Sunday, December 31, 2006

One More for Oh Seven

Whoops. I really meant for this book to make my list. I can't believe I left it off, but it was the book I read earliest in 2006. Maybe that's why the Oscar contenders are released in December usually.

Plague Maker by Tim Downs probably is my #2 choice in 06. It had a great story with suspense, humor, and interesting plot details. I learned more about fleas than I probably ever wanted to know. It had intensity and kept the page turning without the intense "ick" that comes off in Germ (although it does have its own ick, it just is smarter about it).

My apologies Mr. Downs. But this way you got a post all to yourself. Whoo-hoo.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Top Six of Oh Six

Yes, just what the world needs: another top 5 or 10 list. The proliferation of blogs, forums, and other internet outlets lets our opinions be trumpeted out to... no one in particular. But I have read some good books this year, and I wanted to share about them one more time. So without further ado my top SIX books of the year:

1. Scoop by Rene Gutteridge. If you want to laugh out loud at an original premise and great characters, then this is the book. I looked forward with delight at getting to sit down and read more of this very enjoyable piece. See 11/15 post and following.

2. Firebird by Kathy Tyers. Okay, this is a trilogy, but I'm counting it as one. (My blog, my rules) This was the best science fiction book I've read in a long time, probably since the Thrawn trilogy of Star Wars books. Good company, as Kathy has written some SW novels. The worlds she creates are vibrant and exciting, and it is very easy to get lost in the events of the book. Book 3 suffers a little in pacing, but overall the trilogy is very worth the investment of time and money! See 8/21 post and following.

3. Hood by Stephen Lawhead. Lawhead returns with a great read and retelling of the Robin Hood story. He creates a believable scenario for making the hero Welsh, and builds great characters and harrowing situations. Here's hoping the sequels hit the same high mark. See post here.

4. Waking Lazarus by T.L. Hines. A debut novel by the brainchild of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. I enjoyed it at the time, but I was going through such a tumultous time it was hard to truly appreciate it. As I reflected, it was an engrossing story with an amazing concept. Be sure to watch for The Dead Whispers On from Mr. Hines in 2007. See 6/26 post and following.

5. Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins. I had been enjoying BC's blog since March of 2005, but Violet Dawn was the first book of hers I read. To my regret. The book grabbed hold and didn't let go with the suspense of the story rushing through 14 hours of life in Kanner Lake, Idaho. With such a compressed timeline, she kept the excitment up while making the town and its denizens come to life. Of course, I have also enjoyed participating as Pastor Hank in the book's blog, Scenes and Beans! See 9/27 post and following.

6. Germ by Rober Liparulo. This one may be cheating, as it is scheduled for a blog tour in January. I don't want to give it away, you'll have to check back then for more. Suffice it to say, this book kept me in suspense more than any other book this year. When I got it I sat down to check out a few pages. 45 minutes and 50+ pages later, my wife came looking for me since I was so distracted.

There you have it. My top 6 of '06. Here's to more great books in 2007!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Switchfoot!

Oh baby...

Oh! Gravity has landed.

The boys from San Diego released their latest album today. I wasn't going to get it right away, but thanks to my buddy TL Hines, Montana writer extrordinare, I had an extra $10 in my pocket (well, at least in my Paypal account).

I've listened to it a few times so far today (as I put together yet another Lego set for my boys. Legos must have been invented to give parents patience...). It is musically pleasing from the get go. The lyrics are thoughtful as always, a little different from their last couple of albums. It seems the theme is challenging the status quo of the cultural mentality. "American Dream" dashes the idea that life is all about money, and a similar vein runs through most of the songs.

So if you enjoy rockin' beats with lyrics to challenge you intellectually and melodies to worm inside your subconscious only to come out while waiting in line somewhere, check out Switchfoot. The cover art is bleah, but the music is well worth it.

Monday, December 25, 2006


Newsboys - "Adoration"

I’m here with the others
Who saw the heavens testify
Now I hang back in the shadows
I want to come close
I want to know
She sees me shivering here
She smiles and with a nod
I walk through the mud and straw
To the newborn Son of God

Come, let us adore Him
He has come down to this barren land
Where we live
And all I have to give Him
Is adoration

He raises a wrinkled hand
Through the dust and the flies
Wrapped in rags like we are
And with barely open eyes
He takes my finger
And He won’t let go
And He won’t let go
It’s nothing like I knew before
And it’s all I need to know

Come, let us adore Him
He has come down to the world we live in
And all I have to give Him
Is adoration

God is with us here
Our Immanuel
God is with us here
Our Immanuel

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Jesus, our Immanuel
Is with us here and He won’t let go

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas - The Ultimate Second Chance

This is the article I wrote for our local paper, that was published in the Religion section on Dec. 15.

Many people feel that the Old Testament and New Testament of the Bible describe two different Gods. I have heard it said, even from otherwise well-educated, thoughtful people, that the God of the Old Testament is a God of justice and wrath. Conversely, the God of the New Testament is a kind and loving God.

In reality, this is a great misconception. The God of the Bible remains consistent throughout His word – it is people reading that don’t understand the way His character remains true from Genesis to Revelation.

In the Old Testament, the focus is often on the wrath of God: Sodom and Gomorrah, the 10 plagues of Egypt, the exile of the Jews to Babylon are just some of the examples of the Lord showing His anger to people. And if this is how people see Him, then they will get that impression. I would come to that conclusion myself.

However, in reading the Old Testament carefully, a different picture emerges. One begins to see a God who is a passionate lover, chasing after His people, giving them many opportunities to return to Him. The Lord reveals Himself to be the God of Second Chances.

Instead of thinking of fire and brimstone, consider this: when Adam and Eve sin, they are punished for their actions. Their sin cannot stay in the presence of a holy God. But later in the Bible it says that the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23). Did God smite them down while in their fig leaf outfits? No, He revealed His plan for redemption right after their first sin.

After the serpent had deceived Adam and Eve, God curses the serpent and says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (singular tense in Hebrew) and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This offspring was the promised Messiah. Even though God would’ve been justified in stopping the whole human experiment right then, He instead showed the way by which he would redeem people from their sin.

People may say that the Flood was a severe judgment. But God again would have been justified in wiping the slate clean and starting over; that’s how bad humanity had become in a short time. But he saved Noah and his family, so that we again could have a second chance.

The children of Israel rebelled against God over and over. He told Moses He would wipe them out and make him into a mighty nation. But God showed mercy when Moses interceded.

All through Israel’s history, they turn from the Lord who loves them time and time again. He sends prophets to the people and the leaders, encouraging them to turn back before it is too late. The prophets are always viewed as harbingers of woe. Except, this too is a misconception. Yes, they use quite colorful language to try and catch the ears of their audience, but over and over again the heart of the message is “return to Me”. God’s undying love cries out for His children to seek Him, the true source of all that is good, instead of fooling themselves with the things of the world that seem to bring fulfillment, but only end in disaster.

God doesn’t even stop there. The Old Testament is focused on the Jews, but repeatedly He calls out to the other nations, that they might come to Him as well. “I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6).

Hopefully you are starting to see a different picture of the Old Testament here. There is no lack of example on this principle: the God of Genesis through Malachi is a God of love. I could go on for a while on His love for His people, and how He promised He would make a way for them.

The fulfillment of this promise, of giving people a second chance to come back to God, took the form of a little babe in a manger 2000 years ago. The ultimate expression of this redemption took on human form. We could not make a way for ourselves, no matter how hard we tried. The Jews tried to keep the law. They sacrificed how many animals at their temple, to what end? The work of man and the blood of animals could not make up our debt.

There was only one way for our debt to be paid. There was only One, whose blood would be pure enough to wipe away all our stains. There was only One, whose perfect sacrifice would make a way for us to return to our Father in heaven, who desired in His great love, mercy, and longsuffering to have His children in His kingdom. It was unavoidable.

Love had to become flesh. Born of a virgin. He did not miraculously appear in that manger. He was birthed. He had to be cleaned off. His parents were so poor, that a stable for animals was their shelter. A feeding trough had clean hay placed inside so the babe could have a place to lie. The Old Testament, with its story of a loving God pursuing His creation finds its culmination in the greatest miracle of all: Jesus Christ is born. The New Testament, in full agreement with the Old, begins.

And the greatest of second chances is given to the peoples of the world.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Only "One Part Brave"

Since I've been pretty active with the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy blog tour lately, I paid more attention to the movie Eragon. When my good friend Chris and I had the opportunity to get out for a movie, our choices were narrowed to Eragon and Casino Royale. Due to the CSFF Tour, I opted for Eragon, despite lesser reviews when compared with the latest Bond flick.

I don't usually hang my hat on other reviews, but in this case they probably were right.

I'll admit up front that I haven't gotten around to reading the book. If there are any Inheritance trilogy fanboys out there, I'm not dogging the novel, just the movie.

The plot centers around the defeat of the dragon riders long ago by the evil king, who turned on his fellow riders and instruments of justice in order to take power from his own. There is one dragon egg left that is known about, and the movie starts with the search for this stone.

Before the bad guys can take it from the beautiful warrior princess, she manages to magically get it right in front of the very one needed to unleash its potential. Eragon is a 17 year old boy raised by his uncle, content in his farm life. Only when the dragon hatches and he learns the fate he is slated for does he rise up to take a hold of his destiny.

That the movie has promise, is the best compliment I can give it. There's a good story in there wanting to get out. It is just buried by very stilted dialogue ("I suffer without my stone") repeated over and over again ("one part brave against three parts foolish").

The dragon is rendered beautifully, and the scenes of Eragon as the dragon rider flying in battle are exciting. However, at other times the visuals are like a direct-to-DVD knock off of Lord of the Rings. I don't know who the director is, but Peter Jackson he ain't.

John Malkovich is terribly wasted as the king. I enjoyed the magical Shade played by Robert Carlyle. I love Jeremy Irons, but he was hampered by the poor dialogue most of all. The young actor who plays Eragon, Edward Speleers, does the best job in the movie and seems to be a likeable star. Don't get me started about Djimon Hounsou, who has such great screen presence but is made to look ridiculous here. This movie must have brought in every overweight white guy in Hollywood to play the villanous Urgalls. There were more rolls than a NFL lineman reunion!

I heard that the young author of Eragon wasn't involved with the screenplay, which if true is a very good thing for his reputation. As another reviewer put it, the story comes off as a mish-mash of Star Wars and LotR. Yeah, blame the Hero's Journey (which may be the case), but still the plot line was done before and done better.

Overall, it was a fine diversion, but I would've rather caught it at the cheap second run theatre.

The Gospel in a Postmodern World

This blog post is a great mini-discussion of sharing the gospel in a post-modern world. As Christians we need to learn to talk to Western culture in this new language, as previous methods of evangelism just don't resonate with our neighbors any more. Hat tip to Mir, who also has a link to the audio of this.

World View

If anyone thinks Christianity is just a personal decision to receive Christ, then you need to read this article, an interview of Chuck Colson. If you realize the importance of worldview, then you'll still want to read it!

So basically - everyone go and read it. Now. Please.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Check It Too

Becky Miller had a litte more inspiration, and shares that in her 2nd Open Letter to Fantasy Readers. The main thrust: Pray! If you like quality fiction, if you support authors with a Biblical Christian world view, then I encourage you to remember them in your prayers. Making disciples of all men means influencing the sphere of entertainment and art, not leaving it to the Stephen Kings of the world.

End of the Wookiees

It was an up and down year for my fantasy football team "Wild Wookiees". I started off weak, going 2-4. I then won about 5 straight games, sometimes in very close fashion. I needed one victory to ensure going to the playoffs, but I lost 2 in a row. The last game came, and I had to get real creative on my lineup (whoever plays the Raiders this week is my defense!). I managed to squeak by my division leader 104-101 and make the playoffs as a wild card.

Unfortunately, the Wookiees' valiant effort fell short this week. I lost 121-104 to the league leader. If I had played the other two playoff teams I would have clobbered them, but it was not meant to be.


This from the man who passed on drafting LaDainian Tomlinson this year! Arrrgh.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Check It

Anyone who sees this, please go over to Becky Miller's blog today. She has a wonderful post: Open Letter to Christian Fantasy Readers. Even if fantasy isn't quite your thing, it is a thoughtful way to promote the type of fiction you enjoy, so there may be more of it!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Book Review - Hood

Most of the books I review are through the two blogging groups I belong to. I keep busy enough with those books, but I do venture out to the library for other stories. One I read this fall that I enjoyed very much was Hood, by Stephen Lawhead.

He seems to be a streaky writer. He'll have a very strong story followed by one that loses my interest quickly. I was very interested in his new King Raven trilogy, but would it catch my attention and hold it?

Thankfully, yes.

Hood is a re-imaging of the Robin Hood legend. And not of the Kevin Costner variety. I am sure there are many aficianados on this subject out there who might begin to argue with Lawhead's premise, but I think he will quickly short-circuit any criticism. He sets the story in Wales instead of England, during the time when the French (Ffreinc) control England and are encroaching into Welsh territory. As a point of interest, he gives an appendix that discusses his research and choice of scenery.

Bran ap Brychan is a spoiled lout of a prince when his harsh father is cut down by the troops of a Norman count. As a fugitive he is almost killed, but is saved by a withered old woman whose mysteries both repulse and intrigue the young lord. As he is nursed to health, he catches a vision of what he could become.

Meanwhile, political intrigue is stirring in the land, which may include a young woman named Merian. Will Rhi Bran follow his destiny and free his lands and people from their cruel masters? How will he overcome the invading forces of the Ffreinc?

The book will appeal to fans of historical fiction, action tales, and fantasy alike. Lawhead has a gift for tales of British folklore, and Hood is the perfect subject for him to tackle. He catches your attention quickly with tragedy and discovery. You will come across familiar faces set in new ways - and in this prepare to be enchanted! He does a fun turn with some of the famous Robin Hood supporting cast.

The turning of Bran's character is thoughtful and inspiring. The wickedness he is up against is a good foil - you're ready to root against the enemy. But you don't always know who the enemy is either. The book does slow a little in the middle, but it does not disappoint. The ending leaves you hanging and anxious for book 2 (Scarlet) due next year.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gainfully Employed...Sort Of

It's been a long road, and I bet some are wondering why this has taken so long? Well, I wish I could explain that. I've been searching, praying, and waiting for over 3 months at home.

But for now I have some employment.

I have some temporary work with a bit of a commute, but working a couple days a week will keep us secure for a while. God is good. Things were starting to stretch a little thin, but He meets us in our need.

I am still waiting to hear on a permanent job. It involves the government, so we know how that goes. I may be waiting a little while. So the temp opportunity that fell in my lap is perfect. I can still look for a permanent position, or if the sought-after one comes through, I am not committed.

Don't know why it has taken so long. There's been opportunities that have pretty mysteriously not panned out. But God sometimes works that way - gets us to the end of ourselves. He is never late, but He is not necessarily early either.

I'll let you know what I hear on the permanent position front. I may not be quite as active here in between. If you've prayed, thank you and keep up the good work!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

CSFF Tour - Review of Trackers

Trackers is book 2 of the Birthrighters series. The book follows a young group called by God to restore Creation and to spread the gospel. The world had been devastated by wars that ruined everything, pushing mankind back to times of swords, horses, and magic. Rampant genetic tampering has made monstrosities of people, flora, and fauna, and is the major way the magicians stay in service to despotic rulers.

Before the devastation, a modern day ark was built and hidden under the Arctic ice with a faithful remnant. After a long time, these people in their late teens are sent out to establish camps and fulfill their mission of restoration. However, their agenda runs afoul of the local warlords who brutalize their kingdoms like medieval serfs. Lord Alrod of Traxx is the particular stronghold prince who intends on wiping out the birthrighters.

Having not read Outriders, I was in catch-up mode to understand what was going on in Trackers. Mackel brought me into the action quickly, managing to give a pretty good overview of what was going on without backtracking into the previous book much at all. We follow Timothy as he sneaks into Traxx and attempts to rescue a beautiful villager Dawnray, before she can be used as a surrogate for Lord Alrod.

His initial attempt is foiled, and on returning to the Birthrighters camp he receives a mission that takes him once again into Traxx. Another group follows the leader Brady on a hunt for unaltered species until they run into danger and horrors they must confront. Lord Alrod travels the countryside with his new master sorcerer to recruit a master army, while his deposed magician Ghedo conspires in the court to keep his mysterious hold on the lands as well.

Mackel does a great job with details of a new world. Sometimes she has a little slang for the Birthrighters that is not all at once apparent, but it is not too difficult to overcome. The action is crisp, and you want to keep turning the pages to see what will happen. I found the characters for the most part engaging and believable, which is always a key ingredient for me if I'm going to enjoy a book. I did find the magician Simon too mysterious to really get an appreciation for him as an antagonist.

My biggest complaint is that the overall plot seems a little disconnected. The thread with Brady is an important subplot that (apparently) brings resolution to problems from the first book. It just lacks the import somehow to carry as much of the book as it does, in my opinion. The mission back to Traxx discovers some amazing secrets, but the conclusion there is dealt with too quickly.

I've heard that the series was meant to be a trilogy, but is being limited to 2 books. This is too bad, because the ultimate confrontation between the good guys and bad guys would be an epic ending, as she has set the opponents against each other well. I would like to read Outriders to complete my understanding of her world, and would gladly purchase a trilogy if it did come through.

For more fun, check out the official Birthrighters site. It has music written for the books, a test to see what type of Birthrighter you are (I am an Outrider), and more. Good stuff. Also check out Kathryn Mackel's web site, as well as fellow tourmates below. Mirtika has a book giveaway on her blog. Beth Goddard has an interview with the author. Those are just a couple highlights I know about, but sample them all to find more goodies!

Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Frank Creed, Gene Curtis, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo , April Erwin, Beth Goddard, Mark Goodyear, Todd Michael Greene, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Joleen Howell, Karen and at Karen¹s myspace, Oliver King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Terri Main, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Caleb Newell, Eve Nielsen, John Otte, Cheryl Russel, Hannah Sandvig, Mirtika Schultz , James Somers, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Chris Walley, Daniel I. Weaver,

Monday, December 11, 2006

CSFF Tour - Trackers, Day 1

This week is the Christian Sci-fi and Fantasy (CSFF) blog tour for December. Our goal is to promote CSFF as a viable genre within Christian fiction, and to raise the visibility of the genre and those involved with it.

Trackers is the highlight this month. It is book 2 of the Birthrighters series. You can find out more at Kathryn Mackel's web site.

The previous book is Outriders, obviously establishing the series. I haven't read Outriders yet, but that didn't put me off much in enjoying Trackers.

Check out my fellow bloggers below. Next time I'll have a review of Trackers.

Jim Black, Jackie Castle, Valerie Comer, Frank Creed, Gene Curtis, Chris Deanne, Janey DeMeo , April Erwin, Beth Goddard, Mark Goodyear, Todd Michael Greene, Karen Hancock, Elliot Hanowski, Katie Hart, Sherrie Hibbs, Sharon Hinck, Joleen Howell, Karen and at Karen¹s myspace, Oliver King, Tina Kulesa, Lost Genre Guild, Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium, Terri Main, Rachel Marks, Shannon McNear, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Caleb Newell, Eve Nielsen, John Otte, Cheryl Russel, Hannah Sandvig, Mirtika Schultz , James Somers, Stuart Stockton, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Chris Walley, Daniel I. Weaver,

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Modern Love Story

Ten years ago, a modern love story began.

Two people had grown up together, through church and school. Her mother taught both of them in Sunday School and youth group. They didn't run in the same crowd at school, but being in an area of few Christians, they had a connection there because of their faith.

She was popular, in student government and choir. He was a little awkward, in band and drama. He wrote some weird creative stories that could get him kicked out of school nowadays. He was pretty shy, and asked her to prom - only because he knew she was so nice she wouldn't say no. Otherwise he probably wouldn't have had a date! They had fun, but it was just as friends.

She was actually a year older than him in school. When she graduated, she went to Youth With a Mission for their Discipleship Training School in Lakeside, Montana. He was a little lost without his good friend that year, but ended up following in her footsteps, also going to YWAM after his graduation.

When he returned, they both attended the local university, actually carpooling together the first year. She didn't like it when he was snooty about having to listen to country music. He wasn't amused when she and her friends all got in the back of his car and treated him as their chauffeur. Sometimes they seemed to bicker like brother and sister, but they remained friends through it all.

She found that she could even call on him when he was about to sit down to a hot plate of homemade macaroni and cheese, when she was being chased by a vicious spider. He arrived at her house, only a few blocks away, to find her standing on the kitchen counter using a broom to fend off the ferocious arachnid. A well-placed sandal ended the threat.

After a couple of years he decided he needed something radical in his spiritual life, and signed up for a Bible school program through YWAM - in Australia. She is one of the last people he spends time with before leaving. He even calls her from Oz, since he has some extra time on his phone card. She wasn't quite expecting a call from overseas, since they were just friends.

After 9 months he came back from Down Under, and their friendship resumed. She noticed that he had actually matured in his time away. He had always honored their relationship so much that he never dared to make it more, because he didn't want to scare her off.

Over the next year, they continue their friendship. Best friends now, they even start working together at a local restaurant. But when asked if he's ever thought of dating her, he replies that "they're just like brother and sister." When you're both in your early twenties, and some of the only Christian singles around in a small town, that automatic pairing is inevitable. However, they both share a strong passion for the Lord, and they try as best to let Him guide their lives.

Their college studies are coming into focus: she is majoring in education, and he is trying to get into the physician assistant program. Come December, and he's dealing with finals in fun classes like anatomy, physiology, organic chemistry, etc. English papers aren't the highest priority, so that's why on a Sunday he is holed up in his basement most the day to research and write his next assignment. He might have been farther along, but his mind was distracted by what she said after church.

"I need to talk to you about something. But I can't do it right now."

Isn't that maddening?

"Well, when are you going to tell me? What if I call you when I get my research done?"


He finds that he can't concentrate, and his active imagination is spinning with different possibilities. Finally he gets enough done where he figures he can take a break and give her the long awaited phone call. Despite all his imagination, he can't expect what would happen next.

"Remember how you said we were like brother and sister?"


"Well, my feelings for you have changed."

Pause. "What do you mean?"

"I like you more than a friend."

That may not be the most amazing line ever spoken in a romantic film, but it was the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. This woman, who was my ideal, had just opened a door that I could not have ever hoped would open. She is beautiful. She loves the Lord with all her heart. She is sweet and kind, tender and caring. Her smile lights up a room, but she could also speak with God's fire when moved.

So our courtship began. Being good friends, we knew that this wasn't a trifle. The next day I fasted and prayed and the Lord spoke Proverbs 18:22 to me. Wow.

It wasn't easy to be single and waiting. Both of us railed against that at times, but mercifully Jesus kept us hidden in His hand, keeping us from any serious entanglements, keeping us pure.

March 28, 1998, was the day that we were joined into one, and that day will always be special. But our journey started 10 years ago. The day we fell in love.

I love you Beccy. Always and forever.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Blog Tour - Never Ceese

I haven't had the opportunity to personally read this week's featured book, but I must say, it sounds interesting. If this piques your curiosity, then check it out.

Today's blog tour is a member of the CFBA, Sue Dent! Sue Dent was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Ridgeland. When not writing, Sue designs websites and works with digital photograpy. Sue loves to hear from her fans through her website; in fact, the push from eager readers has already set the ball rolling, and she's hard at work on Forever Richard, the sequel. In Never Ceese, Sue sets out to prove that faith and fun can live happily in the same story, and that vampire/werewolf fantasy can have a spiritual message too.

Never Ceese takes religious fantasy to a new level, bringing an entirely new Light to a very dark side of fiction, doing a very admirable job to prove that vampire/werewolf fantasy does not have to be evil to be enjoyed.

The story starts with the classic tale of an English manor owned by Richard, the vampire who righteously is the bain of his neighbor's existence, what with the missing goats and all!

Then enters Cecelia, better known as Ceese, the young werewolf maiden who's arrived via invitation by Richard's aging companion, Penelope.

Ceese and Richard would prefer to tear each other apart, literally, but they are drawn together by their mutual love for Penelope. She is dying and has one request...that the two of them love one another.

This is the overall theme throughout Dent's interesting tale of two who were wronged but learn to work together. Meanwhile they are threatened by an evil stem cell researcher who wants the immortality and power that he thinks their blood will bring him!

Dent's characters do differ from the stock one's we're all accustomed to in a very important way. They are not mindless, brutal killers. Bloodthirsty, yes, but they are constantly resisting the urge to kill, and, thus, curse another human. Feeding on rodents, goats, virtually any warm-blooded animal helps to satiate the never ending thirst for blood, but how long will they be able to resist that most delicious morsel, man?

There is a chance that their curses can actually be lifted if they can find the strength within to resist their selfish natures and act selflessly toward another. Will they succeed? That same basic choice lies before us all every day...

A vampire and a werewolf, one determined to, once again, be able to acknowledge what will get her to heaven, the other no so sure he can. A spiritual fantasy designed to spark the imagination, to speak to the heart as well as entertain.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Day of Infamy

My mother was a young girl during World War II. She remembers learning silhouettes of Japanese planes in school, in case there was an inland attack. She always stressed the importance of December 7, 1941.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it a "day of infamy". The attack was planned carefully on a Sunday morning, to catch America at its lowest point of attention.

Over two hours, chaos reigned. Airfields and shipyards were attacked. A bomb managed to detonate the magazine of the USS Arizona, blowing her out of the water and cracking her in half. 1,177 men go to a watery grave in this one instance alone.

We will never know all the stories of fear, courage, life, and death of this day until we all cross over. The death toll of this day reaches 2,390.

Please don't forget the sacrifice of the brave men and women who stood as our vanguard in the Pacific. They took the best shot our enemy could give, and within months the U.S. was taking the battle across the ocean.

I was privileged to visit the USS Arizona Memorial on our honeymoon in 1998. It was a honor to reflect on what Pearl Harbor represents for our country.

Here's an article on MSNBC discussing the living Pearl Harbor survivors reflecting on the 65th anniversary of the attacks. You can find a timeline of the day here. Breakpoint has a poignant commentary, with more links at the bottom of the page.

I, for one, will never forget.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Someone You Should Read

I haven't read any of John C. Wright's books yet, although I intend on rectifying that soon. But I have become a fan of his blog on Live Journal. He is a lawyer, philosopher, as well as an author. He used to be a devoted atheist, intent on exposing the deception of theists - and Christians in particular.

Funny thing happened though: He had an encounter with God.

Not just "god" as in some divine being, but the Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Spirit. While his mind was slowly being convinced of the reason behind Christianity, his spirit was confronted with the reality of who Love is.

Now he posts regularly on religion, rationality, and whatever else piques him (much like any good blogger!). Check out this post specifically, and keep an eye on his blog in general. You will find much to challenge your neurons. And admit it, we all need a little synaptic work-out at times, right?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Pastor Hank Rides Again

Yep, it's that time again. Make sure you check out today's post: Scenes & Beans: The Skiing Spirit. Pastor Hank of Kanner Lake gets all spiritual about skiing. Would you let me know what you think? Thanks.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blog Tour - Landon Snow

This week's blog tour for the CFBA is Landon Snow and the Island of Arcanum. This book is the third in the Landon Snow series by R.K. Mortenson. It is a series that is ideal for kids from 8-14, but is also something any age can enjoy. Kinda like Harry Potter: it's considered a kids book, but it has greater appeal than that.

Landon finds adventures in the library across from his grandparents' house in Button Up, Minnesota. This time he has his two younger sisters tagging along, as a stone boat monument becomes the real deal. The siblings sail to the Island of Arcanum in order to return the kidnapped animals back to Wonderwood.

The author himself has an interesting tale. R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He served as a navy chaplain in Florida, but recently accepted a pastorate in a similar place - North Dakota! Oh, and one other change. He and his wife, who already have two adoptive children, are expecting a baby boy in January. You can read more about Randy and his family in a great interview at Mom 2 Mom Connection. (Thanks to Becky Miller for the last link).

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week. The second link goes to an exclusive Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Also, Valerie has a giveaway related to Landon Snow at her blog.