Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eye of My Heart

Book Description (from the HarperCollins website)

In Eye of My Heart, twenty-seven smart, gutsy writers explode myths and stereotypes and tell the whole crazy, complicated truth about being a grandmother in today's world. Among the contributors:

Anne Roiphe learns—the hard way—to keep her mouth shut and her opinions to herself.

Elizabeth Berg marvels at witnessing her child give birth to her child.

Beverly Donofrio makes amends for her shortcomings as a teenage mother.

Judith Viorst exposes the high-stakes competition for Most Fabulous Grandchild.

Jill Nelson grapples with mother-daughter tensions triggered by the birth of her grandson.

Judith Guest confesses her failed attempt to emulate her own saintly grandmother.

Bharati Mukherjee transcends her strict Hindu upbringing to embrace her adopted Chinese grand-daughters.

Lynn Lauber finds joy in grandmotherhood that she missed out on as a mother.

Sallie Tisdale pays a high price—financially and emotionally—for her fast-growing brood of grandkids.

Ellen Gilchrist reveals how grandparenthood has eased her fear of death.

Molly Giles is spurned by her toddler granddaughter during a trip to Paris.

Susan Shreve finally accepts that she's the grandmother, not the mother.

Roxana Robinson realizes, with relief, that she doesn't have to worry so much anymore.

Abigail Thomas plots her escape when she can't bear to bake one more cake.

Letty Cottin Pogrebin longs to leave a lasting impression on her grandchildren.

Mary Pipher explores the primal role of grandmothers in a fast-changing world.

In this groundbreaking collection, you will encounter the real stories that usually go untold. Free of platitudes and clichés, the essays in Eye of My Heart are linked by a common thread: a love for grandchildren that knows no bounds, despite inescapable obstacles and limitations.


Well, I am obviously not a grandmother but I think Eye of My Heart would make an excellent gift for the grandmothers in our lives! It is very easy to read and I found it quite entertaining and rather enlightening as well. I enjoyed reading so many different perspectives.

In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms

Book Description (from the HarperCollins website)

They number in the millions and they are incredibly important to families and to our society, yet they are underappreciated, little respected, and even controversial.

Who are they?

They are the stay-at-home moms.

These are women who know in their hearts that staying home to raise their children is the right choice for the whole family. Some do it from the outset of their marriages, while others make the difficult transition from career-driven women to homemakers. Either way, it is a choice that is incredibly rich and rewarding, not to mention challenging.

Now Dr. Laura, building on principles developed during her long career as a licensed marriage and family therapist, provides a wealth of advice and support, as well as compassion and inspiration, to women as they navigate the wonders and struggles of being stay-at-home moms.

Learn how:

  • to hold your head high and deal with naysayers;
  • to see the benefits of being home not only for your children but also for your marriage;
  • to understand the changes you see in yourself;
  • to realize that the sacrifices you endure now will make for lasting bonds and a stronger family, in addition to a more cohesive community.

In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms is a special book, a profound and unique understanding of how important it is for mothers to raise their own children.


Well, as a stay-at-home-mom I think this book is brilliant! It was really very nice to read something so positive about being at home. Dr. Laura echoed many of my same opinions and I really appreciated her honesty in stating her opinion. I found it very uplifting and an all-around enjoyable read. In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms is easy to read and kept my interest from start to finish. I definitely recommend this book!

The Mirror Effect review

Book Description (from HarperCollins)

Reality TV. Celebutantes. YouTube. Sex Tapes. Gossip Blogs. Drunk Driving. Tabloids. Drug Overdoses.

Is this entertainment? Why do we keep watching? What does it mean for our kids?

In the last decade, the face of entertainment has changed radically—and dangerously, as addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky and business and entertainment expert Dr. S. Mark Young argue in this eye-opening new book. The soap opera of celebrity behavior we all consume on a daily basis—stories of stars treating rehab like vacation, brazen displays of abusive and self-destructive "diva" antics on TV, shocking sexual imagery in prime time and online, and a constant parade of stars crashing and burning—attracts a huge and hungry audience. As Pinsky and Young show in The Mirror Effect, however, such behavior actually points to a wide-ranging psychological dysfunction among celebrities that may be spreading to the culture at large: the condition known as narcissism.

The host of VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and of the long-running radio show Loveline, Pinsky recently teamed with Young to conduct the first-ever study of narcissism among celebrities. In the process, they discovered that a high proportion of stars suffer from traits associated with clinical narcissism—including vanity, exhibitionism, entitlement, exploitativeness, self-sufficiency, authority, and superiority. Now, in The Mirror Effect, they explore how these stars, and the media, are modeling such behavior for public consumption—and how the rest of us, especially young people, are mirroring these dangerous traits in our own behavior.

Looking at phenomena as diverse as tabloid exploitation ("Stars . . . they're just like us!"), reality-TV train wrecks (from The Anna Nicole Show to My Super Sweet 16 to Bad Girls Club), gossip websites (TMZ, PerezHilton, Gawker), and the ever-evolving circle of pop divas known as celebutantes (or, more cruelly, celebutards), The Mirror Effect reveals how figures like Britney and Paris and Lindsay and Amy Winehouse—and their media enablers—have changed what we consider "normal" behavior. It traces the causes of disturbing celebrity antics to their roots in self-hatred and ultimately in childhood disconnection or trauma. And it explores how YouTube, online social networks, and personal blogs offer the temptations and dangers of instant celebrity to the most vulnerable among us.

Informed and provocative, with the warm and empathetic perspective that has won Dr. Drew Pinsky legions of fans, The Mirror Effect raises important questions about our changing culture—and provides insights for parents, young people, and anyone who wonders what celebrity culture is doing to America.

My Review

The Mirror Effect is a very interesting book. Pinsky uses tons of examples to illustrate his points and that makes the book quite easy to read and keeps it interesting. Narcissism is obviously a problem in our society today and The Mirror Effect tackles the issue head-on. If you are fascinated by celebrity society and it's effect on us then this is the book for you!


Dance Me, Daddy GIVEAWAY!! CLOSED!

This giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Pam, Melissa, and tristaj for winning this lovely book!

May I have this dance, Dad?

Award-winning singer / songwriter celebrates fathers and daughters in new children's book

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Daddy's little girl always grows up too fast, doesn't she? Princess gowns and cardboard crowns are traded for graduation robes and college applications. In a flash, she'll give up her tutu to don a wedding dress in its place. But before that day comes, princesses big and small know there are moments they'll never forget with Daddy: sharing tea parties in the backyard, playing with paper dolls, and most importantly, spinning around with her favorite dance partner. These precious moments might be fleeting, but both fathers and daughters know they are memories each will never forget.

In her new children's book Dance Me, Daddy (Zonderkidz™, May 2009, 978-0-310-71762-1, $16.99, Hardcover) award-winning singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan celebrates the bond between fathers and daughters everywhere. It is based on a song that will be played for father/daughter wedding day dances for years to come: "King of the World," also written by Morgan.

"The first time we heard 'King of the World' we all cried," says Point of Grace singer Denise Jones. "All three of us have incredible fathers and we're thankful to have a song that pays tribute to them. There just aren't a lot of songs out there that highlight the true importance of a father's role in a girl's life."

With lively illustrations by Philomena O'Neill, Dance Me, Daddy recalls the days when Daddy was the "King of the World." The final copy of the book will include a CD with the song "King of the World" performed by Point of Grace, as well as a reading of the book by Morgan.

From their first dance together to the one on their wedding day, Dance Me, Daddy encourages fathers and daughters to remember those special moments shared between them.

"I wanted this book to reflect how blessed we are to have such special fathers in our lives," says Morgan. "I am so thankful to be here and have a wonderful husband, who is a great Daddy to our two healthy daughters! It's my hope that Dance Me, Daddy and 'King of the World' can help us all reflect on what gifts these relationships are."

Cindy Morgan is a wife, mother, and singer/songwriter. She has recorded eight records, enjoyed 18 number one hits, and has won nine Dove Awards over her career, including her most recent Dove Awards for 2008 Songwriter of the Year and 2008 Country Song of the Year for "How You Live," performed by Point of Grace. Along with her husband, novelist Sigmund Brouwer, and their two daughters, Olivia and Savannah, Cindy divides her time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, and Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, visit

Zonderkidz™ is currently hosting a “King Of Your World” contest on , where children and parents alike can enter to win a Sony BRAVIA for Dad on Father’s Day. Entrants simply tell a story about their own father, or a special father figure in their or their children’s lives. Check out or more details.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BEAUTIFUL BOOK? (right in time for Father's Day!)

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I will choose a winner on June 14 th and you will have 48 hours to claim your prize or I will choose a new winner. Please leave me a way to contact you if you win! This giveaway is open to readers in Canada & the USA!

Don't forget to enter my other great giveaways too...

Win KidDesktop HERE.
Win Finding Faith in a Skeptical World by Chet Galaska HERE.
Win Windex Outdoor All-in-One HERE.
Win Chicken Soup for the Soul- Campus Chronicles HERE.

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph (press release)

Develop Spiritual Champions for Jesus Christ with

New Practical Guide for Growing Children of Faith

With her newest release, Awana author and staff member Linda Massey Weddle

equips parents to build a foundation of faith for their children

Linda Massey Weddle, the U.S. program senior designer for Awana and established author of children’s books and curriculums, has created How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph (David C Cook, June 2009) as a resource for parents who are longing to help their children find spiritual success. Based on Raising a Modern-Day Joseph, this unique guidebook encourages parents to develop a practical, personalized plan for instilling faith-based values and beliefs in their children that will last a lifetime.

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph is modeled after Joseph of the Old Testament, who maintained his faith in spite of challenging circumstances. It features insights for growing kids spiritually and plotting out critical milestones from the toddler years through adolescence, while also allowing for the uniqueness of each child.

An ideal target for how parents want their kids to develop spiritually and morally, Joseph of Genesis offers parents a Biblical standard for building children of character. Using his story, How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph will help them do just that. They’ll discover how to instill five Master Life Threads for each stage of life, from preschool through high school. The practical guide helps children:

· Acquire wisdom from the Bible

· Understand God’s grace

· Gain a sense of destiny and purpose

· Develop a life-perspective based on God’s perfect plan

The result: Children and teenagers who know, love, and serve the Lord. How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph is a sure investment in the spiritual development of our youngest generation.

How to Raise a Modern-Day Joseph by Linda Massey Weddle

Scared- press release

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World

Author Tom Davis explores today’s most vital social issues in his new international saga

The United Nations estimates the world orphan population to be over 143 million children. Poverty, war, disease, and AIDS are the primary enemies of children across the globe, leaving those who are robbed of their parents at-risk for criminal behavior, prostitution, drug abuse, alcoholism, and suicide.

In his debut novel, accomplished author and speaker Tom Davis offers readers a sweeping narrative that explores these most critical social concerns. Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World (June 2009/David C Cook) delves into the lives of a photojournalist struggling to redeem his past and an African orphan fighting for survival.

Once a celebrated and award-winning photojournalist, Stuart Daniels is reeling from debt, a broken marriage, and crippling depression. The source of Stuart’s grief is his most famous photo, a snapshot of brutality in the dangerous Congo. This haunting image indicts him as a passive witness to gross injustice.

Stuart is given one last chance to redeem his career: A make-or-break assignment covering the AIDS crisis in a small African country. It is here that Stuart meets Adanna, a young orphan fighting for her life in a community ravaged by tragedy and disease. But in the face of overwhelming odds, Adanna finds hope in a special dream, where she is visited by an illuminated man and given a precious gift. Now what seemed like a chance encounter will forever change their lives.

In Scared, Tom Davis, also the author of Red Letters and Fields of the Fatherless, weaves a beautiful story of redemption that takes place in a world far away from our own. Readers will discover, along with Stuart, that, “Sorrow is a part of life, but our tears can leave us with clearer sight, if we look to God.

True “fiction with a conscience,” Davis’ novel is the first in a planned series of three. Narrated in the first person by both Stuart and Adanna, Scared offers a unique perspective on the tragedies taking place in Africa today and encourages readers to step out and help the “least of these.”

Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World by Tom Davis

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Evolution: The Grand Experiment

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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Evolution: The Grand Experiment

New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)


Dr. Carl Werner received his undergraduate degree in biology with distinction at the University of Missouri, graduating summa cum laude. He received his doctorate in medicine at the age of 23. He was the recipient of the Norman D. Jones Science Award and is both the author of Evolution: The Grand Experiment book and executive producer of Evolution: The Grand Experiment video series.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $29.99
Hardcover: 262 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group (October 8, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0892216816
ISBN-13: 978-0892216819


The Origin of Life:

Two Opposing Views

What Are We to Believe?

How did life begin? One view is that an all-powerful God created the universe and all forms of life. Another view proposes that the universe began billions of years ago as a result of the big bang. Later, life in the form of a bacterium-like organism arose spontaneously from a mixture of chemicals. Subsequently, this single-cell organism slowly began to evolve into all modern life forms. A third view is that life evolved, but God formed the first living organism and then helped the process along.

The Origin of Life

How life came about has been the subject of debate for almost as long as mankind has existed. Did life originate as a result of the intervention by a supernatural deity? Or did life come about as a result of natural laws acting over time? Scientists continue to search for definitive answers to these questions.

The publication of Darwin’s theory of evolution in 1859 was a significant catalyst in propelling man’s search for a natural understanding of past and present life. Unraveling the mystery of how life began and how life may have changed over time has been the focus of many scientists. Since Darwin’s theory first made public, scientists have collected over 200 million fossils, described the structure of DNA, and identified how genes are passed on to the next generation. These major scientific developments provide us with relevant and thought-provoking information. They lead us to pause and examine our ideas in view of today’s ever-increasing and heated debate over the history of life on earth.

The purpose of this book is to address these important scientific discoveries and present the reader with rare and remarkable facts concerning the origin of life — from spontaneous generation, through Darwin’s ideas on evolution, to the present-day understanding of mutations and natural selection

Americans Are Split on Their Beliefs.

According to a Gallup poll taken in 2006, many Americans believe that God created man in the last 10,000 years. This is surprising given the fact that scientists have been teaching evolution for more than a century.

Do most Americans not believe the theory of evolution because it is implausible? Do they not believe evolution because of their religious views? Or, do they not believe in the theory because they are unfamiliar with its concepts?

What do you think?

(chart showing many Americans surveyed don’t believe Darwin’s theory)

Do You Believe in Evolution?


“No, I don’t believe in evolution at all. I think if you just look at the facts, it’s pretty clear, it just can’t be.”

“Did we come from monkeys? I don’t know. There is evidence for it, but there is also some stuff missing, so making that leap with a missing link there, I have some problems with that.”

“From what I’ve seen and heard, we have not evolved from apes for the simple fact that apes are still around. I mean, if we evolved from them, why are they still here?”


“Yes, I do believe in the theory of evolution because I think that we had to come from some place and you know from ape to man to what we are today. I definitely believe in evolution.”

“I think it’s a very sad thing that we’re getting religious views mixed up with governmental involvement with education. I think it’s a sad comment on how people are trying to fix what they see as social problems in today’s world by falling back on religious dogma.”

Evolution: Scientists Can’t Agree

Ever since Darwin’s time there have been scientists who strongly disagree with the theory of evolution. But since the middle of the twentieth century, there have been a growing number of scientists who reject the theory of evolution based on the discovery of processes and structures of which Darwin was unaware. These scientists cite multiple “lines of evidence” that evolution did not occur, including gaps in the fossil record, problems with the big bang theory, the amazing complexity of even the simplest organisms, and the inability of scientist to explain the origin of life using natural laws.

Scientists who support evolution state that the evidence for the theory is clear and overwhelming. They offer observations of natural selection in action, the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, the evolution of man from apes, as some of the most convincing proofs for evolution.

Con: “Life could not have created itself. Theories on the origin of life, that is the evolutionary origin of life, are modern-day fantasies; they are fairy tales.” – Dr. Duane Gish, Biochemist, Institute for Creation Research.

Pro: “You really have to be blind or three days dead not to see the transitions among these. You have to not want to see it.” – Dr. Kevin Padian, Paleontologist, University of California, Berkeley.

Evolution and Education

Recent Gallup polls reveal that the majority of Americans want both evolution and creationism taught in public schools. This is somewhat surprising given the fact that the majority of scientists believe in evolution and dismiss supernatural creation theories as myths.

There are different reasons parents want both theories taught to their children. Some refer to a sense of fairness. They want their children to learn both sides of the issue and then decide for themselves.

The problem of how to teach students such a controversial topic is challenging for educators. Some fear that teaching two opposing theories would confuse the students while some believe this approach would encourage students to think critically and openly about the world around them. Others believe that creation is a religious idea and should not be taught in government schools.

(Poll asking, “Do you think creationism should be taught in public school science classes?” 54%, yes; 22% no; 24% unsure)

What Should Be Taught?

“I believe it is good for students to get a balance of both sides so that they can make up their minds for themselves without being forced into one way or another. I know that if I went to school and they taught all evolution, that I would feel somehow a little gypped.”

“I do feel that everyone is capable of making their own decisions, and I think that students, even at a young age, should be respected enough to be given various kinds of information, various amounts of information, and let to make their own decisions.?

“I really don’t have a problem with evolution being taught in the schools just so long as all the information is given and it is shown that it is not quite fact. And it needs to be very scientific in its presentation as far as listing its faults and its strengths. I think that science that only lists strengths, and not weaknesses, in not science at all.”

Friday, May 29, 2009

Who Made You A Princess?

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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Who Made You A Princess? (All About Us Series, Book 4)

FaithWords (May 13, 2009)

Plus a Tiffany's Bracelet Giveaway! Go to Camy Tang's Blog and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for Be Strong and Curvaceous, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below.


Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith—with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes.

Visit her book site and her website.

It's All About Us is Book One in the All About Us Series. Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick came out in August 2008. Book Three, Be Strong & Curvaceous, came out January 2, 2009. And Book Four, Who Made You a Princess?, came out May 13, 2009.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (May 13, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446179620
ISBN-13: 978-0446179621


NOTHING SAYS “ALONE” like a wide, sandy beach on the western edge of the continent, with the sun going down in a smear of red and orange. Girlfriends, I am the go-to girl for alone. Or at least, that’s what I used to think. Not anymore, though, because nothing says “alive” like a fire snapping and hissing at your feet, and half a dozen of your BFFs laughing and talking around you.

Like the T-shirt says, life is good.

My name’s Shani Amira Marjorie Hanna, and up until I started going to Spencer Academy in my freshman year, all I wanted to do was get in, scoop as many A’s as I could, and get out. College, yeah. Adulthood. Being the boss of me. Social life? Who cared? I’d treat it the way I’d done in middle school, making my own way and watching people brush by me, all disappearing into good-bye like they were flowing down a river.

Then when I was a junior, I met the girls, and things started to change whether I wanted them to or not. Or maybe it was just me. Doing the changing, I mean.

Now we were all seniors and I was beginning to see that all this “I am an island” stuff was just a bunch of smoke. ’Cuz I was not like the Channel Islands, sitting out there on the hazy horizon. I was so done with all that.

Lissa Mansfield sat on the other side of the fire from me while this adorable Jared Padalecki look-alike named Kaz Griffin sat next to her trying to act like the best friend she thought he was. Lissa needs a smack upside the head, you want my opinion. Either that or someone needs to make a serious play for Kaz to wake her up. But it’s not going to be me. I’ve got cuter fish to fry. Heh. More about that later.

“I can’t believe this is the last weekend of summer vacation,” Carly Aragon moaned for about the fifth time since Kaz lit the fire and we all got comfortable in the sand around it. “It’s gone so fast.”

“That’s because you’ve only been here a week.” I handed her the bag of tortilla chips. “What about me? I’ve been here for a month and I still can’t believe we have to go up to San Francisco on Tuesday.”

“I’m so jealous.” Carly bumped me with her shoulder. “A whole month at Casa Mansfield with your own private beach and everything.” She dipped a handful of chips in a big plastic container of salsa she’d made that morning with fresh tomatoes and cilantro and little bits of—get this—cantaloupe. She made one the other day with carrots in it. I don't know how she comes up with this stuff, but it’s all good. We had a cooler full of food to munch on. No burnt weenies for this crowd. Uh-uh. What we can’t order delivered, Carly can make.

“And to think I could have gone back to Chicago and spent the whole summer throwing parties and trashing the McMansion.” I sighed with regret. “Instead, I had to put up with a month in the Hamptons with the Changs, and then a month out here fighting Lissa for her bathroom.”

“Hey, you could have used one of the other ones,” Lissa protested, trying to keep Kaz from snagging the rest of her turkey-avocado-and-alfalfa-sprouts sandwich.

I grinned at her. Who wanted to walk down the hot sandstone patio to one of the other bathrooms when she, Carly, and I had this beautiful Spanish terrazzo-looking wing of the house to ourselves? Carly and I were in Lissa’s sister’s old room, which looked out on this garden with a fountain and big ferns and grasses and flowering trees. And beyond that was the ocean. It was the kind of place you didn’t want to leave, even to go to the bathroom.

I contrasted it with the freezing wind off Lake Michigan in the winter and the long empty hallways of the seven-million-dollar McMansion on Lake Road, where I always felt like a guest. You know—like you’re welcome but the hosts don’t really know what to do with you. I mean, my mom has told me point-blank, with a kind of embarrassed little laugh, that she can’t imagine what happened. The Pill and her careful preventive measures couldn’t all have failed on the same night.

Organic waste happens. Whatever. The point is, I arrived seventeen years ago and they had to adjust.

I think they love me. My dad always reads my report cards, and he used to take me to blues clubs to listen to the musicians doing sound checks before the doors opened. That was before my mom found out. Then I had to wait until I was twelve, and we went to the early shows, which were never as good as the late ones I snuck into whenever my parents went on one of their trips.

They travel a lot. Dad owns this massive petroleum exploration company, and when she’s not chairing charity boards and organizing fund-raisers, Mom goes with him everywhere, from Alaska to New Zealand. I saw a lot of great shows with whichever member of the staff I could bribe to take me and swear I was sixteen. Keb’ Mo, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roomful of Blues—I saw them all.

A G-minor chord rippled out over the crackle of the fire, and I smiled a slow smile. My second favorite sound in the world (right after the sound of M&Ms pouring into a dish). On my left, Danyel had pulled out his guitar and tuned it while I was lost in la-la land, listening to the waves come in.

Lissa says there are some things you just know. And somehow, I just knew that I was going to be more to Danyel Johnstone than merely a friend of his friend Kaz’s friend Lissa, if you hear what I’m saying. I was done with being alone, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t stand out from the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like this crowd. Carly especially—she’s like the sister I would have designed my own self. And Lissa, too, though sometimes I wonder if she can be real. I mean, how can you be blond and tall and rich and wear clothes the way she does, and still be so nice? There has to be a flaw in there somewhere, but if she’s got any, she keeps them under wraps.

Gillian, who we’d see in a couple of days, has really grown on me. I couldn’t stand her at first—she’s one of those people you can’t help but notice. I only hung around her because Carly liked her. But somewhere between her going out with this loser brain trust and then her hooking up with Jeremy Clay, who’s a friend of mine, I got to know her. And staying with her family last Christmas, which could have been massively awkward, was actually fun. The last month in the Hamptons with them was a total blast. The only good thing about leaving was knowing I was going to see the rest of the crew here in Santa Barbara.

The one person I still wasn’t sure about was Mac, aka Lady Lindsay MacPhail, who did an exchange term at school in the spring. Getting to know her is like besieging a castle—which is totally appropriate considering she lives in one. She and Carly are tight, and we all e-mailed and IM-ed like fiends all summer, but I’m still not sure. I mean, she has a lot to deal with right now, with her family and everything. And the likelihood of us seeing each other again is kind of low, so maybe I don’t have to make up my mind about her. Maybe I’ll just let her go the way I let the kids in middle school go.

Danyel began to get serious about bending his notes instead of fingerpicking, and I knew he was about to sing. Oh, man, could the night get any more perfect? Even though we’d probably burn the handmade marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma, tonight capped a summer that had been the best time I’d ever had.

The only thing that would make it perfect would be finding some way to be alone with that man. I hadn’t been here more than a day when Danyel and Kaz had come loping down the beach. I’d taken one look at those eyes and those cheekbones and, okay, a very cut set of abs, and decided here was someone I wanted to know a whole lot better. And I did, now, after a couple of weeks. But soon we’d go off to S. F., and he and Kaz would go back to Pacific High. When we pulled out in Gabe Mansfield’s SUV, I wanted there to be something more between us than an air kiss and a handshake, you know what I mean?

I wanted something to be settled. Neither of us had talked about it, but both of us knew it was there. Unspoken longing is all very well in poetry, but I’m the outspoken type. I like things out there where I can touch them.

In a manner of speaking.

Danyel sat between Kaz and me, cross-legged and bare-chested, looking as comfortable in his surf jams as if he lived in them. Come to think of it, he did live in them. His, Kaz’s, and Lissa’s boards were stuck in the sand behind us. They’d spent most of the afternoon out there on the waves. I tried to keep my eyes on the fire. Not that I didn’t appreciate the view next to me, because trust me, it was fine, but I know a man wants to be appreciated for his talents and his mind.

Danyel’s melody sounded familiar—something Gillian played while we waited for our prayer circles at school to start. Which reminded me . . . I nudged Carly. “You guys going to church tomorrow?”

She nodded and lifted her chin at Lissa to get her attention. “Girl wants to know if we’re going to church.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Lissa said. “Kaz and his family, too. Last chance of the summer to all go together.”

And where Kaz went, Danyel went. Happy thought.

“You’re not going to bail, are you?” Carly’s brows rose a little.

It’s not like I’m anti-religion or anything. I’m just in the beginning stages of learning about it. Without my friends to tell me stuff, I’d be bumbling around on my own, trying to figure it out. My parents don’t go to church, so I didn’t catch the habit from them. But when she was alive and I was a little girl, my grandma used to take me to the one in her neighborhood across town. I thought it was an adventure, riding the bus instead of being driven in the BMW. And the gospel choir was like nothing I’d ever seen, all waving their arms in the air and singing to raise the roof. I always thought they were trying to deafen God, if they could just get up enough volume.

So I like the music part. Always have. And I’m beginning to see the light on the God part, after what happened last spring. But seeing a glimmer and knowing what to do about it are two different things.

“Of course not.” I gave Carly a look. “We all go together. And we walk, in case no one told you, so plan your shoes carefully.”

“Oh, I will.” She sat back on her hands, an “I so see right through you” smile turning up the corners of her mouth. “And it’s all about the worship, I know.” That smile told me she knew exactly what my motivation was. Part of it, at least. Hey, can you blame me?

The music changed and Danyel’s voice lifted into a lonely blues melody, pouring over Carly’s words like cream. I just melted right there on the spot. Man, could that boy sing.

Blue water, blue sky

Blue day, girl, do you think that I

Don’t see you, yeah I do.

Long sunset, long road,

Long life, girl, but I think you know

What I need, yeah, you do.

I do a little singing my own self, so I know talent when I hear it. And I’d have bet you that month’s allowance that Danyel had composed that one. He segued into the chorus and then the bridge, its rhythms straight out of Mississippi but the tune something new, something that fit the sadness and the hope of the words.

Wait a minute.

Blue day? Long sunset? Long road? As in, a long road to San Francisco?

Whoa. Could Danyel be trying to tell someone something? “You think that I don’t see you”? Well, if that didn’t describe me, I didn’t know what would. Ohmigosh.

Could he be trying to tell me his feelings with a song? Musicians were like that. They couldn’t tell a person something to her face, or they were too shy, or it was just too hard to get out, so they poured it into their music. For them, maybe it was easier to perform something than to get personal with it.

Be cool, girl. Let him finish. Then find a way to tell him you understand—and you want it, too.

The last of the notes blew away on the breeze, and a big comber smashed itself on the sand, making a sound like a kettledrum to finish off the song. I clapped, and the others joined in.

“Did you write that yourself?” Lissa removed a marshmallow from her stick and passed it to him. “It was great.”

Danyel shrugged one shoulder. “Tune’s been bugging me for a while and the words just came to me. You know, like an IM or something.”

Carly laughed, and Kaz’s forehead wrinkled for a second in a frown before he did, too.

I love modesty in a man. With that kind of talent, you couldn’t blame Danyel for thinking he was all that.

Should I say something? The breath backed up in my chest. Say it. You’ll lose the moment. “So who’s it about?” I blurted, then felt myself blush.

“Can’t tell.” His head was bent as he picked a handful of notes and turned them into a little melody. “Some girl, probably.”

“Some girl who’s leaving?” I said, trying for a teasing tone. “Is that a good-bye?”

“Could be.”

I wished I had the guts to come out and ask if he’d written the song for me—for us—but I just couldn’t. Not with everyone sitting there. With one look at Carly, whose eyes held a distinct “What’s up with you?” expression, I lost my nerve and shut up. Which, as any of the girls could tell you, doesn’t happen very often.

Danyel launched into another song—some praise thing that everyone knew but me. And then another, and then a cheesy old John Denver number that at least I knew the words to, and then a bunch of goofy songs half of us had learned at camp when we were kids. And then it was nearly midnight, and Kaz got up and stretched.

He’s a tall guy. He stretches a long way. “I’m running the mixer for the early service tomorrow, so I’ve got to go.”

Danyel got up, and I just stopped my silly self from saying, “No, not yet.” Instead, I watched him sling the guitar over one shoulder and yank his board out of the sand. “Are you going to early service, too?” I asked him.

“Yeah,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I’m in the band, remember?”

Argh! As if I didn’t know. As if I hadn’t sat there three Sundays in a row, watching his hands move on the frets and the light make shadows under his cheekbones.

“I just meant—I see you at the late one when we go. I didn’t know you went to both.” Stutter, bumble. Oh, just stop talking, girl. You’ve been perfectly comfortable talking to him so far. What’s the matter?

“I don’t, usually. But tomorrow they’re doing full band at early service, too. Last one before all the turistas go home. Next week we’ll be back to normal.” He smiled at me. “See you then.”

Was he looking forward to seeing me, or was he just being nice? “I hope so,” I managed.

“Kaz, you coming?”

Kaz bent to the fire and ran a stick through the coals, separating them. “Just let me put this out. Lissa, where’s the bucket?”

“Here.” While I’d been obsessing over Danyel, Lissa had run down to the waterline and filled a gallon pail. You could tell they’d done this about a million times. She poured the water on the fire and it blew a cloud of steam into the air. The orange coals gave it up with a hiss.

I looked up to say something to Danyel about it and saw that he was already fifty feet away, board under his arm like it weighed nothing, heading down the beach to the public lot where he usually parked his Jeep.

I stared down into the coals, wet and dying.

I couldn’t let the night go out like this.

“Danyel, wait!” The sand polished the soles of my bare feet better than the pumice bar at the salon as I ran to catch up with him. A fast glance behind me told me Lissa had stepped up and begun talking to Kaz, giving me a few seconds alone.

I owed her, big time.

“What’s up, ma?” He planted the board and set the guitar case down. “Forget something?”

“Yes,” I blurted. “I forgot to tell you that I think you’re amazing.”

He blinked. “Whoa.” The barest hint of a smile tickled the corners of his lips.

I might not get another chance as good as this one. I rushed on, the words crowding my mouth in their hurry to get out. “I know there’s something going on here and we’re all leaving on Tuesday and I need to know if you—if you feel the same way.”

“About . . . ?”

“About me. As I feel about you.”

He put both hands on his hips and gazed down at the sand. “Oh.”

Cold engulfed me, as if I’d just plunged face-first into the dark waves twenty feet away. “Oh,” I echoed. “Never mind. I guess I got it wrong.” I stepped back. “Forget about it. No harm done.”

“No, Shani, wait—”

But I didn’t want to hear the “we can still be friends” speech. I didn’t want to hear anything except the wind in my ears as I ran back to the safety of my friends.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It Happened In Italy review

It Happened In Italy
Untold Stories of How the People of Italy Defied the Horrors of the Holocaust
By Elizabeth Bettina

Book Description

One woman's discovery---and the incredible, unexpected journey it takes her on---of how her grandparent's small village of Campagna, Italy, helped save Jews during the Holocaust.

Take a journey with Elizabeth Bettina as she discovers much to her surprise, that her grandparent's small village, nestled in the heart of southern Italy, housed an internment camp for Jews during the Holocaust, and that it was far from the only one. Follow her discovery of survivors and their stories of gratitude to Italy and its people. Explore the little known details of how members of the Catholic church assisted and helped shelter Jews in Italy during World War II. (taken from the Thomas Nelson Website)


It Happened in Italy is a fascinating book. Bettina writes in a conversational style and as I read it felt like I was listening to her talk. I learned a TON from this book and I appreciate hearing stories of GOOD during the horrors of WW II. The writing is very descriptive and it is easy to imagine the scenes but it does feel a little dis-jointed at times. I think Bettina did an excellent job of making the history contained in the book very user-friendly- you don't have to be a history scholar to read and understand this book.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dr. Hippo series review

Thanks to MomFuse I was given the opportunity to review the Dr. Hippo Series.

Here is a bit about the series I got from their website:

Known as the Dr. Hippo Series, this collection of stories is about: an elephant with an earache, a polar bear with a cold, a frog with a fever of 104°, a giraffe with a sore throat, and a moose with vomiting and diarrhea (gastroenteritis). Each adorable animal gets (and gets over) his or her illness with the help of a kindly pediatrician hippopotamus named Dr. Hippocrates.

Each book in the Dr. Hippo Series is 32 pages, hard cover, full color and includes a separate laminated Parent Guide written in question/answer format. The Parent Guide answers common questions like: “How can I keep my child comfortable?” and “When should I call the doctor?”

The Moose With Loose Poops

"Four-year-old Miles develops a tummy ache while on a family picnic in Maine. His planned camping trip with Papa (complete with canoeing and fishing) is postponed when throwing up (oops!) and diarrhea (loose poops) develop. Mama, Papa and Lucy Moose take excellent care of Miles at home. Of course, they are helped by their kindly pediatrician, Dr. Hippo, who advises that fluid is the best medicine for Miles. Will Miles recover in time to go camping with Papa under a special, star-filled sky?"

"The Little Elephant with the Big Earache tells the story of Eddie, who awakens with a terrible earache after a busy afternoon making mud pies with his cousins. His mother takes care of him during the night and Dr. Hippo reassures them both during the day. Will Eddie recover in time for his birthday?"

Peeper Has a Fever

The day of the Diving Contest has arrived! Peeper hops out of bed with excitement and joins his mother for breakfast. When he doesn’t touch his pancakes, she wonders whether he might be getting sick and soon discovers his fever of 104°. Worried, she calls their pediatrician, Dr. Hippocrates, who gives her excellent advice and asks her to keep in touch by phone. His parents then take wonderful care of Peeper, but what about the Diving Contest? Is he well enough to go? Will he win this year?

Katie is happily skating with her friends when she begins to sneeze. She soon develops a bad cold. Will she be better in time for the Ice Show? Her mother takes excellent care of Katie at home, checking in with their pediatrician, Dr. Hippo, when Katie starts blowing “green stuff” into her tissue. Won’t she need antibiotics? Katie needs to get better—and fast!

One day while she is beading necklaces for the School Art Fair, Sadie begins to feel sick. Her mother worries about Sadie’s sore throat and takes excellent care of her at home before they go off to their pediatrician, a friendly hippopotamus named Dr. Hippocrates. Is Sadie too sick to go to the Fair? Will her necklaces win a prize?


I absolutely love this adorable series! The series is geared toward children aged 2-7 and is incredibly kid-friendly. My kids are 2, 5, and 7 and all three loved the Dr. Hippo books. My boys especially got a kick out of the "Moose with Loose Poops" since it actually said the word POOP :). The series is written by Dr. Cowan and you can really tell the stories were written by someone who actually KNOWS what they are talking about! The illustrations are bright and colourful and perfectly suit the stories. The various animal characters are fun and my kids really enjoyed "getting to know" them. I think the Parent Guide tucked into the back of each book is a brilliant addition. Personally I think every single doctor's office/hospital/medical facility of ANY kind should have the entire series. The Dr. Hippo series would make a wonderful addition to any child's home or school library.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Secondhand Jesus (press release)

Taking a Shortcut to God?

In Secondhand Jesus, rising author and musician Glenn Packiam

helps Christians exchange rumors of God for a firsthand faith

We live in a culture of experts. Everywhere one turns, there are professionals touting advice on everything from how to repair your car to how to fix your marriage. And, in Christian circles, some have even started to believe that there are “God experts”—people who can pray in just the right way that God hears them or who worship in such a way as to make God listen. We begin to rely on these people as our sole source of information about God, rather than make the effort to encounter Him directly ourselves.

In his new book, Secondhand Jesus: Trading Rumors of God for a Firsthand Faith (David C Cook, June 2009), author and worship pastor of New Life Church Glenn Packiam summons readers upon a passionate quest—a holy pursuit—to truly experience Christ’s power and love for themselves. “God wants us to know Him deeply and personally,” Packiam says. “But there are no shortcuts to God. The Bible tells us that ‘The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.’” (Matthew 7:14, The Message)

God has offered us firsthand knowledge of His love, His grace, and His power. Yet so often, we too easily settle for someone else’s descriptions, the Cliff notes from another’s spiritual journey. We are content for others to do the heavy lifting and then give us the bottom line. And, like any secondhand information, after enough times through the grapevine, the truth about God deteriorates and crumbs of rumor are all that remain.

But when life derails, and things don’t go as we had planned, our thin view of God is challenged. In those critical moments, we can choose to walk away from God, or to let our questions lead us home. When we choose to wrestle with God, to engage Him individually, we—like Jacob and Job and David—will see rumors die and revelation come alive.

Crushing rumors of God that many Christians mistakenly hold, Secondhand Jesus isn’t a five-step formula, but rather a challenge to Christians to own their faith by questioning their preconceived ideas about God. “It’s time to hear the magnificent, Divine Invitation,” says Packiam. “It’s time to take God up on His offer and embrace the mystery and majesty of knowing Him for ourselves.”

Beginning May 15 and continuing throughout the month of July, the “Hear It First, Read It First” contest and promotion for Secondhand Jesus will be sponsored by David C Cook, Integrity Music,, and Gibson/Epiphone Guitars. By visiting, fans and readers will be able to win prizes, as well as download a free music video performance of Glenn Packiam (i.e., “Burning in Me”).

Secondhand Jesus by Glenn Packiam

* this is information from the publisher

A Claim of Her Own

Product Description (from

It's 1876, and 20-year-old Mattie Flynn is determined to make a fresh start after fleeing from her sinister boss in the gambling house where she was employed as a singer. Mattie travels to Deadwood, South Dakota, in search of her younger brother, who went ahead of her in hopes of making a fortune in the gold mines.

All Mattie wants is a safe and respectable life for the two of them, but that doesn't seem to be her destiny as she faces more heartache and trials. Will the suspicious bottles of gold dust from her brother's claim be the key to her future...or does the handsome street preacher, who is always turning the other cheek, truly hold the answers to her deepest longings?

Author Stephanie Grace Whitson's website is HERE.


A Claim of Her Own is a lovely story. I found Whitson's characters intriguing and I enjoyed "getting to know" them. I really appreciated the fact that I could not predict the entire ending of the book right from chapter one :) Whitson did an excellent job of drawing me in to the story with her descriptive writing. If you are a fan of historical fiction with a touch of romance than this is an excellent choice for you!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lucy's Perfect Summer

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!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Lucy's Perfect Summer (A Lucy Novel)

Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)


Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the FaithGirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714524
ISBN-13: 978-0310714521


Why My Life Is Just About Perfect

School is out for the summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lucy would have made more exclamation points, but Lollipop, her pot-bellied kitty, was watching from the windowsill above the bed, her black head bobbing with each stroke and dot. She’d be pouncing in a second.

Lucy protected the Book of Lists with her other arm and wrote…

2. Aunt Karen is taking her vacation to some island so she won’t be coming HERE for a while. YES!!

3. We have a soccer game in two weeks, thanks to Coach Auggy. A for-REAL game, with a whole other team, not just our team split up, which is always lame since we only have 8 players to begin with. I cannot WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lollipop twitched an ear.

“Forget about it,” Lucy said to her. She’d only just discovered the joy of making exclamation points from Veronica. Veronica was a girly-girl, but she did have her good points. Lucy snickered. “Good points, Lolli. Get it?”

Lollipop apparently did not, or else she didn’t care. She tucked her paws under her on the tile sill and blinked her eyes into a nap. Lucy slipped a few more exclamation marks in before she continued.

I get to hang out with J.J. and Dusty and Veronica and Mora any time I want, not just at lunch or soccer practice or church. Okay, so I already got to hang out with them a lot before summer, but now it’s like ANY time, and that’s perfect. Except we’re still stuck with Januarie. If she weren’t J.J.’s little sister we could just ditch her, but she needs a good influence. We’re a good influence. Well, maybe not Mora so much.
Lucy glanced at her bedroom door to make sure it was all the way shut. The Book of Lists was private and everybody else in the house—Dad and Inez the housekeeper nanny and her granddaughter Mora—knew to keep their noses out of it. Still, she always had to decide whether it was worth risking discovery to write down what she really, really thought.

“What do you say about it, Lolli?” she said.

There was an answering purr, though Lucy was pretty sure that was more about Lollipop dreaming of getting the other three cats’ food before they did than it was about agreeing with her. She went for it anyway.

Januarie still thinks Mora is the next best thing to Hannah Montana. Even though Mora got her in way a lot of trouble not that long ago she would probably give a whole bag of gummy bears just to have Mora paint her toenails. And that’s saying a lot. Januarie loves gummy bears. And Snickers bars. And those chocolate soccer balls Claudia sells down at the candy and flower shop. Which reminds me—

5. We can go buy candy in the middle of the day, or have breakfast at Pasco’s café or take picnics to OUR soccer field, because, guess what? It’s SUMMER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Something black whipped across the page, and Lucy’s pen flew into space, landing with a smack against the blue-and-yellow toy chest. Knocking down the ruler Lucy always kept there to hold it open, in case Lollipop needed to jump in and hide, the lid slapped shut, and Lolli sprang into an upside down-U before she leaped after it and skidded across the top with her claws bared. She glared indignantly at Lucy.

“You did it, Simplehead,” Lucy said. “Wait! I’ll open it for you.” But before she could even scramble off the bed, Lolli dove under it. A squalling fight ensued with Artemis Hamm, who had obviously been sleeping beneath the mattress.

“Break it up, you two!” Lucy said. But she didn’t dare stick her hand under there. One of them would eventually come out with a mouth full of the other one’s fur and it would be over.

“What’s going on in there?” said a voice on the other side of the door.

Lucy stuck the Book of Lists under her pillow. It was Dad, who couldn’t see anyway, but she always felt better having her secrets well hidden when other people were in the room.

“Come on in—if you dare,” Lucy said.

She heard Dad’s sandpapery chuckle before he stuck his face in. She cocked her head at him, her ponytail sliding over her ear. “What happened to your hair?”

He ran a hand over salt-and-pepper fuzz as he edged into the room. “I just got my summer ‘doo down at the Casa Bonita. Is it that bad?”

“No. It’s actually kinda cool.”

“What do I look like?”

“Like—did you ever see one of those movies about the Navy SEAL team? You know…before?”


“You look like one of those guys.”

“Is that good?”

“That’s way good.”

Dad smiled the smile that made a room fill up with sunlight. She could have told him he looked like a rock star and he wouldn’t have known whether she was telling the truth or not. But she liked for the smiles to be real, and she did think her dad was handsome. Even with eyes that sometimes darted around like they didn’t know where to land.

He made his way to the rocking chair and eased into it. It would be hard for anybody who didn’t know to tell he was blind when he moved around in their house, as long as Lucy kept things exactly where they were supposed to be. She leaned over and picked up her soccer ball, just escaping a black-and-brown paw that shot from the hem of the bedspread.

“Keep your fight to yourselves,” Lucy said.

“What’s that about?”

“Exclamation points! It’s a long story.”

“Do I want to hear it?”

“No,” Lucy said. Not only because she didn’t want to tell it, but because she could see in the sharp way Dad’s chin looked that he hadn’t come in just to chat about cat fights. She hugged her soccer ball.

“Okay, what?” she said. “Is something wrong? Something’s wrong, huh?”

“Did I say that?”

“Aunt Karen’s coming, isn’t she? Man! I thought she was going out in the ocean someplace and we were going to have a peaceful summer.” She dumped the ball on the floor on the other side of the bed.

Dad’s smile flickered back in. “What makes you think I was going to talk about Aunt Karen?”

“Because she’s, like, almost always the reason you look all serious and heavy.”

“You get to be more like your mother every day, Champ. You read me like a book.”

“Then I’m right.” There went her perfect summer. She was going to have to redo that list.

“But you’re in the wrong chapter this time,” Dad said. “I’m serious, but it isn’t about Aunt Karen. Last I heard, she was headed for St. Thomas.”

“He’s going to need to be a saint to put up with her.”

Dad chuckled. “St. Thomas is an island, Luc’.”

“Oh.” She was doing better in school now that Coach Auggy was her teacher, but they hadn’t done that much geography this year.

“I just want to put this out there before Inez gets here.”

His voice was somber again, but Lucy relaxed against her pillows. If this wasn’t about Aunt Karen coming here wanting to take Lucy home with her for the summer, how bad could it be?

“So, you know Inez will be coming for all day, five days a week.”

“Right and that’s cool. We get along good now.” Lucy felt generous. “I don’t even mind Mora that much any more.”

“Good, because I’ve asked her if she’d be okay with Mr. Auggy also coming in to do a little home-schooling with you.”

Lucy shot up like one of her own freaked-out kitties.

“School?” she said. “In the summer?”

Dad winced like her voice was hurting his ears. “Just for a few hours a day, and not on Fridays.”

“Dad, hello! This is summer time. I have a TON of work to do to get ready for the soccer games if I want anybody from the Olympic Development Program to even look at me. School work?” She hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. “Why?”

“You’ve improved a hundred per cent since Mr. Auggy started teaching your class—”

“Yeah, so why are you punishing me by making me do more work? I don’t get it.”

She wished she could make exclamation points with her voice.

“You’ll get it if you let me finish.”

Dad’s voice had no punctuation marks at all, except a period, which meant, ‘Hush up before you get yourself in trouble.’ Lucy gnawed at her lower lip. She was glad for once that he couldn’t see the look on her face.

“You ended the school year in good shape, but Champ, you were behind before that. That means you’re still going to start middle school a few steps back.”

“I’ll catch up, Dad, I promise! I’ll study, like, ten hours a day when school starts again and I’ll do all my homework.”

Dad closed his eyes and got still. That meant he was waiting for her to be done so he could go on with what he was going to say as if she hadn’t said a word. She was in pointless territory. It made her want to crawl under the bed and start up the cat fight again. It seemed to work for them when they were frustrated.

“Your middle school teachers are going to expect your skills to be seventh-grade level,” Dad said. “Right now, Mr. Auggy says they’re about mid-sixth, which is great considering what they were in January.”

If she had been Mora, she would have been rolling her eyes by now. What was the point in telling her how wonderful she was when she was going to have to do what she didn’t want to do anyway?

“So here’s the deal,” Dad said.

Lucy sighed. “It’s only a deal if both people agree to it, Dad.”

“You haven’t even heard it yet.”

She stifled a “whatever,” which was sure to get her grounded for a least a week of her already dwindling summer.

“You’ll work with Mr. Auggy until you get your reading up to seventh-grade level. That could take all summer, or it could take a couple of weeks. That’s up to you.”

Lucy looked at him sharply. “What if I get it there in three days?”

“Then you’re done. We’ll check it periodically, of course, to make sure it stays there.”

“It will,” Lucy said. But she hoped her outside voice sounded more sure than the one that was screaming inside her brain: You can’t do this! What are you thinking?

There weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to end that sentence.
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