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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Award Time!! Let's Be Friends

I feel so honored to have received this award from three different and wonderful bloggers! Many thanks to Jane of Fleur Fisher Reads, Ruth of This That and the Other Thing, Cathy of Kittling Books, and Stacey at Word UP!, who all sent me this award - it is so nice to know that I've got bloggy friends out there! :) Ladies - can I send the award right back to you?

I frequently stop by each of these ladies blogs to see which books they have reviewed. I can't tell you how many books I've added to my wish list because of these ladies, and those that I'm about to pass on the award to!

The award says:
“These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.”
Like many other bloggers have said before me, it is so hard to only pick eight people to send this on to. I've got so many bloggy friends!! :)

First let me start by saying that without the help of the following two individuals, I probably wouldn't be blogging. When I knew absolutely nothing about blogging, they were both willing to answer my questions and help me get going!! Tina of Bookshipper was one of the first people I ever contacted, and she was so nice and helpful - thank you Tina! After thanking Tina, I have to take the time to thank Amy of My Friend Amy - on more than one occasion, we have teamed to work on little bloggy projects, and she has helped me with html code questions and other miscellaneous bloggy questions - thanks Amy!!

There are also a few individuals who always leave nice comments on my posts (which makes me feel really good), and they are Kelly of Enroute to Life (by the way, Kelly has been finding some really great giveaways, and she is so nice to share them with the rest of us!!), and Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog (who leaves great comments on so many blogs).

Next we have Anna of Diary of an Eccentric and Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit, who have both helped me contribute to my About the Author: Author Interview Index. I absolutely love to see when they add new interviews to the index - they are always great fun to read!

Jenny of Come Meet AusJenny is another blogger who has been very nice and supportive. I don't recall exactly how I met her, but I have a feeling it was as a result of participating in FIRST WildCard Tours - I always love reading her reviews and checking in on what is going on in her world over in Australia!

And finally, I'd like to acknowledge Michele of A Reader's Respite, who is one of the first bloggers I've chatted with who lives in the same general area I do - it is so nice to know that there are other bloggers in my area!

So - to recap - I'm sending this award out to (wish I had the time to triple up this award as I really do have many other bloggy friends I'd like to include!):

Tina of Bookshipper
Amy of My Friend Amy
Kelly of Enroute to Life
Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog
Anna of Diary of an Eccentric
Serena of Savvy Verse and Wit
Jenny of Come Meet AusJenny
Michele of A Reader's Respite

Friday, January 30, 2009

Review: The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

Title: The Heretic's Daughter
Author: Kathleen Kent
Pages: 352
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 3, 2008)
Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Edition: Hardback - Many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review.

Perfect for : Personal reading, great book club read, may be good for a history class discussing the Salem Witch Trials

In a nutshell: An intriguing story of a family severely impacted by both the smallpox and the Salem Witch Trials. The author, Kathleen Kent, is a descendant of the original Carrier family, which adds more reality to the story, as it has been written around actual events. Knowing that a lot of innocent people were hurt throughout the Salem Witch Trials, I had a hard time picking this book up, but once I started reading it, I had trouble putting it down! The book provides an amazing look into late 1600's America, a time when life was hard, where sickness wiped out entire towns, and people were unjustly persecuted. It also provides the perfect setting to understand why our freedom of religion is so important and why some fought so hard for that right.

Extended Review: The first half of the book introduces the family and the time in history to the reader, setting up relationships within the extended family. We also see how awful smallpox is and how quickly it can spread. The second half of the book focuses on the Salem Witch Trials, where in some cases family, friends and neighbors turned against each other, accusing each other of witchcraft.

The story is told by Sarah, the oldest daughter of the Carrier family. Through her eyes, we watch as the dynamics of her family change: as they move to her grandmother's home in order to be safer from Indian raids, they unknowingly bring the smallpox with them. The two girls are snuck out of the home and taken to a nearby relatives home until it is safe for them to return. Once they return, they watch as people are accused of witchcraft, and they are finally impacted when their own mother is accused and the children are taken to the trials to bear witness against their mother.

As I began the book, I was not particularly fond of Martha Carrier, Sarah's mother. To me, she seemed to be a harsh and unloving parent. By the end of the book, I had completely changed my opinion of her. She remained faithful to her beliefs and did not compromise her values in order to save herself. Instead, she does everything in her power to fight the injustices of the witch trials, believing that her innocence will be proven in the end. While she is in prison, she does everything she can to make sure her children are safe.

Characters: During this time in history, people had to be strong in order to survive. These characters are no exception. Kathleen Kent has woven a powerful story, peeking at Sarah's father's past, her mother's strength-of-character. Each character in the book has a purpose, and each helps to enhance the story being told.

Story-Line: For me, the story was really about the mother-daughter relationship and how it evolved between Sarah and Martha Carrier. While the book relates American history of the late 1600's, shining light on both the smallpox and the Salem Witch Trials, it is really one family's story of where they came from and how they have survived.

Readability: I did not have any problems reading the story, rather I had trouble putting it down.

Overall: This was a very powerful book, made even more amazing by the fact that it is based on actual events that happened within the writer's family in the late 1600's. This book gives the reader a wonderful view of what life was like during that time, and a shocking look into what can happen when people turn against each other out of spite, bitterness and jealousy. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction, early America, and the Salem Witch Trials.

From the Publisher:
Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived. Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.

First Paragraph:
The distance by wagon from Billerica to neighboring Andover is but nine miles. For myself it was more than a journey away from the only home I had ever known. It was the ending of a passage from the dark fog of infancy to the sharp remembrances of childhood. I was nine years of age on that December day and my entire family was going back to live with my grandmother in the house where my mother was born. We were six in all, cramped together in an open wagon, carrying within my mother and father, two of my older brothers, myself, and Hannah, who was but a baby. We had with us all of our household possessions. And we were bringing , unbeknownst to any of us, the smallpox.

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
Kathleen Kent lives in Dallas with her husband and son. THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER is her first novel.

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Tuesday Thinger: Open Shelves Classification

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Thingers! We always love to hear from regular participants as well as new people.

A special thanks goes out to Katherine, who sent me an email and brought this week's question to my attention. Library Thing is attempting to gain help from librarians and readers alike to redo the old Dewey Decimal system of book classification, creating a newer system called Open Shelves Classification or OSC (click on the link to read a little about the vision on the LT Blog).

If I read correctly, the librarians have already helped to create the main categories, and they are now looking for readers to help classify books.

How we can help: As you add a book or review to your library, scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can see the grid of classifications, select the classification for that book and confirm that you have read it. They have also created a group for the OSC project.

Today's question: Prior to today, were you aware of Open Shelves Classification? Have you helped to classify any books yet? Is this something you are interested in? Did you know that if you classify any books, it will also show you who else has classified the book?

Update: I just checked, and the grid has disappeared. Most of the questions can still be answered, and if you are interested in the function, make sure you watch for the grid to re-appear!

My Answer: This week was the first week I was aware of OSC. I have now classified about 7 or 8 books that are currently on my bookshelf or will be shortly.

I am interested in seeing what happens with this project as I never completely understood how the Dewey system was organized. That said, I would love to see some type of system to help organize fiction into different categories. I'd love to be able to walk into a library and go to a section that had a large selection of historical fiction or mystery books for me to browse without having to search in a computer. Yikes - it has been so long since I've been to a library, maybe I'm saying something stupid here. . .

I was so excited to add the classification of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff under Fiction and to find that one other person had also classified it there. :) I keep adding classifications so I can see if anyone else has added them yet.

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers!!

~ Wendi

If you are new to Tuesday Thingers: Welcome! The meme was originally created as a way to network with other bloggers and to learn about Library Thing! I'd like to encourage you to join us. If you don't know what Library Thing is - you are in a great place to learn about new things, and if you are an old pro, stick around and share your wealth of information! Visit Library Thing here. To join in, copy the picture and question into your post and link back here so people can read other responses. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can stop by! If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here!

Teaser Tuesday: Silent on the Moor ARC by Deanna Raybourn

TEASER TUESDAYS : Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading ~ I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers!

My 2 “Teaser” Sentences for today:

Brisbane noted it as well. "You're playing it quite wrong," he advised. "You ought to be disdainful and remote and tell me that you plan to go back to London and if I wish to see you, I will have to follow you there."

~ p. 79, “Silent on the Moor (A Julia Grey Mystery #3) by Deanna Raybourn

Note: This is the Advance Uncorrected Proof. I LOVED the first two books and just had to start this one tonight, so I'm not very far yet.

From Amazon:
This is a wickedly witty Lady Julia Grey mystery. 'There are things that walk abroad on the moor that should not. But the dead do not always lie quietly, do they, lady?' It is England, 1888. Grimsgrave Manor is an unhappy house, isolated on the Yorkshire moors, silent and secretive. But secrets cannot be long kept in the face of Lady Julia Grey's incurable curiosity. In the teeth of protests from her conventional, stuffy brother, Lady Julia decides to pay a visit to the enigmatic detective, Nicholas Brisbane to bring a woman's touch to his new estate. Grimsgrave is haunted by the ghosts of its past, and its owner seems to be falling into ruin along with the house. Confronted with gypsy warnings and Brisbane's elusive behaviour, Lady Julia scents a mystery. It's not long before her desire for answers leads her into danger unlike any other that she has experienced - and from which, this time, there may be no escape.

~ Wendi

Mailbox Monday

Many thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday every week!

It is so much fun to see what everyone is getting in the mail.

Thanks for taking the time to visit ~ I just love hearing from you! Please let me know if you have read any of these books - I'd love to hear how you liked them!! :)

Here are the books that came into my house last week:

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Life Cycles by Niel Killion (Non-Fiction)

Your Spacious Self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt (Non-Fiction, clearing the clutter!!)

What was in your mailbox last week??

If you would like to participate in Mailbox Monday, head over to The Printed Page and grab the logo. Make sure to visit other blogs hosting Mailbox Monday and comment/leave your link!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Week In Books

This week, a bunch of bloggers are getting together to try out a new way to support each other and share the best posts from their sites from the previous week. I'm very excited to be one of the bloggers giving this a try! These blogs are all wonderful, and promise some great reading!

Amy at My Friend Amy's has written a post about the literature from the great tv series Lost and her new Lost book challenge! I had no idea there were so many books showcased in the show! Stop by and check out Get LOST In A Good Book!

Trish over at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'? shares a very interesting post for bloggers where she is discussing the idea of disclosing where we are getting our books The Ethics of Book Reviews, Part 2

Over at S. Krishna's Books, we get to read a great review on the book Conscience Point by Erica Abeel

Marta, over at Marta's Meanderings has a wonderful review posted for Houston, We Have a Problema by Gwendolyn Zepeda. This book sounds great!

Visit Shelley over at Write For A Reader to read a great interview with Tony Peters, author of Kids on a Case: The Case of the Ten Grand Kidnapping

Visit Julie over at Booking Mama and read her review of Beat The Reaper a book that has been getting rave reviews!

Join Melissa at Bibliophile's Retreat for a great review of The Centurian's Wife by Davis Bunn and Janette Oke. (This is one I'm adding to my Wish List!)

Kathy of Bermudaonion's Weblog has shared a wonderful review of American Savior by Roland Merullo, which sounds like a very thought-provoking book.

Visit Beth, of Beth Fish Reads and read her in-depth review of House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar.

This week I am sharing my review of The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope, check out the book in time for Valentine's Day! I've also got a question posted for Tuesday Thingers (come explore Library Thing with us!) which looks at book swapping.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Giveaway: The Change Your Life Challenge by Brook Noel

Watch for my review this weekend or early next week - I love this book so far!

This Year: Change Your Life!
Brook Noel’s Free Seminar can help you keep your Resolutions for this year and Beyond!

Known for the interactive experiences she creates for program members, Brook will kick off a virtual tour starting next Mon., Jan. 26, with a free, week-long workshop that will help women manage their time, get organized, decrease stress, live by their priorities, and get 2009 off to a balanced and exciting start. For more info and to register for the free program, go to http://www.maketodaymatter.net/tour.htm.

To sign up for the free seminar, you can visit Brook’s Facebook page: http://www.new.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54952104896&ref=nf. Additionally, anyone who buys her book at Target or Costco stores nationwide can submit their receipt and in exchange they’ll receive a free month-long membership to Brook’s Make Today Matter Life Coaching System!

By leaving a comment, you have the chance to win a copy of Brook’s book, The Change Your Life Challenge! Let us know what you think of your own resolutions, or what has helped you change your own life over the years. One Lucky Commenter will win a copy of Brook’s Book, and can jumpstart the challenge to make today matter!

Open to the US and Canada. Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you are the winner! The winner will need to provide me with their address so I can forward it to the publisher.

Simply leave a comment to be entered! The drawing will be held Monday February 2nd.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope

Title: The Valentine Edition (Turtle Creek Editions Book 2)
Author: Robin Shope
Pages: 248
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (January 16, 2009)
Genre: Fiction / Romance / Christian
Edition: Paperback - Huge thanks to Robin for sending me a beautiful copy of her book to read!!

Perfect for : Personal reading, book club read

In a nutshell: Another wonderful, heart-warming book from Robin Shope. Full of the ups and downs of life, the book will touch your heart and help you to remember what life is all about. It will also gently remind you about the power of prayer and forgiveness, that God causes things to happen for a reason, and that things will work out. Published just in time for Valentines Day, the book is wonderfully romantic and will give the reader some refreshing ideas for Valentines Day (romantic picnic, fun gifts, flowers, etc).

Extended Review: This is the second book in the Turtle Creek Edition series, but it can easily stand on it's own. Like the first book, this one takes place in Turtle Creek, Wisconsin. Jodi Williams has just joined the staff of the Turtle Creek Newspaper, and on her way to her new job, she has an unexpected encounter with the small town's veterinarian Josh Thomas.

As Jodi experiences huge success at work, she also has success in her budding relationship with Josh . . . until his obsessed employee (Della) decides to try to tear them apart. Will God soften Della's heart and help her fix the trouble she has created in time to save Valentine's Day for everyone involved?

Characters: Robin has added three new and wonderfully diverse characters in the form of Jodi (big city girl who needs a change of pace), Josh (small town veterinarian who is charming, nice and smart!) and Della (Josh's employee, who sees herself as Josh's future girlfriend, obsessed with Josh) to the already wonderful characters from the first book. I was extremely excited to see Ulilla, Lucy and Joe throughout this book!

Story-Line: The story will pull you in and keep you interested, starting with the first chapter. I especially liked the Valentine's Day Match-Making Dance, and the romantic picnic.

Readability: This was a very fun and enjoyable read.

Overall: A wonderfully romantic story that helps the reader to gently remember the importance of prayer, forgiveness and faith. Robin has included a recipe for Jodi's Blueberry Kiss Me Quick Tarts at the end of the book, and while I haven't made them yet, they sound scrumptious!

From Amazon:
The last place in the world Jodi Williams wanted to live was Turtle Creek, Wisconsin, but when her stepdad refused to put in a good word for her at the Chicago paper, she had no other choice than to accept the first job offer that came her way. Josh Thomas was Turtle Creek's veterinarian, but he also happened to be single and quite handsome. His life was pretty peaceful until a pretty, young stranger came to his clinic with a dog that had been hit by a car. While his first reaction was to care for the injured animal, he couldn't help a few glances at this unique young woman. That day was one of quite a few new beginnings. Jodi came to the aid of an injured animal, earning her the respect of a handsome man, she started a new job as a reporter for The Turtle Creek Newspaper, and she gained the wrath of the vet's receptionist. Della had her sights set on Joshua, and she wasn't about to let anyone come between her and the man of her dreams.

First Paragraph:
Jodi Williams sighed for the hundredth time as she waved goodbye to the Chicago skyline, catching the last of the city in her car's rearview mirror. Dreams of working at The Tribune were dead right along with drinking green tea latte's at Starbucks any time she wanted.

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)
I have a double major in Special Education and English with a minor in Theater. In high school I worked summer stock at my older brother’s professional theater.

Presently, I hold five teaching certificates. I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program.
For our first two years of marriage, my husband and I traveled overseas as missionaries before pastoring a church for six years. Rick still goes overseas each year for a month of ministry. We have been married for over thirty years and have two grown children. We live near Dallas, Texas.To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Today’s Christian. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and in the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I can’t stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell and sold 14,000 copies. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. The first book in The Turtle Creek Edition series, The Christmas Edition, is out now. The Valentine Edition, second book in the series will be out early 2009. Wildcard is a stand alone and the release date is May 2009.

Visit her at shoutlife.com/Robin_Shope and http://write2robinshope.blogspot.com/

If you have reviewed this book and would like me to add a link to your review, please include a link in your comment!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

TEASER TUESDAYS : Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading ~ I always look forward to reading everyone's teasers!

My 2 “Teaser” Sentences for today:
For a moment, Dajon thought to pursue them, if only to teach them a lesson, but the tiny moan from their victim brought him to her side.
Are you all right, miss? He reached down to assist her off the muddy round, and she flew at him, her arms encircling his back in such a tight grip, his breath burst from his throat.
~ p.189, “The Red Siren (Charles Towne Belles Book #1) by M.L. Tyndall
Note: The lady in this scene was accosted by two men in a dark section of town during the night. Dajon heard her scream and managed to get rid of the men. I haven't gotten this far in the book, so I don't really know anything else about it!

From the Publisher's site:
You'll be swept away by this latest historical romance by bestselling author M. L. Tyndall. Faith Westcott is a lady by day and a pirate by night. Can she garner the riches she so desperately needs before her secret is revealed? Captain Dajon Waite is determined to catch the fiery redhead who has been pillaging the Carolina coast. When Faith invites his courtship, she hopes his infatuation will shield her true identity and keep other suitors at bay. Can the love of a godly captain win her heart, or will she be forced to marry Sir Wilhelm Carteret, a man obsessed with taking her to wife?

~ Wendi

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tuesday Thinger: Swap This Book

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Thingers! We always love to hear from regular participants as well as new people.

Today's question: Have you ever used the Swap This Book function which can be found on the main page of any book (here is an example of Flirting With Forty by Jane Porter: link shown on book page, what it looks like if you click on the link)? If so, what do you think about it? If not, are there any other swap sites you utilize to exchange books once you are done? What do you do with your books if you no longer want them anymore?

My Answer: I was adding a book to my library recently (or looking for a book I just received), and noticed the Swap This Book link, so I went back to check it out. I have never used this function of Library Thing, but found that it was amazing to see where books were available for a certain title, and where they were wanted. I also finally learned a little about Bookmooch!

While I am not familiar with the Swap This Book feature of LT, or many of the other swap sites listed on the linked page, I have used PaperBack Swap. I love the ease of listing books, earning credits, printing postage/labels, and requesting new books. :)

As far as what I do with books once I read them, if I LOVE them, they get added to my VERY full bookcase. If I thought they were good and a friend might want to read them, I share. If I have an ARC I no longer want, I plan to list it on LT under the ARC Junkies Group topic for ARC's you no longer want. I have not gotten rid of any of the books I receive to review yet. I've been trying to decide what to do with them as I do not want to make any money selling them. That said, I do plan to swap a few at a swap site, or trade on LT.

Looking forward to reading everyone's answers!!

~ Wendi

If you are new to Tuesday Thingers: Welcome! The meme was originally created as a way to network with other bloggers and to learn about Library Thing! I'd like to encourage you to join us. If you don't know what Library Thing is - you are in a great place to learn about new things, and if you are an old pro, stick around and share your wealth of information! Visit Library Thing here. To join in, copy the picture and question into your post and link back here so people can read other responses. Make sure you leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can stop by! If you don't have a blog, feel free to leave a comment here!

Excerpt: The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndall

I absolutely love this book so far, so will be adding a review shortly!

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:

The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


Best-selling author of The Legacy of the King’s Pirates series, MaryLu Tyndall writes full time and makes her home with her husband, six children, and four cats on California’s coast. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ.

For more information on MaryLu and her upcoming releases, please visit her website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601569
ISBN-13: 978-1602601567


But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Matthew 13: 20-21

Chapter 1

August 1713, English Channel off Portsmouth, England

This was Dajon Waite’s last chance. If he didn’t sail his father’s merchant ship and the cargo she held safely into harbor, his future would be tossed to the wind. With his head held high, he marched across the deck of the Lady Em and gazed over the choppy seas of the channel, expecting at any minute to see the lights of Portsmouth pierce the gray shroud of dusk. Another hour and his mission would be completed with success. It had taken two years before his father had trusted him to captain the most prized vessel in his merchant fleet, the Lady Em—named after Dajon’s mother, Emily—especially on a journey that had taken him past hostile France and Spain and then far into the pirate-infested waters off the African coast.

Fisting his hands on his hips, Dajon puffed out his chest and drew a deep breath of salty air and musky earth—the smell of home. Returning with a shipload of ivory, gold, and pepper from the Gold Coast, Dajon could almost see the beaming approval on his father’s sea-weathered face. Finally Dajon would prove himself an equal to his older brother, Theodore—obedient, perfect Theodore—who never let his father down. Dajon, however, had been labeled naught but capricious and unruly, the son who possessed neither the courage for command nor the brains for business.

Fog rolled in from the sea, obscuring the sunset into a dull blend of muted colors as it stole the remaining light of what had been a glorious day. Bowing his head, Dajon thanked God for His blessing and protection on the voyage.

“A sail, a sail!” a coarse voice blared from above.

Plucking the spyglass from his belt, Dajon held it to his eye. “Where away, Mules?”

“Directly off our lee, Captain.”

Dajon swerved the glass to the port and adjusted it as Cudney, his first mate, halted beside him.

“She seems to be foundering, Captain,” Mules shouted.

Through the glass, the dark outline of a ship came into focus, the whites of her sails stark against the encroaching night. Gray smoke spiraled up from her quarterdeck as sailors scrambled across her in a frenzy. The British flag flapped a harried plea from her mainmast.

“Hard to larboard,” he yelled aft, lowering the glass. “Head straight for her, Mr. Nelson.”

“Straight for her, sir.”

“Beggin’ your pardon, Captain.” Cudney gave him a sideways glance. “But didn’t your father give explicit orders never to approach an unknown vessel?”

“My father is not the captain of this ship, and I’ll thank you to obey my orders without question.” Dajon stiffened his lips, tired of having his decisions challenged. True, he had failed on two of his father’s prior ventures—one to the West Indies where a hurricane sunk his ship, and the other where he ran aground on the shoals off Portugal. Neither had been his fault. But this time, things would be different. Perhaps his father would even promote Dajon to head overseer of his affairs.

With a nod, Cudney turned. “Mr. Blake, Mr. Gibes, prepare to luff, if you please.” His bellowing voice echoed over the decks, sending the men up the shrouds.

“Who is she?” Cudney held out his hand for the glass.

“A merchant ship, perhaps.” Dajon handed him the telescope then gripped the railing as the Lady Em veered to larboard, sending a spray of seawater over her decks. “But she’s British, and she’s in trouble.”

The ship lumbered over the agitated waves. Dajon watched Cudney as he steadied the glass on his eye and his boots on the sodden deck. He’d been a good first mate and a trusted friend. A low whistle spilled from his mouth as he twisted the glass for a better look.

“Pray tell, Mr. Cudney, what has caught your eye, one of those new ship’s wheels you’ve been coveting?”

“Nay, Captain. But something nearly as beautiful—a lady.”

Dajon snatched the glass back as the Lady Em climbed a rising swell and then tromped down the other side. Sails snapped in the rising wind above him. Bracing his boots on the deck, he focused the glass on the merchant ship. A woman clung to the foremast, terror distorting her lovely features. She raised a delicate hand to her forehead as if she were going to faint. Red curls fluttered in the wind behind her. Heat flooded Dajon despite the chill of the channel. Lowering the glass, he tapped it into the palm of his hand, loathing himself for his shameless reaction. Hadn’t his weakness for the female gender already caused enough pain?

Yet clearly the vessel was in trouble.

“We shall come along side her,” Dajon ordered.

Cudney glared at the ship. “Something is not right. I can feel it in my gut.”

“Nonsense. Where is your chivalry?” Dajon smiled grimly at his friend, ignoring the hair bristling on the back of his own neck.

Cudney’s dark eyes shot to Dajon. “But your father—”

“Enough!” Dajon snapped. “My father did not intend for me to allow a lady to drown. Besides, pirates would not dare sail so close to England—especially to Portsmouth, where so many of His Majesty’s warships are anchored.” Dajon glanced back at the foundering ship, now only half a knot off their bow. Smoke poured from her waist, curling like a snake into the dark sky. Left to burn, the fire would sink her within an hour. “Surely you do not suspect a woman of piracy?”

Cudney cocked one brow. “Begging your pardon, Captain, but I have seen stranger things on these seas.”


Faith Louise Westcott flung her red curls behind her and held a quivering hand to her breast, nausea rising in her throat at her idiotic display. How did women feign such weakness without losing the contents of their stomachs?

“They ’ave taken the bait, mistress.” A sinister chuckle filled the breeze.

“Oh, thank heavens.” Faith released the mast. Planting a hand on her hip, she gave Lucas a mischievous grin. “Well, what are you waiting for? Ready the men.”

“Aye, aye.” The bulky first mate winked, and then scuttled across the deck, his bald head gleaming in the light from the lantern hanging on the mainmast.

After checking the pistol stuffed in the sash of her gown and the one strapped to her calf, Faith sauntered to the railing to get a better look at her latest victim, a sleek, two-masted brigantine. The orange, white, and blue of the Dutch flag fluttered from her mizzen. A very nice prize indeed. One that would bring her even closer to winning the private war she waged—a war for the survival of her and her sisters.

The oncoming ship sat low in the water, its hold no doubt packed with valuable cargo. Faith grinned. With this ship and the one she had plundered earlier, loaded with precious spices and silks, she was well on her way to amassing the fortune that would provide for her independence and that of her sisters—at least the two of them that were left unfettered by matrimony.

She allowed her thoughts to drift for a moment to Charity, the oldest. Last year their father had forced her into a union with Lord Villement, a vile, perverse man who had oppressed and mistreated her beyond what a woman should endure. Faith feared for her sister’s safety and prayed for God to deliver Charity, but to no avail.

Then, of course, there was the incident with Hope, their younger sister.

That was when Faith had stopped praying.

She would rather die than see her two younger sisters fettered to abusive men, and the only way to avoid that fate was to shield them with their own fortune. Cringing, she stifled the fury bubbling in her stomach. She mustn’t think of it now. She had a ship to plunder, and this was as much for Charity as it was for any of them.

The bowsprit of the brigantine bowed in obedience to her as it plunged over the white-capped swells. Gazing into the hazy mist, Faith longed to get a peek at the ninnies who had been so easily duped by her ruse but dared not raise the spyglass to her eye. Women didn’t know how to use such contraptions, after all.

Putting on her most flirtatious smile, she waved at her prey, beckoning the fools onward, then she scanned the deck as her crew rushed to their stations. Aboard her ship, she was in control; she was master of her life, her future—here and nowhere else. And oh how she loved it!

Lucas’s large frame appeared beside her. “The rest of the men be waitin’ yer command below hatches, mistress.” He smacked his oversized lips together in a sound Faith had become accustomed to before a battle. Nodding, she scanned her ship. Wilson manned the helm, Grayson and Lambert hovered over the fire, pretending to put it out, and Kane and Mac clambered up the ratlines in a pretense of terror. She spotted Morgan pacing the special perch Faith had nailed into the mainmast just for him. She whistled and the red macaw halted, bobbed his head up and down, and squawked, “Man the guns, man the guns!”

Faith chuckled. She had purchased the bird from a trader off Morocco and named him after Captain Henry Morgan, the greatest pirate of all time. The feisty parrot had been a fine addition to her crew.

Bates, her master gunner, hobbled to her side, wringing his thick hands together in anticipation. “Can I just fire one shot at ’em, Cap’n? The guns grow cold from lack of use.” His expression twisted into a pout that reminded her of Hope, her younger sister. “I won’t hurt ’em none, ye have me word.”

“I cannot take that chance, Bates. You know the rules,” Faith said as the gunner’s soot-blackened face fell in disappointment. “No one gets hurt, or we abandon the prize. But I promise we shall test the guns soon enough.”

With a grunt, Bates wobbled away and disappeared below.

Returning her gaze to her unsuspecting prey, Faith inhaled a breath of the crisp air. Smoke bit her throat and nose, but she stifled a cough as the thrill of her impending victory charged through her, setting every nerve aflame. The merchant ship was nigh upon them. She could already make out the worried expressions upon the crew’s faces as they charged to her rescue.

This is for you, Charity, and for you, Mother.

Heavy fog blanketed the two ships in gray that darkened with each passing minute. Faith tugged her shawl tighter against her body, both to ward off the chill and to hide the pistol in her sash. A vision of her mother’s pale face formed in the fog before her, blood marring the sheets on the birthing bed where she lay.

Take care of your sisters, Faith.

A burst of wind chilled Faith’s moist cheeks. A tear splattered onto the deck by her shoes before she brushed the rest from her face. “I will, Mother. I promise.”

“Ahoy there!” A booming voice shattered her memories.

She raised her hand in greeting toward the brigantine as it heaved ten yards off their starboard beam. “Ahoy, kind sir. Thank God you have arrived in time,” she yelled back, sending the sailors scurrying across the deck. Soon, they lowered a cockboat, filled it with men, and shoved off.

A twinge of guilt poked at Faith’s resolve. These men had come to her aid with kind intentions. She swallowed hard, trying to drown her nagging conscience. They were naught but rich merchants, she told herself, and she, merely a Robin Hood of the seas, taking from the rich to feed the poor. She had exhausted all legal means of acquiring the money she needed, and present society offered her no other choice.

The boat thumped against her hull, and she nodded at Kane and Mac, who had jumped down from the shrouds and tossed the rope ladder over the side.

“Permission to come aboard?” The man who appeared to be the captain shouted toward Lucas as he swung his legs over the bulwarks, but his eyes were upon Faith.

By all means. Faith shoved a floppy fisherman’s hat atop her head, obscuring her features from his view, and smiled sweetly.


“Aye, I beg ye, be quick about it afore our ship burns to a cinder,” the massive bald man beckoned to Dajon.

Dajon hesitated. He knew he should obey his father’s instructions, he knew he shouldn’t risk the hoard of goods in his hold, he knew he should pay heed to the foreboding of dread that now sank like a anchor in his stomach, but all he could see was the admiring smile of the red-haired beauty, and he led his men over the bulwarks.

After directing them to assist in putting out the fire, he marched toward the dark, bald man and bowed.

“Captain Dajon Waite at your service.”

When his gaze drifted to the lady, she slunk into the shadows by the foremast, her features lost beneath the cover of her hat. Odd. Somehow he had envisioned a much warmer reception. At the very least, some display of feminine appreciation.

“Give ’em no quarter! Give ’em no quarter!” a shrill voice shrieked, drawing Dajon’s attention behind him to a large red parrot perched on a peg jutting from the mainmast.

A pinprick of fear stabbed him.

“Captain,” one of his crew called from the quarterdeck. “The ship ain’t on fire. It’s just a barrel with flaming rubbish inside it!”

The anchor that had sunk in Dajon’s stomach dropped into his boots with an ominous clank.

He spun back around, hoping for an explanation, but all he received was a sinister grin on the bald man’s mouth.

Tentacles of alarm seized Dajon, sucking away his confidence, his reason, his pride. Surely he could not have been this daft. He glanced back at the Lady Em, bobbing in the sea beside them—the pride of his father’s fleet.

“To battle, men!” The woman roared in a voice belying her gender—a voice that pummeled Dajon’s heart to dust.

Dozens of armed pirates spat from the hatches onto the deck. Brandishing weapons, they hurtled toward his startled crew. One by one, his men dropped their buckets to the wooden planks with hollow thuds and slowly raised their hands. Their anxious gazes shot to Dajon, seeking his command. The pirates chortled. Dajon’s fear exploded into a searing rage. They were surrounded.

The woman drew a pistol from her sash. Dajon could barely make out the tilted lift of her lips. He wiped the sweat from his brow and prayed to God that he would wake up from this nightmare.

“I thank you, Captain, for your chivalrous rescue.” The woman pointed her pistol at him and cocked it with a snap. “But I believe I’ll be taking over your ship.”

Mailbox Monday

Many thanks to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday every week!

It is so much fun to see what everyone is getting in the mail.

Thanks for taking the time to visit ~ I just love hearing from you! Please let me know if you have read any of these books - I'd love to hear how you liked them!! :)

Here are the books that came into my house last week:

The God I Don't Understand by Christopher J. H. Wright

The Rose Conspiracy by Craig Parshall

The Smartest Way to Save by Samuel K. Freshman and Heidi E. Clingen

This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

What was in your mailbox last week??

If you would like to participate in Mailbox Monday, head over to The Printed Page and grab the logo. Make sure to visit other blogs hosting Mailbox Monday and comment/leave your link!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs (Excerpts for both books included)

I reviewed both of these books earlier this month as part of my focus on Health and Beauty.

Click here to read my review of Never Say Diet!
Click here to read my review of The Never Say Diet Personal Fitness Trainer!

Please note: I have a copy of each book in the current giveaway that ends January 28th. Stop by and enter, I'm giving away over 20 books, including these two!

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:

Chantel Hobbs

and the books:

WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (December 16, 2008)

WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)


Chantel Hobbs is a personal trainer, certified spinning instructor, and motivational speaker whose no-excuses approach to fitness has won her a grateful following across the country. The author of Never Say Diet, Chantel hosts a weekly fitness program on Reach FM radio and is a regular guest on Way FM. Her “Ditch the Diet, Do the Weekend” bootcamp takes place several times a year in a variety of locations. She has presented her unique approach to lasting fitness in People magazine and on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, The 700 Club, Living the Life, and Paula White Today. Chantel enjoys life with her husband and their four children in South Florida.

Visit the author's website.


Never Say Diet Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (December 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307444937
ISBN-13: 978-0307444936

The Night That

Changed My Life

How to Choose

to Do the Best

Job of Living

It should have been a scene of American family bliss. A Sunday afternoon in our home on a beautiful fall day in South Florida. My husband, Keith, was watching the Dolphins game in the living room with some friends. He’d waited all week for this. Our girls, six-year-old Ashley and four-year-old Kayla, were helping me in the kitchen. Well, kind of. Our six month-old, Jake, was jumping and laughing in his Jolly Jumper. I was baking Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, our favorite, and everybody could smell the cinnamon and butter and couldn’t wait for the cookies to come out of the oven. Especially me. As I worked in the kitchen, I could hear the football game coming from the living room. The announcers were talking about a player who had arrived at training camp completely out of shape. He was six foot four and weighed 320 pounds. “That is a big boy,” they said. “Wow! He is huge.” “Would you look at that guy,” I heard my husband say with disgust. “I can’t believe he got so fat! What a lazy bum.” Those words cut me to the heart. I had created a happy home, with a

happy husband and happy kids. But at that moment I wanted to die, because I outweighed that player by at least 10 pounds. I was bigger than anyone playing for the Miami Dolphins. And I knew I was anything but lazy. I pulled the cookies out of the oven and felt nauseous. I was pathetic. I’d been overweight my entire adult life, but I was bigger than I had ever been. I was miserable but doing an excellent job of faking out everyone who knew me. I was five foot nine and weighed 330 pounds, maybe more. I didn’t know for sure because it had been months since I’d dared to step on a scale. Besides, the only one in the house was a conveniently inaccurate discount-store model with a wheel underneath that calibrated the scale. I had adjusted it to register the lowest weight possible. I was in denial, but I was also without hope. It was the autumn of 2000. I was twenty-eight years old and was starting to believe I would never live a long and fulfilled life. Not this way. If an angel had landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear that, in less than two years, Oprah Winfrey would have me on her show to tell a feel good weight-loss story, I’d have sent that angel packing and gone back to my cookies. I wasn’t Oprah material. And there was absolutely nothing feel-good about my life. Call me when you want a feel-bad story. That was me. If that angel had whispered that I would one day run a marathon, I’d have checked him in to an insane asylum. I couldn’t run around the block. Even in high school I hadn’t been able to run the required twenty-minute mile. My knees hurt all the time. I was morbidly obese—a term that I knew meant an early death. If one thing was clear about my life in the fall of 2000, it was that

I could never, ever run a marathon. But I did. I finished my first one in 2005 and after that ran four more— in less than a year. I went from weighing nearly 350 pounds to less than 150 pounds. And I have appeared on Oprah and Good Morning America and the cover of People magazine as one of America’s great weight-loss successes. Getting fit wasn’t easy—there was plenty of pain, deprivation, tears, and hungeralong the way. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I won’t try to sugarcoat any of that. But, honestly, I didn’t give myself a choice. Once I made the unconditional decision that I was going to lose weight and get healthy, nothing could stop me. And nothing will stop you if you make the Five Decisions to break the fat habit for good. That’s a guarantee. Here is the secret I learned—the same secret I want to share with you. I realized I had to change my mind before I could change my body, my health, and my life. I discovered the Five Decisions, which brought about an unconditional commitment to getting healthy and fit. Once I started, I treated it like a job so that no matter what else was going on in my life, I did what I had to do to achieve daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and eventually the target weight and fitness that I desired. After making the Five Decisions, getting fit was a matter of showing up for work each day. The process developed from the inside out, which was a new concept for me.


People constantly ask me how I lost 200 pounds and started running marathons. When I explain that it took several years to achieve those goals, they wonder how I was able to stick to the plan when so many others can’t. I ask myself the same question. I had failed plenty of times before. I’d tried a few diets and failed, including a bit of foolishness called the chocolate-wafer diet, which I’ll tell you about later. I’d resolved so many times not to eat the entire package of Oreos, without success. So how did I lose all that weight and keep it off reclaiming my health and gaining a new life in the process? Here’s the simple answer: my brain changed. I decided to first become a different person in my mind and then learned patience as my body followed. My success wasn’t measured only by a declining number on a scale; it was much deeper. I had to change on the inside. I needed to change my mind before I could change my body. It will work the same way for you. First you must get to the right place in your head, and then you can create the lifestyle to go along with that. Your body reflects your daily choices, so stop confusing it by the way you think. The mistake so many people make is to focus on weight loss and how long it will take. In fact, the multibillion-dollar diet industry banks on people thinking this way. Don’t get stuck in the weight loss weight gain cycle. What you should focus on is the person you want to be. Set your sights very high, and keep your commitment level even higher. In this book I’ll explain how I did that. I went from being someone who weighed more than a Miami Dolphins lineman to someone who is strong and trim and can run twenty-six miles. I went from a state of hopelessness to a life of incredible confidence. And I want to help you achieve something great in your life. If you change your mind before attempting to change your body, you can do this.


While I was learning how to lose weight and regain my health, I faced setback after setback. My husband lost his job, and my mother was diagnosed with cancer—and those were only two of the crises that came along. Changing your life will never be easy, and that’s why in order to succeed, you first need to be ready to succeed. It’s a choice you make. In the fall of 2000, when I was baking cookies and overhearing my husband’s criticism of an overweight NFL lineman, I fell into despair. I realized my life was out of control and I was headed for an early grave if I didn’t change. But even then, I wasn’t yet ready to make the commitment that was necessary to change my life. The truth is, on that dark day I still wasn’t miserable enough to change. I hit rock bottom about six months later. I was at my heaviest ever—349 pounds, I think. Though I was still mostly in denial, I was starting to see myself clearly, and I hated what I saw. I’d look in the mirror and say, “You are pitiful! How could you have let this happen?” My appearance started to affect my family life. We live in South Florida, where every weekend is a pool party. My daughters were young, but they were being invited to a few parties, and I was horribly uncomfortable in a bathing suit. I knew it wouldn’t be long before my girls would be embarrassed by their mother, and that made me want to cry. It did make me cry. But that was the least of it. I was more worried that their mom would die young. I’d seen fat people, and I’d seen old people, but rarely had I seen fat, old people. If I couldn’t change for myself, maybe I could do it for my kids. One night I was driving home alone from an event at church. I felt trapped in despair. At age twenty-nine, my body felt old. I had recently had an emergency gallbladder operation, and the doctor had told me he was afraid to cut through all my layers of fat because of the risk of infection. Imagine being worried about your diseased gallbladder and experiencing anxiety about surgery. And then you learn that your weight problem makes you more prone to infection. That night in the car I felt like the most pathetic person who had ever lived. I believed that God had made me and put me on earth for a purpose, and I was not living the life He intended for me. I knew I had to change. As I drove, drowning in self-pity, I began to envision what my life would be if I weren’t fat. I thought of all the things I could do—even simple things, such as walking down an airplane aisle without having to turn sideways. I’d be able to board a flight without getting fearful stares from people hoping I wouldn’t sit next to them. And there were deeper things, such as being able to go down a slide at a playground with my kids. And I wanted never again to feel as if I was embarrassing my husband when he introduced me to business associates. I was tired of feeling prejudged by every server in every restaurant for what I ordered. I wanted to be able to shop in the same clothing stores as all my friends. I wanted a normal life. As I drove home from church, I came to the realization that I absolutely could not go on with my life as it was. I pulled over, sobbing. In total despair I cried out to God. I remember every word. “This is it!” I said. “I can’t live like this anymore. I’m done. I give all this pain to You. I surrender this battle. I need You to take over and give me a plan. Otherwise, I don’t want to live anymore.” Almost immediately a sense of inner peace filled me, and I calmed down. I had gone to church all my life and had a relationship with God, but I had certainly never felt anything like that before. The peace was real, and in my mind I heard from God. I clearly heard these words: You are not being the best you can be. It wasn’t a booming voice like in a movie, but it also wasn’t a voice coming from me. The words were a jolt to my soul. And that moment would change my life forever. Again, with crystal clarity, I “heard” a whisper: You are not being the best you can be. And for the first time in my life, I understood that this was a choice. I could choose to be the best I could be or not. We all have the same choice. We can’t choose our natural talents or what opportunities life is going to throw our way, but we can choose to do this one thing: we can do the best job of living that we are capable of. After praying alone in my car, I knew I could do better.


No matter how overweight and out of shape we are, our bodies and minds are capable of much more than we think. No matter what battles we face in life, we can have victory. The amazing thing is that so many of us choose not to. I know this is true because I was as guilty as anyone. For years I’d made poor choices and come up with excuses for why I really didn’t have a choice at all. I was big boned. I let myself overeat because I was pregnant. I skipped exercise because I didn’t have the time. I was too far gone to ever recover. I told myself whatever it took to hide the truth that I was not doing the best job of living. I was also being scammed by the diet industry. We all have been taken in by the hype. “We’ll give you your eating points,” the industry tells us, “and let you spend them on any food you want. And we’ll love you when you get on that scale, whether you’ve lost weight or not. We’ll keep hugging you for the next twenty-three years if need be.” Counting my points was not going to save me. Choosing the right frozen entrĂ©e and having it delivered to my home for the next two years was not going to save me. I didn’t need the unconditional love of strangers; I needed unconditional commitment from myself. I was also scammed by the “fat gene” scientists who insisted that my weight problem was out of my hands. They were wrong; it was in my hands. Chantel, I told myself, this is not cancer. I knew, because my mother had leukemia, and I had spent more tearful nights than I could count praying for her recovery something I couldn’t do anything about. I prayed that chemotherapy would work and that God would heal her. But I realized that I’d been thinking of my obesity in the same way, as an illness. I’d even been told by experts that drastic surgery might be my only option. But that was another lie. The way I lived my life and how I contributed to my health were completely in my hands. Every one of us knows what we should do, but we don’t always do it. Instead, we pretend it’s out of our control. We take the easy way out and let ourselves down. Gaining weight doesn’t come about by accident, and it’s not forced on us. We gain weight through a series of poor choices made on a regular basis over a long period of time.

We gain weight

through a series of poor choices

made on a regular basis

over a long period of time.

The same process holds true for achieving a goal related to your health and fitness. Whether it’s weight loss, athletic accomplishment, or any other personal or business goal, you achieve what you seek by learning to make the right choices and not being scared of self-sacrifice. I began wondering what my life would be like and what I would be capable of if I simply started being the best me I could. It was time to find out. After hearing God tell me, You are not being the best you can be, I made my decision, and I said it out loud: “I can do this. I will do this.” I repeated it, and I meant it. At that moment by the side of Cypress Creek Road, my life turned around.


Having made the commitment, I knew I was going to change my life, but I didn’t have a specific plan. I knew I’d have to start exercising, no matter how much I dreaded it. I knew I would have to change the way I ate, and I would need to learn more about nutrition. And to become a different person, I knew I would have to start thinking like the person I wanted to be and not the person I had allowed myself to become. I didn’t know how I was going to do all this, but I knew I would have God by my side. He might not make it easy, but He’d give me the strength to do everything that was needed. When I got home that night, Keith was already in bed. He had never criticized my weight, for which I was incredibly grateful, but I knew how he must have felt. I looked into my husband’s eyes, told him that God had spoken to me in the car, and announced that the next morning I would begin losing weight and getting healthy. (I even mentioned that one day I would write a book to reach others in my situation.) I made it clear that I was totally committed to being the best I could be. Keith smiled at me and quoted one of his favorite sources of inspiration, the self-made billionaire Art Williams: “Do it, then talk.” He was right. I shut up. Keith fell asleep, but I had a burning passion that kept me awake that night and has kept me up many nights since. Making the unconditional decision to change—the complete commitment with no turning back—had to be followed by action. First you change your mind. But to change your body and your life, you have to get moving. You have to do things and do them differently from the past. Do it. How incredibly simple—yet how long it had taken me to get to a place where I could see that clearly. Getting fit and accomplishing my dreams was simply a matter of choosing to do it, following through every single day, and understanding that failure was not an option. I could do it. I would do it. And I did.


Keep reading, and you’ll find out how to change your life through five crucial decisions. The Five Decisions change your brain, giving you a new way of thinking about yourself, your life, your health, and your future. As long as you keep thinking the same way you always have, you will keep doing the things you have always done—including the unhealthy habits you have developed. Join me in the next chapter as we explore the past—including all the influences that worked together to bring us to where we are today. Understanding the messages that influence our self-perception and the way we respond to obstacles enables us to make the new decisions that are necessary for permanent change.

What Do You Want to Change, and Why?

As you prepare to make the mental changes that will lead to permanent life change, think through the reasons you want to change. What is motivating your desire to lose weight and reclaim your health? Use the questions that follow to think in detail about your life, your goals for the future, and what you’re willing to do to make this happen finally and forever.

1. Beyond losing weight, what do you most want to change about your life?

2. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to see certain areas of your life undergo radical change? If you’re not yet willing, what is holding you back?

3. When in your life have you felt the most hopeless? Are you now ready to move past those scars and never look back?

4. When you gained weight in the past, what factors caused you to lose your focus on health?

5. Identify three reasons or influences from the past that convinced you that you couldn’t achieve permanent life change. After considering these reasons, can you now admit they were merely excuses?

6. Think about the necessity of changing your mind before you attempt to change your body. Do you agree that lasting change begins on the inside? As you consider being the best you can be, are you ready to work from the inside out?

7. A total life change involves your mind, body, and spirit. Think about the spiritual aspect for a moment. Do you accept the role that faith plays in the process of changing your life for good?

8. When have you been held back by a fear of failure? Write down your biggest fears in this regard. As you face your fears, can you decide to let them go and give your all to permanent life change?

Never Say Diet Personal Trainer Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (December 16, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307446425
ISBN-13: 978-0307446428

Week 1 Training Plan

The Perfect Body Type: Yours!

You Are Lovely Today

Scripture for the week: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.… When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.”

—PSALM 139:14–16

Quote for the week: “Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.”


As you begin the journey to never say diet, remember that your value is based on who you are in Christ, not what the number on the scale says. God created everything about you, and He knows you better than you know yourself. He knows which foods are your weaknesses, and He is there whenever the temptation to overeat or consume unhealthy food seems overwhelming. The Lord knows the tears you have shed out of desperation. He was there to comfort you when it seemed like no one understood your pain. Trust me, on days when I feel the most flawed, I need the verses from Psalm 139 to remind me of what is true. The living God formed every part of my body, even the parts I would like to change. Although I used to struggle and fail in caring for my body, God always knew it best. When I finally cried out to my Creator and invited Him to help with the repair, I knew I could succeed. He wants you to succeed too. Start this week by thanking the Lord for the gifts of your life and your body. By focusing on making some improvements, you will ultimately be honoring Him more and more each day. Find a recent photo of yourself, or take one, and tape it in the space that follows. This picture will be a powerful reference for you in the coming weeks as you begin your transformation.


In Never Say Diet, I make a big deal about the Five Decisions—and for good reason. You will fail in this new attempt to change your life unless you first change your brain. To succeed, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes—unconditionally. I want to be your cheerleader and your friend. And for us to get going, you need to commit to the five Brain Change decisions found on pages 76–82 of Never Say Diet. Think about how each of the Five Decisions applies to your life. Also, try to memorize them. They will form the backbone you need to stand up to and overcome every area of weakness in your life. Create your personal surrender statement.


This week your first assignment is to start building a foundation of discipline. You will be successful over the next month if you show up for exercise thirty minutes a day, five days in a row, every week—no matter what. There are many choices for your cardiovascular exercise. Below is a list of suggestions. Even if your week gets hectic, finding the time to make this happen is imperative.

Cardio Exercise Suggestions


Bike riding

Cross-country skiing machine


Elliptical machine


Kick boxing


Spinning class

Stair climber

Stair stepper

Stationary bike/recumbent bike

Step aerobics




How to Take Your Measurements

Taking your measurements at the beginning of each month is an important part of the process of losing weight. You will begin to see precisely where you are losing fat. As you start building more muscle, there will be months where your progress is more evident in your measurements than on the scale, because muscle is denser than fat. You will begin by taking six measurements. You should be able to do them by yourself, with the exception of your upper arm. (Ask a friend or your spouse to help you.) For instructions on taking accurate measurements, see pages 97–98 of Never Say Diet. Record your measurements below.

Bust: ______________

Chest: ______________

Waist: ______________

Hips: ______________

Thighs: ______________

Arms: ______________

Be sure that you consistently measure in the same spots each month. I also recommend taking your measurements before your workouts.

Weigh Yourself

Weigh yourself, and record your weight at the beginning of each week.

Week 1 starting weight: ________


Complete your cardio exercise five days in a row, for at least thirty minutes per day. In the space provided, write down the day, the date, the exercise you completed, and the duration of each exercise period. This serves as a reminder that you always found a way to get the exercise done, whether you felt like it or not.

Day 1 date/exercise/duration:


How did it go?


Day 2 date/exercise/duration:


How did it go?


Day 3 date/exercise/duration:


How did it go?


Day 4 date/exercise/duration:


How did it go?


Day 5 date/exercise/duration:


How did it go?




This week you must place your nutritional focus on the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Plan to eat every day within two hours of waking up. Listed below are some fresh food ideas. Each one is about three hundred calories, which is perfect!

• Quaker Weight Control oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of raisins, cinnamon to taste, 2 slices of turkey bacon.

• One slice of whole-wheat toast, light spread of peanut butter (natural is best), and ½ grapefruit.

• Chocolate strawberry shake. Blend the following: 1 scoop chocolate protein powder, 10 small frozen strawberries, 1 packet sugar substitute, ½ cup low-fat milk, a few ice cubes.

• Egg white omelet. In a skillet with nonstick spray, cook veggies you like, 3 lightly beaten egg whites, and 1 tablespoon fat-free cheese. Accompany with half an English muffin with a dab of peanut butter.

Each of these breakfast meals provides a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat. This ensures your day gets off to a good start; it is igniting your source of energy. Find a few meals that you enjoy, and keep repeating them. This way you won’t stress out over deciding what to have.

Week 1 Breakfast Log

Using the space provided, record each day’s breakfast menu and the portions.

Day 1 date/time: ___________________________________ ________________________________________________

Day 2 date/time: ___________________________________


Day 3 date/time: ___________________________________


Day 4 date/time: ___________________________________


Day 5 date/time: ___________________________________


Day 6 date/time: ___________________________________


Day 7 date/time: ___________________________________


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Excerpt: The Power of Who by Bob Beaudine

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:

The Power of Who

Center Street (January 6, 2009)


Bob Beaudine is the president and CEO of Eastman & Beaudine and recognized as the top Sports/Entertainment search executive in the U.S. Beaudine also serves as a member of the SMU Cox School of Business Associate Board. Bob and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 24 years and have three grown daughters.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Center Street (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599951533
ISBN-13: 978-1599951539


Whatever I’m Doing, It’s Not Working!

“Sixty- nine percent of the country believes that a bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work.”

—Gallup Poll

Just as we aren’t born with all the skills we need, neither are we were born with a strategy for living. We learn about life by living it, by pushing out on life while life pushes back on us. This is how we create our own space. Old sayings are still around because they usually contain an element of truth. “Life begins at 40” is one we’ve all heard. It’s true because the first 20 years of your life is programmed and controlled by others. The next 20 years is often spent working out a lot of the stuff that was put in during the first 20. Somewhere around 40 you begin to take ownership of your life. It’s here that youthful dreams begin to reawaken. It’s also here where you discover that some of your old strategies for living are going to need realignment if you’re to successfully pursue your dreams and goals.

All our lives we’ve been told that if we work hard, keep our head down, and mind our P’s and Q’s, everything will eventually work out. Really? If that were true, then what happened to our dream? What I hear more often in my role as an executive recruiter is something like, “I’m no closer to my dream than I was yesterday. If anything, it feels even further away. I feel stuck—stuck in a rut.”

But there’s the paradox. My life is filled with so many good things already. I’m blessed. Sometimes I may even feel a little guilty about wanting something more. But that’s actually part of the problem. The things I’m blessed with are the very things that crowd out the dream. My life is filled to overflowing. I’m like an aircraft carrier with so much stuff on the deck there’s no room left for anything else to land. I know the dream is still out there, but it’s become a little fuzzy. It’s just not as clear. A lot of this stuff on my deck needs to be moved somewhere else or just tossed overboard. I sometimes find myself wondering, “Can I even get there from here anymore? Can I make enough money in my current job, which I don’t particularly like, so that I can start doing what I always wanted to do?” The short answer is, “Probably not.”

Here’s more bad news. Only a small percentage of people actually end up living their dream. You may have asked yourself on more than one occasion, “Why that person and not me?” I’ve heard that question asked many times over many years in countless interviews. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that individuals who are willing to make even a few slight course corrections were able to alter the entire trajectory of their lives. At first a lot of these people thought they needed an extreme makeover, but the good news is that just a small change in strategy makes all the difference.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

“Inside each and every one of us is our True Authentic Swing, something we were born with, something that’s ours and ours alone, something that can’t be taught or learned, something that’s got to be remembered.”

—The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield

Hidden somewhere between laws and principles are universal powers that most people not only ignore but are unaware even exist. These silent powers have tremendous influence in our lives every day. For example, love is neither a law nor a principle but no one would deny its force and impact on our lives. “The Power of Love” is so dominant its felt and experienced by all people everywhere. Another universal power is Darkness. It renders us unable to see. The only way to overcome “The Power of Darkness” is with light. Interestingly, light can be measured but not darkness.

But there is yet another unseen power that works with equal or even greater force than love or darkness. It operates below the surface of our conscious awareness but with such profound force that it must be considered one of the supreme concealments of all time. This force is “The Power of Forgetfulness.” It can secretly overtake our thoughts and emotions like a giant glacier silently advancing through a canyon. “The Power of Forgetfulness” can be all-encompassing as in people with Alzheimer’s disease or other kinds of dementia. Or, it can be as benign as not remembering where you left your keys. In its more subtle and dangerous forms, however, it can undermine our dreams and professional lives in often devastating ways.

Imagine you’re in a science fiction movie. You’re on a university campus walking down a large hall on your way to class. But your schedule is so overloaded you’ve become confused and disoriented. You can’t remember where your next class is or even your professor’s name. Suddenly you hear a strange noise coming from behind. You turn to see a huge, black blob rolling toward you overtaking everything in its path. The “Power of Forgetfulness” operates in much the same way. In the midst of our full schedules and demanding priorities it rolls into our minds causing us to forget the truly important things in life. A divorce, loss of a job, death of a loved one and other crises only serve to increase the “Power of Forgetfulness.”

For example, the person who just got laid off after 15 years is experiencing some level of trauma. The degree of this anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that this person just read in today’s newspaper that 6000 other people in the same field also just lost their jobs. Now they’re all going to be out there looking for new employment. The feeling of being threatened is as old as the cave man with his fight or flight reactions. Only today, instead of running from or putting a spear into a saber tooth tiger, our eyes start darting back and forth as our thoughts become flashing questions exploding in our mind’s eye like a 4th of July fireworks display, “What am I going to do now?” “Will I be able to find another job?” “What are people going to think about me?” These are fear questions that tend to paralyze. They all lead to the same emotional place: isolation and fear. But hold it! Wait a minute! The truth is you’re not alone, you’re not isolated.

When we’re feeling threatened it can become very difficult to tell ourselves the truth. The fog rolls in and takes up residence in our minds and we’re not able to think clearly. Hence the term, “I’ve been in a fog.” It’s like you need a red light on the dashboard of your brain that starts flashing whenever you get fearful, fretful or forgetful. This blinking red light is an “anti-blob” device that sends you an instant message that says, “You are about to be overtaken by the “Power of Forgetfulness.” You’re in danger of losing yourself. Stop immediately and call a “Who” friend.”

What is a “Who” friend?

A “Who” friend will call a halt to fearful thinking by insisting we stop listening to our own negative self-talk. In the face of those lies they will start speaking truth, the truth about your value and uniqueness, the truth about your accomplishments, and the truth about the value of your dreams and goals.
A “Who” friend will intercept you on the dark path you’ve taken and redirect your steps back onto the path of light. They know you, care for you and will remind you that you have a future and a hope.
A “Who” friend knows your true identity and won’t let you forget it. When the “Power of Forgetfulness” tries to roll in like a blob – you need your “Who.”

Many of us have gotten sidetracked and forgotten our original dream, spending our lives doing derivative work. This memory lapse has become epidemic. We have less and less time to calmly think about the direction our lives have taken and reflect on our current course.

Like those “black holes” out in space that suck in everything around them, the obligations and busyness of our everyday lives can drain our energy and take up all our time. In the process, our true desires can get diminished and we begin to forget. The “Power of Forgetfulness” has affected too many otherwise successful people. When you forget your “True Authentic Swing,” you can be drawn, inexorably, into an apathetic attitude that breeds cynicism—the tool of the lazy thinker.

Lucy tells the hapless Charlie Brown:

“You know Charlie; life is like a deck chair. Some people place their deck chair so they can see where they’re going. Some turn it around to see where they’ve been. Others, Charlie, place their deck chair right in the middle of the action to see what’s going on all around them.” Charlie sighs and says, “I’m just trying to get mine unfolded!”

Some of us are a lot like Charlie. We’re so busy just dealing with job and life issues that we can forget some of the important things so essential to who we truly are. You’ve probably had the experience of checking your pockets, looking around because you sense you’ve forgotten something. But you just can’t think of what it could be. Perhaps it’s a distant dream that’s still alive, so the sensation keeps popping up, but it’s been so long since you’ve consciously thought about it that you no longer connect the sensation to the dream. Is it possible that you once dreamed of living a different life than the one you’re living now but just can’t remember—something for which you’re uniquely and wonderfully “wired?” As an executive recruiter who has talked with literally thousands of job seekers over the years, I can tell you there are many, many individuals who are seeking something else but missing something more.

A Lesson in Destiny

Perhaps there has been a time in your life when you felt you shouldn’t try to accomplish what you always wanted to do because it looked like the odds of succeeding were against you. Don’t be discouraged when a door is closed. It’s simply a message telling you that this isn’t the right one for you. Stay alert. There’s another one opening that will lead to you to something better.

I met George W. in 1983 while planning a political event for his dad (then vice-president) and President Ronald Reagan. We couldn’t get either of the two fathers to come speak at our event, so we did the next best thing—we invited their kids: George W. and Maureen Reagan. When my wife, Cheryl, and I picked up George W. at Love Field in Dallas, I expected to see Secret Service and an entourage of helper bees swarming the Vice President’s son. But to my surprise, there was no one with him. The future President of The United States came off that Southwest Airlines flight from Midland, Texas, wearing the basic uniform of a Texas oilman: a blue work shirt and jeans. He even carried a backpack. George was down to earth, charismatic and had an engaging smile. It wasn’t long before he made Cheryl and me feel like we were his closest friends, partly by his endearing style of calling me “Bobby” instead of Bob. Nobody had called me a nickname since college. Through the years, this term of affection went from Bobby to “Bobby Boy.” We hosted George throughout the event. Watching him, my wife and I both commented that he seemed naturally gifted with the skills needed for this type of political fund-raising event. He made friends easily and seemed like he cared about those he met. He also had one exceptional skill that cannot be learned. When he first meets you, he has the rare ability to create a special moment just between the two of you. He would put a hand on your shoulder or tell a story or a joke as if it were meant just for you. Had I been more perceptive perhaps I would have recognized some of the clues that indicated greater things to come in George W’s future.

Over the next three to four years I would run into him at the airport as we were both headed to New York on business. He would always say, “Let’s sit together,” and he would share what was going on in his oil business and later the beginnings of his role in his dad’s campaign for the presidency. George W. had been asked to join his dad’s inside tactical team, and he was very passionate about that role. When he talked about it you could sense his energy rising. At that same time I was slowly moving my search practice towards sports. Since sports was one of his passions, he loved hearing about the type of assignments I was handling for the NBA, PGATour, USTA or Major League Baseball. We would share cabs to our respective meetings or hotels and then go our separate ways.

Within three years George W. became managing partner of the Texas Rangers. He loved America’s greatest pastime. He was the one who recruited Nolan Ryan to pitch for the Rangers which, to George, was like getting Billy Graham to join your local church. After several years as owner of the Texas Rangers, he started being encouraged to make a run for governor of Texas. Simultaneously, the announcement hit the papers that I had been selected to handle the search for the commissioner of baseball. Next day, I received a phone call from George W. giving me a hearty “Congratulations, Bobby Boy!” He invited me to come over to his office at the Ballpark in Arlington to talk about the search.

Following a long discussion about the game of baseball, he turned the conversation in a different, more serious direction. He told me he was in a tough predicament and had to make a decision quickly. The decision to be made was whether to begin a run for governor against the very popular incumbent, Anne Richards, or try to land the job as commissioner of baseball. “Bobby-boy,” he said,

“You might as well get me the commissioner’s job because I don’t think I can beat Anne Richards.”

—George W. Bush

Amazing, huh? The man who would become President of the United States for two terms almost made the wrong choice. He was seeking something else but missing something more. After some very detailed research I came back to George W. to report that the timing seemed to be wrong to pursue the job as commissioner. About that same time Karl Rove, his closest aide, had been doing his own research and concluded that the timing was right for a run for the governor’s office.

What if you and I could slip inside a time machine and go back to my meeting with George W. What if when he said that he didn’t think he could win the governorship, we said, “Whoa! George, we’ve seen the future and you’re going to win the governorship not once but twice. Then you’re going to run for President and win that twice!” He probably would have said, “You guys are crazy. I can’t beat Anne let alone win the presidency. Have you forgotten I’m the son of a President? You know the odds of my winning? Besides, I have a past.” Then we would say, “Yes, but none of that matters because you’re destined to become president.”

It’s interesting to look back and see how the patterns woven into the fabric of our circumstances have led us to where we are now. Listen, if the guy who became President almost missed the clues to his destiny, it’s easy to see how we could make the same mistake. The point of this story is: if you’re going to fulfill your destiny in life you’re going to need some wise friends and advisors to help you see a vision of your future that, perhaps, you can’t see yourself.

Setting a Course and Sticking To It

One of the big lies many of us tell ourselves is that our current position in life disqualifies us from achieving our dreams and goals. Some of the common phrases I’ve heard are, “It’s too late for me. I’m too old.” Or, “I’m too young,” or “I’m too…” whatever. Is that true? No! It’s absolutely not true. You’re never too early or too late in life to begin walking on the pathway of your dream. One thing is absolutely certain: the future is on the way. Ready or not, here it comes.

The only really important question you need to answer is:

What am I doing right now to steer my life in the direction of the future I truly desire?

In sailing, when you set a course for a destination, it’s necessary to stay on course until you arrive. Bad weather might blow you off course temporarily but, as soon as possible, you re-establish the correct heading. The same is true of your destiny. Set the course of your desired future and stick to it. Many don’t. They start out with the best of intentions but when the “winds of life” blow them off course they just go with the flow and never get back on track. Because of “forgetfulness,” you can lose your ability to watch carefully, and so end up just taking life as it comes…or worse, crashing on the rocks.

Discernment is the ability to see things deeply—beyond the obvious and below the surface. A hawk soars along hunting for prey hiding in the brush. Because of its extraordinary eyesight the hawk sees what’s hidden just under the ground clutter and gets his reward. Much of life is camouflaged. Discernment is like having the eyes of a hawk. It enables you to see below the surface of things. If you’re going to successfully traverse the unpredictable, often rough and treacherous waters of life you’ll need the ability to read the currents below.

You’re heading somewhere right now. Life is in motion. Do you like your current direction? Who’s steering the ship of your life? Do you have a firm grip on the wheel or have you been on auto-pilot for so long you forgot where you were supposed to be going?

It’s way too depressing and frustrating to have dreams, goals and a vision for where you want to go but no way to get there - or even an inkling of how to get started.

Take hold of the wheel, you’re closer than you think…
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