Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Judgment



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Judgment
Bethany House (April 5, 2011)
by
Beverly Lewis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).



Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."



Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."



A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."





ABOUT THE BOOK



Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick? Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judgment, go HERE





Watch the book trailer:



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who is My Shelter


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Who is My Shelter
Thomas Nelson (March 1, 2011)
by
Neta Jackson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Neta Jackson is the author of the popular novel series, *The Yada Yada Prayer Group*, and a spin-off series called *The Yada Yada House of Hope.* These novels were inspired by a real women's Bible study and prayer group that, as Neta says, "God has used to turn my life upside down and rightside up." Neta and her husband, Dave, are also an award-winning writing team, best known for the Trailblazer books--a forty-book series of historical fiction for young people about great Christian heroes (see www.trailblazerbooks.com). The Jacksons are members of a multi-cultural church in the Chicago area, and the parents of three grown children, including a Cambodian foster daughter, all with families of their own.



ABOUT THE BOOK





In Jackson's fourth Yada Yada House of Hope Christian evangelical novel, Gabby Fairbanks is now settled in her new apartment at the House of Hope. But she is being pulled in several directions at once and has some hard decisions to make.



Philip, her estranged husband, is in a lot of trouble with a rogue cop from whom he borrowed money and also with his partner at the commercial development firm after he takes company money to cover his gambling losses. Lee Boyer, the Legal Aid lawyer who has become a friend to Gabby, now wants to be more. Gabby must decide whether to give Philip another chance, as their sons, Paul and PJ, hope, and she turns to the folks at Manna House, where she works, and the Yada Yada Prayer Group to help her discern God's plan for her.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Who is My Shelter, go HERE

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mine is the Night

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:

WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cindy Brovsky of Random House Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 28 books with three million copies in print, including: her best-selling historical novels, Here Burns My Candle, Thorn in My Heart, Fair Is the Rose, Christy Award-winner Whence Came a Prince, Grace in Thine Eyes, a Christy Award finalist, and Here Burns My Candle, a RT Book Reviews Award finalist; My Heart’s in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland, an armchair travel guide to Galloway; and her contemporary novels, Mixed Signals, a Rita Award finalist, and Bookends, a Christy Award finalist.

Visit the author's website. You’ll also find her on Facebook and Twitter.




SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

The emotional and spiritual journey that began with Here Burns My Candle (WaterBrook Press, 2010) soars to a triumphant finish in Mine Is the Night (WaterBrook Press, March 15, 2011) a dramatic and decidedly Scottish retelling of the biblical love story of Boaz and Ruth. A compelling tale of redemption and restoration, the latest novel from best-selling author Liz Curtis Higgs transports both story and reader to 18th century Scotland, where two widows are forced to begin anew.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400070023
ISBN-13: 978-1400070022

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Foul whisperings are abroad.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Selkirkshire

26 April 1746

The distant hoofbeats were growing louder.

Elisabeth Kerr quickly pushed aside the curtain and leaned out the carriage window. A cool spring rain, borne on a blustery wind, stung her cheeks. She could not see the riders on horseback, hidden by the steep hill behind her. But she could hear them galloping hard, closing the gap.

Her mother-in-law seemed unconcerned, her attention drawn to the puddle forming at their feet. A frown creased her brow. “Do you mean for us to arrive in Selkirk even more disheveled than we already are?” Three long days of being jostled about in a cramped and dirty coach had left Marjory Kerr in a mood as foul as the weather.

“’Tis not the rain that concerns me.” Elisabeth resumed her seat, feeling a bit unsteady. “No ordinary traveling party would ride with such haste.”

Marjory’s breath caught. “Surely you do not think—”

“I do.”

Had they not heard the rumors at every inn and coaching halt? King George’s men were scouring the countryside for anyone who’d aided bonny Prince Charlie in his disastrous bid to reclaim the British throne for the long-deposed Stuarts. Each whispered account was worse than the last. Wounded rebel soldiers clubbed to death. Houses burned with entire families inside. Wives and daughters ravished by British dragoons.

Help us, Lord. Please. Elisabeth slipped her arm round her mother-in-law’s shoulders as she heard the riders crest the hill and bear down on them.

“We were almost home,” Marjory fretted.

“The Lord will rescue us,” Elisabeth said firmly, and then they were overtaken. A male voice cut through the rain-soaked air, and the carriage jarred to a halt.

Mr. Dewar, their round-bellied coachman, dropped from his perch and landed by the window with a grunt. He rocked back on his heels until he found his balance, then yanked open the carriage door without ceremony. “Beg yer pardon, leddies. The captain here would have a wird with ye.”

Marjory’s temper flared. “He cannot expect us to stand in the rain.”

“On the contrary, madam.” A British dragoon dismounted and rolled into view like a loaded cannon. His shoulders were broad, his legs short, his neck invisible. “I insist upon it. At once, if you please.”

With a silent prayer for strength, Elisabeth gathered her hoops and maneuvered through the narrow carriage doorway. She was grateful for Mr. Dewar’s hand as she stepped down, trying not to drag her skirts through the mud. Despite the evening gloom, her eyes traced the outline of a hillside town not far south. Almost home.

The captain, whom Elisabeth guessed to be about five-and-forty years, watched in stony silence as Marjory disembarked. His scarlet coat was drenched, his cuffed, black boots were covered with filth, and the soggy brim of his cocked hat bore a noticeable wave.

He was also shorter than Elisabeth had first imagined. When she lifted her head, making the most of her long neck, she was fully two inches taller than he. Some days she bemoaned her height but not this day.

By the time Marjory joined her on the roadside, a half-dozen uniformed men had crowded round. Broadswords hung at their sides, yet their scowls were far more menacing.

“Come now,” Mr. Dewar said gruffly. “Ye’ve nae need to frighten my passengers. State yer business, and be done with it. We’ve little daylight left and less than a mile to travel.”

“Selkirk is your destination?” The captain seemed disappointed. “Not many Highland rebels to be found there.”

“’Tis a royal burgh,” Marjory told him, her irritation showing. “Our townsfolk have been loyal to the crown for centuries.”

Elisabeth shot her a guarded look. Have a care, dear Marjory.

The captain ignored her mother-in-law’s comments, all the while studying their plain black gowns, a curious light in his eyes. “In mourning, are we? For husbands, I’ll wager.” He took a brazen step toward Elisabeth, standing entirely too close. “Tell me, lass. Did your men give their lives in service to King George? At Falkirk perhaps? Or Culloden?”

She could not risk a lie. Yet she could not speak the truth.

Please, Lord, give me the right words.

Elisabeth took a long, slow breath, then spoke from her heart. “Our brave men died at Falkirk honoring the King who has no equal.”

He cocked one eyebrow. “Did they now?”

“Aye.” She met the captain’s gaze without flinching, well aware of which sovereign she had in mind. I am God, and there is none like me. She’d not lied. Nor had the dragoon grasped the truth behind her words: by divine right the crown belonged to Prince Charlie.

“No one compares to His Royal Highness, King George,” he said expansively. “Though I am sorry for your loss. No doubt your men died heroes.”

Elisabeth merely nodded, praying he’d not ask their names. A list of royalist soldiers killed at Falkirk had circulated round Edinburgh for weeks. The captain might recall that Lord Donald and Andrew Kerr were not named among the British casualties. Instead, her handsome husband and his younger brother were counted among the fallen rebels on that stormy January evening.

My sweet Donald. However grievous his sins, however much he’d wounded her, she’d loved him once and mourned him still.

Her courage bolstered by the thought of Donald in his dark blue uniform, Elisabeth squared her shoulders and ignored the rain sluicing down her neck. “My mother-in-law and I are eager to resume our journey. If we are done here—”

“We are not.” Still lingering too near, the captain inclined his head, measuring her. “A shame your husband left such a bonny widow. Though if you fancy another soldier in your bed, one of my men will gladly oblige—”

“Sir!” Marjory protested. “How dare you address a lady in so coarse a manner.”

His dragoons quickly closed ranks. “A lady?” one of them grumbled. “She sounds more like a Highlander to my ear.”

The captain’s expression darkened. “Aye, so she does.” Without warning he grasped the belled cuff of Elisabeth’s sleeve and turned back the fabric. “Where is it, lass? Where is your silk Jacobite rose?”

“You’ve no need to look.” Elisabeth tried to wrest free of him. “I haven’t one.”

Ignoring her objections, he roughly examined the other cuff, nearly tearing apart the seam. “The white rose of Scotland was Prince Charlie’s favorite, was it not? I’ve plucked them off many a Highland rebel.”

“I imagine you have.” Elisabeth freed her sleeve from his grasp. “Are you quite satisfied?”

“Far from it, lass.” The captain eyed the neckline of her gown, his mouth twisting into an ugly sneer. “It seems your flower is well hidden. Nevertheless, I mean to have it.”

Monday, April 25, 2011

Abigail's New Hope


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Abigail's New Hope
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2011)
by
Mary Ellis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from the author:I grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community of Geauga County, where my parents often took me to farmers’ markets and woodworking fairs. My husband and I now live within the largest population of Amish in the country–a four-county area in central Ohio. We love to take weekend getaways to purchase farm produce and other goodies, stay with Amish families in bed and breakfasts, attend country auctions and enjoy the simpler way of life.



This is my first series of novels set in the Amish community.



I would love to hear from readers of Christian novels. Please leave me a post at my blogsite.



ABOUT THE BOOK



As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, Abigail is faced with some hard choices. Despite her best efforts, the young mother dies—but the baby is saved.

When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail for her mistakes, her sister Catherine comes to care for her children while Daniel works his fields. Catherine meets Daniel’s reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who’s deaf and thought to be simple minded by his community. She endeavors to teach him to communicate and discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents.



While Abigail searches for forgiveness, Catherine changes lives and, in return, finds love, something long elusive in her life. And Isaiah discovers God, who cares nothing about our handicaps or limitations in His sustaining love.



An inspirational tale of overcoming grief, maintaining faith, and finding hope in an ever-changing world.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Abigail's New Hope, go HERE.



Watch the book trailer:

Friday, April 22, 2011

An Eye For Glory


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Eye For Glory
Zondervan (February 28, 2011)
by
Karl Bacon




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from the author:



I grew up in the small picturesque town of Woodbury, Connecticut. After graduating from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I returned to Connecticut and found employment in manufacturing. “Just a job” turned into a professional career, much of which was spent working for a Swiss machine tool company. In 2000 I started my own business to provide services to manufacturing clients across the USA. This change also allowed time to develop my writing craft.



From youth I’ve been a serious student of the Civil War. The draft of An Eye for Glory took ten years from conception to completion. Thousands of hours were spent researching every detail through copious reading, Internet research and personal visits to each battlefield so the novel might be as historically accurate and believable as possible. I live in Naugatuck, Connecticut with my wife of thirty-three years, Jackie.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Michael Palmer is a good man, a family man. But honor and duty push him to leave his comfortable life and answer the call from Abraham Lincoln to fight for his country. This 'citizen soldier' learns quickly that war is more than the battle on the field. Long marches under extreme conditions, illness, and disillusionment challenge at every turn. Faith seems lost in a blur of smoke and blood...and death.



Michael's only desire is to kill as many Confederate soldiers as he can so he can go home. He coldly counts off the rebels that fall to his bullets. Until he is brought up short by a dying man holding up his Bible. It's in the heat of battle at Gettysburg and the solemn aftermath that Michael begins to understand the grave cost of the war upon his soul. Here the journey really begins as he searches for the man he was and the faith he once held so dearly. With the help of his beloved wife, Jesse Ann, he takes the final steps towards redemption and reconciliation.



Using first-hand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry, Karl Bacon has crafted a detailed, genuine and compelling novel on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Intensely personal and accurate to the times, culture, and tragedy of the Civil War, An Eye for Glory may change you in ways you could have never imagined as well.



If you would like to read the first chapter of An Eye For Glory, go HERE.



Watch book video trailer:



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

That's When I Talk to God

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 authors are:

Dan and Ali Morrow

and Illustrated by

Cory Godbey


and the book:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home. They are the authors of That’s Where God Is (2010), their first children’s release.

Visit the authors' website.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:


Cory Godbey illustrates, animates, and writes for Portland Studios, a creative firm dedicated to telling great stories and pursuing excellence in art.

He has contributed to projects such as Zune Arts, Flight graphic novel anthologies, and has worked with many major publishers.

Recently, Cory was accepted in the acclaimed Society of Illustrators Annual.

Cory seeks to tell stories with his work.

He also likes drawing monsters.

Visit the illustrator'swebsite.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Targeted to children four to eight, That’s When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That’s When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer.



Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700186
ISBN-13: 978-1434700186

AND NOW...THE FIRST FEW PAGES (Click on the pictures to enlarge them!):







Monday, April 18, 2011

He Said, She Said




This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
He Said, She Said
Lighthouse Publishing (February 14, 2011)

by
Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles




ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles are the cofounders of Christian Devotions Ministries. Their He Said, She Said devotions are syndicated in a number of newspapers across the eastern seaboard and they host the weekly He Said, She Said Radio, Friday nights at 6:00 p.m. est. on Blog Talk Radio. Eddie and Cindy are popular speakers and teachers at Writers Conferences across the country.



Eddie is the author of five non-fiction books and his newest fiction release, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, a middle grade book. While Cindy is the author of one non-fiction and two compilations.



Together they teach writing with WritersCoach.us. Eddie and Cindy have been writing the He Said, She Said devotions since 2008, taking one scripture weekly and looking at it from two perspectives--His and Hers, with the idea that learning more about scripture from two perspectives helps one to delve deeper in God's word and know Him better.



ABOUT THE BOOK



He Said, She Said: A Devotional Guide to Cultivating a Life of Passion, or How Newlyweds, Couples and Singles Can Draw Closer to God and Their Mate Through Daily Devotions



Do you sense something vital missing from you relationship with your spouse, children and God? Are you easily distracted by the busyness of life and left feeling drained, bored, and discouraged? Do you sense you were meant to enjoy the richness of life, but spend your days feasting on crumbs? This heart-warming collection of stories (54 in all) will inspire you to reach for the true source of joy: a life lived for and through God.



These deeply personal (and sometimes humorous) devotions offer biblical insights and spiritual truths from the unique perspective of one man and one woman. Learn to cultivate a life of passion. Perfect for your quiet time, these moments of meditative reflection illustrate the importance of allowing God to work within you and speak through you. No matter if you are newlyweds or newly retired, this book of devotions will help you put the spark back into your love life and explore the precious relationships God desires for you. He Said, She Said touches the heart, tickles the funny bone and brings you to your knees in worship.



If you would like to read an excerpt from He Said, She Said, go HERE.



Watch the book video:



Cindy and Eddie are not only good friends of mine, but a regular source of my spiritual renewal. It's a great idea, the he-said/she-said concept and I always enjoy their devotionals. Both are not only grounded spiritually, and super nice people but they both keep me laughing. It's that humor and heart that makes the spiritual more relatable in the most practical sense.

~Gina Holmes, author of Crossing Oceans~


I've know Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles for a few years. Each has a way of tickling my funny bone, so I wondered what a devotional book by them would be. I can heartily recommend it. The humor is there, but it's coupled with deep truths that go straight to the heart of the problem. You'll find a path that winds closer to God through He Said, She Said.

~Ane Mulligan, Editor of Novel Journey~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Weekend Review LINKY

Did you review a book this past week? Then please link it up here!

Every Sunday I will post The Weekend Review as a place where we can share our reviews with each other. Book reviews OR other product reviews can be linked up! Please take a minute and visit a few of the other reviews too so we can support each other. :)

Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
This preview will disappear when the widget is displayed on your site.
For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.


thanks!

Amazing Pop-Up Space Atlas



AMAZING POP UP SPACE ATLAS

Pop up
DK Publishing - Author

Book: Hardcover | 235 x 159mm | 32 pages | ISBN 9780756663056 | 22 Jun 2010 | Dorling Kindersley | 5 - 8 years
Featuring sky charts, pop-ups, and slider pages, this out-of-this-world atlas introduces young readers to the wonders of space, from distant galaxies to the planets of our solar system.



MY REVIEW




This is a fabulous book. I think kids in general love pop-up books and mine are no exception! My boys were fascinated by all the fun facts and great pictures. Olivia mostly just loved the pop-up part :) . 

Obviously this book is very kid-friendly and fairly sturdy as well. My kids haven't managed to destroy it yet! The reading level is perfect for both of my boys (ages 7 & 8). The information is written in small, easily digestible chunks. My boys have both spent lots of times perusing the pages. 


This book would make an excellent gift for any young kid with even the remotest interest in space!


Thanks so much to DK Canada for sending me this cool book to review.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fresh Flower Arranging



Book Description

If you’ve ever ogled a bouquet of flowers at the supermarket and wondered how to display them once you’ve brought them home, then Fresh Flower Arranging is for you. With expert techniques for achieving stunning results and tips and tricks for keeping your flowers fresh and beautiful for as long as possible, Fresh Flower Arranging gives vivid step-by-step seasonal projects for an array of stunning and achievable arrangements.


Guest Review by my mom :)

This book is the flower arranger's handbook for sure. It walks you through preparing the vase or other container, placing the appropriate foliage, picking the flowers according to occasion, season, colour theme, etc., and prolonging the life of the flowers. There is an extensive section on which flowers grow in each season of the year. There is also a guide to preparing flowers for weddings based on the season in which the wedding takes place, and detailed instructions for putting together everything from boutonniers to pew ends to table centerpieces. Beautifully illustrated with lovely photographs, this book will take the stress out of choosing flowers and arrangements for any occasion. A must have for the flower gardener, for wedding planners, or for anyone who loves arranging flowers.

Thanks so much to DK Canada for sending me a copy of this book to review. 

Diagnosis Death

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:

Abingdon Press (April 2011)
***Special thanks to Julie A. Dowd, Marketing Manager, The United Methodist Publishing House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Richard L. Mabry, MD, is a retired physician and medical school professor who achieved worldwide recognition as a writer, speaker, and teacher before turning his talents to non-medical writing after his retirement. His first novel, Code Blue, was published by Abingdon in the Spring of 2010, followed by Medical Error that fall. He is also the author of one non-fiction book, and his inspirational pieces have appeared in numerous periodicals. He and his wife, Kay, live in North Texas.

Visit the author's website and blog blog.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Removing life support can be a killer!

When her comatose husband died in the ICU while on life support, the whispers about Dr. Elena Gardner began. They were stronger after another patient died in ICU. After she took up practice in a small town, the whispers turned to a shout: “mercy killer.”

Then there were the midnight phone calls that started after her husband’s death. Who was the woman who sobbed out, “I know what you did?” And how could Elena stop the calls that tortured her?

Two physicians, widowers themselves, tell Elena they know what she is going through. But do they? And is it safe to trust either of them?

What was the dark secret that kept Elena’s lips sealed when she should be defending herself? Would what she did in her husband’s ICU room turn out to be a prescription for trouble?


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Abingdon Press (April 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1426710216
ISBN-13: 978-1426710216

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue


She stood by his bedside and waited for him to die.

Outside the room, the machines and monitors of the ICU hummed and beeped, doctors and nurses went about their business, and the hospital smell—equal parts antiseptic and despair—hung heavy in the air.

With one decisive move she flipped the switch of the respirator and stilled the machine’s rhythmic chuffing. In the silence that followed, she imagined she could hear his heartbeat fade away.

She kissed him and exhaled what passed for a prayer, her lips barely moving as she asked for peace and forgiveness—for him and for her.

She stood for a moment with her head bowed, contemplating the enormity of her action. Then she pocketed the empty syringe from the bedside table and tiptoed out of the room.





1

Dr. Elena Gardner approached her apartment as she had every night for six months—filled with emptiness and dread. The feeling grew with each step, and by the time she put the key in the door, fear enveloped her like a shroud. Some nights it was all she could do to put her foot over the threshold. This was one of those nights.

She turned the key and pushed open the door. The dark shadows reached out at her like a boogeyman from her childhood. The utter stillness magnified every sound in the old apartment, turning creaking boards into the footsteps of an unknown enemy.

She flipped on the light and watched the shadows turn into familiar surroundings. Even though the thermostat was set at a comfortable temperature, she shivered a bit.

Elena dropped her backpack by the door and collapsed into the one comfortable chair in the living room. The TV remote was in its usual place on the table beside her. She punched the set into life, paying no attention to what was on. Didn’t matter. Just something to drown out the silence, something to remind her that there was life outside these four walls. That somewhere there were people who could laugh and joke and have fun. Somewhere.

She sighed and picked up the phone. She should call David.

He’d been firm about it. “Call me anytime, but especially when you get home at night. That’s the toughest time. It’s when the memories butt heads with the ‘what-ifs.’”

She dialed the number. Maybe she should put him on her speed dial. But that implied there wouldn’t be an end to this soon. And she wasn’t ready to think about that.

“Hey, Elena.” Although Dr. David Merritt—a resident physician in one of the busiest obstetrics programs in the Southwest—was surely as tired as she was, his voice sounded fresh, almost cheery. “What’s up?”

“Oh, you know. Just needed to hear a friendly voice.”

“Glad to oblige. How was your day?”

That was one of the things Elena missed most. Now that Mark was gone, there was no one to share her day. “Not too bad until I was about to check out. The EMT’s brought in a thirty-two-year-old woman, comatose from a massive intracranial hemorrhage. The neurosurgeons rushed her to surgery, but––”

She knew David could guess the rest. He cleared his throat. “Did that…was it tough to take?”

Elena started to make some remark about it not bothering her. But that wasn’t true. And she knew David wanted the truth. “Yeah. Not while it was happening. Then I was pretty much on automatic pilot. But afterward, I almost had a meltdown.”

“It’ll get better.”

“I hope so.”

“Any more phone calls?”

Elena felt goose bumps pop up on her arms. “Not yet. But it’s Tuesday, so I expect one later tonight.”

“Why don’t you call the police?”

“What, and tell them that for four weeks I’ve answered the phone every Tuesday at midnight and heard a woman sobbing, then a hang-up? That’s not a police matter.”

“And you—”

“I know what they’ll ask. Caller ID? ‘Anonymous.’ Star 69? ‘Subscriber has blocked this service.’ Then they’ll tell me to change my number. Well, this one’s unlisted, but that doesn’t seem to matter. How much trouble would it be for whoever’s calling to get the new one?”

David’s exhalation was like a gentle wind. “Well, let me know if there’s anything I can do.”

“You’ve done plenty already. You know, after Mark died, I had a lot of people fuss over me for about three days, but you’re the only one who’s stayed with it. Why?”

His silence made her think she’d asked an embarrassing question. People didn’t go out of their way to be nice the way David had with no thought of something in return. Did they?

“Elena, I’ve been where you are,” David said. “Oh, I know. A spouse divorcing you isn’t the same as one dying, but a lot of the feelings are the same. I mean, when I saw my wife and little girl pull away from the house for the last time, I wanted to lie down and die.”

She knew exactly what he was talking about. “That’s me. I wanted to crawl into the coffin with Mark. At that point, my life was over.”

“But I got past it,” David said. “Oh, I didn’t ‘heal.’ You don’t get back to where you were, but you learn to move on. And when Carol sent me the invitation to her wedding, it broke my heart, but it helped me realize that part of my life was over. Anyway, I made up my mind to use what I’d learned to help other people. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Elena sniffled. “Sorry.” She pulled a tissue from her pocket and dabbed at her eyes. “That’s another thing. I feel like tears are always right there, ready to come anytime.”

“That’s normal. Let them out.”

They talked for a few minutes more before Elena ended the conversation. She wandered into the kitchen, opened the refrigerator and looked in without seeing the contents. She wasn’t hungry. Since Mark’s death she’d lost twelve pounds off a frame that had little to spare. Maybe she should patent the process. “Sure-fire weight loss guaranteed. Withdraw life support and let your husband die. If you don’t lose weight, double your money back.”

Her lips drew back in what started as a hesitant smile but turned into a grimace of pain. She dissolved into tears.

Elena wasn’t sure how long she sat at the kitchen table with her head cradled in her arms before the ring of the phone roused her. She looked at her watch. A little after nine—too early for her midnight caller. Had the routine changed?

She shuffled back to the living room. When she checked the caller ID, she felt some of her tension subside. Dr. Helen Bennett represented the only ray of sunshine in Elena’s dark landscape right now.

“Hello?”

“Elena, did I wake you?”

“No, not really. Just starting to unwind. What’s up?”

“We need to talk.”

That didn’t sound promising. “Wow, that sounds like what I used to tell boys in college before breaking up with them. What’s going on?”

“I’d rather do this face to face. Why don’t we have breakfast tomorrow morning? I usually make rounds at six-thirty. Can you meet me in the St. Paul Hospital staff cafeteria at six? We can talk then.”

Elena hung up with a growing sense of unease. Mark’s death had plunged her into a dark abyss. The only glimmer of hope for a future had been Dr. Helen Bennett’s offer to join her practice. The opportunity to work alongside a woman who was one of the most respected family practitioners in the community, a doctor Elena had admired since her days in medical school, seemed like a gift from above. Was that about to be taken from her?

The evening dragged on as Elena worried about the problem like a kitten with a ball of yarn. Finally, she ate some peanut butter and crackers, forced down a glass of milk. She’d shower in the morning. Right now, she just wanted to crawl into bed.

Sleep was elusive as a glob of mercury. She picked up the book from her bedside table and tried to read, but the words blurred on the page. Finally, she closed the book, turned out the light, and tried to sleep. Instead, she watched the red numerals on her bedside clock change: 10:00, 10:40, 11:15.

She was tossing in a restless slumber when she heard the ring of the phone. The clock showed 12:05 as Elena reached for the receiver. Her left hand clutched the covers tighter around her as her right lifted the phone and brought it to her ear.

At first there was silence. Maybe this was simply a wrong number. Maybe the calls had stopped.

No, there it was. Sobbing. Starting softly, then rising to a crescendo. A woman’s voice—a husky alto, like a lounge singer in a smoky, second-rate club.

“Who is this?” Elena said.

No answer. Only sobbing.

“What do you want?” Elena’s voice rose to a shriek.

A click. Then silence.

Elena stabbed blindly at the phone’s “end” button, finally hitting it as an electronic voice began, “If you’d like to make a call—”

She turned on the bedside lamp and stared at the cheap lithograph on the opposite wall. In it, a young man and woman were walking through a field of flowers. They looked so happy. Like she and Mark had been.

But he was gone, and she’d never be happy again. Ever.

She reached for the light, but withdrew her hand. No, leave it burning. Elena burrowed deeply under the covers, the way she used to do as a child after hearing a ghost story. She closed her eyes and watched the images march across her brain: endless days spent at the bedside of a living corpse, Mark’s casket disappearing into the ground, a faceless woman at some shadowy location sobbing into a phone.

As the sound of those sobs echoed through Elena’s mind, that image of a face from her past came into focus. Was that who was calling? If so, there was nothing Elena could do. She’d simply suffer . . . because she deserved it.

* * *

Elena slapped at the snooze button on her alarm clock. Why was it buzzing already? Then she remembered—her breakfast with Dr. Bennett. What had Helen meant by, “We need to talk?”

Her stomach did a flip-flop, and she tasted a bitter mix of peanut butter and bile. Maybe some coffee would help.

Elena padded to the kitchen and reached into the cabinet, wishing she’d had the foresight to make coffee before going to bed last night. The weight of the canister told her before she removed the lid—empty. She filled a glass at the sink and drank the contents, hoping to at least wash the bad taste from her mouth.

A quick shower brought her a bit more awake. Now for hair and makeup. Elena had always taken pride in her resemblance to her mother, a beautiful woman with dark, Latina looks. But long days at the hospital followed by sleepless nights took their toll.

There were dark circles under her eyes, the brown irises surrounded by a network of red. A few drops of Visine, and she looked less like the survivor of an all-night drinking spree. She’d cover the circles with a little make-up and hope Dr. Bennett didn’t notice.

Elena ran her hands through her long, black hair. She needed a haircut, needed it in the worst way. But there was neither time nor money for that right now. She’d pull it into the always-utilitarian ponytail she’d favored more and more lately.

Dressed, her backpack slung over one shoulder, her purse over the other, she stepped through the door into the early morning darkness, in no way ready to face the day. It was bad already. She hoped it wouldn’t get worse.

* * *

The ride in the elevator was three floors up, but Elena’s stomach felt as though she was in a free fall. She didn’t have to do this today. When Helen Bennett called, she should have put this visit on “hold.” But something told her she needed to get it out of the way.

The elevator doors slid open, and the scene before her made memories scroll across her mind like a filmstrip unwinding. The waiting area of the ICU at Zale University Hospital was quiet at 5:30 a.m. The television set high on the far wall flickered with silent images as closed captions of the local news crawled across the bottom of the screen. An older man huddled in a chair near the “Staff Only” door, glancing every few seconds toward that portal as though Gabriel himself were about to come through it with news of his loved one.

Elena knew the feeling. For two weeks, she’d spent much of every day in this same waiting room. The rest of the time, the minutes not spent snatching a quick bite in the cafeteria or hurrying home for a shower and change of clothes, were spent at her husband’s bedside, holding his hand and listening to the even rhythm of the respirator that kept him alive. Her heart bled for the old man and for every other person who’d ever sat in this room.

Elena was pleased when her final training assignment took her away from Zale, the place where her life fell apart. St. Paul Hospital was less than half a mile away, but she welcomed every foot of that buffer. When she walked out of Zale for the last time, she silently vowed never to return.

Now she was back, and she still wasn’t sure of her reason. Was it to add the books from the box balanced on her hip to the dog-eared paperbacks next to the volunteer’s desk? Or was it to show she had the courage to revisit the scene of the most terrible two weeks of her life? No matter, she was here. She clenched her jaw and forced her feet to move.

“Dr. Gardner. What are you doing here?”

Elena looked up at the nurse emerging from the elevator. The woman’s name tickled at the periphery of Elena’s memory like a loose hair. What was it?

“Oh. You startled me.”

“Sorry. What brings you back here?”

Elena held up a handful of books and shoved them into the bookcase. “These are some of Mark’s––” Her throat closed up and words left her. With an effort, she began again. “I was going through some of Mark’s things and thought these might help the people in the waiting room pass the time.”

The nurse moved closer and Elena sneaked a look at her nametag. Karri Lawson. Of course. How could she forget Karri? The pretty brunette had been the nurse responsible for Mark’s care almost the entire time he was in the ICU. In fact Karri had been Mark’s nurse the day––. Elena shook her head. Don’t go there. Don’t go back.

If Karri noticed Elena’s discomfort, she made no mention of it. Instead, she gave Elena a brief hug. “I haven’t seen you since…since that day. I’m sorry for your loss.” She made a gesture toward the closed doors leading to the ICU. “We all are.”

Elena had heard “sorry for your loss” so many times, it was almost meaningless. Her response was automatic. “Thank you.”

“Would you like to come in and see the other staff?” Karri looked at her watch. “The day shift isn’t here yet, but there may be some nurses you remember from when…from your time here.”

“I don’t think so.” Elena reached out and touched Karri on the shoulder. “I have a meeting. But tell everyone hello for me. Tell them I said, ‘thanks.’”

* * *

“The coffee here is surprisingly good,” Elena said. “Everyone always says that hospital food, especially hospital coffee, is terrible.”

“I agree,” Helen Bennett said. “I wish my receptionist could make coffee like this. She’s a jewel, but in fifteen years with me she’s never learned to make coffee that doesn’t taste like it’s brewed from homogenized tire treads.”

“Don’t be too hard on her, Helen. I’m looking forward to working with her. And with you, of course.”

Helen placed her mug on the table as carefully as an astronaut docking the space shuttle. “Well, that’s what we need to talk about.” She looked around to make sure there was no one within earshot. Around them, the cafeteria was filled with bleary-eyed residents, medical students, and nurses, but no one seemed interested in the conversation at their table. “I’m afraid you’re not going to be working with my receptionist, or my nurse, or me.”

“What—”

Helen stemmed Elena’s words with an upraised hand. “Let me give you the whole story. Then I can answer questions if you have any—assuming you’re still speaking to me by then.”

The hollow feeling in Elena’s stomach intensified.

“I’ve been in private practice for fifteen years, going it alone. There aren’t many of us left in solo situations, but I’ve held out. I’ve managed to get other doctors in various groups to share call with me, but lately that’s been somewhere between difficult and impossible.”

“I know. That’s why you wanted to bring me into the practice,” Elena said.

“True, but that’s changed. The Lincoln Clinic has approached me to join their family practice section. Actually, they want me to head it. They’ve made me a great offer. Not just the money, although that’s good. The whole package seems tailor-made for me. I’ll be supervising six other doctors, and I’ll be exempt from night call. A great retirement plan and benefits.” Helen looked down at the tabletop. “I couldn’t turn it down.”

Elena’s mind scrambled for a solution. The ship was sinking, and she grabbed for something to keep her afloat. “So, why don’t I take over your practice? I can buy you out. I mean, I won’t have the money right way, but I can pay you over several years. It’ll be sort of like an annuity for you.”

Helen was already shaking her head. “No, one part of the deal was that I bring my patients with me. The clinic will hire both my receptionist and nurse, and give them a good package as well. They’ll even buy my equipment from me. I’ve already terminated the office lease. I’m moving out in ninety days.”

Elena forced back the tears she felt forming. “Helen, do you realize what this does to me?”

“I know. I just—”

“No.” Elena worked to keep her voice level. “You don’t know. You don’t know how I’ve struggled to get through my residency after Mark’s death. You have no idea what it meant to me to have a practice waiting for me. No need to lease space, to remodel and buy equipment. No waiting to build up a practice. There’d be a guaranteed income and a chance to pay off a mountain of debt.”

“Elena—”

Elena shook her head. “I finish my residency in less than a month. Thirty days! Now you’ve pulled the rug out from under me. I have four weeks to find a way to do the only thing I know how to do—practice medicine.” She turned her back to Helen, thinking that Helen had done the same thing to her. “No, I realize this is good for you, but I don’t think you really know the effect it has on me.”

“Elena, I had to do this. Once you get over the shock, you’ll think about it and agree. But listen, I’m not going to leave you hanging.”

Elena turned back to face the woman who’d been her mentor, the friend who was now betraying her. “What do you mean?”

“The clinic gave me a very short deadline to accept or reject their offer. I only made my final decision this weekend. But the second call I made, after the one to the clinic administrator, was to your chair, Dr. Amy Gross. She and I are both putting out feelers for a place you can practice.” Helen reached across the table and patted Elena’s shoulder. “We know how hard this past three months have been on you. We worry about you. And believe me, we won’t abandon you now. God has something out there for you. Trust Him.”

Elena drained the last of the coffee from her cup. When she set it down, she knocked her fork off the table. The dull clank of silverware on vinyl floor was barely audible over the low hum of voices that filled the cafeteria. “Trust God? I don’t think so. I trusted Him when Mark lay there fighting for his life, but it didn’t seem to do any good.”

“I know. But He’s still in control.”

Elena shook her head, while one more hobgoblin joined those already dancing in her brain.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean



Description

Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She falls into a job at the college coffee shop, and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary.

Just when she's about to test Gary's feelings, Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke. Dora rushes back home to Forsyth, NC, and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. The store has always been a fixture in Dora's life; though she grew up more of a jeans-and-sweatshirt kind of girl, before she even knew how to write, Mimi taught her that a vintage 1920s dress could lift a woman's spirit.

While working there, Dora befriends Mimi's adorable contractor, Conrad. Is he after Dora, or is working from a different blueprint? And why did Mimi start writing down--and giving away--stories of the dresses in her shop?

When Mimi dies, Dora can't get out of town fast enough and cedes control of the store to her money-hungry aunt who wants to turn it into a t-shirt shop for tourists. But ultimately, she returns to Forsyth, willing to battle whatever may stand in the way of her staying there. Dora can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?






Guest Review by my Mom :)

This is a refreshingly sweet little story with some deep underlying principles for life. It is well written and will appeal to adult women of all ages. The heroine, Dora, struggles with the fact that her parents died when she was too young to have any conscious memories of them. The reader’s curiosity and Dora’s struggle is finally resolved near the end of the book. A good read that will hold your attention and reinforce strong family values.
* I was sent a free copy of this book to review *

Blood of the Prodigal


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Blood of the Prodigal
Plume; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
by
P.L. Gaus




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Paul took an interest in writing fiction in 1993, and with the advice and encouragement of author Tony Hillerman, he began writing mystery novels set among the Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. The first of Gaus's mysteries, Blood of the Prodigal, An Ohio Amish Mystery, was published by Ohio University Press in June of 1999, and a total of six novels have appeared in this series: Broken English, 2000, Clouds Without Rain, 2001, Cast a Blue Shadow, 2003, A Prayer for the Night, 2006, and Separate from the World, 2008. A seventh novel in the series is in preparation.



All of Paul's stories have now been republished by Plume (a division of Penguin Group USA) as The Amish-Country Mysteries, and these editions have been embraced by Christian retailers such as CBD.com, Family Christian Stores, and LifeWay. Future mysteries in the series will still first be published in hard cover editions, as The Amish-Country Mysteries by Ohio University Press, with Plume bringing out the soft cover editions some time later.



Paul and his wife Madonna still travel frequently in Holmes County. He lectures widely about Amish culture at libraries, bookstores, literary societies, and the like, and his books have been featured at Book Expo America and similar professional shows around the country. Paul's novels have been reviewed in prominent journals and newspapers, for instance, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Ohioana Quarterly, and the New York Times Book Review.



ABOUT THE BOOK



For Jonah Miller, shunned by his Old Order sect and cast into the wider world, the summer begins with his decision to kidnap his ten-year-old son from the home of the bishop who had exiled Miller a decade earlier. In his desperation to retrieve the boy, the bishop appeals for help to the only "English" men the sect would ever approve.



Professor Michael Branden and Pastor Caleb Troyer had been looking forward to the kind of sleepy rural summer they had enjoyed as boyhood friends growing up in the small college town of Millersburg. Instead, they plunge into the normally closed Amish culture to find the boy. When the kidnapping leads to murder, they can no longer keep the case from the law. Working sometimes at cross purposes with his friend Sheriff Bruce Robertson, Professor Branden digs through the past to uncover truths that many would prefer to leave undisturbed. Little does he suspect that even the anguished bishop, torn by an insoluble moral dilemma, tragically does not tell everything he knows about the case. Suddenly the vast tangle of Amish and Mennonite settlements that sprawl among several thousand small farms and homesteads seems less bucolic than unknowable and impenetrable.



As they inquire delicately among the peaceful ones, Branden and Troyer learn that the troubles of Jonah Miller began far earlier than the kidnapping, with his Rumschpringe - the customary wild year before taking Amish vows. But his grand Rumschpringe had exploded into a decade of drugs, whiskey, and women, in the company of people no Amish person should meet.



In the tradition of Tony Hillerman, P. L. Gaus depicts a culture that successfully stands outside the mainstream yet interacts with it in complex and fascinating ways, a culture that is every bit as susceptible to the undertow of the human spirit as any we might know.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Blood of the Prodigal, go HERE

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Cowboy's Touch

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:

Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Denise lives in Indiana with her husband Kevin and their three sons. In 1996, Denise began her first book, a Christian romance novel, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her books often contain a strong romantic element, and her husband Kevin says he provides all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Wade's ranch home needs a woman's touch. Abigail's life needs a cowboy's touch.

Four years ago, rodeo celebrity Wade Ryan gave up his identity to protect his daughter. Now, settled on a ranch in Big Sky Country, he lives in obscurity, his heart guarded by a high, thick fence.

Abigail Jones isn’t sure how she went from big-city columnist to small-town nanny, but her new charge is growing on her, to say nothing of her ruggedly handsome boss. Love blossoms between Abigail and Wade--despite her better judgment. Will the secrets she brought with her to Moose Creek, Montana separate her from the cowboy who finally captured her heart?



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 29, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548017
ISBN-13: 978-1595548016

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Abigail Jones knew the truth. She frowned at the blinking curser on her monitor and tapped her fingers on the keyboard-what next?


Beyond the screen's glow, darkness washed the cubicles. Her computer hummed, and outside the office windows a screech of tires broke the relative stillness ofthe Chicago night.


She shuffled her note cards. The story had been long in coming, but it was finished now, all except the telling. She knew where she wanted to take it next.


Her fingers stirred into motion, dancing across the keys. This was her favorite part, exposingtruth to the world. Well, okay, not the world exactly, not with Viewpoint's paltry circulation. But now, during the writing, it felt like the world.


Four paragraphs later, the office had shrunk away, and all that existed were the words on the monitor and her memory playing in full color on the screen of her mind.


Something dropped onto her desk with a sudden thud. Abigail’s hand flew to her heart, and her chair darted from her desk. She looked up at her boss’s frowning face, then shared a frown of her own. “You scared me.”


“And you’re scaring me. It’s after midnight, Abigail—what are you doing here?” Marilyn Jones’s hand settled on her hip.


The blast of adrenaline settled into Abigail’s bloodstream, though her heart was still in overdrive. “Being an ambitious staffer?”


“You mean an obsessive workaholic.”


“Something wrong with that?”


“What’s wrong is my twenty-eight-year-old daughter is working all hours on a Saturday night instead of dating an eligible bachelor like all the other single women her age.” Her mom tossed her head, but her short brown hair hardly budged. “You could’ve at least gone out with your sister and me. We had a good time.”


“I’m down to the wire.”


“You’ve been here every night for two weeks.” Her mother rolled up a chair and sank into it. “Your father always thought you’d be a schoolteacher, did I ever tell you that?”


“About a million times.” Abigail settled into the chair, rubbed the ache in her temple. Her heart was still recovering, but she wanted to return to her column. She was just getting to the good part.


“You had a doctor’s appointment yesterday,” Mom said. Abigail sighed hard.


“Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?”


“Goes out the window when the doctor is your sister. Come on, Abigail, this is your health. Reagan prescribed rest—R-E-S-T—and yet here you are.”


“A couple more days and the story will be put to bed.”


“And then there’ll be another story.”


“That’s what I do, Mother.”


“You’ve had a headache for weeks, and the fact that you made an appointment with your sister is proof you’re not feeling well.”


Abigail pulled her hand from her temple. “I’m fine.”


“That’s what your father said the week before he collapsed.”


Compassion and frustration warred inside Abigail. “He was sixty-two.” And his pork habit hadn’t helped matters. Thin didn’t necessarily mean healthy. She skimmed her own long legs, encased in her favorite jeans . . . exhibit A.


“I’ve been thinking you should go visit your great-aunt.” Abigail already had a story in the works, but maybe her mom had a lead on something else. “New York sounds interesting. What’s the assignment?”


“Rest and relaxation. And I’m not talking about your Aunt Eloise—as if you’d get any rest there—I’m talking about your Aunt Lucy.”


Abigail’s spirits dropped to the basement. “Aunt Lucy lives in Montana.” Where cattle outnumbered people. She felt for the familiar ring on her right hand and began twisting.


“She seems a bit . . . confused lately.”


Abigail recalled the birthday gifts her great-aunt had sent over the years, and her lips twitched. “Aunt Lucy has always been confused.”


“Someone needs to check on her. Her latest letter was full of comments about some girls who live with her, when I know perfectly well she lives alone. I think it may be time for assisted living or a retirement community.”


Abigail’s eyes flashed to the screen. A series of nonsensical letters showed where she’d stopped in alarm at her mother’s appearance. She hit the delete button. “Let’s invite her to Chicago for a few weeks.”


“She needs to be observed in her own surroundings. Besides, that woman hasn’t set foot on a plane since Uncle Murray passed, and I sure wouldn’t trust her to travel across the country alone. You know what happened when she came out for your father’s funeral.”


“Dad always said she had a bad sense of direction.”


“Nevertheless, I don’t have time to hunt her down in Canada again. Now, come on, Abigail, it makes perfect sense for you to go. You need a break, and Aunt Lucy was your father’s favorite relative. It’s our job to look after her now, and if she’s incapable of making coherent decisions, we need to help her.”


Abigail’s conscience tweaked her. She had a soft spot for Aunt Lucy, and her mom knew it. Still, that identity theft story called her name, and she had a reliable source who might or might not be willing to talk in a couple weeks.


“Reagan should do it. I’ll need the full month for my column, and we can’t afford to scrap it. Distribution is down enough as it is. Just last month you were concerned—”


Her mother stood abruptly, the chair reeling backward into the aisle. She walked as far as the next cubicle, then turned. “Hypertension is nothing to mess with, Abigail. You’re so . . . rest- less. You need a break—a chance to find some peace in your life.” She cleared her throat, then her face took on that I’ve-made-up- my-mind look. “Whether you go to your aunt’s or not, I’m insisting you take a leave of absence.”


There was no point arguing once her mother took that tone. She could always do research online—and she wouldn’t mind visiting a part of the country she’d never seen. “Fine. I’ll finish this story, then go out to Montana for a week or so.”


“Finish the story, yes. But your leave of absence will last three months.”


“Three months!”



“It may take that long to make a decision about Aunt Lucy.”


“What about my apartment?”


“Reagan will look after it. You’re hardly there anyway. You need a break, and Moose Creek is the perfect place.”


Moose Creek. “I’ll say. Sounds like nothing more than a traffic signal with a gas pump on the corner.”


“Don’t be silly. Moose Creek has no traffic signal. Abigail, you have become wholly obsessed with—”


“So I’m a hard worker . . .” She lifted her shoulders.


Her mom’s lips compressed into a hard line. “Wholly obsessed with your job. Look, you know I admire hard work, but it feels like you’re always chasing something and never quite catching it. I want you to find some contentment, for your health if nothing else. There’s more to life than investigative reporting.”


“I’m the Truthseeker, Mom. That’s who I am.” Her fist found home over her heart.


Her mother shouldered her purse, then zipped her light sweater, her movements irritatingly slow. She tugged down the ribbed hem and smoothed the material of her pants. “Three months, Abigail. Not a day less.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tea For Two


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Tea For Two
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2011)
by
Trish Perry




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from our Author: I started writing short stories—pretty bad ones. And I started taking creative writing courses to round out my degree. So I was in classes full of people just like me—lousy writers. But we were learning!



Then the Lord led me to a local writers' group, Capital Christian Writers, and the contacts and friends I made through CCW enriched my personal life and my writing life more than I can measure. Through CCW and through reading just about every book and magazine ever published by Writer's Digest, I started catching on. Now I'm writing full time and man oh man do I love it.



Before the writing began, I worked for attorneys in Washington, D. C. I worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission. And I was a stockbroker. A horrible stockbroker. How do people do that? Take responsibility for other people's financial futures? Yikes. I'm perfectly happy to take responsibility for the amount of time any one person wants to spend reading my books. If you enjoy the experience, then know that we both enjoyed it together. I love that about books.



In the midst of all that fretting over other people's money and writing about other people's lives, I racked up a few personal experiences myself. Some good, some bad, but all part of God's plan. Now I'm an empty nester living in Northern Virginia. My brilliantly funny son is in college. I have a savvy, gorgeous grown daughter, a charming son-in-law, and an amazing grandson.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.



Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?



Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.



And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.



Although heroine Tina Milano and her women's group are mentioned in The Perfect Blend (the first book in this series), Tea for Two is where we meet her and hero Zack Cooper. I knew I would write this book while I wrote the first, so it was fun to plant a passing mention of Zack and Tina while I wrote Steph's story in The Perfect Blend. By the time I was able to write Tina and Zack's story, I was eager to unfold their lives, conflicts, and love. I hope readers will be eager to experience what happens to them!



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



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