Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow/Ice Storm Hits Home

This most recent series of storms has affected a lot of areas, I know, although not everyone has been hit by the whole series. We have had some sort of precip every day since Sunday afternoon (Jan. 25, 2009). 6 inches of snow Monday (I know, that's nothing compared to what folks up north have had to deal with), and then ice. Lots of ice. I understand this ice storm started in North Texas and has wreaked havoc over a large swath of the country. It's turned back to snow now, but about twenty minutes ago I heard a loud popping and crashing sound, so I looked outside. This is what I saw when I opened my door, looking straight out on my sidewalk: (by the way this picture IS in color!)




Photobucket

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE RED SIREN: What's in a Name?


This started out to be a normal book review, but the more I thought about it, the more I found myself focused on names. I always ponder the significance of titles, and with The Red Siren, MaryLu Tyndall told a great deal about the story right in the title.

On the most obvious level, The Red Siren is the name of Faith Westcott's pirate ship. Why did she choose red? Probably because she herself is a redhead.

What's the first thing most of us think of when we read "red siren?" Personally, I think of danger, a warning of some kind of trouble. Not only is the ship dangerous, but so is the captain, the lady pirate who is not what she seems. Just as traffic needs to stop when a police or emergency vehicle passes by with its lights flashing, all other vessels need to pull aside when The Red Siren comes into view. In this case, run the other way!

Digging just a bit deeper, the siren is a reminder of the mythical creature who lured sailors to their doom. These nymphs, also know as the Lorelei in German mythology, sang beautiful, bewitching songs that the poor mariners within earshot could not resist, so that they headed toward the rocks and shattered their ships. In like manner, this redheaded beauty played the part of a damsel in distress, luring unwitting captains to come to her rescue. They didn't realize their mistake until it was too late and the pirates came out of hiding, plundering the ships and setting the crew adrift.

This is one of the most appropriate titles I have seen in a long time. It works on so many levels.

Then there are the names of the three sisters in the novel: Faith, Hope, and Grace Westcott. Such names were quite common in the 1700's, but in this case there is underlying significance for each name. When their mother was alive, these girls felt loved and secure, but it all changed after her death. At that point their names held bitter irony. Faith, the main character, felt like God had turned His back on them or didn't care, and so she had no faith in Him as a Savior or Protector. One of the themes of the novel is the conflict between the real faith of Captain Dajon Waite (his last name has some meaning as well) and her lack of faith. Her sister Hope lives in hope of a man who will give her what their father has not, and unfortunately looks in the wrong places and people for acceptance and security. The youngest sister Grace has the outward appearance of living up to her name, but her Christian works and platitudes lack true graciousness. Clearly the three of them need to know the real love, grace, and security that only God can give them. Are they going to learn in time?

Danger. Warning. Need. True love. When even the title and names tell so much about a story, you can be sure it reaches a level that few romance or historical novels ever do. MaryLu Tyndall's The Red Siren, like all of her works so far, is definitely worth investing time to read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Prayer for America as the Government Changes Hands

This is a reprint of a prayer offered up by Suzette Caldwell in on January 18, 2009 at the Crystal Cathedral. The full transcript of her remarks can be found here.

No matter who we may have voted for in the elections, we now need to pray for our leaders and our nation. Today, Inauguration Day, is such an appropriate time for us to gather together and ask God's best for us and our leaders. I felt like this prayer expressed it so well.


"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance" (Psalm 33:12).

Almighty Father, God, You merely spoke and the heavens were created. You breathed the Word, and all the stars were born. You assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs. We praise Your name forever and ever, for You possess all wisdom and power. Father, thank You for blessing the United States of America with abundance and prosperity. Thank You for surrounding our nation with Your favor, grace, and mercy. Jesus, thank You for shedding Your blood for our redemption. Holy Spirit, thank You for Your guidance and power. You are an awesome God!

Heavenly Father, let Your kingdom come and Your will be done in our nation. Your Word states that we are to pray for kings and all people who are in authority, so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives that are marked by godliness and dignity. We know that this is good and acceptable in Your sight. Today, we pray for our new President, Barack Obama, and his presidential administration. We declare that as they prepare to lead our nation, they will trust in You with all of their hearts. They will not depend on their own understanding, but they will seek Your will in all they do and we expect that You, Lord, will show them which path to take when making decisions for the American people.

We decree that our local, state, and national leaders will not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful; but their delight will be in the law of the Lord and in His law they will meditate day and night. They will be like trees planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf will not wither and whatever they do will prosper. Gracious Father, some nations boast of their chariots and horses; but we boast in the Name of the Lord, our God.

We submit to Your care, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner, Robert Gates, Eric Holder, Ken Salazar, Thomas Vilsack, Hilda Solis, Tom Daschle, Shaun Donovan, Ray LaHood, Steven Chu, Arne Duncan, Eric Shinseki, Janet Napolitano, Leon Panetta, Dennis Blair, Lisa Jackson, Robert Mueller, Lawrence Summers, James Jones, Susan Rice, Peter Orszag, Ron Kirk, Robert Gibbs, Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. Congress and all governmental officials.

Holy Spirit, unite this new administration and remind all of our leaders that they are working for the good of the nation and not for the advancement of self. Please help our leaders to put aside "politics" and operate in the best interest of the American people. Heal the wounds that negative politics, fear, and ignorance have created within our nation. Empower us, the Body of Christ, to lead the effort in the healing process. Eternal God, Lord of Heaven's Armies, we ask You to bless and protect our leaders' families. Please continue to protect our troops and our borders. Increase the courage and strength of our servicemen and women as they fight courageously for our country.

Merciful Father, we repent on behalf of our nation for our many sins. We acknowledge that our actions have created problems that only You can solve. Forgive us for all sin, including greed, arrogance, selfish ambition, disobedience, rebellion, hypocrisy, injustice, jealousy, hatred, violence, ageism, sexism, racism, and dissension. Father, forgive us for shedding innocent blood and denying Your power. We confess that we have not loved the world as You love the world. We ask You to heal our land and make us one, even as You and Jesus are One. Please have mercy upon all of us and help us! As a nation, show us those we need to forgive and help us to forgive.

Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from the evil one.

Now, unto You, the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

NOTE - Scripture References for the O.N.E. Prayer: Psalm 33:6-7, Daniel 2:20, Matthew 6:10, I Timothy 2:1-3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 4:6, Proverbs 22:4, Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV), Psalm 20:7, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:13, I Timothy 1:17.

© Copyright Hour of Power 2009. This prayer was delivered by Suzette Caldwell from the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and aired on the Hour of Power, January 18, 2009.

Monday, January 19, 2009

THE RED SIREN by MaryLu Tyndall

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:


The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Best-selling author of The Legacy of the King’s Pirates series, MaryLu Tyndall writes full time and makes her home with her husband, six children, and four cats on California’s coast. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ.

For more information on MaryLu and her upcoming releases, please visit her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601569
ISBN-13: 978-1602601567

A FEW PERSONAL COMMENTS:

Once again, MaryLu Tyndall has created a fictional world that is so real the reader can feel, hear, smell, and taste it. She mixes true history with her fiction so deftly that it makes me want to delve further into the real happenings of the time period. With her fiery lady pirate and the most proper Royal Navy captain, fireworks are to be expected. The real action is more than satisfying in so many ways. I'll be writing a more detailed review tomorrow, but for now, see for yourself just how quickly you are immersed in the world of pirates and danger.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Matthew 13: 20-21

Chapter 1


August 1713, English Channel off Portsmouth, England


This was Dajon Waite’s last chance. If he didn’t sail his father’s merchant ship and the cargo she held safely into harbor, his future would be tossed to the wind. With his head held high, he marched across the deck of the Lady Em and gazed over the choppy seas of the channel, expecting at any minute to see the lights of Portsmouth pierce the gray shroud of dusk. Another hour and his mission would be completed with success. It had taken two years before his father had trusted him to captain the most prized vessel in his merchant fleet, the Lady Em—named after Dajon’s mother, Emily—especially on a journey that had taken him past hostile France and Spain and then far into the pirate-infested waters off the African coast.

Fisting his hands on his hips, Dajon puffed out his chest and drew a deep breath of salty air and musky earth—the smell of home. Returning with a shipload of ivory, gold, and pepper from the Gold Coast, Dajon could almost see the beaming approval on his father’s sea-weathered face. Finally Dajon would prove himself an equal to his older brother, Theodore—obedient, perfect Theodore—who never let his father down. Dajon, however, had been labeled naught but capricious and unruly, the son who possessed neither the courage for command nor the brains for business.

Fog rolled in from the sea, obscuring the sunset into a dull blend of muted colors as it stole the remaining light of what had been a glorious day. Bowing his head, Dajon thanked God for His blessing and protection on the voyage.

“A sail, a sail!” a coarse voice blared from above.

Plucking the spyglass from his belt, Dajon held it to his eye. “Where away, Mules?”

“Directly off our lee, Captain.”

Dajon swerved the glass to the port and adjusted it as Cudney, his first mate, halted beside him.

“She seems to be foundering, Captain,” Mules shouted.

Through the glass, the dark outline of a ship came into focus, the whites of her sails stark against the encroaching night. Gray smoke spiraled up from her quarterdeck as sailors scrambled across her in a frenzy. The British flag flapped a harried plea from her mainmast.

“Hard to larboard,” he yelled aft, lowering the glass. “Head straight for her, Mr. Nelson.”

“Straight for her, sir.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Captain.” Cudney gave him a sideways glance. “But didn’t your father give explicit orders never to approach an unknown vessel?”

“My father is not the captain of this ship, and I’ll thank you to obey my orders without question.” Dajon stiffened his lips, tired of having his decisions challenged. True, he had failed on two of his father’s prior ventures—one to the West Indies where a hurricane sunk his ship, and the other where he ran aground on the shoals off Portugal. Neither had been his fault. But this time, things would be different. Perhaps his father would even promote Dajon to head overseer of his affairs.

With a nod, Cudney turned. “Mr. Blake, Mr. Gibes, prepare to luff, if you please.” His bellowing voice echoed over the decks, sending the men up the shrouds.

“Who is she?” Cudney held out his hand for the glass.

“A merchant ship, perhaps.” Dajon handed him the telescope then gripped the railing as the Lady Em veered to larboard, sending a spray of seawater over her decks. “But she’s British, and she’s in trouble.”

The ship lumbered over the agitated waves. Dajon watched Cudney as he steadied the glass on his eye and his boots on the sodden deck. He’d been a good first mate and a trusted friend. A low whistle spilled from his mouth as he twisted the glass for a better look.

“Pray tell, Mr. Cudney, what has caught your eye, one of those new ship’s wheels you’ve been coveting?”

“Nay, Captain. But something nearly as beautiful—a lady.”

Dajon snatched the glass back as the Lady Em climbed a rising swell and then tromped down the other side. Sails snapped in the rising wind above him. Bracing his boots on the deck, he focused the glass on the merchant ship. A woman clung to the foremast, terror distorting her lovely features. She raised a delicate hand to her forehead as if she were going to faint. Red curls fluttered in the wind behind her. Heat flooded Dajon despite the chill of the channel. Lowering the glass, he tapped it into the palm of his hand, loathing himself for his shameless reaction. Hadn’t his weakness for the female gender already caused enough pain?

Yet clearly the vessel was in trouble.

“We shall come along side her,” Dajon ordered.

Cudney glared at the ship. “Something is not right. I can feel it in my gut.”

“Nonsense. Where is your chivalry?” Dajon smiled grimly at his friend, ignoring the hair bristling on the back of his own neck.

Cudney’s dark eyes shot to Dajon. “But your father—”

“Enough!” Dajon snapped. “My father did not intend for me to allow a lady to drown. Besides, pirates would not dare sail so close to England—especially to Portsmouth, where so many of His Majesty’s warships are anchored.” Dajon glanced back at the foundering ship, now only half a knot off their bow. Smoke poured from her waist, curling like a snake into the dark sky. Left to burn, the fire would sink her within an hour. “Surely you do not suspect a woman of piracy?”

Cudney cocked one brow. “Begging your pardon, Captain, but I have seen stranger things on these seas.”

***

Faith Louise Westcott flung her red curls behind her and held a quivering hand to her breast, nausea rising in her throat at her idiotic display. How did women feign such weakness without losing the contents of their stomachs?

“They ’ave taken the bait, mistress.” A sinister chuckle filled the breeze.

“Oh, thank heavens.” Faith released the mast. Planting a hand on her hip, she gave Lucas a mischievous grin. “Well, what are you waiting for? Ready the men.”

“Aye, aye.” The bulky first mate winked, and then scuttled across the deck, his bald head gleaming in the light from the lantern hanging on the mainmast.

After checking the pistol stuffed in the sash of her gown and the one strapped to her calf, Faith sauntered to the railing to get a better look at her latest victim, a sleek, two-masted brigantine. The orange, white, and blue of the Dutch flag fluttered from her mizzen. A very nice prize indeed. One that would bring her even closer to winning the private war she waged—a war for the survival of her and her sisters.

The oncoming ship sat low in the water, its hold no doubt packed with valuable cargo. Faith grinned. With this ship and the one she had plundered earlier, loaded with precious spices and silks, she was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would provide for her independence and that of her sisters—at least the two of them that were left unfettered by matrimony.

She allowed her thoughts to drift for a moment to Charity, the oldest. Last year their father had forced her into a union with Lord Villement, a vile, perverse man who had oppressed and mistreated her beyond what a woman should endure. Faith feared for her sister’s safety and prayed for God to deliver Charity, but to no avail.

Then, of course, there was the incident with Hope, their younger sister.

That was when Faith had stopped praying.

She would rather die than see her two younger sisters fettered to abusive men, and the only way to avoid that fate was to shield them with their own fortune. Cringing, she stifled the fury bubbling in her stomach. She mustn’t think of it now. She had a ship to plunder, and this was as much for Charity as it was for any of them.

The bowsprit of the brigantine bowed in obedience to her as it plunged over the white-capped swells. Gazing into the hazy mist, Faith longed to get a peek at the ninnies who had been so easily duped by her ruse but dared not raise the spyglass to her eye. Women didn’t know how to use such contraptions, after all.

Putting on her most flirtatious smile, she waved at her prey, beckoning the fools onward, then she scanned the deck as her crew rushed to their stations. Aboard her ship, she was in control; she was master of her life, her future—here and nowhere else. And oh how she loved it!

Lucas’s large frame appeared beside her. “The rest of the men be waitin’ yer command below hatches, mistress.” He smacked his oversized lips together in a sound Faith had become accustomed to before a battle. Nodding, she scanned her ship. Wilson manned the helm, Grayson and Lambert hovered over the fire, pretending to put it out, and Kane and Mac clambered up the ratlines in a pretense of terror. She spotted Morgan pacing the special perch Faith had nailed into the mainmast just for him. She whistled and the red macaw halted, bobbed his head up and down, and squawked, “Man the guns, man the guns!”

Faith chuckled. She had purchased the bird from a trader off Morocco and named him after Captain Henry Morgan, the greatest pirate of all time. The feisty parrot had been a fine addition to her crew.

Bates, her master gunner, hobbled to her side, wringing his thick hands together in anticipation. “Can I just fire one shot at ’em, Cap’n? The guns grow cold from lack of use.” His expression twisted into a pout that reminded her of Hope, her younger sister. “I won’t hurt ’em none, ye have me word.”

“I cannot take that chance, Bates. You know the rules,” Faith said as the gunner’s soot-blackened face fell in disappointment. “No one gets hurt, or we abandon the prize. But I promise we shall test the guns soon enough.”

With a grunt, Bates wobbled away and disappeared below.

Returning her gaze to her unsuspecting prey, Faith inhaled a breath of the crisp air. Smoke bit her throat and nose, but she stifled a cough as the thrill of her impending victory charged through her, setting every nerve aflame. The merchant ship was nigh upon them. She could already make out the worried expressions upon the crew’s faces as they charged to her rescue.

This is for you, Charity, and for you, Mother.

Heavy fog blanketed the two ships in gray that darkened with each passing minute. Faith tugged her shawl tighter against her body, both to ward off the chill and to hide the pistol in her sash. A vision of her mother’s pale face formed in the fog before her, blood marring the sheets on the birthing bed where she lay.

Take care of your sisters, Faith.

A burst of wind chilled Faith’s moist cheeks. A tear splattered onto the deck by her shoes before she brushed the rest from her face. “I will, Mother. I promise.”

“Ahoy there!” A booming voice shattered her memories.

She raised her hand in greeting toward the brigantine as it heaved ten yards off their starboard beam. “Ahoy, kind sir. Thank God you have arrived in time,” she yelled back, sending the sailors scurrying across the deck. Soon, they lowered a cockboat, filled it with men, and shoved off.

A twinge of guilt poked at Faith’s resolve. These men had come to her aid with kind intentions. She swallowed hard, trying to drown her nagging conscience. They were naught but rich merchants, she told herself, and she, merely a Robin Hood of the seas, taking from the rich to feed the poor. She had exhausted all legal means of acquiring the money she needed, and present society offered her no other choice.

The boat thumped against her hull, and she nodded at Kane and Mac, who had jumped down from the shrouds and tossed the rope ladder over the side.

“Permission to come aboard?” The man who appeared to be the captain shouted toward Lucas as he swung his legs over the bulwarks, but his eyes were upon Faith.

By all means. Faith shoved a floppy fisherman’s hat atop her head, obscuring her features from his view, and smiled sweetly.

***

“Aye, I beg ye, be quick about it afore our ship burns to a cinder,” the massive bald man beckoned to Dajon.

Dajon hesitated. He knew he should obey his father’s instructions, he knew he shouldn’t risk the hoard of goods in his hold, he knew he should pay heed to the foreboding of dread that now sank like a anchor in his stomach, but all he could see was the admiring smile of the red-haired beauty, and he led his men over the bulwarks.

After directing them to assist in putting out the fire, he marched toward the dark, bald man and bowed.

“Captain Dajon Waite at your service.”

When his gaze drifted to the lady, she slunk into the shadows by the foremast, her features lost beneath the cover of her hat. Odd. Somehow he had envisioned a much warmer reception. At the very least, some display of feminine appreciation.

“Give ’em no quarter! Give ’em no quarter!” a shrill voice shrieked, drawing Dajon’s attention behind him to a large red parrot perched on a peg jutting from the mainmast.

A pinprick of fear stabbed him.

“Captain,” one of his crew called from the quarterdeck. “The ship ain’t on fire. It’s just a barrel with flaming rubbish inside it!”

The anchor that had sunk in Dajon’s stomach dropped into his boots with an ominous clank.

He spun back around, hoping for an explanation, but all he received was a sinister grin on the bald man’s mouth.

Tentacles of alarm seized Dajon, sucking away his confidence, his reason, his pride. Surely he could not have been this daft. He glanced back at the Lady Em, bobbing in the sea beside them—the pride of his father’s fleet.

“To battle, men!” The woman roared in a voice belying her gender—a voice that pummeled Dajon’s heart to dust.

Dozens of armed pirates spat from the hatches onto the deck. Brandishing weapons, they hurtled toward his startled crew. One by one, his men dropped their buckets to the wooden planks with hollow thuds and slowly raised their hands. Their anxious gazes shot to Dajon, seeking his command. The pirates chortled. Dajon’s fear exploded into a searing rage. They were surrounded.

The woman drew a pistol from her sash. Dajon could barely make out the tilted lift of her lips. He wiped the sweat from his brow and prayed to God that he would wake up from this nightmare.

“I thank you, Captain, for your chivalrous rescue.” The woman pointed her pistol at him and cocked it with a snap. “But I believe I’ll be taking over your ship.”

Friday, January 16, 2009

Winner of SEABIRD

Drum roll please--

And the winner is . . .
Jessica Thomas!

Jessica wins a copy of Seabird thanks to a comment she left on Grace Bridges' blog during the CFRB tour of the novel. Jessica as a blog of her own that you might want to check out, Where Faith Meets Science Fiction. Even the title sounds intriguing, and it also sounds like Sherry Thompson's book might be right up her alley. Hope you enjoy it, Jessica.

You never know when a chance will come up to win another book, so stay tuned! Stay tuned anyway!

Meanwhile, I hope those of you who didn't' win will succumb to the pull to buy Seabird for yourselves and/or your kin. You'll be glad you did. Amazon and Barnes and Noble each have it for $15.99, but if you are a member of B&N it's $14.39.

Oh, and you can find out more about Sherry and the book at her websites: Narentan Tales, http://www.redroom.com/author/sherry-thompson, and Khiva's Mommy (Khiva's her cat).



Friday, January 9, 2009

SEABIRD Soars to Great Heights (CFRB Blog Tour)

It's finally my turn to write something about the January book cel├Ębre for CFRB. You can go to some of the other blogs listed below to get the synopsis, but since I'm posting near the end of the week, I think I'll go into more of my personal thoughts. That makes this a very subjective review, I guess, but sometimes I think that's okay.

I first "met" Sherry through the Lost Genre Guild, so I knew her before I read the book. Her vitality, exuberance, and wit came through in her posts with the group, so before long I wanted to read the novel she attached to her signature.

If you have read even a couple of my blogs, you know I am partial to fantasies, particularly any with a Christian world view. Tolkien is on the top pedestal with C. S. Lewis very close by. In my own mind, I doubt if any other book will every replace either one of them, so if I compare another book to their work, it just means that tale is in the same vein or has some similarities. These are the standards. Having said that, I have to say that Seabird contains those elements that a good fantasy story--one that follows in the traditions set by Tolkien and Lewis--contains.

The elements that I speak of go far beyond the ones that my little brain will conjure up right now, of course.

The fight between good and evil is essential for this type of fantasy. Seabird has that conflict in abundance. Cara is pulled into the world of Narenta because of a need for the Good. Speaking of that pull, the Call is often an important part of a fantasy written from a Christian worldview. And that call goes out to someone that no one suspects is destined to do great things. Cara is not an obvious choice for a champion any more than David the shepherd. Yet the forces of Good in Narenta are all certain that she was called to help them in their hour of need.

As with Narnia and Middle Earth, there are various "people" besides the humans. Cara meets several "people" groups who are more or less on the side of Good, the most important being the
people of Alphesis, Seabirds who are the scholars and wisest of all Narentans. Yes, talking birds. This may sound like a rip off from Narnia, but it really isn't. On the Evil side,there are some really nasty werewrights ( I think it's a kind of reptilian thing if I understand correctly) and the daemagos--these are like evil sorcerers who can do incredibly ugly stuff, powered by supernatural evil.

Then there is the quest and the journey. Cara is the Outworlder called to help Narenta, but many others are involved along the way. There is a part in this quest that only Cara can play, but without the help of many who are committed to Alphesis, she would never live to complete the task. Unfortunately, some of her noble friends don't.

Beyond the actual story, I think I am drawn by the values that it upholds. That's another element in fantasies of this ilk, perhaps the most important for some of us. There is a higher power that the Good people of the land follow. Many people have compromised their values, giving in to temptations, selfishness, and the influences of the Evil forces. Those who remain true, however, will even die for their cause. Values like love, honesty, loyalty, faith, kindness, mercy, courage are all upheld. Cara herself doesn't possess most of them, but she learns from her experiences and from her comrades. Hopefully, readers will also learn and take note.

I thoroughly enjoyed Seabird, and I believe those who enjoy fantasies, young adult or old, will also enjoy it. There are certainly some creepy parts and battle scenes, but it isn't really gory. It isn't so much a happily-ever-after book, yet the ending should satisfy the reader. There is, however, room for sequels to finish the tale even though one segment does actually end with this novel.

I will be giving away a copy of Seabird next Monday (Jan. 11). To get in this drawing, leave a comment on one of my Seabird posts or one of those posted by other CFRB bloggers. Please leave an email address in your comment, though, so that I can reach you.




Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grand RE-opening for Teenage Magazine!!



TEENAGE MAGAZINE PRESENTS:
THE GRAND RE-OPENING OF A WHOLE NEW MAGAZINE!

While we may have been on the fritz for a time, we are now re-opening with new goals and a vision for a much bigger future! Starting January 4, 2009, we will be starting up again with hopes of new ideas and new writers to be added to our circle.

We are now looking for YOUR short stories/fictional pieces, poems, articles and more! To submit, please visit our web site and take a look at the easy to follow guidelines to get started.

We are also looking for teens who are willing and want to be a part of our editorial team. If you are interested in helping out, you can contact one of our editors through TeenAge. We would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you for staying tuned in and your patience as we re-model and do our best to provide a fun and interesting magazine for teens!

Come check us out--new poetry and short stories have now been added!

~The Editors At TeenAge

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! No, Wait...It Really IS a Bird! A SEABIRD!



Yes, this month the Christian Fiction Review Blog's book tour is for the birds! We are touring Seabird by Sherry Thompson, a most fascinating lady who likes cats, filk, and fantasy, and loves God. I'll be reviewing the book on Wednesday (although if you search the archives, you'll find an earlier review I did on this fantasy), but other members of the CFRB will be posting items between January 4th and the 10th.

I invite you to stop by all the blogs as we always seem to come up with different takes on the books we read.

Oh, and did I mention that I will be giving away a copy of Seabird to one of you who leave comments? Not just here but on the other CFRB blogs as well. Just make sure you leave your email so that we can get in touch with you if your name is drawn.


SYNOPSIS OF SEABIRD

When high school senior Cara Marshall is transported to Narenta, she is proclaimed champion of its people against the daemagos-a cadre of sorcerers. Amid the grateful welcomes, Cara protests that neither the title nor the mission is hers.

"They've got the wrong person and they're going to get me killed because they won't admit it."

Is Cara's world-napping a mistake? The daemagos don't care as long as she's dead. Cara's brief attempt at finding a way home mutates into a nightmarish blur of hiding and flight from remorseless enemies.

Pursued by ruthless werewright warriors, vicious serpent-hawks, and the sorcerers, she is simultaneously overwhelmed by the trust the Narentan people show in her alleged power as the Outworlder and their champion. In whom dare she place her own trust when assassins lurk in the shadows amidst those who welcome her?

As she races across an eerie and perilous ancient world in search of the daemagos' secret power, Cara must also find the strength to face tragedy, grief and doubt. With little time left to aid the Tethran kingdom and her remaining companions, Cara grapples to perceive the essence of a hero's heart and make it her own.

Grounded firmly in the tradition of C.S. Lewis, this character-driven first installment of The Narentan Tumults is an epic tale of adventure, courage and faith.





Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.

Friday, January 2, 2009

GATEKEEPERS by Robert Liparulo: A FIRST Look



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his book's FIRST chapter!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:

Robert Liparulo

and the book:

Gatekeepers

(Book 3 in The Dreamhouse Kings series)
Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Robert Liparulo has received rave reviews for both his adult novels (Comes a Horseman, Germ, and Deadfall) and the first two novels in his Dreamhouse Kings series for young adults (House of Dark Shadows, Watcher in the Woods). He is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Visit the author's website.

Here are some of his titles:

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Book #1)
Watcher in the Woods: (Dreamhouse Kings Book #2)
Comes a Horseman
Germ
Deadfall

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595544984
ISBN-13: 978-1595544988

MY REVIEW:

At the very beginning of the book the author warned us to read books one and two before starting on Gatekeepers. Since I haven't had a chance to read those volumes, I was afraid I might be hopelessly confused and even bored. Nevertheless, I plowed into the story, and within a very few minutes I was racing through the pages as if I were in some competition to finish first. While it is true that I obviously dropped in to the middle of a tale, it was much easier to follow than, say, an episode of Lost after missing two weeks. The lack of foundation also didn't make it any less creepy or exciting, either. One thing for sure, though: I will have to buy the first two books in the series as well as book four. The thriller is compelling, engaging, and intelligent. And although it is marketed for Young Adults, don't let that stop anyone over 21 from reading it. As is often the case, YA mainly indicated that the heroes are teenagers. It looks like I will be adding Robert Liparulo to my list of special authors. You know: the ones whose books I can depend on to be home runs.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Tuesday, 6:58 P.M.

Pinedale, California

Xander’s words struck David’s heart like a musket ball.

He reeled back, then grabbed the collar of his brother’s grimy Confederate coat. His eyes stung, whether from the tears squeezing around them or the sand whipping through the room, he didn’t know. He pulled his face to within inches of Xander’s.

“You . . . you found her?” he said. “Xander, you found Mom?”

He looked over Xander’s shoulder to the portal door, which had slammed shut as soon as Xander stumbled through. The two boys knelt in the center of the antechamber. Wind billowed their hair. It whooshed in under the door, pulling back what belonged to the Civil War world from which Xander had just stepped. The smell of smoke and gunpowder was so strong, David could taste it.

He shook Xander. “Where is she? Why didn’t you bring her?”

His heart was going crazy, like a ferret racing around inside his chest, more frantic than ever. Twelve-year-olds didn’t have heart attacks, did they?

Xander leaned back and sat on his heels. His bottom lip trembled, and his chest rose and fell as he tried to catch his breath. The wind plucked a leaf from his hair, whirled it through the air, then sucked it under the door.

“Xander!” David said. “Where’s Mom?”

Xander lowered his head. “I couldn’t . . .” he said. “I couldn’t get her. You gotta go over, Dae. You gotta bring her back!”

“Me?” A heavy weight pushed on David’s chest, smashing the ferret between sternum and spine. He rose, leaped for the door, and tugged on the locked handle.

He wore a gray hat (“It’s a kepi,” Dad would tell him) and jacket, like Xander’s blue ones. They had discovered that it took wearing or holding three items from the antechamber to unlock the portal door. He needed one more.

“Xander, you said found her! ”

Xander shook his head. “I think I saw her going into a tent, but it was at the other end of the camp. I couldn’t get to her.”

David’s mouth dropped open. “That’s not finding her! I thought I saw her, too, the other day in the World War II world. . .”

“Dae, listen.” Xander pushed himself up and gripped David’s shoulders. “She saw the message we left. She saw Bob.”

Bob was the cartoon face and family mascot since Dad was a kid, drawn on notes and birthday cards. When David and Xander had been in Ulysses S. Grant’s Union camp the night before, Xander had drawn it on a tent. It was their way of letting Mom know they were looking for her.

“She wrote back!” Xander said. “David, she’s there!”

“But . . .” David didn’t know if he wanted to scream or cry or punch his brother. “Why didn’t you go get her?”

“Something was happening on the battlefield. They were rounding up all the soldiers and herding us toward the front line. I tried to get to her, but they kept grabbing me, pushing me out of camp. When I broke away—“ Xander’s face became hard. “They called me a deserter. That quick, I was a deserter. One of them shot at me! I barely got back to the portal.” He shook his head. “You gotta go! Now! Before she’s gone, or the portal changes, or . . . I don’t know.”

Yes . . . no! David’s stomach hurt. His brain was throbbing against his skull. His broken arm started to ache again, and he rubbed the cast. “Xander, I can’t. They almost killed me yesterday.”

“That’s because you were a gray-coat.” Xander began taking off his blue jacket. “Wear this one.”

“Why can’t you? Just tell them—”

“I’ll never make it,” Xander said. “They’ll throw me in the stockade for deserting—if they don’t shoot me first.”

“They’ll do the same to me.” David hated how whiney it came out.

“You’re just a kid. They’ll see that.”

“I’m twelve, Xander. Only three years younger than you.”

“That’s the difference between fighting and not, Dae.” He held the jacket open. “I know it was really scary before, but this time you’ll be on the right side.”

David looked around the small room. He said, “Where’s the rifle you took when you went over? The Harper’s Ferry musket?”

His brother gazed at his empty hand. He scanned the floor. “I must have dropped it one of the times I fell. I was just trying to stay alive. I didn’t notice.” He shook the jacket. “Come on.”

David shrugged out of the gray jacket he was wearing. He tossed it onto the bench and reluctantly slipped into the one Xander held. He pulled the left side over his cast.

Xander buttoned it for him. He said, “The tent I saw her go into was near the back of the camp, on the other side from where I drew Bob.” He lifted the empty sleeve and let it flop down. He smiled. “Looks like you lost your arm in battle.”

“See? They’ll think I can fight, that I have fought.”

“I was just kidding.” He took the gray kepi off David’s head and replaced it with the blue one. Then he turned to the bench and hooks, looking for another item.

“Xander, listen,” David said. “You don’t know what’s been happening here. There are two cops downstairs.”

Xander froze in his reach for a canteen. “What?” His head pivoted toward the door opposite the portal, as though he could see through it into the hallway beyond, down the stairs, around the corner, and into the foyer. Or like he expected the cops to burst through. “What are they doing here?”

“They’re trying to get us out of the house. Taksidian’s with them.” Just thinking of the creepy guy who was responsible for his broken arm frightened David—but not as much as the thought of getting hauled away when they were so close to rescuing Mom. “Gimme that,” he said, waggling his fingers at the canteen.

Xander snatched it off the hook and looped the strap over David’s head. “Where’s Dad?”

“They put him in handcuffs. He told me to come get you. That’s why I was here when you came through.”

“Handcuffs!”

“And one more thing,” David said. He closed his eyes, feeling like the jacket had just gained twenty pounds. “Clayton, that kid who wanted to pound me at school? He came through the portal in the linen closet.” He opened one eye to see his brother’s shocked expression.

“How long was I gone?” Xander said. “Where is he now?”

“I pushed him back in. He returned to the school, but he might . . . come back.”

“Great.” Xander glanced over his shoulder at the hallway door again, then back at David. “Anything else I should know?”

David shook his head. “I guess if I die, I won’t have to go to school tomorrow.” He smiled weakly.

The school year—seventh grade for David, tenth for Xander—had started just yesterday: two days of classes. Mom had been kidnapped the day before that. David couldn’t believe they’d even gone to school under the circumstances, but Dad, who was the new principal, had insisted they keep up normal appearances so they wouldn’t attract suspicion.

Lot of good it did, David thought, thinking of the cops downstairs.

“I don’t know,” Xander said. “Dad would probably figure out a way to get your body there.”

David’s expression remained grim.

“You’ll be fine.”

“Don’t get taken away,” David told his brother. “Don’t leave with me over there. Don’t leave me alone in this house when I come back. Don’t—“

Xander touched his fingers to David’s lips. “I won’t leave,” he said. “I’ll go see what’s happening downstairs, but I won’t leave. No way, no how. Okay? Besides—“ He smiled, but David saw how hard it was for him to do it. “You’ll have Mom with you when you come back. Right?”

It was David’s turn to smile, and he found it wasn’t so hard to do. “Yeah.” He turned, took a deep breath, and opened the portal door.