Monday, January 31, 2011

Another CNS Review Coming!

Oh my gosh, I love working with CSN!

This place is sooooo awesome. There are over 200 different stores to chose from within their network. I was able to review some pretty cool toys right around Christmas...and the kids LOVED them.

I'm not sure what it'll be this time. Like I said they have SO much. One of the things I've been looking at is their modern furniture. I really like the Emeco - Nine-0 Stacking Counter Stool in Valentine Red. But it really wouldn't go with my decor right now. Maybe I need to redecorate. :) Shhhhh!! Don't let Robby know I said that!

I also saw the cutest dog bed. Wouldn't my puppy love it for Valentine's Day??




Sunday, January 30, 2011

New COTT Winner!

Hot Off The Presses!


A new COTT winner has been revealed!

(Drum roll, please)...........

And the winner is...........

Tina Pinson! Woo Hoo! Yeah! Way to go!

Tina's excerpt from her book In the Manor of the Ghost, beat out her competitor (DeAnna Julie Dodson's In Honor Bound) with a 56% to 44% vote. Such close results tell us ya can't go wrong with either title, but Tina's did indeed "take the cake". Congratulations are in order to the newest Conqueror at Clash of the Titles. Hip-hip, hooray! Hip-hip, hooray!

Tina competed in the category of Most Gut-Wrenching Scene with a heart-twisting look at a woman watching her husband and baby trapped in a burning building:

Jean Marc stood in the upstairs window holding a bundle. Kaitlin knew, with another slice to her soul, the bundle was Simone. Jean Marc, so quiet, protective, so uneasily riled, yelled. Tormented wails for help rose along with tears of anguish and fear as angry flames licked out behind him.

For the full excerpt, click here.

A few of our reader/voters' comments:
* This would be my worst nightmare!
* Wonderful writing!
* Both excerpts were really gut wrenching and had me in tears.

So what did she think of her visit to COTT?

In her words:
"Thanks for letting me do battle here. Not quite so bloody as other arenas. I was honored to be a warrior on Clash. I loved the excerpt from my opponent."

Like those before her, Tina exhibits the graciousness and sportsmanship that has come to define the COTT family. She fits right in. And that's something she hasn't always known. Growing up Tina was one of five siblings—the only blonde. Though her sisters often joked that she must have been adopted (all in fun), there's no teasing here.

You can read more about Tina in her interview on Clash of the Titles here:

About her book:
***
In the Manor of the Ghost:
It's the 1870's. The Civil War has long since been fought and laid to rest, settlers are still joining the wagon trains and heading west to the New Eden. The land is changing. But those who dwell in Clayborne Manor seem trapped in time.
Trapped amid the whispers of failure and sorrow, whispers of longing and defeat. Kaitlin hears them clearly at night. But who haunts Clayborne Manor? The ghost that restlessly walks the halls in the night? Or the ones that plague the minds and spirits of those residing there? Though not inclined to believe the dead can walk the night laden corridors, Kaitlin can see them clearly in the eyes of her husband Devlin, and hear them in the deafening silence of her son, Derrick.
Does she have the courage to search the past and face the ghosts? Does she have the faith to stay and direct all those who dwell In the Manor of the Ghost to the one who sets the captive free?
***

Find out more about Tina and her novel at TinaPinson.com

COTT's next Clash begins Monday with Romantic Moments. Head over there to vote and enter the free book drawing. Get ready to swoon!


Article by Michelle Massaro, COTT Assistant Editor.



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cosmopolitan & Marie Claire only $5




Right now you can get a subscription to Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire for only $5. That's a great deal! Cosmopolitan has been one of my fav magazines for a long time. I can't remember when I started reading it....

And is it bad to tell you I remember buying the first ever edition of Marie Claire (US Edition in 1994)? Really I do.

See here's a picture of the cover. 


Fairly certain I don't have it anymore, but I am a bit of a pack rat so I can't guarantee anything. HA!

Oh and I also wanted to tell you that Cosmopolitan has a daily sweepstakes going on that you should check out. Who doesn't love freebies?? I know I sure do. :)


*Disclaimer: I'm a BZZAgent and am sharing this info via a BzzCampaign. Any opinions stated above are my own.*


Cover Girl celebrates 50 years!




Join Cover Girl on Facebook and celebrate their 50th Anniversary! They have a really cool program going on right now in which you tell them what makes you a Cover Girl by making your own Cover Girl video .... and you're entered to win free samples or exclusive once in a lifetime prizes with spokeswomen Ellen, Taylor, Queen or Drew.

*Disclaimer: I'm a BZZAgent and am sharing this info via a BzzCampaign. Any opinions stated above are my own.*


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CoverYourHair.com Review & Giveaway

I received these two gorgeous hair accessories for review from CoverYourHair.com



I really love CoverYourHair's products. They are well made and just adorable. As you can tell I really like pink and Gracie does too. So she was super excited about the zipper headband. She wears it all the time. I'd put up a picture of her wearing it...but I moved them to my external hard drive and I can't find the usb cord at the moment. Oops. :( And I don't have a picture of the other one because I've been wearing the sparkle headband and I never have pictures of myself.

CoverYourHair has a large assortment of hair accessories such as hair clips, baby hats, baby headbands, snoods, head scarves, bandanas, and head coverings. I had a hard time picking out the ones above.

BUY IT!: You can purchase these and more at CoverYourHair.com.

WIN IT! One lucky winner will receive a $25 box of surprise Hair Accessories.

Mandatory entry:
Visit CoverYourHair.com and leave a comment telling me which item(s) you would love to have.

For additional entries:
1) Join CoverYourHair's Google Friend Connect: Go to http://www.hairaccessoryblog.com/ Click "Join This Site" in the Google Friend Connect box.

2) Subscribe to CoverYourHair on Stumble Upon

3) Follow CoverYourHair on Twitter.

4) Add http://www.hairaccessoryblog.com/ to your blog roll

5) Add http://www.coveryourhair.com to your blog roll

6) Follow CoverYourHair on Networked Blogs, Go to http://www.hairaccessoryblog.com/ and click "Follow This Blog" on the Networked Blog box.

7) Bookmark CoverYourHair on Delicious

8) Fan CoverYourHair on Facebook

9) Subscribe to CoverYourHair on You Tube

10) Follow Dragonflies 'n Daydreams on Google Friend Connect

11) Sign up to receive emails from Dragonflies 'n Daydreams

Be sure and remember to leave a comment for each entry method. Also leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.


Giveaway ends on February 13th at 11:59PM EST. Winner will be chosen using Random.org.




*Disclaimer: I was given the above product free for review. The opinions stated are my own and were in no way influenced in anyway.*



Coming soon due to technical difficulties...winners!

Ok ya'll I'm trying here. I really am. Since all of my giveaways were so close together. I was waiting to pull winners. BUT now when I go to the page it's not showing the comments. I have them stored under comments on the Blogger Dashboard...but they are not in order. Very confusing!

So where I use the website Disqus to publish comments I went to their site.Found out what happened...want to know? Well, somehow when I switched over from http://dragonfliesndaydreams.blogspot.com to the new URL http://www.lesleypeck.com it screwed up the publishing part.

Good news is it can be fixed. It's in the process now. No comments have been lost. All will appear. Just not sure if it will be today or not.

Winners will be posted ASAP after everything is fixed.

I'm sorry ya'll!I just don't want to take the chance of leaving anyone out. I want to make sure everything is on the up and up.




Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beating Cancer - Book Review

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

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


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:

Siloam (January 4, 2011) 

***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Francisco Contreras, MD, is director, president, and chairman of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, a cancer-care facility in Mexico widely known for integrative treatment methods, and the new Oasis of Hope California (45 minutes south of Los Angeles). A distinguished oncologist and surgeon, Dr. Contreras is also a lecturer and the author of The Hope of Living Long and Well, Health in the 21st Century, A Healthy Heart, and The Hope of Living Cancer Free.

Visit the author's website.


Daniel Kennedy, MC, has a master’s degree in counseling and partnered with Crystal Cathedral Ministries and Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship to found Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day after his father was healed of cancer. He also holds a Master’s of Business Administration and serves as chief executive officer of the Oasis of Hope Hospital, directing and implementing its mission to improve the physical, emotional, and spiritual lives of cancer patients. As overseer of counseling at Oasis of Hope, he has developed psychological and spiritual programs for patients that complement the hospital’s integrative medical therapy.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

You are not powerless over cancer. Dr. Francisco Contreras and Daniel Kennedy offer practical and empowering scientific information that will give you hope as they explain twenty specific things you can do to improve your chance of slowing and even reversing its progression in your body.

You’ll discover:

How to lower your cancer mortality risk by 60 percent

The anticancer medicine in every produce aisle When chemo is effective—and when it isn’t

Which drugs give you temporary relief—but can cause long-term problems

How conventional and alternative medicine can work together to fight cancer


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616381566
ISBN-13: 978-1616381561

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I(Francisco Contreras) must have been daydreaming, but the vision in my mind certainly seemed real. I saw a beautiful tenyear-old girl staring at me over the nameplate on my desk: Dr. Francisco Contreras, Surgical Oncologist.“My name is Sarah. Who are you?”

“I am Dr. Contreras,” I replied. “And who are you?”At that point I quickly reviewed Sarah’s case notes and began to interview her and her parents. Ever since Sarah first noticed a big lump on her arm a year or so before, she had spent more time in medical institutions than at school or at home. She had already endured one surgery, after which she had hoped that everything would again be all right.Yet her parents still acted strangely when she was around. They weren’t as strict as they’d once been, and they spent many hours behind closed doors crying. Sarah began to wonder if the big term the doctor had used to explain her problem had upset her parents. It took her weeks to learn

how to pronounce and spell it: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Whatever it was, Sarah knew it wasn’t good. Her parents told her, “The doctors are offering you chemotherapy, but they said it wouldn’t help you much. What do you want to do?” “I know I am in God’s hands, and I have peace,” Sarah replied. Her parents decided to look for a different approach. That is when Sarah became our patient at Oasis of Hope.“Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . Dr. Contreras . . . ” Suddenly, I snapped out of my daydream in response to the voice of an angelic vision of beauty standing before me dressed in a wedding gown. It was Sarah! “Can it be true that twelve years have passed since God delivered Sarah from cancer?” I asked myself. My wife and I then took our seats to witness one of the most inspiring weddings we have ever attended.


All of Sarah’s family and friends were there. We were sitting in the next-to-the-last pew, where I suddenly found myself crying so uncontrollably I began to worry that I’d use up all the moisture in my body. The joy I felt was overwhelming.


Soon Sarah stood at the altar with the young man of her dreams, who immediately became the envy of every bachelor who had ever met Sarah. I only wished that I had a son old enough to marry this lovely, talented, sweet young woman, thus bringing her forever into my own family!


Sarah credits God, her parents, and my father, Dr. Ernesto Contreras Sr., for her victory over cancer. She is right to do so, but I would add to that list her own determination, starting when she was just a little girl. She now is a college graduate and serves the Lord with her husband, who is the pastor of their youth group. They also have a precious little boy.


How was she able to overcome the insurmountable? Four words come to mind: openness, flexibility, adaptability, and commitment. Sarah and her parents looked beyond the tunnel-vision, chemotherapeutic attack on cancer that had already failed. They opened themselves up to other options. They were flexible and willing to try new treatments. They were able to adapt to different circumstances.


Above all else, they were totally committed to seeing Sarah well again. And perhaps all of that, taken together, explains why they were able to embrace an eclectic, multifaceted approach that depended on them every bit as much as it did on the doctors.


It All Begins With Philosophy


Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation work, and sometimes they don’t. If you and your doctor subscribe to the philosophy that you will have no hope if the medicine doesn’t work, then you won’t have any such hope. Your philosophy will either limit your possibilities or open them up.



My point is that everything begins and ends with philosophy—the paradigm by which we frame every aspect of our existence, the filter that helps us to decide how and what we think. If you doubt, simply consider the entire academic world. It doesn’t matter what field a person might choose; the highest degree is a Doctor of Philosophy (abbreviated as

PhD). You can get a PhD in immunology, anthropology, mathematics, literature, and many other disciplines as well.


Perhaps as a natural consequence, the philosophy of medicine, as birthed in the early twentieth century, has evolved into the treatment paradigm of the twenty-first century. Think about that for a moment! The twentieth century was an era of scientific breakthrough and technological advance, yet we began it without electricity, television, airplanes, and computers.


The scientific and technological revolutions of the twentieth century had a profound impact on the medical field as well. Scientists developed an arsenal of pharmaceuticals designed to address just about every pathogen. Meanwhile, even as I write these words, new technologies such as lasers, 3-D imaging devices, proton therapy, robotic surgery,

DNA laboratory exams, cyberknives, and fiber-optic cameras are assisting physicians in the field. The results of all these advances have been impressive.


For example, acute medicine is now at the top of its game. Doctors can save life and limb in ways never before thought possible. If Humpty Dumpty had been brought to a modern trauma center, he would have gone back together in no time at all.


In addition, once-complex medical procedures such as angioplasty and open-heart surgery have now become routine. People don’t fret anywhere near as much as they used to when they go under the knife. Technology has transformed the operating room into a much more controlled environment than ever before.


Overall, we owe the scientific method for most of the important advances in medicine. Science has awed all of us at one time or another, and it continues to do so on a regular basis. The development of scientific methodology has evolved to such an extent that not even the sky is the limit anymore. In fact, every month I put some money in my piggybank because I want to go on the first commercial trip to outer space!


Inner space has been no match for scientific methodology either. It took less than two decades for scientists to unravel the trillions of letters of the human genome, the code of life.


Again, most projects like that have conquered outer and inner space because of vision, intelligence, planning, and perseverance, combined with adequate funding and strict adherence to scientific methods. Thus many tasks once thought impossible have now been made almost routine.


But somewhere in the shadow of all these scientific victories, cancer still lurks as the unconquered enemy. Hundreds of years after it was first identified, cancer in most (or all) of its forms still manages to evade, elude, and confound the best efforts of the best scientists.


The old Way Just Doesn’t Work!


When faced with monumental challenges, scientists of all disciplines must first learn all they can about what they want to conquer—the moon, bacteria, or cancer. Experts of all disciplines generally evaluate each challenge through a process called SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats). They analyze everything on both sides of the

equation, including their own SWOTs, before they can hope to map out a strategic action plan.


As in conventional warfare, scientific theory says that the side with more strengths and opportunities should overcome the side with the most weaknesses and the least chance to evade and avoid threats. Yet until now, cancer has defied everything that science has thrown at it. It has dodged or defeated every hopeful advance. After four decades of

tireless efforts by countless scientists around the world spending hundreds of billions of research dollars, the conquest of cancer still seems out of reach.


Is all this true because the scientific method is not as effective as we once thought? Or is it because cancer’s strengths are insurmountable?


My answer to both questions is an emphatic no! I am convinced that tackling cancer from a different perspective will generate positive results. Current treatment and research paradigms have literally become the problem, as embodied within two fundamental aspects of that framework: (1) the methods and (2) the goals of modern research.


Many of the treatments being explored today do not have as their goal a complete cure for cancer. Instead, the goal is a drug treatment to hinder and slow the progress of this dreaded disease. While drug treatments can lessen the impact of cancer, making it a chronic disease that does not end in death, it is important to remember that there are no

“magic bullets.”


Put another way, I feel the goal of pharmaceutical companies and the


U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to isolate the single agent that could bring about “the cure.” But cancer has many different causes. Therefore there is no one substance that will cure it in all instances and in all people. We must use great caution when applying new drug therapies and never forget the need for personally tailored medical treatment. Will Health-Care reform Be the Answer?


I’m sure that with the health-care reform currently being enacted, more Americans will have access to medical management, but inevitably it also means that the care will be diluted. For instance, in England many drugs available in the United States are off limits, and waiting time for doctor’s appointments, scheduled scans and surgeries, etc. are quite long. Now more than ever we should take responsibility for our health and do all we can to prevent loss of our health through preventive measures in order to depend as little as possible on government health-care systems.


Health-care reform is a topic that I watch carefully. I am always on alert of how government regulation will limit or improve my ability to help patients beat cancer. I believe that many more people could be cured of cancer just through health-care reform. I am tempted to get excited when I hear politicians begin to take on the challenge of reforming how health care is delivered. But the sad reality is that it really isn’t about health-care reform. It is really about payer reform, that is to say, who is going to pay, how it will be paid, and what will be paid for.


When the focus is about the payment of health care, the care made available to patients usually is brought down to the least common denominator. I have seen this firsthand in Mexico where medicine is socialized, which means the government runs the hospitals and everybody has equal access to health care. But the reality is that while everybody has

equal access, not everybody has access to equal levels of treatment. To get the latest cancer treatments, which are always the most expensive drugs, only people who can go outside of the system and pay cash will have the chance to get those treatments. The government-run hospitals have limited resources that have to be spread out to cover everybody. This limits patients’ access to the best treatments.


Imagine that you have prepared soup for ten people, but one hundred arrived, and you have no more ingredients. You may have to add a lot of water. Now the nutritional value each of the one hundred receives is far less than what the original ten would have received. Watered-down health care is what will be delivered if the focus on health-care reform continues to be about who will pay what.


The health-care reform that we need should be focused on health. We need to start changing our research funding policies. Today, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dedicates less than 2 percent of its budget to researching how to prevent cancer. This is tragic because every year, the incidence of cancer increases. The amount of money spent on treatment continues to

balloon because more and more people are getting sick. The true cure to cancer is to never get it at all. If more research dollars were spent on prevention, and preventative measures were found and implemented, there would be hope for fewer people ever getting cancer. The money spent on treatment would then decline and the vicious cycle could be broken.


The other shift in research that is needed is for fewer studies to be done on drug therapies and more studies to be done on natural therapies. I am enthusiastic because there are more studies underway in the arena of natural therapies at major institutions than ever before.


The biggest way to improve how patients are treated would be to do away with malpractice insurance. The best high-wire artists have always been the ones who have walked that narrow path without a safety net. If a doctor is treating you without the malpractice safety net, he or she will spend more time with you to make sure you receive the highest quality of care as well as the friendliest care. But listen, I am a doctor, so I

am not coming against doctors with this suggestion. I am really against the system that rewards money for improper or negligent health care. It should not be about the money. It should be about the quality of health care. If a patient or the family member feels that the care was negligent or even criminal, the claim should be made to the medical boards and

it should be about the physician’s license, not about cash awards. If the medical board would find the doctor guilty of malpractice, his or her license could be revoked or suspended until the physician received further training and correction. This would bring the focus back to health care, not money.


Even as I am writing this, I am just two days away from a visit from Patch Adams to the Oasis of Hope. In his dream hospital, no doctor would ever be allowed to carry malpractice insurance. He believes that doctors must become real friends with a patient and that a patient would never sue the doctor if they knew that the doctor really cared for them. Patch and I will have a conversation on camera on the healing power of the doctor-patient relationship, and by the time this book gets into your hand, you will be able to see the video online at www.oasisofhope.com. Please visit the website and watch the video. I am sure that it will be quite interesting.


Where Are We going, and How Will We get There?


In the spring of 2004, Fortune magazine featured a riveting cover of solid black with a big red headline: “Why We Are Losing the War Against Cancer.” The subtitle added, “And How We Can Win It.” My immediate reaction was to wonder why they had taken such a negative approach. I was well aware of how badly we need to get the upper hand, but even I was shocked to read their inside information on cancer research.


The author explained that more than $14 billion in private and government funds are spent in America every year on searching for the cure, but little progress has been made. Each research project is managed independently, and the various research centers do not share information with one another.


Remember the story of the six blind men trying to describe an elephant? Each man touches a different part of the elephant, such as the leg, tail, and tusk. They then describe the elephant based on the one part that they felt and discover they completely disagree with each other. The story illustrates the misconceptions that can come about when a

person’s perspective is limited to one small piece of a bigger picture. Clearly, no one in cancer research is working with the big picture. And yet, according to Fortune, we could win the war against cancer if the National Institutes of Health would obligate researchers to share information and coordinate their efforts.


Sadly, I agree that more information sharing would be beneficial, but I doubt that one single remedy would be enough. The more basic problem is that researchers are starting from the wrong place, and they’re aiming for a destination that probably doesn’t exist. Let me repeat what I hope I have already made plain: I don’t think the cure to cancer exists in the form of one substance, technique, or apparatus. I do believe that cancer can be defeated, but only through a multifaceted, eclectic approach.


Let me rephrase this in simpler terms. The search for a magic bullet is a waste of time and resources. It is tantamount to chasing rainbows, hoping to find that elusive pot of gold at the end.


Such an approach reminds me of the always-broke investors who aim only for the “big score,” in contrast to the professionals who take a little bit of profit from every little trade and wind up rich.


Likewise, science has uncovered many, many things that can diminish the power of cancer, but the goal of many in the research community remains that one huge score.


Our goal is to share with you the many “small” things you can do to minimize cancer’s advantages. This means you must consider your doctor a member of your treatment team, not your boss. You must take responsibility for your own health and make informed decisions. Do not accept the status quo!


Approach cancer from every viable angle you can identify. In so doing you will develop a powerful personal philosophy, and you will put policies in place that will serve you well in your mission to undermine cancer.


That is precisely what Sarah and her parents did, and it worked. She has now been free of cancer for more than twenty years.

My thoughts:
Cancer. This word can evoke such fear as soon as a diagnosis is made.

I've watched the people I love most in my life deal with it - first my Granny, who sadly was not able to overcome it and my mom who is now in remission after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. After having watched my Granny become so ill and lose her fight with cancer to find out my mom had it was terrifying. I can remember the day she found the lump, it was my husband's birthday. As much as she tried to hide it you could hear the fear in her voice. But she really tried to keep her spirits up and fought the entire time - throughout chemo, then when she had a reaction to the chemo that made them stop, losing her hair, and then next was radiation. It was a battle. And for many I can see where they give up. Emotions run rampant. Luckily, we had good doctors and a treatment plan that worked.

Sometimes though you don't have that, you don't have hope. You don't know where to turn. I like how this book doesn't make it seem like the answer to cancer's cure. But it does give you alternatives when you feel you have no where to go.

One thing I would stress for any cancer patient - make sure you have a support system and never ever give up hope.



Friday, January 21, 2011

What I've been reading

I love reading. As I've said many times before :) And I always wonder what others are reading. So I decided to share with you all the books I've had around lately.

This is what I finished reading this past week...

Good Grief by Lolly Winston
On Mystic Lake by Kristin Hannah
The First Love Cookie Club by Lori Wilde
Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson
Happily Ever After by Susan Mae Warren
Rain Song by Alice J. Wisler

What I'm going to be reading soon....

The Lost Valentine by James Michael Pratt
Rainwater by Sandra Brown
31 Days to a Younger You by Arlene Pellicane
30 Day Marriage Makeover by Douglas Weiss, PhD
The Strange Man by Greg Mitchell

Reading to the kids...

The Frog and Toad Treasury by Arnold Lobel
Junie B Jones Loves Handsome Warren by Barbara Park
Where is Elmo's Blanket? by Nancy Stevenson
The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari by Donita K. Paul
God Gave Us the World by Lisa T. Bergren

Leave me some comments telling me what you're reading and what I should be!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wounded Spirits ~ Book Review

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:

Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010) 

***Special thanks to April Gardner for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


April W Gardner is a military wife who has practiced the art of homemaking all over the world. She spends her mornings homeschooling her two darling children, and her afternoons inside the minds of her characters. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, traveling the nation in an RV, and learning Italian. April is involved in the music ministry of her church and volunteers in their library. She currently lives in the heart of ancient Creek Country—Middle Georgia.

This is her first novel.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born; will she be strong enough to wait on God's provision?

A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate--and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.

Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission - he'll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can't see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him...or has He?

Their lives molded by the course of history, can these Wounded Spirits learn to rely on God's grace during one of the bloodiest conflicts in the South?




Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (November 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0981989616
ISBN-13: 978-0981989617

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


McGirth Plantation, Tensaw Settlement

June 1813

Adela shifted her body to allow blood flow to her legs. The mossy ground had long grown hard against her tailbone, and the rough tree trunk dug into her back.

A refreshing breeze blew through the pines lining the northwestern border of her father’s land. It rustled the needles and created a comforting, familiar whistle.

A small meadow lay vacant before her. On the opposite side, the evening sun cast the last rays through the treetops. Squinting, she thought, for an instant, she saw the form of a man. No, it was just a bush moving with the current of the wind.

Surely, she had been waiting nigh on two hours. Her family would be worrying. Just north, civil war raged among the Creeks and threatened to involve the vulnerable Americans in the Tensaw and Bigby settlements. Her parents’ constant fear of danger was well placed.

Soon Mama would call Adela’s father in from the barn and send one of the servants looking for her. Worry was never good for Mama

Her attacks were rare these days, but she never knew what might set her to wheezing, then coughing.

Adela’s stomach twittered and flipped. She stood then rubbed her lower back. “Please, hurry, Phillip. Please,” she murmured, not sure she could stay much longer.

Unheeding, the sun’s beams continued down the length of the trees then dissolved, leaving only their orange and purple reflection in the sky.

Not wanting to create undue stress on her parents, she gave up waiting and set out toward home. She lifted her skirt to avoid the prickly blackberry bushes, and berated herself for not having thought to bring a lantern. How foolish of me!

“Adela…Adela…” Her name rode on the breeze.

Her heart seized, and then leapt as she recognized the voice. Haste sped her back through the underbrush.

“Phillip! I waited so long.” She panted.. He enveloped her in his work-hardened arms. Phillip was becoming more intimate with her. She wondered if it was too soon.

“I knew you’d wait.” Resting his hands on her shoulders, he stepped back where she could see him. “I couldn’t get away any sooner. Dixon had a list as long as my arm of things for me to do before I leave tomorrow. He hovered like a hawk to see I got them done.”

She pulled his hands from her shoulders and held them between her own instead. “You’re here now, and that’s all that matters.”

“How will I ever last three months without you?”

“What kind of nonsense is that? You’ll do just fine. The adventure of your life is just around the corner. I hardly think you’ll be pining for boring old Tensaw. You just see Savannah treats you well while you’re busy getting your commission, Second Lieutenant Phillip Bailey.”

A stray lock of dark blond hair fell over his eye, and feeling bold, Adela brushed it away. He caught her hand and pulled it to his lips, his coffee brown eyes sparkling in the waning daylight. The warmth of his lips on her fingertips sent tingles of excitement rushing through her, but not without a warning.

I shouldn’t be encouraging him this way. Not while I’m still so unsure... She dropped her eyes, but he mistook her guilt for something else.

“That’s what I love about you, Adela. You’re all innocence and piety.”

He cradled the back of her neck with his hand, and her insides fluttered in a dangerous way. She knew she should move away, but she felt drawn to him, like a mouse to a trap.

Adela cleared her throat, “You speak of love when we’ve only been courting a month. And, I might add, quite unofficially.” His deep affection seemed premature.

“Maybe, but I’ve known I’d marry you from the day we met.”

She’d known him since she was just a girl. A grown woman now,ow had she not noticed he cared? She opened her mouth to ask, but he placed a finger on her lips.

“Are you sure you won’t come with me? It’s not too late. We can marry tomorrow, first thing and—”

“Marry? Tomorrow?You know I can’t. You haven’t spoken to my father about courting me, much less marriage. And there’s Ellie…did you forget? You know how she adores you.”

Phillip gave her a placating smile. “She might hurt for a while, but she’ll see reason. She’s not foolish, simply a bit of a romantic…albeit misplaced.”

Adela chuckled. “Elizabeth, romantic? Determined, more likely. She decided years ago to love you, and it would take a direct message from God to persuade her otherwise.” She propped her hands on her hips, barely noticing the first chirps of the crickets. “Did you know she just rejected an offer of marriage from Mr. Pierce?”

“The schoolteacher and Ellie? Married?”

“Well, he would have liked as much.”

Phillip tipped his square chin and laughed outright.

The sound brought a smile to Adela’s face, but she chided him nonetheless. “Come now, it was a perfectly decent offer.”

Phillip wiped his eyes. “But the man is twice her age, and desperate to be married. Have you seen his cabin? Chaos!”

Adela dismissed his objections with a wave of her hand. “All that aside, I am not prepared to be at odds with my sister. So, she must not find out about us…for the time being, anyway. We’ll address the issue when you return.”

“She has to find out eventually. Why not now?”Phillip crossed his arms and gave her the back of her shoulder. He’d never been one for patience and at the moment, he reminded Adela of a spoiled child denied a piece of pie. She chuckled.

“What are you laughing about?”

“Just now, you reminded me of Mrs. Haverty’s youngest.”

His eyes darkened as he took a step closer. His stiff form towered above her. “You’re comparing me to that little monster?”

Adela sobered at the intensity of his gaze. “It was a silly thought. Please forgive me.”

He studied her in silence.

Warning bells clanged in her mind. Just as another apology formed on her tongue, he let out a puff of air and relaxed his stance. “I just want to take care of you, Adela. I want to build a home for you and provide for you, give you beautiful things and walk with you through town on my arm. Let me talk to your father tonight.”

He could be quite persuasive.Still, she refused to allow him to push her into something for which she wasn’t fully prepared.

She gave a tentative shake of the head. True to form, her hesitance produced a huff of frustration. “If not now, then when? When will that dear sister of yours ever take the news well?”

“Why would I tell her something I’m uncertain of myself?”

He scowled then spoke as if she hadn’t mentioned her ambiguity. “You need to know the moment my feet touch Tensaw soil in August I plan on asking your father for permission to court you properly.” He grasped her chin in his hand and pressed a hard kiss to her lips. “So, you’d best prepare her.”

She took a step back and smoothed out her skirt.,. “Aren’t you the bold one tonight, Mr. Bailey.”

He merely grinned and removed the bear claw pendant that always hung around his neck. “Wear this to remember me by,” he said, holding it out.

“Phillip, it was your grandfathers! I can’t. It’s too important to you.”

“Of course you can. You’re to be my wife. It means what’s mine is yours. I love you, Adela McGirth, and there’s no one else I’d give it to.” His voice rang with longing as he ran his eyes over the length of her, pausing in all the wrong places.

She resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest. At least the dark of the night covered the blush on her cheeks. Never had a man appreciated her body the way Phillip did, and never had one assumed so much. “You’re being a bit presumptuous. Aren’t you?”

“Not at all. I’m a man who knows what he wants and doesn’t stop until he gets it.” Playfulness tinged in his tone, but Adela heard the truth behind his words. “Take the pendant. If it helps, see it as a gift from a friend. Not as a token of betrothal.”

Seen in such a way, what could it hurt?

She slipped it about her neck then gasped as he pulled her into a fierce kiss. His moist lips moved confidently against hers. Warm hands stroked her back and almost melted her resolve to remain chaste.

“I love you,” he murmured against her mouth.

She knew he wanted a similar reply, but she couldn’t give it. The words caught in her throat, as if uncertainty itself held them from escaping.

She split apart from his searching mouth and sought retreat. “Please, be careful in Savannah,” she managed. “I have to go.” She dropped her arms and ran for home, the claw thumping against her chest.

* * *

Adela climbed the ladder to the loft careful not to wake her sisters. She hung her dress on a peg and slipped into her nightgown. Phillip’s bear claw thudded against her. She clutched it through her gown as panic seized her. Had she hid it from Mama? So intent on getting home, she hadn’t thought of it until now.

Her shoulders dropped when she realized Mama would have questioned her about it if she’d seen.

The wooden timbers of the bed squeaked as Adela climbed in next to Lillian. They had always shared a bed. Even when given the option of each having their own in their more spacious, newly built house, they had both refused, preferring the warmth and closeness the other afforded.

Although the two were completely opposite one another in every way, they held a special bond. Maybe it was Adela’s quiet dependence on God which supported the more flighty Lillian, or maybe it was Lillian’s carefree spirit which drew Adela to her sister’s side. Perhaps, it was the need for an ally against Ellie’s domineering onslaughts.

Regardless, with just a year separating them, she and Lillian understood each other, thrived on their friendship.

Lillian turned over to face her. “Where have you been?” she whispered, her anger barely concealed. “I’ve been worried sick. We all have.”

“Shh! You’ll wake Ellie.” Adela glanced at Elizabeth but their older sister’s breath remained deep and even.

“Well?” Lillian hissed.

“In the woods.”

“In the woods? That’s all you’re going to say? I hope Mama believed you more than I do.”

The fearful look on Mama’s face and the way she’d clung to Adela when she’d walked through the door flashed across her mind. She tasted guilt and couldn’t swallow. “Me too. But I didn’t lie, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

Lillian practically snorted. “That would be something I would do. No, silence would be more your style.” She thumped Adela on the shoulder. “Am I not getting any more details, like where you got that—that—whatever it is hanging around your neck?”

Adela grasped the pendant. “You saw it?”

“Of course. When you got undressed, and if you don’t want anyone else to find out about it, you should be more careful. So, out with it. What have you got there?”

“It’s nothing. I shouldn’t have accepted it.”

“Nothing? I saw the way you were holding it,” she rasped.

“Shh! That’s not what I—” Would Lillian understand? “Oh, never mind.”

“Well, give me all the details. Who is he?”

“How did you know it was from a man?”

“Adela, Adela, ever so naive and oblivious. You and I don’t think the same at all. So, tell me already.”

“If I tell you, you have to promise to keep it to yourself! At least for a while. Promise?”

“Fine, I promise…just tell me.”

Adela took a deep breath, and said his name on less than a whisper.

“What? No! It’s—it’s not as if he has no reason to love you, but you? Lover of all things peaceable and non-confrontational, I never imagined you to be so audacious as to set your bonnet for Ellie’s man!”

“Shh! See why it’s a secret? No one would understand. Besides, he’s not Ellie’s man. And I’m not even sure I feel anything for him.”

“You’ve got to be half mad. You do realize Elizabeth will practically disown you?”

Adela lost the battle against her tears..

“Come on. Don’t cry. I exaggerated. It won’t be so bad. She’ll forgive you…eventually. She’s never really had a claim to him and will see it in time. But you have to tell her. You can’t keep it from her forever, and if she finds out from someone else, it’ll be worse.”

“Lilly, I’ve tried a dozen times to tell her, but I just can’t.”

Adela moaned and Lillian put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“It’ll humiliate her, if it doesn’t kill her first,” Adela said. “I should have put an end to it before he left, especially since I’m not sure I even love him. But he’s so…”

“Handsome? Daring? Everything a woman could want in a man?”

Adela sighed and fiddled with the claw strung about her neck. “Yes, he’s all that, but there’s something missing…or maybe it’s what he has too much of. A bit too brash, maybe? Too self-confident? He angers easily, and I don’t see much of the Lord in his life.”

“Is that what’s bothering you? Do yourself a favor and stop focusing on his faults. We all have them.” She propped herself up on an elbow then paused. After a moment of silence, soft snoring from the other side of the room confirmed Ellie still slept.

Moonlight from the small window washed Lillian’s face in its glow. Their Mama’s full Spanish blood showed itself most in Lillian. Even in the dim light, she was beautiful. “It’s simple,” she said. “You tell Ellie. She’s hurt. When Phillip proposes, you accept, and in time, Ellie recovers.”

Lillian tugged the pendant from Adela’s grasp. “This was his grandfather’s. I take it Phillip loves you.”

“He claims he does.”

“And you saw him tonight to tell him goodbye?”

Adela bobbed her head.

“Your secret is safe with me, but my advice is sooner is always better than later.”

“I know. I know. I’m such a coward.”

“Hardly.” Lillian patted her hand.

It felt awkward to be the one consoled. The tables were usually turned.

.

“I didn’t plan for it to happen and now…I’m risking Ellie disowning me for a man.”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard yet. Ellie isn’t that scary. Now why don’t you get some sleep, and we’ll talk about how to handle it tomorrow. I assume there will be a wedding when he returns. You can’t prepare for a home of your own and still keep it a secret. We’ll think of something.”

“Thanks, Lilly. Love you,” she said with a peck to her sister’s cheek.

Lillian flipped over,. Much later, her mind exhausted, she relaxed and followed her sister in sleep.

* * *

Kossati Village, Upper Creek Nation

The cabin door creaked as it opened. Nokos stepped inside careful not to wake the children. He left the door ajar allowing the moonlight to guide his steps. Its soft glow illuminated his little ones piled like counting sticks on the bearskin mat. Four sets of arms and legs were sprawled in every direction.

He brushed a kiss onto each warm forehead. The youngest stirred, flipped to his back, and wiped drool from his cheek.

He had missed them, but the reason for his early return lay in the bed on the far side of the room.

Having removed his weapons, he stretched his aching muscles and crept into bed next to his wife.

Just before leaving on his hunting trip one week earlier, he had revealed to Singing Grass his intentions to join the warring party. She wasn’t pleased.

Civil War had raged in the Creek Nation since the 1811 Grand Council. For over a year, he had publically remained neutral, along with Red Eagle.

Now, he found himself forced to choose sides. With the purpose of protecting their nation and keeping its traditions pure, the Red Sticks were executing those displaying American sympathies.

If the Long Knives were not stopped, the Muscogee would eventually be lead to starvation or worse…slavery. According to the Red Sticks, every American sympathizer must die.

Most in Kossati knew Nokos was partial to the Americans. Yes, their droves of cattle encroached on Creek land, and no, the farmers did not ask permission to run their iron plows through Creek soil. All that aside, he had found it difficult to justify fighting them.

They were powerful and well studied in war. Singing Grass was right…the Red Sticks would eventually be slaughtered.

But unless he pledged his allegiance to the Red Stick cause and soon, he would find himself taken unawares by a band of warriors.

Nokos let out his breath in a gust and sank onto the bearskin pallet.

Singing Grass stretched an arm across his chest, and propped her small pointed chin on his shoulder. “You are home early.” With familiar affection, she traced the lines and circles tattooed on his neck and awakened a hunger within him.

He sought her lips and kissed her deeply. “I did not mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”

“Hungry—all the time.” She hammered his chest with her forefinger. “You left the hunt early to ask me if I am well?”

“It’s no matter. There was no game to hunt.” He tried to keep the frustration from his voice. No need to worry her.

“Nothing? You caught nothing?”

“Three rabbits and a squirrel, as if I were just a boy. No one else had done any better when I left. I doubt one more day would have mattered much.” He pulled her closer. “I would rather be home with you than listening to their talk of war, death, and starv—” He cut his words short.

“You do not have to hide things from me. I’m pregnant--not blind and deaf. I know what is happening.”

“We’ll be fine.”

“You’re joining the Red Sticks. I hardly think it is fine. They will kill themselves in vain. Must you?”

“Yes, I must.” Should he reveal to her Gray Hawk’s warning to be quick in choosing sides? That his name had been whispered among those whose loyalty was in question?

“The prophets are insane! Surely you have not succumbed to their antics?”

“Of course not. I’m no fool.”

The sighting of a star with a fiery tail traveling across the sky a month after Tecumseh’s departure had frenzied the Creeks. It was the “sign”, they said. It was the “arm of fire” Tecumseh had claimed would prove his prophecies were from the Great Spirit. A strongly superstitious people, the sighting had driven the Creeks into the Red Stick faction by the thousands.

True to his word, Tecumseh had left several prophets to train the Creeks to lead their people in the war dances. In most every village, the rhythms and tunes became familiar. With devotion, men and women believed the tales told by new prophets.

“Look what madness has overcome our people,” Singing Grass said. “They are being led to the slaughter! We shame ourselves, and our children will pay. Pushmatahaw is a wise chief. He was right to force Tecumseh from his nation. Because he did, the Choctaw were spared this insanity. If only our chiefs had done the same…”

“Lower your voice,” Nokos cautioned. “Do you want the children to repeat what you say? We’re already at risk. Careless words could be our destruction.”

She sat up, and her single braid slipped from her shoulder and landed on his chest with a soft thud. “What do you mean we are already at risk?”

“My past will not be forgiven. I must clearly oppose the Americans.”

“And what of your past? Will you pretend it does not exist? Will you spit in the faces of those who love you?”

“Red Eagle has joined the war party,” Nokos said, preferring to ignore her difficult questions.

“You should go to Big Warrior, join his White ranks in Tuckabatchee. I hear all who desire peace with the Americans are flocking to his protection.”

“I agree with Big Warrior, but sooner or later, Tuckabatchee will be under siege and his White warriors will be forced to surrender to the Red Sticks. I either submit now or later.” Nokos shook his head. “No. No, I will do as I vowed and follow Red Eagle. He is a clever warrior, and will lead us well.”

The moment Nokos heard the half-Scottish, half-Creek chief had joined the Red Sticks, he knew what he must do. “If Red Eagle, as influential and powerful as he is, has been forced at the threat of his family’s life to join the Red Sticks, how will I avoid it?”

With his gaze, he caressed the mother of his children. She was so vulnerable. And the little ones. Who would protect them when he went away? If he died? At least now, he would not have to fear his own people turning against them. Most found it much easier to wish their enemy’s demise…not so with Nokos.

She brought his attention back to her by running her warm hand down his cheek. “Wipe the worry from your face, husband,” she said, resolve in her voice. She sniffed once then swallowed. “All will be well. Do what you must.” She dropped next to him and clung to his chest, her hair tickling the underside of his chin.

He hadn’t realized how much her approval meant to him until he obtained it. Resting a hand on the slight bulge of her belly, he prayed to whatever god would listen that this dear woman be spared the sufferings and hardships which were the sisters of war.



My thoughts:
You would never know by reading this that it's the author's first book. She did a wonderful job!From the first pages I was enthralled and wanting to know more. It's an excellent story and so well written. I totally enjoyed this book. :) I'd recommend it to anyone. And well, I guess I am. HA!

I also thought it was so very kind of Mrs. Gardner to take the time to send me a little note with the book saying her husband's grandparents live in the same area as I. It's a small world, isn't it? How knows maybe one day we shall meet and I can tell her in person just how much I love her book...Waiting on more to come! :)



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

52:3


I just had to go through all of Matthew's clothes. It had gotten way out of control. This shows him jumping on ALL of them. The picture doesn't actual do it justice. There were A LOT of clothes there.

*Please excuse the blurriness...it was taken with a cell phone :)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Havah ~ Book Review

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

B&H Books; 2 edition (August 1, 2010) 

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tosca Lee is author of the critically acclaimed and extensively-awarded novels Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve. A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, she continues to work for local charities and as a senior consultant for a global consulting firm. Tosca holds a degree in English and International Relations from Smith College and also studied at Oxford University. She enjoys travel, cooking, history, and theology, and lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.



Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: B&H Books; 2 edition (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433668793
ISBN-13: 978-1433668791

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A whisper in my ear: Wake!

Blue. A sea awash with nothing but a drifting bit of down, flotsam on an invisible current. I closed my eyes. Light illuminated the thin tissues of my eyelids.

A bird trilled. Near my ear: the percussive buzz of an insect. Overhead, tree boughs stirred in the warming air.

I lay on a soft bed of herbs and grass that tickled my cheek, my shoulders, and the arch of my foot, whispering sibilant secrets up to the trees.

From here I felt the thrum of the sap in the stem—the pulsing veins of the vine, the beat of my heart in harmony with hundreds more around me, the movement of the earth a thousand miles beneath.

I sighed as one returning to sleep, to retreat to the place I had been before, the realm of silence and bliss—wherever that is.

Wake!

I opened my eyes again upon the milling blue, saw it spliced by the flight of a bird, chevron in the sky.

This time, the voice came not to my ear, but directly to my stirring mind: Wake!

There was amusement in it.

I knew nothing of where or what I was, did not understand the polyphony around me or the wide expanse like a blue eternity before me.

But I woke and knew I was alive.

A rustle, a groan practically in my ear. I twitched at a stir-ring against my hip. A moment later, a touch drifted across a belly I did not yet know I owned, soft as a leaf skittering along the ground.

A face obscured my vision. I screamed. Not with fear—I had no acquaintance with fear—nor with startlement because I had been aware of the presence already, but because it was the only statement that came to lips as artless as mine.

The face disappeared and returned, blinking into my own, the blue above captured in twin pools. Then, like a gush of water from a rock, gladness thrilled my heart. But its source was not me.

At last! It came, unspoken—a different source than the voice before—and then the words thrust jubilantly to the sky: “At last!”

He was up on legs like the trunks of sturdy saplings, beating at the earth with his feet. He thumped his chest and shouted to the sun and clapped his hands. “At last!” He cried, his laughter like warm clay between the toes. He shook his shoulders and stomped the grass, slapping his chest as he shouted again and again. Though I did not understand the utterance, I knew its meaning at once: joy and exultation at something longed for suddenly found.

I tried to mimic his sound; it came out as a squawk and then a panting laugh. Overhead, a lark chattered an extravagant address. I squeaked a shrill reply. The face lowered to mine and the man’s arms wrapped, wombtight, around me.

“Flesh of my flesh,” he whispered, his breath warm against my ear. His fingers drifted from my hair to my body, roaming like the goat on the hills of the sacred mount. I sighed, expelling the last remnants of that first air from my lungs—the last of the breath in them not drawn by me alone.

He was high cheeked, this adam, his lower lip dipping down like a folded leaf that drops sweet water to thirsty mouths. His brow was a hawk, soaring above the high cliffs, his eyes blue lusters beneath the fan of his lashes. But it was his mouth that I always came back to, where my eyes liked best to fasten after taking in the shock of those eyes. Shadow ran along his jaw, like obsidian dust clinging to the curve of it, drawing my eye to the plush flesh of his lips, again, again, again.

He touched my face and traced my mouth. I bit his finger. He gathered my hands and studied them, turning them over and back. He smelled my hair and lingered at my neck and gazed curiously at the rest of me. When he was finished, he began all over again, tasting my cheek and the salt of my neck, tracing the instep of my foot with a fingertip.

Finally, he gathered me up, and my vision tilted to involve an altogether new realm: the earth and my brown legs upon it. I clutched at him. I seemed a giant, towering above the earth—a giant as tall as he. My first steps stuttered across the ground as the deer in the hour of its birth, but then I pushed his hands away. My legs, coltish and lean, found their vigor as he urged me, walking far too fast, to keep up. He made for the orchard, and I bolted after him with a surge of strength and another of my squawking sounds. Then we were running—through grasses and over fledgling sloes, the dark wool of my hair flying behind me.

We raced across the valley floor and my new world blurred around me: hyssop and poppy, anemone, narcissus, and lily. Roses grew on the foothills amid the caper and myrtle.

A flash beside me: the long-bodied great cat. I slowed, distracted by her fluidity, the smooth curve of her head as she tilted it to my outstretched hand. I fell to the ground, twining my arms around her, fingers sliding along her coat. Her tongue was rough—unlike the adam’s—and she rumbled as she rolled against me.

Far ahead, the adam called. Overhead, a hawk circled for a closer look. The fallow deer at a nearby stream lifted her head.

The adam called again, wordlessly, longing and exuberant. I got up and began to run, the lioness at my heels. I was fast—nearly as fast as she. Exhilaration rose from my lungs in quick pants in laughter. Then, with a burst, she was beyond me.

She was gone by the time the adam caught me up in his arms. His hands stroked my back, my hips, my shoulder. I marveled at his skin. How smooth, how very warm it was.

“You are magnificent,” he said, burying his face against my neck. “Ah, Isha—woman, taken from man!”

I said nothing; although I understood his meaning, I did not know his words. I knew with certainty and no notion of conceit, though, that he was right.


At the river he showed me how he cupped his hands to drink and then cupped them again for me. I lowered my head and drank as a carp peered baldy from the shallows up at me.

We entered the water. I gasped as it tickled the backs of my knees and hot hairs under my arms, swirling about my waist as though around a staunch rock as our toes skimmed a multitude of pebbles. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders.

“All of this: water.” He grunted a little bit as he swam toward the middle of the river where it widened into a broad swath across the valley floor. “Here—the current.”

“Water.” I understood, in the moment I spoke it, the element in all its forms—from the lake fed by the river to the high springs that flow from the abyss of the mount. I felt the pull of it as though it had a gravity all its own, as though it could sweep me out to the cold depths of the lake and lull me by the tides of the moon.

From the river I could see the high walls of our cradle: the great southern mount rising to heaven and, to the north, the foothills that became the long spine of a range that arched toward the great lake to the west.

I knew even then that this was a place set apart from the unseen lands to the north, the alluvial plain to the south, the great waters to the east and far to the west.

It was set apart solely because we dwelt in it.

But we were not alone. I could see them after a time, even as we left the river and lay upon its banks. I saw them in sidelong glances when I looked at something else: a sunspot caught in the eye, a ripple in the air, a shock of light where there should be only shadow. And so I knew there were other beings, too.

The adam, who studied me, said nothing. We did not know their names.


The first voice I heard urging me to wake had not been the man’s. Now I felt the presence of it near me, closer than the air, than even the adam’s arms around me.

I returned the man’s strange amazement, taken by his smooth, dark skin, the narrowness of his hips, his strange sex. He was warmer than I, as though he had absorbed the heat of the sun, and I laid my cheek against his flat breasts and listened to the changeling beat of his heart. My limbs, so fresh to me, grew heavy. As languor overtook me, I retreated from the sight of my lovely, alien world.

Perhaps in closing my eyes, I would return to the place I had been before.

For the first time since waking, I hoped not.

I slept to the familiar thrum of his heart as insects made sounds like sleepy twitches through the waning day.

When I woke, his cheek was resting against the top of my head. Emotion streamed from his heart, though his lips were silent.

Gratitude.

I am the treasure mined from the rock, the gem prized from the mount.

He stirred only when I did and released me with great reluctance. By then the sun had moved along the length of our valley. My stomach murmured.

He led me to the orchard and fed me the firm flesh of plums, biting carefully around the pits and feeding the pieces to me until juice ran down our chins and bees came to sample it. He kissed my fingers and hands and laid his cheek against my palms.

That evening we lay in a bower of hyssop and rushes—a bower, I realized, that he must have made on a day before this one.

A day before I existed.

We observed together the changing sky as it cooled gold and russet and purple, finally anointing the clay earth red.

Taken from me. Flesh of my flesh. At last. I heard the timbre of his voice in my head in my last waking moment. Marvel and wonder were upon his lips as he kissed my closing eyes.

I knew then he would do anything for me.


That night I dreamed of blackness. Black, greater than the depths of the river or the great abyss beneath the lake.

From within that nothingness came a voice that was not a voice, that was neither sound nor word but volition and command and genesis. And from the voice, a word that was no word but the language of power and fruition.

There! A mote spark—a light first so small as the tip of a pine needle. It exploded past the periphery of my dreaming vision, obliterating the dark. The heavens were vast in an instant, stretching without cease to the edges of eternity.

I careened past new bodies that tugged me in every direction; even the tiniest particles possessed their own gravity. From each of them came the same concert, that symphony of energy and light.

I came to stand upon the earth. It was a great welter of water, the surface of it ablaze with the refracted light of heavens upon heavens. It shook my every fiber, like a string that is plucked and allowed to resonate forever.

I was galvanized, made anew, thrumming that inaugural sound: the yawning of eternity.

Amidst it all came the unmistakable command:

Wake!





Monday, January 17, 2011

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Masquerade ~ Coming in February

Matthew really likes Mickey Mouse and all his friends. Gracie likes them as well. This looks like a really fun DVD and that Mickey Mote...well I wouldn't mind something cute like that. I might actually be able to get the remote away from Robby...or it could backfire and he'd like it too.


COME JOIN MINNIE, MICKEY AND PALS IN AN ADVENTURE THAT CELEBRATES THEMES OF FRIENDSHIP, TEAMWORK, SHARING, PROBLEM SOLVING AND DRESSING-UP

Just In Time For Valentine’s Day, Disney’s New Preschool DVD Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie's Masquerade

Debuts February 8th, 2011

BURBANK, Calif., January 10, 2011 – Parents and their preschoolers are invited to join in the ultimate masquerade party with Minnie, Mickey and pals in a fun-filled collection of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse latest episodes that celebrate themes of friendship, teamwork, sharing and problem solving. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Masquerade is the perfect gift to dress-up your Valentine’s Day, available on Disney DVD February 8 from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

This latest release features four playful Minnie-themed adventures previously seen on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse TV show, a never-before-seen episode, and a free paper mask with festive embellishments that kids can personalize. And as a special option for consumers, Disney has packaged a version of the DVD to include the exclusive Mickey Mote – a child-friendly handheld remote control, shaped like Mickey ears, that takes children’s viewing experience to a whole new level of play. The DVD + Mickey Mote Play Set is the ultimate value for moms and equally fun and engaging for kids! The Mickey Mote uses infrared wireless technology and may not be compatible with all devices.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Minnie’s Masquerade starring Disney’s Fab Five -- Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Daisy – takes viewers on an all new adventure as they dress-up in their favorite costumes for Minnie’s Masquerade Ball. In this episode, Minnie needs some help getting everything ready for her party including making royal crowns for their costumes, searching for Sir Goofalot’s lost shoe, stringing up paper lanterns and much, much more. At the ball, Professor Von Drake hosts the great Clubhouse Costume Show and gives out prize ribbons to all the friends who have dressed up in some funny and fancy costumes. All it takes is a heaping helping of imagination…and the right Mouseketools.

About Disney’s Exclusive Mickey Mote:
Disney’s Mickey Mote works with any Disney Preschool DVD that includes the Discovery Mode™ feature – an interactive “Watch & Play” feature on the DVD. All parents have to do is program the remote control - there’s an easy and quick set-up guide in each DVD- and select the Discovery Mode feature on the menu screen. Within minutes, kids will be easily responding to questions, throughout the story, about scenes they just watched by pressing one of four color-coded buttons on the device -- a yellow star, green circle, orange triangle or blue square – to click in their responses. Discovery Mode features include two levels of play, which provides more challenging questions as the child grows.

The Mickey Mote can be used with any Disney Preschool DVD that includes the Discovery Mode feature.

To date there are more than 11 titles that can be used with the remote control, just take a look at the back of the package to make sure.

STREET DATE: February 8, 2011
Direct Prebook: December 14, 2010
Distributor Prebook: December 28, 2010
Suggested Retail Price: Single Disc DVD + Mickey Mote = $29.99 U.S. / $35.99 Canada
Single Disc DVD = $19.99 U.S. / $24.99 Canada
Rated: TV-Y
*Bonus materials not rated
Run Time: Approximately 120 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full screen (1:33:1)
Sound: Dolby Digital Sound
Languages: English, Spanish, French




About The Walt Disney Studios:
For more than 85 years, The Walt Disney Studios has been the foundation on which The Walt Disney Company (DIS: NYSE) was built. Today, the Studio brings quality movies, music and stage plays to consumers throughout the world. Feature films are released under four banners: Walt Disney Pictures, which includes Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, Disneynature, Touchstone Pictures and Marvel. Through the Home Entertainment division, innovative distribution methods provide access to creative content across multiple platforms. Original music and motion picture soundtracks are produced under Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records, while Disney Theatrical Group produces and licenses live events, including Broadway theatrical productions, Disney on Ice and Disney LIVE! For more information, please visit www.disney.com.


Despicable Me Blu-Ray/DVD Review

Have ya'll seen this movie?

We LOVE it! Seriously the first day we watched it - Gracie and Matthew both watched it twice. And then the next day they watched it again. Now I'll admit I didn't watch it all the times they did and I was enjoying the peace and quiet such a movie brings me...but the parts I did catch were so funny!!



 Minion Madness Explodes Across The Country as Despicable Me Dominates on Blu-ray and DVD Ringing In $25 Million its First Day in Stores

Universal’s $500 Million Comedy Sensation is on Track to Become the Second- Biggest Animated Home Entertainment Release of 2010


Universal City, California, December 15, 2010 – The world’s funniest evil genius saw his plans for world domination come true when Despicable Me made off with first-day sales on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download of nearly $25 million on December 14. Fueled by the exclusive debut of three all-new mini-movies on DVD Double Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and 3D Combo Pack starring the film’s wildly popular Minions, the mega-hit animated family comedy sold well over one million units to consumers (excluding rentals) in its first 24 hours of release and is poised to become the second biggest-grossing animated home entertainment title of the year.

“Despicable Me is one of the most creative, beloved and successful animated features of all time, as evidenced by its resounding critical acclaim and extraordinary global box-office earnings of over half a billion dollars,” said Craig Kornblau, President, Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “In providing consumers with exceptional all-new mini-movies and the greatest choice of platforms across DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D, Despicable Me has rocketed to the top of everyone’s gift list and has assumed the coveted position as the must-own release of the holiday season.”

The title’s explosive first-day sales were also aided by Universal’s groundbreaking “Minion Madness” promotion, a points-based reward and social media program spotlighting the film’s beloved mischief-makers, the Minions. Fans can register to participate in creative interactive activities that earn points toward prizes ranging from gift cards to all-expense-paid vacations. To date, registered users have earned more than one million minion points and shared thousands of pieces of fan art, fan photos and more at www.minionmadness.com . Running through January 2011, “Minion Madness” will award more than 15,000 prizes to registered users.

Despicable Me is the hilarious tale of Gru, the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Villain,” whose plot to pull off the craziest crime of the century is turned upside down by three adorable orphans. The latest film from producer Chris Meledandri (Ice Age, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!), it features an unforgettably funny all-star voice cast including Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Miranda Cosgrove, Academy Award® winner Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Jack McBrayer and Jemaine Clement.


Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% owned by Vivendi.

Here's a Mini Movie for you!