Friday, January 30, 2009

Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gatekeepers
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)

by

Robert Liparulo



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children.

Robert's first novel painted a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Bob has sold the film rights to his second book, GERM. And he is writing the screenplay for a yet-to-be-written political thriller, which sold to Phoenix Pictures, for Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, The Guardian) to direct!

And his third book Deadfall. debuted to rave reviews!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Bob Liparulo wants to give away a signed 3 book set of the DreamHouse Kings books! Send an email to Bob [at] Liparulo [dot] com and put "CFBA" in the subject line. He will pick a winner next week!!!!

In the third novel of this young adult series, the mystery deepens in a house that is more than meets the eye.

The Kings have been in the creepy old place, their new home, for only a few days, but they've experienced enough terror to last a lifetime. And the mystery is growing even more baffling. Shadowy and shifting, the big house conceals doors into other worlds that blur the line between memories and dreams-and the slightest misstep can change history forever.

At least, that's if they believe the trembling old man who shows up claiming to know them. "There's a reason you're in the house," he tells them. "As gatekeepers, we must make sure only those events that are supposed to happen get through to the future."

The problem is that horrors beyond description wait on the other side of those gates. As if that weren't enough, the Kings are also menaced by sinister forces on this side-like the dark, ancient stranger Taksidian, who wants them out now.

It's hard to believe that things could have gotten worse for the King family-but they have. Dad's in handcuffs, the school bully has just found the secret portal that leads from the high school to the house, and Xander is sure he's found Mom, but they can't get back to her. Then Jesse arrives, and he seems to be a virtual Obi Wan of knowledge about the place. But is he the key they need to unlock the secrets, or just a crazy old man?

Dangers are increasing from within and without when Xander makes a startling discovery that explains why they haven't found any rooms that lead to the future. Alongside the threats, though, they're also starting to find some surprising allies.
All they have to do is get organized, get psyched, and get Mom. But that isn't nearly as easy as it sounds.

Xander, David, and Toria must venture beyond the gates to save their missing mother-and discover how truly high the stakes have become.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Gatekeepers
(Dreamhouse Kings #3)
, go HERE

What they're saying:

Review
"If you like creepy and mysterious, this is the house for you! Every room opens a door to magic, true horror, and amazing surprises. I loved wandering around in these books. With a house of so many great, haunting stories, why would you ever want to go outside?" --R.L. Stine (Goosebumps)

Review
"A powerhouse storyteller delivers his most fantastic ride yet!"
-Ted Dekker, bestselling author of Kiss, Chosen and Infidel

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand January 27, 2009




I keep my immediate TBR on my dresser instead of nightstand. So here are the books in picture form. :)


Monday, January 26, 2009

The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Red Siren

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)

by

M.L. Tyndall




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M. L. (MARYLU) TYNDALL grew up on the beaches of South Florida loving the sea and the warm tropics. But despite the beauty around her, she always felt an ache in her soul--a longing for something more.

After college, she married and moved to California where she had two children and settled into a job at a local computer company. Although she had done everything the world expected, she was still miserable. She hated her job and her marriage was falling apart.

Still searching for purpose, adventure and true love, she spent her late twenties and early thirties doing all the things the world told her would make her happy, and after years, her children suffered, her second marriage suffered, and she was still miserable.

One day, she picked up her old Bible, dusted it off, and began to read. Somewhere in the middle, God opened her hardened heart to see that He was real, that He still loved her, and that He had a purpose for her life, if she'd only give her heart to Him completely.

Her current releases in the Legacy of The Kings Pirates series include:The Restitution, The Reliance, and The Redemption and The Falcon And The Sparrow

ABOUT THE BOOK

Lady Faith Westcott has turned her back on God and on man. Having witnessed the hypocrisy in the Church of England, her older sister's abuse at the hand of her husband, and her own mother's untimely
death in childbirth, Faith has determined never to marry and to gain enough wealth so she and her two sisters will never have to depend on man or God again.

To that end, though a lady by day, she becomes a pirate by night and begins her sordid career off Portsmouth when she attacks and plunders a merchant ship commanded by the young Dajon Waite. Humiliated at being defeated by a pirate and a woman no less, Dajon returns home without cargo and ship, and his father expels him from the family merchant business.

After a brief sojourn into debased society, Dajon rejoins the Royal Navy, where he finds comfort in the strict rules and redemption through his service to others. Three years later, he is sent to the frontier outpost of Charles Town, South Carolina to deal with the pirate problem. There, he connects with his mentor and old friend, Admiral Westcott, who has just arrived with his three daughters.

Much to Dajon's utter dismay, Admiral Westcott, who is being called away to Spain, asks Dajon to be temporary guardian of his three lovely daughters. One of the ladies seems familiar to him, a striking redhead who immediately sends his heart thumping.

Faith recognizes Captain Waite as the buffoon whose ship she plundered off Portsmouth. Yet, he appears no longer the fool, but instead a tall, handsome and commanding naval officer. Despite her immediate attraction to him, she labels him the enemy, but sparks are guaranteed to fly during the next few months when independent, headstrong and rebellious Faith falls in love with God-fearing honorable, rule-following Dajon-especially when Faith continues her pirating off the Carolina coast while her father is away.

Will Dajon catch her? And what will this man of honor and duty do when he does?


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

My Review: I read this book in one sitting. It is very engaging. I enjoyed the plot line. A female pirate! It is an interesting story plot and character wise. Recommended.

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival $15 GC

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

For my giveaway I am offering a $15 dollar GC to any bookstore that I have access too also. For example Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

To enter leave a comment on this post with your favorite author and your email address. The contest ends Saturday January 31 at midnight.

To find out about more great giveaways go to http://www.bloggygiveaways.com/

Thank you for entering!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Salon and $15 GC Giveaway Information

The Sunday Salon.com

* I had a good reading weekend after a bad reading week. I read four books this weekend.

* I read The Red Siren by M. L. Tyndall, The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen, Coming Unglued by Rebecca Seitz, and Scrapping Plans by Rebecca Seitz.

* I really liked all of them. My favorite is probably Scrapping Plans by Rebecca Seitz which is book three in the Sisters Inc. series.

* I did not feel good at work last week so I am hoping this week will be better. I thought we might have a little radiation poisoning but not for sure. There was a leak in the MRI place right below us we knew nothing about until Friday afternoon when workers came to get on the roof in my department to fix it.

* More exciting is the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival is starting tomorrow and I will be offering a $15 GC to a book store of the winner's choosing. So come back tomorrow and enter on the official post. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Faith and Fiction Books with a Faith Element on My Keeper Shelf

This week's question is:
So...what fiction books with faith elements are on your keeper shelf? Please keep your answers to no more than 5 books!

I read a lot of books so my keeper shelf is getting bigger every year so I am going to list some of the older keepers on my shelf too.

1. The O'Malley series by Dee Henderson. I have all of her books. She is my all time favorite author.

2. What a Girl Wants by Kristin Billerbeck (The Ashley Stockingdale series)

3. The Hawk and the Jewel by Lori Wick (FYI I have not liked her books for the past few years. I have no idea what has happened so my favorites are some of her older ones)

4. Every Storm by Lori Wick (I love military books)

5. Off the Record by Elizabeth White

Most of the above books I have reread many times. They really are some of my all time favorite Christian fiction. If you have not read any of them I hope you will try some. I highly recommend all of them. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Winner of Never Say Diet Set

The Winner of the Never Say Diet set is

L. Diane Wolfe

Congratulations!


Here is your sequence:
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Timestamp: 2009-01-22 01:53:27 UTC

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)

by

Kaye Dacus



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.




ABOUT THE BOOK

When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

My Review:

I loved this book. It is going on my keeper shelf. This is a great chick-lit with the theme of forgiveness. It is full of southern charm. It has great characters and a wonderful plot. This is a great debut novel from Kaye Dacus. It is the start of a series and I cannot wait to read book two. I actually am ready to reread this one now! I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Salon January 18, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* Lately it seems I have been on a suspense/mystery book kick in between reading books for the childhood favorite reading challenge.

* I am loving going back and rereading the Babysitter's Club series. I forgot how much I loved them. I reread the Anne of Green Gables series last year.

* But I read a really good spiritual chick lit book called Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus that I will be reviewing tomorrow. I loved it. I think a lot of people would like it even if they are not into a spiritual twist on their books.

* I need to get started on some of my other reading challenges including some classics for the By the Decades and Victorian challenges.

* Tonight Wuthering Heights starts on Masterpiece theatre. I have been looking forward to this season. There is also going to be several Dickens books.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Winner of The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren

The Winner of The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren is ...

samf36 aka Sharold

Congratulations!


Here is your sequence:
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Timestamp: 2009-01-16 01:08:25 UTC

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sweetwater Gap by Denise Hunter


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sweetwater Gap

Thomas Nelson (December 16, 2008)

by

Denise Hunter




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!



ABOUT THE BOOK

A story of new beginnings from best-selling Romance for Good™ author Denise Hunter.
When Josephine's family insists she come home to help with the harvest, the timing works. But her return isn't simple benevolence-she plans to persuade the family to sell the failing orchard.

The new manager's presence is making it difficult. Grady MacKenzie takes an immediate disliking to Josephine and becomes outright cantankerous when she tries talking her family into selling. As she and Grady work side by side in the orchard, she begins to appreciate his devotion and quiet faith. She senses a vulnerability in him that makes her want to delve deeper, but there's no point letting her heart have its way-he's tied to the orchard, and she could never stay there.

A brush with death tears down Josephine's defenses and for the first time in her life, she feels freedom-freedom from the heavy burden of guilt, freedom to live her life the way it was intended, with a heart full of love.

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

My Review:

I loved this book. Definitely a keeper. It pulled me in and I did not want to put it down. Josie Mitchell returns home to the family Apple Orchard to help while her sister is pregnant with twins. Grady, the new manager, and Josie are at odds before they even really meet. She has not been home in six years even when her father died. What would make a girl like that? We find out as the novel progresses naturally. It flows very well and the characters are well developed. And the plot is touching and tugs at my heart. I do not want to give away too many details. I liked how it unfolded as I read. Over all a really sweet story with a spiritual thread that is not overwhelming but comes through great. The author does a good job making the reader feel at home in the Apple Orchard. I highly recommend this book! :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie


Raised in a British-held frontier town during the American Revolution, Isabelle Renoir is not like other women around her. A free spirit, she dances in the moonlight as a praise offering to God and is more at home fearlessly taking her long rifle and knife into the woods for adventure and inspiration.

But Isabelle’s latest journey may be more than even her strength can handle when a huge storm throws the raven-haired beauty off course and into the path of rugged American spy Samuel Holt. After matching wits and denying their passion for each other, they are attacked by Indians, held prisoner, and forced to watch the horrific killing of Isabelle’s brother. Now together but in captivity, they must fight spiritual forces that no knife or rifle could ever conquer in order to be free.

This is a wonderful story filled with strong characters that come alive in the pages. Although this is a historical there are no overwhelming details. It is woven into the story. This is a character driven story with a good plot. It is full of passion and daring. I would even call it semi edgy inspirational. Highly recommended! :)

For more information visit:
http://www.jamiecarie.com/wind-dancer.html

About the author:
Jamie Carie is an inspirational fiction novelist who believes in the power of “story” to touch hearts and change lives. Her debut novel, Snow Angel (September 2007), is a can’t-put-down story of redemption, hope and healing for the fallen and the broken. Her second novel, The Duchess and the Dragon (May 2008) is a passionate tale of love between a reckless duke and a serene Quaker woman. Jamie lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband and three boys… and a giant of a dog named Leo.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Kiss by Tedd Dekker and Erin Healy


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

KISS

Thomas Nelson (January 6, 2009)

by

Ted Dekker
and
Erin Healy


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), Obsessed, Renegade, and Chaos.

*******************

Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Gilbert Morris, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.

She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding storiesbefore their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."

Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a Colorado-based consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She and her husband, Tim, are the proud parents of two children

ABOUT THE BOOK

Let me tell you all I know for sure. My name. Shauna.
I woke up in a hospital bed missing six months of my memory. In the room was my loving boyfriend-how could I have forgotten him?-my uncle and my abusive stepmother. Everyone blames me for the tragic car accident that left me near death and my dear brother brain damaged. But what they say can't be true-can it?

I believe the medicine is doing strange things to my memory. I'm unsure who I can trust and who I should run from. And I'm starting to remember things I've never known. Things not about me. I think I'm going crazy.

And even worse, I think they want to kill me.

But who? And for what? Is dying for the truth really better than living with a lie?


Sometimes dying with the truth is better than living with a lie.

After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion.

Her estranged father, a senator bidding on the White House, and her abusive stepmother blame Shauna for the tragedy, which has left her beloved brother severely brain damaged. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it.

In this blind game of cat and mouse that stares even the darkest memories in the face, Shauna is sure of only one thing: if she remembers, she dies.

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

Watch the Video Trailer





What people are saying about KISS:
“The human brain could actually be the real final frontier—we know so little about it and yet it drives the world as we know it. So when authors like Erin and Ted bravely explore these mysterious regions, going into complex places like memory and soul and relationships, I become hooked. The creativity of this suspenseful story is sure to hook other readers as well. Very memorable!”
~Melody Carlson, author of Finding Alice and The Other Side of Darkness

“Dekker and Healy prove a winning team in this intriguing, imaginative thriller.”
~James Scott Bell, bestselling author of Try Darkness

“Kiss by Erin Healy and Ted Dekker is a superb thriller that hooked me from the first sentence. The original plot kept me guessing, and I may never look at a kiss the same way again. I’ll be watching for the next book!”
~Colleen Coble, author of Cry in the Night

“The writing team of Erin Healy and Ted Dekker has taken me through a page-turner with Kiss. It’s one of those books that you think about when you’re not reading it. I highly recommend it, especially if you don’t mind staying up late because you can’t put the book down!”
~Rene Gutteridge, author of Skid and My Life As a Doormat

My Review:

I loved this book. It was fantastic beginning to end. It held my attention from the beginning. The premise is interesting. It is definately suspenseful with a hint of romance in it. I loved the title and cover of the book. I thought it fit the book. I highly recommend this book. I look forward to more books from Ted Dekker and Erin Healy.

Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs (AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy of the book and trainer together. Deadline is Monday January 19 at midnight.***



About the Book:


Chantel Hobbs lost two hundred pounds without the help of surgery, pills, point systems, or a trendy diet. And just as important, she kept the weight off. Her dramatic turnaround began with five decisions–personal, no-excuses commitments that kept her from losing sight of her goals. It worked for Chantel and it will work for you. Once you unconditionally change your mind your body will follow, and your life will never be the same. In this book you will discover: ·How to move beyond past failures and get over your old excuses ·How changing your eating patterns can break food’s hold over you·Why winning the weight-loss battle must come from the inside out ·The simple workouts that deliver lasting results and are fun to do·How to overcome the naysayers, the diet police, and your own nagging doubts·How to prioritize your health, juggle family and career, and stay motivated when life takes unexpected turns·Why the diet industry wants you to keep coming back ·And much more! You will find straight talk on developing the determination, commitment, and personal responsibility it takes to achieve weight loss that lasts. It’s time to stop getting ready for the event and start getting ready for life!




About the Author:

Chantel Hobbs is a personal trainer, certified spinning instructor, and motivational speaker whose no-excuses approach to fitness has won her a grateful following across the country. The author of Never Say Diet, Chantel hosts a weekly fitness program on Reach FM radio and is a regular guest on Way FM. Her “Ditch the Diet, Do the Weekend” bootcamp takes place several times a year in a variety of locations. She has presented her unique approach to lasting fitness in People magazine and on Oprah, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fox News, The 700 Club, Living the Life, and Paula White Today. Chantel enjoys life with her husband and their four children in South Florida .

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Salon January 11, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* I finished Kiss by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy today. It was great. I think it will appeal to mainstream as well as Christian fiction because it is well written and the faith element is not overbearing. My full review will be up tomorrow.

* I am reading lots of books for my reading challenges. I have lost count of how many. This weekend I joined two more. The 2nds challenge and the Science Challenge. I think I have gone reading challenge crazy.

* I am way behind on reviews to post. There are two I really have to get posted I finished in 2008. I am going to try and review all the books for challenges I am doing and of course my review books in 2009.

* So Many Books So Little Time :)

Science Book Challenge 2009


I can't believe I am joining another reading challenge but I can't resist. I love this button and science. My BS is in Biology with a minor in Secondary Education and my MS is in Biology.
Visit the link below to read all the rules and sign up.
Basically:

Read at least three nonfiction books in 2009 related somehow to the theme "Nature's Wonders". Your books should have something to do with science, scientists, how science operates, or science's relationship with its surrounding culture. Your books might be popularizations of science, they might be histories, they might be biographies, they might be anthologies; they can be recent titles or older books. We take a very broad view of what makes for interesting and informative science reading.

After you've read a book, write a short note about it, giving your opinion of the book. What goes in the note? The things you would tell a friend if you wanted to convince your friend to read it--or avoid it. Naturally, you can read some of the existing Book Notes for ideas. You might like to read our Book-note ratings for ideas about how to evaluate your books.
My List:
1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
2. Good Germs, Bad Germs: Health and Survival in a Bacterial World by Jessica Snyder Sachs
3. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Subject to change though. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2nds Challenge 2009

I am joining another reading challenge. :)

Here are the guidelines:
1. Anyone can join. You don't need to have a blog to participate.
2. Read 12 books by authors that you have only read once. It doesn't have to be a series.
3. You can join anytime between now and December 31, 2009. Don't start reading until January.
4. You may list your chosen books any time during the year. Change the list if needed.

My List:
1. Coming Unglued by Rebecca Seitz (Done)
2. City of the Dead by T. L. Higley (Done)
3. The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen (Done)
4. Return Policy by Michael Synder
5. Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva (Done)
6. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (Done)
7. How Sweet It Is by Alice J. Wisler
8. June Bug by Chris Fabry (Done)
9. Out of Time by Paul McCusker (Done)
10. If Tomorrow Never Comes by Marlo Schlesky (Done)
11. The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello (Done)
12. Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo (Done)

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday January 10, 2009

Amy at http://www.myfriendamysblog.com/ hosts a question every Saturday called Faith 'n Fiction.


Today's Question:


There are a lot of great new books being published in 2009! But which ones are you the most excited about? Please pick some Christian fiction books you are excited to read this year and tell us all about them! But just to give this a little twist...be sure to visit everyone else's posts and find some books you might be interested in reading as well that are different from your picks! It will come in handy for a fun bonus question next


I am so excited about lots of new books coming out:


A Vote of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher.

In A Vote of Confidence, the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a “man’s world.”Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life. For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she’s in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he’s building north of town. When the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lose in order to win.
Taking Tuscany by Renee Riva which is the sequel to Saving Sailor which my whole family loved.


A. J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country... until her family decided to stay. It's 1972 and she's turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her blonde hair makes her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti, and she's so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent.
The challenges of roots and relatives are nothing new to A. J., but she's going to need more than the famous Degulio sense of humor to survive. Can't anyone see that Italy isn't really home? It will take a catastrophe - and a few wise words from a friend - for A. J. to understand that sometimes the only thing you can change is your perspective.



Return Policy by Michael Synder


I loved his first My Name is Russell Fink. In his second book, novelist Michael Snyder introduces us to three very unusual and distinct voices all torn by tragedy: Willy Finneran, washed-up genre novelist with an espresso maker that just won’t die and a habit of avoiding conflict even if it means putting the truth on a sliding scale. Ozena Webb, single mother and Javatek’s top customer service representative. She spends every evening playing board games with her twelve-year-old son who is mentally crippled from an early childhood accident. Shaq, a small and scraggy homeless man with trauma-induced blank spots on his memory, trying to piece together the story of his life while assisting Father Joe at the Mercy Mission. As their stories intersect, the narrative vacillates between hope and naïveté, comic relief and postmodern ennui. Startling in its authenticity, this unforgettable novel reveals that no matter how far one has strayed from hope, there is always a way to return.


A Moment Between by Nicole Baart. Her first two books are After the Leaves Fall and Summer Snow both of which were favorites of mine for 2008.
Abigail Bennett was completely in control of her life until tragedy pushed her to the brink of something she's never experienced: Obsession. Now she's given up everything she's worked for to chase down the object of that obsession. His name is Tyler Kamp. As Abigail follows him across the border into Canada, her journey is awash in memories of family and childhood, especially those of her younger sister, Hailey. Even as Abigail races into her future, her past pulls her back. Only when she is brought to the edge of her obsession will she be able to come to terms with the tragedy that ignited it.



Try Fear by James Scott Bell. I love the Try series including Try Dying and Try Darkness.





I cannot find a description but it is the third book in the Buchcan series.



Spring of Candy Apples by Debbie Viguie. Join Candy Thompson on a sweet, lighthearted, and honest romp through the friendships, romances, family, school, faith, and values that make a girl’s lie as full as it can be.It’s the end of Candace’s senior year, and life’s getting sticky.A promotion to The Zone’s Candy Counter means Candace gets to create gooey treats all day long. She is a finalist for The Zone’s college scholarship (Florida anyone?), things with Kurt are getting really weird, and she’s bothered by all the questions about her future. Not unlike the challenge of making candy apples, Candace struggles to resist getting stuck and believe in what is truly at her core.



The House in Grosvenor Square by Linore Rose Burkard. Readers who loved the author’s first book, Before the Season Ends, will delight in this charming sequel set in Regency London. I loved the first book and am highly antipating the second.







Meltdown (Task Force Valor Series Three) by Chuck Holton. The global war on terror has reached catastrophic proportions, leading the U.S. Special Operations EOD team–Task Force Valor–to Chernobyl, where ghosts of past disasters are nothing compared to the nuclear nightmare about to unfold. With CIA Agent Mary “Phoenix” Walker heading her first Special Ops mission and Master Sergeant Bobby Sweeney fighting demons on and off the battlefield, Task Force Valor races to stop a terrorist threat in the Ukraine before Europe is turned into a radioactive wasteland. But when the terror reaches American shores, the team is powerless to help until they can save themselves. And when they finally track down the source of the chaos, what they find is worse than anything they could have imagined.



Nothing but Trouble (PJ Sugar Series #1) by Susan May Warren. From the Back Cover



PJ Sugar knows three things for sure: After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that’s become her life, she needs a fresh start. The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister’s wedding is Boone—her former flame and the reason she left town. Her best friend’s husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade. What PJ doesn’t know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she’ll uncover much more than she bargained for—a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she’s been longing for.
The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.
After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.




If I had a list of everything being published this year I am sure I could come up with more. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Great Contest at Maureen Lang's blog

A Great Contest is going on at author Maureen Lang's blog. She is giving away a copy of her three books, a $25 GC to amazon, and chocolate in a basket. :) All you have to do is go to her blog or website and enter to receive her newsletter by email. For more information go here: http://maureenlang.blogspot.com/2008/12/gracious-me.html

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Fireflies in December

Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jennifer Erin Valent is the winner of the Christian Writers Guild’s 2007 Operation First Novel contest for Fireflies in December, her first published novel. When she’s not penning novels, Jennifer works as a nanny and freelance writer in Richmond, VA.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324324
ISBN-13: 978-1414324326

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I’d killed a man.

That’s a heavy burden for a girl to hang on to, but it didn’t surprise me so much to have that trouble come in the summertime. Every bad thing that ever happened to me seemed to happen in those long months.

The summer I turned five, Granny Rose died of a heart attack during the Independence Day fireworks. The summer I turned seven, my dog Skippy ran away with a tramp who jumped the train to Baltimore. And the summer I turned eleven, a drought took the corn crop and we couldn’t have any corn for my birthday, which is what I’d always done because my favorite food was corn from Daddy’s field, boiled in a big pot.

To top it off, here in the South, summers are long and hot and sticky. They drag on and on, making slow things seem slower and bad things seem worse.

The fear and guilt of the summer of 1932 still clings to my memory like the wet heat of southern Virginia. That year we had unbearable temperatures, and we had trouble, just that it was trouble of a different kind. It was the beginning of a time that taught me bad things can turn into good things, even though sometimes it takes a while for the good to come out.

The day I turned thirteen was one of those summer days when the air is so thick, you can see wavy lines above the tar on the rooftops. The kind of day when the sound of cicadas vibrates in your ears and everything smells like grass.

On that day, as Momma got ready for my birthday party, I told her that I wanted nothing to do with watermelon this year.

“We have some fine ones,” she told me. “Just don’t eat any.”

“But the boys will spit the seeds at us like they do all the time,” I said. “And they’ll hit me extra hard today since it’s my birthday.”

“I’ll tell them not to,” she said absentmindedly as she checked her recipe again with that squinched-up look she always got when trying to concentrate.

I knew I was only another argument or two from being scolded, but I tried again. “Those boys won’t listen to you.”

“Those boys will listen to me if they want to eat,” she replied before muttering something about needing a cup of oleo.

“They don’t even listen to Teacher at school, Momma.”

That last reply had done it, and I stepped back a ways as Momma picked up her wooden spoon and peered at me angrily, her free hand on her apron-covered hip. “Jessilyn Lassiter, I won’t have you arguin’ with me. Now get on out of this house before your jabberin’ makes me mess up my biscuits.”

I knew better than to take another chance with her, and I went outside to sit on my tree swing. If God wasn’t going to send us any breeze for my birthday, I was bound and determined to make my own, so I started pumping my legs to work up some speed. The breeze was slight but enough to give me a little relief.

I saw Gemma come out of the house carrying a big watermelon and a long knife, and I knew she had been sent out by her momma to cut it up. Gemma’s momma helped mine with chores, and her daddy worked in the fields. Sometimes Gemma would help her momma with things, and it always made me feel guilty to see her doing chores that I should have been doing. So I dug my feet into the dry dirt below me to slow down and hopped off the swing with a long leap, puffing dust up all around me.

I wandered to the picnic table where Gemma was rolling the green melon around to find just the right spot to cut into. “I guess this is for my party.”

“That’s what your momma says.”

“Are you comin’?”

“My momma never lets me come to your parties.”

“So? Ain’t never a time you can’t start somethin’ new. It’s my party, anyways.”

“It ain’t proper for the help to socialize with the family’s friends, Momma says.”

“Your momma and daddy have been workin’ here for as long as I can remember. You’re as close to family as we got around here, as I see it. I ain’t got no grandparents or nothin’.”

Gemma scoffed at me with a sarcastic laugh. “When was the last time you saw one brown girl and one white girl in the same family?”

I shrugged and watched her slice through the watermelon, both of us backing away to avoid the squirting juices.

“Looks like a good one,” Gemma said as the fragrant smell floated by on the first bit of a breeze we’d seen all day.

“All I see are seeds for the boys to hit me with.”

“Why do you let them boys pick on you?”

“I don’t let ’em. I always push ’em or somethin’. But they’re all bigger than me. What do you want me to do? Pick a fight?”

“Guess not.” A piece of the melon’s flesh flopped onto the table as Gemma cut it, and she popped it into her mouth thoughtfully. “I’ll never know why boys got to be so mean.”

“It’s part of their recipe, I guess.” I helped by piling the slices on a big platter, and I strategically picked as many seeds as I could find off the pieces before I stacked them. Never mind my dirty hands. “You come by around two o’clock,” I told her adamantly. “I’ll get you some cake and lemonade. You’re my best friend. You should be at my party.”

Gemma shushed me and shoved an elbow into my ribs as her momma went walking by us.

“Gemma Teague,” her momma said, “you girls gettin’ your chores done?”

“Ain’t got no chores of my own, Miss Opal,” I told her. “I figured on helpin’ Gemma instead.”

“Then you two make certain you keep your minds on your work, ya hear?”

“Yes’m,” we both mumbled.

Gemma’s momma walked past, but she looked back at us a couple times with a funny look on her face like she figured we were planning something.

In a way we were, but I didn’t see it as being a big caper or anything, so I continued by saying, “You know, I ain’t seein’ any sense in you not at least askin’ your momma if you can come by for cake. She’s usually understandin’ about things.”

“Every year it’s the same thing from you, Jessie. She won’t let me come, and besides, I’ll bet your momma don’t want me here no more than my momma does. It just ain’t done.”

“‘It just ain’t done’!” I huffed. “Who makes up these rules, anyhow?”

Gemma kept her eyes on her work and said nothing, but I knew her well enough to see that she didn’t understand her words anymore than I did.

Momma called me from the open kitchen window, but I ignored it and kept after Gemma. “Now listen. You just come on by after we’ve cut the cake and pretend to clean up somethin’, and I’ll be sure you get some.”

“Ain’t no way I’m gettin’ in trouble for some cake and lemonade that I’ll get after the party anyhow,” she argued. “You’re just bein’ stubborn.”

I sighed when Momma called me again. “She’s gonna tell me to take a bath, I bet. You’d think at thirteen I’d be old enough to stop havin’ my momma order me to take baths.”

“You’d never take one otherwise,” Gemma said. “Ain’t nobody wants to smell you then.”

“I hate takin’ baths on days this sticky. My hair never dries.”

“Takin’ a bath on a hot day ain’t never bad.”

“It is when the water’s hot as the air is.”

Gemma shook her head at me like she always did when I was being hardheaded. “Water’s water. Cools you off any which way.”

I didn’t believe her, but I headed off to the kitchen, where Momma had filled the big metal tub we’d had to take baths in ever since the bathroom faucets broke. The sheet she’d hung across the doorway into the next room flapped as the breeze I’d prayed for began to pick up.

I hopped out of my dungarees in one quick leap and crawled into the tub. “It’s hot as boiled water,” I complained.

“Well then, we’ll have you for supper,” Momma replied as she measured out flour, obviously undisturbed by my discomfort. “Your guests will start gettin’ here in a half hour, so don’t dawdle unless you want everyone findin’ you in the tub.”

“Yes’m.”

“And don’t forget to clean behind your ears.”

“Yes’m.”

Water splashed as I washed with my usual lack of grace, landing droplets about the kitchen floor. It didn’t really matter since Momma always made a mess when she cooked and the floor would need cleaning after she was done. No doubt the flour and water would mix into a fine paste, though, and she’d have a few words to mutter as she tried to scrub it up. As she measured sugar, I could hear her praying, “Oh, dear Jesus, let me have enough.” Momma prayed about anything anytime, anywhere.

By the time I’d scrubbed and dried, the smell of biscuits was drifting through the house and Momma was putting the oil on for the chicken. She was a good cook, no matter the mess, and she always put on quite a show for these birthday parties.

As I walked up to my room, wrapped in a ragged blue towel, I heard Momma call after me not to forget to put on my dress. Then she added, “Please, Lord, let the girl look presentable.” I think Momma often wondered why, if she was to be blessed with a girl, she had to get one that mostly acted like a boy.

“No dungarees!” she added. “And put on your church shoes.”

I rolled my eyes, knowing she was nowhere near me. I would never have dared to do it in front of her. I hated dressing up, but for every birthday, holiday, church day, and trip into town, I had to wear one of the three dresses that Momma had made me. She was as fine with a needle as she was with a frying pan, but I hated dresses nonetheless. Mostly because when I wore them, I had to sit all proper in my chair, and I couldn’t do cartwheels, at least not without getting yelled at. But I put on the dress because I had to and buckled up my church shoes.

I could hear Daddy’s footsteps coming down the hall, and I turned to smile at him as he stopped at my doorway.

“Lookin’ pretty, dumplin’,” Daddy said.

“That’s too bad.”

“Now, now. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a girl lookin’ like a girl.”

“Who says wearin’ dresses is the only way to look like a girl?”

Coming into the room, his dirty boots leaving marks that Momma would complain about later, Daddy tossed his hat onto a chair and helped me finish tying the bow on the back of the dress. “We don’t make the rules; we just follow ’em.”

“Well, someone had to make the rules in the first place. We should just make new ones.”

“No doubt you will one day, Jessilyn,” he said with a sigh. “But for now, you’d best follow your momma’s instructions. She ain’t one to be disobeyed.”

“Are you gonna be at the party?” I asked hopefully, knowing full well that he’d been in the fields all morning and looked in need of a nap.

“Wouldn’t miss it, you know that. I got the corn on already.” Daddy rubbed his tired eyes, picked up his hat, and walked out, whacking the hat against his leg to loosen the dust.

He worked hard, especially this time of year, and no matter how many men were willing to work the fields, he would always put in his fair share alongside them. I had suspected of late, however, that he was working harder more out of necessity than a sense of duty. We’d had fewer men to help than in years past, and it wasn’t due to lack of interest, I was sure. I’d seen my daddy turn three men away just the day before.

Things were poor, especially in our parts, and for having a working farm and a good truck, we were fortunate. We even had some conveniences that other people envied, like a fancy icebox and a telephone, and Momma was pretty proud of that. We weren’t rich like Mayor Tuttle and his wife, with their big columned house and fancy motor car, but we were thought to be well-off just the same. Momma and Daddy never talked money in front of me, and I decided not to fuss with it. It caused too many problems for adults from what I could see. What did I want to do with it?

I made my way downstairs and stepped out onto the porch, disappointed to see Buddy Pernell was the first to arrive. I didn’t like Buddy very much. But then, I didn’t like many kids very much. I thanked him for coming—mainly because Momma’s glare told me to—and received the plate of cookies his momma handed me. In those days, we didn’t give gifts at parties; it was too extravagant. But every momma felt it only proper to bring some sort of favor along.

By the time we had a full crowd, one side of the food table was filled with jars of jelly, bowls of sugared strawberries, a couple pies, and even one tub of pickled pigs’ feet. I promptly removed those, but Momma stopped me cold.

“We accept all gifts with thanks, Jessilyn,” she hissed in my ear as she replaced the tub on the table.

“Even pigs’ feet?” I argued.

“Yes ma’am! Even pigs’ feet.”

It took only ten minutes before the first watermelon seed landed in my hair. All the other girls started screaming and ran for cover, but I fought back at the boys out of sheer pride. I did a little shoving, Momma did some yelling, but I got pummeled anyhow.

After we finished eating lunch, I spotted Gemma hanging laundry on the line and ran over to get her help brushing all those sticky seeds out of my hair.

“You ought to not let ’em do this to you,” she said.

“I told you before,” I said with my eyes shut tight to stand the pain of Gemma’s brushing, “they’re all bigger than me.”

“I think they’re too big for their britches. That’s the problem.”

“Maybe so, but that don’t change nothin’. I still can’t whip ’em.”

“Well, I did the best I could.” Gemma peered closely at my sun-streaked hair. “I can’t see no more.”

“Just wait till we go swimmin’,” I told her. “I’ll find some critter to stick down Buddy Pernell’s knickers. He’s the one leadin’ the boys in the spittin’.”

“You best be careful. Them boys might do somethin’ to hurt you back.”

“I ain’t scared of them,” I lied. “Besides, they got it comin’.”

Gemma shook her head and grabbed a pair of Daddy’s socks to hang on the line. “You’re stubborn as a mule, Jessie.”

I figured she was right, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of hearing me say it. Instead, I rejoined the party, grabbed a piece of cake, and stood by watching the boys scuff about with each other, playing some kind of roughhouse tag. The other girls stood around watching the boys, giggling over how cute this one was and how strong that one was. I couldn’t figure them out.

“All that fussin’ over boys,” I said through a mouthful of frosting. “If you girls had any smarts, you’d be playin’ tag right along with ’em.”

“Why don’t you?” Ginny Lee Kidrey asked.

“I’m eatin’. Ain’t no reason to stuff down cake when I can play tag anytime I want.”

“You’re just a tomboy, Jessie Lassiter,” said Dolly Watson, who always wore dresses and perfume that smelled like dead roses. “What do you know about boys?”

“Enough to know that they ain’t worth wastin’ time on.”

The girls turned their noses up at me—all but Ginny Lee, who was the only real friend I had outside of Gemma, and even she had started to become more like the other girls of late.

The only reason I even had those other children at the party was because Momma insisted on it. She liked entertaining guests, but in our parts we didn’t have much chance to entertain, and she took every chance she got. So every year I had to invite the kids from school to interrupt my summer vacation and celebrate my June birthday with a party. The only thing I ever liked about those parties was the food. I would have been satisfied to spend my birthday having boiled corn with Gemma.

Buddy Pernell stopped in front of me and tugged at my braid. “Still stuffin’ your face?” he asked with a smirk. “Don’t you like to do nothin’ but eat?”

Knowing my short temper, all the boys loved to tease me just to see how much they could rile me. I responded to Buddy in my usual way. “I just like standin’ here watchin’ you boys beat each other up. And besides, ain’t nothin’ wrong with eatin’.”

“There is if it makes you fat.”

“I ain’t fat!”

“You keep eatin’ like that and you’ll be fat as your momma.”

Now, my momma wasn’t fat. I knew that as well as I knew that Buddy Pernell’s momma was. But it didn’t matter. True or not, he’d insulted my momma, and it took me no time at all to react by shoving what was left of my cake right into Buddy’s face, making extra sure to push upward so the frosting would fill his freckled nose.

Buddy wasn’t so brave then. He began clawing at his face like I’d thrown acid on it, crying something fierce about not being able to breathe.

Momma ran over, hysterical, simultaneously scolding me and coddling Buddy. I responded to her by saying I’d never heard of anyone suffocating on cake before, but she didn’t appreciate my rationalizing. I got a whack from her left hand and Buddy got a wipe across his face from her right.

The other boys were laughing, throwing insults at Buddy about how he’d gotten shown up by a girl, but he was too worried about not being able to breathe through his nose to hear them.

I watched with a smile as Buddy’s momma grabbed a cloth and ordered him to blow his nose into it. Buddy blew like his brains needed to come out, and eventually he found that he was able to breathe right again, although his momma insisted on getting a good look up his nose to be certain that it was clear of frosting.

The boys loved the picture of Buddy having his nose inspected by his momma, and they couldn’t get enough of the jokes about it.

I got hauled into the house for a scolding and a whipping. I tried telling Momma that thirteen was too old for whippings, but she said if I was acting like a child, I should be punished like one. Every time I got another whack with that wooden spoon, I thought of a new way to make Buddy pay for the walloping. After all, if he hadn’t made fun of my momma, I wouldn’t have made him snort up that cake.

I took my punishment without explaining because I didn’t want to hurt Momma’s feelings by telling her what Buddy had said, and I made my way slowly and sorely back out to the party with revenge in my mind.

Gemma saw the silent tears that I’d been biting my lip to keep from letting out, and she came over to wipe them with her apron.

I smiled at her halfway. “I’m okay. At least I will be once I get back at Buddy.”

“Get back at him? He’s the one who’ll be wantin’ to get back at you.”

“Just let him try. I wouldn’t have gotten that whippin’ if he hadn’t made fun of my momma in the first place.”

“Don’t you go talkin’ like that. He’s already got it in for you, and if you do anythin’ else, he’ll go and do somethin’ awful.”

“I ain’t afraid of him!”

Gemma shook her braided head at me. “You talk tough, but you won’t be so tough if Buddy Pernell hurts you bad.”

I sniffed at her like she was worrying over nothing, but I knew deep down that I could have been asking for trouble by playing with Buddy. Boys with no sense can be dangerous, my momma had told me a few times, but my stubbornness didn’t leave any room for being cautious. I was determined to hold a grudge against Buddy, and that was that. But I could see that Buddy was keeping his eye out for his first chance to get back at me, and I watched him with a little worry in my heart as he and the other boys stood together in whispers.

I tried to pretend I wasn’t nervous, and when Gemma got called into the house, I joined the other girls, who’d gone back to twirling their hair and talking about the boys.

With the boys standing around making plans and the girls standing around watching them, my mother got irritated and told us to find something active to do. “Go on down to the swimmin’ hole. Get some exercise, for land’s sake.”

All of us girls went to my bedroom to put on our swimming suits, but with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat, I changed slower than them all. Gemma had been right, I figured. I’d be paying, and good, and the perfect place for Buddy to get me would be at the secluded swimming hole.

After I’d changed, I went downstairs to find my momma. “Maybe we shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole,” I told her while she was making up another batch of sweet tea.

“It’s hot as hades out there. It’ll do you all good.”

“It’s not that hot.”

Momma stopped scrubbing and looked at me strangely. “Were you in the same air I’ve been in today? It’s thick as molasses.”

“But swimmin’ ain’t no fun.”

“You love swimmin’.”

“Not today, I don’t.”

By now, Momma was curious, and she wiped her hands on her apron before placing them on her hips. “Why don’t you just up and tell me what’s got you so ornery?”

“I ain’t ornery!”

“Don’t argue with me, girl. If I say you’re ornery, then you’re ornery.”

I looked down at my toes and sighed. I couldn’t tell Momma that Buddy had called her fat, and I didn’t want to show her I was afraid, anyway.

“Tell me one reason why you shouldn’t go to the swimmin’ hole.”

I continued staring at my dusty feet and shrugged.

“You don’t know, I guess you’re sayin’. Well, if you ain’t got a reason, you best be headin’ out to that swimmin’ hole. I’m too busy to wonder what’s goin’ on in that silly head of yours.”

I could feel Momma watching me as I scuffed out of the kitchen without another word, letting the screen door slam behind me. I took several steps before glancing back at Momma through the window, where she stood humming some hymn I remembered hearing in church. I took a deep breath. In my dramatic mind, it was as if I were saying a final good-bye. Who knew if I’d come back from that swimming hole alive? Momma would feel pretty bad if I ended up dying, and she’d have to live the rest of her life knowing she’d sent me to my death.

Poor Momma.

My Review:

Jessilyn Lassiter and Gemma are best friends. Gemma is black and Jessilyn is white. The only problem is it is the 1930s south where racial predjuice is prevalent. One summer Gemma's parents house burned up with them in it and Gemma is homeless. Jessilyn's father takes Gemma to live with them like family even though Jessilyn's mother was afraid of the community. This is a touching growing up story in the south. This is Jennifer's debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her books.

Winner of Only Nuns Change Habits

The Winner of Only Nuns Change Habits is...

Grateful Gramma

Congratulations!


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Timestamp: 2009-01-08 01:38:58 UTC

The Perfect Match by Susan May Warren (AND GIVEAWAY)

***Leave a comment by midnight on January 14 to be entered to win a copy***

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Perfect Match

(Tyndale House January 1, 2009)

by

Susan May Warren



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota's north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan's novels, on her website, HERE.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Ellie Karlson is new to Deep Haven. As the town’s interim fire chief, she is determined to lead the local macho fire crew in spite of their misconceptions about her. But when someone begins setting deadly fires, Ellie faces the biggest challenge of her life. Especially when sparks fly with one of the volunteers on her crew: Pastor Dan Matthews. As Ellie battles to do her job and win the respect of her crew, she finds that there is one fire she can’t fight—the one Dan has set in her heart.
(This book is the repackaged edition published in 2004)

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

Awards:

2004 American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year

A Romantic Times Magazine TOP PICK – 4½ stars

Review:

Romantic Times Magazine:
Vibrant characters and vivid language zoom this action-packed romance to the top of the charts. This is a one-sitting read –once you pick it up, you won't want to put it down.

My Review: I love Susan May Warren. She is one of my absolute favorite authors. The book we are touring today was originally published in 2004 and I thought it sounded familiar but I was not positive I have read it. Well I have but I am rereading it because I love her books. It is book three in the Deep Haven series. There are few minor details that would require reading the previous two in order. I recommend the whole series. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

5 Mintues for Books Classics Bookclub-Hamlet

This month's selection was Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
Apparently I am not good at reading plays without a teacher. I did not finish Hamlet. I think I am going to rent one of the movies others are recommending and then try it again.

Blood Lines by Mel Odom



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!




Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



Blood Lines

Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mel Odomis a best-selling author with many published works to his credit. Mel has been inducted into the Oklahoma Professional Writers Hall of Fame and received the Alex Award for his fantasy novel The Rover. Paid in Blood was the first book in Mel’s three-book Military NCIS series. He has also published four military thrillers with Tyndale House; Apocalypse Dawn, Apocalypse Crucible, Apocalypse Burning and Apocalypse Unleashed. Mel teaches courses in forensic investigation, crime-scene investigation, profiling, and cold-case investigation. Mel and his family reside in Oklahoma City.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (December 8, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414316356
ISBN-13: 978-1414316352

From the back cover:

A young Marine is seriously wounded in a heinous carjacking.An NCIS agent is shot taking down a suspect.Two fathers fight to protect their sons.And somewhere in the jungles of Vietnam, a U.S. soldier lies in a forty-year-old grave.

Commander Will Coburn’s NCIS team is investigating the carjacking and assault of a young Marine and his wife. All evidence points to Bobby Lee Gant, the son of notorious criminal and suspected international drug smuggler Victor Gant. When NCIS agent Shel McHenry is wounded and Bobby Lee killed during a botched arrest, the team rallies around Shel even as Victor threatens retribution for his son’s death.

Meanwhile, in west Texas, Shel’s father, Tyrel McHenry, struggles with his own demons as the events of his past threaten his son’s life. As the NCIS team works to stay one step ahead of Victor Gant, Tyrel faces the most difficult decision of his life as buried secrets from a war long since fought come to light. The path he chooses will change his—and Shel’s—life forever

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Gymnasium

Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

1203 Hours

“Did you come here to play basketball or wage war?”

Shelton McHenry, gunnery sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, shook the sweat out of his eyes and ignored the question. After long minutes of hard exertion, his breath echoed inside his head and chest. His throat burned. Despite the air-conditioning, the gym felt hot. He put his hands on his head and sucked in a deep breath of air. It didn’t help. He still felt mean.

There was no other word for it. He wanted the workout provided by the game, but he wanted it for the physical confrontation rather than the exercise. He had hoped it would burn through the restless anger that rattled within him.

Normally when he got like this, he tried to stay away from other people. He would gather up Max, the black Labrador retriever that was his military canine partner, and go for a run along a secluded beach until he exhausted the emotion. Sometimes it took hours.

That anger had been part of him since he was a kid. He had never truly understood it, but he’d learned to master it—for the most part—a long time ago. But now and again, there were bad days when it got away from him. Usually those bad days were holidays.

Today was Father’s Day. It was the worst of all of them. Even Christmas, a time when families got together, wasn’t as bad as Father’s Day. During the heady rush of Christmas—muted by the sheer effort and logistics of getting from one place to another after another, of making sure presents for his brother’s kids were intact and wrapped and not forgotten, of preparing and consuming the endless supply of food—he could concentrate on something other than his father.

But not today. Never on Father’s Day.

The anger was bad enough, but the thing that totally wrecked him and kicked his butt was the guilt. Even though he didn’t know what to do, there was no escaping the fact that he should be doing something. He was supposed to be back home.

Usually he was stationed somewhere and could escape the guilt by making a quick phone call, offering up an apology, and losing himself back in the field. But after taking the MOS change to Naval Criminal Investigative Service, he was free on weekends unless the team was working a hot case.

At present, there were no hot cases on the horizon. There wasn’t even follow-up to anything else they’d been working on. He’d had no excuse for not going. Don, his brother, had called a few days ago to find out if Shel was coming. Shel had told him no but had offered no reason. Don had been kind enough not to ask why. So Shel was stuck with the anger, guilt, and frustration.

“You hearing me, gunney?”

Shel restrained the anger a step before it got loose. Over on the sidelines of the gym, Max gave a tentative bark. The Labrador paced uneasily, and Shel knew the dog sensed his mood.

Dial it down, he told himself. Just finish up here. Be glad you’re able to work through it.

He just wished it helped more.

“Yeah,” Shel said. “I hear you.”

“Good. ’Cause for a second there I thought you’d checked out on me.” Remy Gautreau mopped his face with his shirt.

He was young and black, hard-bodied but lean, where Shel looked like he’d been put together with four-by-fours. Gang tattoos in blue ink showed on Remy’s chest and abdomen when he’d lifted his shirt. Shel had noticed the tattoos before, but he hadn’t asked about them. Even after working together for more than a year, it wasn’t something soldiers talked about.

Before he’d entered the Navy and trained as a Navy SEAL, Remy Gautreau had been someone else. Most enlisted had. Then whatever branch of military service they signed on for changed them into someone else. The past was shed as easily as a snake lost its skin. Men and women were given a different present for that time and usually ended up with a different future than they would have had.

But they don’t take away the past, do they? Shel asked himself. They just pretend it never happened.

“Where you been?” Remy asked.

“Right here.” Shel broke eye contact with the other man. He could lie out in the field when it was necessary, but he had trouble lying to friends. “Playing center.”

Remy was part of the NCIS team that Shel was currently assigned to. His rank was chief petty officer. He wore bright orange knee-length basketball shorts and a white Tar Heels basketball jersey. Shel wore Marine-issue black shorts and a gray sweatshirt with the sleeves hacked off. Both men bore bullet and knife scars from previous battles.

The other group of players stood at their end of the basketball court. Other groups of men were waiting their turn.

Shel and Remy were playing iron man pickup basketball. The winning team got to stay on the court, but they had to keep winning. While they were getting more tired, each successive team rested up. Evading fatigue, learning to play four hard and let the fifth man rest on his feet, was a big part of staying on top. It was a lot like playing chess.

“You’ve been here,” Remy agreed in a soft voice. “But this ain’t where your head’s been. You just been visiting this game.”

“Guy’s good, Remy. I’m doing my best.”

The other team’s center was Del Greene, a giant at six feet eight inches tall—four inches taller than Shel. But he was more slender than Shel, turned better in the tight corners, and could get up higher on the boards. Rebounding the ball after each shot was an immense struggle, but once in position Shel was hard to move. He’d come down with his fair share of rebounds.

Basketball wasn’t Shel’s game. He’d played it all through high school, but football was his chosen gladiator’s field in the world of sports. He had played linebacker and had been offered a full-ride scholarship to a dozen different colleges. He had opted for the Marines instead. Anything to shake the dust of his father’s cattle ranch from his boots. None of the colleges had been far enough away for what he had wanted at the time. After all those years of misunderstandings on the ranch, Shel had just wanted to be gone.

“You’re doing great against that guy,” Remy said. “Better than I thought you would. He’s a better basketball player, but you’re a better thinker. You’re shutting him down. Which is part of the problem. You’re taking his game away from him and it’s making him mad. Problem is, you got no finesse. He’s wearing you like a cheap shirt. If we had a referee for this game, you’d already have been tossed for personal fouls.”

“Yeah, well, he doesn’t play like a homecoming queen himself.” Shel wiped his mouth on his shirt. The material came away bloody. He had caught an elbow in the face last time that had split the inside of his cheek. “He’s not afraid of dishing it out.”

“Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t say that fool didn’t have it coming, but I am saying that this isn’t the time or the place for a grudge match.” Remy wiped his face with his shirt again. “The last thing we need is for Will to have to come down and get us out of the hoosegow over a basketball game. He’s already stressed over Father’s Day because he’s having to share his time with his kids’ new stepfather.”

Shel knew United States Navy Commander Will Coburn to be a fine man and officer. He had followed Will into several firefights during their years together on the NCIS team.

The marriage of Will’s ex-wife was only months old. Everyone on the team knew that Will had taken the marriage in stride as best as he could, but the change was still a lot to deal with. Having his kids involved only made things worse. Before, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day had been mutually exclusive. This year the kids’ mother had insisted that the day be shared between households.

One of the other players stepped forward. “Are we going to play ball? Or are you two just going to stand over there and hold hands?”

Shel felt that old smile—the one that didn’t belong and didn’t reflect anything that was going on inside him—curve his lips. That smile had gotten him into a lot of trouble with his daddy and had been a definite warning to his brother, Don.

The other team didn’t have a clue.

“The way you guys are playing,” Shel said as he stepped toward the other team, “I think we’ve got time to do both.”

Behind him, Shel heard Remy curse.

* * *

1229 Hours

At the offensive goal, Shel worked hard to break free of the other player’s defense. But every move he made, every step he took, Greene was on top of him. Shel knew basketball, but the other guy knew it better.

A small Hispanic guy named Melendez played point guard for Shel and Remy’s team. He flipped the ball around the perimeter with quick, short passes back and forth to the wings. Unable to get a shot off, Remy and the other wing kept passing the ball back.

Shel knew they wanted to get the ball inside to him if they could. They needed the basket to tie up the game. They were too tired to go back down the court and end up two buckets behind.

Melendez snuck a quick pass by the guard and got the ball to Shel. With a fast spin, Shel turned and tried to put the ball up. But as soon as it left his fingers, Greene slapped the shot away. Thankfully Melendez managed to recover the loose ball.

“Don’t you try to bring that trash in here,” Greene taunted. “This is my house. Nobody comes into my house.” Sweat dappled his dark features and his mocking smile showed white and clean. “You may be big, gunney, but you ain’t big enough. You hear what I’m saying?”

Shel tried to ignore the mocking voice and the fact that Greene was now bumping up against him even harder than before. The man wasn’t just taunting anymore. He was going for an all-out assault.

Melendez caught a screen from Remy and rolled out with the basketball before the other defensive player could pick him up. One of the key elements to their whole game was the fact that most of them had played ball before. Greene was a good player—maybe even a great player—but one man didn’t make a team. Special forces training taught a man that.

Free and open, Melendez put up a twenty-foot jump shot. Shel rolled around Greene to get the inside position for the rebound. Greene had gone up in an effort to deflect the basketball. He was out of position when he came back down.

Shel timed his jump as the basketball ran around the ring and fell off. He went up and intercepted the ball cleanly. He was trying to bring the ball in close when Greene stepped around him and punched the basketball with a closed fist.

The blow knocked the ball back into Shel’s face. It slammed against his nose and teeth hard enough to snap his head back. He tasted blood immediately and his eyes watered. The sudden onslaught of pain chipped away at the control that Shel had maintained. He turned instantly, and Greene stood ready and waiting. Two of the guys on his team fell in behind him.

“You don’t want none of this,” Greene crowed. “I promise you don’t want none of this.” He had his hands raised in front of him and stood in what Shel recognized as a martial arts stance.

Shel wasn’t big on martial arts. Most of his hand-to-hand combat ability had been picked up in the field and from men he had sparred with to increase his knowledge.

“You’re a big man,” Greene snarled, “but I’m badder.”

Despite the tension that had suddenly filled the gymnasium and the odds against him, Shel grinned. This was more along the lines of what he needed. He took a step forward.

Remy darted between them and put his hands up. “That’s it. Game’s over. We’re done here.”

“Then who wins the game?” another man asked.

“We win the game,” one of the men on Shel’s team said.

“Your big man fouled intentionally,” Melendez said. “That’s a forfeit in my book.”

“Good thing you ain’t keepin’ the book,” Greene said. He never broke eye contact with Shel. “Is that how you gonna call it, dawg? Gonna curl up like a little girl and cry? Or are you gonna man up and play ball?”

Remy turned to face the heckler. “Back off, clown. You don’t even know the trouble you’re trying to buy into.”

Greene was faster than Shel expected even after playing against the man. Before Remy could raise his hands to defend himself, Greene hit him in the face.

Driven by the blow, Remy staggered backward.



Copyright © 2008 by Mel Odom. All rights reserved

My Review: I loved this book. It is well written and interesting plot wise and character wise. I found it hard to put down. I have heard rumor that it is the last book in the series. All I have to say is I want more. There are still other characters who lives could be the focus in a book. It is helpful to have read the first two books in the series before reading this one. I have read them and eagerly anticpated the next. This book focuses on Shel McHenry's life but you get little updates on the other characters and part of the NCIS team. Fans of NCIS the TV show would love it too. The faith message is in the book but not in your face. It blended nicely. I highly recommend the entire series.