Monday, August 31, 2009

R.I.P. IV Reading Challenge





It is time for the fourth annual R.I.P. reading challenge hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings: http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/



There are two simple goals to the

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge:

1. Have fun reading.

2. Share that fun with others.





I have never participated in this challenge before and I have been trying to resist this challenge for over a week but my friend Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble (http://bookfoolery.blogspot.com/) joined and she does not do reading challenges anymore so I took that as a sign. lol And I love the pictures/signs he came up with for the challenge. Beautiful!





This challenge runs from September 1 – October 31, and you can read any books in the following genres:
Mystery
Suspense
Thriller
Dark Fantasy
Gothic
Horror
Supernatural


There are different levels but I am going all the way with Peril the First which is to read 4 books.
A list of books that I might choose from:

* Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove (DONE)
* Forsaken by James David Jordan
* Kiss Me if You Dare by Nicole Young
* Dracula by Bram Stoker
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
* Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger * The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters (DONE)
* Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg

To sign up or read more about it go here:
http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/?p=1132

Gone to Green by Judy Christie


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Gone To Green

Abingdon Press (August 2009)

by

Judy Christie




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Judy Pace Christie, after working as a journalist for twenty-five years, left the daily news business to open a consulting firm that works with individuals, businesses, and churches on strategies for meaningful life and work, including goal-setting, living fully, and balancing personal and professional lives. She is the author of Hurry Less, Worry Less; Hurry Less, Worry Less at Christmastime; and co-author of Awesome Altars. Judy and her husband live in northwest Louisiana.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Lois goes from being a corporate journalist at a large paper in the Midwest to the owner of The Green News-Item, a small twice-weekly newspaper in rural North Louisiana. The paper was an unexpected inheritance from a close colleague, and Lois must keep it for at least a year, bringing a host of challenges, lessons, and blessings into her life.

When Lois pulls into Green on New Year’s Day, she expects a charming little town full of smiling people. She quickly realizes her mistake. After settling into a loaned house out on Route 2, she finds herself battling town prejudices and inner doubts and making friends with the most surprising people: troubled teenager Katy, good-looking catfish farmer Chris, wise and feisty Aunt Helen, and a female African-American physician named Kevin.

Whether fighting a greedy, deceitful politician or rescuing a dog she fears, Lois notices the headlines in her life have definitely improved. She learns how to provide small-town news in a big-hearted way and realizes that life is full of newsworthy moments. When she encounters racial prejudice and financial corruption, Lois also discovers more about the goodness of real people and the importance of being part of a community.

While secretly preparing the paper for a sale, Lois begins to realize that God might indeed have a plan for her life and that perhaps the allure of city life and career ambition are not what she wants after all.

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

My Review:

Big city girl meets small town north Louisiana in this wonderful new contemporary novel. Lois is on her way to being an editor at a big newspaper but when her good friend Ed dies he leaves her his small town paper. She feels obligated to run it and after all the contract is only for one year then she can sell it. The plot and characters are interesting and lively. It is written in first person so you can see what the main character Lois is thinking. There are some fun moments, serious moments, and maybe even a little romance. I look forward to reading more about Lois and the other characters. Yay for series! Recommended. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Salon August 30, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* It is the last weekend in August. It is hard to believe summer flew by so fast.

* We are going to the beach Thursday September 3 through Monday September 7 so I will not be on the Internet most of that time. I think I will have two or three posts set to go while I am gone.

* I am still doing laundry. It is amazing how much laundry two girls can accumulate in one week. lol

* I am not sure which books to bring on vacation with me although I am bringing a variety of genres. I might post a list of which ones are making it into the bag. :)

* I posted a review today of Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/oulaws-bride-by-lori-copeland.html

*Yesterday I participated in the new meme Show Me 5 Saturday.
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/show-me-5-saturday-texas-rangers-family.html

* I finally posted my July Reads in Review
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/july-reads-in-review.html

* I posted a review of Meltdown by Chuck Holton Monday
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/meltdown-by-chuck-holton.html

* I posted a review Monday of Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/beyond-this-moment-by-tamera-alexander.html

* This weekend I read:

Gone to Green by Judy Christie (review up tomorrow)

Fools Rush In by Janice Thompson (review up next weekend on tour)

I am in the process of reading Stray Attractions by Charlene Baumbich

* I hope to start another book tonight too. :)

* I only have to work Monday and Tuesday this week so pray that they are not hectic but great days. Thank you.

Outlaw's Bride by Lori Copeland



About the Book:

Falsely convicted of bank robbery, drifter Johnny McAllister is sent to a rehabilitation program in the home of a California judge. When he goes to Judge McMann’s home, his aim is to be a model prisoner, hoping to be released early and return to his life's mission: to kill the man who wiped out his family 15 years before. He’s planned for everything…except his encounter with Ragan, the beautiful and kind housekeeper, and with the generous folks of Barren Flats. But can Johnny let go of his anger and embrace a new life? One that would include Ragan as his bride? Formerly titled The Bride of Johnny McAllister, rewritten for the inspirational market.
My Review:
I have read most of Lori Copeland's Christian fiction books and liked them including her historical westerns. For some reason this book did not quite click all the way with me. The plot line itself is interesting and the characters have potential. Some scenes were funny like the three boys hired to stop the outlaws from ravaging the town and the wacky solutions they developed. But the religious aspect felt a little forced like it was added later which is what happened. Overall this is an okay romantic historical western Christian fiction book. I still look forward to reading the next book in the series to see what happens.

North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson Winner

The winner of North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson is ...

Lady Araujo

Congratulations

Thank you to everyone who entered. :)


Here is your sequence:
2
1
Timestamp: 2009-08-30 17:29:31 UTC

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Show Me 5 Saturday: A Texas Ranger's Family by Mae Nunn

This is a new meme hosted by That's A Novel Idea:
http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-meme-show-me-5-saturday.html

1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week

2 Words that describe the book

3 Settings where it took place or characters you met

4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it

5 Stars or less for your rating?
My answers:
1. A Texas Ranger's Family by Mae Nunn
2. Injured Photojournalist
3. ICU Walter Reed Hospital, Houston Texas, Texas Ranger Daniel Stabler
4. I liked the way Daniel was able to forgive Erin for deserting them when their daughter was a baby. I liked how Daniel and their daughter Dana took Erin to their home in Texas to recover after a bomb in Iraq severely injured her. I liked how Erin in her pictures tried to capture a miracle on film and the family is Christian. My only little complaint is that some of it is a little hard to swallow like the daughter being so happy to see the mother who deserted her but overall I loved the book.
5. My overall rating is 4.75 and definitely recommended.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Patillo

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:


Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love

WaterBrook Press (June 2, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




RITA Award–winning Beth Pattillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. An ordained minister in the Christian Church, Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program. Pattillo is the married mother of two children. She lives and laughs in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073952
ISBN-13: 978-1400073955

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


One


Every Tuesday at eleven o’clock in the morning, Eugenie Carson descended the steps of the Sweetgum Public Library and made her way to Tallulah’s Café on the town square. In the past, she would have eaten the diet plate—cottage cheese and a peach half—in solitary splendor. Then she would have returned to her job running the library, just as she’d done for the last forty years.

On this humid September morning, though, Eugenie was meeting someone for lunch—her new husband, Rev. Paul Carson, pastor of the Sweetgum Christian Church. Eugenie smiled at the thought of Paul waiting for her at the café. They might both be gray haired and near retirement, but happiness was happiness, no matter what age you found it.

Eugenie entered the square from the southeast corner. The Antebellum courthouse anchored the middle, while Kendall’s Department Store occupied the east side to her right. She walked along the south side of the square, past Callahan’s Hardware, the drugstore, and the movie theater, and crossed the street to the café. The good citizens of Sweetgum were already arriving at Tallulah’s for lunch. But Eugenie passed the café, heading up the western side of the square. She had a brief errand to do before she met her husband. Two doors down, she could see the sign for Munden’s Five-and-Dime. Her business there shouldn’t take long.

Before she reached Munden’s, a familiar figure emerged from one of the shops and blocked the sidewalk.

Hazel Emerson. President of the women’s auxiliary at the Sweetgum Christian Church and self-appointed judge and jury of her fellow parishioners.

“Eugenie.” Hazel smiled, but the expression, coupled with her rather prominent eyeteeth, gave her a wolfish look. Hazel was on the heavy side, a bit younger than Eugenie’s own sixty five years, and her hair was dyed an unbecoming shade of mink. Hazel smiled, but there was no pleasantness in it. “Just the person

I wanted to see.”

Eugenie knew better than to let her distaste for the woman show. “Good morning, Hazel,” she replied. “How are you?”

“Distressed, Eugenie. Thoroughly distressed.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Eugenie truly was dismayed, but not from worry over Hazel’s discomfort.

“Yes, well, you have the power to calm the waters, ”Hazel said with the same false smile. “In a manner of speaking, at least.”

Since Eugenie’s marriage to Paul only a few weeks before, she’d learned how demanding Hazel could be. The other woman called the parsonage at all hours and appeared in Paul’s office at least once a day. Although Eugenie had known Hazel casually for years, she’d never had to bother with her much. Eugenie couldn’t remember Hazel ever having entered the library.

“How can I help you?” Eugenie said in her best librarian’s voice. She had uttered the phrase countless times over the last forty years and had it down to an art form. Interested but not enmeshed. Solicitous but not overly involved.

“Well, Eugenie, you must know that many people in the church are distressed by your marriage to Paul.”

“Really?” Eugenie kept the pleasant smile on her face and continued to breathe evenly. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, not me, of course,” Hazel said and pressed a hand to her ample chest. “I’m perfectly delighted. But some people… Well, they have concerns.”

“What concerns would those be?” Eugenie asked with measured calm.

Hazel glanced to the right and to the left, then leaned forward to whisper in a conspiratorial fashion. “Some of them aren’t sure you’re a Christian,” she said. Then she straightened and resumed her normal tone of voice. “As I said, I’m not one of them, but I thought I should tell you. For your own good, but also for Rev. Carson’s.”

“I see.” And Eugenie certainly did, far more than Hazel would guess. Eugenie wasn’t new to small-town gossip. Heaven knew she’d heard her share, and even been the target of some, over the last forty years. She’d known that her marriage to Paul would cause some comments, but she hadn’t expected this blatant response.

“I’m mentioning it because I don’t think it would be difficult to put people’s fears to rest,” Hazel said. Her smug expression needled Eugenie. “I know you’ve been attending worship, and that’s a wonderful start.” Hazel quickly moved from interfering to patronizing. “The women’s auxiliary meets on Tuesday mornings. If you joined us—”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Eugenie answered. She was determined to keep a civil tongue in her head if it killed her. “I have to work.”

“For something this important, I’m sure you could find someone to cover for you.”

Eugenie tightened her grip on her handbag. In an emergency, no doubt she could arrange something. But this wasn’t an emergency. It was manipulation.

“Hazel—”

“Particularly at this time,” Hazel said, barely stopping for breath. “With all the losses we’ve had in these last few months… Well, our community needs leadership. Our church needs leadership.” She gave Eugenie a meaningful look.

Eugenie paused to consider her words carefully. “It has been a difficult summer,” she began. “Tom Munden’s death was so unexpected, and then to lose Frank Jackson like that. And now, with Nancy St. Clair…”

“So you see why it’s more important than ever that you prove to church members that their pastor hasn’t made a grave mistake.”

“I hardly think that my attending a meeting of the women’s auxiliary will offer much comfort to the grieving.” Nor would it convince anyone of her status as a believer. Those sorts of people weren’t looking for proof. They were looking for Eugenie to grovel for acceptance.

Hazel sniffed. “Don’t be difficult, Eugenie. You’re being unrealistic if you expect people to accept you as a Christian after forty years of never darkening the door of any sanctuary in this town.”

“I’ve always felt that faith is a private matter.” That was the sum of any personal information Eugenie was willing to concede to Hazel. “I prefer to let my actions speak for me.”

“There are rumblings,” Hazel said darkly. “Budget rumblings.”

“What do you mean?”

“People need to have full confidence in their pastor, Eugenie. Otherwise they’re less motivated to support the church financially.”

Eugenie bit her tongue. She couldn’t believe Hazel Emerson was standing here, in the middle of the town square, practicing her own brand of extortion.

“Are you threatening me?” Eugenie asked, incredulous.

Hazel sniffed. “Of course not. Don’t be silly. I’m merely cautioning you. As a Christian and as a friend.”

Eugenie wanted to reply that Hazel didn’t appear to be filling either role very well, but she refrained.

“I’ll take your concerns under advisement,” she said to Hazel with forced pleasantness. “I’m sure you mean them in the kindest possible way.”

“Of course I do. How else would I mean them?”

“How else, indeed?” Eugenie muttered under her breath.

“Well, I won’t keep you.” Hazel nodded. “Have a nice day, Eugenie.”

“You too, Hazel.” The response was automatic and helped Eugenie to cover her true sentiments. She stood in place for a long moment as Hazel moved past her, on her way to stir up trouble in some other quarter, no doubt. Then, with a deep breath, Eugenie forced herself to start moving toward Munden’s Five-and-Dime.

She had known it would be difficult, stepping into this unfamiliar role as a pastor’s wife. Paul had assured her that he had no expectations, that she should do what she felt was right. But Eugenie wondered if he had any idea of the trouble Hazel Emerson was stirring up right under his nose.

True, she hadn’t attended church for forty years. After she and Paul had ended their young romance, she’d blamed God for separating them. If Paul hadn’t felt called to the ministry, if he hadn’t refused to take her with him when he went to seminary, if she hadn’t stubbornly insisted on going with him or ending their relationship…

Last year she and Paul had found each other again, all these decades later, and she’d thought the past behind them. But here it was once more in the person of Hazel Emerson, raising troubling questions. Threatening Paul. Forcing Eugenie to examine issues she’d rather leave unanswered.



As the head of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, Eugenie had taken on responsibility for the well-being of the little group several years before. Since Ruthie Allen, the church secretary, had left for Africa last spring to do volunteer work, the group had experienced a definite void. It was time for an infusion of new blood, and after careful consideration, Eugenie had determined that Maria Munden was just the person the Knit Lit Society needed. What’s more, Maria needed the group too. The recent loss of her father must be quite difficult for her, Eugenie was sure. And so despite having had her feathers ruffled by Hazel Emerson, Eugenie walked into Munden’s Five-and-Dime with a firm purpose.

“Good morning, Maria,” Eugenie called above the whine of the door. For years she’d been after Tom Munden to use a little WD-40 on the hinges, but he had insisted that the noise bothered him less than the idea of a customer entering without him knowing it.

“Eugenie! Hello.” Maria straightened from where she stood slumped over the counter. She had red marks on her forehead from resting her head in her hands, and her nondescript shoulder length brown hair hung on each side of her face in a clump. Eugenie had come at the right time. Maria was in her early thirties, but her father’s death seemed to have aged her ten years.

Maria came around the counter. “What can I help you with today?”

“Oh, I’m not here to buy anything,” Eugenie said, and then she was dismayed when disappointment showed in Maria’s eyes. With the superstores of the world creeping closer and closer to Sweetgum, mom-and-pop shops like Munden’s were living on borrowed time. Even if Tom Munden had lived, the inevitable day when the store closed couldn’t have been avoided.

“What did you need then?” Maria’s tone was polite but strained.

“I have an invitation for you.”

“An invitation?”

Eugenie stood a little straighter. “On behalf of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to become a part of the group.”

Maria’s brown eyes were blank for a moment, and then they darkened. “The Knit Lit Society?”

“I can’t think of anyone who would be a better fit.” Eugenie paused. “If you don’t know how to knit, one of us can teach you. And I know you enjoy reading.” Maria was one of the most faithful and frequent patrons of the library. “I think you’d appreciate the discussion.”

Maria said nothing.

“If you’d like some time to think—”

“I’ll do it,” Maria said quickly, as if she didn’t want to give herself time to reconsider. “I know how to knit. You won’t have to teach me.”

“Excellent,” Eugenie said, relieved. “Our meeting is this Friday.”

“Do I have to read something by then?” Lines of doubt wrinkled Maria’s forehead beneath the strands of gray that streaked her hair.

Eugenie shook her head. “I haven’t passed out the reading list for this year. This first meeting will be to get us organized.”

Relief eased the tight lines on her face.

“We meet at the church, of course,” Eugenie continued. “Upstairs, in the Pairs and Spares Sunday school room. If you’d like, I can drop by here Friday evening and we can walk over together.”

Maria shook her head. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary.” She paused, as if collecting her thoughts, then spoke. “I’m not sure why you asked me to join, Eugenie, but I appreciate it.”

“I’m delighted to have you. The others will be as well. ”Mission accomplished, Eugenie shifted her pocketbook to the other arm. “I’d better be going. I’m meeting Paul for lunch at the café.”

Like most of Sweetgum, with the possible exception of Hazel Emerson, Maria smiled at Eugenie’s mention of her new husband. “Tell the preacher I said hello.” Maria moved to open the door for Eugenie. “I’ll see you at the meeting.”

Eugenie lifted her shoulders and nodded with as much equanimity as she could. After years of being the town spinster, playing the newlywed was a novel experience. She hoped she’d become accustomed to it with time—if she didn’t drive away all of Paul’s parishioners first with her heathen ways.

“Have a nice afternoon,” Eugenie said and slipped out the door, glad that at least one thing that morning had gone as planned.


After Eugenie left, Maria Munden halfheartedly swiped her feather duster at the back-to-school display in the front window. Hot sunshine, amplified by the plate glass, made sweat bead on her forehead. What was the point of dusting the same old collection of binders, backpacks, and two-pocket folders? She’d barely seen a customer all day. She turned from the window and looked around at the neat rows of shelving. The five symmetrical aisles had stood in the same place as long as she could remember.

Aisle one, to the far left, held greeting cards, gift-wrap, stationery, office and school supplies. Aisle two, housewares and paper goods. Aisle three, decorative items. Aisle four, cleaning supplies and detergent. Aisle five had always been her favorite, with its games, puzzles, and coloring books. Across the back wall stretched the sewing notions, yarn, and craft supplies. Everything to outfit a household and its members in one small space. The only problem was, no one wanted small anymore. They wanted variety, bulk, and large economy size with a McDonald’s and a credit union. Not quaint and limited, like the old five-and- dime.

From the counter a few feet away, Maria’s cell phone buzzed, and she sighed. She knew without looking at the display who it would be.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Maria, you have to do something about this.” Her mother never acknowledged the greeting but plunged into a voluble litany of complaints that covered everything from the state of the weather to her older sister Daphne’s management of the farm.

“Mom?” Maria tried to interrupt her mother’s diatribe. “Mom? Look, I’m the only one in the store right now. I’ll have to call you back later.”

“Where’s Stephanie? She was supposed to be there at nine.”

“I don’t know where she is. ”Maria’s younger sister, the baby at twenty-five, was AWOL more often than not.

Maria heard the shop door open with a whine of its hinges, not too different from her mother’s tone of voice. She looked up, expecting to see her younger sister. Instead, a tall, dark-haired man entered the store. He took two steps inside, then stopped. His eyes traveled around the rows of shelves, and his lips twisted in an expression of disapproval. The hairs on Maria’s neck stood on end. The stranger saw her, nodded, and then disappeared down the far aisle, but he was so tall that Maria could track his progress as he moved. He came to a stop in front of the office supplies. Someone from out of town, obviously. Probably a traveling salesman who needed paper clips or legal pads. Maybe a couple of blank CDs or a flash drive. Maria had dealt with his type before.

“Bye, Mom,” she said into the phone before clicking it shut. From experience, she knew it would take her mother several moments before she realized Maria was no longer on the other end of the line. Such discoveries never seemed to faze her mother. She would simply look around the room at home and find Daphne so she could continue her rant. Maria tucked the cell phone under the counter and moved across the store toward the stranger. “May I help you?” Upon closer inspection, she could see that his suit was expensive. So were his haircut, his shoes, and his aftershave.

His head turned toward her, and she felt a little catch in her chest. His dark eyes stared down at her as if she were a lesser mortal approaching a demigod.

“I’m looking for a fountain pen,” he said. He turned back toward the shelves of office supplies and studied them as if attempting to decipher a secret code.

A fountain pen? In Sweetgum? He was definitely from out of town.

“I’m afraid we only have ballpoint or gel.” She waved a hand toward the appropriate shelf. “Would one of these do?”

He looked at her again, one eyebrow arched like the vault of a cathedral. “I need a fountain pen.”

Maria took a calming breath. A sale was a sale, and the customer was always right—her father’s two favorite dictums, drummed into her from the day she was tall enough to see over the counter.

“I’m sorry. Our selection is limited, I know. Which way are you headed? I can direct you to the nearest Wal-Mart. You might find one there.”

At her mention of the chain superstore, the man’s mouth turned down as if she’d just insulted him. “No, thank you. That won’t be necessary.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” she said, practically gritting her teeth. She resisted the urge to grab his arm and hustle him out of the store. Today was not the day to try her patience. In two hours, assuming Stephanie showed up, Maria was going to cross the town square to the lawyer’s office and do the unthinkable. At the moment, she didn’t have time for this man and his supercilious attitude toward Sweetgum.

“I need directions,” he said, eyeing her dubiously, as if he thought she might not be up to the task.

“Well, if you’re looking for someplace nearby, I can tell you where you need to go,” she said without a hint of a smile.

He looked away, as if deliberating whether to accept her offer. Honestly, the man might be extraordinarily good-looking—and wealthy, no doubt—but she would be surprised if he had any friends. He had the social skills of a goat.

The hinges on the door whined again. Maria looked over her shoulder to see another man entering the shop.

“James!” The second man grinned when he caught sight of the stranger at Maria’s side. “You disappeared.” The newcomer was as fair as the first was dark. “We’re late.”

“Yes,” the stranger replied with a continued lack of charm.

“But I needed a pen. ”He snatched a two-pack of ballpoints from the shelf and extended them toward Maria. “I’ll take these.”

Maria bit the inside of her lip and took the package from his hand. “I’ll ring you up at the counter.” She whirled on one heel and walked, spine rigid, to the front of the store.

“Hi.” The second man greeted her with cheery casualness. “Great store. I haven’t seen anything like this in years.”

It was a polite way of saying that Munden’s Five-and-Dime was dated, but Maria appreciated his chivalry. Especially since his friend obviously didn’t have a courteous bone in his body.

“Thank you. ”Maria smiled at him and then stepped behind the counter to ring up the sale on the ancient register. She’d pushed her father for years to computerize their sales—not to mention the inventory—but he’d been perfectly happy with his tried-and-true methods. Unfortunately, while he’d been able to keep track of sales and stock in his head, Maria wasn’t quite so gifted.

The tall man appeared on the other side of the register. “Three dollars and thirty-two cents,” she said, not looking him in the eye.

He reached for his wallet and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Maria refused to show her frustration. Great. Now he would wipe out all her change, and she’d have to figure out a way to run over to the bank without anyone to watch the store. She completed the transaction and slid the package of pens into a paper bag with the Munden’s logo emblazoned on it.

“Hey, can you recommend a place for lunch?” the blond man asked. He glanced at his watch. “We need a place to eat between meetings.”

“Tallulah’s Café down the block,” Maria said. Even the tall, arrogant stranger wouldn’t be able to find fault with Tallulah’s home cooking. People drove from miles around for her fried chicken, beef stew, and thick, juicy pork chops. “But you might want to go soon. The café gets busy at lunch.”

“Thanks.” His smile could only be described as sunny, and it made Maria feel better. She smiled in response.

“You’re welcome.”

The tall man watched the exchange impassively. Maria hoped he’d be gone from Sweetgum before the sun went down. Big-city folks who came into town dispensing condescension were one of her biggest pet peeves.

“C’mon, James,” the blond man said. “I have a lot of papers to go over.” He nodded toward his friend. “James here thinks I’m crazy to buy so much land in the middle of nowhere.”

Maria froze. It couldn’t be.

“Oh.” She couldn’t think what else to say.

“We’d better go,” the tall man said, glancing at his watch. “Thank you. ”He nodded curtly at Maria, letting her know she’d been dismissed as the inferior creature that she was.

“But I thought you wanted—” Before she could remind him about his request for directions, the two men disappeared out the door, and Maria’s suspicions—not to mention her fears— flooded through her.

She should have put two and two together the moment the first man had walked into the store. A stranger in an expensive suit. In town for a meeting. Looking for a fountain pen to sign things. Normally Maria was good at figuring things out. Like where her father had put the quarterly tax forms and how she and Stephanie could manage the store with just the two of them for employees.

What she hadn’t figured out, though, were the more complex questions. Like how she had come to be a small-town spinster when she hadn’t been aware of time passing. Or how she was going to keep the five-and-dime afloat even as the town’s economy continued to wither on the vine. And she certainly had no idea how she was going to tell her mother and sisters that she, as executrix of her father’s will, was about to sell their farm, and the only home they’d ever known, right out from under them.

“Welcome to Sweetgum,” she said to the empty aisles around her, and then she picked up the feather duster once more.

I have read the first book in the series and it was good so I am looking forward to reading this one.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

July Reads in Review

I know it is already the end of August and I am just now recapping the July books I read. Horrible. I only read 11 books in July compared to the 30 in June. But I did enjoy and like all of the ones I read in July. It is very hard to pick favorites. I would recommend any of the below books. :)

170. The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn by Liz Johnson
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/kidnapping-of-kenzie-thorn-by-liz.html

171. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

172. Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/return-to-love-by-betsy-st-amant.html

173. Try Fear by James Scott Bell
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/try-fear-by-james-scott-bell.html

174. Hometown Courtship by Diann Hunt
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/hometown-courtship-by-diann-hunt.html

175. Through the Fire by Shawn Grady
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/through-fire-by-shawn-grady.html

176. Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/things-left-unspoken-by-eva-marie.html

177. Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/menu-for-romance-by-kaye-dacus.html

178. Code of Honor by Lenora Worth

179. Fly Girl by Sherri L. Smith

180. Offworld by Robin Parrish
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/offworld-by-robin-parrish.html

181. June Bug by Chris Fabry
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/june-bug-by-chris-fabry.html

What's On Your Nightstand? Tuesday August 25, 2009 Edition

I missed last month because our digital camera got stolen and I felt very overwhelmed about doing it without pictures. We are going on vacation next Thursday and will be back that Monday so hopefully I can get lots of books read. Last year on vacation I read 7 books.

I have a towering TBR stack of Steeple Hill Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense novels. They keep coming out faster than I can fit them in to be read. They now have 6 Love Inspired titles per month and 4 Love Inspired Suspense. Help!
My regular book review stack is still rather tall but I am making progress on reading it down and posting reviews. I posted a lot of reviews yesterday. I miss my pictures. We are probably getting another digital camera before vacation or on it so next month I will have pictures. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Meltdown by Chuck Holton



About the Book:

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.

My Review:
Meltdown is the third book in the Task Force Valor series. I have been eagerly waiting for it since I read the last book. :) Chuck Holton's fiction and nonfiction reveal his real life experience in the military. Action, suspense, and a little romance make this a hard to put down story for me. I loved it. I highly recommend this book and the entire series. :)

About the author:

Chuck Holton has traveled the world, experienced combat, served in the Elite 75th Ranger Regiment, and is the author of six books, including Allah’s Fire, Island Inferno, Bulletproof, Stories From a Soldier’s Heart, and A More Elite Soldier. His journeys have taken him from the depths of the Atlantic, to the mountains of Burma, from the dogsleds of Alaska, to skies of Iraq. Chuck lives in Appalachia with his wife, Connie, and their five children.
Amazon link:

Beyond This Moment by Tamera Alexander


Lives are made up of tiny steps. Some are chosen for us; some we choose. All hold the power to change who we become—but only if we let them.

Dismissed from the university where she served as Professor of Romantic Languages, Dr. Molly Whitcomb travels west to start over in the secluded mountain town of Timber Ridge, Colorado, where she'll be teaching children. Her train stops in Denver, and on a whim, Molly purchases a wedding band--an attempt to cover a mistake, but also a chance at a fresh start.


Sheriff James McPherson was eager to hire a schoolteacher, but Dr. Molly Whitcomb isn't what he expected. His instincts about people--which rarely miss the mark--tell him she's hiding something. And when Molly's secret is revealed, her reinvented life begins to unravel. What's more, she risks losing her newfound relationship with the sheriff and her renewed faith in God.
My Review:
I loved this book. It is the second in the Timber Ridge Reflections trilogy but it stands alone fine. All of Tamera Alexander's books have absolutely beautiful covers to go with the beautiful writing on the inside. I was drawn in from the first page and held captured til the last page. I read it in one night. Beyond the Moment had characters that came alive in my mind. Two main themes are forgiveness and integrity. When Dr. Molly Whitcomb fails to see beyond the moment her life changes forever but can God redeem the situation?
I highly recommend this book and all of Tamera Alexander's other books too. :)
About the author:
Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy life with their two college-age children and a precious--and precocious--silky terrier named Jack.
If you have a minute, you can visit Tamera's website and her blog.
The Amazon link is:

Surrender The Wind by Rita Gerlach


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Surrender The Wind

Abingdon Press (August 2009)

by

Rita Gerlach



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rita Gerlach has published three historical novels plus articles in Writers Gazette, Write to Inspire, Will Write 4 Food, and The Christian Communicator.

She also is the editor of Stepping Stones Magazine, an online website focused on writing, marketing, and promotion for writers. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and The Western Maryland Writers Guild.

She currently lives in Frederick, Maryland. You can also visit her at her Blog





ABOUT THE BOOK

Seth Braxton, a patriot of the American Revolution, unexpectedly inherits his loyalist grandfather's estate in England. Seth is torn between the land he fought for and the prospect of reuniting with his sister Caroline, who was a motherless child taken to England at the onset of the war.
With no intention of staying permanently, Seth arrives to find his sister grieving over the death of her young son. In the midst of such tragedy, Seth meets Juleah, the daughter of an eccentric landed gentleman. Her independent spirit and gentle soul steal Seth's heart. After a brief courtship, they marry and she takes her place as the lady of Ten Width Manor, enraging the man who once sought her hand and schemed to make Ten Width his own. From the Virginia wilderness to the dark halls of an isolated English estate, Seth and his beloved Juleah inherit more than an ancestral home. They uncover a sinister plot that leads to murder, abduction, and betrayal--an ominous threat to their new life, love, and faith.

If you would like to reas the Prologue of Surrender The Wind, go HERE

Watch the trailer:

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo



Summary:

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum , Tennessee , love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.


About the author:

RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.


Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner


Summary:

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope. Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms. She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.


About the author:

Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma , she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming , where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.
Random House Link:

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo



Summary:
The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado , she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.


My Review:

I loved this book. I read it in less than a day. It had action, laughter, romance, and a lovable hero and heroine. Each chapter starts off with a part of a Mae Winslow story. Mae Winslow is a fiction character who secret life is fighting criminals in the wild west. This is where our main character Gennie got the idea for a adventure in the west. Gennie is the daughter of a rich man who already has her husband picked out for her and Gennie longs for an adventure first. When she hears from her new maid that her sister is going out West to be a governess but wants to get married to her beau first Gennie begs to let her go in her place for a month. After that the married couple would come out west and Gennie would come home to the city. Life is never that simple and easy though. Gennie meets her charge Charlotte/Charlie(10) who has attitude issues and has been without a mother for 5 years and her father is often away on business in a neighboring city to Denver. When Gennie meets Daniel her father sparks fly. Along the way Gennie gets her wild west adventure. This is a wonderful western romance adventure action book. The plot and characters are interesting and well developed. I definitely recommend it. :)


About the Author:
Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University , she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.


Random House link for book:

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Salon August 23, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* It is a beautiful day here where I live in the Deep South. It is not too hot and there is a breeze. I have the kitchen window cracked to let fresh air in. :) The cats have jumped through the screen so I only have it open a little.

* This has been a slow reading week. It took me forever to read a nonfiction book: The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler
It was not even that good. I did learn that the food industry knows what they are doing when they design these high calorie dishes layering sugar on fat etc. Plates, portions, food, and taste are all designed to make you eat more and come back again. Quite shameful!

* So far this weekend I have read :

* My Cat Spit McGee by Willie Morris (NF)

* The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/confidential-life-of-eugenia-cooper-by.html

* I have at least two more books I want to read today. I will probably finish one. lol

* Have a good week and I hope you finish lots of good books. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Winner of The Friends We Keep

The winner of The Friends We Keep is ...

Linda

Congratulations!

Thank you to everyone who entered. :)

Here is your sequence:
2
1
Timestamp: 2009-08-21 00:00:56 UTC

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Coming Soon


Book Blogger Appreciation was started by Amy Riley of My Friend Amy in an effort to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading.

The first Book Blogger Appreciation was observed in the fall of 2008 and occurs every September. The week spotlights and celebrates the work of active book bloggers through guest posts, awards, giveaways, and community activities. Book Bloggers are encouraged to register their participation for inclusion in a database of book bloggers.Last year over 400 blogs came together to celebrate the art of book blogging during the first ever Book Blogger Appreciation Week! I am so pleased to announce that the second annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week will be taking place September 14-18.

WHO Anyone who blogs about books is invited to participate. In fact, we want everyone who blogs about books and reading to be a part of this week!

WHAT A week where we come together, celebrate the contribution and hard work of book bloggers in promoting a culture of literacy, connecting readers to books and authors, and recognizing the best among us with the Second Annual BBAW Awards. There will be special guest posts, daily blogging themes, and giveaways.

WHEN September 14-18, 2009

WHERE Here at the new Book Blogger Appreciation Week Blog! (Please note that this year there are three separate blogs and feeds—one for the main event, one for giveaways, and one for awards.)

WHY Because books matter. In a world full of options, the people talking about books pour hard work, time, energy, and money into creating a community around the written word. I, Amy, the founder of Book Blogger Appreciation Week love this community of bloggers and want to shower my appreciation on you!

Brittanie:
I have been nominated in the Most Chatty Category. I was definitely surprised. Thank you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Re-Read Challenge 2009



When: Between September 1 and November 31.

What: Read at least one book from your shelves (or the library if you don't keep books) that you have read at least once before. For each book that you re-read and write about, you will get one entry into the prize drawing. All books are acceptable for this challenge except picture books. Collections of short stories or poetry will count as one book and must be read in their entirety to count.

Who: All bloggers and readers around the world are welcome to participate.

Brittanie:
I love rereading my books. I have a heavy review schedule now so I don't do as many rereads as I used to. I will decide as I go which ones to reread. :)


This challenge is hosted by Kristen at
www.webereading.com

North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson (AND GIVEAWAY)

*** Leave a comment on this post by Wednesday August 26 at midnight to be entered to win a copy.***



Book Summary:

Readers thrilled to the phantasmagorical adventures in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One of the Wingfeather Saga. Now in Book Two, Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, mom Nia, ex-pirate grandfather Podo, Peet the Sock Man, and trusty dog Nugget flee north to rebel headquarters.

Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls , over the Stony Mountains , and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.

Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what FantasyBookCritic.com says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens
About the Author:
Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in The Warren near Nashville , Tennessee . Visit Andrew’s websites: www.andrew-peterson.com and www.rabbitroom.com
Random house link:
My Review:
I have not read this book yet but I read the first one and loved it. As soon as I catch up I will post a review of it. :)

Kathryn's Fountain by David Claassen


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Kathryn's Fountain

Cladach Publishing (November 8, 2008)

by

David Claassen



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I'm a follower of Jesus Christ and seek to live my life to please Him and for His glory. I'm walking this journey with my life's partner, Diann. We've been married since 1972 and have two grown children. Our daughter Julie serves as a missionary with her husband Victor in Mexico in a ministry they founded called Fishers of Men. Check their ministry out at www.fishersofmenmexico.org. Our son Dan is married to Teri and he's a detective in a police department in a suburb of Indianapolis.

I have pastored the Mayfair-Plymouth Congregational Church of Toledo, Ohio since 1975, having just celebrated 33 years at the church. You can check out the church at http://www.mayfairplymouth.org/. You can also visit me at my blog, where I add material about every other day or so.

I enjoy photography, that's why I'm treating you with a different photo of mine each week on the web site. Over three hundred of my photos are for sale at www.istockphoto.com.

I'm also a ventriloquist, of sorts, and treat the children of my church with a "visit with Ricky" every third Sunday of the month in the morning worship services.

Raising white homing pigeons is another of my hobbies. I enjoy watching them soar overhead.

That's just a little bit about me. Thanks for visiting. God bless you!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Kathryn is resigned to living out her last days at Victorian Manor, a beautiful old home for senior citizens. Then one day a miraculous experience happens to Kathryn at the garden fountain, and she begins living an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Love and sacrifice take on new meaning as she involves a social worker and a police detective in carrying out what she believes to be her calling -- to rescue a street child named Jasmine.

Kathryn's Fountain celebrates the gifts that the generations can bring to each other. The conclusion is a resounding affirmation that it's never too late to make a difference.

If you would like to read an excerpt from Kathryn's Fountain, go HERE

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Blue Enchantress by M. L. Tyndall

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:


The Blue Enchantress

Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats.

Visit the author's website and blog.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601577
ISBN-13: 978-1602601574

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


The Blue Enchantress by M.L. Tyndall
Chapter 1


St. Kitts, September 1718

“Gentlemen, what will ye offer for this rare treasure of a lady?” The words crashed over Hope Westcott like bilge water. “Why, she’ll make any of ye a fine wife, a cook, a housemaid”—the man gave a lascivious chuckle—“whate’er ye desire.”

“How ’bout someone to warm me bed at night,” one man bellowed, and a cacophony of chortles gurgled through the air.

Hope slammed her eyes shut against the mob of men who pressed on three sides of the tall wooden platform, shoving one another to get a better peek at her. Something crawled over her foot, and she pried her eyes open, keeping her face lowered. A black spider skittered away. Red scrapes and bruises marred her bare feet. When had she lost her satin shoes—the gold braided ones she’d worn to impress Lord Falkland? She couldn’t recall.

“What d’ye say? How much for this fine young lady?” The man grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her head back. Pain, like a dozen claws, pierced her skull. “She’s a handsome one, to be sure. And these golden locks.” He attempted to slide his fingers through her matted strands, but before becoming hopelessly entangled in them, he jerked his hand free, wrenching out a clump of her hair. Hope winced. “Have ye seen the likes of them?”

Ribald whistles and groans of agreement spewed over her.

“Two shillings,” one man yelled.

Hope dared to glance across the throng amassing before the auction block. A wild sea of lustful eyes sprayed over her. A band of men dressed in garments stained with dirt and sweat bunched toward the front, yelling out bids. Behind them, other men in velvet waistcoats leaned their heads together, no doubt to discuss the value of this recent offering, while studying her as if she were a breeding mare. Slaves knelt in the dirt along the outskirts of the mob, waiting for their masters. Beyond them, a row of wooden buildings stretched in either direction. Brazen women emerged from a tavern and draped themselves over the railings, watching Hope’s predicament with interest. On the street, ladies in modish gowns averted their eyes as they tugged the men on their arms from the sordid scene.

Hope lowered her head. This can’t be happening. I’m dreaming. I am still on the ship. Just a nightmare. Only a nightmare. Humiliation swept over her with an ever-rising dread as the reality of her situation blasted its way through her mind.

She swallowed hard and tried to drown out the grunts and salacious insults tossed her way by the bartering rabble. Perhaps if she couldn’t hear them, if she couldn’t see them, they would disappear and she would wake up back home, safe in Charles Towne, safe in her bedchamber, safe with her sisters, just like she was before she’d put her trust in a man who betrayed her.

“Egad, man. Two shillings, is it? For this beauty?” The auctioneer spit off to the side. The yellowish glob landed on Hope’s skirt. Her heart felt as though it had liquefied into an equally offensive blob and oozed down beside it.

How did I get here? In her terror, she could not remember. She raised her gaze to the auctioneer. Cold eyes, hard like marbles, met hers, and a sinister grin twisted his lips. He adjusted his tricorn to further shade his chubby face from the burning sun.

“She looks too feeble for any real work,” another man yelled.

The sounds of the crowd dimmed. The men’s fists forged into the air as if pushing through mud. Garbled laughter drained from their yellow-toothed mouths like molasses. Hope’s heart beat slower, and she wished for death.

The gentle lap of waves caressed her ears, their peaceful cadence drawing her away. Tearing her gaze from the nightmarish spectacle, she glanced over her shoulder, past the muscled henchmen who’d escorted her here. Two docks jutted out into a small bay brimming with sparkling turquoise water where several ships rocked back and forth as if shaking their heads at her in pity. Salt and papaya and sun combined in a pleasant aroma that lured her mind away from her present horror.

Her eyes locked upon the glimmering red and gold figurine of Ares at the bow of Lord Falkland’s ship. She blinked back the burning behind her eyes. When she’d boarded it nigh a week past—or was it two weeks—all her hopes and dreams had boarded with her. Somewhere along the way, they had been cast into the depths of the sea. She only wished she had joined them. Although the ship gleamed majestically in the bay, all she had seen of it for weeks had been the four walls of a small cabin below deck.

The roar of the crowd wrenched her mind back to the present and turned her face forward.

“Five shillings.”

“’Tis robbery, and ye know it,” the auctioneer barked. “Where are any of ye clods goin’ t’ find a real lady like this?”

A stream of perspiration raced down Hope’s back as if seeking escape. But there was no escape. She was about to be sold as a slave, a harlot to one of these cruel and prurient taskmasters. A fate worse than death. A fate her sister had fought hard to keep her from. A fate Hope had brought upon herself. Numbness crept over her even as her eyes filled with tears. Oh God. This can’t be happening.

She gazed upward at the blue sky dusted with thick clouds, hoping for some deliverance, some sign that God had not abandoned her.

The men continued to haggle, their voices booming louder and louder, grating over her like the howls of demons.

Her head felt like it had detached from her body and was floating up to join the clouds. Palm trees danced in the light breeze coming off the bay. Their tall trunks and fronds formed an oscillating blur of green and brown. The buildings, the mob, and the whole heinous scene joined the growing mass and began twirling around Hope. Her legs turned to jelly, and she toppled to the platform.

“Get up!” A sharp crack stung her cheek. Two hands like rough rope clamped over her arms and dragged her to her feet. Pain lanced through her right foot where a splinter had found a home. Holding a hand to her stinging face, Hope sobbed.

The henchman released her with a grunt of disgust.

“I told ye she won’t last a week,” one burly man shouted.

“She ain’t good for nothing but to look at.”

Planting a strained grin upon his lips, the auctioneer swatted her rear end. “Aye, but she’s much more stout than she appears, gentlemen.”

Horrified and no longer caring about the repercussions, Hope slapped the man’s face. He raised his fist, and she cowered. The crowd roared its mirth.

“One pound, then,” a tall man sporting a white wig called out. “I could use me a pretty wench.” Withdrawing a handkerchief, he dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead.

Wench. Slave. Hope shook her head, trying to force herself to accept what her mind kept trying to deny. A sudden surge of courage, based on naught but her instinct to survive, stiffened her spine. She thrust out her chin and faced the auctioneer. “I beg your pardon, sir. There’s been a mistake. I am no slave.”

“Indeed?” He cocked one brow and gave her a patronizing smirk.

Hope searched the horde for a sympathetic face—just one. “My name is Miss Hope Westcott,” she shouted. “My father is Admiral Henry Westcott. I live in Charles Towne with my two sisters.”

“And I’m King George,” a farmer howled, slapping his knee.

“My father will pay handsomely for my safe return.” Hope scanned the leering faces. Not one. Not one look of sympathy or belief or kindness. Fear crawled up her throat. She stomped her foot, sending a shard of pain up her leg. “You must believe me,” she sobbed. “I don’t belong here.”

Ignoring the laughter, Hope spotted a purple plume fluttering in the breeze atop a gold-trimmed hat in the distance. “Arthur!” She darted for the stairs but two hands grabbed her from behind and held her in place. “Don’t leave me! Lord Falkland!” She struggled in her captor’s grasp. His grip tightened, sending a throbbing ache across her back.

Swerving about, Lord Falkland tapped his cane into the dirt and tipped the brim of his hat up, but the distance between them forbade Hope a vision of his expression.

“Tell them who I am, Arthur. Please save me!”

He leaned toward the woman beside him and said something, then coughed into his hand. What is he doing? The man who once professed an undying love for Hope, the man who promised to marry her, to love her forever, the man who bore the responsibility for her being here in the first place. How could he stand there and do nothing while she met such a hideous fate?

The elegant lady beside him turned her nose up at Hope, then, threading her arm through Lord Falkland’s, she wheeled him around and pulled him down the road.

Hope watched him leave, and with each step of his cordovan boots, her heart and her very soul sank deeper into the wood of the auction block beneath her feet.

Nothing made any sense. Had the world gone completely mad?

“Two pounds,” a corpulent man in the back roared.

A memory flashed through Hope’s mind as she gazed across the band of men. A vision of African slaves, women and children, being auctioned off in Charles Towne. How many times had she passed by, ignoring them, uncaring, unconcerned by the proceedings?

Was this God’s way of repaying her for her selfishness, her lack of charity?

“Five pounds.”

Disappointed curses rumbled among the men at the front, who had obviously reached their limit of coin.

The auctioneer’s mouth spread wide, greed dripping from its corners. “Five pounds, gentlemen. Do I hear six for this lovely lady?”

A blast of hot air rolled over Hope, stealing her breath. Human sweat, fish, and horse manure filled her nose and saturated her skin. The unforgiving sun beat a hot hammer atop her head until she felt she would ignite into a burning torch at any moment. Indeed, she prayed she would. Better to be reduced to a pile of ashes than endure what the future held for her.

“Six pounds,” a short man with a round belly and stiff brown wig yelled from the back of the mob in a tone that indicated he knew what he was doing and had no intention of losing his prize. Decked in the a fine damask waistcoat, silk breeches, and a gold-chained pocket watch, which he kept snapping open and shut, he exuded wealth and power from his pores.

Hope’s stomach twisted into a vicious knot, and she clutched her throat to keep from heaving whatever shred of moisture remained in her empty stomach.

The auctioneer gaped at her, obviously shocked she could command such a price. Rumblings overtook the crowd as the short man pushed his way through to claim his prize. The closer he came, the faster Hope’s chest heaved and the lighter her head became. Blood pounded in her ears, drowning out the groans of the mob. No, God. No.

“Do I hear seven?” the auctioneer bellowed. “She’s young and will breed you some fine sons.”

“Just what I’ll be needing.” The man halted at the platform, glanced over the crowd for any possible competitors, then took the stairs to Hope’s right. He halted beside her too close for propriety’s sake and assailed her with the stench of lard and tobacco. A long purple scar crossed his bloated, red face as his eyes grazed over her like a stallion on a breeding mare. Hope shuddered and gasped for a breath of air. Her palms broke out in a sweat, and she rubbed them on her already moist gown.

The auctioneer threw a hand to his hip and gazed over the crowd.

The man squeezed her arms, and Hope snapped from his grasp and took a step back, abhorred at his audacity. He chuckled. “Not much muscle on her, but she’s got pluck.”

He belched, placed his watch back into the fob pocket of his breeches, and removed a leather pouch from his belt. “Six pounds it is.”

The silver tip of a sword hung at his side. If Hope were quick about it, perhaps she could grab it and, with some luck, fight her way out of here. She clenched her teeth. Who was she trying to fool? Where was her pirate sister when she needed her? Surely Faith would know exactly what to do. Yet what did it matter? Hope would rather die trying to escape than become this loathsome man’s slave.

As the man counted out the coins into the auctioneer’s greedy hands, Hope reached for the sword.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Montana Rose by Mary Connealy


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Montana Rose

Barbour Publishing, Inc (July 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.

Mary has signed an exclusive contract with Barbour that will have her writing eighteen (18) books for them over the next four years! This book is the first in the Montana Marriage Series. The second book will be the Husband Tree, and the third will be Wildflower Bride



ABOUT THE BOOK


Fire up your love of romance with Montana Rose.

When surrounded by a mob of ill-bred, foul-smelling, women-hungry men, the newly widowed and seemingly spoiled Cassie “China Doll” Griffin has no choice. Marrying handyman Red Dawson seems the only alternative to Cassie’s being hitched to a brutal rancher. But can this “China doll” bear exchanging smooth silk for coarse calico? Red was reluctant to be yoked to an unbeliever, but sometimes a man has no choice. Will Red change Cassie’s heart by changing her name? Wade Sawyer is obsessed with saving Cassie from a marriage of convenience. How far will he go make her his own?

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

My Review:
Montana Rose is a great beginning to the new series by Mary Connealy. Her books always have a humorous bits in them and even in this current book which deals with emotional and physical abuse from a spouse. This book has it all. It has serious, funny, sweet, romance, and a little suspense. The characters and plot are interesting although serious topics covered. Recommended.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Sunday Salon August 16, 2009

The Sunday Salon.com

* It has been an okay weekend.

* I read:
* Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer
* Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
* My Vicksburg by Ann Rinaldi

* My first Heyer was just okay. The middle to end was the best part.

* I love Ann Rinaldi and this one is good also.

* I hope to fit in one more book tonight. I have 5 book tours this week and I have two books left to finish.

* I have one giveaway still going on and another one to start tomorrow. Go to this post to enter to win a copy of Don't Miss Your Life by Charlene Baumbich http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/dont-miss-your-life-by-charlene.html

* I finished The Southern Reading Challenge here is a link to my wrap up post:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/08/southern-reading-challenge-2009.html

* I can't believe the weekend is already over. So depressing. Off to read. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Southern Reading Challenge 2009 Finished

This is such a fun and easy reading challenge. I did not read my original list but here are the books I did read:

The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/05/night-watchman-by-mark-mynheirand.html

Saints in Limbo by River Jordan
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/06/saints-in-limbo-by-river-jordan.html

The Note II by Angela Hunt
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/06/note-ii-taking-chance-on-love-by-angela.html

What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley (The Without a Trace Continuity Series by Love Inspired Suspense First book the following five listed are in the rest in the series)

Framed! by Robin Caroll

Cold Case Murder by Shirlee McCoy

A Cloud of Suspicion by Patricia Davids

Deadly Competition by Roxanne Rustard

Blackmail by Robin Caroll

Lone Star Cinderella by Debra Clopton

Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/return-to-love-by-betsy-st-amant.html

Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/things-left-unspoken-by-eva-marie.html

Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/menu-for-romance-by-kaye-dacus.html

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (I really should have wrote a review for this one)

Offworld by Robin Parrish
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2009/07/offworld-by-robin-parrish.html


I am really sorry I do not have reviews for all the books. I really enjoyed all of them. My favorites include the Without a Trace Continuity series starting with What Sarah Saw by Margaret Daley, Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant, Menu for Romance by Kaye Dacus, and Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith. The Southern Reading Challenge is hosted by Maggie Reads every summer. Her blog is http://maggiereads.blogspot.com/