Thursday, July 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

A rainbow in our backyard recently. A good reminder in these tough times that after the storms - the sun will come out. The hard times won't last forever.  :o)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The First Gardener

Summary: Jeremiah Williams has been tending the gardens of the Tennessee governor’s mansion for over twenty-five years. And like most first families who have come and gone, this one has stolen his heart.
Mackenzie and her husband, Governor Gray London, have struggled for ten years to have a child and are now enjoying a sweet season of life—anticipating the coming reelection and sending their precious daughter, Maddie, off to kindergarten—when a tragedy tears their world apart. As the entire state mourns, Mackenzie falls into a grief that threatens to swallow her whole.
Though his heart is also broken, Jeremiah realizes that his gift of gardening is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. As he uses the tools that have been placed in his hands, he gently begins to cultivate the hard soil of Mackenzie’s heart, hoping to help her realize what it took him years to discover.
A Southern tale of loss, love, and living, The First Gardner reminds us that all of life is a gift, but our heart is the most valuable gift of all.

My Take: This book was hard to read. Not because it was poorly written or because the characters didn't speak to me. They did. I read a lot of fiction and a few non-fiction titles a year. This is one of those fictional titles that reads almost like non-fiction. The setting is so contemporary and the issues are ones that could have been grabbed from newspaper headlines running this year. Some of it felt so familiar that I believed I was going to read it was based on a true story.

It was a painful story of love, loss, grief and healing. 

The lovely bits about the flowers interspersed was interesting. Jeremiah's voice is strong and has a thick southern accent. I enjoyed the way he sparred with Eugenia. There are wonderful relationship dynamics in the book between all the characters. The author really pulled off writing about people instead of creating them. I want to thank Tyndale for providing my copy in exchange for this honest review. 

I'm going to hold a contest to give away my copy of this unique book. As always it is open to those in the US only and void where prohibited. You must have a valid email address to enter. Leave a comment for one entry. Be a follower for another. Become one for another (be aware that there is a problem with google friend connect for many blogs. If you try to use that and it does not display you as a follower of my blog then contact me via email margaretmetz_writer at yahoo dot com and I'll see what I can do). If you post on your blog (share the link) you get two extra entries. I'll also consider entries for friending me on goodreads and that kind of thing. The contest ends on August 7th - midnight (CST). Good luck!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gods and Kings

Summary: Gods and Kings is the story of King Hezekiah, heir to the throne of King David. When his evil father plots to sacrifice him, Hezekiah's mother, Abijah, searches frantically for a way to save him. But only two men can help her, and neither of them seems trustworthy. In a time and place engulfed by violence, treachery, and infidelity to Yahweh, Abijah and her son must discover the one true Source of strength if they are to save themselves and their country. Book 1 of Chronicles of the Kings.

My Take: Lynn Austin has become one of my favorite authors of historical fiction and this title didn't let me down. One of the best things about good Biblical fiction is that the stories and people come alive for you - and become ... more personal and easy to relate to. 

Every character in Gods & Kings felt real to me. Whether I was weeping with Abijah over her lost child, cringing with young Hezekiah as he was drug to the sacrifices to Molech, feeling the loss and anger of Zechariah as he saw the temple defaced and robbed the first time ... they all had more than one dimension and changed and grew as the story evolved. There is a lot of action and tension even though we know story. 

The only problem was that the book ended just as Hezekiah is coming into his own and you feel like the story should keep going. Lucky for us - this is just the first book in the series. :o)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Seraph Seal

Summary: An epic tale of good and evil based on the four horsemen of the Apocalypse found in the book of Revelation.
Using the four horsemen of the Apocalypse to symbolize the four Gospels, four transcendentals, and four forces of the universe (air, water, earth, and fire), Sweet and Wagner weave a fast-paced, end-times tale of good vs. evil and the promise of a new dawn for humanity.
Set in 2048, when planet Earth is suffering from the damaging effects of years of misuse and abuse, cultural history professor Paul Binder receives a mysterious letter that leads him to examine a lost 2nd-century Diatessaron manuscript. Ancient prophecies, cryptic letters, and strange events set him on a course to uncover the missing clues that could lead humanity into a new age. Each character embodies elements of the four horsemen in a race to save the world from total destruction. Layered with forgotten symbolism from the ancient Jewish and Christian traditions, the book is a story in which the main character's journal serves as a guide to the reader in interpreting clues and understanding the conclusion.

My Take: I thought this sounded like a good concept. The thing was that it focused so much on the nonfiction that I felt like I was getting a theology and philosophy lesson instead of reading a piece of fiction.

It starts off with a huge introduction about their beliefs and ideas when they wrote the book. I read my book on Kindle so I don't know how long it was exactly, but I got so bored and frustrated with it that I skimmed over it after having to turn three pages or more. I kept wondering when the actual book was going to start. Then the book ended at around the 70% mark in order to accommodate all their notes and references, most of which were reprints from the illustrations and information already shown inside the book.

I was put off a little by the very brief sections and chapters. They once introduced a character and killed her in two paragraphs. That bothered me. I didn't know why I needed to know a name just to establish that an earthquake wiped out that place. After those two paragraphs they switched to an entirely different location and problem. That kind of switching and popping around in the story was commonplace and unsettling.

They also added sections to Scripture that don't exist. It was kind of obvious because the existing Scripture sounded like it was pulled from the King James or some other older version while what they added sounded  modern. The blurb also claimed that the tale would be based on the book of Revelation but they actually seemed to use clues found from philosophers throughout history, the Kibbalah ... art, all sorts of things besides the book of Revelation. I was surprised how little actual Scripture was used.

In the end I wish more emphasis had been placed on the actual story, the characters and the Scripture. It still was a fast-paced story with an interesting ending that I didn't see coming. I want to thank Book Sneeze for providing my copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Monday, July 4, 2011


I wanted to apologize to my followers for not posting. I have been very sick. I thought it was just a cold. I have asthma and any cold can last longer or become more serious than it would normally - so I didn't worry much at first. I just kept getting worse though. I don't have a local doctor either. When we moved here I had problems finding one because they saw the fibromyalgia and then the asthma and ... well they just saw a complicated case that would take up too much time and that sort of thing. Plus all people with pain issues are addicts so I was a lawsuit risk. {grrr} But that's a rant for another day.

I was sick enough to be running a fever of 101 and not have enough energy to move. My chest felt like it had iron bands around it - stopping me from taking a full breath. I coughed so hard it felt like I pulled the muscles in my neck and chest. My stomach was sore afterward. At that point I was too miserable to go anywhere or do anything.

Then I started feeling a little better - though I still had a painful and productive cough. My husband wanted me to go in, but I thought I was getting better. I still got tired easy, but my fever was lower and I only had one half the time. I thought I could do it on my own. Now, here we are ... weeks from the beginning of this. I don't have a fever and my energy is better but I still have a cough. It isn't as bad though - though it has moments. Hopefully that means I really am on the mend this time and not just fooling myself because I don't like going to the doctor. ;o)

I have a been reading - so I have a couple books to share with you. I just wanted to tell you I'm sorry for not keeping up with your blogs or adding to mine. Thanks for your patience and understanding.