A Sweethaven Summer - Reviewed

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Sweethaven Summer
Guidepost Books (February 7, 2012)
by
Courtney Walsh




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.







ABOUT THE BOOK



Suzanne's daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother's history.Suzanne's three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven't spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne's letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed,

and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.



If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.

My Thoughts: Campbell's Mom, Suzanne wants to talk to her one night and tell her all about her father, when Campbell arrives at her mother's home she finds her on the floor and she never wakes up. Suzanne lost her battle with cancer and left Campbell with a lot of unanswered questions. When she arrives back at her mother's home after the funeral she finds a trunk and inside of it has pictures of friends her mother knew in Sweethaven, where she spent her summers as a teenager. She also finds cards addressed to the same friends and Campbell decides to mail them.
This leads Campbell on a journey of discovery of who she is, and who her mother was.
This is an awesome debut novel! Hard to believe this is Courtney's first book.
I was captivated from the first page and read it straight through. I highly recommend this book! It will make my top reads for the year.

YHWH The Flood, the Fish and the Giant: Ancient Mysteries Retold by GP 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.’


Heart's Safe Passage - Reviewed

Monday, February 27, 2012




Book Blurb:

One woman takes the treacherous journey toward redemption . . . and love.

All Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. But when she refuses to accompany her pregnant sister-in-law to help save her husband from an English prison during the War of 1812, Phoebe finds herself pressed aboard a British privateer.

Captain Rafe Docherty promises to get Phoebe's brother-in-law out of prison in exchange for information Rafe needs to exact revenge on the man who destroyed his family. As he realizes his attraction to Phoebe, she determines to get ashore before her patient goes into labor--and before her own heart is in danger. But an enemy in their midst threatens to end their plans--and their very lives.

My Thoughts: This book has lots of attitude! Phoebe's sister in law Belinda gets her on board a British Privateer to go and help save her husband from an English prison. Phoebe doesn't want to go. She's only going, under duress because Belinda is pregnant and could have the baby during the trip. Phoebe does not trust Rafe the captain of the ship, she believes he has his own agenda and is just using them, but she is determined to make sure the baby arrives safely no matter what she has to do.
The way Belinda and Phoebe go at each other is hilarious! I was giggling way too much! This is a great read one I highly recommend!

Rolling Pennies in The Dark - Reviewed

Friday, February 24, 2012




A heartbreaking and inspirational memoir of one man’s journey from abject childhood poverty and abuse to a high-level career as a White House writer.With humor, compassion, faith, and brutal honesty, Douglas MacKinnon tells his story of life below the poverty line and how he struggled to overcome his childhood. He shares poignant stories of his childhood, including one about rolling pennies by candlelight because the electricity had once again been cut off, and his little sister needed medication. At one point, his alcoholic parents abandoned him and his two siblings for five days, with no food, heat, or electricity in the middle of winter.

But as Doug grew, his determination to survive grew with him. Despite being accepted to the Air Force Academy directly after high school, he stayed closer to home so he could look after his younger sister. And as various opportunities opened up to him, he discovered that his heart belonged in the political arena; for it was there, he believed, that he could work for real change and bring help to those who suffered as he did as a child.

Rolling Pennies in the Dark reminds readers that it is possible to grow up in the most deplorable of conditions and still find success. More significantly, MacKinnon offers real solutions to our nation’s growing poverty problem. This is an important, essential book.

My Thoughts: Doug and his younger siblings grew up in deplorable conditions, very little food, dirty home, drinking parents who fought and threw things. Yet, at a very early age when he was sent to Parochial school he was drawn to God. A little nativity scene was on a table and he felt safe and such peace when he went by it. He asked a Nun if he could have it and she said No, but he could buy it for four quarters. He knew what four quarters were so he took four quarters from his dad's suit coat and bought that nativity scene and placed it in his bedroom.
This was a hard, yet inspirational memoir, he went from a child who was abused and went on to work in the White House for two presidents, in a Joint Command at the Pentagon, and as a director of communications for former senator Bob Dole. It is quite clear that God had his hand on him from the time he was very young. I highly recommend!

Mornings With Jesus - Review & GIVEAWAY!!!!!




Book Blurb:
"Be still and know that I am God.” is one of the most beautiful verses from the Bible, but it’s not easy to practice in this busy world. Mornings with Jesus will help you do just that—“be still” in Jesus’ beautiful and powerful presence. Fohttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifr those who are seeking a deeper experience in their relationship with Christ, Mornings with Jesus offers a fresh perspective of who Jesus is (the Healer, the Son of God, the Comforter, the Good Shepherd) and what that means for day-to-day life. With a warm and friendly voice, 365 short devotional writings on the character and teachings of Jesus encourage readers to greet each day by drawing near to Him and inviting His presence into their day. Spend time with Jesus at the beginning of each day and experience His nearness and peace in a new way throughout the year. Each day’s selection includes: • a Bible verse • an entry based on Jesus: His words, miracles, and parables; His wisdom, compassion, and comfort; His mystery, power, divinity, and humanity • a “faith step” that will inspire and challenge readers to apply the day’s message to their lives

Link to buy the book: http://ow.ly/8BbyO

Blog tour schedule: http://litfusegroup.com/blogtours/text/13452857

My Thoughts: I am really enjoying this devotional. The ladies that have contributed have written inspiring daily readings. Today's reading for February 24th talks about wise counsel, how King Rehoboam, Soloman's son made a bad decision on whose advice to take. Camy Tang who wrote today's devotional asks, how can we know that the counsel is wise? God gave us His spirit, and His spirit nudges us in ways that we don't always understand but it is toward His will. That is so true!

I have an extra copy of this book to giveaway! To enter you must be a follower of my blog and say so in your comment, leave an email address where I can reach you. To receive an extra entry you can tweet about this give away then come back and leave the tweet link in a comment. You can also blog about it and come back and leave the blog link in a comment. The giveaway will start today, Friday, February 24th and I will pull the winner on Friday, March 9th. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!

Words Spoken True




Book blurb:
Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story—and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late?

Set against the volatile backdrop of political and civil unrest in 1850s Louisville, this exciting story of love and loyalty will hold readers in its grip until the very last page. Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart once again delivers an enthralling and enduring tale for her loyal and ever-expanding fan base.

My Thoughts: I signed up for this tour, yet my book hasn't arrived. I will write a full review of this book once it arrives. There is a button on my sidebar for a contest. Please enter!

Frantic

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




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









Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:





Realms (February 7, 2012)




***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Mike Dellosso is the author of numerous novels of suspense, including Darkness Follows, Darlington Woods, and Scream. He is an adjunct professor of writing at Lancaster Bible College and frequent contributor to Christian websites and newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers association, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer’s Network, and FaithWriters, and he plans to join International Thriller Writers. He earned his BA degree from Messiah College and his MBS from Master’s International School of Divinity. He lives in Hanover, PA, with his wife and daughters. Hometown: Hanover, PA





Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Gas station attendant Marny Toogood thinks it’s just another ordinary day on the job until an urgent message from a young girl in the backseat of a car draws him into a daring rescue attempt. Now he is on the run with Esther and William Rose from their insane “uncle” who thinks it is his mission from God to protect William, a boy with incredible faith that gives him supernatural powers.






As they face kidnapping, underground cults, and other evils, can Marny trust the simple faith of a child and stand his ground against a power so twisted?






Product Details:

List Price: $13.99



Paperback: 304 pages

Publisher: Realms (February 7, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616384808

ISBN-13: 978-1616384807





AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
























    The night Marny Toogood was born it rained axheads and hammer handles.






His grandfather made a prediction, said it was an omen of some sort, that it meant Marny’s life would be stormy, full of rain clouds and lightning strikes. Wanting to prove her father wrong, Janie Toogood named her son Marnin, which means “one who brings joy,” instead of the Mitchell she and her husband had agreed on.






But in spite of Janie’s good intentions, and regardless of what his birth certificate said, Marny’s grandfather was right.






At the exact time Marny was delivered into this world and his grandfather was portending a dark future, Marny’s father was en route to the hospital from his job at Winden’s Furniture Factory where he was stuck working the graveyard shift. He’d gotten the phone call that Janie was in labor, dropped his hammer, and run out of the plant. Fifteen minutes from the hospital his pickup hit standing water, hydroplaned, and tumbled down a steep embank- ment, landing in a stand of eastern white pines. The coroner said he experienced a quick death; he did not suffer.






One week after Marny’s birth his grandfather died of a heart attack. He didn’t suffer either.






Twenty-six years and a couple of lifetimes of hurt later, Marny found himself working at Condon’s Gas ’n Go and living above the garage in a small studio apartment George Condon rented to










1

























    Mike Dellosso




him for two hundred bucks a month. It was nothing special, but it was a place to lay his head at night and dream about the dark cloud that stalked him.






But his mother had told him every day until the moment she died that behind every rain cloud is the sun, just waiting to shine its light and dry the earth’s tears.






Marny held on to that promise and thought about it every night before he succumbed to sleep and entered a world that was as unfriendly and frightening as any fairy tale forest, the place of his dreams, the only place more dark and foreboding than his life.






On the day reality collided with the world of Marny’s night- mares, it was hotter than blazes, strange for a June day in Maine. The sun sat high in the sky, and waves of heat rolled over the asphalt lot at the Gas ’n Go. The weather kept everyone indoors, which meant business was slow for a Saturday. Marny sat in the garage bay waiting for Mr. Condon to take his turn in checkers and wiped the sweat from his brow.



    Man, it’s hot.”

    Mr. Condon didn’t look up from the checkerboard. “Ayuh.




Wicked hot. Newsman said it could hit ninety.”



    “So it’ll probably get up to ninety-five.”

    Mr. Condon rubbed at his white stubble. “Ayuh.”

He was sixty-two and looked it. His leather-tough skin was




creased with deep wrinkles. Lots of smile lines. Marny had worked






for him for two years but had known the old mechanic his whole






life.



    Mr. Condon made his move then squinted at Marny. Behind




him Ed Ricker’s Dodge truck rested on the lift. The transmis-






sion had blown, and Mr. Condon should have been working






on it instead of playing checkers. But old Condon kept his own






schedule. His customers never complained. George Condon was






the best, and cheapest, mechanic around. He’d been getting cars






and trucks through one more Maine winter for forty years.



    Marny studied the checkerboard, feeling the weight of Mr.




Condon’s dark eyes on him, and was about to make his move



    2







Fr antic




when the bell chimed, signaling someone had pulled up to the pump island. Condon’s was the only full-service station left in the Down East, maybe in the whole state of Maine.





Despite the heat, Mr. Condon didn’t have one droplet of sweat on his face. “Cah’s waitin’, son.”




Marny glanced outside at the tendrils of heat wriggling above the lot, then at the checkerboard. “No cheating.”


    His opponent winked. “No promises.”




    Pushing back his chair, Marny stood and wiped more sweat







from his brow, then headed outside.






    The car at the pump was a 1990s model Ford Taurus, faded blue







with a few rust spots around the wheel wells. The windows were






rolled down, which probably meant the air-conditioning had quit






working. This was normally not a big deal in Maine, but on a rare






day like this, the driver had to be longing for cool air.






    Marny had never seen the vehicle before. The driver was a large







man, thick and broad. He had close-cropped hair and a smooth,






round face. Marny had never seen him before either.



    He approached the car and did his best to be friendly. “Mornin’.




Hot one, isn’t it?”



    The driver neither smiled nor looked at him. “Fill it up. Regular.”




    Marny headed to the rear of the car and noticed a girl in the







backseat. A woman, really, looked to be in her early twenties. She






sat with her hands in her lap, head slightly bowed. As he passed






the rear window she glanced at him, and there was something in






her eyes that spoke of sorrow and doom. Marny recognized the






look because he saw it in his own eyes every night in the mirror.






He smiled, but she quickly diverted her gaze.






    As he pumped the gas, Marny watched the girl, studied the







back of her head. She was attractive in a plain way, a natural pret-






tiness that didn’t need any help from cosmetics. Her hair was rich






brown and hung loosely around her shoulders. But it was her eyes






that had captivated him. They were as blue as the summer sky, but






so sad and empty. Marny wondered what the story was between






the man and girl. He was certainly old enough to be her father. He




3







    Mike Dellosso



looked stern and callous, maybe even cruel. Marny felt for her, for her unhappiness, her life.





He caught the man watching him in the side mirror and looked at the pump’s gauge. A second later the nozzle clicked off, and he returned it to the pump. He walked back to the driver’s window. “That’ll be forty-two.”






While the man fished around in his back pocket for his wallet, Marny glanced at the girl again, but she kept her eyes down on her hands.






You folks local?” Marny said, trying to get the man to open up a little.





    The driver handed Marny three twenties but said nothing. Marny counted off eighteen dollars in change. “You new in the





area? I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. Lately, seems more people have been moving out than in.”





Still nothing. The man took the money and started the car. Before pulling out he nodded at Marny. There was something in the way he moved his head, the way his eyes sat in their sockets, the way his forehead wrinkled ever so slightly, that made Marny shiver despite the heat.






The car rolled away from the pump, asphalt sticking to the tires, and exited the lot. Marny watched until it was nearly out of sight, then turned to head back to the garage and Mr. Condon and the game of checkers. But a crumpled piece of paper on the ground where the Taurus had been parked caught his attention. He picked it up and unfurled it. Written in all capital letters was a message:



    HE’S GOING TO KILL ME












    4





My book just arrived yesterday, I'll post a full review when I get a chance to read it.

Asenath

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




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









Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:





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.




My thoughts: This was a very different book for me. Enjoyable. One I would recommend.
 
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