Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Daisy Chain

Zondervan (March 1, 2009)

by

Mary DeMuth




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary E. DeMuth is an expert in Pioneer Parenting. She enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow.

Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005).

Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, Watching The Tree Limbs
(nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing On Dandelions (NavPress, 2006).

Mary has spoken at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, the ACFW Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, and at various churches and church planting ministries. Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, and planting a church.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The abrupt disappearance of young Daisy Chance from a small Texas town in 1973 spins three lives out of control—Jed, whose guilt over not protecting his friend Daisy strangles him; Emory Chance, who blames her own choices for her daughter’s demise; and Ouisie Pepper, who is plagued by headaches while pierced by the shattered pieces of a family in crisis.

In this first book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, fourteen-year-old Jed Pepper has a sickening secret: He’s convinced it’s his fault his best friend Daisy went missing. Jed’s pain sends him on a quest for answers to mysteries woven through the fabric of his own life and the lives of the families of Defiance, Texas. When he finally confronts the terrible truths he’s been denying all his life, Jed must choose between rebellion and love, anger and freedom.

Daisy Chain is an achingly beautiful southern coming-of-age story crafted by a bright new literary talent. It offers a haunting yet hopeful backdrop for human depravity and beauty, for terrible secrets and God’s surprising redemption.

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

My Review:

This was not an easy book to read because of the subject matter. The main characters are memorable and interesting but painful. Jed Pepper blames himself for the disappearance of his friend Daisy. Jed and Daisy both have difficult home lives. Jed's father is a preacher but very strict and abusive. Daisy's mother has a bad reputation in town. Other characters are introduced as the novel goes on. This is the first book in a trilogy about the town of Defiance, Texas. I am interested to read the next book since it seemed this one could have been a stand alone. I would have liked more wrap up at the end but I am hoping the rest will be explained in the next book. Definitely recommended especially for fans of literature. :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winner of This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury

The winner of This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury is:

Grateful Gramma

Congratulations :)


Here is your sequence:
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Timestamp: 2009-02-24 23:50:09 UTC

What's on Your Nightstand? Tuesday February 24,2009






















The picture starting with Circle of Friends is my TBR Review stack so far for March. The Middle Picture is TBR of childhood reading challenge and Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense. The last picture is my library books I need to hurry up and finish. I already have more library fines. :) I have read a lot of books this month. To see a list click on the 100+ Reading challenge my list on my sidebar.
To see more lists go to http://www.5minutesforbooks.com/





Monday, February 23, 2009

Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith

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:


Age before Beauty, book 2 in the Sister-to-Sister Series

Revell (February 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Virginia Smith is the author of eight novels, including Age before Beauty, Stuck in the Middle, and A Taste of Murder. In 2008 she was named Writer of the Year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A popular retreat speaker, Ginny keeps audiences enthralled with her high-energy presentations. She and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Revell (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800732332
ISBN-13: 978-0800732332

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The mirror had to be warped. That was the only explanation for the image staring back at Allie from its treacherous surface. Her thighs couldn’t be that wide, her belly that flabby. Could glass warp? Of course not. But the weather so far this fall had been wetter than normal, following a horribly humid Kentucky summer. All that dampness wreaked havoc on the wooden front door at Gram’s house. And this mirror had a wood frame. That had to be it.

But the warping seemed only to be in the middle, like one of those fun-house mirrors. She squinted down at her pink toenails. Her feet looked normal. Her face looked okay. Pretty good, even. This was the first time she’d put on makeup in weeks, and a little color worked wonders. She could use a haircut, though the dark blonde layers falling in waves to rest on her shoulders managed to hold the extra length well.

She blew her bangs out of her eyes. Actually, the long hair made her face look fuller, and that offset some of the width of her hips. Which needed the help, especially now that she got a good look at them wearing only a nursing bra and panties. If she cut some of the volume out of her hair, she’d look like one of those toys she and Joan and Tori played with as kids. What were they called? Weebles. She’d look like Mother Weeble.

She swayed from side to side, eyeing her oversized bottom half as she sang the toy’s jingle. “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

“Did you say something?”

Allie whirled to find Eric standing in the bedroom doorway, a grin twitching at his mouth. She felt a blush creep up her neck. Though he was the world’s most awesome husband and devoted new daddy, she still felt awkward parading her postmaternity body around in front of him. A flabby belly covered in stretch marks was soooo sexy.

“How long have you been standing there?”

His voice dropped an octave as his smile deepened. “Long enough to admire my beautiful wife.”

No mistaking that husky tone. She snatched her jeans off the bed. “Don’t get frisky, lover boy. My sister will be here any minute.”

Eric’s lips twisted. “Story of my life lately.”

Allie crossed the room and placed a tender kiss on his cheek. “I’m sorry my family is here so often. They just don’t want to miss a day with the baby. She’s growing so fast.”

“I know, I know.” He grinned. “But tonight I get Joanie all to myself. Our first father-daughter date.”

Allie sat on the edge of the bed and slipped her feet into the jeans, avoiding Eric’s eyes. He had been looking forward to this evening for a full week, ever since Joan invited her to go to a stupid party where some fanatical woman would try to force her to buy something she didn’t want and for which she had no use. If only Joan hadn’t asked in front of Eric, she would have turned the invitation down without a second thought. But he had insisted it was time she took her first outing without the baby.

Pulling the waistband up around her knees, she gave Eric a worried look. “Are you sure you’ll be okay? She’s only taken a bottle a few times, you know. She might cry.”

“I’ll deal with it.”

“But—”

He held up a finger. “No buts. She’s five weeks old. In three weeks she’ll be taking a bottle at the daycare center when you go back to work. She needs to get used to it.”

Tears stung Allie’s eyes, and she looked away so Eric wouldn’t see. “I guess you’re right.”

“Of course I am. Now finish getting dressed while I go wind the baby swing again.”

He left, and Allie sat staring at the handwoven rug in front of their bed. Three weeks. Then she’d have to leave her precious little Joanie in the hands of a total stranger.

If only . . .

She jerked the shirt over her head. No. One of the things she and Eric had talked about before they got married was how they’d handle life after they started having children. She’d insisted on laying it all out, because Eric’s mother had been a stay-at-home mom, and Allie wanted to make absolutely sure he didn’t have the same expectations. Her toenail caught the edge of her sock as she tugged it up, and she hissed with pain. No way would she become one of those women relegated to a dull life of child rearing. She was a career woman—the second sock followed the first—with a college degree and plans for her professional future. She liked her job, liked the independence it gave her. Besides, they agreed on having two incomes so they could afford things like nice clothes and good cars and vacations at the beach.

But that was before she’d had a baby.

If only there was some way she could pursue her career and keep her daughter at home. She had quietly investigated every work-from-home scheme she could find lately, but all of them sounded more like scams than jobs.

Banishing the tears, she stood. No sense crying about it. She had no option. In three weeks she’d return to her job as a team leader at the social services office. She might even be able to recapture some of the excitement and ambition she’d felt before she got pregnant. At the moment, though, it sounded like a life sentence with no chance of parole.

She pulled her jeans up over her knees. This was the first pair of zippered pants she’d tried to wear since Joanie’s birth, having lived in sweats and oversized T-shirts once she put away the maternity clothes. Wiggling her hips back and forth, she inched them upward. Come on, come on, they had to fit. They were her biggest jeans, stretchy and so loose that she’d worn them all the way up to her fifth month of pregnancy. Just a little farther . . .

Ugh. She panted from the effort. But at least she’d managed to get them pulled all the way up.

Now the zipper. Suck that gut in. Pull hard. Harder. She hopped up and down, tugging at the waistband. Okay, if the zipper wouldn’t go all the way to the top, it didn’t matter. She’d just wear her shirttail out. Everybody did these days. As long as she could get the button fastened.

There! They fit! She was wearing pre-baby Levis! Well, sort of.

She stepped up to the mirror and bit back a gasp.

The stupid thing had to be warped.


***


“Hey, look at you all dressed up.” Joan stood on the doorstep, car keys clutched in one hand. “You look great.”

Allie scowled and tried not to think of the jeans she could almost wear shoved in the back of her bottom drawer. “These are maternity pants. Nothing else fits.”

“Oh.” Joan’s smile drooped a fraction, then brightened again. “But that’s not a maternity shirt. And turquoise is totally your color.”

Her eyes shifted to a point inside the room, then she practically bowled Allie over as she rushed toward the swing to snatch up the baby. Sighing, Allie closed the door. So much for Joanie’s nap.

Allie tried to ignore a wave of insecurity as she admired her sister’s slim frame, the way her jeans fit without a single bulge. Straight dark hair fell forward to tickle the baby’s face as Joan cooed at her slumbering namesake while she unfastened the safety strap. Soft baby noises answered as little Joanie’s eyelids fluttered open. Allie clasped her hands together to keep from taking the infant from her middle sister’s arms. She was so sweet when she first woke. Tiny fists rose above her head and she kicked her legs out to their full length and arched her back to stretch.

“Look at her! I swear she’s grown an inch since the last time I saw her.”

Allie answered dryly. “I doubt that, since you came over yesterday.” She held her hands out. “Here, let me change her.”

Joan clutched the baby closer. “I’ll do it.”

With a sigh, Allie followed her sister into the nursery. Bright pink daisies on fields of green bordered the white walls and also decorated lacy curtains and crib bedding. Joan laid Joanie on a daisy-covered pad atop the changing table. While she unsnapped the pink onesie, Allie took a diaper from the stacker and popped open the plastic cap on the wipes. The sweet smell of baby powder was quickly replaced with a less pleasant odor when Joan peeled the tape off the dirty diaper.

Eric stuck his head through the doorway as Allie pulled out a wipe and handed it to Joan. “Whew, I’m glad you girls got that out of the way before you left. Of course, the way this little piggie eats, I probably have at least one unpleasant surprise in store tonight.”

“Don’t worry.” Allie dropped the soiled bundle into the Diaper Genie and twisted the knob. “We won’t be gone very long. I’m sure we’ll be back for the next dirty diaper.”

“I’m kidding, Allie. You know I don’t mind taking care of my girl.” He leaned over and buried a kiss in Joanie’s chubby neck, eliciting a gurgle and an excited waving of arms and legs.

Joan snapped the onesie back in place over the fresh diaper and picked up the squirming infant. Allie stepped forward to take her, but instead Joan thrust her into Eric’s arms.

“It’s time to go. I don’t want to be late.” With a meaningful glance in Allie’s direction, she marched out of the room, Eric right behind her with Joanie hugged tightly to his chest.

Left alone in the nursery, Allie fought a wave of panic that caused her throat to tighten with unshed tears. Cheerful daisies mocked her. She knew this feeling, had sensed the edges of it creeping toward her all day. The moment had come. After five weeks of constantly being in Joanie’s presence, she was about to leave her in someone else’s care.

Don’t be ridiculous. She scrubbed at her eyes with the back of her hand. Joanie wasn’t staying with a stranger. She was staying with her daddy! He’d watched her many times while Allie enjoyed a long bath or a nap.

But what if she cries? What if she misses me?

She started toward the living room, and then stopped short as an even more distressing thought struck her. What if she doesn’t even notice I’m gone?

“Allie, are you coming?”

Joan’s voice propelled her feet into motion. She would not think about that.

“I’m ready.”

One step took her from the hallway into their tiny living room, where Eric had deposited Joanie on the mat beneath her baby gym. Allie fought to suppress a wave of regret when chubby infant hands waved with erratic enthusiasm at the dangling toys, and happy coos filled the room. It had only been in the past few days that she’d started noticing the toys. She was growing so fast, changing every day. What if she did something really cool for the first time tonight, while Allie wasn’t here to see it? She dropped to her knees and showered Joanie’s face with goodbye kisses.

“There are a couple of bottles all ready to go in the fridge,” she told Eric. “Run hot water over them to warm them. Don’t use the microwave.”

Eric stood and pulled her up with him. “I won’t.” He planted a kiss on her cheek.

“She ate two hours ago, so she’ll probably be hungry around eight. If she gets fussy before—”

Joan grabbed her arm and steered her forcefully toward the front door. “Come along, Mother. It’s time to go.”

Thoughts of all the terrible things that could happen pummeled her mind like giant hailstones. She pulled away and whirled toward Eric. “Don’t give her a bath until I get home. You know how slippery she is when she’s soapy.”

He put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face the door. “Stop worrying. We’ll be fine. Now go have a good time.” A gentle shove pushed her forward.

From the porch, Joan seized her and jerked her through the doorway. Allie shook her off and spun around to remind Eric to put the baby’s sweater on because the house would cool when the sun went down, but the front door slammed shut in her face. Tears welled in her eyes.

“You’re pathetic.” Joan folded her arms across her chest and leveled an unsympathetic look on her.

Allie sniffled. “It’s the first time we’ve been apart in five weeks.”

“Then it’s about time you gave the poor kid some breathing room.” She shook her head. “You’re becoming one of those hovering mothers. I can totally see you stalking her on the kindergarten playground during recess.”

Actually, Allie didn’t see a problem with dropping by to check on your kids during the day, but in the face of Joan’s sardonic expression, she didn’t dare mention it. Instead she lifted a chin. “I will not be a hovering mother.”

A snort blasted from her sister’s nose. “I know my big sister. You’ll hover like a helicopter.”

Her head held high, Allie marched past Joan toward the driveway. “I thought you didn’t want to be late.”

She rubbed her hands on her arms. It was a chilly fifty degrees, and the orange October sun was rapidly dropping toward the horizon. They’d shoved her out the door without a jacket, but she didn’t dare go back inside now or she’d never hear the end of it. Serve them both right if she caught pneumonia and died.






For more information about Age before Beauty, visit www.VirginiaSmith.org




Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright ©2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group. www.BakerPublishingGroup.com

My Review:

I loved the first book in this series, Stuck in the Middle. Age Before Beauty is another wonderful story from Virginia Smith. It is well written and the characters seem real. I am not a wife or mother but I know stay-at-home mothers including my aunt. I remember the Tupperware lady stint among a few others like keeping other babies at home and using her degree to tutor a little.

Allie Harrod is about to go back to her job and she can't bear to leave her baby but does not want to be a totally dependent on husband stay at home mother. So she takes up a sales job. As the story progresses her mother in law comes to stay, her husband spends too much time with a single mother from work, and the money it takes to get started in the business is overwhelming her new credit card. Her middle sister Joan has a new deep faith in God and begins talking to Allie about faith. Allie used to go church but her husband wants nothing to do with church.

This is a poignant at times funny contemporary story of a new mom and her family. I related more to the first book in the series as a single girl but I loved both books in the series. I cannot wait to read Tori's story next year. I highly recommend the entire series. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The American Patriot's Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb

On this day in American history George Washington was born. He would become the first president of our country (USA).

The American Patriot's Almanac is 365 days of daily readings on of course America. Each day features two parts. The first part is a short article on something that happened that particular day in US History. They are not always the most well know events either. The second part of each day is the American History Parade and it features several key events on different years on that day.

I think this is a great tool for anyone. It is not dry or boring. I love it and I am not a history buff. This would be a great resource for homeschooling and for other types of school like high school US History teachers. They could start class out with this. It would be very interesting! I highly recomend this book!

Sunday Salon February 22, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* I have not done so well with my Sunday Salon posts this month but I have been reading up a storm. :)

* My weekends have become mostly reading marathons.

* This weekend I read:
* The Duchess and the Dragon by Jamie Carie
* Out of Time by Paul McCusker
* Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Patillo
* Age Before Beauty by Virginia Smith
* Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth
* Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

* They were all really good. I would recommend any of them. My review for Age Before Beauty will be up tomorrow and Daisy Chain Wednesday. Also on Tuesday I will be particpating in What's On Your Nightstand? hosted by 5 Mintues for Books. It will feature my reading list for the next few weeks.

* There is still time to enter my contest to win a copy of This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury. http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/02/this-side-of-heaven-by-karen-kingsbury.html

* Tonight I need to work on my resume. I am going to a career fair at my Alma mater Tuesday. I have major decisions that need to be made in the next few months. If you pray I would appreciate any prayers.

* The night is still young maybe time to start another book too? :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Out of Time by Paul McCusker

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:


Out of Time (Time Thriller Series #2)

Zondervan (February 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Paul McCusker is the author of The Mill House, Epiphany, The Faded Flower and several Adventures in Odyssey programs. Winner of the Peabody Award for his radio drama on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for Focus on the Family, he lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and two children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714370
ISBN-13: 978-0310714378

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


“Quid est ergo tempus? si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.”

[Translation: “What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone who does ask me, I do not know.”]

-St. Augustine

Prologue



A tall gray old man stepped to the pinnacle of Glastonbury Tor, an unusual cone-like hill with a tower named after a saint. In the wet English twilight, the wind whipped the old man’s long gray hair and beard and the ragged brown monk’s robe he wore like a flag in a gale. The dark clouds above moved and gathered around him. Chalice and Wearyall Hills sat nearby, their shoulders hunched. A battered Abbey beyond listened in silence.

The old man cast a sad eye to the green landscape, spread like a quilt, adorned with small houses and shops. He prayed silently for a moment, then pulled an ancient curved horn from under his habit. He placed it to his lips and blew once, then twice, then a final time. The three muted blasts were caught by the wind and carried away.

It was a summons.

PART ONE: The Stranger



Chapter 1
Chapter 2


“Look at that,” Ben Hearn said to his wife Kathryn. “It’s crazy, I tell you. Crazy.”

They were in Ben’s pick-up truck rattling for the Fawlt Line High School to help chaperone the sophomore class end-of-the-year school dance. Mr. and Mrs. Hearn weren’t keen on dances themselves, at least not the modern kind, but their daughter Chelsea would be there for her first real dance in her formal dress and flowers and carefully permed hair. She was escorted by Tommy Daughtry who showed up tonight at their front door in an ill-fitting tuxedo and an awkward blush on his cheeks. Kathryn thought they were an adorable couple, and said so again and again with every photograph she insisted on taking next to the fireplace and on the patio and by Tommy’s dad’s car. Kathryn even took a picture as they drove away.

“Kathryn, are you listening to me?”

“What’s crazy, Ben?” Kathryn suddenly asked, peering through the unusual fog.

“Didn’t you see the sign for Malcolm Dubb’s village?”

Kathryn hadn’t. But since they were on one of the roads bordering Malcolm Dubb’s vast estate, she remembered what sign her husband was talking about. It was the one that announced the construction of Malcolm Dubb’s Historical Village.

“I don’t know what the town council was thinking when they agreed to it,” Ben said. Malcolm was the wealthiest citizen of their little town of Fawlt Line. In fact, his family had been there for close to two centuries. Malcolm, a history buff, had designated a large portion of his property for the village.

Kathryn squinted at the fog ahead. “Don’t you think you should slow down?”

The truck engine whined as Ben heeded his wife. “You know what he’s doing with the village, right? He’s shipping in buildings, Kathryn. Brick by brick and stone by stone from all over the world. Have you ever heard of such a thing? A museum with a few trinkets and artifacts I could understand, but buildings?”

Kathryn smiled. “Malcolm always was obsessed with history. I remember when we were in school together—”

Ben wasn’t listening. “Do you know what they’ve been working on for the past few weeks? Some kind of a ruin from England. A monastery or castle or cathedral or something.”

“From England?” Kathryn asked. “Did he ship in this fog too?”

Ben grunted, “I just don’t understand Malcolm’s fascination with something that’s ruined. What’s the point?”

Kathryn was about to answer—and would have—if a man on horseback hadn’t suddenly appeared on the road in front of them. The fog cleared just in time for Ben to see him. He swore out loud as he hit the brakes and jerked the steering wheel to the right. The horse reared wildly. The man flew backwards to the ground. Kathryn cried out as the truck skidded into a ditch on the side of the road and came to a gravel-spraying stop.

Ben and Kathryn looked at each other shakily.

“You all right?” Ben asked.

Kathryn nodded.

“Of all the stupid things to do—” Ben growled and angrily pushed his door open. “Stay here,” he said before the door slammed shut again.

Kathryn reached over and turned on the emergency flashers.

Ben made his way cautiously down the road. “Fool,” Ben muttered to himself, then called out. “Hello? Are you all right?”

The fog parted like a curtain, as if to present the man lying on the side of the road to Ben.

“Oh no,” Ben said, rushing forward. He crouched down next to the figure, a very large man. Whoever it was seemed to be wrapped in a dark blanket. The man was perfectly still and his face was hidden in the fog and shadows.

“Hey,” Ben said, hoping the man would stir. He didn’t. Ben looked him over for any sign of blood. Nothing was obvious around his head. But what could he expect to see in that fog? “Kathryn! Call 911 on the mobile phone. And bring me the flashlight from the glove compartment!” he called out.

He peered closely at the shadowed form of the man as he heard Kathryn open her door. She was already talking into the phone, gasping instructions to an emergency operator. The shaft of light from the flashlight bounced around eerily in the ever-moving fog. “Ben?”

“Here,” Ben said.

Kathryn joined him. “Ambulance is on its way. But they’re on the line and want to know his condition.”

He took the flashlight from her and got his first full look at the stranger. He had long dark salt-and-peppery hair, beard, and moustache and a rugged, outdoorsy kind of face. Ben couldn’t guess an age for the man. Anywhere from 40 to 60, he figured. He wore a peaceful expression. He could’ve been sleeping. “I can’t tell. There’s no blood.”

Kathryn reported Ben’s findings to the emergency operator, then asked Ben, “He’s not dead is he?”

“I don’t think so.” Ben reached down, separating the blanket to check the man’s vital signs. The feel of the cloth told him it wasn’t a blanket at all. And as he pushed the fabric aside, he realized that it was a cape made of a thick course material, clasped at the neck by a dragon brooch. “What in the world—?”

Kathryn gasped.

They expected to see a shirt or a sweater or a coat of some sort. Instead he wore a long vest with the symbol of a dragon stitched on to the front, a gold belt, brown leggings, and soft leather footwear that looked more like slippers than shoes. The whole outfit reminded Ben of the kind of costume he’d seen in a Robin Hood movie. At his side was a sword in a sheath.

“Is it Halloween?” Kathryn asked.



***

At the high school, the sophomore dance was just getting under way. The Starliners, a rock and jazz band from nearby Hancock, warmed up for their first number as the sound engineer tried to get the volume just right.

Jeff Dubbs, dressed in a tux and looking all the more uncomfortable for it, stepped into the converted gymnasium and looked around. Streamers and balloons blew gently in the rafters above. A banner wishing the class a good summer rustled over the scoreboard.

A couple of dozen kids mingled in the middle of the dance floor and along the walls. Jeff tugged at his collar and wished he was somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Elizabeth Forde, Jeff’s girlfriend, slipped her hand into the crook of Jeff’s arm. She kissed him on the cheek. “Tell me you like it. We were here all afternoon getting the room decorated.”

“It’s nice,” Jeff said. You’re nicer, he thought as he looked Elizabeth over for the umpteenth time. She was wearing a stunning pink gown with lots of lacy things around the neck and sleeves. The white corsage he had bought for her was pinned to the strap. She looked out over the gathering students and he took in her profile: the delicate nose, large brown eyes and full lips, all framed by the long brown hair that she’d taken extra care with earlier that evening. He had to admit it, she was beautiful.

She glanced at him and caught him looking at her. He blushed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked self-consciously.

A loud metallic crash behind them saved Jeff from answering. Elizabeth’s father, Alan Forde, an eccentric man at the best of times, had dropped a tray of paper cups filled with drinks. Elizabeth’s mother rolled her eyes. “I told you to be careful,” she lectured.

“Too many cups to one side,” he answered quickly as he knelt to clean up the mess. “I misjudged the balance.”

“Oh, Daddy,” said Elizabeth bemused, and went to his side to help.

Jeff grinned. There was a time when Elizabeth would have raced from the room in embarrassment over her father. Not any more. Not since she’d had an adventure that, in part, made her realize how much she loved her parents, quirks and all.

“Hello, Jeff,” Malcolm Dubbs said. Malcolm was an English relative who’d become Jeff’s guardian—and the head of the Dubbs family’s vast American estate—after Jeff’s parents had died in a car accident.

“Hi, Malcolm,” Jeff said. “Nice suit.”

Malcolm tugged at bottom of his jacket. “It doesn’t smell musty, does it?”

Jeff sniffed the air. “Nope.”

“Good.”

The lead singer for the band stepped up to the microphone. “How’re you doing?” We’re the Starliners and we hope you’re ready to dance!” The three-piece brass section started an up-tempo song with the rest of the band joining in a few bars later. A handful of dancers wiggled their way onto the floor. Again, Jeff wished he was somewhere else. He didn’t like to dance.

Elizabeth left her father and mother to finish cleaning up the spilled drinks and rejoined Jeff.

“You look exquisite, Elizabeth,” Malcolm said.

Elizabeth curtseyed. “Thank you, Malcolm. You look pretty nice yourself.”

He smiled at her, then at Jeff. “Why don’t you two dance?”

“Malcolm,” Jeff said through clenched teeth. Malcolm knew full well that Jeff didn’t like to dance.

Elizabeth feigned a melodramatic tone, “I’ve resigned myself to an evening as a wallflower.”

“Will you dance with me?” Malcolm asked, with a slight bow.

“I’d love to,” she said and offered him her hand.

He took it and winked at Jeff as he lead her onto the dance floor. Jeff leaned against the door post, his arms folded. Upstaged by his cousin once again. But he didn’t mind at all.

A tap on the shoulder took his gaze from the dance floor and into the round boyish face of Sheriff Richard Hounslow. The Sheriff was in his uniform—Fawlt Line Police Department’s traditional beige shirt and trousers. The shirt was unbuttoned at the collar. He didn’t wear a gun unless he had to. His only official equipment was his badge and a walkie-talkie strapped to his belt. “Is your cousin here?”

Jeff tipped his head towards the dance floor. “Out there with Elizabeth. Is something wrong?”

“Kinda.”

“You want me to go get him?”

Hounslow shook his head. “Nah, I’ll wait until the song’s over.”

They stood silently for a moment and watched Malcolm and Elizabeth play Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers amidst the wild gyrations of the dancers around them.

“He’s not bad,” Hounslow said.

The song ended. Malcolm and Elizabeth, pleasantly breathless, returned to Jeff.

“Uh oh,” Malcolm said when he saw Hounslow. “What’s wrong?”

Hounslow straightened up. “I need you to come to the hospital. Apparently one of the workers from your so-called historical village was knocked down by Ben Hearn’s truck.”

“One of my workers?” Malcolm said, surprised. “But they’re off for the weekend. Are you certain he’s from my village?”

Hounslow shrugged. “He came racing off of your property on a horse—right in front of Ben. Worse, he doesn’t speak a word of English, just some gibberish. That’s why I need you to come.”

“Is he seriously hurt?”

“No. But Doc McConnell wants to keep him in overnight for observation.” Hounslow gestured to the dance. “Sorry to take you away from all your fun.”

“Hmm.” Malcolm turned to Jeff. “My dear boy, I leave Elizabeth in your capable hands. Dance with her.”

Jeff hung his head.

“You heard your cousin,” Elizabeth said, and dragged Jeff onto the dance floor.



***



The stranger had caused such a ruckus at the hospital—shouting, trying to get away—that the doctor had had to sedate him and strap him into the bed. He lay sleeping as Malcolm, Sheriff Hounslow, and Dr. McConnell approached the bed.

“We had to give him three times the normal dose because of his size,” Dr. McConnell said softly, as if he was afraid of waking the man.

Malcolm looked closely at the unconscious figure. He was big, all right, stretching the length of the bed. “I’ve never seen him before,” Malcolm said.

“He was riding one of your horses,” Hounslow stated.

Malcolm cocked an eyebrow. “I’ll have to talk to Mr. Farrar, my groundskeeper. He lives in the cottage next to the stables.”

“Already done,” Hounslow said. “He was watching television. Didn’t hear a thing. He was surprised that one of your horses was gone. So, if nothing else, you could press charges against the man for horse-thievery.”

Malcolm shook his head. “I’d like to find out more about him first.”

“Well, good luck. We couldn’t get anything out of him. He kept yakking away in some gibberish. Kept pounding his chest and calling himself Rex or Regis or something like that.”

Dr. McConnell interjected. “It’s strange, but he spoke words and phrases that reminded me of the Latin I picked up in medical school.”

“Latin?” Malcolm asked.

“Could’ve been,” Dr. McConnell said. “But I’m no expert.”

Hounslow pulled at his belt. “I called the asylum in Grantsville to see if they’ve had any escapes. None.”

“Just because he speaks Latin doesn’t mean he’s mentally disturbed,” Malcolm said.

“Agreed,” Hounslow answered, “but how about that.” He pointed to the stranger’s clothes, now draped across a visitor’s chair.

Malcolm walked to the chair. “This is what he had on?” he asked, surprised.

Hounslow nodded. “That’s another reason we figured he was from your village. You haven’t started hiring character actors, have you?”

“The construction workers are still building,” Malcolm said. “I haven’t hired any staff yet.” He fingered the fabric of the robe and tunic, making a mental note of the dragon insignias. He picked up the soft leather shoes and looked them over. “Amazing. The outfit looks so authentic. And I don’t mean authentic like a well-done replica, I mean it looks worn like they’re real clothes.”

“Maybe he’s one of those homeless fruitcakes who just happened to wander into town,” Hounslow offered.

Dr. McConnell folded his arms, “It’s hard to imagine this guy being homeless and just wandering anywhere with that sword.”

“Sword?” asked Malcolm.

“Here,” Hounslow said and opened the door to the large wardrobe in the corner. With both hands he pulled out a long sword encased in an ornate golden scabbard. He cradled it in his arms for Malcolm to inspect.

“Good grief,” Malcolm gasped, running his hand along the golden scabbard. “Is that real gold?”

“Looks like it,” Hounslow said.

Malcolm examined the handle of the sword, also golden, with a row of unfamiliar jewels imbedded along the length of the stem. Even in the washed-out fluorescent light of the room, it sparkled as if it reflected the sun. “Can I take it out?”

“Yeah,” Hounslow said, “but be careful. It’s heavy and sharp.”

Malcolm grabbed the handle with both hands and withdrew the sword from the scabbard. It was heavy, as Hounslow said, and Malcolm imagined it would take a man the size of the stranger to weald it with any effect. It was a strain to hold it up. The blade was made of thick, shiny steel with an elaborate engraving of what looked like thin vines and blossoms along the edges. “It must be worth a fortune,” Malcolm said as he slid the sword back into the sheath.

Dr. McConnell agreed. “So what’s a derelict doing with a Latin vocabulary and a valuable sword?”

“That’s what I’d like to find out when he wakes up,” Malcolm answered.

Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Within two hours the stranger was awake and pulling at the restraining straps on the bed. He shouted at the nurse, Dr. McConnell, Sheriff Hounslow and Malcolm in a tone that was unmistakably belligerent. When he realized it didn’t help, he resigned himself to watch the flashing lights and electronic graphs on the medical equipment around him.

After hearing a few of the phrases he yelled—like rex, regis, libertas, stultus—Malcolm was certain about the Latin and phoned a friend of his from the University at Frostburg to come. Dr. Camilla Ashe was so intrigued by Malcolm’s description that she decided not to wait until morning and drove the forty-five minutes to Fawlt Line that night. She arrived a little after ten. By that time the group in the room included Jerry Anderson, editor of Fawlt Line’s Daily Gazette. He had heard the news about the mystery man on his police scanner.

Dr. Ashe, a prim scholarly woman dressed from head to toe in tweed, approached the side of the bed warily. The stranger was once again transfixed by the lights on the equipment and only seemed to realize she was there when she cleared her throat. He looked at her with an expression of impatience. She spoke to him in Latin and he gawked at her. Then, realizing he finally had someone who understood him, he bombarded her with words. She tried to interject, but the stranger kept talking. His voice rose to a shout and she seemed to lose patience and responded in kind.

Malcolm watched them, astounded that they seemed to be arguing and wished he had taken the time to learn Latin in college. Jeff and Elizabeth quietly slipped into the room, still dressed in their clothes from the dance, and leaned against the far wall to stay out of the way.

The stranger continued his assault with words. Finally, Dr. Ashe put her hands on her hips and spoke in a tone that was withering in any language. The stranger turned his head away from her as if to say that the conversation was over. He didn’t look at her again. She spun around to the expectant group, growled loudly and stormed out of the room.

“What was that all about?” Malcolm asked her in the hall.

Her hands trembled as she unwrapped a piece of gum and tossed it into her mouth. “I’ve given up smoking, but I’d love to have a cigarette now.”

“Sorry,” Malcolm said, then waited politely for her to compose herself.

“He said he didn’t want to talk to a woman,” she said. “He resented a woman being sent to him by his captors.”

“Captors!”

Dr. Ashe chewed her gum forcefully. “I don’t mind saying that that man should be certified. He’s not sane.”

“Why? What did he say?”

“He said that, as a king, he should be treated with more respect. He wants to speak with whichever baron or duke is holding him captive. He wants to know where he’s being held and if there’s a ransom. He demands to be told how he got here and where his knights are. And, finally, he wants someone to tell him about the magic boxes with the flashing lights.” Dr. Ashe groaned.

“I told you he’s a fruitcake,” Sheriff Hounslow said from behind Malcolm.

“Or it’s a very tiresome joke,” Dr. Ashe added and wagged a finger at Malcolm. “You wouldn’t be pulling a prank on me, would you?”

“No,” Malcolm said simply.

“Then you should get him some psychiatric help,” she said.

“I still don’t understand,” Malcolm said. “He said he’s a king. But King who—and king of what”

Dr. Ashe grinned irritably. “He says he’s King Arthur.”

Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Dr. Ashe left. She wanted nothing more to do with the Latin-speaking lunatic.

“What are you going to do now?” Jerry Anderson asked Malcolm.

Before Malcolm could answer, Hounslow jumped in. “Let’s get something straight. Doc McConnell and I are making the decisions here. Not Malcolm.”

“Sorry,” Jerry said. “What are you going to do now, Sheriff Hounslow?”

Hounslow shrugged, “I don’t know yet.”

Malcolm smiled politely. “In my humble opinion, we should find someone else who knows enough Latin to communicate with him. A man this time.”

Elizabeth raised her hand and wiggled her fingers. “I know someone.”

All eyes fell to her.

“My Dad,” she said. “He studied Latin when he was in college and sometimes uses it for his research.” Elizabeth’s father was a teacher at the middle school, though some said he should have been teaching at a major university.

“Of course,” Malcolm said and went to the phone.

Alan Forde was quite tall himself and his size, combined with his knowledge of Latin, obviously impressed the stranger. The stranger seemed more patient and spoke in calmer tones. Alan pulled up a chair next to the bed. After a brief spurt of conversation, he turned to Dr. McConnell. “Can we free his hands please?”

Dr. McConnell looked skeptically at Alan and the stranger. “You’re kidding.”

“He promises not to resort to physical violence or even to attempt an escape. But it’s offensive to his honor to be tied up.”

“Well ... “ Dr. McConnell began, then looked to Sheriff Hounslow and Malcolm for help.

“I think you should do it,” Malcolm suggested.

Sheriff Hounslow unclipped the walkie-talkie from his belt and called to one of his officers on the other end. “Bring me my gun,” he said.

“Okay,” Dr. McConnell said. He undid the restraining straps.

The stranger rubbed his wrists then sat up in the bed. He spoke to Alan.

“Thank you,” Alan translated, then added: “I think he’ll be more agreeable to talk now.”

“Does he really think he’s King Arthur?” Hounslow asked.

“Yes.”

“Then what’s he doing here?” Malcolm asked. “What was he doing on my property? Why did he take my horse?”

Alan posed the questions to the stranger.

Through Alan, the stranger explained, “My nephew Sir Mordred, that traitorous and wicked knight, attempted to usurp my throne whilst I was pursuing Sir Lancelot north to his castle at Joyous Gard. Verily, I loved Lancelot as my own, even whilst he coveted my queen and betrayed me. While I was gone, Mordred enticed many weak-willed nobles to join his army to overthrow my rule. My army met and routed his forces on Barham Down, but my nephew fled to other parts. We made chase but did not battle them again, choosing instead to negotiate a peace. I desired not the terrible bloodshed that would ensue if we were to engage in combat. And so it is that we have come here to this plain to meet and discuss terms.”

“What’s this got to do with anything?” Hounslow growled.

Malcolm ignored him. “So tonight is the eve of your meeting with Mordred to make a truce,” he said to Alan while looking at the stranger. “What happened?”

The stranger answered through Alan, “As I lay upon my bed in my pavilion, I dreamed an incredible dream. I sat upon a chair which was fastened to a wheel in the sky. I was adorned in a garment of finest woven gold. Far below me I saw deep black water wherein was contained all manner of serpents and worms and the most foul and horrible wild beasts. Suddenly, it was as if the wheel turned upside-down and I fell among the serpents and wild beasts and they pounced upon me. I cried out in a loud voice and awoke upon a cold slab of stone in the midst of a vast field. Troubled by this vision, I rose, determined to find my knights. I espied glowing torches in the distance and approached them. I found there not my army but a stable of horses. I mounted one and made haste in the direction of my knights. I spurred the horse ever-faster and faster until I was attacked by the armored cart that was drawn by neither man nor beast. Frightened, my horse reared and I fell to the ground.” He turned to Malcolm, “Now, speak knave, am I a prisoner or is a dream?”

Malcolm tugged gently at his ear and said to the others, “He woke up on one of the stone slabs in my historical village. Probably in the church ruins I bought from England. Very interesting.”

“You don’t believe any of this nonsense, do you?” Hounslow asked.

Malcolm answered in a guarded tone, “For the moment, I believe that he’s confused and found himself on my property.”

The stranger folded his arms and muttered the same phrase over and over.

“He says Merlin is responsible,” Alan said. “He doesn’t know how, but he’s sure it is some trickery of Merlin’s.”

“That’s it,” Hounslow said. “Everybody out. It’s now past midnight and I’ve had enough of this. We’re going to transfer this nutcase to the Hancock Sanitarium. Let them decide what to do with him.” With that said, he marched out of the room.

Dr. McConnell looked at Malcolm apologetically. “What else can I do with him?”

Malcolm didn’t know. “I wish I could take him back to my cottage.”

The stranger spoke again and Alan translated, “Answer me! Am I to be ransomed or is this a dream?”

Malcolm spoke as soothingly as he could. “Tell him that we are not his captors and, if it’ll help, to consider this a bizarre dream.” As an afterthought, he added, “Also ask him if he’ll give us his word as King not to try to escape tonight. Otherwise, the doctor will have to strap his arms again.”

The stranger gave his word.

From the Back Cover

A long history of strange disappearances and unexplainable occurrences leave clues that the town of Fawlt Line may actually sit on a time fault—a portal to alternate times and unexpected time travels—a twist of fate that puts all of Fawlt Line’s citizens in serious danger. Will they find the faith to hold on to the town and time where they belong?

On a foggy night, Jeff and Elizabeth see a car heading through the mist. A man on horseback is in the middle of the road, and a collision was barely avoidable. Now the victim—a giant of a man—lies on a hospital bed, surrounded by hospital staff and a host of questions.

Has King Arthur really slipped through a time crack into Fawlt Line?Impossible? Perhaps. But lately in the town of Fawlt Line, the impossible has had a way of proving true. And the most incredible events are yet to come.

My Review:

I loved the first book in this Time Thriller Trilogy and now the second. They are teen Christian fiction but really adults including myself enjoy them. The author explores some of the legends and myths surrounding King Arthur but without bogging the book down. It is a natural part of the book. The story itself moves fast and I read it in one sitting. Who is this man and is he really King Arthur? And there is the part in England with the preacher's family. The way it all comes together is wonderful. The main theme at the end seemed to be know what you believe in and why and don't be afraid to use it. This book is second but can be read on its own but it is enriched by reading book one so you know who the main characters are and the past happenings that are referened. I highly recommend both books and can't wait to read book three. :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spring of Candy Apples by Debbie Viguie

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:


Spring of Candy Apples (A Sweet Seasons Novel)

Zondervan (February 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Debbie ViguiƩ has been writing for most of her life. She has experimented with poetry and nonfiction, but her true passion lies in writing novels.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from UC Davis. While at Davis she met her husband, Scott, at auditions for a play. It was love at first sight.

Debbie and Scott now live on the island of Kauai. When Debbie is not writing and Scott has time off they love to indulge their passion for theme parks.


The Sweet Seasons Novels:

The Summer of Cotton Candy
The Fall of Candy Corn
The Winter of Candy Canes
The Spring of Candy Apples


Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310717531
ISBN-13: 978-0310717539
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Once again Candace found herself seated across from a Zone executive. Only this time it wasn’t Lloyd Peterson, the hiring manager; it was John Hanson, owner of the theme park. She tried hard not to squirm in her seat. He was smiling and friendly, but there was so much more at stake this time than a part-time job.

“So, Candace, as one of the five finalists for The Zone Game Master Scholarship, you must be pretty excited,” he said.

Excited. Bewildered. Nervous. So many to choose from. Excited because the winner got a full scholarship to a college in Florida. Bewildered because she still couldn’t believe her Balloon Races doodle could be taken seriously by anyone. Nervous because she didn’t want to blow it.

She’d finally forgiven her friend Josh for secretly entering her in the competition.

“Yes, I’m very excited and pretty nervous,” she admitted.

“Just try to relax,” he urged.

“I’ll try.”

“Now, as you know, there are many stages in the competition and you’ve passed them all to get this far. During the first stage contestants who don’t meet the qualifications are weeded out. Every year I’m surprised to hear how many of those there are. Next the Game Masters take a look at the attraction concepts for viability. Then they announce the top twenty candidates.”

Candace vaguely remembered that and how shocked she had been. She had just doodled her Balloon Races idea for a new them park ride on a napkin. She had been about to throw it away but gave it to Josh instead and he had secretly entered it in the scholarship competition.

“At that point we announce the candidates and give everyone who works for The Zone a chance to submit a recommendation for a candidate. Now, this isn’t just some sort of popularity vote. Recommendations are serious things. The person filling it out has to take the time to submit a ten-page form evaluating your strengths and telling the search committee exactly why they believe you should have the position. Based on the strength and numbers of those recommendations, the group of twenty is narrowed to five.”

“Wow! I can’t believe enough people recommended me,” Candace said, humbled at the amount of work it sounded like that would take.

“Several people here think quite highly of you. You had enough recommendations to just beat out a another young man for the fifth spot.”

“So, I’m here because I had one more recommendation?”

“Basically, yes. It’s policy that we don’t allow contestants to see their recommendations. However, since you are in the top five, I can tell you the people who recommended you.”

Suddenly, Candace realized her heart was in her throat. This somehow made her more nervous than the interview itself. It was a reflection of what people thought of her and how they had chosen to support her. She found herself holding her breath as she waited for the names.

“You had eight recommendations. The first seven came from your supervisor, Martha, Kowabunga referee Josh, Muffin Mansion’s Becca and Gib, Sue from janitorial, Roger from The Dug Out, and Pete the train operator.

None of those came as a great surprise, but Candace was touched and flattered that they would all spend the time and effort on her. She made a mental note to thank them later. That had to mean that the final recommendation that had put her over the top had to come from her boyfriend Kurt. She felt a warm glow as she thought about him.

“And the last one to come in was from Lisa in food carts.”

Candace was stunned. It wasn’t Kurt, who had written a recommendation for her, but rather Lisa, the girl who hated her? “Are you sure about that?” she burst out.

John looked surprised. “Yes. Why?”

“Nothing,” Candace mumbled, dropping her eyes.

The owner of the park chuckled. “Sometimes it’s a surprise when we discover who has actually noticed and thought we’ve done a good job.”

She nodded.

“And so, here you are—one of the final five contestants.”

“What happens now,” Candace asked, still a little unsure about the entire process.

“This is it. I stay out of the selection process until the very end. Now I interview the five candidates and choose the winner.”

Candace had suspected that might be the case but actually knowing it made her even more nervous

“You’ve been doing seasonal work for us, is that right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You know, I think it’s time to upgrade you. How would you like to work part-time at The Candy Counter?”

“In the Home Stretch?” she asked.

“That would be the one.”

“That would be great,” she said, not sure what else to say at the moment. She hadn’t really had a chance to think about working during the spring. There was a part of her that was instantly excited, though. Working at The Candy Counter meant she wouldn’t be working at a cart.

“So, shall we begin the interview?” he asked, the smile leaving his face.

She nodded mutely.



After the interview, Candace headed straight for the Muffin Mansion. There were no customers inside and Candace made a beeline for Becca, who was manning the cash register. Candace walked around the counter and gave Becca a big hug.

“What was that for?” Becca asked.

“For recommending me! I’ve got a hug for Gib too. Is he here?”

“He should be back from break in a minute.”

“I’ll wait.”

“So, how did the interview go?” Becca asked.

“I’m not sure. I feel like I totally blew it,” Candace confessed.

“Everyone probably felt that way.”

“I don’t know. I’m still not even sure how I’ve gotten this far in the competition.”

“Are you kidding? Balloon Races looks awesome.”

“How do you know?”

Becca smiled. “Josh has been showing a copy of your drawing to everyone.”

Candace rolled her eyes. “Great, one more thing I’ve gotta kill him for.”

“Hey, go easy on the guy. If you get that scholarship you’ll owe him big time for entering you.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Candace admitted.

“What’s with the frown face,” Becca said.

“Kurt didn’t recommend me for the competition,” Candace admitted.

“Ouch,” Becca said, wincing.

“And Lisa did. Isn’t that weird?”

“Definitely freaky.”

“How did your interview go?” a deep voice asked.

Candace jumped off the counter and hugged a surprised Gib. He patted her back awkwardly.

“Thank you for nominating me,” she said.

“No problem. Glad to do it.”

“Kurt didn’t nominate her,” Becca said.

“Knave!” Gib said, his face darkening.

Before Candace could respond, customers streamed through the door. She gave Becca and Gib a little wave and headed out. Once in the clear she headed for the Splash Zone, hoping to catch Josh who had started again a couple of days earlier in anticipation of summer. She saw him in his tank top and shorts in front of the Kowabunga ride.

“You’ve gotta be cold,” she said as she walked up.

“It’s worth it for not sweating through the summer,” he said with his customary grin. “So, how’d it go?”

“I don’t know,” she confessed as she gave him a hug. “But thank you for nominating me. Thank you for entering me,” she said, laughing a little.

“Told you the Balloon Races was cool,” he said.

She stepped back with a laugh. “Remind me to listen to you more.”

“That’s an easy one.”

“So, do you think I have a shot?” she asked.

He grew serious for a moment. “I hope so, but I don’t know. I entered you and I nominated you. That was really all I could do. It’s out of my hands.”

“I know. I’m just nervous.”

She was about to tell him who had nominated her when she remembered she had other news. “I did get a part-time job out of it,” she said.

His eyes widened. “Seriously? Part-time, not seasonal?”

She nodded. “I’m going to be working at The Candy Counter.”

“That’s great! Congratulations. I’m going to miss seeing you on the carts, though.”

She shrugged. “We can still hang on breaks.”

“Absolutely! Well, that is, after the Talent Show. My team and I are practicing a lot.”

Candace blinked at him. “Talent Show? What Talent Show?”

Josh laughed. “Same old Candace.”

My Review:

I love love this book and the entire series. I can not recommend them enough. It may be a YA series but myself and other adult women really like them too. They are clean, fun, and interesting. For now this looks like the last book in the series although I really hope the characters come back. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tender Grace by Jackina Stark


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Tender Grace

Bethany House (February 1, 2009)

by

Jackina Stark




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I have also spoken nationally and internationally at many retreats and seminars and enjoy running into many readers and former students. I have written frequently for both Christian Standard and Lookout, periodicals of Standard Publishing. Years ago I wrote two non-fiction books, published by College Press, but currently out of print. These days, I’m exploring fiction. My first novel, Tender Grace, will be released by Bethany House January 30, 2009, and a second, Things Worth Remembering, will be released in October, 2009. I’m working on new projects, including a third novel, as time permits. Whether speaking or writing, I love the opportunity to tell about Him whom Jesus called “Holy Father” and “the only true God.”

She lives in Joplin, Missouri with her husband, and she spends most of her free time doing is reading and writing. That is what she usually do when she's not teaching, enjoying the children and grandchildren, or sitting on the back porch drinking a Diet Coke and watching her husband till the garden!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Audrey Eaton awakes at three in the morning and gets up to retrieve her husband, Tom, from the recliner where he has fallen asleep watching a ball game. But when she enters the living room and looks at his gentle face in the soft lamp light, she knows their time together is over. Grief attacks her until all she can think about is how much she wants her old life back. Determined to find healing, she embarks on a journey to the one place Tom and she always intended to visit but never did. Along the way, she discovers, through shared experiences with friends old and new, the meaning of the "tender graces" God provides each and every day.

I've quit reading--even bestsellers, even the newspaper, even my Bible. I've also quit listening to music. This lack of appreciation for things I once loved is beginning to define me. More mornings than I can count, I say to myself before I open my eyes, "I don't want to do this." In the days shortly following Tom's death, that made sense, but what does it mean now? That I'm in trouble? One of the best qualities of the former me was thankfulness. As I was trying to sleep last night, needing Tom to be curled up behind me, his left arm slung across me, I realized to my horror that I couldn't remember the last time I was truly thankful. I think of a line from an old hymn: "Awake, my soul, and sing." I miss Tom. I also miss me. Determined to find healing, Audrey Eaton embarks on a trip to the one place she and her husband always intended to visit but never did. When things don't go as planned, will she embrace the unexpected graces that guide her journey?

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

My Review:

Tender Grace is told in journal form by the main character Audrey Eaton. She writes the entries on her laptop. Audrey is a widow who feels more dead than alive even over a year after her husband's sudden death. The book moves slow especially in the beginning. She decides she cannot live life like that anymore so she packed her car and set off on a trip end destination being a place where her husband and her meant to go when he was alive. Along the way she stops in different places and meets new people and starts the journey to living again. I really liked the parts where she studies the book of John in her husband's Bible and applies it to where she is now in life. Overall I liked the book after making my way through the beginning fourth. Recommended. :)

For another review at Bookfoolery and Babble go here:

http://bookfoolery.blogspot.com/2008/01/tender-grace-by-jackina-stark.html

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gingham Mountain

Barbour Books (February 1, 2009)

by

Mary Connealy




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary's writing journey is similar to a lot of others. Boil it down to persistence, oh, go ahead and call it stubbornness. She just kept typing away. She think the reason she did it was because she was more or less a dunce around people—prone to sit silently when she really ought to speak up(or far worse, speak up when she ought to sit silently).

So, Mary had all these things, she want to say, in her head; the perfect zinger to the rude cashier, which you think of an hour after you’ve left the store, the perfect bit of wisdom when someone needs help, which doesn’t occur to you until they solve their problems themselves, the perfect guilt trip for the kids, which you don’t say because you’re not an idiot. She keep all this wit to herself, much to the relief of all who know her, and then wrote all her great ideas into books. It’s therapeutic if nothing else, and more affordable than a psychiatrist.

So then a very nice, oh so nice publishing company like Barbour Heartsong comes along and says, “Hey, we’ll pay you money for this 45,000 word therapy session.” That’s as sweet as it gets.

Mary's journey to publication is the same as everyone’s except for a few geniuses out there who make it hard for all of us. And even they probably have an Ode to Roast Beef or two in their past.

There are two other books in this Lassoed In Texas Series: Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon


ABOUT THE BOOK


All aboard for a delightful, suspense-filled romance, where a Texan is torn between his attraction to a meddlesome schoolmarm and the charms of a designing dressmaker. When Hannah Cartwright meets Grant, she's determined to keep him from committing her orphans to hard labor on his ranch. How far will she go to ensure their welfare?

Grant Cooper is determined to provide a home for the two kids brought in by the orphan train as runs head-on into the new school marm, who believes he's made slave labor out of eight orphaned children. He crowds too many orphans into his rickety house, just like Hannah Cartwright's cruel father. Grant's family of orphans have been mistreated too many times by judgmental school teachers. Now the new schoolmarm is the same except she's so pretty and she isn't really bad to his children, it's Grant she can't stand.

But he is inexplicably drawn to Hannah. Can he keep his ragtag family together while steering clear of love and marriage? Will he win her love or be caught in the clutches of a scheming seamstress?

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

My Review:

This is a cute Christian historical romance book. It is the third in the Lassoed in Texas series. I have read the whole series and they are all good. This book can stand on its own but you will miss background on two of the lead female characters. I recommend the series. :)

This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury (AND Giveaway)

***Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a copy. Contest closes Monday February 23 at midnight.***

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:



This Side of Heaven

Center Street (January 6, 2009)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's #1 inspirational novelist. She's written more than thirty novels, ten of which have hit #1 on bestseller lists, and her Center Street novel Just Beyond the Clouds hit #13 on the New York Times bestseller list. There are nearly seven million copies of her award-winning books in print, including more than two million copies sold last year alone. She lives in Washington state with her husband, Don, and their six children, three of whom are adopted from Haiti.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Center Street (January 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599956780
ISBN-13: 978-1599956787

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




My Review:
This is a very touching book. It definitely tugged at my heart. The main theme is where a person's worth comes from and it comes from who you are rather than what you do for a living. There is a major plot twist I did not expect. All I have to say is yikes. From the start to end the author had me. I highly recommend this book. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Cry in the Night by Colleen Coble


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Cry In The Night

Thomas Nelson (February 3, 2009)

by

Colleen Coble




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Colleen Coble's thirty novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.


AWARDS:
2004 More Than Magic winner for Best Inspirational Romance
Without a Trace, Thomas Nelson
2004 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year



ABOUT THE BOOK

The highly anticipated novel that delivers what romantic suspense fans have long awaited-the return to Rock Harbor.
Bree Nichols gets the shock of her life when her husband-presumed dead-reappears.

Bree Nichols and her search and rescue dog Samson discover a crying infant in the densely forested woods outside of Rock Harbor, Michigan. Against objections from her husband, Kade, who knows she'll become attached, Bree takes the baby in. Quickly she begins a search for the mother-presumably the woman reported missing just days earlier.
While teams scour the forests, Bree ferrets out clues about the missing woman. But she soon discovers something more shocking: Bree's former husband-long presumed dead in a plane crash-resurfaces. Is he really who he says he is? And should she trust him again after all these years?
An engaging, romantic suspense novel from critically-acclaimed author Colleen Coble.

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

My Review:

Although I am sad to see these characters go this is a great finish to the Rock Harbour Series by Colleen Coble. I purchased books 1-3 last year and had them on my TBR shelf. When I heard about a surprise book four coming out I decided I had to read them asap. I am so glad I did. I loved this series. Colleen gives beautiful descriptions of Michigan's outdoors. Interesting characters and plot lines fill the books. Mostly suspense and mystery this last book but in books two and three there was a little romance thrown in too. I love Bree and her rescue dog Samson. That's saying a lot because I am not a big dog person. I know I will be rereading this series. This last book had me breathless as I read some of the twists. I highly recommend this whole series! :)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Against All Odds by Irene Hannon


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Against All Odds

Revell (February 1, 2009)

by

Irene Hannon



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Irene Hannon is an award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut.

Since then, she has written more than 25 romance and romantic suspense novels that have sold more than 1.5 million copies. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA award from Romance Writers of America (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), the HOLT Medallion and a Reviewer’s Choice award from Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full. She is happy to say she has no regrets! As she points out, leaving behind the rush-hour commute, corporate politics and a relentless BlackBerry that never slept was no sacrifice.

In her spare time, Irene enjoys hamming it up in community musical theater productions. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She also regularly performs with a six-person musical review troupe and is a cantor at her church (where she does NOT ham it up!).

When not otherwise occupied, Irene loves to cook and garden. She and her husband also enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.


ABOUT THE BOOK

For FBI Hostage Rescue Team member Evan Cooper and his partner, dignitary protection duty should have been a piece of cake. Unfortunately, Monica Callahan isn’t making it easy. Estranged from her diplomat father, who is involved in a sensitive hostage situation in the Middle East, she refuses to be intimidated by a related terrorist threat back in the States…until a chilling warning convinces her that the danger is very real—and escalating. As Coop and his partner do their best to keep her safe, David Callahan continues his work—triggering an abduction that puts his daughter’s life at risk. And with every second that ticks by, Coop knows that the odds of saving the only woman who has ever managed to breach the walls around his heart are dropping. Because terrorists aren’t known for their patience—or their mercy.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Against All Odds, go HERE


WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:

4 ½-star, “Top Pick” rating from Romantic Times BOOKreviews!

"Brava! Award winner Hannon debuts the heroes of Quantico series with a wonderful
array of believable characters, action and suspense that will keep readers glued to each page. Hannon’s extraordinary writing, vivid scenes and surprise ending come together for a not-to-be-missed reading experience.”
~Romantic Times BOOKreviews~

“I found someone who writes romantic suspense better than I do. I highly recommend Against All Odds as one of the best books I've had the privilege of reading this year. This is a captivating, fast-paced, well written romantic suspense destined for my keeper shelf. I loved this book, and highly recommend this author."
~Dee Henderson~ Author of the O’Malley Family Series

My Review:

Overall I liked this story and I can't wait to read the next in the series. My only problem was the beginning where I had a little trouble keeping the two main male characters straight and developing in my head. Past the beginning I was hooked in the development of the story. The main theme of forgiveness and moving beyond your past rings true. There was good blend of romance and suspense which I love! Recommended although not Dee Henderson. :)