Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Up, Up, Up! *review*




Up, Up, Up!

This airborne adventure takes readers ballooning over lands near and far, all the way to the stars. The charming singalong song on the accompanying CD keeps spirits high, while the rhyming and playful text introduces all sorts of settings and vocabulary-building words. Book with CD edition includes song sung by Susan Reed.



Ages 3 to 7 years
Written By: Susan Reed
Illustrated By: Rachel Oldfield


 MY REVIEW


Up, Up, Up! is a lovely book. The illustrations are beautiful with bright colours and fanciful scenes. We have all dreamed of flying like a bird at some point and this story plays nicely with that dream. The added bonus of having a CD to sing-a-long with is fabulous.

 Olivia adores this book and I have read it numerous times to her and her little friends. My sons listened in a few times as well. Up, Up, Up! would be a nice gift for any child.

 Thanks so much to Barefoot Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Animal Boogie *review*



The Animal Boogie

Can you boogie? Down in the Indian jungle, the children and animals are learning about actions like leaping, stomping, shaking and flapping while meeting different jungle creatures. Book with CD editions include song sung by acclaimed children's performer Fred Penner
 
 
Ages 3 to 7 years
Illustrated By: Debbie Harter
Sung By: Fred Penner

MY REVIEW

I am a big fan of Barefoot books. This is a cute story. The addition of the sing-a-long CD is fabulous. All three of my children enjoyed it when I read it to them. Olivia (age 3) really loves reading the story and listening to the CD at the same time. Olivia has asked me to read the story to her dozens of times since it arrived in the mail. The illustrations are beautiful and bright and colourful. I love that a special needs child is pictured along with various ethnicities. It encourages acceptance. The Animal Boogie is ideal for any kid's library. 


Thanks so much to Barefoot Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

The Mailbox

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 (June 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Marybeth Whalen is the general editor of For the Write Reason and The Reason We Speakas well as co-author of the book Learning to Live Financially Free. She serves as a speaker for the Proverbs 31 Ministry Team and directs a fiction book club, She Reads, through this same outreach. Most importantly, Marybeth is the wife of Curt Whalen and mother to their six children. She is passionate about sharing God with all the women God places in her path. She has been visiting the mailbox for years.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403693
ISBN-13: 978-0781403696

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Sunset Beach, NC

Summer 1985


Campbell held back a teasing smile as he led Lindsey across the warm sand toward the mailbox. Leaning her head on Campbell’s shoulder, her steps slowed. She looked up at him, observing the mischievous curling at the corners of his mouth. “There really is no mailbox, is there?” she said, playfully offended. “If you wanted to get me alone on a deserted stretch of beach, all you had to do was ask.” She elbowed him in the side.


A grin spread across his flawless face. “You caught me.” He threw his hands up in the air in surrender.


“I gotta stop for a sec,” Lindsey said and bent at the waist, stretching the backs of her aching legs. She stood up and put her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyes at him. “So, have you actually been to the mailbox? Maybe the other kids at the pier were just pulling your leg.”


Campbell nodded his head. “I promise I’ve been there before. It’ll be worth it. You’ll see.” He pressed his forehead to hers and looked intently into her eyes before continuing down the beach.


“If you say so …” she said, following him. He slipped his arm around her bare tanned shoulder and squeezed it, pulling her closer to him. Lindsey looked ahead of them at the vast expanse of raw

coastline. She could make out a jetty of rocks in the distance that jutted into the ocean like a finish line.


As they walked, she looked down at the pairs of footprints they left in the sand. She knew that soon the tide would wash them away, and she realized that just like those footprints, the time she had left

with Campbell would soon vanish. A refrain ran through her mind: Enjoy the time you have left. She planned to remember every moment of this walk so she could replay it later, when she was back at home, without him. Memories would be her most precious commodity. How else would she feel him near her?


“I don’t know how we’re going to make this work,” she said as they walked. “I mean, how are we going to stay close when we’re so far away from each other?”


He pressed his lips into a line and ran a hand through his hair. “We just will,” he said. He exhaled loudly, a punctuation.


“But how?” she asked, wishing she didn’t sound so desperate.


He smiled. “We’ll write. And we’ll call. I’ll pay for the longdistance bills. My parents already said I could.” He paused. “And we’ll count the days until next summer. Your aunt and uncle already said you could come back and stay for most of the summer. And you know your mom will let you.”


“Yeah, she’ll be glad to get rid of me for sure.” She pushed images of home from her mind: the menthol odor of her mother’s cigarettes, their closet-sized apartment with parchment walls you could hear the neighbors through, her mom’s embarrassing “delicates” dangling from the shower rod in the tiny bathroom they shared. She wished that her aunt and uncle didn’t have to leave the beach house after

the summer was over and that she could just stay with them forever.


The beach house had become her favorite place in the world. At the beach house, she felt like a part of a real family with her aunt and uncle and cousins. This summer had been an escape from the reality of her life at home. And it had been a chance to discover true love. But tomorrow, her aunt and uncle would leave for their home and send her back to her mother.


“I don’t want to leave!” she suddenly yelled into the open air, causing a few startled birds to take flight.


Campbell didn’t flinch when she yelled. She bit her lip and closed her eyes as he pulled her to him and hugged her.


“Shhh,” he said. “I don’t want you to leave either.” He cupped her chin with his hand. “If I could reverse time for you, I would. And we would go back and do this whole summer over.”


She nodded and wished for the hundredth time that she could stand on the beach with Campbell forever, listening to the hypnotic sound of his voice, so much deeper and more mature than the boys at school. She thought about the pictures they had taken earlier that day, a last-ditch effort to have something of him to take with her. But it was a pitiful substitute, a cheap counterfeit for the real thing.


Campbell pointed ahead of them. “Come on,” he said and tugged on her hand. “I think I see it.” He grinned like a little boy. They crested the dune and there, without pomp or circumstance,

just as he had promised, stood an ordinary mailbox with gold letters spelling out “Kindred Spirit.”


“I told you it was here!” he said as they waded through the deep sand. “The mailbox has been here a couple of years,” he said, his tone changing to something close to reverence as he laid his hand on top

of it. “No one knows who started it or why, but word has traveled and now people come all the way out here to leave letters for the Kindred Spirit—the mystery person who reads them. People come from all over the world.”


“So does anybody know who gets the letters?” Lindsey asked. She ran her fingers over the gold, peeling letter decals. The bottom half of the n and e were missing.


“I don’t think so. But that’s part of what draws people here— they come here because this place is private, special.” He looked down at his bare feet, digging his toes into the sand. “So … I wanted to bring you here. So it could be our special place too.” He looked over at her out of the corner of his eye. “I hope you don’t think that’s lame.”


She put her arms around him and looked into his eyes. “Not lame at all,” she said.


As he kissed her, she willed her mind to record it all: the roar of the waves and the cry of the seagulls, the powdery softness of the warm sand under her feet, the briny smell of the ocean mixed with the scent of Campbell’s sun-kissed skin. Later, when she was back at home in Raleigh, North Carolina, she would come right back to this moment. Again and again. Especially when her mother sent her to her room with the paper-thin walls while she entertained her newest boyfriend.


Lindsey opened the mailbox, the hinges creaking as she did. She looked to him, almost for approval. “Look inside,” he invited her.


She saw some loose paper as well as spiral-bound notebooks, the kind she bought at the drugstore for school. The pages were crinkly from the sea air and water. There were pens in the mailbox too, some

with their caps missing.


Campbell pointed. “You should write a letter,” he said. “Take a pen and some paper and just sit down and write what you are feeling.” He shrugged. “It seemed like something you would really get into.”


How well he had come to know her in such a short time. “Okay,” she said. “I love it.” She reached inside and pulled out a purple notebook, flipping it open to read a random page. Someone had written about a wonderful family vacation spent at Sunset and the special time she had spent with her daughter.


She closed the notebook. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. She couldn’t imagine her own mother ever wanting to spend time with her, much less being so grateful about it. Reading the notebook made her feel worse, not better. She didn’t need reminding about what she didn’t have waiting for her back home.


Campbell moved in closer. “What is it?” he said, his body lining up perfectly with hers as he pulled her close.


She laid the notebook back inside the mailbox. “I just don’t want to go home,” she said. “I wish my uncle didn’t have to return to his stupid job. How can I go back to … her? She doesn’t want me there any more than I want to be there.” This time she didn’t fight the tears that had been threatening all day.


Campbell pulled her down to sit beside him in the sand and said nothing as she cried, rocking her slightly in his arms.


With her head buried in his shoulder, her words came out muffled. “You are so lucky you live here.”


He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I am.” He said nothing for a while.

“But you have to know that this place won’t be the same for me without you in it.”


She looked up at him, her eyes red from crying. “So you’re saying I’ve ruined it for you?”


He laughed, and she recorded the sound of his laugh in her memory too. “Well, if you want to put it that way, then, yes.”


“Well, that just makes me feel worse!” She laid her head on his shoulder and concentrated on the nearness of him, inhaled the sea scent of his skin and the smell of earth that clung to him from working

outside with his dad.


“Everywhere I go from now on I will have the memory of you with me. Of me and you together. The Island Market, the beach, the arcade, the deck on my house, the pier …” He raised his eyebrows as

he remembered the place where he first kissed her. “And now here. It will always remind me of you.”


“And I am going home to a place without a trace of you in it. I don’t know which is worse, constant reminders or no reminders at all.” She laced her narrow fingers through his.


“So are you glad we met?” She sounded pitiful, but she had to hear his answer.


“I would still have wanted to meet you,” he said. “Even though it’s going to break my heart to watch you go. What we have is worth it.” He kissed her, his hands reaching up to stroke her hair. She heard his words echoing in her mind: worth it, worth it, worth it. She knew that they were young, that they had their whole lives ahead of them, at least that’s what her aunt and uncle had told her. But she also knew

that what she had with Campbell was beyond age.


Campbell stood up and pulled her to her feet, attempting to keep kissing her as he did. She giggled as the pull of gravity parted them. He pointed her toward the mailbox. “Now, go write it all down for the Kindred Spirit. Write everything you feel about us and how unfair it is that we have to be apart.” He squinted his eyes at her. “And I promise not to read over your shoulder.”


She poked him. “You can read it if you want. I have no secrets from you.”


He shook his head. “No, no. This is your deal. Your private world—just between you and the Kindred Spirit. And next year,” he said, smiling down at her, “I promise to bring you back here, and you can write about the amazing summer we’re going to have.”


“And what about the summer after that?” she asked, teasing him.


“That summer too.” He kissed her. “And the next.” He kissed her again. “And the next.” He kissed her again, smiling down at her through his kisses. “Get the point?


“This will be our special place,” he said as they stood together in front of the mailbox.


“Always?” she asked.


“Always,” he said.


Summer 1985


Dear Kindred Spirit,


I have no clue who you are, and yet that doesn’t stop me from writing to you anyway. I hope one day I will discover your identity. I wonder if you are nearby even as I put pen to paper. It’s a little weird to think that I could have passed you on the street this summer and not know you would be reading my

deepest thoughts and feelings. Campbell won’t even read this, though I would let him if he asked me.


As I write, Campbell is down at the water’s edge, throwing shells. He is really good at making the shells skip across the water—I guess that’s proof that this place is his home.


Let me ask you, Kindred Spirit: Do you think it’s silly for me to assume that I have found my soul mate at the age of fifteen? My mom would laugh. She would tell me that the likelihood of anyone finding a soul mate—ever—is zero. She would tell me that I need to not go around giving my heart away like a hopeless romantic. She laughs when I read romance novels or see sappy movies that make me cry. She says that I will learn the truth about love someday.


But, honestly, I feel like I did learn the truth about love this summer. It’s like what they say: It can happen when you least expect it, and it can knock you flat on your back with its power. I didn’t come here expecting to fall in love. The truth is I didn’t want to come here at all. I came here feeling pushed aside and unwanted. I can still remember when my mom said that she had arranged for my aunt and uncle to bring me here, smiling at me like she was doing me some kind of favor when we both knew she just wanted me out of the picture so she could live her life without me cramping her style.


I tried to tell her that I didn’t want to come—who would want to spend their summer with bratty cousins? I was so mad, I didn’t speak to my mom for days. I begged, plotted, and even got my best friend Holly’s parents to say I could stay with them instead. But in the end, as always, my mother ruled, and I got packed off for a summer at the beach. On the car ride down, I sat squished in the backseat beside Bobby and Stephanie. Bobby elbowed me and stuck his tongue out at me the whole way to the beach. When his parents weren’t looking, of course. I stared out the window and pretended to be anywhere but in that car.


But now, I can’t believe how wonderful this summer has turned out. I made some new friends. I read a lot of books and even got to where I could tolerate my little cousins. They became like the younger siblings I never had. Most of all, I met Campbell.


I know what Holly will say. She will say that it was God’s plan. I am working on believing that there is a God and that he has a plan for my life like Holly says. But most of the time it feels like God is not aware I exist. If he was aware of me, you’d think he’d have given me a mom who actually cared about me.


Ugh—I can’t believe I have to leave tomorrow. Now that I have found Campbell, I don’t know what I will do without him. We have promised to write a lot of letters. And we have promised not to date other people.


A word about him asking me not to date other people: This was totally funny to me. Two nights ago we were walking on the beach and he stopped me, pulling me to him and looking at me really seriously. “Please,” he said, “I would really like it if you wouldn’t see other people. Is that crazy for me to ask that of you when we are going to be so far apart?”


I was like, “Are you kidding? No one asks me out. No one at my school even looks at me twice!” At school I am known for being quiet and studious—a brain, not a girl to call for a good time. Holly says that men will discover my beauty later in life. But until this summer I didn’t believe her. I couldn’t admit that no one notices me at school because, obviously, he believes I am sought after. And I knew enough to let him believe it. So I very coyly answered back, “Only if you promise me the same thing.”


And he smiled in that lazy way of his and said, “How could I even look at another girl when I’ve got the best one in the world?”


And so now you see why I just can’t bear the thought of leaving him. But the clock is ticking. When I get home, I swear I will cry myself to sleep every night and write letters to Campbell every day. The only thing I have to look forward to is hanging out with Holly again. Thank goodness for Holly, the one constant in my life. In math class we learned that a constant is something that has one value all the time and it never changes.

That’s what Holly is for me: my best friend, no matter what.


I wonder if Campbell will be a constant in my life. I guess it’s too soon to tell, but I do hope so. I’m already counting down the days until I can come back and be with Campbell. Because this summer—I don’t care how lame it sounds—I found my purpose. And that purpose is loving Campbell with all my

heart. Always.


Until next summer,

Lindsey

©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. The Mailbox by Marybeth Whalen. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Simple Secrets


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Simple Secrets
Barbour Books (June 1, 2010)



by



Nancy Mehl






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Nancy Mehl lives in Wichita, Kansas with her husband Norman and her son, Danny. She’s authored nine books and is currently at work on her newest series for Barbour Publishing.



All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”



CREATING FICTION FULL OF FAITH, HOPE AND HEART…



Nancy Mehl is a mystery writer who loves to set her novels in her home state of Kansas. Her three-in-one book, COZY IN KANSAS, contains the first three Ivy Towers’s mysteries: IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, BYE BYE BERTIE, and FOR WHOM THE WEDDING BELL TOLLS which was nominated for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award in mystery.



She and her husband attend Believer’s Tabernacle in Wichita.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Graphic designer Gracie Temple wants it all: the big city lifestyle and a successful job in advertising. And it looks like her life is on the right track when she takes a job at a struggling, midsize firm in Wichita.



But Gracie Temple's uncle left her a house in a rural Mennonite community. She soon learns he secluded himself for years to protect a secret about her own father. Now it's up to Gracie to decide if she'll keep the secret or if she can afford to expose it.



Sam Goodrich loves his fruit farm in Harmony, Kansas. But when he meets city-girl Gracie, he begins to wonder if he could leave it behind for a woman who makes him feel things he's never felt before.



When someone tries to keep Gracie from discovering the truth behind the town's collection of secrets, will Sam and Gracie cling to their faith to help them decide what's most important...before it's too late?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Simple Secrets, go HERE.

Tomgirlz Chapter Books *review*

I was sent 3 books from the Tomgirlz series to review.




by Dana Lurie


These books are full of energy and action and will appeal to elementary school aged children everywhere. Click the books above to see a detailed description of each story. Parents love the messages of leadership, self-esteem and friendship that are built into every Tomgirlz product. Reading level: ages 6-9.
-information taken from www.Tomgirlz.com


Read about how the Tomgirlz came to be and how Mackey and Sammy became best friends while staying out of trouble… well,almost!




Mackey and Kee unlock hearts when they are in the hospital together and decide they want to be the doctors instead of the patients.


The Tomgirlz meet Abbey who is talented and beautiful, but allows herself to be bullied because of her weight. Through a week of adventure, crazy games, and typical Tomgirlz mishaps, the girls take an honest look at bullies, their victims, the bystanders, and how to stop the problem.
About the Author:

Dana Lurie grew up in Albany , NY where she enjoyed writing fictitious stories since elementary school. Writing for fun took the sidelines while she worked toward graduating with a B.S. in Communications from Ithaca College and then moved to the suburbs of Boston to open her own copy center business. After 11 years in Boston , she realized a life long dream by leaving the brain freeze of the northeast and moving to sunny South Florida . Free to enjoy the warm weather and inspired by the Latin sounds all around, her love for dance and exercise took center stage. She became, and remains to this day, a fitness instructor of Latin Dance Aerobics and Pilates and a performer and instructor of salsa dancing. Working with clients to help them reach their health and fitness goals has given Dana powerful training as a motivator.

Her biggest inspiration, however, came from her children which helped her return to her love of writing. Another dream was realized when her first book, It's Time For Bed, Sleepyhead , was published, followed shortly by the Tomgirlz series of chapter books based on, you guessed it, her daughter. Her writing is full of messages of love, hope and positive attitudes.

"The greatest thing I can do is encourage children to adventure through life by reading and writing," says Lurie. "I want them to know that when they take their dreams, turn them into goals and then into plans…dreams really can come true, so DREAM BIG."


MY REVIEW

I read these three books for/with my kids. My sons are both in the right age category (Aiden is 8 and Owen is 6) and they both enjoyed the stories... except for one thing- they were about GIRLS! Ewwww! But they listened anyway :). Aiden said that the main character- Mackey- reminded him of his most favourite girl-friends Cici and Jay-Lynn. Owen said that the books reminded him of the books his teacher reads at school and he likes that.

Olivia listened some but kept asking to look at the pictures- which these books really don't have much of. But she is only 3 so that is to be expected. I think she will enjoy them a lot more in a few years. Although she did say that she wished there were princesses in the book... Olivia isn't exactly a tomgirl yet!

I found the books very kid-friendly and even my sons were able to read some with me. The storylines are cute and the message is fabulous. I especially liked the message of the last book "Abbey's Turn". It talks about childhood obesity and bullying- much needed messages in our day.

If you are looking for some great chapter books for your daughters than be sure to check out Mackey and her friends in Tomgirlz.

Thanks so much to Dana Lurie for sending me these books to review.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boom! by Mark Haddon *review*


-information taken from RandomHouse.ca

About this Book

An explosive, highly charged, and hilarious middle-grade adventure from Mark Haddon, acclaimed author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

From the moment that Jim and his best friend, Charlie, bug the staff room and overhear two of their teachers speaking to each other in a secret language, they know there's an adventure on its way.

But what does "spudvetch" actually mean, and why do Mr. Kidd's eyes flicker with fluorescent blue light when Charlie says it to him? Perhaps Kidd and Pearce are bank robbers talking in code. Perhaps they're spies. Perhaps they are aliens. Whatever it is, Jimbo and Charlie are determined to find out.

There really is an adventure on its way. A nuclear-powered, one-hundred-ton adventure with reclining seats and a buffet car. And as it gathers speed and begins to spin out of control, it can only end one way . . . with a BOOM!

MARK HADDON is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children, and has won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award, and is an international bestseller.

You can read an excerpt from Boom! HERE



MY REVIEW

I absolutely loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time so I was very excited to read Boom!. I was not disappointed. The book is geared to the young adult age group but I think it can be enjoyed by any age group. Haddon paints fabulous pictures with his words and Boom! captured my attention. The characters are unique and very entertaining. I suspect most teens would love this book- perfect summer time reading! And if you haven't read The Curious Incident yet you really should! It is fabulous.

Thanks so much to RandomHouse.ca for sending me a review copy of this book.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Addition by Adoption: Kids, Causes & 140 Characters

Book of Twitter Posts Follows Adoption Journey
A work-at-home dad tweets about kids, causes & adoption journey


Product Description

Love, laughter and lunacy in 140 characters. A work-at-home dad turns to Twitter to share updates about kids, causes and life. It's a curated selection of bizarre quotes, funny stories and temper tantrums. Woven between potty-training woes and breakfast time songs is a family growing through adoption and learning how to change the world, one status update at a time. You'll find humor, parental commiseration and life-changing wonder mixed into a quick and compelling read. A portion of the proceeds from this book benefit charity: water.

About the Author

 

Kevin D. Hendricks lives in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife, two kids and two dogs. He runs his own freelance writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. He's delved into the printed word before with several book projects and more in the works. You can learn more at KevinDHendricks.com, which is also where you'll find the blog he's updated since 1998. For shorter bursts of narcissism you can follow him at Twitter.com/KevinHendricks.

MY REVIEW

I love this book. I LOVE the format - a book written in tweets is just so fun. I found the it funny and touching and entertaining and inspiring all at once. If you are into social media than you will love this book. Actually, even if you have never tweeted in your life and think Twitter is ridiculous you will STILL love this book because the story itself is great. Addition by Adoption is very easy to read and doesn't take much time to read. It is just an all around great book and I am happy to recommend it!

Purchase Addition by Adoption today :)

Thanks so much to Kevin D. Hendricks and MonkeyOuttaNowhere.com for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Life at the Edge and Beyond: Living with ADHD and Asperger Syndrome *review*


Life at the Edge and Beyond

Living with ADHD and Asperger Syndrome

Jan Greenman

-information taken from the Jessica Kingsley Publishers website

Parenting a child with Asperger's syndrome is never easy, and adding ADHD to the psychological mix makes life even more difficult. In this searingly honest account of bringing up her son, Luke, Jan Greenman challenges common perceptions of a 'life with labels', and recalls her family's 18 year journey to the edge and back.
Writing frankly about the medical issues of Luke's early years, including the impact of MMR and Ritalin, Jan recalls how Luke's diagnoses came about, and how life at The Edge, their aptly named family home, changed as a result. She describes the causes and effects of the behaviours associated with Luke's conditions, and the impact they had on each family member, including his younger sister, Abbi. The only predictable thing about Luke is his unpredictability, and Jan also takes a light-hearted look at some of his more unusual habits and obsessions. The book includes tips and advice from Jan, Abbi, and Luke himself, and the final chapters go beyond Luke's early years to look at his life as a teenager - his solo trip to Dubai, and subsequent encounter with customs, his expulsion from school, and the inspirational Headteacher who helped him to turn his life around.
Life at the Edge and Beyond is a must for anyone involved in bringing up a child with Asperger's syndrome, ADHD - or both. Parents will take from the family's successes, learn from their mistakes, and realize that, no matter how close to the edge they may feel, they are never alone.


MY REVIEW

My son Aiden has Asperger's syndrome and ADHD so this book was pretty much written for me! I found it fascinating to read about Luke and his family. I found the insights from Luke himself especially helpful. The book is very easy to read. It is almost like you are sitting in a room with the author and she is telling you about her life. It is always encouraging to know you are not alone. The author's honesty was incredibly refreshing.

If you have a child on the spectrum- or you want to know how to support someone who does- than this is an excellent book to read. I am happy to recommend Life at the Edge and Beyond.


 Thanks so much to Jessica Kingsley Publishers for sending me a review copy of this book.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chasing Superwoman

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 (June 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Susan DiMickele serves as partner in a large law firm and has practiced law for nearly fifteen years. She has won numerous professional honors, including being named Ohio Super Lawyer since 2004 and being selected for The Best Lawyers in America. She has written dozens of articles in her field and has served as a contributing author to several national publications. For the past seven years, her greatest accomplishment and challenge is raising her three children to know and love God. She is happily married to her husband of eighteen years, Doug, and they are the proud parents of Nicholas, Anna, and Abigail.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434764621
ISBN-13: 978-1434764621

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Superwoman Within


In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out

your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Matthew 5:48 (MSG)


Most people hate lawyers. This is why so many lawyers marry other lawyers—no one else likes them. Fortunately, I met my husband, Doug, before I became a lawyer, and he still likes me. At least that’s what he tells me.


If I have to be honest, I really don’t like Lady Lawyer. She brings out the worst in me. Given the choice, I would much rather put on my mommy cape and play Devoted Mommy. But most days and more nights and weekends than I would care to admit, Devoted Mommy is busy playing Lady Lawyer. I didn’t set out to give Lady Lawyer this much power. It just sort of happened. I always insisted my career would take a back seat to the more important things in life—my family, my faith, my soul. I never thought Lady Lawyer would move in, take over, fire the staff, and change my identity. She’s known to get her way. Lady Lawyer is shrewd, self-sufficient, demanding, impatient, and arrogant. She gets right to the point and doesn’t waste your time. Why would any of her clients pay her exorbitant hourly rate in six-minute increments for anything less than the best? She doesn’t make mistakes, and if you work for Lady Lawyer you’d better not make any mistakes either. The standard is perfection. Who said anything about forgiveness? There are no second chances.


Devoted Mommy is quite the opposite. She’s warm and patient. She wastes lots of time picking up toys, reading books, and sitting on the floor playing patty cake. As much as she likes to be efficient, her children always want to help her, so everything takes twice as long, and she makes lots of mistakes and lots of messes. Devoted Mommy knows the important thing is to say you are sorry and ask and receive forgiveness. After all, no one is perfect.


Okay, maybe Devoted Mommy isn’t warm and patient all the time and maybe she would turn into Evil Mommy part of the time if she stayed at home with her kids all day, but you get the point. Lady Lawyer would make a terrible mother, which is why I have to keep her away from the children. Not to mention she has a terrible mouth on her. It’s not intentional. It’s just that most lawyers don’t understand plain English unless it is laced with heavy profanity.


If only I could play Devoted Mommy more often.


The Evils of Television


At least Lady Lawyer and Devoted Mommy actually have something in common. They both hate television. Lady Lawyer has better things to do. For her, TV is the ultimate waste of time and exercise in inefficiency. Simply put, TV is for idiots. It’s mind numbing, unenlightening, and unproductive. Why watch TV when you can bill hours instead? So Lady Lawyer watches TV only as a last resort, when she’s multitasking. Sometimes it’s faster to catch the local news and major world events on the tube. It becomes a necessary evil.


Devoted Mommy hates TV for different reasons. It’s not a necessary evil, it’s just plain evil. It’s like inviting the devil into your home and asking him to raise your children. “Gee, Satan, would you do me

a favor and watch the kids for a few hours, ‘cause I’m really busy right now and I’d prefer to have them hypnotized and brain dead so that I can get some work done.”


The other day while I was playing Weekend Mommy, Doug and seven-year-old Nick were watching The Bad News Bears. I was appalled. The language was filthy. These snotty-nosed kids and their recalcitrant coach had no respect for authority or each other, and Nick would soon be talking like a potty mouth if we continued to let this trash into our living room. Suddenly, Devoted Mommy transformed into Fundamentalist Mommy.


“I don’t want to hear that language in our house ever again, and I want that filthy show turned off.” Doug and Nick just looked at me. I continued, “TV is straight from the pit of hell and I can’t sit by and watch you fill your brain with this garbage.”


Doug may be incorrigible, but I still have to exercise some moral authority over my children.


I learned that from my own mother. We had knock-down, drag-out fights over Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels. I would sneak downstairs and watch these shows with my older sisters over my mother’s deep disapproval. (Which was worse, Jack and Chrissy living in sin, or Farrah

Fawcett showing her cleavage? I never got an answer, I just knew they were both bad.) What kind of mother would I be if I let The Bad News Bears ruin Nick’s innocence and lead him down a path of destruction?


So later that night, after I put the girls to bed, I told Nick that we needed to talk. We sat in his bed before prayers, as we do every night, and I explained to him that some things on TV are wrong, and the

Bad News Bears really shouldn’t say bad words.


“Did you hear bad words in the movie today?”


Nick responded, “I’m not sure. I know stupid is a bad word.” Nick is a smart kid, so he saw this as an opportunity to ask me, point blank, what the other bad words were that had caused me so much

concern. Now I was stuck. Fundamentalist Mommy was going to have to feed her own son swear words. So we talked about how “hell” is a bad word, and why you wouldn’t want to tell someone to “go to

hell,” because that’s where Satan lives.


Nick asked, “Is it still okay to say ‘for heaven’s sake’?”


“Yes,” I said. “That’s still okay.”


I was thankful he still had some innocence left. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him the other bad words in the show. We’ll save that for another day. Fundamentalist Mommy can take a rest for now.


Sunday School


I don’t turn into Fundamentalist Mommy very often. But Devoted Mommy clearly needed to have more of a spiritual focus, especially with Lady Lawyer sucking her dry all those hours during the week. I actually prefer the term “Spiritual Mommy.” The Fundamentalist label has way too much baggage, even though I’m thankful for my roots.


So Spiritual Mommy decided to teach Sunday school. I could kill two birds with one stone and spend quality time with the kids on the weekend while exerting Spiritual Mommy’s much-needed moral

authority. Maybe I could even reverse some of the brain injury from all that TV.


Given my schedule during the week, Doug and most of my friends thought I was downright crazy for taking on another weekend responsibility. “Suz, just what you need, another thing to add to your schedule. Haven’t you ever heard of the word ‘no’?”


Actually, since I became a mother, ‘no’ has almost evaporated from my vocabulary. I reserve it for when I really need it—like being asked to make cupcakes for the bake sale, organize the parent phone tree, or volunteer to be the lunch monitor during lunch bunch. After all, I can’t do everything, right? But when it comes to the spiritual development of my children, Devoted Mommy reminds me that, unlike baking cookies or being a lunch monitor, I really can’t delegate that one very easily.


To my pleasant surprise, Sunday school became my favorite hour of the week. I wear casual clothes and comfortable shoes, sing silly songs, play duck-duck-goose, and sit on the floor with the children while teaching them that God is your friend, even when you can’t see Him.


I remember my own Sunday school days vividly like they were yesterday. I’ll never forget that poster in my classroom of Jesus knocking on the door to your heart. Of course there’s no door handle because the door can only be opened from the inside. It was during that Sunday school class that I asked Jesus to come in my heart. Some people say that young children can’t understand spiritual things, but I beg to differ. Life has become much too complicated. Sometimes I want to go back to the simple faith of my childhood, but I can’t. So I do the next best thing. I live vicariously through my children. I never realized until after I became a parent how entirely normal it is to live vicariously through your children. Every parent does it. That’s why so many of us spend inordinate amounts of money on Christmas gifts and Disney World. (Who said anything about the kids?) I barely remember going to Disney World with my parents, although they love to talk about it like it was yesterday. I hear the same stories over and over again: “Remember when Susan screamed and cried because she wanted to go on the rides with her older sisters, and then we had to ride ‘It’s a Small World’ over and over again.”


I used to think, “Don’t they get tired of telling these old stories? Do they really think anyone is listening?”


Now I understand why.


Lady Lawyer, of course, doesn’t have time during the week to prepare for Sunday school. It would cut into her billable hours. Yet sometimes Spiritual Mommy convinces her to help gather Sunday

school materials, particularly if it involves Internet shopping. I looked all over the Internet for that picture of Christ knocking and finally found one that is similar to my own childhood memories. I ordered it immediately—the shipping and handling cost more than the poster, but I willingly gave over my credit card number. It was worth every penny.


The Unveiling of the Mona Lisa


When the Jesus picture arrived, Nick and Anna were bursting with curiosity. How many of my online purchases arrive in a long tube the size of Texas? Lady Lawyer had outdone herself. A new toy? A treasure map? The possibilities were endless. Unfortunately, the kids always raid the mail before I get home from work. I should have had the picture sent to my office, like I do with Christmas gifts. Last Christmas I bought Doug a new office chair online and sent it straight to my office. The only problem I hadn’t considered was getting it home. The box was too heavy for me to carry from my office tower to the parking garage, so I had to beg a few guys in my office to help. That cost Lady Lawyer a few favors. But a poster? I could have carried that myself.


Nick and Anna desperately wanted to open it, but I told them they would have to wait for Sunday school. It was going to be like the unveiling of the Mona Lisa. I could hardly wait myself. At minimum, I needed a sneak preview. After all, what if they had sent the wrong picture? It might be a poster of Daniel in the lion’s den, the last temptation of Christ, or worse yet, what if they had mistakenly sent

some trash from a pornographic site? I couldn’t take that risk with the spiritual future of fifteen preschoolers resting on my shoulders. So after the kids went to bed, I pulled out the poster. I gazed at the

picture longingly, relieved to see Jesus knocking in the familiar scene. For the next fifteen minutes, I couldn’t stop staring. Could faith be this simple? Maybe when I was five years old, but not now. Not in

my world.


For most people, seeing is believing. “Show me the money.” “Do you have the goods?” “The proof is in the pudding.” I get tired of living by these rules all week. Preschoolers are different. Their hearts have not yet been hardened by the cold reality of the real world. Most of them haven’t been sued yet.


Maybe if I just brought the picture of Christ knocking and put it in my office, in place of my diploma, things at work would be more spiritual. I know that Jesus is there, even when I can’t see Him, but I frankly forget about Him when I step into my office. Spiritual Mommy thought it was an excellent idea to bring the poster to work. That way, when Lady Lawyer gets out of line, she can just look at Jesus knocking and be reminded of her deep faith. I’ve been told my office really needs to be redecorated.


Lady Lawyer quickly squashed that idea. People would think I had completely cracked. Besides, lots of people would be offended. What would happen if the six o’clock news came to get a headshot of me at my desk and the picture of Christ knocking was hanging in the background? The audience would think my law firm was some kind of religious cult, and I’d never hear the end of it.


So I left the picture of Christ knocking at home. One of these days when Lady Lawyer is shopping on the ‘net, I’m going to make her order a frame. We’ll hang the framed picture right next to the

TV. That way, when Doug and Nick are watching the Bad News Bears or some other trashy show and I’m not there to turn it off, Jesus will gently remind them that TV is evil.


Better yet, we’ll hang it in place of the TV.


One of the Sunday school parents asked me if I was a teacher. I laughed out loud. When I told her I was a lawyer, she looked surprised. Spiritual Mommy had successfully kept Lady Lawyer muzzled, which isn’t easy to do. I took her surprise as a compliment, and said thank you. I explained to her that the reason I enjoy teaching Sunday school so much was because it is so dramatically different from my everyday life. After dealing all week with grown-up problems, complex legal issues, and the politics of a large law firm, I welcome Silly Putty and puppet shows.


I’ve gotten good at checking my lawyer cape at the door when it comes to church. No suit, no high heels, not too much lipstick, no cell phone or BlackBerry, no dirty looks, no potty mouth, and lots of confession and forgiveness. I wear my hair down with comfortable shoes and suburban clothes, smiling pleasantly while I’m holding Abby in one arm and my Sunday school bag in the other. Let’s face it, most parents don’t have high expectations of a Sunday school teacher. They just want an hour of peace.


But teaching Sunday school has its low points too. Even Devoted Mommy gets tired of cutting out crafts late on Saturday nights and waking up early on Sunday mornings to get three kids out the door. Sometimes I wake up on Sunday morning and I’m sick and I can’t find a substitute, or my kids are sick and I want to stay home and take care of them, but I can’t. Sometimes my class is rambunctious, and I don’t have a helper and they all have to go to the bathroom at the same time, or one of the kids freaks out, or I just feel like being with my own kids instead of spreading myself so thin. Sometimes I think it’s not fair to leave Abby in the nursery for another hour and I miss her and wish she could join us in Sunday school, but the few times I have brought her I have been completely unable give the rest of the class any attention.


Sometimes the whole class is staring into space and I don’t think anyone is listening to the lesson, but I still know I am planting seeds.


My Sunday school class is filled with your typical upper-middleclass children, and while most of them are from loving homes, some of them are beginning to struggle with things that no one can adequately explain. Terminal illness of a loved one. Divorce. Even death. One little boy in my class, we’ll call him Charlie, lost his daddy last year. When I pulled out the picture of Jesus knocking, Charlie’s eyes locked

mine, and I knew that he needed to know that Jesus would always be there and would never leave him, so I looked into Charlie’s eyes and said, “Once Jesus comes into your heart, He will never leave.”


The next week, Charlie’s grandma stopped me after class and told me that Charlie had asked Jesus to come into his heart. I gave her a big hug and we both fought back the tears. Charlie doesn’t come to class as much as he used to, and I know it’s hard for his grandma to bring him on the weekends, but I still had the privilege of planting a few seeds.


I like planting seeds. It beats billable hours. Lady Lawyer can’t say, “Sorry I didn’t get the agreement done, but I planted a few seeds.” Or, “I know we lost the case, but I laid some groundwork for next time. Give it a few years and you’ll see some results.” Her clients would fire her.


Sunday school teachers don’t have to worry about getting fired. Why? Because we teach Sunday school for free. It’s not like there’s a long line of volunteers waiting to take over. If you pass the criminal background and reference check and like kids, you’re in.


The second we start paying Sunday school teachers, I’m done. Who wants the pressure of another billable hour? Not me. Some things money can’t buy. Besides, even Lady Lawyer needs to hang up her cape on the weekends. Can Superwoman really live in two worlds? What is really behind the cape, and am I ever going to figure out my true identity? And what does it mean to live out my “God-created identity”?3 I know there aren’t easy answers, but that still doesn’t stop me from asking the questions. Sometimes I wonder, Who am I really chasing anyway?


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Chasing Superwoman by Susan DiMickele. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Claim

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 (June 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Lisa T. Bergren is a best-selling author who offers a wide array of reading opportunities ranging from children’s books (God Gave Us Love and God Found Us You) and women’s nonfiction (Life on Planet Mom) to suspense-filled intrigue (The Gifted Trilogy) and historical drama. With more than thirty titles among her published works and a deep faith that has weathered dramatic career and personal challenges, Bergren is excited to add the Homeward Trilogy to her resume as she follows God’s direction in her writing career. Bergren lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband Tim (a graphic design artist and musician) and their three children.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 143476706X
ISBN-13: 978-1434767066

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


1 August 1888

Gunnison, Colorado


“Keep doing that you’ll get yourself killed,” Nic said to the boy. Panting, Nic paused and wiped his forehead of sweat. For an hour now, as he moved sacks of grain from a wagon to a wheelbarrow and into the warehouse, he’d glimpsed the boy daring fate as he ran across the busy street, narrowly escaping horse hooves and wagon wheels.


“Where’s your mother?”


The brown-haired boy paused. “Don’t have a mother.”


“Well then, where’s your father?”


The boy cast him an impish grin and shrugged one shoulder.

“Around.”


“Is he coming back soon?” Nic persisted.


“Soon enough. You won’t tell ’im, will ya?”


“Tell him what?” Nic tossed back with a small smile. “Long as you stop doing whatever you’re not supposed to be doing.”


The boy wandered closer and climbed up to perch on the wagon’s edge, watching Nic with eyes that were as dark as his hair. Nic relaxed a bit, relieved that the kid wasn’t in imminent danger.


Nic hefted a sack onto his shoulder and carried it to the cart. It felt good to be working again. He liked this sort of heavy labor, the feel of muscles straining, the way he had to suck in his breath to heave a sack, then release it with a long whoosh. A full day of this sort of work allowed him to drop off into dreamless sleep—something he hungered for more than anything else these days.


The boy was silent, but Nic could feel him staring, watching his every move like an artist studying a subject he was about to paint. “How’d you get so strong?” the boy said at last.


“Always been pretty strong,” Nic said, pulling the next sack across the wooden planks of the wagon, positioning it. “How’d you get so fast?”


“Always been pretty fast,” said the boy, in the same measured tone Nic had used.


Nic smiled again, heaved the sack to his shoulder, hauled it five steps to the cart, and then dropped it.


“This your job?” the boy asked.


“For today,” Nic said.


Nic loaded another sack, and the boy was silent for a moment. “My dad’s looking for help. At our mine.”


“Hmm,” Nic said.


“Needs a partner to help haul rock. He’s been asking around here for days.”


“Miner, huh? I don’t care much for mining.”


“Why not? You could be rich.”


“More miners turn out dead than rich.” He winced inwardly, as a shadow crossed the boy’s face. It’d been a while since he’d been around a kid this age. He was maybe ten or eleven max, all wiry muscle and sinew. Reminded him of a boy he knew in Brazil.


Nic carried the next sack over to the wagon, remembering the heat there, so different from what Colorado’s summer held. Here it was bone dry. He was sweating now, after the morning’s work, but not a lot. In Brazil a man soaked his sheets as he slept.


“Listen, kid,” he said, turning back around to the wagon, intending to apologize for upsetting him. But the boy was gone.


Nic sighed and set to finishing his work. As the sun climbed high in the sky, he paused to take a drink from his canteen and eat a hunk of bread and cheese, watching the busy street at the end of the alleyway. He wondered if he’d see the boy again, back to his antics of racing teams of horses. The child was probably letting off steam, just as Nic had done all his life—he’d been about the child’s age when he’d first starting scrapping with others.


But that was in the past. Not since his voyage aboard the Mirabella had Nic indulged the need, succumbed to the desire to enter a fight. Several times now, he’d had the opportunity—and enough cause—to take another man down. But he had walked away. He knew, deep down he knew, that if he was ever to face his sisters, Odessa and Moira, again, if he was to come to them and admit he was penniless, everything would somehow be all right if he was settled inside. If he could come to a place of peace within, the kind of peace Manuel had known. It was the kind of thing that allowed a man to stand

up straight, shoulders back, the kind of thing that gave a man’s gut peace. Regardless of what he accomplished, or had in the past. Thing was, he hadn’t found that place of comfort inside, and he didn’t want what Manuel tried to sell him—God.


There had to be another way, another path. Something like this work. Hard manual labor. That might be what he needed most.


Nic heard a man calling, his voice a loud whisper, and his eyes narrowed as the man came limping around the corner, obviously in pain, his arm in a sling. “You, there!” he called to Nic. “Seen a boy around? About yea big?” he said, gesturing to about chest height.


“Yeah, he was here,” Nic called back. He set his canteen inside the empty wagon and walked to the end of the alleyway.


“Where’d he go?” the man said. Nic could see the same widow’s peak in the man’s brown hair that the boy had, the same curve of the eyes … the boy’s father, clearly.


“Not sure. One minute he was watching me at work, the next he was gone.”


“That’s my boy, all right.”


“I’ll help you find him.”


The man glanced back at him and then gave him a small smile. He stuck out his good arm and offered his hand. “I’d appreciate that. Name’s Vaughn. Peter Vaughn.”


“Dominic St. Clair,” he replied. “You can call me Nic.”


Peter smiled. His dimples were in the exact same spot as the boy’s. “Sure you can leave your work?”


“I’m nearly done. Let’s find your boy.”


“Go on,” Moira’s sister urged, gazing out the window. “He’s been waiting on you for a good bit now.”


“I don’t know what he sees in me,” Moira said, wrapping the veil around her head and across her shoulder again. It left most of her face visible but covered the burns at her neck, ear, and scalp. Did it cover them enough? She nervously patted it, making sure it was in place.


Odessa stepped away from washing dishes and joined her. “He might wonder what you see in him. Do you know what his story is? He seems wary.” Their eyes met and Odessa backtracked. “Daniel’s a

good man, Moira. I think highly of him. But I’d like to know what has burdened him so. Besides you.” She nudged her sister with her hip.


Moira wiped her hands on the dish towel and glanced out at him as he strode across the lawn with Bryce, Odessa’s husband. He was striking in profile, reminding her of the statues of Greek gods the French favored in their lovely tailored gardens. Far too handsome for her—since the fire, anyway. She shook her head a little.


“Moira.”


Irritated at being caught in thought, Moira looked at Odessa again.


“Trust him, Moira. He’s a good man. I can sense it.”


She nodded, but inwardly she sighed as she turned away and wrapped a scarf around her veiled head and shoulders. A good man. After Reid and Max and Gavin—could she really trust her choice in men? Odessa was fortunate to have fallen for her husband, Bryce, a good man through and through. Moira’s experiences with men had been less than successful. What made Odessa think this one was trustworthy?


But as Daniel ducked his head through the door and inclined it to one side in silent invitation to walk with him, Moira thought about how he had physically saved her more than once. And how his gentle pursuit both bewildered and calmed her. Daniel had done nothing to deserve her suspicions.


She moved over to the door. He glanced at her, and she noticed how his thick lashes made his brown eyes more pronounced. He shuffled his feet as if he were nervous. “You busy?” he asked.


“No.” Moira felt a nervous tension tighten her stomach muscles.


“Can we, uh …” His gaze shifted to Odessa, who quickly returned to her dishes. “Go for a walk?” he finally finished.


Moira smoothed her skirts and said, “I’d like that.” Then, meeting her sister’s surreptitious gaze, she followed him outside. It was a lovely day on the Circle M. The horses pranced in the distance. She could see her brother-in-law riding out with Tabito, the ranch’s foreman.


“So, you wanted to talk,” she ventured.


“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t want to talk to you, Moira,” he said.


She looked up at him and then, when she saw the ardor in his gaze, she turned with a sigh.


“Don’t look away,” he whispered gently, pulling her to face him. He reached to touch her veil, as if he longed to cradle her cheek instead.


“No, Daniel, don’t,” she said and ran a nervous hand over the cover. He was tall and broad, and she did not feel physically menaced—it was her heart that threatened to pound directly out of her chest. Perhaps she wasn’t ready for this … the intimacies that a courtship brought.


She’d been dreaming about what it would be like to be kissed by him, held by him, but he never made such advances before. Never took the opportunity, leaving her to think that he was repulsed by

her burns, her hair, singed to just a few inches long, her past relationship with Gavin, or her pregnancy—despite what he claimed. Her hand moved to the gentle roundness of her belly, still small yet making itself more and more prominent each day. “I … I’m not even certain why you pursue me at all. Why you consider me worthy. ”


He seemed stunned by her words. “Worthy?” he breathed. He let out a hollow, breathy laugh and then looked to the sky, running a hand through his hair. He shook his head and then slowly brought his brown eyes down to meet hers again. “Moira,” he said, lifting a hand to cradle her cheek and jaw, this time without hesitation. She froze, wondering if he intended to kiss her at last. “I only hesitate because I am afraid,” he whispered.


“Afraid? You think I am not? I come to you scarred in so many ways, when you, you, Daniel, deserve perfection.…”


“No,” he said, shaking his head too. “It is I who carry the scars. You don’t know me. You don’t know who I am. Who I once was. What I’ve done …”


“So tell me,” she pleaded. “Tell me.”


He stared at her a moment longer, as if wondering if she was ready, wondering if she could bear it, and Moira’s heart pounded again. Then, “No. I can’t,” he said with a small shake of his head. He sighed heavily and moved up the hill. “Not yet.”


An hour after they began their search for Everett Vaughn, Peter sat down on the edge of the boardwalk and looked up to the sky. His face was a mask of pain. “That boy was hard to track when I wasn’t hurt.”


“He’ll turn up,” Nic reassured.


Peter nodded and lifted his gaze to the street.


“What happened to you?” Nic said gently, sitting down beside the man. His eyes scanned the crowds for the boy even as he waited for Peter’s response.


“Cave-in, at my mine. That’s why I’m here. Looking for a good man to partner with me. I’m onto a nice vein, but I’m livin’ proof that a man’s a fool to mine alone.” He looked at Nic and waited until he met his gaze. “You lookin’ for work?” He cocked his head to the side. “I’m offering a handsome deal. Fifty fifty.”


Nic let a small smile tug at the corners of his mouth. He glanced at the man, who had to be about his own age. There was an easy way about him that drew Nic, despite the pain evident in the lines of his face. “That is a handsome offer.” He cocked his own head. “But I don’t see you doing half the work, laid up like you are.”


“No, not quite. But I’ve already put a lot of work into it in the past three years, and I’m still good for about a quarter of the labor. To say nothing of the fact that my name’s on the claim.”


Nic paused, thinking about it, feeling drawn to help this man, but then shook his head. “I’m not very fond of small dark spaces.”


“So … make it bigger. Light a lamp.”


Nic shook his head, more firmly this time. “No. I’d rather find another line of work.”


Just then he spotted the boy, running the street again. “There he is,” Nic said, nodding outward. The boy’s father followed his gaze and with a grimace, rose to his feet. As they watched, the boy ran under a wagon that had temporarily pulled to a stop. Then he jumped up on the back of another, riding it for about twenty feet until he was passing by them. His face was a mask of elation.


“Everett! Ev! Come on over here!”


Everett’s eyes widened in surprise. He jumped down and ran over to them, causing a man on horseback to pull back hard on his reins and swear.


“Sorry, friend,” Peter said, raising his good arm up to the rider. The horseman shook his head and then rode on.


Peter grabbed his son’s arm and, limping, hauled him over to the boardwalk. “I’ve told you to stay out of the street.”


“So did I,” Nic said, meeting the boy’s gaze. The child flushed red and glanced away.


“We’d best be on our way,” Peter said. “Thanks for helpin’ me find my boy.” He reached out a hand and Nic rose to shake it. Peter paused. “It’s not often a man has a chance at entering a claim agreement once a miner has found a vein that is guaranteed to pay.”


Nic hesitated as he dropped Peter’s hand. “I’ve narrowly escaped with my life on more than one occasion, friend. I’m aiming to look up my sisters, but not from a casket.”


Peter lifted his chin, but his eyes betrayed his weariness and disappointment. What would it mean for him? For his boy, not to find a willing partner? Would they have to give up the mine just as they were finally on the edge of success? And what of the boy’s mother? His unkempt, too-small clothes told him Everett had been without a mother for some time.


He hesitated again, feeling a pang of compassion for them both. “Should I change my mind … where would I find you?”


A glimmer of hope entered Peter’s eyes. “A couple miles out of St. Elmo. Just ask around for the Vaughn claim up in the Gulch and someone’ll point you in our direction.” He reached out a hand. “I’d be much obliged, Nic. And I’m not half bad at cookin’ either. I’d keep you in grub. Give it some thought. But don’t be too put out if you get there, and I’ve found someone else.”


“Understood,” Nic said with a smile. “Safe journey.”


“And to you.” He turned away, tugging at his boy’s shoulder, but the child looked back at Nic, all big pleading eyes.


Hurriedly, Nic walked away in the opposite direction. He fought the desire to turn and call out to them. Wasn’t he looking for work? Something that would allow him to ride on to Bryce and Odessa’s ranch without his tail tucked between his legs? The man had said the mine was sure to pay.… I’m onto a nice vein.…


Was that a miner’s optimism or the truth?


Not yet?” Moira sputtered, following him. She frowned in confusion. He had been coaxing her forward, outward, steadily healing her with his kind attentions these last two months. But now it was as if they were at some strange impasse. What was he talking about? What had happened to him?


She hurried forward and grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop and turn again to face her. Her veil clung to her face in the early evening breeze. “Daniel.”


He slowly lifted his dark eyes to meet hers.


“This is about me, isn’t it?” she asked. “You attempt to spare my feelings but find me repulsive. I can hardly fault you, but—”


“No,” he said, with another hollow laugh. “Contrary to what you believe, Moira St. Clair, not everything boils down to you. You are braver than you think and more beautiful than you dare to believe. I believe we’re destined to be together.”


Moira held her breath. Then what—


“No,” he went on. “This is about something I need to resolve. Something that needs to be done, or at least settled in my mind, my heart, before I can properly court you.”


“What? What is it, Daniel?” she tried once more.


He only looked at her helplessly, mouth half open, but mute.


She crossed her arms and turned her back to him, staring out across the pristine valley, the land of the Circle M. It hurt her that he felt he couldn’t confide in her as she had with him. She stiffened when he laid his big hands on her shoulders. “I don’t need to be rescued, Daniel,” she said in a monotone. “God has seen me to this place, this time. He’ll see me through to the next … with or without you.”


“You don’t understand.”


“No. I don’t. We’ve been courting all summer, whether you realize it or not. And now you say that there is something else that needs to be resolved? You assume much, Daniel Adams. You think that I’ll wait forever?” She let out a scoffing laugh. “It’s clear you do not fear that any other man might pursue me. Not that I blame you …” She turned partly away and stared into the distance. “Please. Don’t let this linger on. I cannot bear it. Not if you do not intend to claim me as your own.”


He was silent for a long minute. Oh, that he would but turn her and meet her lips at last …


But he didn’t. “We both have a lot to think through, pray through, Moira,” he said quietly.


“Yes, well, let me know when that is accomplished,” she said over her shoulder, walking away as fast as she could, lest he see the tears that were already rolling down her cheeks.


©2010 Cook Communications Ministries. Claim by Lisa Bergren. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.

Chasing Lilacs


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Chasing Lilacs
FaithWords (June 17, 2010)
by



Carla Stewart






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Carla Stewart’s writing reflects her passion for times gone by. She believed in Jesus, the power of the written word, and a good cup of coffee. She's a country girl living now in a mid-sized city with her engineering husband who just happens to be her best friend and biggest fan.She and her husband have four adult sons and delight in the adventures of their six grandchildren.



FROM CARLA:



I grew up in the Texas Panhandle with two younger sisters and loving parents. Small town school. Great neighbors. Today, those small-town, fundamental things resonate within me -- the twang in people's voices, the art of being neighborly and just being a decent human being.



Growing up, I preferred the company of books over TV and playing outdoors. I imagined myself in many different careers, but given my down-to-earth raising, I settled on nursing. I didn't faint at the sight of blood and did well in science, so it seemed a natural choice.



I worked as a registered nurse off and on through the years, but primarily I stayed home with my four rambunctious boys and dreamed of the day when I could write the novels I loved to read. When our youngest son was in high school, I quit my job as a nursing instructor and settled in to pen my first novel. It's been quite a journey. One I wouldn't trade for anything.



I'm committed to writing the stories of my heart and am truly thankful to Jesus, my Savior, for allowing me this freedom. May all the glory be His.



Chasing Lilacs is her first book!





ABOUT THE BOOK



It is the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for twelve-year-old Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother's "nerve" problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.



When her mother commits suicide and a not-so-favorite aunt arrives, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious kid from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there's the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.



Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Chasing Lilacs, go HERE.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Maid to Match


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Maid to Match
Bethany House (June 1, 2010)



by
Deeanne Gist






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



After a short career in elementary education, Deeanne Gist retired to raise her four children. Over the course of the next fifteen years, she ran a home accessory and antique business, became a member of the press, wrote freelance journalism for national publications such as People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle and Orlando Sentinel, and acted as CFO for her husband’s small engineering firm--all from the comforts of home.



Squeezed betwixt-and-between all this, she read romance novels by the truckload and even wrote a couple of her own. While those unpublished manuscripts rested on the shelf, she founded a publishing corporation for the purpose of developing, producing and marketing products that would reinforce family values, teach children responsibility and provide character building activities.



After a few short months of running her publishing company, Gist quickly discovered being a "corporate executive" was not where her gifts and talents lie. In answer to Gist’s fervent prayers, God sent a mainstream publisher to her door who licensed her parenting I Did It!® product line and committed to publish the next generation of her system, thus freeing Gist to return to her writing.



Eight months later, she sold A Bride Most Begrudging to Bethany House Publishers. Since that debut, her very original, very fun romances have rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere. Add to this two consecutive Christy Awards, two RITA nominations, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you’ve got one recipe for success.



Her 2010 books, Beguiled and Maid To Match are now available for order.



Gist lives in Texas with her husband of twenty-seven years and their two border collies. They have four grown children. Visit her blog to find out the most up-to-the-minute news about Dee.







ABOUT THE BOOK



Falling in love could cost her everything.



From the day she arrived at the Biltmore, Tillie Reese is dazzled, by the riches of the Vanderbilts and by Mack Danvers, a mountain man turned footman. When Tillie is enlisted to help tame Mack's rugged behavior by tutoring him in proper servant etiquette, the resulting sparks threaten Tillie's efforts to be chosen as Edith Vanderbilt's lady's maid, After all, the one rule of the house is no romance below stairs.



But the stakes rise even higher when Mack and Tillie become entangles in a cover-up at the town orphanage. They could both lose their jobs, their aspirations...their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Maid to Match, go HERE.





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