Tuesday, February 28, 2012

YHWH THE FLOOD, THE FISH & THE GIANT by G.P. TAYLOR & PAULA K. PARKER

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 (June 1, 2010)

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




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:






GP Taylor is the New York Times best selling author of such young adult novels as Shadowmancer, Wormwood, and The Tizzle Sisters. He resides in England on the banks of a river in the midst of a dark wood, an arrow's flight from the Prince Regent Hotel.





Visit the author's website.








Paula K. Parker is a U.S.-based playwright and author whose works include stage adaptations of the Jane Austen classics, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma. YESHUA: The Vine, The Demon & The Traitor, the sequel to "YHWH," is scheduled for release in the spring of 2012.





Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


YHWH is a collection of 20 Old Testament stories, re-told for the Harry Potter generation.




In a world where Children are probably more familiar with Harry Potter than Jesus, it’s often hard to encourage them to read the Bible in its traditional form. YHWH introduces the wonderful Bible stories to them in a way that captures their imagination YHWH is based on the scripture but adds description and other allegory to make the stories come alive.

The project is supported by Walk Through the Bible Ministries who teach the Bible to over 40,000 school children each year. It could be used by Christians as a tool for evangelism and would be ideal as a gift for children and young people unfamiliar with the classic Bible narratives.



Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 300 pages

Publisher: Authentic (June 1, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1860248004

ISBN-13: 978-1860248009






AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







YWHW: The Flood, The Fish & The Giant

By GP Taylor & Paula K. Parker

Authentic Media



Chapter One: The Fall



In the early light of morning, by the Tigris River that ran through the valley of Gan-Eden, a long, black serpent slithered in and out of the eucalyptus trees. The creature was followed at a distance by a small and fearful rat. Wherever the snake went, so the rat followed, but always far enough away so the bright white teeth that were hidden in the snake’s mouth could not strike it. The cobra cared for nothing but itself. It neither ate nor slept, but just slid through the undergrowth as it sought a place to hide from the sun. The serpent raised itself up and puffed out its hood, then stopped and tasted the air as it flickered its blood-red tongue. Every creature in the garden sensed the advent of death and all was silent. Sensing warmth nearby, the snake edged closer to the body of a man that lay as if unconscious in the clearing of the forest.

As the first rays of sunlight broke against the tall trees, the snake sniffed the face of the bearded creature. He smelled different from any other beast of the forest. It was then, with no human eye to see, that the snake began to slowly transform. Inch by inch, the scales of the creature quickly disintegrated and took the form of pure, white skin. As if it were being peeled, the snake changed in appearance. Its head grew and took on the countenance of a man. As the snakeskin peeled back, the rest of the body emerged. It was distinctly human, the only trace of what had been the cobra were the slitted eyes and two sharp fangs that edged his ruby lips.

Soon, the snake was no more. Its transformation was complete. The creature was angelic, tall, with long thin fingers. Waves of white hair were brushed back to reveal a chiselled face – the beauty of which no one on earth had ever seen.

‘Wormwood … do you always have to stay in that form?’ the creature asked the rat as it crawled over the stump of an old tree and looked up at him.

HE … might not see me like this. I feel safe if HE can’t see me.’ The rat replied, as it brushed its face with clawed hands that looked quite human.

HE sees everything. There is nothing in the universe that HE can’t see.’ The man replied angrily.

‘But Lucifer, HE was your friend and master,’ the rat answered without thinking.

‘As HE was yours, Wormwood. Then the Creator cast us out – just for thinking we were His equal.…’ Lucifer answered as he looked about him, knowing he was being overheard. ‘And now, not only does the man Marah inhabit this place, but the Creator in his wisdom has made that – a friend for Marah; the man created from dust – blood and gall – now has a companion.’

Lucifer pointed to the body of a woman who lay on the ground in a deep sleep. She was covered in eucalyptus leaves, her long black hair trailing in ringlets across her dark skin.

‘She is … very beautiful,’ Wormwood answered as he looked down at the woman. ‘Is she an angel?’

Lucifer looked at Marah. He traced his finger along Marah’s naked skin and dug the nail into his flesh until he came to a long wound in his side.

‘Interesting …’ Lucifer mused as he traced the wound. ‘It looks as though HE has taken a rib to form this other one.’

‘Shall we kill them?’ Wormwood asked. ‘We killed many angels in heaven until Raphael put an end to our war.’

‘Not yet,’ Lucifer answered. ‘I think that here will be a fine place to wage our war on the Creator. If HE has one weakness, it is compassion. If I were King of Heaven, I would not have allowed us to live. All HE did was cast us down to this place. Even with our rebellion, He showed kindness. How foolish is HE?’ Lucifer asked the rat.

Wormwood did not speak. He stared at the woman and watched her breathing. Lucifer reached out and touched her face.

‘What will we do with them?’ Wormwood asked.

‘There will be time; after all, we have all eternity,’ Lucifer answered quickly as he heard footsteps in the forest.

Suddenly changing back to the shape of the serpent, Lucifer slithered quickly into the undergrowth. Wormwood darted to the cover of the trees.

Gan-Eden was still. The scent of death had vanished. Marah lay on the ground as if asleep. Around him, bushes covered in blossoms were once more humming with bees. The trees shadowing him were alive with birds singing, building nests and pecking at the ripening fruit. Animals walked up to gently sniff at the sleeping humans and then wander into the brush. The footsteps drew closer and closer. From amongst the trees and bushes, a breath as warm as sunlight and deep as eternity flared the nostrils of the man as the voice echoed, ‘Marah … awake.’

Marah’s eyes shifted under closed lids and gradually opened; without turning his head, he looked around, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of Gan-Eden. Yawning he stretched, extending his arms, and touched … something.

He turned to see a figure sleeping on the ground. It was like him … but it wasn’t.

‘Creator,’ Marah asked, ‘… what … is this?’

The voice that had awakened him echoed in response, ‘She is woman. She will be your companion and your helper. Your wife. All the animals in the garden were made male and female. It was not good for you to be alone; in the entire garden, there was none equal to you. I caused you to fall into a deep sleep and took one of your ribs and, from that rib, I created her.’

Marah rose to his knees to inspect the sleeping woman. He brushed away the leaves that covered her body. Her skin was soft as a butterfly’s wings and thick dark lashes brushed cheeks the colour of peaches. Hair the shade of a raven’s wing flowed from her head, covering her to her thighs. Her lids fluttered and then opened. The eyes inspecting him were almond-shaped, their colour reflecting the grass beneath her. She looked at Marah curiously and reached to touch his face. She laughed; the sound was as light and fresh as the mist that arose each morning.

Taking her hand, Marah helped the woman to stand. Wife, he thought. A companion and a helper. Like me, but not like me.

‘You are bone of my bone,’ he told her, ‘and flesh of my flesh.’

Her brow wrinkled, as if not understanding.

Marah cupped her cheek. ‘You are “woman”,’ – then he touched his side – ‘for you were taken out of “man”.’

The woman opened her mouth, working to shape full lips. ‘Mmm … aaahhh.…’

Touching his chest, he told her, ‘I am “Marah”.’

‘Marah,’ she spoke as if tasting the word.

Pointing to her, he said, ‘Havva.’

That is good,’ the voice of the Creator echoed through the trees.

Havva looked around for the source of the voice and then looked at Marah, her brow furrowed in question.

‘That is the Creator,’ Marah said.

Havva looked at him and smiled. It was as if she knew all of what Marah spoke.

‘The Creator is good,’ Havva answered.

Marah smiled. ‘Yes, He is.’ Taking her hand, he said, ‘Now come … let me show you Gan-Eden.’

Together they walked through forests and meadows, up hills and down into valleys, enjoying the feel of soft grass beneath their feet. Marah led Havva to a river; releasing her hand, he jumped into the water, laughing. Turning, he extended his arms. ‘Water.’

‘Water,’ she laughed and jumped, gasping as the cold water hit her skin and filled her mouth and nose.

He held her hand as they waded through the water. Fish darted between the man and woman, tickling their legs and feet with brightly coloured fins. Marah showed Havva how to drink the water with cupped hands and wiped her dripping lips. Then they left the river and walked to a nearby tree. Plucking fruit from a laden bough, Marah handed one to Havva.

‘Peach,’ he bit into the ripe flesh, juice spurting and dripping to his chest. ‘Mmmm …’ he nodded.

She bit into her peach; her eyes widened at her first taste of food. She nodded and laughed as the juice ran down her chin. After eating several more peaches, they plunged back into the river to wash their skin and then laid down on the bank to rest in the sunlight.

As the sun slipped down the sky, changing from golden to orange, to disappear beyond the horizon, Marah led Havva to a spot beneath a massive oak. He showed her how to pull up armfuls of tall blades of grass and lay them on top of each other. When the pile of grass reached their knees, Marah sat down and reached up to pull Havva down next to him. He lay on his back, with his hands cushioning his head. After a moment, Havva lay next to him and placed her head on his chest. As the sky darkened the moon arose, creamy and full, and stars scattered like diamonds across the expanse. The man and woman’s breathing slowed and before they fell asleep, they heard, ‘That is very good,’ whispered across the night sky.

Through the days that followed, Marah showed Havva the length and breadth of Gan-Eden. As they wandered, they tended the plants. Marah showed Havva how to use a sharp stone to cut the pips and seeds from the fruit they ate; they stuck the seeds in the ground. ‘From these, the Creator will make more grow.’ They would climb the trees to toss down fruit for the animals that couldn’t reach it. And in the evening, the Creator would come. Not that they saw the Creator; they felt His presence as the sun warmed their skin and heard His voice whispering through the sky. They would talk about all they had done and the Creator would instruct them about the needs of the animals and plants in Gan-Eden.

Be fruitful and increase in number,’ the voice of the Creator whispered in their hearts, ‘fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’

One golden day when the warm wind blew in from the west, Marah and Havva followed the bank of the Tigris to where it met with the Euphrates to form the Great River. The waters rolled and cascaded, frothing over rocks. On the bank of the river, stood two trees. Both were gigantic, taller than any other tree in Gan-Eden and laden with ripe fruit, filling the air with spicy sweetness. As they looked across the waters, the Creator spoke. The voice echoed across the sky.

This is the centre of the garden,’ the Creator spoke above the sounds of the rushing water. ‘The trees in the middle of the garden are the tree of life’ the wind blew ruffled the leaves on the tree on the right, ‘and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.’ The leaves on the left tree waved in the breeze.‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely taste death.’

‘Marah,’ Havva asked, ‘what is “death”?’

‘I do not know,’ he told her. His face had grown solemn and thoughtful. He was not laughing now. ‘But we do not need to know. It is enough that the Creator tells us not to eat from the tree.’ He took her hand and looked into her eyes. ‘We will obey.’

She nodded hesitantly. ‘We will obey.’

As they turned to go, Havva caught sight of an animal she had not met. From a distance, it looked like the branch of a tree it curled around, but its skin glistened like a lizard.

‘Marah, what is that?’ she pointed to the snake as it bowed from the branch.

He looked. ‘That is Serpent.’

‘Why does it not come and greet us?’

Marah shrugged. ‘I know not.’ He took her hand. ‘Come, I saw pomegranates. Let’s eat some.’

As they walked away, Havva felt an itching sensation between her shoulders. Looking back, she saw the serpent watching her; it looked as though it was smiling.

Time passed slowly in Gan-Eden. Havva had grown accustomed to the land. She knew where to find the best pears and apples, when to pick the raspberries and how to choose the ripest tomatoes. All was well. The Creator walked in the land by the river and they listened to His voice as the sun set and the moon rose out of the mountains.

One morning, the sunlight streamed into her eyes and woke Havva. She looked over at Marah; he was sleeping on his side, with a large leaf covering his head. She smiled at her husband, who snorted and rubbed his nose, and snuggled into their bed. Havva stood up to gather food for Marah and herself.

Wandering, she plucked an apple from a nearby tree; the fruit was sweet and crunchy. She washed the sticky juice from her fingers. She pulled a large leaf from a tree and used it to gather fruit for Marah and herself: more apples, raspberries, dark red cherries, peaches, a small melon. When she came upon the pomegranate tree, she found herself standing near the Great River and the two trees the Creator had told them about.

The fruits on both trees were unlike any she had seen before: larger than any Havva had gathered, and their fragrance made her mouth water and filled the glade with its essence.

‘Havva,’ a voice said from deep within the glade.

She turned. There, slithering towards her was the serpent. As it neared, she could see that it began to slowly change and stand up on two legs. It looked like Marah – its eyes were tilted slits, the mouth wide. The creature shuddered joyfully.

‘How do you know my name?’ she asked.

‘We all know that Havva and Marah are favoured by the Creator,’ Serpent spoke, hissing out each word. ‘I see you are gathering food,’ it said. ‘Have you come to pick fruit from these trees?’ It walked towards the tree on the left.

‘But not fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ Havva answered.

‘Is it true that the Creator really said, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’

‘No,’ Havva said. ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but the Creator said, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’

‘You will not surely die,’ Serpent said. ‘The Creator does not want you to eat it, for He knows that when you eat the fruit, you will be wise like Him, knowing good and evil.’ Plucking a fruit, it bit into the flesh. Serpent closed its eyes and hissed, ‘No other fruit tastes so good.’

Havva took a step closer to the tree. The fruit was large and plump, its aroma filling her head. She dropped the leaf filled with the fruit she had gathered. None of the fruit I picked looks or smells as good as this, she thought. Surely becoming as wise as the Creator is a good thing.

Slowly lifting her hand, she reached up and – hesitantly – touched the nearest fruit. It was firm and ripe; one slight tug and the fruit fell into Havva’s hand. She sniffed it; the aroma was sweet and set her mouth watering. She extended her tongue and licked it. She waited … nothing happened … no death … it tasted like the dawn. She took one bite – then another and another. She consumed the fruit, grabbed another and ate it. Hand over hand, she ate several pieces of fruit, unable to assuage her hunger.

‘Havva!’ shouted another voice. She whirled around, a fruit in one hand and a half-eaten fruit in the other.

Marah stared at her, stared at her hands. ‘What have you done?’ he whispered.

Havva stepped towards her husband. ‘Marah … I woke before you … wanted to gather food … the serpent told me that the Creator didn’t want us to be like him … I ate one … the fruit is unlike any we have eaten before … nothing happened … I’m the same –’

‘No,’ he shook his head, ‘you are different….’

‘I am like the Creator….’ She lifted the uneaten fruit to his mouth. ‘Don’t you want to … be like Him?’ She lifted the other fruit and took a bite. ‘They are wonderful.’

Marah stared at his wife … opened his mouth … and took a bite.

The ground was soon littered with fruit, some eaten, some just bitten into. Other fruit was just thrown to the ground and smashed underfoot in their haste to grab more. No matter how many they ate, their hunger remained.

‘Marah …’ she said, her voice anguished. ‘Something is different.’

‘What do you mean?’ Marah asked, his mouth full of fruit.

‘I do not know. We should know,’ Havva’s voice was rough and sharp as a stone. ‘We ate the fruit … the serpent said we would be wise as the Creator and know everything.’

‘Havva …’ Marah said, ‘the serpent is not the Creator and we did as he told us, not as the Creator told us.’

Havva grabbed her waist. ‘Marah … something is different … in me.’ She doubled over, crying out in pain. ‘Something is twisting inside.’

Running to the river, Havva retched as she coughed up the half-eaten fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It twisted her guts and stuck in her throat as she retched and retched. Again and again she tried to rid herself of the pain in her stomach and her heart. She was distantly aware of Marah kneeling next to her. She heard his cries of anguish and pain as he emptied his stomach of the fruit.

Reaching out, she pulled a leaf from a nearby bush and wiped her mouth. Not enough. She grabbed another and, opening her mouth, wiped her tongue. Still not enough.

Pulling leaf after leaf, the man and woman tried to clean the feeling from their mouths, their bellies, their hearts. Shivering, Havva took fig leaves and knotted the ends, until she had formed a covering for herself. Noticing that Marah was also trembling, she formed a covering for Marah.

‘Marah … Havva …’

They looked at each other, hearts pounding.

‘The Creator,’ Marah whispered. ‘He is coming.’

‘He will see us … He will know.’ Havva said. Turning, she ran down the path, stumbling over rocks and stumps, scratching her legs on bushes, until she found four trees that leaned towards each other. Several small bushes growing at their base formed a small shelter. Dropping to her knees, she crawled inside. A moment later, Marah crawled in beside her. She could hear Marah’s heart beating in fear.

Marah … Havva … where are you?’ The leaves on the bushes trembled … ‘Marah?’

Marah looked at Havva and shook his head. ‘I must answer …’ Taking a shuddering breath, the man stuttered, ‘I-I am in here …’

Where is Havva?’

Havva looked wide-eyed at Marah, who nodded.

‘I … I am in here with Marah.’

‘Why are you in there?’

‘We heard you in the forest and we were afraid you would see … us … as we are … naked … so we hid from you.’

Who told you that you were naked?’ the Creator spoke in a sad whisper. ‘Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?

The pain in the Creator’s voice tore at Marah, the knowledge of his disobedience too heavy to confess.

‘The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’

‘Havva.’ The woman cringed under the weight of His voice. ‘What is this you have done?’

Havva’s thoughts were as rapid as her heartbeat. What can I say? How do I explain?

‘It was Serpent. He told me it would make me like you …’ her voice dropped to a tearful whisper, ‘and I ate.’

The leaves at the door to their shelter began trembling, shivering, as the wind began blowing, howling. The presence of the Creator rose above the earth, His voice swelled to cover all creation.

Serpent, because you have done this, you are cursed above all the creatures of the night. You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’

What will He do to us?’ she whispered.

‘Havva.’ The woman wrapped her arms around her legs and laid her head on her knees. ‘You will give birth to children and they will bring you pain. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’

‘Marah.’ The man turned from his wife, as the Creator spoke to him. ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it”: cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’

A sudden, sharp sound rent the air. It was unlike anything that Marah or Havva had ever heard before. It pierced their ears and tore at their hearts.

Marah … Havva…’ The Creator’s voice sounded as painful as their hearts. ‘Come here.’

Marah dropped to his knees to crawl from their hiding place; after a moment, Havva followed. Standing, they looked around. Nothing seemed different about the land … yet it was. There, by a bush, was a slaughtered sheep. Its throat was cut, blood issued from its fleece, mixing with the dust of the earth.

The voice of the Creator rose above the trees again, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’

The ground under the man and woman’s feet trembled and shook, as the sky grew blinding white. In fear, they watched as a figure descended from the clouds to stand in front of the two trees. It had the shape of a man, with wings like the mighty eagle. His face was terrible to see. In his hand was a flaming sword.

Looking at Marah and Havva, the angel lifted the sword and opened his mouth. ‘GO.’

The word echoed from one end of Gan-Eden to the other. Fire flashed from the sword; a tree near the humans erupted into flames.

Grabbing Havva’s hand, Marah began running, screaming, as first a tree and then a bush exploded before them.

They came to the edge of the river where Marah had first showed Havva how to drink and swam across the river, choking on the water that filled their nose and mouth. They crawled out of the water and collapsed on the riverbank, panting. After his heart and breathing had slowed, Marah rolled over and pulled himself to his knees. He looked up and gasped.

Havva grabbed his ankle, too afraid to look. ‘What is it?’

‘They’re gone,’ Marah’s voice was ragged.

‘What’s gone? The serpent?’

‘No,’ Marah dropped to the ground next to his wife. ‘The tree of life … it is gone. Gan-Eden has disappeared.’

Turning, Havva looked behind them. Across the river, beyond the far bank, was … nothing. There were bushes, forests, and hills; but they were not those of the garden. Arching her neck, Havva looked in one direction and then turned to look in the other. Straining her eyes, she could not see the massive tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were … gone!

‘Marah, where is it? Did the Creator destroy the land?’

‘I don’t think so. I think Gan-Eden is hidden from us. Maybe one day, He will let us return.’ He reached down and took Havva’s hand and pulled her up. ‘… For now, we must find shelter … the night is coming.’



Our Review:
This little book is a real find. It recreates the Old Testament Bible stories in a way that children love. Each chapter deals with a single Bible story and the retelling adds a richness and sense of exitement that makes the characters and the story come alive for young readers. YWHW The Fllod, The Fish & The Giant will turn reluctant readers into Bible enthusiasts. Read it with your child or grandchild...they'll love it and so will you!
-E.G.Lewis

Monday, February 27, 2012

52 THINGS WIVES NEED from their HUSBANDS by JAN PAYLEITNER

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:


Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today's Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for The Voice of the Martyrs, Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker at men's events and the author of the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 365 Ways to Say “I Love You” to Your Kids and, releasing late 2011, 52 Things Wives Need from a Husband. He has also served as an AWANA director, a wrestling coach, and executive director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative. Jay and his wife, Rita, make their home in the Chicago area, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.





Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:










For the husband who wants to live out God’s plan for his marriage, 52 Things Wives Need from Their Husbands provides a full year’s worth of advice that will put him on the right track without making him feel guilty or criticizing him for acting like a man. A great gift or men’s group resource.








Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 176 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736944710

ISBN-13: 978-0736944717



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Wives Need Their Husbands…
To Kiss the Girl


A husband and wife are driving down a country road. They’re a few years older than you are now. He’s behind the wheel. The pavement and cornfields are passing by. She breaks the silence with a sigh and says, “Remember when we were younger and we used to sit right next to each other in the car?” “I remember,” the husband replies after a moment. “But you know, I haven’t moved.”
It’s a story from way before seat-belt laws, but the sentiment still carries a bushel of truth. Men—the good ones like you and me—travel down the road of life with a sense of stability and direction. We’re not out drinking every night. We do our best to bring home a paycheck and be a good father. An affair is not an option. Neither is divorce. Our deepest need is for our bride to sit close to us and tell us—just once in a while—that we’re doing a good job. That we’re appreciated. That they look up to us and need us.
Our wives, on the other hand, slide back and forth. Like many women these days, they are getting mixed messages and giving mixed signals. They don’t seem to know what they want. A career or a houseful of babies? A new washer/dryer or a week in Aruba? A bigger house or just bigger closets? Do they want a husband who is sensitive and tender or a tattooed bad boy riding a Harley? While they’re daydreaming about what they want, we’re just two feet away and hoping they’ll ask us for it. We want to fill their every desire. We want to be their shining knight and perfect man. If only they’d slide next to us and tell us what they want.
How did we get here? Two feet and two miles apart.
Think back to not too long ago. Remember that girl you married? The girl who caught your eye. The girl you couldn’t keep your hands off of. The girl who taught you to love in brand-new ways. Romantic love. Committed love. Crazy love. Eternal love. Silly love. You may be thinking, Where did that girl go?
Gentlemen, she’s right there. That girl is inches away. She’s looking down the same road and going the same direction. She’s committed to sharing your life and sharing your bed. By the way, she’s asking the same question. Where did that boy go?
Men of courage, follow your impulse. Pull the car over. Look into her eyes, maybe for the first time in a long time. Tell her she means everything to you. Be the boy. Be the girl. Expect no less than to memorize each other’s hopes and dreams.
Steam up those car windows. With conversation, of course.


Takeaway
You did not marry to live separate lives.
“Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”


Song of Songs 8:6-7



Now Our Review:
Although the choice of 52 Things is obviously not coincidental, this is not a book that must be read one chapter a week...although that might be a good approach. Like an exercise program, sometimes it's best to start slow. After all, our ingrained habits don't change overnight. Reading a chapter a week, internalizing its message and putting it into practice, then moving onto the next step could be a useful undertaking.
Each short chapter is written in a plain and understandable way with gentle humor. They end with a short, two or three sentence summation, or takeaway. It contains straight talk on the fundamentals of building and maintaining a solid relationship with your wife. Jay Payleitner shares his wisdom and covers the things we wish someone had told us when we were young and newly married. Life would have been simpler and our marriages better. Great reading, especially for the young husband.
-E G Lewis

Friday, February 24, 2012

A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH by Donna Fletcher Crow

After reading Donna Fletcher Crow’s A Very Private Matter, I was eager to read A Darkly Hidden Truth, the second in The Monastery Murders series. I now look forward to reading her third, An Unholy Communion. I enjoyed A Darkly Hidden Truth even more than the first in this series and highly recommend it.

Ms. Crow has created a compelling mystery with the theft of an icon, incorporating murder and intrigue. She continues the subtle romance between Felicity and Antony, puts their lives at risk, and brings things to a surprising conclusion. Will Felicity reconcile with her mother, and also be reunited with Antony? Will Felicity become a nun in the end, or submit to her attraction for the admirable Antony who helps solve the mysteries they encounter … that is, if he survives kidnapping and worse? Will she accept the veil of a nun, or become a bride?

I enjoyed learning more about the rich heritage of the Christian religion, the wisdom of the saints, the inspiring Catholic liturgy and rituals, life inside a monastery, the liturgical calendar, the practices and missions of the church...all well explained. 

Also enjoyable are the relationships that Ms. Crow explores. They literally flow through this novel, and the interaction between characters is well done. I particularly liked the complexities Ms. Crow attacks between Felicity and her mother, Cynthia. Felicity resents and judges her mother harshly, yet their relationship unfolds and is resolved in a touching way.

Ms. Crow has produced a modern mystery while incorporating fascinating history. I am a slow, methodical reader, and regret that time constraints forced me to hurry through this novel faster than I wanted to. In future, I will reread it, taking my time to ponder the many historical tidbits woven throughout the book.

A mystery that is both heartwarming and inspiring with characters you will begin to like and grow to love. A Darkly Hidden Truth is not to be missed.

We are grateful to Kriegel Publications for providing us with a copy of this book for an honest review.
—Gail Lewis

Product Details:
Paperback: 366 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0857210505
ISBN-13: 978-0857210500

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

ASENATH by ANNA PATRICO

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:


Imajin Books (September 24, 2011)

***Special thanks to Anna Patricio for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Anna Patricio is a lover of ancient history, with a particular interest in Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. She is also intrigued by the Ancient Near East, though she has not delved too much into it but hopes to one day.



She undertook formal studies in Ancient History at Macquarie University. She focused mostly on Egyptology and Jewish-Christian Studies, alongside a couple of Greco-Roman units, and one on Archaeology. Though she knew there were very limited job openings for ancient history graduates, she pursued her degree anyway as it was something she had always been passionate about.



Then, about a year after her graduation, the idea to tackle historical fiction appeared in her head, and she began happily pounding away on her laptop. ASENATH is her first novel.



Recently, she traveled to Lower Egypt (specifically Cairo and the Sinai), Israel, and Jordan. She plans to return to Egypt soon, and see more of it. In the past, she has also been to Athens and Rome.



Anna is currently working on a second novel, which still takes place in Ancient Egypt, but hundreds of years after ASENATH.



Visit the author's website.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Two Destinies...One Journey of Love



In a humble fishing village on the shores of the Nile lives Asenath, a fisherman's daughter who has everything she could want. Until her perfect world is shattered.



When a warring jungle tribe ransacks the village and kidnaps her, separating her from her parents, she is forced to live as a slave. And she begins a journey that will culminate in the meeting of a handsome and kind steward named Joseph.



Like her, Joseph was taken away from his home, and it is in him that Asenath comes to find solace...and love. But just as they are beginning to form a bond, Joseph is betrayed by his master's wife and thrown into prison.



Is Asenath doomed to a lifetime of losing everything and everyone she loves?









Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 222 pages

Publisher: Imajin Books (September 24, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1926997263

ISBN-13: 978-1926997261



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







Egypt 1554 B.C.



The Nile had just flooded, leaving the ground moist, rich and black. The children of our riverside village, I among them, frolicked about in the cool, gooey earth. In the distance, the ancient river circled the land, glittering with a thousand tiny dancing lights from the sun-god's Boat of a Million Years. A breeze blew, rustling the branches of the palm trees that surrounded our home.

"Kiya!"

No sooner had I looked than a mud ball pelted me hard across the stomach.

"I'll get you for that, Menah." I bent down to gather mud in my hands when another ball landed on my back. He was a quick one, my best friend.

I had just formed a mud ball and was about to raise my arm when Menah suddenly charged forward and pounced on me.

"Now you'll get the tickle torture," he said in a mock evil voice.

"No, Menah. Please, no." But I was overcome by uncontrollable laughter.

"Menah! Kiya!" voices called out, interrupting our playful wrestling.

Our mothers approached.

"Come out now," my mother called. "It is time to prepare for the Feast of Hapi."

Covered in mud from head to toe, Menah and I scrambled toward them.

Mama shook her head, smiling. "You're such a mess."

She led me back to our hut.

"What is going to happen tonight, Mama?" I asked. "I mean, after we pray to Hapi? Will there be games?"

Mama's blue eyes twinkled against her brown skin. "I see no reason why there shouldn't be."

"And lots of food?"

"All the food you could ever want."

"May I wear my lotus necklace today?"

Years ago, when I was very young, Mama had given me a beautiful carved lapis lazuli lotus pendant strung on a simple piece of coarse rope. She told me it had been in her family for many generations and that her grandmother had received it from Hapi himself.

She ruffled my hair. "Of course. Today is, after all, a special day."

As we entered our mud hut, which had been my home since birth, I saw my father mending one of his fisherman's nets. When he saw me, he pretended to cower in fear.

"A mud monster has entered our house."

I laughed. "It's just me, Papa."

He leaned forward and squinted, as if trying to get a good look, though the gesture was comically exaggerated. "Is it? Let me see. Ah yes, it's my little Kiya."

He leapt to his feet, picked me up and swung me around, ignoring the mud that soiled his hands. I squealed with delight.

"Nakhti," Mama said. "I have to get her ready."

"Yes." Papa set me down. He gave me a gentle slap across the back, motioning for me to return to Mama.

"I get to wear the lotus today, Papa."

He smiled. "I am sure you will look very pretty."

Later that afternoon, four priests from a nearby town passed by our village. They shouldered on poles our patron god's idol, which nestled upon a bed of water lilies. A ray of sunlight bounced off the golden image and it flashed with brilliance. Behind the god was a small train of dancing priestesses. They rattled sistrums and twirled around, their white dresses billowing out like clouds.

My fellow villagers and I were assembled outside our village, awaiting the god's arrival. When he appeared, we fell to our knees and touched our foreheads to the sandy ground.

"Glorious Hapi," my father intoned. "We thank you for once again allowing your water to flow and give life. We thank you for nourishing our land and our people. We pray your sacred pitchers never cease to flow. We thank you, great god of the Nile."

My heart swelled with pride. Papa was the most renowned fisherman in our village. Though he was quite an old man - many years older than my mother - he possessed skills and strength that surpassed even those of the younger generations. Everyone thus hailed him as the favoured of the river god.

"Praise be to you, Hapi," I echoed along with the rest of my fellow villagers.

As the idol trailed away, we rose to our feet and gathered up the amulets and flowers, which we would be tossing into the Nile as offerings. It was sunset now and sheer red-orange skies cast a fiery glow upon the river's rippling surface. From a distance, we heard the warbling of river fowl and the screeching of monkeys.

We approached the riverbank. It was still soft and muddy from the inundation. We tossed our offerings in. All the while, Papa chanted hymns of praise. Afterward, we returned to the village for what we children had been anticipating the most - the games.

A kind, respectable widow named Mekten, whom everyone called "Village Mother", held a game called the "statue dance." She played a reed flute while we danced and would stop at random moments without warning. We had to freeze as soon as the music stopped. Those who were still dancing were out of the game.

My friends and I loved it so much that Mekten held several rounds of it. Unfortunately, I always lost, as I always got so caught up in the liveliness of the game. However, she awarded me a small spinning top as a prize for being the best dancer.

I danced so much that I could barely keep my eyes open as we later sat down to the feast. Papa picked me up and carried me back to our hut. I was too tired to protest. As soon as he lay me down, I fell into a deep sleep.

That night, I dreamt I was on a great winged barque sailing along the Nile. It was a bright day, with the white-golden Egyptian sun shining gloriously and flocks of ibises and herons gleaming against the clear blue sky. A group of friendly monkeys, like those who usually wandered near my family's hut, kept me company on the deck, entertaining me with their hilarious antics.

Suddenly, the skies darkened and the water began to thrash against the barque. The monkeys leapt up and down, screeching frantically. I grabbed onto the rail.

Thunder rumbled. Fierce white waves threatened to haul us overboard. The barque tipped to a dangerous level and I began to scream.

Waking, I placed my hand over my heart, which was pounding fiercely. I was about to heave a sigh of relief when I heard the rumbling from my dream. I sat up, my chest constricting in fear once more. The noise sounded like it was coming from outside our hut.

The rumbling stopped.

I heard a strange voice shouting in a language I could not understand.

My father appeared beside me. In the dim light, I could see the outline of his bony profile as he knelt by my side.

"What's that noise, Papa?"

He put his arms around me and before he could answer, a chilling scream sliced through the air. Other screams followed. Soon, the air was filled with a frightening cacophony - screams, cries and more shouts in that strange language.

Papa's grip on me tightened. "Come, Kiya. We must hide you."

The door of our hut flew open.

Two enormous, fearsome-looking warriors towered like the tallest trees. Their faces were thickly painted in bright, garish colours. They wore loincloths made of animal skin and peculiar pointed headdresses that emphasised their unusual height. In their hands were spears that glinted threateningly.

Mama screamed.

One of the warriors shouted something, while waving toward us. Another dashed forward and snatched me out of Papa's protective hold.

"Papa!"

The monster hauled me outside.

I kicked and flailed. "Papa!"

"Kiya!" Papa hurried after me.

Alas, though he was strong and agile, he was no match for these giants. They ran with such enormous strides that in no time he was out of sight.

"Papa?" I writhed about in the warrior's iron grip. "Papa!"

I felt a blow to the back of my head and the world turned black.

Cold water slapped my face. When I opened my eyes, I was staring into the massive painted face of my captor.

"Get up," he snarled. His breath was fouler than rotten fish.

I struggled to my feet. Though I was still in a daze, I dared not disobey.

The warrior grabbed my arm and led me through pitch-black darkness. I was certain he was going to kill me. My chest tightened with fear.

He led me out into a brightly lit clearing. It looked like we were in the midst of a dense jungle. A campfire crackled at the centre where the warrior's comrades sat feasting and talking.

Relief washed over me when I noticed my fellow villagers huddled together at the far end. Menah was with them.

I smiled. "Menah!"

The warrior slapped me hard across the face. "You are not to speak. If you do so again, we will kill you."

I shuddered, though I was less frightened than before now that I knew I was not alone.

The warrior dragged me over to the villagers and shoved me amongst them. "Stay with them. No talking and no trying to escape." He glared at us, then went to the fire to join the others.

Menah took my hand.

"Where are my parents?" I asked in a bare whisper.

He looked at me sadly and shook his head.

I knew what that meant. They were not there.

I suddenly threw up.

In a flash, the warrior was before us. "What's going on here?"

No one answered.

"She felt sick and vomited," our village mother Mekten said finally.

The warrior turned to his comrades and said something in their language. They laughed boisterously. He shook his head and returned to them.

Tears spilled from my eyes. Menah held me and rocked me, comforting me. I sobbed for a long time, eventually crying myself to sleep.

What followed was an arduous journey through the jungle. The scorching sun was merciless and mosquitoes bit my arms, legs and face. The entire time, our captors threatened to murder us and I might have actually died with despair had it not been for the familiar faces around me.

I do not know how far we travelled, but just as I thought we would perish, one of the warriors announced we had reached our destination.

It was early evening. We were led toward a tribal encampment illuminated by a towering bonfire. Drumbeats pounded in my ears as we drew nearer. When we entered the camp, I saw tents made of dyed animal hides, as well as poles topped with the decapitated heads of people and animals. I averted my eyes, trying to erase the horrific images from my head.

The drums were deafening as the tribespeople surrounded us. Like our captors, they were wrapped in animal skins. Their bodies were pierced in just about every part and painted in bright colours. I shuddered when a small child with painted teeth and a pierced nose came over and poked at my face.

My fellow villagers and I were lined up in front of the bonfire. I thought for sure they would murder us. I whimpered as one of the warriors strode up to us. I recognised him. He had entered my family's hut.

The warrior paced the length of our row. "Do you know why you are all here?"

No one answered.

He glared at us. "Many years ago, your Pharaoh murdered our chieftain. I am that chieftain's son and will now avenge my father's death. Until your king makes amends, we will continue to destroy your wretched country. If he does not, we will fight until Egypt is no more."

As he reached me, he stopped pacing and smiled, revealing crooked yellow teeth. "What is your name, little girl?" His voice was gentle.

"K-Kiya," I squeaked.

"What a beautiful girl you are. Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are?"

I did not answer.

"How old are you?"

"Nine."

"Ah. Perfect." His hideous grin widened. "You will be my slave, Kiya. And when your red moon comes, you will become my bride."

I stared at him, too horrified to speak.

He stepped forward. "That flower around your neck goes very well with your lovely face." He fingered the lotus pendant and I pulled back.

"Where are my parents?" I blurted.

"We left them behind, little one. We have no use for them." He laughed cruelly.

My fear was replaced by rage. "I want my parents. Bring me back to my parents."

One of the warriors rushed toward me, but the chieftain held up his hand. He stared into space for a moment. "Very well. If you work hard, I will send for your parents by the time you and I are ready to marry."

My anger began to abate. "You mean that?" I looked into his dark eyes, which were surrounded by a strange painted pattern of dots.

"Yes. So what do you say, little Kiya? Are you going to work hard?"

I hated that he called me "little Kiya." It sounded like he was trying to replace Papa. But I knew that if I wanted to see my parents again, I had to be obedient and silent.

I nodded.

"Good," he said, turning away.

"What is a red moon?" I asked.

Some of my fellow villagers stared at me, aghast, while the tribespeople roared with laughter.

The chieftain approached Mekten. "Be Kiya's advisor and explain to her what a red moon is. I am sure you know full well." He winked at her.

I felt sick at that gesture, even though I did not understand what it meant.

Mekten nodded in submission.

The chieftain waved his arm, inviting his people to pick slaves from among us.

A tall, thin woman with large bone earrings and a cold expression led Mekten and I to the chieftain's large tent. When we stepped inside, I nearly screamed. The place was festooned with more disembodied animal heads, as well as enormous wooden masks with frightening expressions. The dim light from torches cast shadows on the eerie things, making them look almost alive.

The tribeswoman pointed to a dirty mat at the far end of the tent. "You will sleep there. Go now." Mekten and I headed for the mat, but the tribeswoman grabbed Mekten's arm. "Not you. You will stay here."

I stared at them, confused, and the woman glared at me. "Go!"

I hurried over to the mat as the tribeswoman extinguished the torch, plunging the tent into complete darkness.

All was silent. Then the tent's flap rose, revealing the bulky profile of the chieftain. He shuffled inside and the flap swung closed.

Not long after, I heard Mekten crying out in fear and pain. Heavy breathing followed. The louder Mekten screamed, the heavier the breathing grew.

Though I had no idea what was happening, I knew I was hearing something bad. I covered my ears, but it was no use. Similar screams rose from the neighbouring tents. I slept amongst nightmares, waking at times to the sound of terrified cries and heartbreaking sobbing.

The following morning, Mekten acted scared of everything and everyone, which wasn't like her. I wanted to make her feel better, but I didn't know how. Even the most trivial things I did frightened her.

Throughout the day, I kept a distance from her. But at times, I tried to reach out to her. She was, after all, one of our dearest family friends.

"Mekten," I said in a timid voice. "What is a red moon?"

Mekten looked at me with sad eyes. Finally, she took a deep breath and explained everything in a shaky voice before breaking down.



Our Review:
In Asenath, Anna Patrico takes a little known character from far back in the Bible and fleshes her out. Asenath, the Egyptian wife of Joseph, son of Jacob, who became Vizier of Egypt has an equally facinating rise from poverty to the palace. The story provides a feel for how both the rich and the poor lived. Fascinating details and tidbits of daily life in ancient Egypt make Asenath and the rest of the characters real.

This book puts you beside this strong woman, making you part and parcel of her struggles. Ms Patrico sketches an ancient and epic love story with gentle phrases and insightful scenes that make the story come alive in your imagination. A truly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
-E G Lewis

Monday, February 20, 2012

SWEETER THAN BIRDSONG by Rosslyn Elliott


In this second in the award-winning Saddler's Legacy series, Rosslyn Elliott has written a stirring novel of hope and faith inspired by real historical people and events. With Ben Hanby, a genius composer, Kate Winter, one of the first female college graduates in America, and John Parker, an ex-slave who risked his life time and again to help fugitive slaves, Sweeter than Birdsong is full of real heroes to inspire us. "I hope readers will find a renewed sense of strength in their own lives," says Elliott, "knowing that change is possible, and our efforts matter. I want them to remember these unique, brave people in history who left us a shining example of what it means to live out one's beliefs with passion and commitment."

 So to celebrate the music in all of us, Rosslyn and Thomas Nelson are hosting this "sweet giveaway".


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand new iPod Nano (Winner's choice of color!)
  • Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott
  • Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on February 28th. Winner will be announced at Sweeter than Birdsong Author Chat Facebook Party on 2/28. Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, sharing a sneak peek of the next book in the series, hosting a trivia contest, and more! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, season 1 of DowntownAbbey, and a book club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Rosslyn.)


So grab your copy of Sweeter than Birdsong and join Rosslyn and friends on the evening of the 28th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 28th!


Rosslyn Elliott
Win an iPod Nano and Downtown Abbey from Rosslyn Elliott!

Enter 2/9-2/28!

OUR REVIEW:
The title of this book caught my eye because I raise small exotic birds. Anything that says "birdsong" has to be intriguing, right? Then there was the fact that this fictional novel is based on a historic family, and in Ohio, no less. We have family in and from Ohio and have a fascination for the Underground Railroad. That made it a must read!

Although a little slow in the beginning, hang in there. It gets better. Rosslyn Elliott weaves a believable story of gentile romance and intrigue. Her characters' faith brings them together and gives them the courage to stand against slavery. She has done an admirable job of researching and presenting many historic facts intertwined within the fiction. Among her characters, she even introduces John Parker, a former slave who actually employed white men in his iron foundry. She makes me want to know more. A well-written novel. 

Thank you to Litfuse and Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing us with a complimentary review copy of the book.
—Gail Lewis

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

RECONCILIATIONS by Susan Elizabeth Ball

A delicately written, but thought-provoking, story of lost love regained, and lost souls reconciled.

Ms. Ball has crafted a story that walks a thin line, and does it well. In Reconciliations, you'll encounter a full and honest treatment of significant moral issues the author does not shy away from the reality of our world but in a way that doesn't slap you in the face, or deliberately shock your sensibilities.

Kevin is an honest, but worldly man who appears quite unlucky in love. His wife, Christine, left him after adulterating their marriage with multiple affairs. The woman he dated for several months is now engaged to another man. And don't even ask about the most recent woman to enter his life!

Christine, a broken product of a dysfunctional family, continues in the way of the lost, rebounding from relationship to relationship, until one goes horribly wrong and she ends up in the hospital. Through Divine intervention (what the world sometimes misconstrues as 'coincidence') Christine and Kevin are thrown back together again, her welfare now dependent upon her ex-husband's shall we say "reluctant" as an understatement? care.

Enter Mark and Janet Vinson, and the congregation of Riverside Christian Fellowship, and the plot both deepens and softens into a genuine exhibition of Christian benevolence. Kevin and Christine must now deal not only with the turmoil of the unexpected return into each other's lives, but the inescapable and unyielding love of people committed to a faith neither Kevin nor Christine understand.

The tagline on the back cover promises, "A heart-warming story of a powerful love..." And that promise is kept between the pages of Reconciliations, the second in Ms. Ball's "Restored Hearts" series.

More about the author and this book can be found at
http://www.susaneball.com/.

Reconciliations was provided by the publisher free for this review. But then, I'd have purchased it anyway.
—Bruce Judisch