Friday, March 19, 2010

1st Blogoversary and Giveaway.

One year ago today I restarted my blog and I have kept it up regularly since then (and for me that is a major miracle).  So what have I learned in this first year?

  • Blogging is time-consuming.  Once you get to reviewing books for others there are deadlines and special posts and interviews and other things that take a little more time.
  • Even though it is time-consuming, it is well worth it.  I have gotten to know some wonderful authors and had a great time reading books.
  • I have read the big names and I have read new authors.  New authors are so fun to work with because they really want to get their names out there.  The big authors are fun too - they are just much busier.
  • I love blogging to help the lesser-known authors.  There are some wonderful authors out there waiting to be the next big author and each blog that helps put out good reviews help that author get closer and closer to that.
  • Blogging has expanded my reading repertoire quite a bit.  I was pretty much a romance, romantic suspense and suspense kind of girl.  I still am, but I have read self-help, non-fiction, biographies, historical fiction, general fiction, literary fiction, science fiction and my new love young adult.
  • Bloggers are wonderful helpful people.  Even though I don't always have the time to comment on other blogs, know that I am reading and enjoying your reviews and adding to my tbr pile as usual.
  • Read-a-thons are a blast.  I love telling the hubby and kids - I'm doing a read-a-thon, don't bother mommy and then curling up with book and computer all day long!
I'm sure there is much more, but that is enough for now.  I am looking forward to doing even more with the blog in the next year.  I plan on commenting more on other blogs and putting more time into my posts and getting better about posting in advance, for times when life seems to get in the way.

Mostly I am looking forward to interacting with you my followers more and reading more great books!


So how to celebrate?  Well I'll giveaway three choices from my giveaway pile to one commenter for first place.  Two choices for second place and one choice for third place.  Know that the pile may change over time as I use it as my general giveaway pile, and that other titles will be added as I finish them.  I am working hard to clear my shelves and you can benefit.

To enter, simply comment for the first entry.  For an additional entry tell me your favorite thing to see on blogs (reviews, interviews, memes, etc).  For other entries, be a follower (rss, email, blogger, networked blogs, twitter - see my sidebar to follow), tweet about this giveaway (1 entry per day), and post on your blog (sidebar is fine).  Open to international because I know I have readers everywhere!  Giveaway closes on April 1.

Please use separate comments for each entry as it makes it easy for me to pick winners.  I will be randomizing the entries and then drawing so don't worry if you are first or last - the entries will be shuffled up in the computerized hat.

Thanks to all of you who follow me and read my blog - it's been a great first year because of you!

Here's the 20 of my current selection of books (subject to change, but there will always be plenty to choose from, some are arcs, some are hardcovers, paperbacks, etc.  All are in good shape, read once.)

Link to my complete giveaway shelf:
Crystal's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (giveaway shelf)

Friday Finds (March 19)

Friday Finds is hosted over on Should Be Reading. It's all about what great books you have heard about/discovered in the past week. Here is my entry, and head over to the Should Be Reading Blog to read others and find books to add to your TBR pile!

I have two that I have made note of this week - I know there is more I have found - but these are the two I noted:

Freezing Point by Karen Dionne 
Found when I was browsing around to spend my two credits.  I'm actually getting this one from the library though.  It sounds like a great Crichton-type adventure.

One man’s dream of providing clean drinking water for millions, tapped from the polar ice, sparks a conflict of humanity, science, big business, and environmental extremism.

But no one can foresee the true danger hidden deep within the ice— an enemy more deadly than any could imagine, and an apocalyptic horror mankind may not survive. 

Mistwood by Leah Cypess
Found while blog surfing the Waiting on Wednesday posts (one of my favorite memes because everyone finds such excellent books).  I found this at The Serpentine Library.

The Shifter is an immortal creature bound by an ancient spell to protect the kings of Samorna. When the realm is peaceful, she retreats to the Mistwod.

But when she is needed she always comes.

Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty--because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew. 

So what did you find this week?

Blog Tour: Chosen by Ginger Garrett (FIRST Wild Card Tours)

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:

David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Focusing on ancient women’s history, critically acclaimed author Ginger Garrett creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. In addition to her writing, Garrett is a frequent radio and television guest. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Chosen, by Ginger Garrett from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434768015
ISBN-13: 978-1434768018



Fourth Day of the Month of Av

Year 3414 after Creation

If you have opened this, you are the chosen one.

For this book has been sealed in the tomb of the ancients of Persia, never to be opened, I pray, until G-d1 has put His finger on a new woman of destiny, a woman who will rise up and change her nation. But we will not talk of your circumstances, and the many reasons this book may have fallen into your hands. There are no mistakes with prayer. You have indeed been called. If this sounds too strange, if you must look around your room and question whether G-d’s finger has perhaps slipped, if you are not a woman with the means to change a nation, then join me on a journey. You must return with me now to a place without hope, a nation that had lost sight of G-d, a girl with nothing to offer, and no one to give it to.

I must introduce myself first as I truly am: an exiled Jew, and an orphan. My given name was Hadassah, but the oppression of exile has stripped that too from me: I am now called Esther,2 so that I may blend in with my captors. My people, the Hebrew nation, had been sent out of our homeland after a bitter defeat in battle. We were allowed to settle in the kingdom of Persia, but we were not allowed to truly prosper there. We blended in, our lives preserved, but our heritage and customs were forced underground. Our hearts, once set only on returning to Jerusalem, were set out to wither in the heat

of the Arabian sun. My cousin Mordecai rescued me when I was orphaned and we lived in the capital city of Susa, under the reign of King Xerxes.3 Mordecai had a small flock of sheep that I helped tend, and we sold their fleece in the market. If times were good, we would sell a lamb for someone’s celebration. It was always for others to celebrate. We merely survived. But Mordecai was kind and good, and I was not forced into dishonor like the other orphans I had once known. This is how my story begins, and I give you these details not for sympathy, but so you will know that I am a girl well acquainted with bitter reality. I am not given to the freedom in flights of fantasy. But how can I explain to you the setting of my story? It is most certainly far removed from your experience. For I suspect that in the future, women will know freedom. And freedom is not an easy thing to forget, even if only to entertain an orphan’s story.

But you must forget now. I was born into a world, and into this story, where even the bravest women were faceless specters. Once married, they could venture out of their homes only with veils and escorts. No one yet had freed our souls. Passion and pleasure, like freedom, were the domain of men, and even young girls knew the wishes of their hearts would always be subject to a man’s desire for wealth. A man named Pericles summed up my time so well in his famed oration: “The greatest glory of a woman is to be least talked about by men, whether they are praising you or criticizing you.” Our role was clear: We were to be objects of passion, to receive a man’s attention mutely, and to respond only with children for the estate. Even the most powerful woman of our time, the beautiful Queen Vashti, was powerless. That was my future as a girl and I dared not lift my eyes above its horizon. That is how I enter this story. But give me your hand and let us walk back now, past the crumbling walls of history, to this world forgotten but a time yet remembered. Let me tell you the story of a girl unspared, plunged into heartache and chaos, who would save a nation. My name is Esther, and I will be queen.

1 Out of respect for God, Jews write the name of God without the vowels, believing that the name of God is too holy to be written out completely by a human. God is referred to as either “G-d” or “YHVH.”

2 The name Esther is related to the Persian name of Ishtar, a pagan goddess of the stars.

3 Esther refers to the king by his Persian name. In the Hebrew texts of antiquity, he is also referred to as Ahasuerus.


Eleventh Day of Shevat

Third Year of the Reign of Xerxes

Year 3394 after Creation

Was it today that I became fully awake, or have I only now begun to dream? Today Cyrus saw me in the marketplace haggling gently with my favorite shopkeeper, Shethana, over the price of a fleece. Shethana makes the loveliest rugs—I think they are even more lovely than the ones imported from the East—and her husband is known for his skill in crafting metals of all kinds. When I turned fifteen last year, he fashioned for me a necklace with several links in the center, painted various shades of blue. He says it is an art practiced in Egypt, this inlaying of colors into metal shapes. I feel so exotic with it on and wear it almost daily. I know it is as close to adventure as Mordecai will ever allow.

But as Shethana and I haggled over the fleece, both of us smiling because she knew I would as soon give it to her, Cyrus walked by eating a flatbread he had purchased from another vendor. He grimaced when he took a bite—I think he might have gotten a very strong taste of shallot—and I laughed. He laughed back, wiping his eyes with his jacket and fanning his mouth, and then, oh then, his gaze held my eyes for a moment. Everything in my body seemed to come alive suddenly and I felt afraid, for my legs couldn’t stand as straight and steady and I couldn’t get my mouth to work. Shethana noticed right away and didn’t conceal her grin as she glanced between Cyrus and me. I should have doubled the price of her fleece right then!

Cyrus turned to walk away, and I tried to focus again on my transaction. I could not meet Shethana’s eyes now—I didn’t want to be questioned about men and marriage, for everyone knows I have no dowry. To dream of winning Cyrus would be as foolish as to run my own heart straight through. I cannot dream, for it will surely crush me. And yet I can’t stop this warm flood that sweeps over me when he is near.

I haven’t told you the best part—when Shethana bought her fleece and left, I allowed myself to close my eyes for a moment in the heat of the day, and when I opened them again, there was a little stack of flatbread in my booth. I looked in every direction but could see no one. Taking a bite, I had to spit it out and started laughing. Cyrus was right—the vendor used many bitter shallots. The flatbread was a disaster.

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Chosen by Ginger Garrett. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.