September 30, 2010

Febreze Set & Refresh Review & Giveaway

I love love love my home to smell fresh!! Sometimes I worry that I am too much a freak about how my home smells. Having a house with two cats and two children (one tween and the other a teen) it gets pretty bad sometimes! I was THRILLED when Febreze and BlogSpark contacted me to review Febreze's new Set & Refresh product.

When I received the product, I immediately started thinking of where to put them. The first went in the laundry room, where we keep the kitty litter. The second one went on the back of the toilet in the kids' bathroom. I must say that I am THRILLED with this product!!! I was a little hesitant at first that it wouldn't work well but I was definitely proven wrong.  The kids' bathroom has never smelled fresher!!  The laundry room is not as strong smelling but I think it's because the scent is not as strong as the one in the bathroom.

According to Febreze:  Set & Refresh lasts noticeably longer than cones because it slowly releases scented oils. Also, the cleanly-designed Set & Refresh looks attractive for the entire time it freshens your home.

It's such an easy product to use.  The scented oil comes in a small plastic cartridge that you just slip into the holder.  The scent is released automatically without having to use batteries.  It comes in six scents:  Meadows & Rain, Linen & Sky, Spring & Renewal, Apple Spice & Delight, Hawaiian Aloha and Thai Dragon Fruit.


Febreze wants to give you an opportunity to have your own Febreze Set & Refresh. 
Three of my readers will receive a $5 Walmart Gift Card to use to purchase your own Set & Refresh. 

To Enter:
Leave me a comment letting me know what scent you would enjoy.

For Bonus Entry:
Become a follower of my blog & let me know.

Good luck to all!!  I will draw a winner on Saturday, October 9. 

September 21, 2010

Book Review: A Very Private Grave (Book 1: The Monastery Murders)

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:

A Very Private Grave (Book 1: The Monastery Murders)

Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Donna Fletcher Crow for sending me a review copy.***


Donna Fletcher Crow is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, primarily novels dealing with British history.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1854249681
ISBN-13: 978-1854249685


Felicity flung her history book against the wall. She wasn’t studying for the priesthood to learn about ancient saints. She wanted to bring justice to this screwed-up world. Children were starving in Africa, war was ravaging the Middle East, women everywhere were treated as inferiors. Even here in England—

She stopped her internal rant when she realized the crash of her book had obscured the knock at her door. Reluctantly she picked up the book, noting with satisfaction the smudge it had left on the wall, and went into the hall. Her groan wasn’t entirely internal when she made out the black cassock and grey scapular of her caller through the glass panel of the door. She couldn’t have been in less of a mood to see one of the long-faced monks who ran the College of the Transfiguration which she had chosen to attend in a moment of temporary insanity. She jerked the door open with a bang.

“Father Dominic!” Felicity was immediately sorry for her surly mood. Fr. Dominic was an entirely different matter. She was always happy to see him. “I didn’t realize you were back from your pilgrimage.” She held the door wide for him as he limped down the hall to her living room.

“Just returned, my dear. Just returned.” As he spoke he smiled with a twinkle in his eyes that belied his 85 years, but he couldn’t quite suppress a small sigh as he lowered himself stiffly onto her sofa.

“I’ll put the kettle on.” Felicity turned toward her small kitchen. “I’m so sorry I don’t have any scones.”

“No, no. Just tea today— black.”

She looked at him, puzzled for a moment, then remembered. Oh, yes— today was Ash Wednesday. Solemn fast and all that. Felicity mentally rolled her eyes as she filled the kettle with water and clicked it on.

A few minutes later she filled his cup with a steaming, amber stream of his favorite Yorkshire Gold tea. The Community had a year or two ago started serving a cheaper blend of tea and donating the money saved thereby to the African Children’s Fund Fr. Dominic chaired— a worthy cause, but the tea was dreadful.

He raised his cup, “Oh, who could ask for more? The nectar of the gods.” Still, she knew he was missing her scones for which he sometimes provided little jars of quince jam from the community kitchen. And at Christmas he had brought her favorite— slices of dark, rich fruit cake encased in marzipan an inch thick.

And yet today she wondered if he noticed what he was or wasn’t eating at all, he was so animated with his plans for the major funding drive the Children’s Fund was set to launch. “If one puts together abortion, infant mortality, AIDS and traumatic deaths, South Africa’s daily death toll is appalling. Thousands die in a matter of months. If this were a war, such troop causalities would not be acceptable. The entire future of that nation— the whole continent, really— is at stake. They simply cannot afford to lose so many of their people— especially the children who are the future. If you don’t maintain health and keep order, instability, violence and poverty tear a country apart.”

Felicity nodded vigorously. Yes, this was more like it. This was what she wanted to hear about, not some useless church history nonsense. Fr. Dominic had spent his life working in South Africa, and today his passion made every word strike her heart. “And it isn’t just South Africa, the rest of the continent looks to them— to us— for stability. If South Africa fails, millions of Africans will curse us— we who stand by and let it happen.”

Still, there was hope, Dominic had talked to key people while on pilgrimage and had secured a source for a vast amount for the fund, although he didn't say what that source was. “This will be enough to build a first rate hospital for AIDS babies in Africa and fund a research wing for prevention and cure. There are good leaders in the government. There are people working for justice. If we can just give the people hope to hold on— "

His eyes took on a dreamy look and a little smile played around his mouth. "Hope. That’s what it’s always been about. Through the centuries . . . At last, the treasure to be put to a truly worthy use. . ." He ducked his head and took a quick sip of tea. “Forgive me, I’ve said too much.” He became suddenly thoughtful and lapsed into a most uncharacteristic silence. All Felicity’s best efforts couldn’t coax any more stories from him. Perhaps it was just the solemnity of the day, but Felicity did miss his stories— even the ones she had heard multiple times.

He drained his cup and set it down. “Ah, thank you my dear. Always a pleasure to be in your bright company. But now I must be getting back up the hill. Father Superior has asked me to do the ashing at mass, so I must prepare.” He struggled to his feet, his broad-shouldered, once-muscular frame revealing gauntness under the weight of his black woolen cassock, as did the folds of flesh that hung beneath his square jaw.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” he patted the canvas scrip which hung at his side from a strap slung across his chest. “I thought this might interest you.” He held out a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied up with old-fashioned string. His hand shook ever so slightly as Felicity took it from him. The gesture was so endearing: his shyness charming; his eagerness humbling. If the circumstances had been vastly different he could have been a suitor offering jewels to his beloved, or perhaps in an earlier age a troubadour bestowing an ode to his lady. And oddly enough, Felicity had the distinct impression that he hadn’t at all forgotten, but rather that delivering this small package had been the sole object of his visit. One might almost say his mission.

Felicity couldn’t help herself. She stepped forward and kissed him on his cheek. “Thank you, Father.”

Unexpectedly he placed his hands on each side of her forehead. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.” She felt a warmth from his hands that infused her whole head and radiated toward her body as if she were being bathed in warm oil. She almost fancied a faint scent of spice as he made the sign of the cross over her.

Moving inside a bubble of hushed awe, she held the door for him and he walked out slowly, as if reluctant to leave, stepping carefully to avoid limping. “I’ll see you at mass, Father.”

She shut the door behind him and turned to the window to watch his slow progress down the uneven sidewalk, his grey scapular blowing in the wind. Somehow she wanted to call out to him, to cling to the moment, but already it was passing, the normality of the day moving in on a holy moment. Yet even as she turned away from the window, the warmth of his touch remained on her head. She turned back one last time, her hand held out to him, but no one was there. Only a fleeting shadow brushed the corner of her eye. She shivered, but when she blinked the sky was clear.

"Right. Back to the real world." Felicity spoke aloud to make herself focus. She looked longingly at the small brown package in her hand. It felt like a book. A very slim volume. Had Father D. found a publisher for his poetry? Her fingers plucked at the string. No. If this was a collection of her friend’s poetry perusing it must not be rushed. Reading it would be her treat when she finished the work she had set for herself for the day. Lectures had been cancelled to mark the solemnity, but essays would still be due when they were due. With a sigh she slipped the gift into one of the copious patch pockets of her skirt and returned to the tome on the Anglo-Saxon church Fr. Antony had assigned, forcing herself to concentrate on its obscure irrelevancies.

That had been the hardest thing she had found about adjusting to her first year at theological college— the constant pressure for work, the lack of time to pursue her own interests— and that in a monastery, even. You really would think, living with a bunch of monks and future priests you'd have all the time in the world. Felicity shook her head.

And besides that, there was no margin for error on her part. As one of only four women among the student body of forty-some— and the only American— Felicity felt a double burden to reach the highest standards possible. This was the first year the Anglo-Catholic College of the Transfiguration had accepted women as ordinands, although they were still housed off campus awaiting alterations to the dormitories. Before "the Great Change" a few women enrolled as students, but were not allowed equal status with the male ordinands. Last year, however, the college had submitted to the winds of change and the powers that be, so now the women had full status— and double pressure.

Felicity, however was never one to let such barriers discourage her. She could rise to any challenge and her determination to succeed in this male-dominated world knew no limits. Anyway, she had few complaints. She had been warmly welcomed— by most. A handful of ordinands and perhaps two or three of the monks or lay teachers were less warm— whether because she was female or because she was American she wasn’t sure.

Two hours later the insistent ringing of the community bell called her back from her reading just in time to fling a long black cassock on over her shetland sweater and dash across the street and up the hill to the Community grounds. Her long legs carried her the distance in under three minutes— she had timed it once. Once inside the high stone wall enclosing the Community she slowed her pace. It never failed. No matter how irritated she became with all the ancient ritual and nonsense of the place, there was something about the storybook quality of it all that got through to her in her quieter moments.

The spicy scent of incense met her at the door of the church. She dipped her finger in the bowl of holy water and turned to share it with the brother just behind her. Shy Br. Matthew extended a plump finger without meeting her eyes. They each crossed themselves and slipped into their seats in the choir.

“Miserere mei, Deus. . .” The choir and cantors had practiced for weeks to be able to sing Psalm 51 to the haunting melody composed by Allegri. The words ascended to the vaulted ceiling; the echoes reverberated. Candles flickered in the shadowed corners. She had been here for six months— long enough for the uniqueness of it all to have palled to boredom— but somehow there was a fascination she couldn't define. “Mystery,” the monks would tell her. And she could do no better.

What was the right term to describe how she was living? Counter-cultural existence? Alternate lifestyle? She pondered for a moment, then smiled. Parallel universe. That was it. She was definitely living in a parallel universe. The rest of the world was out there, going about its everyday life, with no idea that this world existed alongside of it.

It was a wonderful, cozy, secretive feeling as she thought of bankers and shopkeepers rushing home after a busy day, mothers preparing dinner for hungry school children, farmers milking their cows— all over this little green island the workaday world hummed along to the pace of modern life. And here she was on a verdant hillside in Yorkshire living a life hardly anyone knew even existed. Harry Potter. It was a very Harry Potter experience.

She forced her attention back to the penitential service with its weighty readings, somber plainchant responses, and minor key music set against purple vestments. Only when they came to the blessing of the ashes did she realize Fr. Dominic wasn’t in his usual place. Her disappointment was sharp. He had definitely said he was to do the imposition of the ashes and she had felt receiving the ashen cross on her forehead from that dear man would give the ancient ritual added meaning. Instead, Fr. Antony, one of the secular priests who lectured at the college, not even one of the monastic community, stood to hold the small pot of palm ashes while Fr. Anselm, the Superior of the Community, blessed them with holy water and incense.

Felicity knelt at the altar rail, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes were cold, a sooty mark of grief, gritty on her forehead.

“Amen,” she responded automatically.

She was back in her seat, turning ahead to the final hymn, “Forty Days and Forty Nights,” when she heard the soft slapping of sandals on the stone floor. Oh, there’s Fr. Dominic. She relaxed at the thought, putting away her worries that he had been taken suddenly ill. But her relief was short-lived when Fr. Clement, the Principal of the college, and Jonathan Breen, a scholar making a retreat at the monastery, slipped to the altar for their ashes.

The final notes of the postlude were still echoing high overhead when Felicity rose from her seat and hurried outside. Dinner, a vegetarian Lenten meal, would start in the refectory almost immediately and it wouldn’t do to be late. If she hurried, though, she could just dash back to her flat and pick up a book of Latin poetry for Fr. Dominic. She had a new volume of Horace, and she knew Fr. D loved the Roman's half Stoic, half Epicurean philosophy. He would have time to enjoy what he called his “guilty pleasure” while he recuperated from his indisposition.

She bounded up the single flight of stairs, flung open her door and came to a sudden halt. “Oh!” The cry was knocked from her like a punch in the stomach. She couldn’t believe it. She backed against the wall, closing her eyes in the hope that all would right itself when she opened them. It didn’t. The entire flat had been turned upside down.

Felicity stood frozen for perhaps a full minute, trying to take it all in: books pulled from shelves, drawers pulled from her desk, cushions flung from chairs. Hardly breathing, she rushed into her kitchen, bath, bedroom— all chaos— sheets and duvet ripped from her bed, clothes pulled from her wardrobe. She picked her way through scattered papers, dumped files, ripped letters. Dimly she registered that her computer and CD player were still there. Oh, and there was the Horace book still by her bed. She pulled her purse from under a pile of clothes. Empty. But its contents lay nearby. Credit cards and money still there.

Not robbery. So then, what? Why?

Was this an anti-women-clergy thing? Had she underestimated the extent of the resentment? Or was it an anti-American thing? The American president was widely unpopular in England. Had he done something to trigger an anti-American demonstration? Felicity would be the last to know. She never turned on the news.

Well, whatever it was, she would show them. If someone in the college thought they could scare her off by flinging a few books around she’d give them something new to think about. She stormed out, slamming her door hard enough to rattle the glass pane and strode up the hill at twice the speed she had run down it. Not for nothing her years of rigorous exercise at the ballet barre. When she reached the monastery grounds she keyed in the numbers on the security lock with angry jabs and barely waited for the high, black iron gates to swing open before she was speeding up the graveled walk.

Felicity's long blond braid thumped against her back as she charged onward, her mind seething. If those self-righteous prigs who posed as her fellow students thought they could put her off with some sophomoric trick—

She approached the college building, practicing the speech she would deliver to all assembled for dinner in the refectory: “Now listen up, you lot! If you think you can push me around just because your skirts are longer than mine. . .”

She punched a clenched-fist gesture toward her imaginary cassock-clad audience, then saw the Horace book still clutched in her hand. Oh, yes. First things first. She would have missed the opening prayer anyway. She would just run by Father D’s room— then she would tell them.

She hurried on up the path beyond the college to the monastery, ran her swipe card through the lock, and was halfway down the hall before the door clicked shut behind her. She had only been to Dominic’s room once before, to collect a poetry book he was anxious to share with her, but she would have had no trouble locating it, even had the door not been standing ajar.

She pushed it wider, preparing to step in. “Father D— ” she stopped at the sight of a man in a black cassock standing there praying. He jerked around at the sound of her voice and she recognized Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer.

She took a step backward when she saw the look of horror on his sheet-white face. “Felicity. Don’t come in.” He held up a hand to stop her and she saw it was covered with blood.

“Father D! Is he hemorrhaging?” She lunged forward, then stopped at the sight before her.

The whole room seemed covered in blood. Bright red splotches on the pristine white walls and bedding, on the open pages of a prayer book, on the statue of Our Lord, forming lurid stigmata on His hands extended in mercy. . .

And in the center of the floor, in a pool of red, his battered head all but unrecognizable— her beloved Father Dominic. The smell of fresh blood clogged her nostrils. Gorge rose in her throat.

“Felicity— ” Fr. Antony extended his reddened hands to her in a pleading gesture.

“No!” She screamed, wielding her Latin book as a shield against the blood, a red haze of shock and horror clouding her vision.

She couldn’t believe Antony's face could get even whiter. “Felicity, wait. Listen—”

She dimly registered his words, but the voice in her head shouted with far greater force. No! It can’t be. It's a mistake. She was in the wrong room. Must be. She shook her head against the nightmare she had seen yet couldn't accept that she had seen. Blackness rolled toward her.

She staggered backward into the hall and slumped to the floor as the room spun before her. She closed her eyes against the darkness as her mind reeled, groping for a coherent thought. How could this be?

Only a short time ago she had been reveling in the peace of this remote holy place. Where could such violence have come from? How was it possible here? In a place of prayer? To a holy man. Why?

If Fr. Dominic wasn't safe who could be?

And even as the questions tumbled, half-formed through her head, even as her mind denied the act her eyes saw, she knew she had to find an explanation. How could she continue studying— believing in— purpose and justice if such senseless irrationality reigned free?

Focusing on the questions gave her strength to get her feet under her again.

Antony was still standing dazed in the gore-splattered room looking as though he could collapse in the middle of the pool of blood. Felicity grabbed his arm, jerked him into the corridor, and shoved him against the wall where he stayed, leaning heavily. He held his hands before his face as if unbelieving they were his own. “When he missed mass I came to check on him. . . I felt for a pulse— ”

“We must get help!” Felicity looked wildly around.

“Yes, of course.” Her energy seemed to galvanize Antony. He pushed himself forward unsteadily. “Forgive me, I feel so stupid. It was the horror. I— we must tell the Superior. He’ll call the police.”

“Police? You mean an ambulance.” Felicity started toward the room again. Yes, that was it— how could she have dithered so when they must get help. “He’s lost so much blood, but maybe—”

“No!” Antony gripped her shoulder with more strength than she realized he was capable of. “Don’t go in there again, Felicity. It’s useless.”

She knew. She had seen the blood.

September 16, 2010

Book Review: Petra: City of Stone

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:

B&H Books (September 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to T.L. Higley for sending me a review copy.***


Tracy started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After attending Philadelphia Biblical University, she earned a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University. She then spent ten years writing drama presentations for church ministry. A lifelong interest in history and mythology has led Tracy to extensive research into ancient Greece, Egypt and Rome, and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past. She has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy to research her novels, and looks forward to more travel as the series continues.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 14.99
Paperback: 344 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433668564
ISBN-13: 978-1433668562


The streets of Rome lay barren and empty, sucked dry by the colossal Flavian Amphitheatre that had swallowed seventy-five thousand Roman citizens in a single gulp, and would hold each one captive until they had enjoyed the horrors that Julian now raced to prevent.

More time. He needed more time. Already the crowd inside the four-story rim of stone cheered for the first event.

Julian’s sandals smacked the black basalt road that led toward the amphitheatre. The blistering Roman sun pounded the moisture from his skin and left him panting. He had run most of way, since an old servant in Vita’s house had pointed a gnarled finger toward the east, toward the Forum, toward the arena of death.

Eighty arches ringed the outside of the theatre on each of its first three stories. The bottom arches provided access to the public, and the second story’s niches held statues of the gods and emperors, who now looked down on Julian as he sprinted across the large travertine slabs that paved the arena’s edge.

He ran toward one of the four main entrances and fumbled for the tessera, the stone tile he wore around his neck. The designatores at the entrance would insist on examining it, to see the sector, row and seat to which he was assigned.

Indeed, the usher at this entrance was full of his own importance, and held a palm to Julian’s oncoming rush as though he could stop him with only the force of his arm.

“Too long in your bed this morning, eh?” His smug smile took in Julian’s hastily-wrapped toga and sweat-dampened hair.

Julian thrust the tessera before the man’s eyes. “Here, here, look at it.”

Still the amused smile. The usher opened his mouth to speak again.

“Look at it!”

Daunted, the man let his eyes travel over the tile, then took a tiny breath and stepped back. His grin faded to a look of regret over his own impudence, and he bowed his head. As if that were not enough, he bowed at the waist and extended a hand to invite Julian to enter.

Julian did not wait for an apology. He pushed past the usher and under the vaulted entrance, then straight through the arena’s outer corridor and up a ramp that led to the cavea, the wedge-shaped sections of marble seats. This main entrance led directly to the central boxes reserved for the elite.

He exploded from the dimly lit ramp onto the terrace. The morning sun slashed across half the seats, the height of the amphitheatre leaving the other half in shade. The red canvas velarium, the awning used to shade the spectators, would be raised before it got much hotter, but for now, thousands of bleached togas on white marble blinded the eye and the smell of the masses assaulted the nose.

Julian crossed the terrace in two strides, slammed against the waist-high wall that separated him from the arena, and saw a figure dash at him from the shadows.

His mother’s hands were on his arms in an instant. “Julian, what are you doing?” Her words were frantic, as clipped and terror-filled as his every movement.

“They have Vita, Mother!”

She wrenched his body fiercely to face her. Julian stood nearly a cubit taller than his mother, but Ariella had retained all the strength of her youth, along with the beauty. “There is nothing that can be done, my son.”

He yanked his arms from her grasp. “Do not say that!” Julian searched the cavea behind him, full to overflowing with the purple-edged togas of senators. “Where is Father? Is he here?”

“Julian, think! You must think.” Ariella’s voice was urgent and low and her clutching fingers again slowed Julian’s restlessness. “You will bring more harm – “

“I do not care!” His voice snagged with emotion, and he fought to harden the feelings into action. “I must end this.”

“You cannot, son.”

He turned flashing eyes on Ariella. “It is my fault! Do you not understand? I should be down in those cages.”

Ariella’s eyes misted. “I would not lose both my son and his betrothed on the same day.”

Betrothed. The word washed more guilt over Julian’s stricken soul.

A senator, one of his father’s friends, walked past and paused to hold out an arm in greeting to Julian. “Fine day for the games, is it not?”

Julian straightened at once, resuming the noble bearing trained into him since childhood, and returned the man’s grip. He nodded once in agreement, but did not speak. The senator moved on, and Julian dropped his shoulders, ashamed that he had not made a statement.

Ariella seemed to read his thoughts. Her dark eyes held his own. “It will take more than a day to change the Empire.”

Julian looked out over the yellow sand of the arena. “But this day, Mother, this day we must!” He slapped a hand against the top of the marble wall. “I am going to find Father.”

“Julian, you know that he can do nothing – “

He spun on her. “No. I am tired of both of you, always moving about your circles quietly, behind closed doors, the truth spoken only in whispers.” He lifted his own voice as an example. “There is a time to speak!”

Ariella’s nostrils flared, but she said nothing. Turning from her, Julian stalked to the nearest break in the seating and ascended the tiers alongside his father’s section. Here, the nobility did not sit on wooden planks as the rest of the citizens, but were given cushions or even chairs for comfort. He scanned the rows of seats for his father’s graying head, and instead met his dark gray eyes.

Julian shook his head and opened his mouth to shout across the intervening seats, but his father held up a hand, then stood and excused himself from his colleagues. He slid along in front of a dozen other senators, and emerged at the end of the row beside Julian.

Quietly, he spoke into his son’s ear. “I have just now heard. It is outrageous.”

Julian’s hands balled into fists at his side. “You must do something.”

“What can I do, Julian? The emperor has ruled, and Trajan is not a man to be defied.”

Across the arena, Julian watched as a trapdoor slid upward and a huddled band of men and women were prodded onto the sand at the end of Roman spears. Julian’s heart pounded with the shortness of the time left and he turned on his father with the frenzy of desperation. “She is out there, Father!”

But his father’s eyes held only grief, not anger. Not the fiery anger that could change the future, even now.

Julian pushed past him, down the steps. If his parents would do nothing from their positions of influence, then he would stop this madness from a position of strength.

It had been his fault, all of it. Trajan had made his stance clear. As long as they kept to themselves, did not flaunt their disagreement with imperial policy, did not take a public stand, they would be left alone. But that had not been enough for Julian. Passionate about the truth, eager to show himself a leader and foolish enough to believe himself invincible, he had spoken too loudly, in too many places.

And now this. Vita and the others arrested, convicted, and sentenced without his knowledge. Julian had brought this on them all, but he had escaped their fate.

At the terrace level he circled the arena toward the imperial box. The amphitheatre was one of the few places where the public had access to the divine emperor. Julian grasped at the thin hope that he could get near enough to plead for Vita’s life.

He had not loved her. Not like he should, though he had tried. He had never known a more virtuous woman. The arranged match between them was a good one. But Julian had never felt more than the flame of admiration and respect for her, and he saw nothing but the same in her eyes. Still, they would have been married.

We will be married.

The foot-stomps of the crowd rose around him like a hundred thousand drumbeats. The cadence resonated in his chest and pushed him forward. He knew that sound. It was the sound of a mob hungry for blood.

Terror drove his footsteps. He could not look to the arena. Not even when he heard more trapdoors rise and the low growl of beasts begin.

The crowd screamed as one, and their shouts lifted to the pale blue sky like a puff of evil smoke from the underworld. Julian’s bones seemed to turn to water. He raced on. The emperor’s raised box was in sight.

But then they were beside him again, both his parents this time, grasping at his arms, pulling him backward.

“It is too late, son.” His mother’s voice held the grief of both the present and the past, for she had seen much sorrow in the arena in her day.

His father turned him to the wall to face the sand. “You must say goodbye, Julian. You must say goodbye.”

He let his parents hold him there at the marble wall. He scraped his hands across the top, then gripped the white stone.

Lions. Six of them. Circling, circling the knot of friends in the center of the bright yellow sand that had been brought from one of the hills of Rome and spread on wooden planking to soak up the blood of gladiator, beast, and the condemned.

The lions charged at once, but for Julian, the moment stretched out, like a thread of silk spun from a slow-turning wheel, and though the crowd still bellowed, in his head all had gone silent and he saw only his group of friends, crumpling in on themselves like sand flowing into a sinkhole.

The lions must have roared before they pounced, though Julian heard nothing, and felt only the relentless scraping of his own hands across the stone wall. He scraped until his hands were torn and bloody, wanting to bleed with her, wanting to bleed with all of them, as he should have.

The sun had risen to pour its rays into the center of the arena, and the yellow sand beneath them turned to molten gold in the light, an oval of liquid gold with Vita and the others drowning in the center of it. He saw her face for a moment, lifted to heaven.

His mind disconnected and drifted strangely, then, to the words at the end of the Apostle John’s Revelation, and his vision of the New Jerusalem with its streets of pure gold.

Would Vita fall asleep in this golden sand and wake to streets of gold?

The beasts did their job well and quickly, and when it was over and the mutilated bodies of his friends lay scattered across the sand, Julian woke from his stupor and felt the guilt of every lost life bear down on him as though the stones around him had collapsed on his head. He tasted bile rising in his throat, and turned away from the wall to retch onto the paving stones.

His parents held his arms as he emptied the contents of his stomach. He heard the jeers directed toward him. When he stood, the tear-streaked faces of both his parents matched his own.

But he found no solace in their shared grief. They did not have to bear the guilt of it as he did. As he always would. He pulled from their embrace and escaped the amphitheatre, running back the way he had come, running like a haunted man.

Days later, when his guilt and grief had hardened into bitter anger, he tried once again to change the minds and policies of the Roman government. But in the end he brought only more disgrace, and more danger, upon his family.

In the cool of the evening three days after Vita’s death, he stood at the terrace wall of his father’s lavish villa in the Roman countryside, looking down into the flowered gardens his mother had commissioned, and listening to the fountain that trickled night and day into the central pool. He inhaled deeply of the night air, dragging in the scent of roses.

His guilt over Vita’s death had not abated, and he had added to it with his actions in the days since. His brazen words in the Senate House, and later the Forum, had identified him as one who should have also met his death in the arena that day.

Perhaps that was his wish. To be arrested himself, to be thrown before the gaping yaw of a dozen lions, to be given what he deserved.

But his family. He had not wanted the same for his family. His only brother, long since stationed in some military outpost, had never embraced the family’s beliefs, but even he could be reached by the long arm of the empire, and brought back to face condemnation with the rest.

Behind him, slaves stirred to prepare the evening meal and lit torches on the veranda. His parents would appear soon and they would all pretend that their privileged life continued.

But Julian had made a decision. His life in Rome was over. To protect his family, he must disappear.

He thought of his brother’s stories of the provinces that lay at the edges of the Empire. Of Britannia, of Judea. But even there the Roman army could search out a man. No, he must go further east than even Judea.

There was a place, a hidden city he had heard tales of since he was a boy. Stories that had sparked his imagination and given him the desire to travel across the desert sand to discover the city tucked between the rock cliffs of Arabia.

Petra. Capital of the Nabatean kingdom, wealthy center of the east-west trade route, and beyond even the Roman Empire’s reach.

Julian rubbed his hands together, palms still raw from being torn open the day Vita died. Yes, it was a good plan.

He would flee to Petra.

September 14, 2010

Book Review: Joseph Christiano's Bloodtype Diet by Joseph Christiano

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:

Joseph Christiano's Bloodtype Diet:

Type A

Type B

Type AB

Type O

Siloam (September 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Anna Silva of Strang for sending me a review copy.***


Joseph Christiano, ND, CNC, a naturopathic doctor and certified nutritional counselor, has spent forty years developing individualized diet and exercise programs for Hollywood celebrities. Trainer of Miss America, Miss USA, and Mrs. America pageant winners, Joseph is a former Mr. Florida and award winner in the Mr. America bodybuilding championships. His health and fitness coaching expertise has resulted in helping school aged kids be more physically fit. He is the author of several books, including the best-selling Bloodtypes, Bodytypes, and YOU.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

Type A:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Siloam (September 7, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1616380004

ISBN-13: 978-1616380007

Type B:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Siloam (September 7, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1599799995

ISBN-13: 978-1599799995

Type AB:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1599799820

ISBN-13: 978-1599799827

Type O:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher: Siloam; 1 edition (September 7, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1599799626

ISBN-13: 978-1599799629

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER: (All the first chapters of the Blood Type Diet are the same)

Blood Types: Your Foundation For Health

DNA. Genome. Cellular profiling. Stem cells. Cloning. Blood types. What is it all about? Is the existence and physiological makeup of humankind just a mixture of theories, personal points of view, and yet-to-be proven truths? Are we dabbling into mysterious areas that should be left alone, or are we finally beginning to learn more about ourselves?

In man's conquest to survive, questions arise every day: What role do genes play in determining health, disease, longevity, bodily function, and performance? What is the origin of man—where did he come from? Do we all come from one main gene pool, or are we descendants of individual generational ancestry? Did we evolve from nothing to crawling on all fours to an eventual upright position, or did Yahweh (God's proper and personal name) create us? Is man degenerating because of cellular mutation, becoming less than what he started out as, or is he a result of an evolutionary process, making him far superior to what he was at the beginning of time? Why do some people enter life with blue eyes and blond hair and others with brown eyes and brown hair? Are certain body genetics designed for physical and athletic superiority while other body genetics determine the run-of-the-mill hopefuls? Do the ABO blood types react differently to the same foods? Is there a link between red blood cells and your health?

Although phenomenal advancements have been made through modern-day discoveries in technology, science, and medicine, it will still take eternity to unravel the amazing intricacies of man. The world's best scientific minds have made amazing discoveries, but in the light of all that we still do not know about ourselves, technology seems to move at a snail's pace.

Whether you believe that Yahweh created every human being or that our existence is a result of some theoretical development of nothingness into something, the answers to our questions lie far beneath the surface—with our genetic foundation.

Our genetic makeup is the foundation of all that is life. Nothing relating to our ability to survive our environment; to fight off illness, infection, or stress; to supply our bodies with nutrition; or to make physiological adaptation is a matter of happenstance. It is no coincidence that our bodies are programmed with the innate ability to defend us from uninvited invaders such as parasites, viruses, and bacteria by creating an army of antibodies.

Our genetic foundation is a mixture of trillions of cells with codes that identify, program, and link everything in our existence—the color of our hair, our bodies' susceptibility to disease, and foods that are compatible to our potential life span and capability to survive.

Some people would rather merely swim in shallow water than go below the surface to discover answers to the questions and issues of life. But there is a bottomless sea to dive into for the inquisitive and health-conscious individual who seeks knowledge of the role genetics play in our lives.

For example, did you know that . . .

Gene therapy is now being researched intensively in most developed countries—for a host of very good reasons. Instead of treating deficiencies by injecting drugs, doctors will be able to prescribe genetic treatments that will induce the body's own protein-making machinery to produce the proteins needed to combat illness.

Researchers succeeded in making artificial copies of human genes that could be manipulated to produce large amounts of specific proteins. Such genes can be introduced into the human body where, in many cases, they substitute for a defective gene.

In a study that could lead to new treatments for diabetes and provide guidance on the use of genes in treating disease, scientists show that a common genetic variation increased the risk of contracting type 2 diabetes.

Australian scientists have identified a new gene responsible for controlling appetite in humans—a discovery experts say could lead to the first gene-based drug to treat obesity and diabetes.

In the not-too-distant future, scientists may be able to grow replacement organs and new blood vessels to replace clogged ones, eradicate diseases as diverse as Alzheimer's and cystic fibrosis, and tell which medication to prescribe.

Gaining more knowledge and understanding about the complexities of our genetics humbles me—and convinces me of the existence of One much greater than man, with infinite creative wisdom that stretches far beyond the finite knowledge of man. The fact that man has the ability to make scientific advancements and acquire information about the genome of man serves only to prove how much greater his Creator must be.

The Discovery of Blood Groups

I also find it amazing that what the majority of us now know about our genetic makeup has only been discovered in recent decades. Experiments with blood transfusions began centuries ago, but without an understanding that there are different blood groups (also called blood types) many people died. At that time, no one knew that the blood clumping (agglutination), which caused toxic reactions and even death after some transfusions, was the result of mixing blood from two people with different blood types.

Then in 1901, an Austrian named Karl Landsteiner discovered that blood clumping was an immune system reaction that occurs when the receiver of a blood transfusion has antibodies that war against the donor's blood cells. His discovery led to the classification of different blood groups, making it possible to conduct blood transfusions much more safely. Landsteiner was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930 for making this remarkable, life-saving discovery.

So, what is it about the blood that makes one blood group different from another? The differences in our blood are based on the presence or absence of antigens and antibodies. Antigens are located on the surface of the red blood cells, and antibodies are in the blood plasma. People have different types and combinations of these molecules, which are inherited from their parents.

There are more than twenty blood group systems known today, but since the ABO system is the one most people are familiar with, I'll stick with the ABO blood group system for our discussion of blood types in this book. As you're probably aware, according to the ABO system, there are four different kinds of blood groups: A, B, AB, and O.

Blood group A

Since you purchased this book, I assume you belong to blood group A. As a member of this blood group, you have A antigens on the surface of your red blood cells and B antibodies in your blood plasma.

Blood group B

People in this blood group have B antigens on the surface of their red blood cells and A antibodies in their blood plasma.

Blood group AB

People in this blood group have both A and B antigens on the surface of their red blood cells and no A or B antibodies at all in their blood plasma.

Blood group O

People in this blood group have neither A nor B antigens on the surface of their red blood cells, but they have both A and B antibodies in their blood plasma.

How Did Different Blood Types Occur?

People who believe in Creation often ask: How did such a variety of ethnic groups and diverse races arise from one human pair?

Research is revealing more and more about the origin of blood types. Much of this research points out the possibility of the emergence of all known blood types from our common ancestors, Adam and Eve. In his dissertation titled “Blood Types and Their Origin (Answering the Critics),” Jonathan Sarfati tells us:

There is one gene in humans that controls the ABO blood type. There are three versions of the gene, or alleles: A, B, or O....For a husband and wife to pass on all alleles to their children, they need to, between them, have the A, B, and O alleles. . . . If Adam and Eve were genetically AO and BO, for example, their children could have had AB, AO, BO, or OO genetic makeup, giving AB, A, B, or O blood types. Indeed, about 25 percent of their children would have been of each type.

There is so much more to be discovered about man and our genetic makeup—birthed in us at the moment of conception. Although scientists are discovering new things about our genetic structure daily, there is much more that remains unknown. One scientist has observed:

Data supporting the complexity and design of life at all levels, and especially that of man, loom larger than was previously supposed—as large in fact as the enormous “gaps” in the fossil record. . . . The further we look into the complexity to the real world of man and his living companions, the more baffling and unexplainable, at least in standard evolutionary theory, the whole complex becomes. . . . To the skeptic, the proposition that the genetic programmes of higher organisms consisting of something close to a thousand million bits of information...containing in encoded form countless thousands of intricate algorithms controlling, specifying, and ordering the growth and development of billions and billions of cells into the form of a complex organism, were composed by a purely random process is simply an affront to reason.

It has taken gifted scientists years upon years to discover the things they know about man today. But it will take hundreds of more years to understand how to apply the new information.

It is when we are willing to be taught and are open to more knowledge that we continue to grow. I am growing daily in my own knowledge, particularly in my knowledge about the link between blood types and nutrition. Since authoring the book Bloodtypes, Bodytypes, and You, I have discovered new studies about the origin of blood types. These findings lean more closely to my personal beliefs in creationism.

My purpose for mentioning this is twofold: First, I humbly admit that no one has all the answers. But as long as we are willing to be open to greater learning and understanding, progress can be continual. Second, since I happen to believe that Yahweh is the Creator of all creation, it stands to reason that I would embrace studies that line up with my beliefs. As we learn more about the complex design of man, it just makes good sense to me that Someone greater than you or I is in charge of this whole thing.

Regardless of where you stand concerning the origins of blood type, one thing we can agree on is that eating foods compatible to our blood type and avoiding foods that are not compatible is a more accurate and individualized approach to eating than anything man has experienced.

As a naturopathic doctor, and not a scientist, biochemist, or genealogist, I'll leave the research and discoveries to them and concentrate my efforts on helping you to be healthier. My interest is to help you reach a basic level of understanding about your body so you can take care of it in a way that will contribute to living a healthier and more balanced life.

During my summer vacations from school as a kid, I remember going with my father while he worked a few hours a week for my cousin, who owned an excavation and construction company. I watched the construction workers build the foundations for new buildings, or as they called it, “pour a cellar.” It was quite a process. The first thing they did was excavate the land and prepare the ground. Then they measured out the area where the foundation would be laid. After determining the proper elevations and measurements, they began to set up the forms.

Until I saw the entire process completed for the first time, it was hard to understand why they were using all those heavy planks to make a huge square in the dirt. But I learned that those planks played a very important role in the next part of the procedure. When the huge cement trucks were ready to pour the concrete, they poured it into the wood forms, which shaped the foundation of the building.

I learned that each foundation differed in size, shape, and materials. Certain job sites required the forms to be dug deeper in the ground, while other forms were extended higher. The deeper or higher the forms were laid, the thicker the concrete base or foundation would be. The design and composition of each poured foundation determined the size and weight of the structure that it could support.

Each building structure, whether a residential home, a high-rise building, or a strip mall, required a unique foundation that functioned as its basis for structure, stability, and support. Similarly, our ability to survive, support, and improve our structure will be determined by the mixture of the material found in our foundation. Our foundation, of course, is our genetics.

Consider yourself as a general contractor who wants to redesign or custom-build a house. In this case, the foundation of the house you want to construct, or reconstruct, is your genetics. Instead of brick, mortar, and wood, you are using the materials that comprise your body.

The amount of time and effort you put into customizing and building your “house” (your body) will help it to last for many years. By understanding the purpose of a strong “foundation” (your genetics) and by using the proper “tools and materials” (the proper nutritional and exercise applications and methodologies), you can assure a healthy, happy future.

You have a specific biological makeup that was given to you at conception. It's the genetic substance that makes up your entire existence.

I have three daughters—Amy, the oldest, and twin daughters, Jenifer and Cara. Amy's genetic foundation has given her facial features that resemble mine, while genetically Jenifer and Cara have their mother's facial features.

But your genes are not limited to your facial characteristics. Your genes not only determine if you will look more like your mom or your dad and what color your hair and eyes will be, but also how susceptible you are to certain diseases and illnesses.

Your cellular profile and the way your body responds to certain foods, viruses, and bacteria are determined by your genes also.

One very important consideration can greatly help you maximize your genetic potential. This is providing your body with the best nutritional program for your specific genetics. Let's take a look at this consideration in the next chapter.


To understand the importance of your blood type, remember the following:

1. All of us are made up of trillions of cells. We function by our cells.

2. Our genetic foundation can help us determine today and tomorrow how to prepare ourselves for potential illnesses and diseases.

3. Understanding the role our genetics (blood type) play will help individualize the dietary remedies we need to improve survival.

4. Your body at the cellular level responds differently to the same foods than other blood types may.

I must be honest and let you know that I have not completed the entire book. BUT what I have read so far is so very very interesting. Who would have ever thought about how foods react to different blood types. Such a wealth of knowledge in this book and well worth taking the time out to study what foods are good for you!!

Book Review - A Hope For Hannah

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:

A Hope for Hannah

Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


As a boy, Jerry Eicher spent eight years in Honduras where his grandfather helped found an Amish community outreach. As an adult, Jerry taught for two terms in parochial Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. He has been involved in church renewal for 14 years and has preached in churches and conducted weekend meetings of in-depth Bible teaching. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930442
ISBN-13: 978-0736930444


Hannah Byler awoke with a start. She sat up in bed and listened. The wind outside the small cabin stirred in the pine trees. The moon, already high in the sky when she and Jake went to bed, shone brightly through the log cabin window.

Beside her she heard Jake’s deep, even breathing. She had grown accustomed to the comforting sound in the few short months since they’d been married. She laid back down on the pillow. Perhaps it was just her imagination. There was no sound—nothing to indicate something might be wrong.

But her heart beat faster—and fearfully. Something was wrong—but what?

“Jake,” she whispered, her hand gently shaking his shoulder. “Jake, vagh uff.”

“What is it?” he asked groggily. He spoke louder than she wished he would at the moment.

“I don’t know,” she whispered again and hoped he would get the hint. “I think there’s something outside.”

Jake listened and sat up in bed with his arms braced on the mattress.

“I don’t hear anything,” he said, a little quieter this time. “There are all kinds of noises in the mountains at night.”

“I think something is outside,” she insisted.

They both were silent a moment, waiting and listening. Hannah half expected Jake to lower his head back to his pillow, tell her the fears were a bad dream, and go back to sleep. Instead he pushed back the covers and set his feet on the floor.

Just then a loud snuff outside the log wall stopped him. They both froze. Hannah didn’t recognize the sound. No animal she knew ever made such a noise.

“It sounds like a pig,” Jake said, his voice low. “What are pigs doing out here at nighttime?”

“It’s not a pig,” Hannah whispered back. No stray pig, even in the nighttime, could create such tension. “It’s something else.”

“But what?” Jake asked, the sound coming again, seemingly right against the log wall.

Hannah lay rigid, filled with an overpowering sense that something large and fierce stood outside.

“I’m going to go see what’s out there.” Jake had made up his mind, and Hannah made no objection.

Jake felt under the bed for his flashlight and then moved toward the door. Somehow Hannah found the courage to follow but stayed close to Jake.

Their steps made the wooden floor creak, the only sound to be heard.

Jake slowly pulled open the wooden front door, his flashlight piercing the darkness as he moved it slowly left and then right.

“Nothing here,” he said quietly and then stepped outside.

Hannah looked around Jake toward the edge of the porch. “It was around the corner,” she whispered.

Jake walked slowly toward the corner of the house, but Hannah stayed on the porch near the front door.

Jake stopped momentarily and then stepped around the corner of the house. Hannah could only see a low glow from the flashlight. In the distance by the light of the moon, the misty line of the Cabinet Mountains accented the utter ruggedness of this country. During the day, the sight still thrilled her, but now that same view loomed dangerously.

For the first time since they’d moved into the cabin after their wedding, Hannah wondered whether this place was a little too much for the two of them. Was a remote cabin, a mile off the main road and up this dirt path into the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains, really what she wanted?

“It’s a bear!” Jake’s voice came from around the corner. “Come take a look—quick—before it’s gone.”

“Gone,” she whispered.

“Come see!” Jake’s urgent voice came again.

Again Hannah found courage from somewhere. She stepped around the corner of the house and let her gaze follow the beam of Jake’s flashlight, which now pierced the edge of the clearing around their cabin. At the end of the beam, a furry long-haired bear—as large as the one she’d seen once at the zoo—stood looking back at them, its head raised and sniffing the air.

“It’s a grizzly,” Jake said, excitement in his voice. “See its hump?”

“Then why are we out here?” Hannah asked, nearly overcome with the urge to run and desperate for solid walls between her and this huge creature.

“The men at the lumberyard said there aren’t many around,” Jake said in her ear. “Mostly black bears down in this area.”

“Shouldn’t we be inside?” she asked the question another way, pulling on his arm. “It’s not going away.”

“It will leave sooner if we stay in sight rather than go inside,” he told her, his light playing on the creature whose head was still in the air and turned in their direction.

“Well, I’m going inside,” she said, her courage now wholly depleted.

“It’s going,” Jake announced, and so she paused. They watched, fascinated, as the great creature bobbed its head and disappeared into the woods.

“It’s gone,” Jake said, a bit disappointed. “That was a grizzly.”

They turned back to the cabin, Hannah following Jake’s lead. As they stepped onto the porch, Hannah considered their front door. Suddenly the solid slat door—so bulky before—now looked thin, an unlikely protection against the hulk that had just disappeared into the dark tree line.

“What if it comes back?” she asked.

“It won’t. It’s just passing through,” he assured her. “They don’t like humans. They’re wanderers anyway. It’ll probably not come this way again—ever.”

Not reassured, Hannah shut the door tightly behind them and pushed the latch firmly into place.

“Bears hang around,” she told him. “This one could come back.”

“Then we’ll deal with it. Maybe the game warden can help. I doubt it will return, though.” Jake was fast losing interest and ready for his bed again.

Jake snuggled under the covers, pulling them tight up to his chin. “These are cold nights,” he commented. “Winter’s just around the corner. I have to get some sleep.”

Hannah agreed and pulled her own covers up tight. Jake’s job on the logging crew involved hard manual labor that required a good night’s sleep. She didn’t begrudge him his desire for sleep.

“I sure hope it doesn’t come back,” she said finally.

“I doubt it will,” he muttered, but Hannah could tell he was already nearly asleep.

To the sounds of Jake’s breathing, she lay awake and unable to stop her thoughts. Home, where she had grown up in Indiana, now seemed far away, a hazy blur against the fast pace of the past few months.

What is Mom doing? she wondered. No doubt she’s comfortably asleep in their white two-story home, secure another night just like the night before and ready to face another day just like the day before.

Thoughts of her earlier summers in Montana—tending to Aunt Betty’s riding stable—pushed into her mind. This country had seemed so glorious then, and she had dreamed of her return.

The wedding had come first. She smiled in the darkness while she remembered the special day. After a flurry of letters and Jake’s visits as often as he could, Betty got her wish for a wedding in Montana. Hannah’s mother realized it was for the best. Because the plans for Hannah’s wedding to Sam Knepp ended in a disaster back home in Indiana, Roy and Kathy decided they couldn’t have the wedding there and possibly face that embarrassment again. Even Jake was in favor of the wedding in Montana—here where they had met.

Their hearts were in Montana now—close to the land and the small Amish community in the shadow of the Cabinet Mountains. But lately Hannah asked herself if living out here in the middle of nowhere was really for their best. Then she was thankful that at least she was with Jake—better here with Jake than anywhere else without him.

But as she lay in the darkness unable to sleep, she found herself wishing for close neighbors. She wished she could get up now and walk to the front door, knowing that someone else lived within calling distance—or at least within running distance if it came to that. Now, with a bear around, a night wanderer with mischief on his mind, there was nowhere to go. She shuddered.

She wondered if she could outrun a bear and reach a neighbor’s house. She pictured herself lifting her skirt for greater speed. How fast can bears run? Can they see well at night to scout out their prey?

Hannah shivered in the darkness and listened to Jake’s even breathing, wondering how he could sleep after what they had just seen. A grizzly! Jake had been sure it was a grizzly they’d heard sniffing around their cabin just outside their bedroom wall. Why was Jake not more alarmed? He had even seemed fascinated, as if it didn’t bother him at all.

She had always thought she was the courageous one, the one who wanted adventure. After all, she had come out to Montana on her own that first summer. The mountains had fascinated her, drawn her in, and given her strength. But tonight those same mountains had turned on her and given her a bear for a gift—a grizzly. Even the stately pine trees, with their whispers that soothed her before, now seemed to talk of dark things she knew nothing about, things too awful to say out loud.

She turned in the bed, hoping she wouldn’t disturb Jake. She thought of his job on the logging crew, really a job of last resort. Yes, at first it was a blessing because they needed the income, but now it had become more and more of a burden. Jake didn’t complain, but the burden was apparent in the stoop of his shoulders when he came home at night. It revealed itself in his descriptions of how he operated the cutter, navigated the steep slopes, and worked with logs that rolled down the sides of the mountains. She also heard it in his descriptions of Mr. Wesley, his boss. She had met Mr. Wesley once when he had stopped by the house to interview Jake for the job. He operated the largest timber company in Libby, and his huge, burly form matched his position, nearly filling their cabin door that day. She had been too glad Jake had gotten the job to worry much about Mr. Wesley, but after he left she was glad she wouldn’t see him every day.

Hannah shivered again, feeling the sharp chill that seeped into the log house—the same one that seemed so wonderful in summer. Winter would come soon to this strange land, and neither she nor Jake had ever been through one here.

Hannah willed herself to stop thinking. Now she knew for certain. There had been something she wanted to tell Jake but had wanted to wait until she was sure. Now on this night—the night the bear came—she was certain. The strangeness puzzled her. How could a bear’s unexpected visit and this wonderful news have anything to do with each other?

This sweet book is a sequel to another book that I reviewed just before this, A Dream For Hannah. A continuation of the life of Hannah. A must read!! It's so sweet and very easy to read. Now, get out there and go get these books!! Well worth your time!

Book Review - A Dream For Hannah

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:

A Dream for Hannah

Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


As a boy, Jerry Eicher spent eight years in Honduras where his grandfather helped found an Amish community outreach. As an adult, Jerry taught for two terms in parochial Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. He has been involved in church renewal for 14 years and has preached in churches and conducted weekend meetings of in-depth Bible teaching. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930450
ISBN-13: 978-0736930451


Outside Hannah Miller’s upstairs window, springtime had come. The earth was finally awakening from what had been a worse than normal northern Indiana winter.

Breakfast was finished, and her mother would soon call from downstairs for help. Her cousins were coming to visit this evening, and there was a lot of work to do.

As she secured her dark hair beneath the head covering she wore for work, Hannah glanced down at the paper on which she had scribbled the words of the poem. Surely she had time for another quick read, and that would have to do. Her almost seventeen-year-old hands trembled as she held the writing in front of her.

The words of the poem by E.S. White, written in 1908, gripped her again.

A Ballad of Spring

It’s Spring, my Love.

Bowed down with care,

Your branches are stripped and bare.

Old Winter’s past.

Its snow and cold

Have melted long and lost their hold.

The earth it waited

With bated breath for something more,

For life renewed called from its core.

It opens wide its arms.

For strength, for vigor, for its best,

It stirs its creatures to their nests.

All around it lies the warmth

Because the sun has drawn near,

Touching, caressing, there and here.

Arise, it calls.

The pomegranates bloom.

They yell that life has room.

Will you come, my Dear,

Hold my hand, touch what I bring?

Because, my Love, it’s Spring.

Hannah paused as thoughts raced through her head. Can this be true? Is there really such a feeling? Is this something I could really feel…this thing called love?

Then, from downstairs she heard the urgent sound of her mother’s voice, “Hannah, time to start the day.”

“Yes, I’m coming,” she called as she quickly placed the poem on the dresser, smoothed the last wrinkles out of the bed covers, and then rushed out of her room and down the stairs.

“The wash needs to be started right away,” her mom said as she busied herself with the dishes in the kitchen sink.

“Yes, right away,” Hannah said. After making one last check for dirty clothes in the bedrooms, she made her way down to the basement. The sparse room seemed dingy and damp, in stark contrast to the fresh spring day she had seen from her upstairs window. She’d much rather be outside, but the laundry must be done.

Hannah ran the water into the tub from the attached hose. When the water reached the fill line, she turned off the water and tossed in the first load of dirty clothes. With a jerk on the starter rope, the old tub started vibrating. The motor changed its speed and sound as the center tumbler turned, dragging the load of pants and shirts through the water.

As Hannah reached inside the washer to check the progress, the memory of the poem returned to her. Then she thought of James back in seventh grade. His grin had been lopsided but cute. He was a sweet boy—his eyes always lit up whenever Hannah looked at him. Was that the first stirrings of whatever this thing called “love” was?

Surely not. Such ideas! If someone could read my thoughts… “A dumm-kopf, that’s what they’d say,” she spoke aloud, smiling at her youthful memory.

Her hand dodged the tumbler’s wrath, but still the tumbler caught a piece of cloth and whipped water in her direction.

Then her memory moved up to eighth grade. Sam Knepp. A thirteen-year-old girl just had to have someone to like. The other girls would have thought her a true dummkopf if she had no one. And so she had picked Sam at random. What other choice had there been? Sam sat across the aisle from her. He was sort of cute. He had freckles, red hair, and a good smile. But there was that horrible habit he had of opening his mouth when he was puzzled or surprised.

When Hannah told the other girls she liked Sam, they reacted with admiration. So she had made the right choice. Maybe she was not a dummkopf. Her friend Mary stuck up for her choice. Mary was blonde and sweet on Laverne, who was truly a wonder in the world of Amish eighth graders. He was easily the best-looking boy in the district. In fact Hannah would have picked Laverne had he not already been taken by Mary. For some reason, it didn’t bother her that Annie, who was in the sixth grade, had her attention on Sam; blushing every time he walked by, but saying nothing.

No, Hannah decided, Sam didn’t fit for her. Not really. Maybe Laverne would have been a good choice, but not as long as he was Mary’s choice. Hannah supposed even now that Laverne and Mary would soon be dating.

“Hannah,” her mother called from upstairs, “are you done yet?”

“Coming,” Hannah called out. “This old washer is going as fast as it can.”

“Well, hurry up. The clothing needs to be on the line soon. The sun is already well up.”

“Yes,” Hannah called out again, “I’ll get it out as soon as I can.”

Minutes later the cycle was finished, and Hannah quickly loaded the basket with the heavy wet laundry and made her way up the steps and out to the clothesline.

Outside, the glorious spring day greeted her brightly. Hannah turned her face skyward and almost lost her grip on the basket as she soaked in the warm sunshine. What a glorious spring it was going to be! It felt so good to be young and alive.

Hannah began pinning the wet clothes onto the line till they stretched out, heavy in the still morning air. Later the breeze would pick up and dry the clothes as they flapped in the wind. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Hannah hoped the wind would stay gentle until the last piece was fully dry, but with spring days, one was never sure. The wind could have a mind of its own.

She stood back and watched with approval the first of the wash begin to move slightly in the breeze. Yes, this is going to be a wonderful spring, she decided as she picked up the basket and turned to go back inside.

The sun was still out when the first buggies arrived for the evening’s family gathering. Two buggies came in, one right after the other, and then two more arrived fifteen minutes later. Among the guests were Ben and Susan Yoder—Susan was Hannah’s mom’s cousin. Also in attendance were Leroy and John, brothers on her dad’s side, and Mose, Leroy’s brother-in-law. Other people who were in some way connected to the Millers had also been invited. Having a few outside guests allowed for some spontaneity while maintaining some of the structures formed by the natural family. Sam Knepp came that night because one of the cousins had taken the notion to invite him.

It amused Hannah to see Sam again, having just thought of him that morning. She noticed that he still had that habit of occasionally allowing his mouth to drop open almost randomly.

After a hearty supper, all the young people went outside to play. Since so many younger children were involved, they had to choose a simple game. The game they chose was Wolf, which caused Hannah to consider whether or not she might be too old to join in. The game involved races run at full speed in the darkness. When all of the cousins and Sam announced they would play, Hannah decided to join in. After all, Sam and she were the same age. If he could play, so could she.

With that decided, the game was called to order, and the first “wolf”—her cousin Micah—was chosen. He picked the big tree beside the house for his home base, hollered loudly that the game had begun, and began to count. The children scattered to find hiding places before he counted to one hundred. Hannah decided to try to bluff the wolf by hiding just around the corner of the house.

At the count of a hundred, the wolf silently moved to the edge of the house, stuck his head around the corner, spotted Hannah, and howled with glee. He easily beat her back to the tree trunk.

“That was stupid of me,” Hannah muttered as she joined Micah at the tree.

“They try that on me all the time,” the wolf crowed in triumph. “Now let’s get the rest of them. You go around the house that way, and I’ll take the side you hid on.”

Hannah imitated the wolf’s trick, now that she was one herself, but the corner of the house produced no hidden sheep. The moon had already set by now, and the only light came from the stars. This corner of the house was particularly dark, absent of any light beams from the gas lanterns in the living room and kitchen.

Hannah felt her way along the house and, hearing a noise, she turned toward the front porch where she flushed someone out of the bush and found herself in a race back to the tree trunk. Hannah wasn’t sure who she was chasing, but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was who got to the tree first.

Just as she passed the corner of the house, Hannah’s world exploded into a deeper darkness than the evening around her. Sam, the one she had flushed from the bush, somehow collided with Hannah. He flew backward, and Hannah flew off into complete darkness in the other direction. Two other racers just missed her fallen body and dodged Sam who had now crawled slowly to a sitting position.

Young cousin Jonas, one of the children who had to jump to avoid Hannah’s body, immediately ran to the kitchen door, stuck his head in, and yelled in his loudest little-boy voice, “Someone bring a light! There’s been a hurt!”

Roy Miller, Hannah’s father, reacted first. He grabbed the kitchen lantern from its hook and ran outside.

“What’s going on?” he called from the porch, holding his lantern aloft, the light reaching out in a great circle.

“She’s hurt! Over here!” Sam called. He now rested on his left elbow and pointed toward Hannah’s still body.

As Roy approached, Sam slowly huddled closer to Hannah, both hands wrapped around his head. “Hannah,” he whispered, “are you hurt?”

By the light of Roy’s approaching lantern, Sam saw that Hannah was not moving. He took his hands off his head and gently pushed her arm but got no response. “You okay?” he asked again, tilting his head sideways to look down at her.

“Oh no, I hurt her!” Sam yelled as he jumped to his feet. He then stood speechless, his mouth wide open.

With the lantern in hand, Roy was now standing over the two young people. Glancing briefly at Sam, Roy reached for Hannah’s hand and then focused his attention on Hannah’s head, which had obviously taken the brunt of the hit as evidenced by a deep gash and wound to her left eye. Roy gently gathered Hannah in his arms and spoke to his brother, Leroy, standing beside him.

“Better take a look at Sam,” Roy said with a motion of his head toward the boy, and then he headed to the kitchen with Hannah.

Hannah’s mom met them at the door. “How bad is she hurt?” she asked, holding the kitchen door open.

“I don’t know,” Roy told her. “Let’s get her to the couch.”

Roy placed Hannah down gently and then stepped aside as Kathy got her first good look at Hannah’s head.

“We have to take her to the doctor—now,” Kathy said. “This looks serious.”

“Are you sure?” Roy said. “Is it that bad?”

“Roy, just look at her eye and that cut on her head!”

Roy, for the first time, carefully studied his daughter’s injury and then nodded. “Can someone run down to Mr. Bowen’s place and call for a driver?” he asked.

“I’ll go,” Ben said as he headed for the door.

Hannah had become alert enough to barely moan but nothing more.

Ben returned minutes later, a little breathless but with news. “Mr. Bowen said it wasn’t necessary to call for a ride. He’ll take her himself.”

“Da Hah be praised,” Roy said, worried about his daughter.

Old Mr. Bowen drove his car up to the front porch. Roy helped the groggy Hannah into the backseat.

“Why don’t you ride in the back with her?” Roy suggested to Kathy.

Kathy nodded, slid in next to Hannah, and held her upright against her own shoulder. With Roy in the front seat, Mr. Bowen pulled out of the driveway.

“Is she hurt badly?” Mr. Bowen asked.

“I can’t tell,” Roy said. “Her head seems to have…quite a gash in it. And her left eye doesn’t look normal.”

“I’ll get you there as fast as I can.” Mr. Bowen accelerated slowly on the gravel road and hung tightly onto the steering wheel. Once they reached the blacktop, he sped up considerably.

They reached Elkhart without incident, and Mr. Bowen pulled into the hospital parking lot. Roy quickly got out, opened the back door, and helped Hannah out of the car. He and Kathy took Hannah’s arms and made their way into the emergency room reception area.

The attending nurse took one look at Hannah, brought a wheelchair for her, and then took her to an examining room to wait for the doctor.

An hour later Roy and Kathy were seated in the waiting room.

“Did they say how bad she is?” Roy asked again.

“The nurse said she’ll be fine. That’s all she said,” Kathy repeated.

“Will she lose the eye?”

“No, surely not,” Kathy said, though with some uncertainty.

“We’ll just have to trust,” he said, attempting a smile and squeezing her hand.

“I’ll wait for you folks. Whatever time this takes,” Mr. Bowen assured them.

“That awful nice of you,” Kathy said. “We can call when we’re done. This could take much of the night.”

“The Mrs. understands,” Mr. Bowen said. “I don’t need much sleep myself anyway.”

“It’s still nice of you,” Kathy said with a smile as she took a seat beside Roy.

A few minutes later, the attending doctor walked into the waiting room and motioned for Hannah’s parents to follow him.

“I’m Dr. Benson,” he announced to the couple as they walked down the hall. “Your daughter is resting now. There isn’t much more we can do other than keep her under observation. We can’t let her sleep for a while, of course.”

“What happened?” Kathy asked.

“A bad concussion, that’s all, from what I can tell. The bone structure of her skull has actually been damaged where the impact occurred. That’s also what caused her left eye to protrude. We patched her up as best we could. Now nature will have to take its course. The eye, I believe, will return to normal now that we have taken the worst of the pressure off. We’d like to keep her here under observation for a day or two just to be sure.”

“Yes, of course,” Roy said. “I appreciate the prompt attention. She had us really worried. Will we be able to see her now?”

“Yes, the nurse will take you back. Do you have any questions?”

Roy and Kathy looked at each other, and Kathy said, “No, doctor, I don’t think so. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

The couple then followed the nurse into the elevator and two floors up.

Hannah lay in the bed, covered with white sheets and kept awake by a watchful nurse. The bed beside Hannah was occupied by another girl whose face was turned away from them. She moved slightly when they walked in but didn’t turn in their direction.

“You’re in good hands,” Kathy whispered and squeezed Hannah’s hand.

Hannah blinked slowly but made no other response.

“A little groggy,” the nurse said and smiled. “We gave her something for the pain.”

“We’d better leave, then, I suppose,” Kathy whispered. “They’ll take good care of you, Hannah. I’ll come back tomorrow first thing.”

Hannah nodded, and Kathy brushed her hand across her cheek.

At the doorway, Kathy glanced back quickly before she followed Roy out.

“She looked okay,” Roy assured her.

“But here—all night by herself.”

“They’ll watch her. You can come back in the morning. Half the night’s gone already the way it is.”

“I suppose so,” Kathy agreed.

Roy pushed the elevator button. They stepped inside when the doors opened and arrived at the waiting room to find Mr. Bowen had nodded off, his chin on his chest.

“We’re back,” Roy whispered into his ear.

He awoke with a start, grinned, and promptly bounced to his feet.

“How is she?” he asked as they walked outside.

“She’ll be okay,” Roy said, “but she’s staying for a day or two.”

“Sounds good for how she looked,” Mr. Bowen commented. “So let me get you folks home. I suppose you’re ready?”

“That we are,” Roy agreed.

Mr. Bowen drove slowly on the way home, taking his time around the curves. When he pulled into the Miller’s graveled driveway, he turned to Kathy in the backseat. “What’s your driver situation for tomorrow?”

“I have no one,” Kathy said, “and I have to go first thing in the morning, but I’ll call around from the pay phone.”

“No, just count on me as your driver until this is over,” Mr. Bowen said.

“That’s awfully nice of you,” Kathy said, “but we don’t to want to take advantage.”

“Think nothing of it,” Mr. Bowen assured her. “I’m more than glad to help out.”

I just love to read sweet stories. Even more this was very interesting to read because it was about an Amish family. I live in Oklahoma and there are a few Amish communities nearby. It's always been very interesting to me. This book definitely allows you a little inside to their life. Such a sweet story of young love!! I would definitely suggest anyone read this. My daughter (Hannah) can't wait for me to pass these books on to her.