Friday, February 29, 2008

The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck

FIRST - The Restorer's Journey by Sharon Hinck

It is March FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Sharon Hinck

and her book:

The Restorer's Journey

Navpress Publishing Group (February 7, 2008)


Sharon Hinck holds a BA in education, and she earned an MA in communication from Regent University in 1986. She spent ten years as the artistic director of a Christian performing arts group, CrossCurrent. That ministry included three short-term mission trips to Hong Kong. She has been a church youth worker, a choreographer and ballet teacher, a homeschool mom, a church organist, and a bookstore clerk. One day she’ll figure out what to be when she grows up, but in the meantime, she’s pouring her imagination into writing. Her stories focus on characters who confront the challenges of a life of faith. She’s published dozens of articles in magazines and book compilations, and released her first novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House), in 2006. In April 2007, she was named “Writer of the Year” at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking at conferences and retreats. She and her family make their home in Minnesota. She loves to hear from readers, so send a message through the portal into her writing attic on the “Contact Sharon” page of her website, She is also an avid blogger...visit Stories for the Hero in All of Us.

The first and second books in The Sword of Lyric series are The Restorer and The Restorer’s Son. The FIRST chapter shown here is from the third book, The Restorer's Journey. Enjoy!


Chapter One - JAKE

My mom was freaking out.

She stared out the dining room window as if major-league monsters were hiding in the darkness beyond the glass. Give me a break. Our neighborhood was as boring as they came. Ridgeview Drive’s square lawns and generic houses held nothing more menacing than basketball hoops and tire swings. Still, Mom’s back was tight, and in the shadowed reflection on the pane, I could see her biting her lip. I didn’t know what to say to make her feel better.

I ducked back into the kitchen and used a wet rag to wipe off the counters. Clumps of flour turned to paste and smeared in gunky white arcs across the surface. I shook the rag over the garbage can, the mess raining down on the other debris we’d swept up. Broken jars of pasta and rice filled the bag. I stomped it down, twist-tied the bag and jogged it out to the trashcan by the garage. Usually, I hated the chore of taking out the trash. Not tonight. Maybe if I erased the signs of our intruders, Mom would relax a little.

So Cameron and Medea dropped a few things when they were looking for supplies. No biggie. Why did my folks have such a problem with those two anyway? They’d been great to me. I trudged back into the house, rubbing my forehead. Wait. That wasn’t right. A shiver snaked through my spine. Never mind. They were probably long gone by now.

“Kitchen’s done.” I carried the broom into the dining room, hoping Mom had finished in there. But she was still hugging her arms and staring out the window.

She turned and looked at the china cabinet, then squeezed her eyes shut as if they were hurting. “Why?” she whispered.

Glass shards jutted from one cabinet door, and the other hung crooked with wood splinters poking out. Broken china covered the floor. Mom and Dad had been collecting those goofy teacups ever since they got married.

I pushed the broom against the edge of the fragments, but the chinking sound made her wince, so I stopped.

Dad strode past with an empty garbage bag from the hall closet and stopped to give my mom a squeeze. He nodded toward me. “Honey, Jake’s alive. Nothing else matters. We all got back safe.” He leaned his head against hers, and I edged toward the kitchen in case they started kissing. For an old married couple, they were a little too free with their public displays of affection. No guy wants to watch his parents act mushy.

But my mom didn’t look like she was in a kissing mood. She pressed her lips together. I had a sneaking suspicion that she was more freaked out about what had happened to my hand than our house. Like when I had cancer as a kid. She’d gotten really stressed about the details of a church fundraiser and cranky about everything that went wrong—stuff that wasn’t even important. It gave her a place to be angry when she was trying to be brave about a bigger problem.

“It’s only a piece of furniture.” Dad was doing his soothing voice. When would he catch on that only made things worse?

“Only a piece of furniture we bought as a wedding gift to each other.” She swiped at some wet spots on her face. “Only twenty years’ worth of poking around garage sales and thrift stores together. Don’t tell me what it’s only! Okay?”

“Okay.” Dad backed away from her prickles.

I made another ineffectual push with the broom. My folks didn’t argue much, but when they did, it grated like a clutch struggling to find third gear. Typical over-responsible firstborn, I wanted to fix it but didn’t know how.

Mom picked up a Delft saucer, smashed beyond repair, and laid the pieces gently into the garbage bag. Dad folded his arms and leaned against the high back of one of the chairs. “I can fix the cabinet. That splintered door will need to be replaced, but the other one just needs new hinges. I can put in new glass.” His eyes always lit up when he talked about a woodworking project. The man loved his tools.

Mom smiled at him. Her tension faded, and she got all moony-eyed, so I ducked into the kitchen just as the doorbell rang. Thank heaven. “Pizza’s here!” I yelled.

Dad paid the delivery guy, and I carried the cartons into the living room. Flopping onto one end of the couch, I pried open the lid. “Hey, who ordered green peppers? Mom, you’ve gotta quit ruining good pizza with veggies.”

That made her laugh. “We’d better save a few pieces for the other kids.” She cleared the Legos off the coffee table and handed me a napkin.

I gladly surrendered the top pizza box, along with its green pepper, and dove into the pepperoni below. “Where is everyone?”

“Karen’s spending the night at Amanda’s—trying out her new driver’s license. Jon and Anne are at Grandma’s. But if they see the pizza boxes when they get home tomorrow . . . ”

I nodded. “Yep. Pure outrage. I can hear it now. ‘It’s not fair. Jake always gets to have extra fun.’” I did a pretty good impression of the rug rats. What would the kids think if they found out what else they had missed? This had been the strangest Saturday the Mitchell family had ever seen.

I popped open a can of Dr. Pepper. My third. Hey, I’d earned some extra caffeine. “So, what do we tell the kids?”

Mom smiled and looked me up and down, probably thinking I was one of the kids. When would it sink in that I was an adult now? I guzzled a third of my pop and set it down with a thump. “We could tell them there was a burglar, but then they’d want to help the police solve the case, and they’d never stop asking questions.”

“Good point.” Mom licked sauce from her finger. “Jon and Anne would break out the detective kit you gave them for Christmas.”

Dad tore a piece of crust from his slice of pepperoni. “If we finish cleaning everything, I don’t think they’ll pay much attention. The cabinet is the only obvious damage. If they ask, we’ll just say it got bumped and fell.”

Dad wanted us to lie? So not like him. Then again, when Kieran told me Dad wasn’t originally from our world, I realized there were a lot of things he’d never been honest about. Now I was part of the family secret, too.

He rested his piece of pizza on the cardboard box and looked at Mom. “Do we need to warn them?”

“Warn them?” She mumbled around a mouth full of melted cheese.

“In case Cameron and Medea come back.” His voice was calm, but I suddenly had a hard time swallowing. Something cold twisted in me when he said their names. The same cold that had numbed my bones when I’d woken up in the attic. Why? They’d taken care of me. No, they’d threatened me. Confusing images warred inside my brain.

“You think they’ll come back?” My baritone went up in pitch, and I quickly took another sip of pop.

Dad didn’t answer for a moment. “It depends on why they came. If they plan to stay in our world, we need to find them—stop them. But my guess is that Cameron wants to return to Lyric with something from our world that he can use there. That means they’ll be back to go through the portal.”

Mom sank deeper into the couch and looked out the living room windows. At the curb, our family van shimmered beneath a streetlight.

They might be out there, too. They could be watching us right this second.

“Maybe we should call the police.” Mom’s voice sounded thin. I’d suggested that earlier. After all, someone had broken in—well, broken out.

Dad snorted. “And tell them what?”

He had a point, but it’s not like there was a rulebook for dealing with visitors from other universes. Unless you attended Star Trek conventions. “So what’s your plan?” I asked.

“I’ll get extra locks tomorrow. Maybe look into an alarm system.” Dad believed every problem could be solved with his Home Depot credit card. He turned to me. “Can you remember more about your conversations with Cameron? What did he ask you about? What did he seem interested in?”

A shudder moved through me, and pain began pulsing behind my eyes.

Mom gave Dad a worried glance, then rested a hand on my arm. “It’s okay, honey. We don’t have to talk about it right now.” She smoothed my hair back from my face.

“No problem.” I brushed her hand away, sprawled back on the couch, and studied the ceiling. “It just seems like it was all a dream.”

“What’s the last thing you remember clearly?” Dad pulled his chair closer and watched me.

“Braide Wood.” I closed my eyes and smiled. “It reminded me of summer camp. And I was so tired of running and hiding in caves. I finally felt safe. Tara fussed over me, and I taught Dustin and Aubrey how to play soccer. It felt like home.”

I struggled to remember the rest. For some reason my memories were tangled up, like the time I had a major fever and took too much Nyquil. Mom and Dad waited.

“I went to see Morsal Plains with Tara. Brutal. The grain was all black and it smelled weird. Tara told me about the attack. How Hazor poisoned it on purpose and how Susan the Restorer led the army to protect Braide Wood.” I squinted my eyes open and looked sideways at my mom. They’d told me she had ridden into battle with a sword. “Unbelievable.”

Even though she was watching me with a worried pinch to her eyes, she smiled. “I know. I lived it, and it’s hard for me to believe.”

“Anyway, I hiked back to Tara’s house, and some guys came to take me to Cameron. He made a big fuss over me. Said it was his job to welcome guests to the clans. Said I’d run into bad company but he’d make it up to me. He gave me something to drink, and there was this lady. She was amazing.” No matter how fuzzy my memories were, Medea was easy to remember. The long curly hair, the sparkling eyes, the dress that clung to all the right places. My cheeks heated. “I can’t remember everything we talked about. She made me feel important, like I wasn’t just some teenage kid. It was . . . ” I sat taller and angled away from my parents, my jaw tightening. “She helped me realize that no one else had ever really understood me. I wanted to become a guardian. I had an important job to do.”

“Jake.” Dad’s voice was sharp, and I flinched. “The woman you met was a Rhusican. They poison minds. Don’t trust everything you’re feeling right now.”

A pulsing ache grabbed the base of my neck. I pressed the heels of my hands against my eyes. Mom’s hand settled on my shoulder, and I stiffened. Weird static was messing with my head.

“Jake, they used you to find the portal. She doesn’t really understand you.” Mom’s voice was quiet and sounded far away. I felt like I was falling away inside myself. She squeezed my shoulder. “Remember my favorite psalm?”

I managed a tight smile. “How could I forget? You made us learn the whole thing one summer. ‘O Lord, you have searched me and you know me…’ blah, blah, blah.”

Despite my smart aleck tone, the words took hold and some of the static in my brain quieted.

“What’s the rest?” Dad pressed me.

What was he trying to prove? That I couldn’t think straight? I could have told him that. I struggled to form the words.

“‘You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.’” Once I got started, I rattled off the verses by rote. In some strange way, the words actually stopped the sensation of falling away inside myself.

“Sounds like there’s someone who understands you a lot better than Cameron and Medea. Remember that.” Dad stood up and tousled my hair. Then he yawned. “Let’s get some sleep.”

Mom didn’t move. She was still watching me. “How’s the hand?”

I rubbed my palm. “Still fine. Weird, huh?” I held it out.

A scar, faint as a white thread, marked the skin where broken glass had cut a deep gash an hour earlier. My lungs tightened. What did it mean?

Dad shook his head. “Come on. Bedtime.”

Mom hesitated, but then stood and gave me a quick kiss on the forehead. “Good night, Jake. We’ll talk more tomorrow.”

Oh, great. She sure loved talking. I looked at Dad. His mouth twitched. “I’ll get us signed up for some practice space at the fencing club.”

Good. He hadn’t forgotten his promise. I couldn’t make sense of my trip through the portal, or the sudden-healing thing, but I knew I wanted to learn to use a sword.

My parents gathered up the pizza stuff and carried it to the kitchen, out of sight, but not out of earshot.

“If we hide the portal stones Cameron and Medea won’t be able to go back,” Dad said over the crinkling of a sheet of aluminum foil.

Someone slammed the fridge door shut hard enough to make the salad dressing bottles rattle. “We don’t want them running around our world. They don’t belong here.” Mom sounded tense.

“I know. We have to send them back. But on our terms. Without anything that would hurt the People of the Verses. And what about Jake?”

Silence crackled, and I leaned forward from my spot on the couch.

When Mom refused to answer, Dad spoke again, so quiet I almost couldn’t hear. “We need to keep the portal available in case he’s needed there. But how will we know?”

Needed there? Did he really think . . .?

I waited for them to head back to their bedroom, then slipped down the steps from the kitchen to the basement. Most of the basement was still unfinished – except for my corner bedroom and Dad’s workbench.

I hurried into my room and shut out the world behind me. Tonight everything looked different. The movie posters, the bookshelves, the soccer team trophy. Smaller, foreign, unfamiliar.

I pulled a thumbtack from my bulletin board and scratched it across my thumb. A line of blood appeared, but in a microsecond the tiny scrape healed completely. I had assumed the healing power was some heebie-jeebie thing that Medea had given me, or that had transferred over from my interactions with Kieran.

But now that my head had stopped throbbing, I could put the pieces together. Excitement stronger than caffeine zipped around my nerve endings. My folks thought this was more than a weird effect left over from my travels through the portal. They thought I might be the next Restorer.

Fabulously enough, I received my book in the mail TODAY! I'm thoroughly excited to read it, but I have heard so much about her whole series that I went out and bought the first two as well... So, now I am fully enthralled in the first book, and will have reviews coming to you as soon as I can on not just the third book, but all three.


Shattered Justice by Karen Ball: a review

Shattered Justice by Karen Ball
Book #1 in the Family Honor Series

If you're in the mood to read something that will pull you through the absolute worse grief by introducing you to multiple characters and then brutally killing them off one by one, then by all means read this book immediately. Once again, I have to say that the reason that I read Christian fiction is for the uplifting joy of realizing again and again that God is there. I guess I'm weak and need an escape and that is what I need fiction for, but I can not handle books like this. Shattered Justice is real life in a fictious story. Real things like this happen, life like this happens. This story does have some terrible turn of events and God does get to show his love and it does end on a wonderfully happy note. It's just not my cup of tea and make-believe. But with that said, I will be reading the other two books in the series to find out what else can happen in the lives of the Justice siblings. All of that said about the context of the book, let me tell you that Karen Ball is a great author. Her writing makes you feel the realistic-ness of the story, and truly feel a part of it. She can rip your heart out and make you cry, but also giggle and laugh with the biggest grin. Even if it is not your favorite cup of tea, give her a chance, every once in a while you need some reality and see it take grief into healing.


Book #2 Kaleidoscope Eyes
Book #3 What Lies Within

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stuck in the Middle

Revell (February 1, 2008)


Virginia Smith


Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!


Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.

"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~
I haven't gotten a chance to read this one personally yet, but have it here to read. I have read a mystery previously by Ginny and absolutely loved it. If interested in mysteries you should check out my review on her mystery Bluegrass Peril.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adam by Ted Dekker

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Thomas Nelson April 1, 2008)

Ted Dekker


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.


He died once to stop the he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."

New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.
I haven't read this one yet, but it is in my to read soon. Just last month I convinced my husband to go to a Christian Fiction section in a bookstore and he purchased Thr3e by Dekker, then he started a mailing rental account and one of the first movies he rented was Thr3e. He liked it and I think he'll like this one. It is a different kind of Christian fiction for me, but it is good to have diversity. Dekker's books are obviously well researched and written to include different audiences and they are those books that are meant to make you think. And think you will...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Oak Leave by Maureen Lang

I read the first chapter of this book, The Oak Leaves, online several weeks ago, and was finally able to get it from inter-library loan this past week. I started the book last night, and could not put it down. I did sleep, but once I woke up this morning, I did not even get on my computer. I just read, stopped to make a PB&J and read. It is now almost four in the afternoon and I am finished. Maureen Lang has quite the affinity for story telling. I was completely entranced by the family heritage story that she was unrolling and could not stop until there was no more. (I'm glad there is a sequel!) As a genealogist myself, I'm very interested in learning of other peoples adventures into their heritage through newspaper entries, letters, or in this case an old diary.

Natalie, or Talie as everyone calls her is the modern mom of America. She attends her contemporary church with her husband and enjoys having her mother and sister near. Mom and baby's social group turns out to be less than she expected... and then she finds a box of heirlooms including a diary. The family legacy lies within the pages and it is not what Talie expected, but it turns out to be a curse that Lord can make into a blessing.

Other than genealogy, at one time I fancied a future as a nurse and genetics is something else that I have found intriguing. This story is one that all families should read. If something comes at you that seems terrible, there is a chance that there is good to come from it. Look for your lemonade in your lemons, and your blessings in your supposed curse.

I cannot wait to get my hands on the sequel On Sparrow Hill, to see how this story continues...

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Shadow and Night by Chris Wally CSFF

CSSF Blog Tour

Chris Wally, the Welsh geologist, teacher, and writer may be found many places... Sometimes Wales, Lebanon, and northern England for a few, but also on Wikipedia, Facebook, and his own area of webspace his website and his blog.

This week the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour for February is The Shadow and the Night by Chris Walley. This tour will run through from Feby. 18-21. Click on any of the links below to see other participants in the tour's input.

The Shadow and the Night is speculative fiction, pure and simple, learning "to fight evil without becoming evil." This book and the following sequels are not children's fiction. For me personally, I have never read a book quite like it and I must admit, as I am not finished, it is quite difficult to put down, because of the curiosity factor of what else and what next this author has put together. I find that reading something in the words of the author does well t
o sum some things up, or rather to at least touch to topic.

The book is The Shadow and Night, the first part of the trilogy whose overall title is The Lamb among the Stars. The two succeeding volumes are The Dark Foundations and The Infinite Day, which will be published in June 2008. Several things need noting. The first is that the tagline "in the tradition of C. S. Lewis and J.R. R. Tolkien" was given (not by me) to the books as much to mark out that they are British fantasy not in the tradition of J. K. Rowling (and Phillip Pullman). Yet Lewis and Tolkien are important influences. In terms of material, Lewis' science-fiction trilogy is perhaps these books' closest neighbour, and in terms of their scale and scope, a debt is owed to Lord of the Rings. Another point to be noted is that these books are neither a conscious imitation of, nor a reaction to, any existing work. The idea for them goes back nearly a quarter of a century and the first few chapters were written as long ago as 1988. In other words, the predate Pullman, Potter, and the Left Behind series.

To understand the theology of the story of the book, he has put together a great webpage "Puritans in Space". Overall, what I can tell you at this point is that Chris Walley has put together a story that all persons of intellect that enjoy a mind bending adventure will be pleased. For me, it is something that I could envision on something like the sci-fi channel, but at the same time couldn't, because it is so new and so different. I really like the way one tour participant describes it...

Imagine a perfect world. A world with no sin, no war, no murder, no theft, no need for law enforcement or weapons. A world where everyone believes in and worships the one true God. A world totally at peace. Farholme is just such a place - a man made world in the distant future many light years from earth.

Chris Walley has done a superb job of creating a perfectly believable world with characters that have depth and whom you come to care about.

 Brandon Barr

Jim Black

Justin Boyer

Grace Bridges

Jackie Castle

Carol Bruce Collett

Valerie Comer

CSFF Blog Tour

Gene Curtis

D. G. D. Davidson

Chris Deanne

Janey DeMeo

Jeff Draper

April Erwin

Marcus Goodyear

Rebecca Grabill

Jill Hart

Katie Hart

Michael Heald

Timothy Hicks

Christopher Hopper

Heather R. Hunt

Jason Joyner


Carol Keen

Mike Lynch


Rachel Marks

Shannon McNear

Melissa Meeks

Rebecca LuElla Miller

Mirtika or Mir's Here

Pamela Morrisson

Eve Nielsen

John W. Otte

John Ottinger

Deena Peterson


Steve Rice

Ashley Rutherford

Chawna Schroeder

James Somers

Rachelle Sperling

Donna Swanson

Steve Trower

Speculative Faith

Robert Treskillard

Jason Waguespac

Laura Williams

Timothy Wise

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Name is Russell Fink by Michael Snyder

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

My Name is Russell Fink

Zondervan (March 1, 2008)


Michael Snyder


Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.


Russell Fink is twenty-six years old and determined to salvage a job he hates so he can finally move out of his parents house for good. He's convinced he gave his twin sister cancer when they were nine years old. And his crazy fiancée refuses to accept the fact that their engagement really is over.

Then Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound, is found murdered.

The ensuing amateur investigation forces Russell to confront several things at once-the enormity of his family's dysfunction, the guy stalking his family, and his long-buried feelings for a most peculiar love interest.

At its heart, My Name is Russell Fink is a comedy, with sharp dialogue, characters steeped in authenticity, romance, suspense, and fresh humor. With a postmodern style similar to Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland, the author explores reconciliation, forgiveness, and faith in the midst of tragedy. No amount of neurosis or dysfunction can derail God's redemptive purposes.

So, sorry, the genealogy bug has bitten. Full review to come!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Daniel's Flutterby in process

This is a quilt that my fabulous husband picked the pattern and the fabric. This is just the beginning and center block(s)... more to come as it is processed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Healing Stones by Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Healing Stones

(Thomas Nelson January 1, 2008)


Stephen Arterburn & Nancy Rue


Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries—the nation’s largest faith-based broadcast, counseling and treatment ministry—and is the host of the nationally syndicated “New Life Live!” daily radio...

By 1996 Nancy was a full-time writer. The Christian Heritage Series made that possible. She was writing those books from the early 1990's until 2000.

And then a new opportunity came along--the Lily series. If she ever doubted that she was going to make it as a writer, man, that little red-head put those fears to rest! And, of course, Sophie followed Lily, with some teen and grown-up books in between -- plus the non-fiction books designed just for you.

Nancy and her husband live in Tennessee now, overlooking a beautiful lake, lots of sycamore trees, and the rocky Tennessee hills. They have a bright yellow power boat named BANANA SPLIT which you can find us on no matter what the weather. Marijean and her husband live nearby with my three grand-dogs and three grand-cats (and two grand-snakes . . .)


With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun.

Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw.

Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start.

Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.

An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.

My Review:
I've only just started this book so far, but it is already a page turner. It is currently an uncomfortable read, meaning it contains things that are realistic that you want to pretend do not exist in your life's emotions and such, but I think that this will end up being a necessary read to get some realistic healing and God-love. I'll post a full review in the near future.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen on PBS

Three weeks in a row, Sunday nights 9:00pm till 11:00pm on PBS!!!

• “Pride and Prejudice” (2/10-2/24, 9-11) Colin Firth (Bridget Jones’ Diary) is Mr. Darcy and Jennifer Ehle (The Coast of Utopia) is Elizabeth Bennet in the definitive adaptation of the most-loved of all Austen novels. With five daughters, no sons and an entailed estate, the elder Bennets are in dire straits as they try to arrange advantageous marriages. Wedding bells ring three times, but the path to true love is tortuous indeed. Adapted by Andrew Davies. Directed by Simon Langton. Executive producer, Michael Wearing. Produced by Sue Birtwistle. A production of BBC Television and BBC Worldwide Americas, Inc. in association with A&E Television Networks. The MASTERPIECE THEATRE broadcast of “Pride and Prejudice” is the first in the U.S. other than on A&E Television Networks.

For more details, see my schedule previous post, complete previous post or the Masterpiece Theatre website.

Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson: a review

From the back cover:
They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer…but what if you can’t tell the difference?

For security consultant Desiree Jacobs, the assignment was simple: make off with an ancient Mayan artifact and hand it over to the good guys in time to plan her wedding to ultra-fine FBI agent Tony Lucano.

Yet, in a world where no one is as they seem, Desi must decipher who the good guys are–before she ends up in the hands of a ruthless enemy.

Suddenly, artifact recovery turns into archaeological espionage, and the woman who finds all the answers must now ask questions: Who’s looting priceless antiquities underneath the nose of the baffled Mexican government? And what does a violent gang of drug and human traffickers have to do with missing artifacts?

Even with Tony on her side, Desi will need way more than luck to survive against the odds. She’ll need the truth–not just to set her free, but to liberate many innocents caught in the snare of calculating evil.

My review:
Mmmm... Romantic Suspense... Starting with Reluctant Smuggler, book three of the To Catch a Thief Series makes me desperately want to go back and find the first two novels in the series as well as look forward to others. From college, an addiction that I had was to the Jennifer Garner television show Alias, with Sydney Bristow and all her stunts. This book with Desiree and all her actions was right up my alley! Desi is not a CIA agent like Bristow, but she is the owner of HJSecurity and a master mind at getting out of tough spots. I was hooked from the beginning, and even though I chose a busy week to make this a read, I had to get it and get my fix everyday until I was through and could find out what would happen next. From breaking into a museum, to being mugged, and pushing for marriage to the hunky FBI man Tony, this girl never quits. There is action with twists and turns and as a reader it is real and riveting page turning thrills. As a person, who has adored FBI, CIA, historical Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, and the Librarian films... I never saw that coming, or that other thing, or those things... Really, there is so much that I could tell you and go on and on... But to enjoy all that this book has to offer, you really just have to read it yourself... I kid you not. Oh, and the best part about the entire thing! With all of the action and twists and turns and incredible plot ideas, Desi and Tony keep first and foremost their faith in God and through their actions of realistic people I can relate things to my calm and semi normal life to learn to be a better more Christ-like person day-by-day.

Hear the first chapter read by the author, read an excerpt, or find out about Jill Elizabeth Nelson's other books in the series off of her website.

- MJ

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Batik Stars

This year, I am putting together my first BOM (Block of the Month). Mine is Batik Stars. January's block is all finished, and here is a picture of the store example of what the finished quilt will be. All stars will be on point and not squared. - MJ

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A short meditation during lent…

A short meditation during lent…

What is crucifixion?

A medical doctor provides a physical description:

The cross is placed on the ground and the exhausted man is quickly thrown backward with his shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drives a heavy, square wrought iron nail through the wrist deep into the wood. Quickly he moves to the other side and repeats the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flex and movement. The cross is then lifted into place. The left foot is pressed backward against the right food, and with both feet extended, toes down, a nail is driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees flexed. The victim is now crucified. As he slowly sags down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating fiery pain shoots along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain; the nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the median nerves. As he pushes himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, he places the full weight on the nail through his feet. Again he feels the searing agony of the nail tearing through the nerves between the bones of his feet. As the arms fatigue, cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps comes the inability to push himself upward to breathe. Air can be drawn into the lungs but not exhaled. He fights to raise himself in order to get even one small breath. Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subside. Spasmodically, he is able to push himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. Hours pass by of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint wrenching cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, searing pain as tissue is torn form his lacerated back as he moves up and down against rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain deep in the chest as the pericardium slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. It is now almost over-the loss of tissue fluids has reached a critical level-the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood into the tissues the tortured lungs are making frantic effort to gasp in small gulps of air. He can feel the chill of death creeping through his tissues… Finally he can allow his body to die… All this the Bible records with the simple words, "and they crucified Him." (Mark 15:24)

What wondrous love is this?

Many people do not know that pain and suffering our Lord, Jesus Christ went through for us…

Because of the brutality, crucifixion was given a sentence to only its worst offenders of the law. Thieves, murderers, and rapists would be the types of creeps who got crucified. Yet, here Jesus is being crucified between two hardened criminals…

He was slain in between the sinners, for our sins as our savior.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sisters, Ink by Rebeca Seitz - CFBA

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sister's Ink

Broadman & Holman Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.

Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.

Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.


"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red

"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sisters, Ink - My Review

This month's FIRST (Fiction in Rather Short Takes) February First book is Sisters, Ink written by author Rebeca Seitz. It is also a CFBA (Christian Fiction Blog Alliance) book for next week February 6-8th. Read the first chapter by looking at my previous FIRST post... or come back later next/this week for more info and stuff on the book from CFBA.

My Review:
This was an absolutely adorable book and I do look forward to the sequel. I usually do not enjoy contemporary Christian fiction, but I really got into this book with plenty of giggles. Only two downfalls in my mind for this novel: one, two name switched editing errors, but not bad enough to destroy the book just caused a double take of confusion; two, I'm not a fan of Hollywood drama referencing, but that's just my personality. In the past year I've been getting into crafts more and more, especially quilting. With my quilting I have found just how important it is to find a group of ladies to be with for ideas as well as just plain 'ole company. Scrapbooking is something that I have not gotten into, but then I haven't tried either. Yet, with reading this book I felt that I was a part of a dear and loving group of ladies. I know that if I were to take up this as a new hobby that I would want the group of fellowship just as much. The basis of this book shows that anyone from anywhere can do anything if they try and commit themselves to it. Tandy definitely accomplished the world for herself and found love. Sometimes we are so certain that we have to do certain things that we lose sight of why we are attempting anything. This is a great book for the working woman to realize that she needs some time for life as well as a career. This is a fabulous sit down and be cozy read.