Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ruth's Redemption


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Ruth's Redemption
Moody Publishers/Lift Every Voice (February 1, 2012)
by
Marlene Banks


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



 Marlene Banks has worked 30+ years combined in nursing and the business arena. Her goal as a writer is to create inspiring, gripping and realistic stories with an emphasis on African American literature. She believes her gift and desire to write is from God and desires to use it to fulfill His purposes. Marlene lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she is a member of Bethel Deliverance International Church.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Set in the 1800s, Ruth's Redemption, is an unusual depiction of the lives of slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War America. Bo, a main character, was educated while a slave. He was given his freedom and now owns a farm buying slaves for the sole purpose of giving them their freedom.

Bo is also a man of God and widower whose life is destined to change when he meets the proud and hard-hearted slave girl, Ruth. Ruth has known nothing but servitude and brutality since being separated from her mother at age thirteen. Purchased and sold primarily for breeding, Ruth struggles to adjust to life outside of bondage. She wants no part of Bo's Godly devotion. Yet Bo is unlike any man she's known and her experiences with him will leave her forever changed.

A gripping slave era novel, Ruth's Redemption is a story of love, forgiveness, and redemption. Set against the backdrop of the Nat Turner Rebellion in Tidewater, Virginia, this novel shines the light of God's unconditional love in the darkness of a culture's cruel socially accepted inhumanity.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ruth's Redemption, go HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Love Blooms in Winter

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:


  • Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to  Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.

 1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

 Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.





Product Details:

    • List Price: $13.99
    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0736930191
    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892 
  The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.
  “Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”
  “Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.
  “That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”
  Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.
  Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”
  She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”
  The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.
  But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.
  Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”
  Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.
  “Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”
  “Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”
  “Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.
  “The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”
  “Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s CafĂ©, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.
  With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.
  After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.
  Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”
  “How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”
  Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.
  How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.
  “She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”
  The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”
  “Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.
  Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”
  Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.
  The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.
  Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.
  She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.
  Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.
  Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.
  Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.
  In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.
  Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”
  Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.
  A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.
  Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”
  The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.
  “Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.
  “Oh, Pauline!”

The Mulligans of Mt Jefferson


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Mulligans of Mt Jefferson
David C. Cook (January 1, 2012)
by
Don Reid


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Don is one of the original members of the STATLER BROTHERS, the most award-winning act in the history of country music. He and his brother and two friends began singing in their hometown of Staunton, Virginia when Don was only fourteen years old. Working all over their home and neighboring states as a part time group, they were discovered in 1964 by Johnny Cash and given their first record contract. By the time Don was 20 years old, the STATLERS had their first major, world-wide hit record with FLOWERS ON THE WALL, which started a string of hits that generated a career in the music industry that lasted for four decades. The STATLERS have been recipients of multiple industry awards:

It wasn’t until the STATLER BROTHERS decided to retire from traveling in 2002 that Don pursued his writing career to another level. Having songwriting and scriptwriting under his belt, the next obvious step was to write a book. And that book was the scripture based HEROES AND OUTLAWS OF THE BIBLE published in June of 2002 by New Leaf Press. He has since written two other non-fiction books and in 2008 saw another dream come true for Don when he released his first novel, O LITTLE TOWN. Novel number two came in the form of ONE LANE BRIDGE, and THE MULLIGANS OF MT. JEFFERSON, is a sequel to O LITTLE TOWN.

Don is the father of two sons. Debo and his wife, Julie, and daughters Sela Mae and Adra, live within a stone’s throw. You may have seen Debo’s name on many songs written with Don on albums over the years.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Cal, Harlan, and Buddy grow up together in a small Virginia town in the years before the second World War. United by age, proximity, and temperament, they get into—and out of—all the trouble that boys manage to find. They even earn a nickname from a local restaurateur who gives the boys their first jobs and plenty of friendly advice. “Uncle” Vic calls them the Mulligans, because they always seem to find a way through a thicket of trouble—family problems, girls, college, war—to success. Cal and Harlan and Buddy have been blessed with second chances.

Now it’s 1959, and police lieutenant Buddy receives an early-morning phone call: his friend Harlan, a store owner, has been shot in a break-in. Cal, now a preacher, meets Buddy at the hospital, and together, as professionals and as friends, they begin to unravel what might have happened to Harlan.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Mulligans of Mt Jefferson, go HERE.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Love by the Book by Angela Scavone









About the Book


Fairytales don’t always work out the way you plan.


Jenn Taylor has been with her husband, Jack, since they were in college. They had a fairytale life plan. They were going to finish college, get married, and have three perfect children all two and a half years apart.


Before they knew it, the three perfect children become four not-so-perfect children. They find themselves so busy keeping a handle on work and children, they don’t have the time or energy to keep the spark of romance in their marriage.


Jenn complains to her friends, who suggest she should recreate some of the scenes from her much loved romance novels and surprise her husband.


All the while, she is trying to contend with three boys who do not know how to stay out of trouble and an environmentally and socially conscious daughter who is trying to become a vegan.


Is her marriage doomed to stay in a rut forever? Will she finally succeed in bringing the romance back? Or will she end up permanently injuring her husband with all the romantic scene mishaps?

About the Author


This is the first published work for Angela Scavone, who lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, sharing her home with her father and much loved trio of pups. She currently works for the Board of Education behind the scenes, supporting and analyzing student data, however, in her spare time, apart from her avid love of storytelling, she likes to read and spend time with family and friends.

MY REVIEW

I found Love by the Book hilarious. Parts of this book are flat out hysterical and had me laughing out loud! I love the main characters and the way they interact together. I found them incredibly believable and relatable. The storyline held my interest from start to finish and I really enjoyed the author's writing style. 

The writing is very well done- especially for a first time author. In my reviewing experience first time books are often riddled with mistakes and that certainly was not the case with Love by the Book. 

This is an easy to read, all-around fun romance novel that I am happy to recommend!

Thanks so much to Angela Scavone for providing me with a free e-copy of this book to review. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

His Steadfast Love


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
His Steadfast Love
Thomas Nelson (November 1, 2011)
by
Golden Keyes Parsons


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction for Thomas Nelson Publishing, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her newest novel, His Steadfast Love, a Civil War novel set in Texas, just released November 2011. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine, where they enjoy their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and are avid sports fan of their alma mater, Baylor University.


ABOUT THE BOOK

It isn't until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family.

It's the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.

When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.

Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war-and whose side is He on?

Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact.

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

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Accidental Bride REVIEW


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 (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to  Audra Jennings – 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:

Shay Brandenberger has built her entire life on the shifting sands of what others think. Constantly seeking the approval of others, she has struggled through a rocky childhood, a failed marriage and single parenthood. Now it looks like she’s losing the ranch that has been in her family for three generations, a surefire way to mark her as a failure in the eyes of the community. When Travis McCoy, the high school sweetheart who very publicly broke her heart fifteen years before, returns to Moose Creek, she is less than pleased. Not only does his re-appearance dredge up a deluge of painful memories, it also reminds everyone in town that it was he who left her, not the other way around. To make matters worse, Shay and Travis are unwittingly paired to play bride and groom in the annual Founder’s Day wedding re-enactment where, much to her chagrin, she discovers he still has the power to take her breath away. 

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595548025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548023


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The bell above the diner’s door jingled and—despite her most valiant effort—Shay Brandenberger’s eyes darted toward the entry. An unfamiliar couple entered—tourists. She could tell by their khaki Eddie Bauer vests and spanking-new hiking boots. Look out, Yellowstone.

When her heart rate returned to normal, she checked her watch and took a sip of coffee. Five minutes till she met Miss Lucy at the Doll House, forty till she met John Oakley at the bank. What if he said no? What would they do then?

“Mom . . . Earth to Mom . . .” Olivia waved her hand too close to Shay’s face, her brown eyes widening.

“Sorry, hon.” The one bright moment of her Saturday was breakfast with her daughter, and she couldn’t enjoy it for the dread. “What were you saying?”

Olivia set her fork on her pancake-sticky plate and heaved a sigh worthy of her twelve-year-old self. “Never mind.” She bounced across the vinyl bench, her thick brown ponytail swinging. “I’m going to meet Maddy.”

“Right back here at noon,” Shay called, but Olivia was out the door with the flick of her hand.


The diner buzzed with idle chatter. Silverware clattered and scraped, and the savory smell of bacon and fried eggs unsettled her stomach. She took a sip of the strong brew from the fat rim of her mug.

The bell jingled again. I will not look. I will not look. I will not—

The server appeared at her booth, a new girl, and gathered Olivia’s dishes. “On the house today.”

Shay set down her mug, bristling. “Why?”

The woman shrugged. “Boss’s orders,” she said, then made off with the dirty dishes.

From the rectangular kitchen window, Mabel Franklin gave Shay a pointed look.

So Shay had helped the couple with their foal the week before. It was the neighborly thing to do.

Fine. She gave a reluctant smile and a wave. She pulled her wallet from her purse, counted out the tip, and dragged herself from the booth, remembering her daughter’s bouncy exit. Lately her thirty-two years pressed down on her body like a two-ton boulder.

She opened the diner’s door and peeked both ways before exiting the Tin Roof and turning toward the Doll House. She was only checking sidewalk traffic, not hiding. Nope, she wasn’t hiding from anyone. The boardwalks were busy on Saturdays. That was why she hadn’t come to town for two weeks. Why their pantry was emptier than a water trough at high noon.

She hurried three shops down and slipped into the cool, welcoming air of Miss Lucy’s shop.

“ ’Morning, Miss Lucy.”

“ ’Morning, dear.” The elderly woman, in the middle of helping a customer, called over her rounded shoulder, “It’s in the back.” Miss Lucy’s brown eyes were big as buckeyes behind her thick glasses, and her white curls glowed under the spotlights.

“Okeydoke.” Shay forced her feet toward the storeroom.

A musty smell assaulted her as she entered the back room and flipped on the overhead fluorescents. She scanned the boxes of doll parts and skeins of yarn until she found what she was looking for. She approached the box, lifted the lid, and parted the tissue.

The wedding gown had been carefully folded and tucked away. Shay ran her fingers over the delicate lace and pearls. Must’ve been crisp white in its day, but time had cast a long shadow over it. Time had a way of doing that.

Her fingers lingered on the thin fabric. She remembered another time, another dress. A simple white one that hung on her young shoulders, just skimmed the cement of the courthouse steps. The ache that squeezed her heart had faded with time, but it was there all the same. Would it ever go away?

Shaking her head, Shay turned back to the task at hand. The gown seemed too pretty, too fragile to disturb.

Oh well. She’d promised.

She pulled it out and draped it over the box, then shimmied from her jeans. When she was down to the bare necessities, she stepped carefully into the gown. She eased it over her narrow hips and slid her arms into the long sleeves. The neckline was modest, the gathered skirt fuller than anything she ever wore. Here in the air-conditioning it was fine, but she would swelter next Saturday.

Leaving the button-up back gaping, she hitched the skirt to the top of her cowboy boots and entered the store.

Miss Lucy was ushering the customer out the door. When she turned, she stopped, her old-lady shoes squeaking on the linoleum. “Land sakes.”

Shay took two steps forward and dropped the skirt. It fell to the floor with a whoosh.

“Fits like a glove,” Miss Lucy said. “And with some low heels it’ll be the perfect length.”

Shay didn’t even own heels. “My boots’ll have to do. Button the back?”

Miss Lucy waddled forward, turned Shay toward a small wall mirror flecked with time, and began working the tiny pearl buttons.

Shay’s breath caught at her image. She forced its release, then frowned. Wedding gowns were bad luck. She’d sworn she’d never wear another. If someone had told her yesterday she’d be wearing this thing today, she’d have said they were one straw short of a bale.

Miss Lucy moved up to the buttons between her shoulders, and Shay lifted her hair. The dress did fit, clinging to her torso like it was made for her, wouldn’t you know. Even the color complemented her olive skin.

Still, there was that whole bad luck thing.

And what would everyone think of Shay Brandenberger wearing this valuable piece of Moose Creek heritage? A white wedding gown, no less. If she didn’t have the approval of her closest friends and neighbors, what did she have? Not much, to her thinking.

She wanted to cut and run. Wanted to shimmy right out of the dress, tuck it into that box in the storeroom, slip back into her Levi’s and plaid button-up, and go back to her ranch where she could hole up for the next six months.

She checked the time and wished Miss Lucy had nimbler fingers. Of all days to do this, a Saturday, when everyone with two legs was in town. And she still had that infernal meeting with John Oakley.

Please, God, I can’t lose our home . . .

“I’m obliged to you, dear. I completely forgot Jessie was going out of town.”

“No problem.”

“Baloney. You’d rather be knee-deep in cow dung.” The woman’s marionette lines at the sides of her mouth deepened.

“It’s one hour of my life.” A pittance, after all Miss Lucy had done for her.

Miss Lucy finished buttoning, and Shay dropped her hair and smoothed the delicate lace at the cuffs.

“Well, bless you for being willing. God is smiling down on you today for your kindness.”

Shay doubted God really cared one way or another. It was her neighbors she worried about.

“Beautiful, just beautiful. You’ll be the talk of the town on Founders Day.”

“No doubt.” Everyone in Moose Creek would be thinking about the last time she’d worn a wedding gown. And the time before that.

Especially the time before that.

Third time’s a charm, Shay thought, the corner of her lip turning up.

“Stop fretting,” Miss Lucy said, squeezing her shoulders. “You look quite fetching, like the gown was made for you. I won’t have to make a single alteration. Why, it fits you better than it ever did Jessie—don’t you tell her I said so.”

Shay tilted her head. Maybe Miss Lucy was right. The dress did make the most of her figure. And she had as much right to wear it as anyone. Maybe more—she was born and raised here, after all. It was just a silly old reenactment anyway. No one cared who the bride and groom were.

The bell jingled as the door opened behind her. She glanced in the mirror, over her shoulder, where a hulking silhouette filled the shop’s doorway. There was something familiar in the set of the man’s broad shoulders, in the slow way he reached up and removed his hat.

The sight of him constricted her rib cage, squeezed the air from her lungs as if she were wearing a corset. But she wasn’t wearing a corset. She was wearing a wedding gown. Just as she had been the last time she’d set eyes on Travis McCoy.

MY REVIEW 

 I enjoyed this book. It was a fun and easy read. I admit that I found bits of the plot a bit unrealistic but those were easy to overlook.

The characters and their personalities were a highlight for me. I found them especially entertaining. I love that the main character is so very HUMAN - flaws and all.

Overall I am happy to recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a sweet and not-too-sappy romance.


 

The Captive Heart


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Captive Heart
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
by
Dale Cramer


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dale Cramer spent his formative years traveling the world as an Army brat, then settled in Georgia at the age of fifteen when his father retired.

After high school he became an electrician, a job that took him to places as diverse as power plants, stadia, airports, high-rise office buildings and a hard-rock mining operation.

Twenty-five years of experiences in the trades provided him with the wealth of characters, stories and insights that populate his novels.

When he married his childhood friend, Pam, in 1975 he had no way of knowing they would not have children until fifteen years later.

In his early forties, when Dale left his job to become a stay-at-home dad, he suddenly found himself with time on his hands, so he pursued a lifelong dream and taught himself to write.

Using an online writer’s forum as a training ground, he wrote his first short stories in 1996. As his writing skills improved he turned to novels, publishing his first book, Sutter’s Cross, in 2003.

Since then, Dale has published four more novels and garnered a measure of critical acclaim with two Christy Awards, a listing among Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2004 and numerous other Best lists. Dale and his wife Pam live in Georgia with their two sons.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bandit troubles intensify as Caleb Bender's family tries to settle into their new life in 1920s Paradise Valley. When El Pantera kidnaps Rachel and leaves her brother, Aaron, for dead, Jake Weaver and the Mexican native Domingo pursue the bandit leader to his mountain stronghold in a hopeless rescue attempt. Jake and Domingo manage to escape with Rachel, with the bandits hot on their trail. In a desperate attempt to avoid recapture, Domingo puts himself squarely in harm's way, giving Jake and Rachel time to get away. This is not the quiet life Caleb Bender envisioned when he led his family out of Ohio. What is a father to make of his daughter's obvious affection for a man outside the fold? And how will a pacifist Amishman like Caleb respond to the events that threaten his family and their way of life?

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

Friday, January 6, 2012

Different Dream Parenting

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:

Discovery House Publishers (November 1, 2011)

Discovery House Publishers (August 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Susan Otis, Creative Resources, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jolene Philo has been a teacher for 25 years and has published numerous articles on parenting a special needs child and preparing children for a hospital stay. She is the author of Different Dream Parenting and Different Dream Parenting: A Practical Guide to Raising a Child with Special Needs and a regular contributor to a regional monthly women’s magazine, has spoken to MOPS groups, and is a commentator for Iowa Public Radio’s “Iowa Voices.” She and her husband have two children and live in Boone, Iowa.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTIONS:



Different Dream Parenting: Parents of a special needs child will benefit by Jolene Philo's handbook of resources, inspiration and tested wisdom. Practical strategies and spiritual reflections are balanced with resources for aid and information. From becoming an effective advocate for your child, dealing with hospitalization, to family concerns and long-term care, Philo presents wisdom from voices of experience. Hope-giving help, resources and direction are clearly provided for parents of a child with a medical condition, behavioral or educational concerns.


  • Product Details for Different Dream Parenting:

  • List Price: $12.99
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572934670
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572934672




A Different Dream for My Child: Hope and encouragement for the parents and caregivers of critically ill children comes in an inspirational devotional package. Jolene Philo shares personal accounts from her own experiences with a seriously ill newborn son. Interwoven are the stories of how other parents have found peace and hope, how they have dealt with hospitalization, private pain, grief, guilt and loneliness, and even the death of a child. Targeted scripture, simple prayers and questions for reflection provide a valuable spirit





Product Details for A Different Dream for My Child:

List Price: $10.99

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery House Publishers (August 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1572933070
  • ISBN-13: 978-1572933071


AND NOW...Excerpts from both books:

 Different Dream Parenting Excerpt: 



I Didn’t Sign Up for This, God!

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you can’t move? The car is racing toward the edge of a cliff and you can’t lift your foot to press the brake pedal. An attacker is breaking down the door to your house and you can’t raise your arm to dial 911. Your child is about to run in front of a truck and you can’t open your mouth to scream.

My bad dream became a reality in 1982. My husband and I stood beside our son’s isolette in the neonatal intensive care unit. An IV needle pierced Allen’s tiny arm, and angry red scars crisscrossed his chest. One end of his feeding tube hung on a pole beside his IV bag. The other end rose from the soft skin of his tummy. Pain etched his wide forehead and tugged at the corners of his perfect rosebud mouth.

More than anything, I wanted to reach out and take his hurt away. But I was trapped in a bad dream. Immobilized. Inadequate. Helpless. Though God had assigned me to love and care for this beautiful child, I could do nothing to minimize his pain. My thoughts were an inward scream. This isn’t what I signed up to do, God! I don’t want to be a helpless onlooker. I want to parent my child. How can I care for him? What can I do?

As the parent of a child with special needs, you’ve probably experienced the same sense of helplessness. Whether your child is critically or chronically ill, mentally or physically impaired, develop- mentally or behaviorally challenged, you want to do something. You want to ease your child’s pain, but you don’t know how. You want to help your child realize his or her full potential, but you don’t know where to begin. You want to ask God about your child’s suffering, but you don’t want to be condemned for questioning His wisdom. You want to believe God is with you, but you don’t know how to find Him.

You’re stuck in a bad dream. You can’t move. You can’t speak. You want someone to shake you awake and tell you everything will be okay. Instead, you wake up and must become the parent you never expected to be. You doubt that you’re up to the task. You’re worried about your child’s future. And you’re wondering, Does anyone understand what I’m experiencing?

The answer is yes, many parents understand your situation. In the United States,
•        10–15 percent of newborns, or 431,000 annually, spend time in neonatal intensive care according to the March of Dimes.
•        12 percent of children between ages 1 and 17 had medical conditions serious enough to require hospitalization between 2004 and 2006, the most recent years for which statistics are available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
•        13.6 percent of students between ages 6 and 21 were enrolled in some kind of special needs program according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. That’s 706,000 of our country’s school-aged children.

Lots of kids mean lots of parents, dads and moms who are valuable sources of information and advice. In this book, dozens of them share with you the wisdom they gained while parenting kids with special needs.

Support can also come from the surprising number of professionals who work with families of kids with special needs. These professionals—and the resources they’ve created—are available at hospitals, medical facilities, government agencies, private organizations, businesses, schools, churches, and more.

This book brings you advice from professionals around the country and provides information about national organizations and resources. It also gives tips about where to start searching for state and local resources. More often than not, your problem won’t be a lack of resources, but a lack of awareness of them or inability to access them.

Different Dream Parenting contains six sections: Diagnosis, Hospital Life, Juggling Two Worlds, Long-Term Care Conditions, Losing a Child, and Raising a Survivor. Each section is divided into four chapters. Three chapters address practical issues. The last chapter in each section addresses spiritual concerns.

Parents of kids with special needs often wrestle with prickly spiritual questions. I sure did. Sometimes I still do. So do all the parents interviewed in this book, and most of the professionals, too. Every day, we continue to ask questions about our kids’ lives and futures. Gradually, we learn more about how to trust God’s timing and wait for His answers.

As you read this book, please ask your faith questions. Read about how parents and professionals learned to ask questions, wait, and listen. Consider the answers they have discerned and their suggestions about how to find comfort and courage in God’s Word. When you are ready, try out their ideas about how to pray and use Scripture to hear God’s answers to your hard questions. The thirty-day prayer guides in appendix A are designed to help you engage in conversation with Him.

But even with prayer guides and Scripture to guide you, I know how hard it can be to trust the God who is allowing your child to suffer. So I won’t condemn you for asking prickly questions. Instead, I’ll encourage you, cry with you, and support you when your faith grows weak. When you can’t hang on a minute longer, I’ll hold you close until your strength and your faith return.

I hope this book helps you break out of your bad dream, wake up, and move forward with joy and confidence. I pray that the stories of parents and professionals in this book will give you hope and strength.

Most of all, I hope you discover the truth God has revealed to me and many other parents. Raising a child with special needs isn’t a bad dream. It’s just a different dream. And surprisingly, a different dream can be the best dream of all.

Taken from Different Dream Parenting, © 2011 by Jolene Philo. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids,  MI 49501.  All rights reserved




A Different Dream for My Child Excerpt:


Children Are a Gift from the Lord, Period

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift?
The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Psalm 127:3

From the moment Hiram and I learned of Allen’s condition, we knew he had a good chance of living a relatively normal life. And though his first five years were hospital
heavy, that prognosis proved true. He did well in school and participated in extra-curricular activities. Now an adult, he’s out on his own.

Not every child’s future is so rosy. Many parents of kids who survive an initial health crisis know their lives, and their children’s lives, will be quite different from what they once expected. If your child is one of those kids, you will grapple with the same issue Bruce and Peggy faced when their second child was a baby.

Their daughter Lacey, born in 1984, has the mental ability of a four or five–month–old infant. Her mental and physical disabilities weren’t immediately obvious to her doctor or her parents, though by the time her daughter was three months old, Peggy knew something was wrong.

Throughout the first year of Lacey’s life, her limitations became more noticeable. Her parents’ lives changed when they decided to keep Lacey in their home as long as they could. They understand that other parents who place severely disabled children in a care facility have made the right choice in their personal situation. “It’s not like one’s right and one’s wrong,” Peggy says.

“You have to do what God gives you peace about,” Bruce adds. The decision to care for Lacey in their home gave them peace. To accommodate their new lifestyle, Bruce changed employers. “I used to have a job where I traveled and was gone all the time. We knew when Lacey was a year old that I was going to have to be home a lot more.”

Early on, many well-meaning people acted like Lacey was a burden her family had to bear, especially for Peggy, whose life revolved around caring for their daughter. Once in a while, Peggy viewed her daughter in the same way. She began to question God. “Children are meant to be a gift from the Lord, not a burden, aren’t they? So why is Lacey a burden?”

Deep down, Peggy knew something was wrong with her thinking. One day she sensed God telling her to think about what the Bible says about kids: Children are a gift from the Lord. The light bulb went on, and she understood that the verse wasn’t just about the “perfect children,” the darling, whole and healthy, look-at-me children. “He doesn’t put any clause or condition on this statement. It’s just plain, ‘Children are a gift from the Lord.’”

In that moment, Peggy realized she’d been asking the wrong question. The question wasn’t whether Lacey was a gift or a burden. God said children are always a gift. Instead, He showed her the right questions to ask: How are you going to take care of this gift? How are you going to show the world that Lacey is a gift from the Lord? Those questions changed Peggy’s outlook about caring for her daughter. Every day, she tells herself, “I better act like this is a gift.” Over the years, she’s discovered that when she acts like her daughter is a gift, she thinks of her as a gift.

After more than two decades of caring for her daughter, Peggy wants to pass on this piece of advice to parents of special needs kids: No matter what your child’s level of need is — able to lead a normal life, in need of total care, or somewhere in between — you treat your child as a gift, you’ll think of your child as a gift. “This child is a gift from the Lord, period,” Peggy says. “Start with that foundation and move on from there.”

Father, forgive me for viewing my child as a burden. Teach me to act like my child is a gift, even during difficult times, so I will think of this child as a gift. Help those around me see my child is a gift, too.

Do I consider my child a gift from God? Do I treat my child like a gift? How do I show other people that my child is a gift?
________________________________
Taken from A Different Dream for My Child, © 2009 by Jolene Philo. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Box 3566, Grand Rapids MI 4950l. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Rose of Winslow Street REVIEW





This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Rose of Winslow Street
Bethany House (January 1, 2012)
by
Elizabeth Camden


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.



ABOUT THE BOOK

The last thing Libby Sawyer and her father expected upon their return from their summer home was to find strangers inhabiting a house that had been in their family for decades. Widower Michael Dobrescu brought his family from Romania to the town of Colden, Massachusetts with a singular purpose: to claim the house willed to him long ago. Since neither party has any intention of giving up their claim, a fierce legal battle ensues between the two families.

When important documents go missing from the house, Libby suspects Michael is the culprit. Determined to discover the truth behind the stolen papers, Libby investigates, only to find more layers of mystery surrounding Michael and his family. Despite their rivalry, Libby finds herself developing feelings for this man with the mysterious past.

As a decision about the house looms in the courts, Libby must weigh the risks of choosing to remain loyal to her family or give her heart to a man whose intentions and affections are less than certain.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Rose of Winslow Street, go HERE.


 MY REVIEW

 I enjoyed this book a lot. My favourite part of the book was the characters. Libby- the main character- intrigued me. I enjoyed her spunk and found how she dealt with her situation interesting. I almost wanted MORE character development though. Some things almost felt like they need a bit more explanation.

The storyline held my interest and in fact could have made an even longer book if it had been filled out a little more.

Overall I found the book an easy and entertaining read and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good not-overly-sappy romance.



 
 
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