Saturday, December 31, 2011

Month in Review: December 2011


What did I do?
  • I didn't reach my goal for the Christmas in July, in December challenge. I wanted to read at least 3 Christmas books and get my reviews posted by the end of the month. Obviously that did not happen. I did read one Christmas book though!
  • I signed up for the Contentment Reading Challenge hosted by Katie from Legacy of a Writer.
  • I had an unspoken goal of having at least 100 followers by the end of 2011 and I am SO happy to be able to say that I have reached that goal, times two! Thank you to all my new followers! I appreciate you and I will definitely be having a special giveaway in January to celebrate =D
Blogger Interviews
Books Read
  • Christmas at Harrington's by Melody Carlson
  • Solitary by Travis Thrasher
  • Catching Fire(reread) by Suzanne Collins*
Favorite of the month*

Reviews Posted (title, author, rating)
Giveaway Winners
  • Katie, winner of Tandem by Tracey Bateman
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Photobucket
Books Read: 43 - Seeing that number embarrasses me! I'm going to try my best to read at least twice that many in 2012.

Pages Read: Around 15,000 - I don't know the exact amount, but the average pages per book was 350.

Books Re-read: 9 - I didn't include the number of re-reads in my books or pages read this year.

Reviews Posted: 30 -

Favorite Books of 2011:
The River of Time Series by Lisa T. Bergren

Future Savior Series Book 1 & 2 by Jennifer Hartz


Goals for 2012

One of my main goals for the new year is to post more reviews and be more active in blogging. I'll probably start doing one or two memes regularly. At this point I'm not too sure. We'll see!

I want to get more reading done too. I have so many books that I want to get to, but life sometimes gets in the way and I can't find time to start them. I'm thinking that the reading challenges I signed up for will help me pick up the pace and read, read, read! :)

I want to interact more with other bloggers. I don't know why I get so chicken when it comes to meeting and talking to new bloggers. I need to get over that shyness and just have fun! I also want to comment more on other people's posts. I know I LOVE it when I get a comment, so I'm sure others would like more comment love too. :)
____________________________________________________________

I hope you're all having a wonderful New Year's Eve! God Bless and see you in 2012!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review: Resurrection (Future Savior Book 2)


Resurrection (Future Savior Book Two)
by Jennifer Hartz
Desert Breeze Publishing (June 1, 2011)
Source: Bought
Amazon | Goodreads

Time matters very little when you're dead. I discovered this intriguing fact after being tortured and stabbed to a tree in the strange land of Meric, a place where I discovered my unbelievable powers and experienced an adventure far more amazing than I could have ever imagined.

Now that I'm dead, I find myself stuck in my past, 1991 to be exact… or am I actually dead? Perhaps my adventure to Meric had just been a dream. My unbelievable destiny, all of the friends I made, and even Shaw, the man I fell in love with… just a dream?

..My Thoughts..

Resurrection picks up closely where Conception left off. After dying, Christina finds herself back in her 17 year old body. She doesn't understand how this happened or why. All she wants is to return to Meric and find out exactly what's going on. But was Meric and everything she experienced there real or was it all just a dream?

Any words that I come up with won't do this book justice. I loved everything about Book 1 and was curious to see how Jennifer could top it. With an incredible story and a surprising ending like the one found in this book, it has definitely taken the title as my favorite in the series so far.

I loved returning to Meric. In my review of Book 1, I mentioned the vivid details and descriptions of the land. When reading, I can just imagine how beautiful Meric looks and I easily get lost in this amazing place that I never want to leave.

There are so many fantastic characters, both old and new. It was hard not to like some of them and oh so easy to hate others. One character I'm still waiting to get a good "look" at is Leticia. She makes more appearances this time, but she's still kind of mystery to me. I can't really envision how she looks in my head. I'm hoping she shows up more in Book 3.

With action, romance, mythical creatures, unexpected surprises and so much more,  Resurrection has it all. This was a great fantasy read that pulls you in from the start with a firm grip and doesn't let up until the very last page. I am now eagerly waiting for the March 1st release of Book 3: Evacuation. If you haven't read any of these books, I'd suggest you read them in order to fully understand the story.

 
* * * * *

A Giveaway!
Author Jennifer Hartz is giving away an ebook copy of Future Savior Book One: Conception. The Giveaway ends tomorrow so {go here} to see how you can enter!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop


Welcome to my stop in the Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop! This hop runs from Dec. 27th - 31st and is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. All participating blogs(over 100!) are giving away one of their favorite reads of 2011!

I read a lot of great books this year, but my top 3 are from Lisa T. Bergren's River of Time Series.

 Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent were all AMAZING and one lucky winner will get to choose one of these fabulous books! 

This giveaway is open internationally. Before entering, please make sure The Book Depository ships to you! Go here to check.

Entering is easy, just fill out the form with your name and email. For extra entries, you can follow via GFC or Twitter.

*Closed*

Go here to check out the other blogs in the Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop!

Monday, December 19, 2011

2012 Contentment Reading Challenge


I wasn't planning on joining anymore reading challenges, but today I did! I signed up for the 2012 Contentment Reading Challenge hosted by Katie from Legacy of a Writer. To find out more go here.

This challenge is perfect for me and exactly what I've been looking for! I'm pretty confident I can reach my goal of re-reading 10 books that I already own. We'll see!

I'll be posting all my progress here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Giveaway Winner

I'm so sorry I forgot to announce the winner last week! The winner of the From my shelf to yours giveaway is..
Katie(agirlslegacy@...)
She won Tandem by Tracey Bateman. Congrats!

Thank you to everyone who entered. You'll have another chance to win next week!

End of the Year Giveaway!!


It's time for another giveaway! Since it's the end of the year, I've decided to do a special book of your choice giveaway. I'm really excited about this one because there will be two winners! Here are the details..


Two people will win the book(s) of their choice, up to $10, from The Book Depository. This giveaway is open internationally. Before entering, please make sure TBD ships to your country. You can go here to check if they do.

All you have to do to enter is fill out the form and answer the question. Following is not required to enter, but I'd really appreciate it if you did! Giveaway ends Dec. 31 at midnight.

How does that sound?? Good? Good!

Closed

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blogger Interview ~ Legacy of a Writer

 Getting to know the blogger behind the reviews!

Here's another fun interview for you all. Joining us today is Katie from Legacy of a Writer!

Tell us a little bit about your blog. 
Thank you so much for having me on your blog today, Crystal! My blog? Well, Legacy of a Writer first started out as a place where I could talk about my own writing journey. Over time, it started to grow and now, today, it's a place where I talk about everything and anything having to do with books. :-) I post book reviews, host author interviews, giveaway books, and occasionally share a few things about my personal life as the third eldest in a family of 10 kids. :-) 

What got you started in blogging your book reviews? 
A few different things. One of the main reasons was because as a teenager, I LOVED to read. Seriously, I wore out my library with how frequently I visited--and I always left with ten or more books! But for me, as a teen, not all of those books were always suitable. So, as I began getting introduced to wonderful, clean, Christian authors through my blog, I just wanted to share with other teens that there really ARE books out there that are safe to read. 

How long have you been blogging? 
The middle of January will be two years. :-)  

Congrats on almost two years of blogging! =) 

How much time do you put into your blog? 
Hmm...I've never really stopped to think of that. Quite a bit, I suppose. Usually my mornings (and sometimes afternoons) are entirely spent on my blog, either writing up a post or planning for future posts. But it's so much fun, I don't really notice the hours! :-) 

What genre is your favorite and why? 
 That's an easy one! I love, love, LOVE suspense! Anything that will scare my socks off (but not in a ghost, vampire, paranormal way) or keep me on the edge of my seat is sure to thrill me. I just love it when I am reading a book that I can NOT, for the life of me, put down. It's such an awesome thrill!

Ooh, I love suspense! And for the same reasons as you!  

What is/are your favorite book(s) of all time?  
How can I only pick a few??? Well, how 'bout this--I give you three of my top favorite series and three of my top favorite singles. 1) River of Time by Lisa Bergren 2) Discarded Heroes by Ronie Kendig 3) Women of Justice by Lynette Eason. And for singles, I love 1) The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund 2) Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon 3) Bathsheba by Jill Eileen Smith. 

Ebook or Print? 
Print, all the way!!!! While eBook is nice in that it's cheaper and easier to transport....there isn't anything like actually holding the book in your hands!!! And if everything's on a little electronic device...there's nothing to display on your bookshelf! *gasp of horror* My bookshelf is my FAVORITE spot in my room! 

Who are your 3 favorite authors?  
Just 3??? Hmm, okay. I'd suppose I would say Lisa Bergren, Jody Hedlund, and Ronie Kendig. There writing is so strong, vivid, bold, and transports the readers RIGHT into the action! 

Do you enjoy doing memes? If so, which ones can be found on your blog? 
I enjoy doing them, even though I only participate in one on my blog. It's the Book Beginnings and every Friday I post the first few lines of a book, and talk about what gripped me the most. :-) 

If you had to pick one, what's the best book you've read in the past year? 
Ugh, that's a tough question. Hmm....Probably either Torrent or Wolfsbane. Both of those were really awesome. 

If you had the chance to invite some book characters over for dinner, who would you choose? 
 Let's see: Lord Greco from Torrent (OH YEAH!) and since he would be coming, having the rest of the River of Time series cast would be cool. Dani, Canyon, and the rest of the Nightshade team from Wolfsbane. Katniss and Peeta from The Hunger Games. Tahn and Netta from Tahn. Priscilla and Eli from The Doctor's Lady. And...well, that's enough to get the dinner going. :-) 

Those are some pretty awesome characters on the invite list! 

Is there a particular movie or TV series that you preferred over the book version?  
Hmm...none comes to mind. 

Have you read a book that you would like to rewrite the ending of? 
Yes, I have. One book that comes to mind is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. After such an awesome adventure, I didn't like what happened in the last chapter between Katniss and Peeta. It kinda made for a disappointing and unsatisfied ending.

Favorite book character? 
Oh dear, just one?!?!?! Well, how 'bout I pick a favorite girl character and a favorite guy character? For girls...I'd pick Dani from Wolfsbane. She was such a strong character, even after all she'd been through. And I loved how she kept fighting, no matter what. As for guys...I'd pick Lord Rodolfo Greco, OF COURSE!!! I completely fell for his dark good-bad-guy character. And he had such a complex personality, that he always kept me guessing. (Haha, have you noticed how those two books have kept coming up in today's interview, Crystal?? Yeah, both of them are pretty awesome! ;-) 

A character you love to hate?  
Ohh, that'd probably be Lord Paratore in the River of Time series. That guy was, to use one of Gabi's terms, "Major Creeporama"! 

How many books do you read in a month - roughly? 
Around 18-ish a month. Sometimes I hit 20. 

What do you like to do when you aren't blogging? 
Write. As soon as I finish my blogging responsibilities for the day, I open up my WIP and WRITE!! :-) 

What advice would you give new book bloggers? 
Just keep blogging and doing the best you can to make your book blog uniquely yours. You won't get 200+ followers overnight. It takes work to get your blog out there and noticed, but it's a lot of fun! :-)
 * * *
That's great advice, Katie! I'll definitely be taking it (even though I'm not a new book blogger =D) Thanks for joining us today, it was a lot of fun interviewing you!

Find Katie

Monday, December 5, 2011

Review: Waking Hours

Waking Hours (East Salem Trilogy #1)
by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson
Thomas Nelson (October 4, 2011)
Amazon | Goodreads

All towns have secrets. Some have demons.

Welcome to East Salem. A sleepy town with a history older than America where things are just a bit off. Where the supernatural bleeds into the everyday.

And where a tragic murder mystery is underway. A high school girl is found dead in the town park. And where forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris wants answers. All the suspects are teenagers who were at the party with her the night before-but who woke up the next morning with no memory of what transpired. Even though evidence confirms they were all at the scene of the crime.

Former pro-football linebacker-and local celebrity-Tommy Gunderson finds himself drawn to the case. And to Dani-who he last spoke with on their one high school date forever ago. Yet his celebrity status opens doors barred to Dani-so they form an awkward alliance.

They soon realize that there's more to the mystery than murder. And more to the evil they are facing than a mere human killer.

..My Thoughts..

When I started reading Waking Hours the only thing I knew was that it would probably be a creepy story. I was so right about that. I'm not usually into books with supernatural elements so I was very surprised that I enjoyed this story as much as I did. I do want to warn you, the descriptions of the murdered teen girl are very graphic and might be too much for some. It didn't bother me, but I know some people wouldn't like to read such gory details.

Dani and Tommy were interesting characters and I really liked the interaction between the two. Throughout the story their relationship grew and hidden feelings between them were slowly revealed. They worked well together and nothing between them seemed forced. It all felt natural.

I have to admit. I found the beginning scenes pretty disturbing. I really wasn't sure if I was going to be able to finish. But after a while I just couldn't stop reading. One thing I would suggest is that you don't read this before going to bed. I made the mistake of doing that and was beyond creeped out. Ha!

Lis Wiehl and Pete Nelson wrote a great murder mystery/thriller. The cliff hanger ending is so unfair! I wish I could turn the page and find the continuation of the story. I don't like waiting, but unfortunately I have to. I'm looking forward to seeing where the authors take this story. Waking Hours had me on edge and, at times, freaked out, but I still enjoyed it and will definitely be looking out for book 2.


 
(This ebook was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers through Booksneeze.)

FIRST Blog Tour: F.A.I.R.I.E.S: Baptism by Fire

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 & illustrator is:


and the book:


FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
***Special thanks to M. C. Pearson of FIRST Wild Card Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


M. C. Pearson graduated from San Jose State University with a B. A. in art, served as a multi-media illustrator in the United States Army, earning the rank of sergeant, and spent four years as a house parent for at-risk youth. Now married over 20 years, she homeschools her two children, volunteers with her church youth group, and runs a book review blog alliance (FIRST Wild Card Tours) while writing and drawing. F.A.I.R.I.E.S.: Baptism by Fire is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Unwittingly chosen to join an army of fairies, who fight for the Light of the One, a teenaged girl learns about spiritual warfare as she attends a military academy with fantastical beings.






FROM THE BACK COVER:


Here lies a most precious treasure,
Awaiting one Chosen to deliver.

Seek out the red cousins in the East,
For on this your greed mustn't feast.

The wealth of a species now in your hands,
Do with it as the light demands.

Give them your gift to unite,
For it is the darkness we all must fight.

EDITORIAL REVIEWS:

"Imagination runs wild in F.A.I.R.I.E.S. Pearson brings young readers through a looking glass and into a world bursting with adventure, heroism, and fascinating creatures. Readers will be inspired to be true to the One and left with anticipation of more to come."
--Jill Williamson, award-winning author of
By Darkness Hid, and other books

"Sprinkled with delightful illustrations, and brimming with a full bestiary of magical creatures, F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is a fun, clever romp through the alternate landscape of the most magical world of all, our own. Read, and take up the call: 'Defend and Emancipate!'"
-- D. Barkley Briggs, author of
The Book of Names, and other books

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. will appeal to readers who love the interplay of fantasy and reality. A rich cast of eccentric characters and exotic settings make this a fun addition to the folklore of the battle between good and evil."
--Mike Hamel, author of
YA fantasy series: MATTERHORN THE BRAVE

"F.A.I.R.I.E.S. is one of those rare gems I want to tell everyone about. It's highly imaginative, packed with adventure, and full of hope. A must read for kids and for kids at heart. Even better than Narnia! I was thinking about Pearson's wonderfully memorable characters for days."
--C.J. Darlington, author of
Thicker than Blood

"Ms. Pearson's extravagant and imaginative F.A.I.R.I.E. kingdom will surely delight the young and the young-at-heart in this tale of good and evil, light vs. darkness. The fantasy-loving reader will not be disappointed!"
--Linore Rose Burkard, award winning author of
Before the Season Ends, and other books





Product Details:

List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 482 pages
Publisher: FIRST Wild Card Press (December 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0615530222
ISBN-13: 978-0615530222


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Four thousand seasons shall pass while our swords grow rusty.

Where once one chose to divide, another shall be chosen to unite.

One changed the past, the other shall change the future.

One must emancipate the other to allow the light its dominion.

The realm, now torn, allows the shadow to abide, as humanity lies blind to its peril.

The bond of friendship must endure, for the army of shadows awaits another tear.

Dust off your swords.

Unite the realm.

Destroy the strongholds.

Foretelling of Didasko Gnome Digdeep


†

PART ONE




MANY ARE CALLED
BUT
FEW ARE CHOSEN


†


CHAPTER ONE

Off and Running


t was an accident!” Mellie yelled, not caring who heard or stared. Tears streaked her face as she fled down the Santa Cruz coastline, away from her family.

You don’t need them, a voice hissed in her ear, Escape. Run away.

Scorching sand burned at her feet and bitterness ate at her heart. Mellie pumped her legs as fast as they would go. Her feet pounded with the rhythm of her emotions, beating a tempo with the crashing waves. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Run-a-way. Adrenaline pulsed through her veins, quickening her step.

Why did I have to be the youngest? Only 12 years old. Never smart enough. Never athletic enough. I just wish they loved me.

Once, just once, she wanted to do something that would make her sisters see that she wasn’t the stupid, awkward, ugly, little baby sister.

As she ran, she wiped away some tears with the palm of her hand. Her fingers settled on her large nose, a gift from her dad’s Hungarian ancestry.

Chelsea got the ski-slope shaped nose. I had to get Half-Dome. It just isn’t fair.

Her hand dropped to her side and she pinched at her stomach. It still had some of its baby fat.

Ugh, why are my sisters so perfect? What happened to me?

Pushing her short bangs from her forehead in disgust, she mumbled, “Maybe I’ll find treasure. I’ll be the rich one, and then they’ll have to accept me.” But she knew better. California didn’t hold any more undiscovered treasures.

The sand, hot and coarse, cut at her feet. I wish I had remembered my shoes. She wore only a black, one-piece swimsuit and a San Jose Sharks sweatshirt tied tightly around her waist.

Breathing rapidly, she began to tire. She slowed her pace to a walk and looked back across the beach. The sand was so hot that waves of heat rose from it and blurred her view. A lone seagull screeched overhead.

Her sisters were nowhere in sight.

Man, I thought for sure that Chelsea was going to chase me down and kill me.

She had to admit that it was a little gratifying to see the sand fly from her foot, covering Chelsea’s sub-sandwich and freshly oiled stomach. Grinning slightly, the tears stopped flowing. She rubbed her eyes.

Mellie looked in the direction of her sisters. “You guys can never take a joke.” Flipping her golden hair, she turned her head back toward her chosen path. She no longer smiled as she stomped her feet in the cold surf, remembering the hateful words that had been said.

“Oh, waa waa, you stupid cry baby! Go tell mommy! Maybe she’ll feel sorry for her ugly, fat baby. Why don’t you grow up? We don’t want you near us. Can’t you understand English? You are so dumb. Look at her mouth open. Oh wait, here she goes…come on, baby…cry!”

Mellie knew she couldn’t go back. They would only ridicule and torment her further. Her mom would never believe it was Chelsea’s fault. No, the evidence was on Chelsea’s side. Who was the one with the sand all over her oily, coconut-smelling body? Who was the one who had a sandwich full of sand? Mellie walked on.

After her temper finally cooled, it occurred to her that she had never walked so far alone.

How far have I gone?

A shadow passed over her, and she looked up. Nothing was there. A cool breeze from the ocean created a stark contrast to the scalding sand. She shivered but kept walking, lost in her loneliness.

Not until she stubbed her toe on a large broken clamshell did she look at the beach. A chill snaked up her back. Nothing appeared familiar. The sounds of the surf were still there, yet something was decidedly different. She felt dizzy. Looking around, she could not quite pinpoint the change. Then it struck her.

No people.

Where did everybody go?

Even though she could see no one, Mellie could swear that she felt eyes staring at her.

She looked inland across the sand, saw movement near some eucalyptus trees, but decided that the wind must have caused it.

Trees? So close to the beach?

Something shook the trees again, causing goosebumps to stand out on Mellie’s arms. Alarmed, she checked the skyline. The sun was close to setting. She hoped that the police weren’t out looking for her.

Suddenly cold, she pulled at the arms of the sweatshirt still tied around her waist. It fell to the sand. Bending to pick it up, she once again saw a blur of movement, except this time it came from a rocky outcrop by the waves. She shook the sand out of the sweatshirt and hurriedly tugged it over her head.

“Okay, I’m seeing things.” Mellie yanked at her hair, pulling it out of the sweatshirt. She stared at the sinister rocks. “Hel-lo?” Her voice cracked as she spoke louder. “Is someone the-ere? Hello?” No answer. The shadowy rocks seemed to quiver with excitement, beckoning her closer.

Hmm…probably just a seagull.

Even if it was a bird, she did not want to see it.

There’s no way I’m going over there.

The wind picked up and blew her hair into her eyes. The sand spun with the wind.

Yes, definitely time to move. I need to find a road.

She turned back toward the sweet smelling, oddly placed trees.

Mellie arrived at the base of the first, colossal eucalyptus tree. Without warning, one of the branches fell in front of her, then seemed to get up from the ground and pose its bottom stems in a military-like stance.

Mellie screamed and jumped back. “Branches don’t stand.”

“They do if they are walking sticks.” The eucalyptus branch chuckled, stretching to its full height, considerably taller than Mellie’s meager five feet.
She gasped, grabbed the branch, and threw it like a javelin, as hard as she could.

As she took off running, she heard a bark and halted. Turning, she saw a golden retriever bounding toward her with the stick in his mouth. The dog dropped it at her feet. She watched the dog run into the grove of trees and disappear before she fearfully turned back to the possessed stick.

It had already gained its footing again and stood over her. Mellie was too frightened to move this time.

A face emerged from the skinny twig and took on the characteristics of a male human, but none like Mellie had ever seen. He had hair made up in rolls as if it were a powdered, green-silver wig, the same color as the leaves that grew all around his skinny body. His face was long and his forehead high. The twiggy man smiled and said in a distinctly British, albeit breezy, accent, “Do not worry, you are safe.”

Mellie couldn’t answer.

“Ahh…I love new recruits. They are so easily addled.”

Feeling more confused than threatened, Mellie found her voice. “What? What do you mean, new recruits?” She rubbed her eyes, shaking her head. “Okay, I’m talking to a stick now. Yes, I have lost it. I have gone totally mental.”

“Oh, I say, am I to understand that I am the first to be revealed to you?” With round, leathery leaves, the branch resembled a toddler toy with rings stacked on one another.

She dropped open her mouth and nodded.

“Well, let me do this properly, then. Ahem. Mortal, made of clay, you have been Chosen to join the Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads.”

“What? What are you? You look like a stick…but you can talk.”

“Yes, child,” the stick replied with a sigh. “But, I think we are quite past that by now. Have you not heard me? You have been Chosen.”

Mellie opened her mouth wider, closed it, frowned, and opened it once more. “Chosen? For what?”

“You did wish to be different? To change who you were? ’Twas an especially strong desire, yes?” The branch crossed its arms and tapped its twiggy foot.

“Umm…”

“Dear me, this is highly unusual. You made a choice to run away from a miserable life and asked to be set free? Correct?”

“Well, I, ah…yeah. I guess so. What did you say about recruit for some squad?”

“Humph. I see that I was not understood. Yes? Let me elucidate. The Fantastical, Aerial, International, Reasonably Inconspicuous, Emancipation Squads , or shall I say F.A.I.R.I.E.S.? have accepted you into their organization. You asked. You were answered.” The branch attempted a smile, but looked impatient instead.

“Fairies? I don’t believe in fairies.” Mellie winced, half expecting him to fall down and writhe in pain until she clapped her hands.

“Quite right. You are not supposed to. If humans truly believed we existed, we would never get anything accomplished.”

Mellie laughed and looked around for a hidden camera, thinking this must be a joke. “Right. Ah…heh…okay, bud, brilliant costume,” she said, imitating the branch’s accent. “Where’s the zipper?” She reached toward him and touched a soft leaf.

The branch slapped her hand away and stamped its foot with a loud cracking noise. “I beg your pardon. I have not been a bud for over 800 springs!” He paced, his leaves crumpling, mumbling to himself about humans and why, in the One’s name, did he listen to that confounded gnome who told him that he needed to stand gate duty. With his rank!

“I’m sorry I upset you. Please, I’m very confused. I’m lost, and I just want to go home.” Mellie bit her lip.

The branch stopped mid-pace. “Home? Earlier, did you not wish for a new life? And riches? I know you wished for treasure, hmm?”

“How do you know that?” Mellie furrowed her brow. “Have you been reading my mind?”

The twig man didn’t answer her questions, asking his own instead. “Ahh, so, you admit this, yes?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Yes, but…well, this really isn’t what I had in mind.”

The branch threw up its twiggy fingers. “Oh, well, of course you did not have this in mind. After all, we are reasonably inconspicuous, especially to humans. How could you have this in mind? However, is it not superior of the One to think that this is what you would have chosen had you known about us? Anyway, ’tis irrevocable now. So, if you would just follow me, we shall get you signed in and enrolled for training.”

The branch marched off between the trunks of two large eucalyptus trees.

Mellie slid uncontrollably after the walking stick. She planted her feet firmly, refusing to budge, but she slid after him anyway. Grasping at branches of nearby trees, she panted heavily as she struggled to resist following the branch. Some kind of invisible tie connected her to him. He seemed to pull her along with his every step.

Mellie thought about her sisters and how mad they were at her. I’m dead meat if they find me. Mellie quickly gave up her battle and ran after the eucalyptus branch, barely keeping up with his stride.

†


The sand changed to coarse dirt, with pebbles and sticks. More and more trees filled Mellie’s vision. Bushes scraped against her bare legs and slapped her face as she moved deeper inside a forest of eucalyptus and redwood trees. She winced in pain as a razor-sharp rock sliced her foot. Stopping to nurse it, she wished once again for her forgotten shoes.

“Excuse me, sir?” Mellie looked around. She could not see the branch anywhere.

“Do not call me ‘sir’, I work for a living.” The branch peeked out from around one of the gigantic trees. “And please, try to keep up. We need to reach the gateway.”

Mellie limped up to him. “Sorry, sir…I mean…umm, what should I call you then?”

“Oh, well, we did skip that. Did we not? Yes, all right, an introduction then.” The branch man seemed to enjoy formal etiquette for he gave an elaborate wave and bowed. “My name is Regnans, family of Myrtaceae, born member of the F.A.I.R.I.E.S., Britannia Wing, rank of Master Nymph Dryad.”

“Nice to meet you, Reg…Reg?” Mellie chewed on the inside of her mouth. Never good at remembering names, she knew she would offend him with her lack of manners.

Sure enough, the dryad raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Regnans.” He gave a hurt sniff, then drolly sneered. “If you find that a difficult name, you should meet the rest of my family, all seven-hundred thirty-four of them.”

“Sorry, I just…well, it is a lot to remember. It’s a nice name, though. My name is Maryellen Goodwin of Bret Harte Middle School, San Jose, California. But everyone calls me Mellie.” She stuck out her hand, intending to shake. Regnans stared at her.

“That is a strange curtsy. However, I guess ’twill do. We must get moving now. The shadows abound, you know.” Regnans made an about face and marched off faster than before.

Another hour passed, and still they strode along the forest floor. Mellie’s feet were now cut, blistered, and bleeding. She kept up as best she could with Regnans’s long stride. Whenever she tried to stop, he would pull her on with that invisible force of his.

Stupid, pompous, magical Star Wars freak.

She whimpered as she limped. Darkness and mist now covered the woods. As she was about to plead for a break, Regnans stopped. Except for her heavy gulps of air, all seemed quiet.

Regnans stiffened even more than usual. Nothing on him moved, apart from his eyes, which darted around quickly.

“All is safe, we may proceed.” He held up a twiggy finger to his woody mouth. “Please do not speak, and try not to breathe so abominably loud.”

Mellie nodded with a disgusted frown. Sweat dripped from her bangs. She tried to calm her breathing, even though her vision blurred, and her legs wobbled. Her blisters had popped by now and oozed wetness.

Regnans moved again, yet this time he took slow, deliberate steps, all the while scanning his surroundings. He walked up to a massive redwood tree and stroked its bark.

A breeze stirred up, rattling the leaves, sounding almost like spoken words. Mellie thought herself crazy again. However, the longer she stood there, the more she sensed that it really was the tree’s language, as if she had never listened to trees properly before. It said, “If you love, you will say the one true love that leads the way.”

Regnans whispered in a leaf rustling voice, “Ah-gaw-pay.”

A loud grumbling sound, as if someone awakened after a long sleep, shook the grove. The redwood tree opened two eyes, each the size of Mellie’s head, and blinked. A great fissure erupted below the eyes in the shape of a crescent, and redish-brown wooden teeth emerged. A long, knobby branch pushed its way out above the mouth and inhaled deeply.

The tree chuckled. Instead of the whispering leaves, a low, rumbling utterance of human speech came from the redwood tree. “Regnans? What brings you to my neck of the woods?” He blinked again. “And who is this? A new recruit? A human? A Chosen?”

Mellie knew she looked silly, standing there with her mouth in an ‘O’ shape, but she couldn’t move. This was simply impossible. There is no such thing as fairies!

“Yes, yes. Please open the gate, we must not dawdle here…they may be watching.” Regnans looked agitated.

A deep laugh resounded from the redwood. “Oh, Regnans. There are none who watch here.”

Regnans mumbled something about hamadryads and their pride, then proclaimed in a slightly louder voice to the tree, “We must be sober, be vigilant, because the shadow walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom it may devour.”

The hamadryad looked chagrined. “You speak true, dryad. Forgive me for acting like an arrogant seedling.” He glanced at Mellie, and with a lowered voice asked, “And what is your name, little human?”

Mellie managed to squeak out, “Mellie Goodwin.”

“Ah, ’tis always nice to have a Good Wind.” The hamadryad laughed heartily.

“Sorry to interrupt this lovely tete-a-tete,” Regnans said, “but would you please open the gate? I left Westside completely unguarded.”

An annoyed creak came from the base of the redwood, followed by a sigh. “Yes, Regnans. Agape you said, and agape it is. Go with the light, my friends.” The large, joyous eyes closed, and the hamadryad whispered in his leaf rustling voice, “Until we meet again, Good Wind.” His face disappeared, and his roots lifted and pulled apart, exposing a tunnel within his trunk.

Regnans grabbed Mellie’s hand with his rough, wooden one, and pulled her inside the opening. The tree closed itself abruptly and left them in total darkness.

Regnans cleared his throat and said, “Let there be light.”

A burst of dazzling brightness sparkled from the tunnel’s wall. Mellie glanced around and noticed a long, winding stairwell leading down into the ground.

“Shall we, then?” Not waiting for a reply, Regnans started down the steps.

Available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Month in Review: November 2011

What did I do?
  • Once again this month wasn't too good for me. I wasn't able to read as much as I wanted to. As for reviews... UGH!! I just wanna slap myself.
  • I signed up for some pretty cool 2012 reading challenges. I'm looking forward to trying to reach my goals :)
  • I signed up for Christmas in July, in December. It starts tomorrow so I need to start reading!
  • My blog got a brand spankin' new design by Lori from Imagination Designs. I love it!
  • I started Blogger Interview. A new feature where I spotlight other book bloggers.
Blogger Interviews
Books Read
  • Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (reread)*
  • Resurrection: Future Savior Series, Book 2 by Jennifer Hartz*
Favorite book(s) of the month*

Blog Awards Received




Thank you!




Giveaway Winners
  • Elizabeth, winner of a $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • Wendy, winner of Becoming Me by Melody Carlson
That's my month in review. How was your November?

Blogger Interview ~ Wall-to-Wall Books

Getting to know the blogger behind the reviews!

Here's another interview for you guys. Today we have Wendy from Wall-to-Wall Books with us. Yay! 

Wall-to-Wall BooksTell us a little bit about your blog.
I love being a book blogger! It is one of the best - fun things I do. I try to post at least a few times each week. I do full post reviews, as well as what I call "Speed Reviewing" which is several short blurbs about books I have read over the past weeks that didn't get a full page. People seem to love these!

I also do LOTS of giveaways! I like doing giveaways because I love to "share the wealth", it costs so little to send out a book. So even if I send 4 books per month I am only spending - 10 - 12.00 I don't think that is too much so others can enjoy the books I have loved.

I've always loved your "Speed Reviewing" posts. It's a fun idea!  :)

How long have you been blogging?
I have been blogging in general since Jan of 2008! but always included a few book reviews in some of my posts. I decided to separate my blogs in 2009. So now I have a book blog as well as my personal blog - itsJUSTme About living life in the Fingerlakes area of NY.

What genre is your favorite and why?
I have many, are you ready?
Historical Fiction (as well as Christian His. Fiction)
Chick-Lit
Fiction (Woman's Fiction, Christian Fiction)
Magical Realism
Memoirs (Bios. etc.)
Travel memoirs
Non-Fiction
And some Paranormal (but NO Vampires!)
About the only thing I do not read is - Fantasy, Sci fi, and Mystery

What is/are your favorite book(s) of all time?
Ha! I actually do have a list!
Jenny's Mountain - by Elaine Long (out of print)
Bittersweet Country - by Elaine Long (also out of print)
Tilting at Windmills - by Joseph Pittman
The Believers - by Janice Holt Giles (also out of print, hmm this seems to be a trend here!)
And my favorite newest book is - The Help - by Kathryn Stockett

I've heard so many good things about The Help. I need to read it soon!

Who are your 3 favorite authors? 
Wow, this would be way too hard to choose! I will just pick 3, but they might not be my top favorite but 3 of the top favorites, does that make sense?
Stephanie Grace Whitson (Christian Fiction)
Ted Dekker (Christian Suspense)
Joshilyn Jackson (Contemporary Fiction)

Do you enjoy doing memes?
No, LOL

If you had to pick one, what's the best book you've read in the past year?
Hmmm, again very hard to answer, there were so many I loved! but I would have to say my favorite was Demonglass -by Rachel Hawkins (book 2 in the Hex Hall Series, AWESOME!!!!)

Have you read a book that you would like to rewrite the ending of? 
Not really, BUT... One of my pet peeves is a non-ending! I hate books that don't really have an ending unless they are part of a series of course. So i would like to go and write endings for all those non-ending books

How many books do you read in a month - roughly?
I read a lot! Prob at least 2 - 3 every week, so maybe 8 - 10 per month!

Which do you prefer, Ebook or Print?
Ya know.... A year ago I would have told you Print. But I saw the nook color advertised and HAD to have it! Received it as a Christmas gift last year and LOVE it!!!!! Now I don't know how I would ever live with out it! I probably read about 50/50 between print and eBooks.

What do you like to do when you aren't blogging? 
I love to knit! I knit almost as much as much as I read! Almost... heehee

What advice would you give new book bloggers? 
Just go for it! Do it, take that step! There's no reason not too. It is so much fun, and you really can't do anything wrong!
* * *
That's great advice! Thank you so much for the interview :)

Find Wendy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From my shelf to yours


I have a lot of books on my shelf that are in need of new homes. I've already read them once and have no use for them anymore. This does not mean they weren't great reads. It's just that I'd much rather share them with other book lovers than watch them sit on my shelf collecting dust. Books are meant to be read!

I want to give my readers a chance to win some of my old books and that's why I host From my shelf to yours giveaways every couple of weeks. They last a week from the day they're posted and one person will win the book of their choice.

To enter, fill out the form below. This idea was inspired by Nearly New Books For You hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  

Books to choose from:
Closed

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to take the time to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful day with your loved ones and enjoy all the yummy food!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 
Psalm 107:1

Have a blessed one!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogger Interview ~ Christian Bookshelf Reviews

Getting to know the blogger behind the reviews!

Blogger Interview is a new feature I'm doing to spotlight other book bloggers. Joining us today for my very first Blogger Interview is Melanie from Christian Bookshelf Reviews.

Thank you for being with us today Melanie! Tell us a little bit about your blog.
Hi Crystal! Thanks for having me here. My blog is Christian Bookshelf Reviews and I review mostly Christian fiction books (which you can probably tell from the title). I also interview authors and host giveaways.

What got you started in blogging your book reviews?
One of the reasons I started this blog is because I love to read and having a blog is a great way to read more books (that I otherwise might not have had the opportunity to read). I also like sharing my opinions about books and helping others decide if a book sounds interesting to them or not.  

How long have you been blogging?
February 4, 2011 is the first time I posted on Christian Bookshelf Reviews! I'm so excited about my blogoversary (I'm planning a BIG celebration)!

Ooh! Sounds like fun! I'll be watching for that :)

Do you enjoy doing memes? If so, which ones can be found on your blog?
Yes! I love participating in memes! I've participated in a variety of memes, but I don't participate every week. Some of my favorites are Book Blogger Hop, Musing Mondays, Top Ten Tuesday, and WWW Wednesdays. I also host a meme called 'Weekend Report' - it's where you sum up what you've accomplished the previous week. (i.e. books read, reviews posted, current giveaways, etc.). 

What genre is your favorite and why?
Definitely Suspense/Thriller! Why? I guess because I love being on the edge of my seat, anticipating what's going to happen!

What is/are your favorite book(s) of all time?
Abomination by Collen Coble; Vigilante by Robin Parrish; Waterfall, Cascade, and Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren; The Queen by Steven James; The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz; Skin and The Boneman's Daughter by Ted Dekker ~ and that's just a few of my favorite books! :)

If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island, what 3 books would you want with you?
Wow! Tough question. How can I choose just three? Besides the Bible, I'd probably pick Abomination by Colleen Coble and Cascade & Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren

Cascade & Torrent would most likely be my choices too!

Which do you prefer, Ebook or Print?
Without a doubt print! I like ebooks, but I much prefer reading print.

Is there a particular movie or TV series that you preferred over the book version?
I can't think of a book that I've read that is also a movie or vice versa. I did like the movie 'The Last Sin Eater', but I haven't read the book...yet! :o

Have you read a book that you would like to rewrite the ending of?
Yes! Yes, yes, yes, and yes! I would really like to rewrite the ending to 'Inside Threat' by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn! I cried so much over that ending....I'm not going to say what happened, but it's really sad.

Favorite book character?
I don't have a favorite book character, but I really like Patrick Bowers (from the Patrick Bowers Thrillers by Steven James).

How many books do you read in a month - roughly?
I'd say normally around 8-10 books.

What book are you currently reading? How do you like it so far?
Right now I'm reading Forbidden by Ted Dekker & Tosca Lee! It's great so far!

What do you like to do when you aren't blogging?
Watch NHL games, read, listen to music, and play games.

* * * *
Again, thanks for being with us today Melanie! It was fun interviewing you :)

Find Melanie

I'm Baaaack! With a New Design!!!


Just Another Book Lovin' Girl

My blog got a makeover!!! Thanks to the amazing Lori from Imagination Designs! She did a fabulous job don’t you think? If you’re thinking about getting a custom design, you should definitely check her site out! Her prices are the best I’ve seen and her designs are beautiful. She is just so awesome!

Ahhh!! <--- that was a high pitched scream… My ratings are little ladybugs! CUTE! And so is my favicon =D She also did a few other things like, my blog button, my signature, and banners for my Month in Review posts and my From my shelf to yours giveaways! There's another one, but I'm not showing you until later. ;)

 
I love every single thing about this design and I cannot stop looking at it. I'll probably just sit here all day and stare at it. :)

Once again, thank you so much Lori!!!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giveaway Winner

The winner of last week's From My Shelf to Yours giveaway is...
 She won Becoming Me by Melody Carlson. Congrats!

Thanks to all who entered. You'll have another chance to win the book of your choice next week!

Update

Hi everyone! I'm sorry I  haven't been posting much these past two weeks(again!) I'm working on some new things for the blog and on a special giveaway =) I think you guys are really gonna like the changes that are coming. I might not post much the next few days, but I'll still be reading comments and replying to them.

Thanks for being so awesome!

FIRST Blog Tour: 40 Days to Better Living: Depression

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:


Barbour Books (November 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings – The B&B Media Group – for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well. So nine years after opening the Church Health Center, he opened its Hope & Healing Wellness Center. Today the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic in the country of its type having cared for 60,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. The clinic handles more than 36,000 patient visits a year while the wellness center, which moved to its current 80,000-square-foot location on Union Avenue in 2000, serves more than 120,000 member visits each year. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION: 
Depression is a serious condition—and 40 Days to Better Living: Depression provides clear, manageable steps for people to manage it, through life-changing attitudes and actions. Readers can select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living—Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition—and follow the 40-day plan to improve their lives, just a bit, day by day. With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who’ve taken the same journey, this book—from the Church Health Center in Memphis, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the U.S.—may be one of the most important books your customers will read this year.

The 40 Days to Better Living series offers clear, manageable steps to life-changing attitudes and actions in a context of understanding and grace for all people at all points on the journey to optimal health. With plenty of practical advice, spiritual encouragement, and real stories of those who have found a better life, this simple and skillfully crafted book inspires readers to customize their own path to wellness by using the 7-Step Model for Healthy Living as a guide:

· Nutrition: pursuing smarter food choices and eating habits

· Friends and family: giving and receiving support through relationships

· Emotional life: understanding feelings and managing stress to better care for yourself

· Work: appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts

· Movement: discovering ways to enjoy physical activity

· Medical care: partnering with health care providers to optimize medical care

· Faith life: building a relationship with God, neighbors, and self


Along with tips from the Model for Healthy Living, the easy-to-read format features a Morning Reflection and an Evening Wrap-Up as well as a place for documenting plans, progress, and perspectives. Targeted scriptures and prayers that undergird the focus of each day’s message make this compact book an excellent choice for a daily devotional.

Subsequent titles in the Better Living series will be released bi-monthly and address key health topics including hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight management, stress management, aging, and addiction. All promise substantial support to those who are ready for a newer, better way of living—body and spirit.


Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (November 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616262664
ISBN-13: 978-1616262662

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES: Click on the images to see them larger:

























 
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