Friday

The Minor Protection Act

The premise of this book is incredibly chilling. I can see the beginnings of a net just like Jodi depicts in this book. I doubt it could go as far as Jodi depicts it. I did like this book. I especially liked the deeply embedded faith aspects of it and the correlation to Paul. It is worthy.



It is December 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!



This month's feature author is:






and her book:



The Minor Protection Act
Musterion (December 1, 2005)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jodi Cowles caught the travel bug when her parents took her on her first international flight at six months of age. Since then she’s been in over 30 countries. Along the way she’s gotten locked out of her cabin on an all night train to Kiev, helped deliver a baby in Indonesia, taught English in South Korea, gone spelunking in Guam, hiked the Golan Heights and laid bricks in Zimbabwe. Her interest in politics stems from hunting Easter eggs on the south lawn of the White House as a child. For her 30th birthday she ran the LA Marathon and promised to get serious about publishing. Jodi resides in Boise, Idaho and this is her first novel.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

If the politically correct set was searching for a poster couple, they would need to look no further than Erik and Roselyn Jessup. In college they lit up doobies while attending passionate speeches about legalizing marijuana and freeing Tibet. Erik was even arrested once for helping break into an animal research center. Roselyn bailed him out. After five years of dating they decided to tie the knot. Seven years later, after Roselyn had enough time to get established in her career, she gave birth to their pride and joy, Jayla Lynn Jessup.

Both had satisfying full-time jobs that left them only enough time to pour themselves into Jayla. They attended every event at school, even if it meant working overtime and paying the after school program for a few extra hours. When Jayla made the principal's list or won a spelling bee, they were cheering, and filming, from the front row.

Jayla began junior high at a brand new school with a brand new curriculum. It was being called "progressive" in the papers; the first program of its kind implemented in California with plans for a nationwide rollout over the next 10 years. Praise poured in from around the country, applauding the straight talk about sexuality and focus on tolerance.

Erik and Roselyn were thrilled to have their daughter in this groundbreaking program. Granted, it took several phone calls to district authorities to accomplish the transfer and Roselyn had to drive an extra 30 minutes each morning to drop off Jayla, but it was quite a coup to brag about in their circle of friends.

Jayla turned 13 two years into junior high. For her birthday she told her parents she wanted to order pizza and hang around the house – there was something she needed to tell them. Over pepperoni and Coke, Jayla calmly informed them that she'd been discussing it with her friends and teachers and had decided she was gay.

Though she had never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend for that matter, Erik and Roselyn were quick to affirm her decision and let her know she had their full support. Roselyn applauded her daughter's honest, courageous move and told Jayla how proud she was. Erik was also supportive and went so far as to tease Jayla about her best friend Sara.

There weren't too many lesbians in her junior high and Jayla had a pretty average experience, but she attracted attention when she entered high school wearing the rainbow buttons specially purchased by her mother. Soon she was 15 and seriously involved with Carla, the 17-year-old senior who was President of the Gay Pride Club. When Erik and Roselyn saw the relationship deepening they sat Jayla down and had a heart to heart "sex talk," encouraging her to be responsible and safe, and only to have sex if she was truly in love.

She was. However, when the year ended Carla left for college on the east coast and broke off the relationship in a letter.

Jayla was heartbroken. Erik and Roselyn were quick to comfort, as any loving parents of a shattered teenager, but their answers seemed hollow to Jayla, their comfort cold. At 16 she began dabbling in drugs - a first for her.

By the time her senior year began the family bond that was once so strong had disintegrated to the degree that she seldom spoke to her parents unless it was to strike out in anger. She had not entered into another dating relationship, as much as they encouraged her in that direction. Rather, she seemed withdrawn from the world and spent endless hours either locked in her room or suspiciously absent. Finally, Roselyn had enough and took her to a doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant for teenagers that had just been released on the market.

By Christmas the medication seemed to be working. Jayla was coming around, spending more time at home. She seemed calmer and more at peace. They were even beginning to talk about college. But New Year's morning they found her dead, her anti-depressant bottle and a quart of vodka laying empty in the trash and a mass of journals and letters scattered around her in the bed.

Erik and Roselyn were devastated. Jayla had been their whole life. They dove into the letters and journals, trying to make sense of it all. What they found only served to inflame their anger. Some boy named Nick had been telling their daughter that she was a sinner, quoting Bible verses that said her sexual preference was an abomination before God. Jayla's journal was full of self-loathing, page after page about her relationship with Carla, page after page of rambling, agonizing pain. Why was she made like this if homosexuality was a sin? Why would her parents have supported her if it were an abomination? Why had she listened to the seventh grade teacher who told her experimentation was the best way to determine her sexuality? What was wrong with her?

They could hardly stand to finish it but they read every word. In the end their grief found relief, as it so often does, in bitterness and hatred. The day after Jayla's funeral, attended by hundreds of students from Jayla’s school, Erik and Roselyn met with the District Attorney. A year later, bitterness not yet assuaged, they went to see a lawyer. In the culture of America, where there is rarely tragedy unaccompanied by litigation, they found a willing law firm. Someone would pay.

Thursday

Abandoned Identity

Abandonded Identity is a MUST read. This book is captivating from the very first word... of course, if you like romances.

I do not believe in love at first sight, but I do believe that our subconscious recognizes and latches on to subtle qualities which draw us to some people and repel other people. I also believe that we can be attracted to certain people over and above the superficial.

The book has some problems such as it drags a bit in the middle. The protagonist whines without seeming to whine, but whines nevertheless. However, she is so hellbent to be independent and to hide (there is a very good reason she's on the run), she has huge problem with trusting people, and the mystery keeps the reader reading rather than tossing the book to the floor. The characters are believable, but tend toward the Danielle Steel cliche' of the characters being so rich a month off from work is no big deal. That little detail had me chewing my nails in jealousy.

Happy New Year! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!



This month's feature author is:







and her book:


Abandoned Identity
Evergreen Press (AL) (August 1, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hooray! Tamara is one of our very own FIRST members!

She resides with her husband, Walter, and their children, John, Christopher, and Jennifer, at Hume Lake Christian Camps in the Sequoia National Forest. They have served on full-time staff and ministered at Hume for 13 years.

Tamara manages one of the retail stores at Hume Lake, which serves thousands of kids visiting the conference center on a daily basis.

Not only does she write, she is also an avid reader and enjoys other hobbies such as scrapbooking, designing greeting cards and invitations, and enjoying God's creation from her from porch.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The young, blond woman stepped off the elevator, rushed past the receptionist, and quickly headed down the hallway.

“Jennifer, Mr. Lynch is looking for you,” Doris called after her.

Jennifer didn’t stop to acknowledge the message. She didn’t have time. She could hear the warning in Doris’ tone. Mr. Lynch was looking for her, knowing she was late returning from lunch. This could very well be her last day at Weissler and Schuler.

She glanced at her watch as she threaded her way through the multitude of workstations. She moved as quickly as she could, even though she knew her efforts were probably for nothing—after all, late was late. He would assume she had done it on purpose and would make good on his threat from the previous week. Lynch had given her two weeks to change her attitude or she would be fired.

She hurried past his office door, hoping against hope that she would be able to slip by without being noticed. A sideways glance told her otherwise. She continued towards her own office, knowing he would be quick on her heels. She had struggled all morning, trying to do her work, trying to keep it together, but with the way she was feeling, her resolve was beginning to crumble. She’d only had enough time to slip off her jacket before she heard his booming voice in the hallway.

“Ms. Patterson, you of all people should not be abusing time restrictions. A one-hour lunch is a one-hour lunch, not an hour and 25 minutes,” he scolded her loud enough so everyone could hear him as he made his way down the hall toward her office.

Jennifer hung up her coat and purse on the rack behind her door and slumped in the overstuffed sofa that filled her office. She braced herself for the inevitable.

“You knew we needed to get started on the Yomahama account first thing after lunch,” he said as he entered her office and firmly shut the door. “Obviously you don’t care about this account as much as you say you do.” He was poised for her counterattack but was surprised instead to hear her soft apology.

“I’m sorry. I thought I could make it home and back again. But with the snow, and the traffic, and the way I’m . . .”

What’s the use explaining, she thought to herself. He doesn’t care. She had just given him the excuse he was looking for. She figured she would be packing up her personal items in less than an hour. She took a deep breath, her eyes focused downward. “I’m sorry. It wasn’t intentional.”

Harrison was taken aback. In the short time he’d known Jennifer, she had never apologized for her actions. Everything she did was intentionally antagonistic toward him. But somehow he sensed a difference in her mood.

“What’s wrong?” he bristled, not really wanting to hear her excuse.

She glanced up at his imposing figure but lowered her eyes to the floor as she spoke. “I tried to kick something all weekend. I guess I’m just not feeling up to par.”

He said nothing, waiting for her to make eye contact with him. She stiffened her back, sighed and said, “It won’t happen again.”

Had she brushed a tear from her cheek? Not possible, he thought to himself. Jennifer Patterson was tough as nails. She would never lower herself to tears in the workplace . . . that was unless she really was ill.

He waited again for her to look up at him, and when she did, he was met with vacant eyes, pallid skin, and beads of sweat that were starting to form on her brow. Just then, the intercom system went off. “Mr. Lynch, Mr. Yomahama is on the line. Shall I put him through to Miss Patterson’s office or your own?”

Obviously Doris knew where to find him because of the scene he had just made. He walked around to the front of Jennifer’s desk and cleared his voice before pushing the intercom button. “I’ll take it in my office, Doris. Give me a minute to get there.”

Lynch gave Jennifer one last stern look and then marched from her office, shutting her door with a little more force than necessary.

She collapsed against the cushions, her strong exterior completely dissolving. She had done everything she could to hold back her tears in his presence, but his quick exit allowed her to unleash the torrent she had been suppressing.

She had never felt this horrible before in her life. She would’ve called in sick if it weren’t for the fact that she knew her job was in jeopardy. It isn’t fair, she thought to herself. I should have Lynch’s job. For the hundredth time Jennifer went over in her mind the scenario that had taken her completely by surprise.

She had been groomed for the director’s position by Meg, long before Meg left to start a family. Jennifer had put in countless hours on different accounts to make sure her and Meg’s statistics had been well researched and presented in a polished manner. She had done the bulk of Meg’s work, along with her own, as Meg progressed into her third trimester. It simply wasn’t fair!

The day corporate brought in Harrison Lynch and announced he would be the new director, instead of her, she was livid. She felt demeaned and unappreciated. Everyone in the office knew she had worked hard for the job and had deserved it. But corporate behaved in their typical chauvinistic manner and took the opportunity to replace Meg with a man instead of another woman. Testosterone was the only asset that Harrison Lynch had that she did not.

While the other women in the office were quick to overlook the injustice of the situation because of Harrison’s availability, good looks, and charismatic personality, she only saw him as a thorn in her side.

She would only be fooling herself if she said she didn’t see his appeal. He was older than she was—the classic tall, dark, and handsome type. His sparkling brown eyes and wavy brown hair gave him a boyish charm, but his stature and muscular body proved him to be anything but boyish. His enigmatic character made him the kind of man that breezed through life with ease, putting the Midas touch on everything he encountered. But the way he clashed with her, rubbing her the wrong way and always trying to put her in her place, made his good looks less appealing.

Jennifer had butt heads with Harrison ever since he had shown up. She was not afraid to speak out against his proposals or the way in which he supplied information to a client. She had caused him more than one embarrassing moment in important meetings with prospective accounts. She upstaged him with what she called “a more efficient way to gather and record information.” She didn’t think it beneath her to use her feminine mystique with a client in order to work on a case that Lynch would’ve preferred to handle by himself. Lynch had put her on the spot on more than one occasion, but somehow she always came out looking professional in front of the clients.

When she had worked with Meg, Jennifer’s desk was out front with everyone else’s. She liked it that way. She enjoyed working in an environment that buzzed with activity. But Lynch changed all that. He made it very clear that Jennifer was his assistant, and he needed her at his personal disposal. And so he had her move her things into the smaller of the two conference rooms.

Giving Jennifer her own office was not a reward but a sentence. She felt he had isolated her on purpose to break her spirit. It had taken the wind out of her sails for a short period, but she decided two could play at that game. She promptly ordered custom office furniture and personalized the space. What he had intended on being a lonely, sterile environment, she had turned into a showplace of warmth and femininity.

She had one-upped him again and gloated in the fact that he could do nothing about it. After all, he was the one that gave her her own office and the freedom to decorate it the way she wanted. The fact that she did it with pastels in a style she knew he disliked (even though she disliked it too) was icing on the cake. Harrison had declared that an office should reflect professionalism not personality and initially insisted she get rid of everything. His request was denied when Mrs. Weissler came in and admired what she had done with the old conference room. With Mrs. Weissler on her side, Jennifer had once again thwarted Lynch’s authority.

Lynch had finally had enough. He called her into his office a week earlier and lowered the boom. “I’m giving you two weeks notice.”

“You’re firing me?” Jennifer was floored. Though she knew that he disliked her as much as she disliked him, he would have to explain to corporate why he was letting such a valuable employee go.

“No, I’m not firing you . . . yet.” He was cool and calm as he sat behind his solid oak desk. “I’m giving you two weeks to change your attitude. I’m tired of the mind games, the flirting with clients, and the way you insist on making proposals before discussing them with me. Weissler and Schuler should present a united front to all our clients, not a sense of division and indecisiveness. You have two weeks to get on board, assume your position as my assistant, and change your ‘I can top that’ attitude. If you choose not to, you will give me no alternative than to let you go.”

Now, it was just a week later, and Jennifer had given Lynch the perfect opportunity to show corporate that she was not the team player that they had assumed her to be. Corporate was breathing down everyone’s neck about the Yomahama account. It meant millions to them if they could seal the deal. If they felt she hadn’t given it her all, they would allow Lynch to have his way, no questions asked.

Jennifer sobbed into the arm of the floral couch that she despised. She thought about all the ways she had tried to make work uncomfortable for Harrison Lynch but knew she had failed. On occasion, he had tried joking with her and having innocuous conversations, but she would have none of it. She wouldn’t accept the olive branch that he tried to extend to her. Now he would have the last laugh, and it would be her own fault.

The door swung open once again. Harrison was poised and ready to battle with her, only to find her hunched over, her head in her hands and tears falling onto her charcoal colored slacks.

He felt uncomfortable finding her in such a vulnerable position. The all-business exterior he had resolved to use with her now took a back seat to the compassionate Harrison that others had seen. He stood for a moment before taking a seat on the couch alongside her and waited for her to gather her composure. It took several minutes before she could speak.

“I know what you’re going to say, so I’ll save you the energy.” She rubbed at her aching brows and sniffled. “You’ll have the files for the Yomahama account on your desk by the end of the day, and I’ll clean out my things. You can do what you want with the furniture. I don’t want it.” She held her head like she was afraid it was going to snap off her neck.

Harrison just sat there, not saying a thing. Jennifer wished he would just leave. She felt defeated and humiliated. He’d gotten his way; he’d won. With the experience she’d gained at Weissler and Schuler, she’d have no problem getting a job elsewhere, so she resolved to give up without a fight. Her only desire right then was to get home before her head exploded.

It seemed like an eternity before he spoke again. “What have you taken for it?”

“What?” She was confused. There was no smugness to his tone. In fact, if she wasn’t mistaken, he actually sounded concerned. She didn’t dare look at him. Just lifting her head would hurt too much.

“Is it a cold or the flu?”

“A cold,” she answered, wondering why he was being so nice. It was a trait she didn’t think he was capable of, at least not with her. He got up and left the room without saying another word.

She glanced at his receding steps, totally confused. She grabbed a tissue from her purse and tried to wipe away the salty tears and runny nose that was moistening her lips. She gently rolled her head back against the couch and sighed heavily, thankful for the solitude. It didn’t last long; within minutes, Harrison was back.

He sat down alongside her, causing her head to sway and a small moan to escape her lips. He handed her a glass that was fizzing, along with several pills. “Here’s something for your headache, a decongestant, and a bi-carbonate. They should do the trick.”

“No thanks,” she said through closed eyes. “I can’t take pills. They knock me out and make my head swim. Besides, I still have too much work to do. I don’t have time to pass out.”

“The way I see it, you’re already wasted. You’re no good to me like this. Take these, and in an hour you’ll feel a lot better. I guarantee it. We’ll work on the Yomahama account then.”

“I should have known you wouldn’t let me die quietly,” Jennifer retorted, looking at the pills he was still holding. “And if I don’t take your concoction?”

“Then I’ll have to assume the Yomahama account isn’t as important to you as I gave you credit for, and I’ll get Jerry to work on it with me instead.”

“Jerry!” She sat up, her head throbbing with disapproval. She slowly lowered herself back to the comfort of the couch, covering her eyes with the palms of her hands. “There’s no way I’m going to let Jerry take all my research and screw it up.”

“Okay, then. I guess you’ll have to do it my way,” he said. “Take these, dim the lights, and allow yourself some sleep. Don’t worry about watching the clock. I’ll come and get you in about an hour.”

Jennifer realized it was no longer a suggestion. Harrison put the pills in her hand and waited for her to drink them down with the bi-carbonate.

She tossed them to the back of her throat and held her breath as she drank the fizzy water. She knew she had to do it in one swig, or it would never stay down. Her shoulders shuddered in protest, and she thought she saw the hint of a smile form on Harrison’s lips. He pressed the button for the automatic shades to cover her office windows and dimmed the lights. “I’ll check on you in an hour.” With that, he closed the door and left her with her thoughts.

What just happened? she thought to herself. He had the perfect opportunity to fire me, and instead he helped me. Jennifer couldn’t concentrate on figuring out the answer to that one. Her head was throbbing so hard, it was making it impossible for her to reason.

She pulled her feet up under her and allowed her head to rest on the padded arm of the couch. An hour’s sleep, then I’ll be able to push through the rest of the day. She drifted off quickly. She was a lightweight when it came to tolerating medicine, and with the mixture she had just taken, she knew that she would finally get some rest.

Harrison walked back to his office and closed the door. He stood before the expansive window and watched the falling snow blanket the Chicago streets. Jumbled emotions crowded his mind. He was afraid that he’d allowed Jennifer’s weakened state to play on his sympathy, but it wasn’t unlike him. He really was a nice guy. It’s just that since he’d arrived at Weissler and Schuler, he and Jennifer had clashed . . . no, more like collided.

He found out soon enough that she had thought she was a lock for his job because of the work she had done with the previous director. He tried to talk to her about it and let her know he understood her disappointment. When he told her he was excited to be working with such a talented analyst, she only stiffened at his attempt at civility. Her spitefulness and malice made her look so unattractive—nothing like the vulnerable woman he had just left in the darkened office. He finally saw in her what some of the men in the office already had seen. She was a lot more appealing when she wasn’t being conniving or manipulative. With her defenses down, he actually found himself drawn to her, but he was wary that would change as soon as she had her strength back.

HARRISON HAD BEEN WORKING TIRELESSLY at his computer when he glanced at his watch. He realized it had been more than an hour since he had left Jennifer in her office. He quietly opened her door and leaned in to see how she was doing. She was curled up on the couch, her face flushed and moist. He moved to her side, leaned down, and carefully placed the back of his hand to her forehead. She was feverish. She stirred under his touch, but her eyes had a difficult time focusing. She looked at Harrison and tried to figure out why she was lying down and why he was hovering over her. She closed her eyes and vaguely remembered being late to work and taking a handful of medicine.

“What time is it?” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Almost 3:00 p.m.”

“Oh, my gosh.” She tried sitting up as her head spun out of control. “I’ve got to get working. We have the Yomahama meeting tomorrow. We can’t waste any more time.”

Harrison pressed his hands against her shoulders and gently pushed her back against the couch cushions. “You need to rest. Your body is obviously trying to fight something. You have a fever.”

“We don’t have time for this, Mr. Lynch.”

She again moved to a sitting position. She wiped at the perspiration on her forehead and scooped her long blonde hair up into a handful on top of her head. She started pulling at the pink cashmere sweater she was wearing, bellowing it to get some cool air up against her skin. “I feel like I’m suffocating.”

“That’s the fever.”

Before Harrison realized what she was doing, Jennifer reached for the hem of her sweater and began to pull it over her head.

He turned away and sputtered, “What are you doing?”

“If you have a fever, you’re supposed to keep at least one foot and one shoulder exposed to cool air.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I’m not sure, but it’s worked before.”

She continued to remove her sweater. Harrison was relieved to see that she was wearing a silky, pink shell underneath the soft sweater. She pulled her black, high heeled boots from her feet and curled up into a fetal position once again.

“You look miserable; you need to go home. This is ridiculous. There’s no way you’re going to be able to get any work done under these conditions,” Harrison added as she tried to get comfortable.

“I’d be fine if my head would just stop pounding, and I wasn’t so hot.”

“Let me call you a cab. You need to go home.”

“No! I can beat this. Let me just rest a little bit longer. If I could just get rid of this headache, I know I could finish our proposal. Please give me another hour.” She was determined to finish what she had started, especially since it could quite possibly be her last account. Harrison was being uncharacteristically nice to her at the moment, but if the Yomahama meeting didn’t go well, she knew she would be the proverbial scapegoat.

Harrison stood with his arms firmly crossed against his chest and doubt in his eyes. He knew from past experience there was no sense arguing with her. Of course, there was nothing that said he was obligated to wake her up either.

“Fine, I’ll see you in about an hour.” He left her office with no intention of disturbing her again. If she had the strength to wake up, she would have to do it on her own.

Although Harrison knew he needed to spend every minute on the Yomahama proposal, he found himself thinking about Jennifer. Why hadn’t he noticed her crystal blue eyes or the delicate curve of her jaw before? Maybe because whenever he talked to her, her eyes were glaring and her jaw was set.

He wandered back into Jennifer’s office around 4:30 p.m. He watched her as she slept. Her breathing was even and her complexion no longer looked flush. His eyes followed the tip of her chin to where it rested near her exposed shoulder. He felt his thoughts wandering in a direction that was far from work related. He had always been cautious to keep his professional life separate from his personal life, but somehow seeing Jennifer in such a vulnerable state also exposed a side of her that was quite beautiful.

He left her office and drifted down the hall. People were beginning to shut down their computers and straighten up their workstations. The talk was all about the snow that had continued to fall throughout the day. The weather report was predicting another foot before morning. Harrison waved goodnight to them as they left and headed back to his office.

Doris followed him down the hall, worry etched on her kind face.

“Mr. Lynch, I’m concerned about Miss Patterson. I know she was awfully sick this morning when she came in, and she didn’t look any better when she returned from lunch. I haven’t seen her since you . . . well, since you spoke with her this afternoon.”

Harrison knew what Doris was alluding to. The way he had barked at Jennifer when she returned from lunch had obviously been heard throughout the office.

“I gave her some medicine earlier today, and it made her pretty sleepy. That’s why you haven’t seen her.”

“Will she be okay to drive herself home? The road conditions have gotten pretty bad.”

“Don’t worry, Doris, I’ll make sure she’s okay before she leaves.”

“Okay, I was just concerned. She really is a sweet girl; she just comes off a bit harsh sometimes.”

“Harsh? That’s an understatement!”

Doris just smiled. “Well, good night, Mr. Lynch.”

“Good night, Doris, and thank you for your concern.”

Try Dying

On a wet Tuesday morning in December, Ernesto Bonilla, twenty-eight, shot his twenty-three-year-old wife, Alejandra, in the backyard of their West 45th Street home in South Los Angeles. As Alejandra lay bleeding to death, Ernesto drove their Ford Explorer to the westbound Century Freeway connector where it crossed over the Harbor Freeway and pulled to a stop on the shoulder.

Bonilla stepped around the back of the SUV, ignoring the rain and the afternoon drivers on their way to LAX and the west side, placed the barrel of his .38 caliber pistol into his mouth, and fired.

His body fell over the shoulder and plunged one hundred feet, hitting the roof of a Toyota Camry heading northbound on the harbor Freeway. The impact crushed the roof of the Camry. The driver, Jacqueline Dwyer, twenty-seven, an elementary schoolteacher from Reseda, died at the scene.

But, what exactly does she die from? The impact... crushed roof... something else?
Oh what a tangled weave this enjoyable book is.

Ty Buchanan reminds me a little of sarcastic Micky Spillane and the snappy one-liners of Cary Grant in "His Girl Friday"... only this is a modern day mystery with cell phones and and a computer savvy nun. Oh, and Jacqueline was the fiancee of Ty, so he has a deep interest in finding out exactly what happened to Jacqueline.

Here is another good book that is slated Christian Fiction, but is not at all Christian Fiction. It flirts with it, but never gets serious. The protagonist realizes that his lovely wife to be was a Christian, and as the story unfolds, we see that she had some reservations about marrying someone who was not a Christian. That isn't discussed, though because it's all from the eyes of the protag. However, at the end of the book his rage magically turns into forgiveness with no explanation.

While it was enjoyable, and it is worth the money, it fell flat after this guy goes through hell on earth without ever finding what he was looking for. It had a great build up, but doesn't deliver a satisfactory explanation for the change of heart. Because of that, I can only give this book 2 stars.

Wednesday

Surrender Bay

This is a wonderfully well-written love story that has shades of Christ-like love. It is a sweet page-turner.

Just one problem was the protag's whiny-ness coated with a bravado-type toughness. I can fully believe that a child who has that kind of childhood would have lots of issues as an adult, but a child with that kind of toughness would have a more healthy outlook, I think. On the other hand, who can say how a human mind develops?

Worth the money. I give it three stars.

Deadfall

Let me just get one thing clear, this book is not Christian Fiction, even thought the author is Christian and a man of God.

In this book, none of the characters lean on God or turn to Him, although God is referred to subtly and prayers are mentioned. In Christian Fiction, there is a relationship between a character and God, and that doesn't happen in this book. However, Bob shoves up the bar for any secular novel to an insurmountable height. I doubt the quality can be duplicated by any secular author.

This book is harrowing and illustrates how one man can completely destroy the lives and families of an entire town. This is a "Ride the Wild River" moved to the snow crusted mountains of Canada, with an ultimate high tech twist.

Robert Liparulo proves that a book can be exciting and a page turner without foul language or graphic sex. However, this book is filled with violence that shakes the soul. But, then video games are filled with violence, too.

You'll fall in love with a little nine year old boy named Dillion, and be completely awed by the wilderness survival skills of Hutch. You are in for the ride of your life at the psychotic whims of a sick-minded, power-crazy young man. This is a study in human character, both good and bad. The best thing about it is when you turn the last page, you're satisfied with a good read. Boys and girls, that is hard to find these days!

I give it 31/2 stars. It is well worth the money and is a keeper.

So, Bob, maybe in your next book you can put a little God-searching soul search in it?

Monday

FIRST for November

Let me just say that this book is suited for teens. It did not hold my attention for long because I loathe present tense writing in novels. But, I am a member of FIRST and I promised to promote... so here goes.
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It is November 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!


This month's feature author is:






and her book:


Hollywood Nobody

Th1nk Books (August 30, 2007)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Samson is the author of twenty books, including the Christy Award-winning Songbird. Apples of Gold was her first novel for teens. Visit Lisa at http://www.hollywoodnobody.com/

These days, she's working on Quaker Summer, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying . . . some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.

Other Novels by Lisa:
Straight Up, , Club Sandwich, Songbird, Tiger Lillie, The Church Ladies, Women's Intuition: A Novel, Songbird, The Living End

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Hollywood Nobody: April 1


Happy April Fool’s Day! What better day to start a blog about Hollywood than today?

Okay, I’ve been around film sets my whole life. Indie films, yeah, and that’s all I’m saying about it here for anonymity’s sake. But trust me, I’ve had my share of embarrassing moments. Like outgrowing Tom Cruise by the age of twelve — in more ways than one, with the way he’s gotten crazier than thong underwear and low-rise jeans. Thankfully that fashion disaster has run for cover.


Underwear showing? Not a good idea.

Fact: I don’t know of a single girl who doesn’t wish the show-itall boxer-shorts phenomenon would go away as well. Guys, we just don’t want to see your underwear. Truthfully, we believe that there is a direct correlation between how much underwear you show and how much you’ve got upstairs, if you know what I mean.

I’ve seen the stars at their best and at their worst. And believe me, the worst is really, really bad. Big clue: you’d look just as pretty as they do if you went to such lengths. As you might guess, some of them are really nice and some of them are total jerks, and there’s a lot of blah in-betweeners. Like real life, pretty much, only the extremes are more extreme sometimes. I mean honestly, how many people under twenty do you know who have had more than one plastic surgery?

So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a little hard on these folks. But if it was all sunshine and cheerleading, I doubt you’d read this blog for long, right?

Today’s Rant: Straightening irons. We’ve had enough of them, Little Stars, okay? It was bad on Helen Hunt at the Oscars, worse on Demi, yet worse on Madonna, and it’s still ridiculous. Especially on those women who are trying to hold onto their youth like Gollum holds onto that ring. Ladies, there’s a reason for keeping your hair at or above your shoulders once you hit forty, and ever after. Think Annette Bening. Now she’s got it going on. And can’t you just see why Warren Beatty settled down for her? Love her! According to The Early Show this morning, curls are back, and Little Me ain’t going to tell why I’m so glad about that!

Today’s Kudo: Aretha Franklin. Big, bold, beautiful, and the best. Her image is her excellence. Man, that woman can sing! She has a prayer chain too. I’m not very religious myself, but you got to respect people who back up what they say they believe. Unless it’s male Scientologists and "silent birth." Yeah, right. Easy for them to say.

Today’s News: I saw a young actor last summer at a Shakespeare festival in New England. Seth Haas. Seth Hot is more like it. I heard a rumor he’s reading scripts for consideration. Yes, he’s that hot. Check him out here. Tell all your friends about him. And look here on Hollywood Nobody for the first, the hottest news on this hottie. Girls, he’s only nineteen! Fair game for at least a decade-and-a-half span of ages.

I don’t know about you, but following the antics of new teen rock star Violette Dillinger is something I’m looking forward to. Her first album, released to much hype, hit Billboard’s no. 12 spot its third week out. And don’t you love her hit single "Love Comes Knocking on My Door"? This is going to be fun. A new celeb. Uncharted territory. Will Violette, who seems grounded and talented, be like her predecessors and fall into the "great defiling show-business machine" only to be spit out as a half-naked bimbo? We’ll see, won’t we? Keep your fingers crossed that the real artist survives.

Today’s Quote: "Being thought of as ‘a beautiful woman’ has spared me nothing in life. No heartache, no trouble. Beauty is essentially meaningless." Halle Berry

Later!


Friday, April 2

I knew it was coming soon. We’d been camped out in the middle of a cornfield, mind you, for two weeks. That poke on my shoulder in the middle of the night means only one thing. Time to move on.

"What, Charley?"

"Let’s head ’em on out, Scotty. We’ve got to be at a shoot in North Carolina tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got food to prepare, so you have to drive."

"I’m still only fifteen."

"It’s okay. You’re a good driver, baby."

My mom, Charley Dawn, doesn’t understand that laws exist for a reason, say, keeping large vehicles out of the hands of children. But as a food stylist, she fakes things all the time.

Her boundaries are blurred. What can I say?

Charley looks like she succumbed to the peer pressure of plastic surgery, but she hasn’t. I know this because I’m with her almost all the time. I think it’s the bleached-blond fountain of long hair she’s worn ever since I can remember. Or maybe the hand-dyed sarongs and shirts from Africa, India, or Bangladesh add to the overall appearance of youth. I have no idea. But it really makes me mad when anybody mistakes us as sisters.

I mean, come on! She had me when she was forty!

My theory: a lot of people are running around with bad eyesight and just don’t know it.

I throw the covers to my left. If I sling them to my right, they’d land on the dinette in our "home," to use the term in a fashion less meaningful than a Hollywood "I do." I grew up in this old Travco RV I call the Y.

As in Y do I have to live in this mobile home?

Y do I have to have such an oddball food stylist for a mother?

Y must we travel all year long? Y will we never live anyplace long enough for me to go to the real Y and take aerobics, yoga, Pilates or — shoot — run around the track for a while, maybe swim laps in the pool?

And Y oh Y must Charley be a vegan?

More on that later.

And Y do I know more about Hollywood than I should, or even want to? Everybody’s an actor in Hollywood, and I mean that literally. Sometimes I wonder if any of them even know who they are deep down in that corner room nobody else is allowed into.

But I wonder the same thing about myself.

"You’re not asking me to drive while you’re in the kitchen trailer, are you, Charley?"

"No. I can cook in here. And it’s a pretty flat drive. I’ll be fine."

I’m not actually worried about her. I’m thinking about how many charges the cops can slap on me.

Driving without a license.

Driving without a seat belt on the passenger.

Speeding, because knowing Charley, we’re late already.

Driving without registration. Charley figured out years ago how to lift current stickers off of license plates. She loves "sticking it to the man." Or so she says.

I kid you not.

Oh, the travails of a teenager with an old hippie for a mother. Charley is oblivious as usual as I continue my recollection of past infractions thankfully undetected by the state troopers:


Driving while someone’s in the trailer. It’s a great trailer, don’t get me wrong, a mini industrial kitchen we rigged up a couple of years ago to make her job easier. Six-range burner, A/C, and an exhaust fan that sucks up more air than Joan Rivers schmoozing on the red carpet. But it’s illegal for her to go cooking while we’re in motion.

"All right. Can I at least get dressed?"

"Why? You’re always in your pj’s anyway."

"Great, Mom."

"It’s Charley, baby. You know how I feel about social hierarchy."

"But didn’t you just give me an order to drive without a license? What if I say no?"

She reaches into the kitchen cupboard without comment and tips down a bottle of cooking oil. Charley’s as tall as a twelve-year-old.

"I mean, let’s be real, Charley. You do, in the ultimate end of things, call the shots."

I reach back for my glasses on the small shelf I installed in the side of the loft. It holds whatever book I’m reading and my journal. I love my glasses, horn-rimmed "cat glasses" as Charley calls them. Vintage 1961. Makes me want to do the twist and wear penny loafers.

"Can I at least pull my hair back?"

She huffs. "Oh, all right, Scotty! Why do you have to be so difficult?"

Charley has no clue as to how difficult teenagers can actually be. Here I am, schooling myself on the road, no wild friends. No friends at all, actually, because I hate Internet friendships. I mean, how lame, right? No boyfriend, no drugs. No alcohol either, unless you count cold syrup, because the Y gets so cold during the winter and Charley’s a huge conservationist. (Big surprise there.) I should be thankful, though. At least she stopped wearing leather fringe a couple of years ago.

I slide down from the loft, gather my circus hair into a ponytail, and slip into the driver’s seat. Charley reupholstered it last year with rainbow fabric. I asked her where the unicorns were and she just rolled her eyes. "Okay, let’s go. How long is it going to take?"

"Oh." She looks down, picks up a red pepper and hides behind it.

I turn on her. "You didn’t Google Map it?"

"You’re the computer person, not me." She peers above the stem. "I’m sorry?" She shrugs. Man, I hate it when she’s so cute. "Really sorry?"

"Charley, we’re in Wilmore, Kentucky. As in Ken-Tuck-EEE . As in the middle of nowhere." I climb out of my seat. "What part of North Carolina are we going to? It’s a wide state."

"Toledo Island. Something like that. Near Ocracoke Island. Does that sound familiar?"

"The Outer Banks?"

"Are they in North Carolina?"

Are you kidding me?

"Let me log on. This is crazy, Charley. I don’t know why you do this to me all the time."

"Sorry." She says it so Valley Girl-like. I really thought I’d be above TME: Teenage Mom Embarrassment. But no. Now, most kids don’t have mothers who dress like Stevie Nicks and took a little too much LSD back in the DAY. It doesn’t take ESP to realize who the adult in this setup is. And she had me, PDQ, out of the bonds of holy matrimony I might add, when she was forty (yes, I already told you that, but it’s still just as true), and that’s
OLD to be caught in such an inconvenient situation, don’t you think? The woman had no excuse for such behavior, FYI.

My theory: Charley’s a widow and it’s too painful to talk about my father. I mean, it’s plausible, right?

The problem is, I can remember back to when I was at least four, and I definitely do not remember a man in the picture. Except for Jeremy. More on him later too.

I flip up my laptop. I have a great satellite Internet setup in the Y. I rigged it myself because I’m a lonely geek with nothing better to do with her time than figure out this kind of stuff. I type in the info and wait for the directions. Satellite is slower than DSL, but it’s better than nothing.

"Charley! It’s seventeen hours away!" I scan the list of twists and turns between here and there. "We have to take a ferry to Ocracoke, and then Toledo Island’s off of there."

"Groovy!"

"Groovy died with platform shoes and midis."

"Whatever, Scotty." Only she says it all sunny. She’s a morning person.

"That phrase should be dead."

Honestly, I’m not big on lingo. I’ve never been good at it, which is fine by me. Who am I going to impress with cool-speak anyway? Uma Thurman? Yeah, right. "Okay, let’s go."

"We can go as long as possible and break camp on the way, you know?" Charley.

I climb back into the rainbow chair, throw the Y into drive, pull the brake, and we’re moving on down the road.

Again.


Sample from Hollywood Nobody / ISBN: 1-60006-091-9
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing. All rights reserved. To order copies of this resource, come back to www.navpress.com.

Thursday

Illuminated


Matt Bronleewe has written an amazing story, but there are some flaws that make this book a little choppy.

I like the fact that you don't really know who the good guys are until the middle of the book. I like the fast pace. The characters are okay, but ... I can't put my finger on it. They just don't mesh well.

I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the faith element to come into play and that part fell flat for me.

However, I would have picked this book up in any bookstore and bought it. I would not have been disappointed. The story kept me turning pages, and I read it to the last page of the last paragraph. So compared to some of the huge flops that have put me to sleep this past year, I give this one two and a half stars. It is worth the money and it will keep you interested.

Saturday

Nobody





Creston Mapes has created a truly unique winner.

There is a newspaper reporter who has the night shift and hears on the scanner something about a shooting. He heads out to the scene of the crime and there are no cops, no ambulances, Nobody is there. Just an old bum that smells like soap who has been shot. Just an old homeless guy... a nobody.

Not on your life!

This is a truly wonderful read. It has some interesting twists and turns and some characters that probably really do live in Las Vegas. It is not an edge of your seat nail-biter. It has some exciting moments, but not like a roller coaster. That does not at all detract from the book, though. Mapes has a flair for snaring a character's essence and that makes a huge difference. You actually wind up caring what happens to the characters. And the best character of the book is the "old homeless guy" who every one thinks is a Nobody.

The story takes place in Las Vegas. It is very accruate in locale. The protag is a newspaper reporter, and that part of the story is not accurate... but, only someone who's actually been a reporter would catch those mistakes so don't let that stop you from grabbing up this book. It really is worth the money. Go buy it!

Now for a head's up. This is totally different than another book that will be featured here on FIRST in November. That book is called Nobody Hollywood. Do not get them confused. Mapes' "Nobody" is the one to buy.

Sunday

Crimson Eve



Brandilyn Collins has done it again! Super tension, good read.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at gayle.brandilyncollins@gmail.com with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.)

No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.

My Life Unscripted

I have had a bodacious week this week. I am still doing everything wrong.

However, there is a new book out there that is designed for every teenaged girl and the mother of every teenaged girl... Seriously

I don't have a picture of this book, but it is by Tricia Goyer who is the author of several extremely good books.

If every teen girl already had a script for certain things in her life... if she already made decisions about certain actions, then she'd be so far ahead of the game she'd be breezing through life without much heartache or trouble.

The problem is, most teenagers already know everything. But... this book would make an extremely GREAT study book for ages 13 to 20. I think this book is probably one of the most thought provoking books I've ever read. It looks at all different situations, and brings Biblical principles to bear. It's just a super way to teach young girls that if they do not make a stand, then they will fall on their face, or backs. Some decisions simply must be made before the situation arises.

Too many years ago for me to say, I was husband hunting. It was the expected thing to do. I found what I thought was the best of the crop. I dropped out of school without getting my degree with the idea I'd go back after our honeymoon.

Two major problems. One, I never asked God what His opinion was of who I had picked out of the crop to marry. The second problem was, I got pregnant immediately and never went back to school.

There were all kinds of warning signs that completely ignored. I didn't have a script, so I floundered and winging it, I failed. God can clean up the messes we make, but oh what blessings we miss when we are not in His perfect will.

I am going to strongly recommend that the girls in our youth group use this as their Winter study. I'm quite sure that it will save some a lot of anguish, and others it will just strengthen their own resolve.

Check it out and buy this book for that teen girl in your life, then read it yourself and Talk, talk, talk, talk about all the issues. Once they are out in the open, problems will have acceptable and apparent solutions.

Trophy Wives Club

This one gets five stars! I really enjoyed reading it.


Kristin Billerbeck does a most excellent job in getting into the head of a woman being divorced against her will. I loved it. I've been through divorce and she hit it perfectly, but it is not depressing at all. It is rather funny, and sweet, and there were several times, I told the protag -- "Don't do that, don't do it, girl. You'll regret it. Then I remembered that I did the same thing! Sigh...

So... get this one. It's a keeper.

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps "was" is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty years old – back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.When Jay first turned his eye to Haley, she was putty in his slender, graceful hands. No one ever treated her like she was important, and on the arm of Jay Cutler, she became someone people listened to and admired. Unfortunately, after seven years of marriage, her Prince Charming seems to belong to the Henry the XIII line of royalty. When Haley loses Jay, she not only loses her husband, she loses her identity.With her first independent decision, Haley leaves LA and moves home to Northern California. Feeling freedom just within her grasp, Haley learns that her settlement payments must go through one of Jay's financial advisors, Hamilton Lowe. Haley believes he's nothing more than a spy. And the feelings of distrust are mutual. Yet somehow, Hamilton finds himself handing over the monthly checks in person, and Haley can't deny that there's a kind of tenderness and protectiveness in Hamilton that she's never experienced in a man before.

Friday

To Dance in the Desert



Here's a keeper. From the very first page I was drawn into this story. The characters are well defined and seem three dimensional. It is a smooth storyline and very readable. It is slow in some places, but the characterizations are superb.
I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday

Island Inferno

Rarely have I enjoyed a book so much as this one. It is Rip-roaring, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting suspense. And there wasn't one single foul word in the whole book. Chuck Holton is a Wowser writer.

It takes a real man to pray and to admit he needs God to be in control.

How many men out there are still struggling with being in control?

I read this in two sittings, only because I had to go to work this morning and I was late, because I was so late going to bed. Choose a different time to read this book than Sunday afternoon. You won't want to put it down. I promise.

What are you still sitting there reading this for? Go get the book! Click on the link above and buy the book. You won't regret it.

You want to know what it's about? Sigh...

This fellow is a special ops guy... did I tell you that this is the second book of a trilogy? Anyway, the special ops guy and his team must track down this liquid bomb stuff called ITEB. When it combines with oxygen, it explodes. (Which is why so many water bottles were conficated by the airlines--did anyone but me wonder about that?)

It's a boy meets girl story only this guy literally falls into her lap.
It's a God taking control story...I do not believe in coincidences, I'm reading a book called "God Winks" which is about that. At one point in the story, I was thinking, that is just too far to stretch believability when I slapped my forehead like "Wow, skip the V-8, it's God at work without the author coming out and saying, "Hey, stupido, God is at work here performing miracles."
It's about not being ashamed of your faith.
It's about real men and how they deal with God. (Great insight, girls!)
It's about a beautiful, but deadly island off the coast of Panama.

Warm, tropical breezes, warm sea water, paradise island, what could go wrong?
Everything! Get the book.

Diva NashVegas


I give this book 2.5 stars. I do understand that nonChristians do not live Christian lives. I also understand that people who need Jesus have to meet Him where they are standing. I love stories like that.

Telling a story in present tense, as if it is happening as I read it -- like a movie script -- is okay for a chapter or two, but not all the way through the book. Short sentences are super as exclamation points, but too many leave me breathless and make me tired.

This is why I've given it only 2.5 stars.

Otherwise, it is a pretty good book. It moves fast and slows down when necessary so the good parts can be savored. I like it that Hauck says they went to bed and doesn't go into details. That would turn me off quicker than a light switch. It's a good, rainy afternoon read.

You can click on the title to order the book, or go to your local bookstore and ask for it by name.

Thursday

Spirit of Sweetgrass

A new book.





I have serious problems with this book's premise. Although everyone has a right to their own opinion, I have a problem with a book catagorized as "Christian Fiction" and it go off the deep end like this one does.

The reason I have a problem is because "The SPIRIT OF SWEETGRASS shifts less successfully to the afterlife, where her Gullah-Creole ancestors surround her; but soon, her heavenly peace is disrupted, for she still has work to do. Now Essie Mae, who once felt powerless and invisible, must find the strength within her to keep her South Carolina family from falling apart. Together, with Daddy Jim, they team up to return to Earth and battle two spirits conjured up by Henrietta's voodoo that threatens to ruin an attempt to save the sweetgrass basket weaving culture."

Jesus emphatically and clearly states that we do not "come back to earth" to "fix problems". That is found in Luke 16... Jesus tells us about Lazarus and the Rich Man. Lazarus was not allowed to go back and warn anyone of anything.

For me this book pushes the envelope way to wide... so wide, everything falls out on the floor.

Wednesday

It Happens Every Spring

Gary Chapman ventures into fiction to illustrate the different seasons of marriage.

I've heard him speak about these seasons and the study we did at church was quite enlightening concerning how communication is everything in marriage. I believe it.

Click on the title of this post to purchase this book.







While this book isn't going to win rave reviews, or make it into the top ten best sellers list, it is a nice way to spend an afternoon. I pray you enjoy it.

Tuesday

Dandelion Dust

Karen Kingsbury has written lots of books. Dandelion Dust is the first book of hers that I have read.

I didn't email Karen and ask her any questions either. I have been up to my neck in alligators, frankly, so I didn't even post this on Wednesday like I was supposed to.

It has been some 40+ years since I was 4 years old, so I do not know if Karen got the 4-year-old mentality down, or not, in Joey. It sounds right, so it works for me.

The book starts out really sweet... and stays sweet a bit too long for my taste. There isn't any conflict for quite some time. The build up is there, but no tension until several chapters into the book. But... it made me smile, and it made me cry. That's two things that are very good recommendations for a book in my estimation.

I like the characters... they are a little two dimensional, yet believable. and Joey stole my heart along with Mr. Monkey. I think this is a book that would be an excellent addition to any library, but it is not a book that I'd read again and again. It is a nice afternoon with tea read and that is what I needed this past week. Enjoy.

You can click on the title to buy the book and please visit Karen at her website, click on her name at the beginning of this post.

Monday

The Election


Jerome Teel is a new author and is one that I think will go very far. If you like John Grishom, then you'll really like Teel's offering, The Election.

Ed Burke has waited a lifetime to become president of the United States. He's not about to let his nemesis, Mac Foster, stop him now... especially when he's sold his soul for the Oval Office.

This is good fare. But, I have to say that I think there are too many characters. I did not like The Pelican Brief where all those judges were killed at the beginning of the book... four chapters and we were still meeting new characters. This one is kinda like that. For some people that isn't a problem. For me, who is old and set in her ways, it becomes a problem because I sleep after I read and then I forget who is what and who is who and it takes a while to get back up to speed. But, don't let that stop you from getting this book. Once you've learned the character, it's a rocket ride.

I asked Jerome my favorite questions:

Gina: What did you learn about God while you were writing this book? How has that impacted your life since?

Jerome: I learned that God is completely in control of every situation no matter what we may think or feel. We can't rush His timetable. Things will happen in His perfect will, in His perfect time.

What a perfect lesson to learn! I like this guy.






Tuesday

Demon: A Memoir

I have some strong opinions about this book. I seriously and deeply doubt that any fallen angel had remorse that he followed Lucifer in rebellion against God. But, this does make for some interesting fantasy. AND, one thing that must always remain at the forefront is that God does use Satan for His own good purposes. However, I know I probably would have bought this book because it is so highly praised, but then I would have been disappointed that I spent my hard earned money on it. What I recommend is that you save your money and buy next month's book "Nobody", by Creston Mapes. It gets 5 stars hands down.




It is October 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!




This month's feature author is:



and her book:

Demon: A Memoir

(NavPress, September 1, 2007)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tosca Lee received her BA in English and International Relations from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has also studied at Oxford University.

As a Leadership Consultant, Tosca works with managers and leaders of organizations throughout the Pan-Pacific region, Europe, and the U.S.

Tosca is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska-United States 1998 and first runner-up to Mrs. United States and has been lauded nationally for her efforts to fight breast cancer.

In her spare time, Tosca enjoys cooking, studying history and theology, and traveling. She currently resides in Nebraska with her Shar Pei, Attila.

Visit her at her website and her blog.

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter One


It was raining the night he found me. Traffic had slowed on Massachusetts Avenue, and the wan light of streetlamps reflected off the pavement. I was hurrying on without an umbrella, distracted by the chirp of a text message on my phone, trying to shield its illuminated face from rain and the drizzle off storefront awnings. There had been a mistake in my schedule, an appointment that I didn’t recognize and that I had stayed late at the office for — until six forty-five — just in case. Our office manager was texting me from home now to say she had no idea who it was with, that the appointment must have belonged on Phil’s calendar, that she was sorry for the mistake and to have a good night.

I flipped the phone shut, shoved it in my bag. I was worn out by this week already, and it was only Tuesday. The days were getting shorter, the sun setting by six o’clock. It put me on edge, gnawed at me, as though I had better get somewhere warm and cheerful or, barring all else, home before it got any darker. But I was unwilling to face the empty apartment, the dirty dishes and unopened mail on the counter. So I lowered my head against the rain and walked another two blocks past my turnoff until I came to the Bosnian Café. A strap of bells on the door announced my entrance with a ringing slap.

I liked the worn appeal of the Bosnian Café with its olfactory embrace of grilled chicken and gyro meat that enveloped me upon every arrival and clung to me long after leaving. That night, in the premature darkness and rain, the café seemed especially homey with its yellowing countertops, chipped mirrors, and grimy ketchup bottles. Cardboard shamrocks, remnants of a forgotten Saint Patrick’s Day, draped the passthrough into the kitchen, faded around their die-cut edges. A string of Christmas lights lined the front window, every third bulb out. On the wall above the register, a framed photo of the café’s owner with a local pageant queen, and another with a retired Red Sox player, had never been dusted. But no one, including me, seemed to mind.

I stood in the entry waiting for Esad, the owner, to notice me. But it was not the bald man who welcomed me.

It was the dark-haired stranger.

I was surveying the other tables, looking for inspiration — chicken or steak, gyro or salad — when he beckoned. I hesitated, wondering if I should recognize him, this man sitting by himself — but no, I did not know him. He impatiently waved again, and I glanced over my shoulder, but there was no one standing in the entryway but me. And then the man at the table stood up and strode directly to me.

“You’re late,” he said, clasping my shoulder and smiling. He was tall, tanned, with curling hair and a slightly hooked nose that did nothing to detract from his enviable Mediterranean looks. His eyes glittered beneath well-formed brows. His teeth were very white.

“I’m sorry. I think you have the wrong person,” I said. He chuckled.

“Not at all! I’ve been waiting for you for quite some time. An eternity, you might say. Please, come sit down. I took the liberty of ordering for you.” His voice reminded me of fine cognac, the Hors d’Age men drink aboard their yachts as they cut their Cohíbas.

“You have the wrong person. I don’t know you,” I insisted, even as he steered me toward the table. I didn’t want to embarrass him; he already seemed elegantly out of place here in what, for all practical purposes, was a joint. But he would feel like an elegant fool in another minute, especially if his real appointment — interview, date, whatever — walked in and saw him sitting here with me.

“But I know you, Clay.”

I started at the sound of my name, spoken by him with a mixture of familiarity and strange interest, and then I studied him more closely — the squareness of his jaw, the smoothness of his cheek, his utter self-possession — wondering if I had indeed met him before. But I hadn’t, I was certain of it now.

One of Esad’s nephews arrived with a chicken sandwich and two cups of coffee. “Please,” the stranger said, motioning to a vinyl-covered chair. Numbly, stupidly, I sat.

“You work down the street at Brooks and Hanover,” he said when the younger man had gone. He seated himself adjacent to me, his chair angled toward mine. He crossed his legs, plucked invisible lint off the fine wool of his trousers. “You’re an editor.”

Several thoughts went through my head in that moment, none of them savory: first, that this was some finance or insurance rep who — just like the pile of loan offers on my counter at home — was trying to capitalize on my recent divorce. Or, that this was some aggressive literary agent trying to play suave.

Most likely, though, he was a writer.

Every editor has stories to tell: zealous writers pushing manuscripts on them during their kid’s softball game, passing sheaves of italicized print across pews at church, or trying to pick them up in bars, casually mentioning between lubricated flirtations that they write stories on the side and just happen to have a manuscript in the car. I had lost count of the dry cleaners, dental hygienists, and plumbers who, upon hearing what I did for a living, had felt compelled to gift me with their short stories and children’s books, their novels-in-progress and rhyming poetry.

“Look, whoever you are — ”

“Lucian.”

I meant to tell him that I was sure we didn’t publish whatever it was he wanted me to read, that there were industryaccepted ways to get his work to us if we did, that he could visit the website and check out the guidelines. I also meant to get up and walk away, to look for Esad or his nephew and put an order in — to go. But I didn’t say or do any of these things, because what he said next stopped me cold.

“I know you’re searching, Clay. I know you’re wondering what these late, dark nights are for. You have that seasonal disease, that modern ailment, don’t you? SAD, they call it. But it isn’t the disorder — you should know that. It isn’t even your divorce. That’s not what’s bothering you. Not really.”

I was no longer hungry. I pushed away the chicken sandwich
he had ordered and said with quiet warning, “I don’t know who you are, but this isn’t funny.”

He went on as though he hadn’t heard me, saying with what seemed great feeling, “It’s that you don’t know what it’s all for: the hours and days, working on the weekends, the belief that you’ll eventually get caught up and on that ultimate day something will happen. That everything will make sense or you’ll at least have time to figure it out. You’re a good man, Clay, but what has that won you? You’re alone, growing no younger, drifting toward some unknown but inevitable end in this life. And where is the meaning in that?”

I sat very still. I felt exposed, laid open, as though I had emptied my mind onto the table like the contents of a pocket. I could not meet his gaze. Nearby, a couple — both of their heads dripping dirty blond dreadlocks — mulled over menus as the woman dandled an infant on her lap. Beyond them, a thickset woman paged through People, and a young man in scrubs plodded in a sleep-deprived daze through an anemic salad. I wondered if any of them had noticed my uncanny situation, the strange hijacking taking place here. But they were mired in their menus, distractions, and stupor. At the back counter, a student tapped at the keypad of his phone, sending messages into the ether.

“I realize how this feels, and I apologize,” Lucian said, folding long fingers together on his knee. His nails were smooth and neatly manicured. He wore an expensivelooking watch, the second hand of which seemed to hesitate before hiccupping on, as though time had somehow slowed in the sallow light of the diner. “I could have done this differently, but I don’t think I would have had your attention.”

“What are you, some kind of Jehovah’s Witness?” I said. It was the only thing that made sense. His spiel could have hit close to anyone. I felt conned, angry, but most of all embarrassed by my emotional response.

His laughter was abrupt and, I thought, slightly manic. “Oh my,” he said, wiping the corners of his eyes. I pushed back my chair.

His merriment died so suddenly that were it not for the sound of it still echoing in my ears, I might have thought I had imagined it. “I’m going to tell you everything,” he said, leaning toward me so that I could see the tiny furrows around the corners of his mouth, the creases beneath his narrowed eyes. A strange glow emanated from the edge of his irises like the halo of a solar eclipse. “I’m going to tell you my story. I’ve great hope for you, in whom I will create the repository of my tale — my memoir, if you will. I believe it will be of great interest to you. And you’re going to write it down and publish it.”

Now I barked a stunted laugh. “No, I’m not. I don’t care if you’re J. D. Salinger.”

Again he went on as though I’d said nothing. “I understand they’re all the rage these days, memoirs. Publishing houses pay huge sums for the ghostwritten, self-revelatory accounts of celebrities all the time. But trust me; they’ve never acquired a story like mine.”

“Look,” I said, a new edge in my voice, “You’re no celebrity I recognize, and I’m no ghostwriter. So I’m going to get myself some dinner and be nice enough to forget this ever happened.” But as I started to rise, he grabbed me by the arm. His fingers, biting through the sleeve of my coat, were exceedingly strong, unnaturally warm, and far too intimate.

“But you won’t forget,” he said, the strange light of fanaticism in his eyes. His mouth seemed to work independently of their stare, as though it came from another face altogether. “You will recall everything — every word I say. Long after you have forgotten, in fact, the name of this café, the way I summoned you to this table, the first prick of your mortal curiosity about me. Long after you have forgotten, in fact, the most basic details of your life. You will remember, and you will curse or bless this day.”

I felt ill. Something about the way he said mortal . . . In that instant, reality, strung out like an elastic band, snapped. This was no writer.

“Yes. You see,” he said quietly. “You know. We can share now, between us, the secret of what I am.”

And the words came, unbidden, to my mind: Fallen. Dark Spirit.

Demon.

The trembling that began in my stomach threatened to seize up my diaphragm. But then he released me and sat back. “Now. Here is Mr. Esad, wondering why you haven’t touched your sandwich.” And indeed, here came the bald man, coffeepot in hand, smiling at the stranger as though he were more of a regular than I. I stared between them as they made their pleasantries, the sound of their banter at sick odds with what my visceral sense told me was true, what no one else seemed to notice: that I was sitting here with something incomprehensively evil.

When Esad left, Lucian took a thin napkin from the dispenser and set it beside my coffee cup. The gesture struck me as aberrantly mundane. He sighed.

“I feel your trepidation, that sense that you ought to get up and leave immediately. And under normal circumstances, I would say that you are right. But listen to me now when I tell you you’re safe. Be at ease. Here. I’ll lean forward like this, in your human way. When that couple over there sees my little smile, this conspiratorial look, they’ll think we’re sharing a succulent bit of gossip.”

I wasn’t at ease. Not at all. My heart had become a pounding liability in my chest.

“Why?” I managed, wishing I were even now in the emptiness of my apartment, staring at the world through the bleak window of my TV.

Lucian leaned even closer, his hand splayed across the top of the table so that I could see the blue veins along the back of it. His voice dropped below a whisper, but I had no difficulty hearing him. “Because my story is very closely connected to yours. We’re not so different after all, you and I. We both want purpose, meaning, to see the bigger picture. I can give you that.”

“You don’t even know me!”

“On the contrary,” he said, sliding the napkin dispenser away, as though it were a barrier between us. “I know everything about you. Your childhood house on Ridgeview Drive. The tackle box you kept your football cards in. The night you tried to sneak out after homecoming to meet Lindsey Bennett. You broke your wrist climbing out of the window.”

I stared.

“I know of your father’s passing — you were fifteen. About the merlot you miss since giving up drinking, the way you dip your hamburgers in blue cheese dressing — your friend Piotr taught you that in college. That you’ve been telling yourself you ought to get away somewhere — Mexico, perhaps. That you think it’s the seasonal disorder bothering you, though it’s not — ”

“Stop!” I threw up my hands, wanting him to leave at once, equally afraid that he might and that I would be stuck knowing that there was this person — this thing — watching me. Knowing everything.

His voice gentled. “Let me assure you you’re not the only one; I could list myriad facts about anyone. Name someone. How about Sheila?” He smirked. “Let’s just say she didn’t return your essage from home, and her husband thinks she’s working late. Esad? Living in war-torn Bosnia was no small feat. He — ” He cocked his head, and there came now a faint buzzing like an invisible swarm of mosquitoes. I instinctively jerked away.

“What was that?” I demanded, unable to pinpoint where the sound had come from.

“Ah. A concentration camp!” He looked surprised. “I didn’t know that. Did you know that? And as for your ex — ” He tilted his head again.

“No! Please, don’t.” I lowered my head into my hand, dug my fingers into my scalp. Five months after the divorce, the wound still split open at the mere mention of her.

“You see?” he whispered, his head ducked down so that he stared intently up into my face. “I can tell you everything.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’ve made a pastime of studying case histories, of following them through from beginning to end. You fascinate me in the same way that beetles with their uncanny instinct for dung rolling used to fascinate you. I know more about you than your family. Than your ex. Than you know about yourself, I daresay.”

Something — some by-product of fear — rose up within me as anger at last. “If you are what you say, aren’t you here to make some kind of deal for my soul? To tempt me? Why did you order me coffee, then? Why not a glass of merlot or a Crown and Coke?” My voice had risen, but I didn’t care; I felt my anger with relief.

Lucian regarded me calmly. “Please. How trite. Besides, they don’t serve liquor here.” But then his calm fell away, and he was staring — not at me but past me, toward the clock on the wall. “But there,” he pointed. His finger seemed exceedingly long. “See how the hour advances without us!” He leapt to his feet, and I realized with alarm that he meant to leave.

“What — you can’t just go now that you’ve — ”

“I’ve come to you at great risk,” he hissed, the sound sibilant, as though he had whispered in my ear though he stood three feet away. And then he strode to the glass door and pushed out into the darkness, disappearing beyond the reflected interior of the café like a shadow into a mirror. The strap of bells fell against the door with a flat metal clink, and my own stunned reflection stared back.

Rain pelted my eyes, slipped in wet tracks through my hair against my scalp, ran in rivulets down my nape to mingle with the sweat against my back. It had gotten colder, almost freezing, but I was sweating inside the sodden collar of my shirt as I hurried down Norfolk, my bag slapping against my hip, my legs cramped and wooden, nightmare slow.

The abrupt warmth inside my apartment building threatened to suffocate me as I stumbled up the stairs. My ears pintingled to painful life as I fumbled with my keys. Inside my apartment at last, I fell back against the door, head throbbing and lungs heaving in the still air. I stayed like that, my coat dripping onto the carpet, for several long moments. Then a mad whim struck me.

With numb fingers, I retrieved the laptop from my bag and set it up on the kitchen table. With my coat still on, I dropped down onto a wooden chair, staring at the screen as it yawned to life. I logged into the company server, opened my calendar.

There — my six-thirty appointment. It was simply noted: L.


Sample from Demon / ISBN 1-60006-123-0
Copyright © 2006 NavPress Publishing.
All rights reserved.
To order copies of this resource, come back to www.navpress.com.
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