.
    Tia followed Amytis from the chamber into the hall, her strong perfume trailing. Amytis spun on her, and her heavy red robe whirled and settled. Her nostrils flared and she spoke through clenched teeth.
    “By all the gods, Tiamat! For how long will you make our family a mockery?”
    And Now Our Review Tracy Higley’s novels have taken us armchair travelers on a grand tour of the ancient world. The first stop was Petra, the famous city of stone. Then we walked the streets of the city of Roman Pompeii before it was buried in lava. In her newest release, Garden of Madness, Higley takes us further back in time to ancient Babylon where she tells the fascinating story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s descent into insanity as seen through the eyes of the Princess Tiamat. Against the picturesque backdrop of the Hanging Gardens and opulent royal palaces, Highley plants the seeds of rebellion, secret alliances and royal intrigue. At this novel reads like a page out of the Book of Daniel. And in the end, Tiamat, like Esther, is forced to place all that she has and knows on the line in order to serve the God Yahweh. Filled with the lush details and secret tidbits of a National Geographic travelogue, Garden of Madness both entertains and educates. It is Biblical fiction at its best. We highly recommend it. —E G Lewis