Thursday, April 29, 2010

March Books in Review

In the month of March I read 31 books. My favorites are in bold. My least favorites were The Pluto Files and Ella Minnow Pea. Ella Minnow Pea was definitely overrated. Almost Home was good and I look forward to reading the sequel this summer. Katie's Redemption was a good Amish fiction book. I read two promising debut authors, Sarah Sundin and Ronie Kendig. I look forward to reading their next books. I read another Georgette Heyer book and enjoyed it. I learned I cannot read too many back to back because I end up not liking them as much so I am holding off on my next one. I had a good reading month with lots of good books. :)

March
57. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
58. A Place to Call Home by Kathryn Springer
59. His Texas Bride by Deb Kastner
60. The Pluto Files by Neil DeGrasee Tyson (Nonfiction)
61. Almost Home by Pam Jenoff
62. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
63. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo
64. Katie's Redemption by Patricia Davids
65. The Cowboy's Courtship by Brenda Minton
66. Bayou Betrayal by Robin Carrol
67. Dead Reckoning by Ronie Kendig
68. A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
69. A Soldier's Promise by Cheryl Wyatt (Reread)
70. A Soldier's Family by Cheryl Wyatt (Reread)
71. Ready Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt
72. A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt
73. Soldier Daddy by Cheryl Wyatt
74. A Soldier's Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt
75. Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley
76. A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus
77. High Plains Bride by Valerie Hanson
78. Heartland Wedding by Renee Ryan
79. Kansas Courtship by Victoria Bylin
80. Dad in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin
81. McKenzie's Montana Mystery by Shari Barr
82. Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise by Erica Rodgers
83. The Hero Next Door by Irene Hannon
84. Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer
85. Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
86. Rodeo Sweetheart by Betsy St. Amant
87. The Cinderella List by Judy Baer
88. Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd

Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray (Review)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Spring's Renewal


Avon Inspire (April 2010)

by
Shelley Shepherd Gray




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold twenty-six novels to numerous publishers. She has written a seven book contemporary series for Avalon books. She also published The Love Letter, a western for Avalon. Five Star Expressions published Suddenly, You in February of 2007. This novel is a historical western set in the mountains of Colorado.



Shelley has written nine novels for Harlequin American Romance. Cinderella Christmas, her first novel with them, reached number six on the Waldenbooks Bestseller list. Her second book with them, Simple Gifts won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice award for best Harlequin American Romance of 2006. The Mommy Bride, was chosen by Romantic Times Magazine as one of their TOP PICKS for May, 2008.



Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for Harper Collins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. HIDDEN and WANTED the first two novels of her ‘Sisters of the Heart’ series, were chosen to be Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/ Literary Guild Book Club. FORGIVEN, book 3, has received glowing reviews. Avon Inspire will release four novels by Shelley in 2010.



Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelors and masters degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two teenagers, and is an active member of her church.



ABOUT THE BOOK



Tim Graber arrives in Sugarcreek to help his aunt and uncle with spring planting. At first, Tim doesn't fit in with his many cousins and their crowded lifestyle. But when he meets Clara Slabaugh, the local school teacher, he understands why the Lord brought him to Sugarcreek.



Clara is shy and quiet. Scarred from a fire when she was small, Clara has resigned herself to living alone and caring for her mother, who tells her that no man will ever see past her scars, and that Clara needs to keep teaching in order to make ends meet.



Her father passed away years ago, and her mother depends on her. But the scars mean nothing to Tim. He appreciates her quiet nature and her wonderful, loving way with children. Yet Tim has a sweetheart back home in Indiana. As these two hearts struggle to determine their path, tragedy strikes, and every other worry seems insignificant in comparison.



Though they now face a life they never imagined, will Tim and Clara have the faith to step out and risk everything for a chance at true love?



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

My Review:

I really enjoyed this new Amish fiction book. I have liked all of this author's Amish books so far so I was sure this one would be good too. I read the first book in this series and immediately after the second. I can't wait to read the third book they were both good. The characters and plot lines are interesting and not stale. I liked how the characters from the first book make an appearance too. I recommend both books and reading them in order. :)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough (Review)

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Anonymous Bride
Barbour Publishing, Inc. (April 1, 2010)


by
Vickie McDonough








ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Award-winning author Vickie McDonough believes God is the ultimate designer of romance. She loves writing stories where the characters find their true love and grow in their faith.



Vickie has had 18 books published. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently serving as ACFW treasurer. Vickie has also been a book reviewer for nine years.



She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four sons, and grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling.





ABOUT THE BOOK



How many brides does one man need?



It's been years, but Luke Davis is back--older and wiser--and still alone. Returning as Lookout's new town marshal, Luke is determined to face the past and move on. He flippantly tells his cousin he'd get married if the right woman ever came along. But then he discovers that the woman who betrayed him is now a widow, and all his plans fall at his feet.



Rachel has carried her guilty shame for eleven years. Her marriage to James Hamilton was not what Luke or the town thought it to be. Now James is dead, and her long-time love for Luke is reignited with his return to town. So when three mail-order brides appear, she panics.



Could they possible find love a second time?



Rachel begs his forgiveness, but Luke finds he has none to give.



And then the brides arrive. Three of them--ordered for Luke through newspaper ads by his incorrigible cousins. The only place in town for them to stay is Rachel's boardinghouse. And none of the ladies is willing to let Luke go. When choosing a bride becomes a contest, the chaos that ensues is almost funny.



When the mayor forces Luke to pick a bride or lose his job, will Luke listen to his heart that still longs for Rachel or choose one of the mail-order brides?



Will Rachel find the courage to tell Luke that she loves him? Or take an anonymous part in the contest for his hand?



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

My Review:

This is a great Christian historical romance book. I really enjoyed reading it. There was good character development and I really started to care about Rachel, Luke, and Jacqueline, her daughter. Jack as she likes to be called is a tomboy no matter what her mother tries. The plot line is interesting and I look forward to reading the next book in the series. In the beginning I did not really like the other brides even though I felt for their life situations but by the end they were okay. Recommended.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand? April 27, 2010






No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke (Review)

200_No_Hope_for_Gomez

About The Book:


It’s the age-old tale:
Boy meets girl.
Boy stalks girl.
Girl already has a stalker.
Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.
We’ve seen it all before, many times, but this time it’s different. If only slightly.


When Gomez Porter becomes a test subject in an experimental drug trial, he is asked to keep track of any strange experiences through a blog. What Gomez isn’t ready for, is so many of his experiences suddenly seeming strange; the antiques dealer trying to buy his old tax papers, his neighbor boiling salamanders on his balcony at midnight, the super sexy lab assistant who falls for him but is unable to express herself in terms outside the realm of science.


But when one of the trial participants turns up dead and another goes missing, Gomez begins to fear for his life. No longer sure who he can trust and which of his experiences are real and which merely drug induced illusions, he decides it’s time to go underground and work out a devious plan.


Now, years later, his blogs have been recovered from a defunct server. For the first time we can find out firsthand what happened to Gomez as he takes us on a wild ride of discovery.

My Review:

Unfortunately I did not really like this book much. It may be the genre which is contemporary kind of off beat fiction. I chose to read it because the synopsis sounded interesting and like Michael Synder’s books which I love. It seemed the scenes and dialogue were repetitious. Also some of the characters could have been developed more. The plot is interesting. Somebody whose reads this genre a lot might like this book more than I did.

About The Author:
Graham Parke is responsible for a number of technical publications and has recently patented a self-folding map. He has been described as both a humanitarian and a pathological liar. Convincing evidence to support either allegation has yet to be produced.
No Hope for Gomez! is Graham’s fiction debut. You can visit his website at http://www.blogger.com/www.grahamparke.com.

No-Hope-for-Gomez

Monday, April 26, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? April 26, 2010

This is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books.
bookjourney.wordpress.com

What I read last week:
- Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs
- Hiking Through by Paul V. Stutzman
- Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray
- Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray
- No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke

Books I am currently reading:
- The Anonymous Bride by Vicki McDonough
- The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

Up Next:
- Sing by Lisa Bergren
- It had to be You by Janice Thompson
- A Woman Called Sage by Diann Mills
- Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes
- Texas Roads by Cathy Bryant
- Green Like God by Jonathan Merritt

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Salon April 25, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* Friday I went out to eat at Pie Works, Pizza by Design, with my sister. Saturday I worked all day. I am moving departments again Monday so I had loose ends to finish up at one job and catch up to start on my new/old job. I am going back to my records release job same company though.

* I did manage to read a few books this weekend too:

- Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray

- Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray

- No Hope for Gomez! by Graham Parke

* I just put my last load of laundry in the dryer. One of the cats had a hairball on my bed so I had to wash my bedspread too. Ick. I hope to start at least one more book tonight. I am ignoring the fact I need to go to the grocery store. lol

* I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time. :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Hiking Through by Paul V. Stutzman (Review)



About Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail
After losing his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job of seventeen years and embarked upon a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,176-mile stretch of varying terrain spanning fourteen states. During his nearly five-month-long hike, he battled brutal trail conditions and overwhelming loneliness, but also enjoyed spectacular scenery and trail camaraderie. With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how immersing himself in nature and befriending fellow hikers helped him recover from a devastating loss. Somewhere between Georgia and Maine, he realized that God had been with him every step of the way, and on a famous path through the wilderness, he found his own path to peace and freedom.



My Review:
I really enjoyed reading this non fiction book. It is a combination memoir/travel genre. It is not depressing in tone at all even though the catalyst for the book is his wife dying of breast cancer. I think he writes and deals with the subject matter in a good way. His goal is to hike the entire AT from beginning to end and seek God while doing it. He was raised a conservative Mennonite but got away from it as he grew older. I liked his descriptions of the nature around him and the people he meets along the way. There are several lol moments in the book of incidents that happen along the trail. Fans of Bill Bryson might like this book along with Christian readers. Recommended.





About the author:
After Paul Stutzman’s wife died, Paul quit his job to hike the Appalachian trail to give himself time to think and to heal. Hiking Through: Finding Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail is his story. A former restaurant manager, he is now retired and planning his next big adventure: a cross-country bicycle trip. Stutzman currently lives in Berlin, Ohio. To see pictures of his hike or to find out more about Paul and his book, visit his website at http://www.hikingthrough.com/.




Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs (Review)


Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 11, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1595543097

Book Description
"It's true what they say, you know: If you talk to God, you're religious; but if you hear from God, you're schizophrenic."

When a car accident leaves a famous movie star in a coma, nurse Kemp McAvoy thinks he has found his ticket to the life he's always wanted. As a med school dropout who was on his way to becoming an anesthesiologist, Kemp has the knowledge to carry off the crazy plan he concocts: adjust the star's medication each night and pretend to be a heavenly visitor giving her messages. He recruits her agent and a down-and-out publisher to make sure the messages will become the next spiritual bestseller and make them all rich.

But his girlfriend's daughter, Leah, keeps telling people that she is seeing angels, and her mother and her teachers are all afraid that something is wrong.

Before it's all over, they'll all learn a few things about angels, love, and hope.
My Review:
I love Tim Downs's Bug Man Books so I wanted to read this new type of book from him. It is definitely different but good. The plot and characters are interesting and unique. The supernatural element is not overpowering.The faith element/God is hardly there. Readers who do not normally read Christian fiction might like this book also. Do you believe in Angels is a question asked in the book but it is more than about that. It is about family, faith, greed, justice, and love. My only problem is the ending. I wanted more closure for some of the characters, justice maybe? Overall different but still enjoyable. Recommended. :)
Review copy provided by Thomas Nelson Publisher's Book Sneeze Program.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sword by Bryan M. Litfin

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Sword
Crossway Books (April 30, 2010)
by


Bryan M. Litfin






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Bryan Litfin was born in Dallas, but lived in Memphis, Tennessee and Oxford, England, where he discovered that the house of his favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien, was only five doors down from his own. Bryan still enjoys epic adventure stories, as well as historical fiction. However, most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.



After marrying his high school sweetheart, Carolyn (a true Southern belle), he went on to study for a master’s degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays.



In 2002, Bryan took a position on the faculty at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he is a professor in the Theology Department. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods.



On the morning of January 6, 2007, Bryan woke up with an epiphany. Having finished writing his primer on the ancient church, he had the idea of trying his hand at fiction. The thought occurred to him that the writer of speculative fiction typically has two options. He can create an imaginary land like Middle Earth (which offers great creative freedom but is unrealistic), or he can delve into genuine history (which is realistic, yet limted to what ‘actually occurred.’) However, if a writer were to create a future world as in the Chiveis trilogy, it could be both realistic and creatively unlimited.



This little dream stayed in Bryan’s mind while he researched how to write fiction, and also researched the European landscape where the novel would be set. He planned a trip to the story locations, then went there in the summer with a buddy from grad school. Bryan and Jeff rented a Beemer and drove all over Europe from the Alps to the Black Forest with a video camera in hand. With that epic setting fresh in his mind, Bryan returned home and began to write.



Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He is blessed by God to be married to Carolyn, and to be the father of two amazing children, William, 11, and Anna, 9. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains (which means getting far away from the Midwest – preferably to his beloved Smokies).



ABOUT THE BOOK



This novel of page-turning action and adventure poses the question, "If a society had no knowledge of Christianity, and then a Bible were discovered, what would happen?"



Four hundred years after a deadly virus and nuclear war destroyed the modern world, a new and noble civilization emerges. In this kingdom, called Chiveis, snowcapped mountains provide protection, and fields and livestock provide food. The people live medieval-style lives, with almost no knowledge of the "ancient" world. Safe in their natural stronghold, the Chiveisi have everything they need, even their own religion. Christianity has been forgotten—until a young army scout comes across a strange book.



With that discovery, this work of speculative fiction takes readers on a journey that encompasses adventure, romance, and the revelation of the one true God. Through compelling narrative and powerful character development, The Sword speaks to God's goodness, his refusal to tolerate sin, man's need to bow before him, and the eternality and power of his Word. Fantasy and adventure readers will be hooked by this first book in a forthcoming trilogy.



Visit the book website at The Sword to see amazing videos and a wealth of information about the trilogy!



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

Its Monday What Are You Reading? April 19, 2010

Sheila at Book Journey hosts this weekly event where we list what we read last week and what we are currently reading and what is up next.

Read last week:
- Never Let Me Go by Erin Healey

- Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

- In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

Currently Reading:
- Listening to the Help on Audio in my car

- Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris

- Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

- The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

Up Next:
- Wonders Never Cease by Tim Downs

- The Anonymous Bride by Vickie McDonough

- No Hope for Gomez by Graham Parke

- Winter's Awakening by Shelley Shepard Gray

- Spring's Renewal by Shelley Shepard Gray

Books I need to review:
- Way too many to list

Current Giveaways:
Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/forget-me-not-by-vicki-hinze-review-and.html

Reviews posted last week:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/too-close-to-home-by-lynette-eason.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/never-let-you-go-by-erin-healy-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/strangers-wish-by-gayle-roper-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/distant-melody-by-sarah-sundin-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-harms-way-by-irene-hannon-review.html

In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon (Review)





Paperback: 326 pages

Publisher: Revell

(April 1, 2010)

ISBN-13: 978-0800733124




About the book:


FBI special agent Nick Bradley has seen his share of kooks during his fifteen years with the Bureau, from the guy who insisted he’d been abducted by aliens to the woman who claimed God had told her to assist the FBI by acting as His intermediary on difficult cases.



But Rachel Sutton is an enigma. She seems normal when she shows up at the FBI office in St. Louis—until she produces a tattered Raggedy Ann doll she found and tells him it gives her bad vibes.



Nick dismisses her—only to stumble across a link between the doll and an abducted infant, setting in motion a chain of events that uncovers startling connections…and puts Rachel’s life on the line.

Click HERE to read an excerpt.




My Review:

I loved this book. Rachel is an elementary school teacher raised in foster care with no family, boyfriend, and little friends. She is very busy as she teaches music at two elementary schools, paints murals, teaches piano lessons, and plays piano at a nice hotel on Sundays.



One day at lunch as she picks up some sandwiches she notices a Raggedy Ann doll buried in a ice puddle beside her car. She digs it out and finds herself experiencing the strangest reaction. She does not believe in psychics or anything like that but she does not want to ignore it either so she tells her friend at work whose husband is a cop. He says she should tell the FBI so she goes and meets Nick.

He dismisses it for the most part but he likes her and she seems sane. They feel sparks between them and a connection. So they get to know each other better and then Nick discovers that the doll is a link to a missing child.

The plot and characters are interesting and unique and take a few twists. One of which I did not see coming. The romance is believable as is the faith element. Well written it is the third book in the series and I would read them in order because this book provides closure on the lives of all the main characters. Fans of Dee Henderson like me especially would like this series because it is romantic inspirational suspense. I highly recommend the entire series. :)






About the author:

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than 30 novels, including Against All Odds and An Eye for an Eye. Her books have been honored with the coveted RITA Award from Romance Writers of America, the HOLT Medallion, and the Reviewer's Choice Award from Romantic Times BOOKreviewsmagazine. For more information about Irene and her books, visit her website at http://www.irenehannon.com/



Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Review copy provided by Revell.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze (Review and Giveaway)

*** Leave a comment on this post before midnight on May 3 to be entered to win a copy.***



About the Book:


Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man -- in his faith, his work, and his family. Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away. His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith. Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too. Why had he survived? He'd failed to protect his family.


Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help -- a victim who eerily resembles Ben's deceased wife, Susan.

A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith -- and Susan's necklace.The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill. Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman's situation from dangerous to deadly. Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?


My Review:
Overall this was an okay inspirational romantic suspense novel. There are several confusing spots in the book including the beginning. I read it and tried to store it in my head as I read the rest of the book. The plot and characters were good and the writing was okay. I did enjoy reading it in the end and look forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended especially fans of this genre.




Author Bio:
Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Selected for Who’s Who in America in 2004 as a writer and educator, Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a Vice President on the International Thriller Writers Board of Directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Visit http://www.vickihinze.com/ to learn more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.




This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

The Sunday Salon April 18, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* We have had a busy weekend. I am so tired.

* Saturday morning we left to go to the Gulf Coast to shop at the Bx down there with my Dad. He is in the Air National Guard. The new Bx is really nice. The old one was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Then we had dinner at TGI Fridays before heading home. We saw the beach while driving but we did not stop. :( We ended up getting home around 10:30 last night. We had a lot of fun though. It was good spending time with my sister and Dad.

* Today so far we have started cleaning the house and my stepfather came over and cut our grass. Thank you Blane. I am almost done with the laundry. :)

* Tuesday we have a AC guy coming about our unit. It is not working at all and it did this last year and all they had to go was put freon so we are hoping that is all they have to do this year too. Our cats said they better fix it. lol Since I took off work for the day I am waiting to do my Wal Mart trip until then. My car oil needs to be done and my tires rotated.

* I am so behind on writing book reviews. I hope to have two up today later on. I have two review books for next week I am not done reading yet so I hope to focus on that today too .

* I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Winners so far 2010 Giveaways

The winner is ...

Angels and Once in a Blue Moon goes to Marta

Dead Reckoning goes to Francine

The One Day Way goes to Carolynn W.

Congratulations!

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin (Review)





Will a chance meeting in a time of war change her life forever?




Never pretty enough to please her gorgeous mother, Allie will do anything to gain her approval--even marry a man she doesn't love. While Allie has nearly resigned herself to that fate, Lt. Walter Novak--fearless in the cockpit but hopeless with women--takes his last furlough at home in California before being shipped overseas.




Walt and Allie meet and begin a correspondence that will change their lives. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?




Book 1 in the Wings of Glory series, A Distant Melody is an exciting and tender story of love, courage, and sacrifice during World War II.


My Review:
I had this post set to this date and I did not even realize it was today and my review was not with it. Yikes! I really did like this book. I thought the characters and plot were interesting. The time period was intriguing and it is hard to believe it was so long ago now.The only thing that bothered me was the way Allie's parents treated her. Can they really be that heart less? It really bothered me even though I know its fiction. I look forward to learning more about these characters in the next book in the series. Recommended. :)







You can learn more about Sarah Sundin and her books at her website. You can also check out Sarah's blog and where she's constantly sharing some fact about WWII history.
Review copy provided by publisher.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Stranger's Wish by Gayle Roper (Review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


A Stranger's Wish (The Amish Farm Trilogy)

Harvest House Publishers; Original edition (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to David P. Bartlett - Print & Internet Publicist - Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Gayle Roper is the award-winning author of more than forty books and has been a Christy finalist three times. Gayle enjoys speaking at women’s events across the nation and loves sharing the powerful truths of Scripture with humor and practicality. She lives with her husband in southeastern Pennsylvania where Gayle enjoys reading, gardening, and her family.


Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Original edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925864
ISBN-13: 978-0736925860

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


By the time Jon Clarke What’s-his-name drove me to the hospital, my terrible inner trembling had stopped. My hands were still cold, and the towel pressed to my cheek was still sopping up blood, but I was almost in control again. If I could only stop shaking, I’d be fine.

I’d been so sure I’d lost my face. My stomach still curdled at the memory. All I’d done was bend down to pet Hawk, the sable-and-tan German shepherd sleeping contentedly in the mid-August sun. How was I to know he had a nasty cut hiding under that sleek hot fur?

I was horrified when he lashed out, startled by the pain I had inadvertently caused him. He got me in the cheek with a fang, but despite the blood, the wound was mostly superficial. The thought of what would have happened if he’d closed his mouth made me break out in a fine sweat.

How dumb to touch a sleeping dog. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I knew better. Everyone knew better.

As we entered the emergency room, I rearranged my towel to find an area not stained with blood. I went to the desk and signed in with a woman whose jet black hair stuck out in spikes to rival a hedgehog. When she had my life’s history, she patted my paperwork with a proprietary air that made me wonder if she was willing to share the information with the people I’d come to see.

“Have a seat.” She gave me a warm smile. “They’ll be with you shortly.”

Hoping shortly really meant shortly, I took my seat.

“You don’t have to wait,” I told Jon Clarke as he took the bright orange plastic chair beside me in the otherwise empty emergency room. He smiled slightly and stretched his long legs out before him, the picture of long-suffering
and quiet accommodation. His posture said it didn’t matter how long things took. He was prepared to be gallant and wait it out.

“Really,” I said. “I’ll be all right. You can go.”

I was embarrassed to have inflicted myself upon this man I didn’t know, this man whose last name I couldn’t even remember. He’d pulled into the drive at the Zooks’ Amish farm just as I bent over Hawk. While Mary Zook plied me with towels and bemoaned my possible disfigurement when she wasn’t yelling at the innocent Hawk, John Clarke Whoever climbed out of his car, took me by the elbow, put me in his passenger seat, and drove me here.

What would I have done if he hadn’t come along at just the right moment? Gone to the hospital in a buggy? Certainly that wouldn’t have worked if I’d had a life-threatening injury. I guess if that were the case, someone would run to the phone down on the road and dial 911 or run to a neighbor with a car. Hmm. Peace and serenity of the Amish variety had a definite downside.

Jon Clarke smiled at me now, looking comfortable in his very uncomfortable chair. “Of course I’ll wait for you. I’d never run out on a lady in distress. Besides, you need a way home.”

“I could call a cab.”

“Bird-in-Hand is too far from Lancaster for that. It would cost a fortune.” He smiled at me again, politely patient.

“It’s only fifteen minutes max.”

“That’s a lot when the fare indicator goes ca-ching, ca-ching. It’s better if I just wait.”

I gritted my teeth. Just what I needed, a shining knight when I was in no condition to play the lady. I smiled ungraciously and winced.

“Hurt much?”

Of course it hurt. What did he think? “The strange thing is that my tongue can push into the wound from the inside of my mouth. Only a thin piece of skin on my inner cheek keeps the puncture from going all the way through.” I pushed against my cheek with my tongue. It was a creepy sensation to feel the hole, but I couldn’t resist the need to fiddle.

He looked suitably impressed and apparently decided to keep talking to distract me from my pain and injury. I must say he shouldered the burden with stoic determination and great charm.

“Have you lived in the Lancaster area long?” he asked, and I could have sworn he actually cared.

“Three years. I love it here.”

“Were you at the Zooks’ to visit Jake too?”

Too. So he had come to see Jake. I shook my head. “I live there.”

That stopped him. “Really? On the farm?” He raised an eyebrow at me, an improbably dark eyebrow considering the light brown of his hair. “Have you been living there long?”

I glanced at the clock on the wall. “About four hours.”

The eyebrow rose once again. “You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Great beginning, isn’t it? Todd spent the morning and early afternoon helping me move, and he’d just left. I was on my way into the house when I stopped to pet Hawk.” I sighed. “They’ll probably decide I’m too much trouble to have around.”

I pulled the towel from my cheek and studied the bloody patterns on the white terry cloth. They looked like abstract art. I was an artist myself, but I never painted compositions like these. I liked more realism—which meant my work would probably never hang in important galleries.

Uptight and unimaginative, according to certain professors and fellow students from my college days. “Flex,” they said. “Soar! Paint where your spirit leads.”

I flexed and soared with the best of them, but the finished work still looked like what it was.

I refolded the towel, burying the modern art, reapplied a clean area, and pressed.

“Who’s Todd?” Jon Clarke asked.

I shrugged. Good question. “Todd Reasoner. A friend.”

“Ah.”

Would that Todd were as easily explained as the conclusion Jon Clarke had apparently leaped to.

“Don’t do that,” Jon Clarke said.

I blinked. “Do what?”

“Don’t push against your cheek like that.”

I hadn’t even realized I was doing it.

“What if that thin piece of skin ruptures? Scarring. Infection. MRSA. Who knows?”

I frowned. Talk about Worst Case Scenario Man. I wanted to tell him I’d play with the inside of my cheek if I felt like it, but he was probably right about all the dire possibilities. I didn’t want to rupture that thin membrane so delicately protecting the inside of my mouth. And I certainly didn’t want to do anything to encourage the possibility of scarring. I looked in the mirror enough to know my face didn’t need that kind of help.

“Not many people get to stay on an Amish farm.” He paused. “Because of their closed society,” he added as if I wouldn’t understand his point. “You’re very fortunate to get the opportunity.”

“I know. I consider this chance a gift straight from God. One day my principal mentioned that he had Amish friends who were willing to take in a boarder. I got the Zooks’ name and contacted them immediately.”

I didn’t tell him that when I first went to the farm, I wore one of my conservative suits, a gift from my parents when they were still hoping to quell my tendency toward bright colors and what they considered the instability of the art community, not that they actually knew any artists but me.

“If you’re too artsy, Kristina,” they said almost daily, as if being “artsy” was the equivalent of having a single digit IQ, “people won’t take you seriously.”

What they meant was that their people, all high-powered corporate lawyers who earned high six figures or even seven annually, wouldn’t take me seriously. They were a group that had no time for business casual, let alone colorful artsy.

On that first visit to the Zooks, I hadn’t been certain what cultural landmines I’d have to navigate, so I determined to at least defuse the clothing issue, the one I knew about and could somewhat mitigate. I’d straightened my navy lapels and smoothed my cream silk blouse before I got out of the car, another cultural difference that I wasn’t willing to yield on, not if I wanted to get to work.

To my delight, I found Mary and John Zook gracious, respectful, and kind. Mary sat there in her pinned-together dress and dark stockings, her organdy kapp crisp in spite of the humidity. John wore a white shirt and black broadfall trousers. His beard was full with only a hint of gray, and his straw hat hung on a peg by the door. They might demand the simple life of themselves and their family, but it was immediately obvious they would not demand the same of me.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if I had more freedom to be myself here in the midst of this highly structured society than in my own parents’ home?

“Your principal?” Jon Clarke asked from his seat beside me. “You teach?”

I nodded. “Elementary art.”

“When I first pulled into the drive, I thought you must be Jake’s visiting nurse.”

“Not me. I’d be a terrible nurse.”

“But a good teacher.”

“Adequate, anyway. And I get the summers off to study and paint. How do you know the Zooks?”

“I’ve known them forever. My aunt and uncle live down the road from them. But I haven’t seen them in several years. In fact, I haven’t been in Lancaster for a long time.”

So I’d bled all over his first visit in years. Great. “Was it a job that kept you away?”

“Yes and no. Yes, when I was a youth pastor at a church in Michigan. No, when I went to seminary and graduate school. I just finished my doctorate in counseling.”

“Really?” I was impressed.

“No. I confess. I’m lying. I just thought it sounded like a wonderful way to astonish and amaze a pretty girl.”

I blinked at him, and he smiled impudently back. “Really?” he said in a dead-on imitation of me.

Flustered, I looked away from his laughing eyes. “I was just trying to make decent conversation.”

His smile deepened. It was, I couldn’t help noticing, a most wonderful smile, crinkling his eyes almost shut and inviting me to smile along, which I was careful not to do because of my cheek.

“Kristina Matthews?” called the woman at the desk. Her nameplate said she was Harriet. She scanned the empty room as though there might be several Kristinas lurking about, and I resisted the urge to look over my shoulder to see who might have sneaked in while I wasn’t looking.

When I stood, Harriet smiled brightly. “There you are. Right through here, please.”

As I entered the treatment area, I passed a teenage boy staggering out on crutches and a lady in a bathing suit with her arm in a bright pink cast. The walking wounded. I wondered what my battle scars would be.

Ten minutes later I looked away as a nurse stabbed me efficiently with a needle.

“This tetanus shot may cause your arm to swell or stiffen,” she said, her voice filled with sorrow over my possible plight. I couldn’t decide whether she was sorry I might swell or sorry I mightn’t. “If it swells or stiffens, don’t worry. Take aspirin or Tylenol and call your personal physician if the pain persists.” She turned away with a great sigh and began cleaning up the treatment area.

I slid off the examination table and looked at my wobbly reflection in the glass doors of the supply cabinet. The flesh-colored butterfly bandage stuck in the middle of my left cheek distorted my face slightly, but I didn’t mind. There had been no need for stitches.

“Any scarring will be minimal,” the doctor said absentmindedly as he wrote something on the forms Harriet had passed to him. He was a good match for the nurse. I doubted he even noticed her melancholia. “Just keep the wound dry and check with your regular doctor next week to have it redressed.” He ripped off the top copy of the paperwork and handed it to me. “It tells you here. And you’re certain the dog had his shots?”

I nodded, took the paper, and hurried to the waiting room. At least Jon Clarke hadn’t had to wait long once I was seen.

But the waiting room was empty. My angel of mercy had flown the coop. I was standing there wondering what to do next when Harriet at the desk called to me.

“Don’t worry, honey. He’ll be right back. He said he had to run a quick errand.”

I nodded with disproportionate relief.

“Men,” she said sympathetically. “You never know what they’re going to do, do you? Sometimes they take off, and you never see them again.” The edge that had crept into her voice made me think she was speaking from experience. She gave herself a little shake. “But yours looked nice enough to me. I think you can trust him, don’t you?”

Her guess was as good as mine. We’d both known him for about the same length of time.

She got up from her desk. “Listen. I’ve got to go to the ladies’ room. I’m talking emergency here, believe me. Stay by the desk and watch things for me, will you?”

Yikes. “What if someone comes in?”

“Tell them I’ll be back in a minute. But don’t worry,” she called over her shoulder as she disappeared through a door. “Nothing big ever happens on Saturday afternoon.”

Taking no comfort from those words, I looked at the quiet waiting room.

No one, Lord, okay? Not till she gets back, okay?

The prayer was barely formed when the waiting room door slid open and an older man in khaki work clothes entered. His face, damp with perspiration, matched the color of the white envelopes sticking out of his shirt pocket, and he was rubbing his left arm. He stopped beside me at the desk.

“I think I’m having a heart attack,” he said as he might say he was going to sneeze.

I felt my own heart stop beating and my mouth go dry.

He staggered, and I reached out instinctively, taking his arm and lowering him into Harriet’s chair.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“Don’t apologize!” Now my heart was beating so loudly I could scarcely
hear myself talk. “Don’t worry. Someone will be here to help you in a moment.”

Suddenly he stopped kneading his arm and pressed his hand against his chest. His face contorted and I froze. He was going to die right here while Harriet was in the ladies’ room!

After a minute he relaxed, and I began to breathe again. I ran to the door of the treatment area. “Help, somebody! Help!”

The sad-faced nurse leaned out of a cubicle. “Is anyone bleeding?” She was so intent on what was going on behind that curtain that she didn’t even look at me.

“No, but—”

“Then we’ll be there as soon as we can.” And she disappeared.

I could see several pairs of feet below the curtain and hear several voices,
including that of my doctor, who was barking orders with impressive authority. Through a door down the hall I could see an ambulance with its back doors still open.

“But he needs you now,” I called desperately. “He really does! It’s his—”

“We’ll be there in a minute,” she yelled as a great cascade of blood flowed onto the floor.

Pushing down panic and not knowing what else to do, I went back to the man.

“They’ll be here in a minute,” I told him with all the confidence I could muster.

“Had one before,” he whispered to me. “Don’t worry. It’ll be all right. I’m not ready to die yet. I’ve got stuff to do.”

I tried to smile to encourage him, but between my punctured cheek and my fear, I think it was more of a grimace. The man seemed to appreciate my effort anyway.

Dear God, I screamed in silent prayer, where’s Harriet? Send her out here fast, Lord! Please!

The man rested his head against the wall. “What’s your name? Are you Harriet?”

“I’m Kristie Matthews. Should you be talking?”

“I drove myself here. You don’t think talking’s any worse than that, do you?”

“You drove yourself here? With a heart attack?”

He smiled faintly. “I had to get here somehow. And I didn’t think you were Harriet. You don’t look like a Harriet.”

I didn’t look like this Harriet. Plain old straight brown hair cut to bend at my chin instead of too-black spikes and the electrified look. Five seven and slim instead of short and a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts, if Harriet’s figure and the box in the trash receptacle were any indication. A hole in my cheek instead of an abundance of blusher.

Suddenly he raised his head and looked at me with an intensity that made me blink. “Will you do me a favor, Kristie Matthews?”

I leaned close to hear his weak voice. “Of course.”

“Keep this for me.” He fumbled in his shirt pocket, reaching behind the envelopes. “But tell no one—no one—that you have it.” He slipped a key into my cold hand and folded my fingers over it.

I heard a gasp from behind me. Harriet was finally back.

“Heart attack,” I said, but Harriet was three steps ahead of me.

Her voice boomed over the PA. “Dr. Michaels, Dr, Michaels, stat. Dr. Michaels, code!” Harriet disappeared back into the treatment area yelling, “Marie! Charles! Where are you? Get yourselves out here fast!”

An arthritic finger tapped my closed fist. “Remember, tell no one,” the old man managed to whisper. “Promise?”

“I promise.” What else could I say?

He stared at my face as if searching my soul. He must have been satisfied with what he saw because his hand relaxed on mine and his eyes closed. “Don’t forget. I’m counting on you.” He gave a deep sigh, and I froze. Was that his last breath? “I’m counting on you.”

The room came alive with people. Medical personnel converged on the sick man, and I stepped back with relief.

“Don’t you ever go to the bathroom again,” I hissed at Harriet, who probably never would if she valued her job.

When the doors to the treatment area slid shut and I could no longer see the man, I collapsed in one of the orange chairs, struggling with tears.

This is ridiculous. Why am I crying? I don’t even know the man.

I gave myself a shake and stared at the small piece of metal in my hand. Why had he given his precious key to me, a total stranger? Why hadn’t he let the hospital personnel keep it for him? Or asked them to hold it for a family member?

What could it possibly open that no one—no one—must know of it?

And what in the world should I do with it?

It was a relief when Jon Clarke finally returned.

“I’m sorry,” he said with that winning smile. “I got held up in traffic. I hope you didn’t think I’d deserted you.”

“Of course not,” I said as I slipped the key into my pocket. I hastened to correct my lie. “At least, not after Harriet told me you’d be back.”

He cocked that dark, heavy brow at me again, saying as clearly as if I’d spoken aloud that he knew all too well what I’d thought.

I flushed and began talking to cover my embarrassment. “This old man came in and had a heart attack. He scared me to death! I was the only one in the room—Harriet had gone to the ladies’ room. I had to be with him until help came. He gave me—”

I stopped abruptly. “No one,” he’d said, he’d insisted. “Promise.” And I had.

Did I owe him my silence? I didn’t even know him.

But I didn’t know this sandy-haired, dark-browed man standing beside me, either. I only met him an hour or so ago. I couldn’t bleed all over him anymore.

“He gave me quite a scare,” I said, decision made. I gave a short laugh. “I’m not used to anything more serious than the common cold or one of my students throwing up.”

But what would I do if he died?

About the book:

Englischer Kristie Matthews’ move to an Amish family farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, starts on a bad note as the young schoolteacher is bitten by a dog. A trip to the local ER leads to an encounter with an old man who hands her a key and swears her to silence.


But when Kristie’s life is endangered, she suspects there’s a connection to the mysterious key. While solving the mystery (and staying alive), Kristie must decide whether her lawyer boyfriend, Todd Reasoner, is really right for her....or if Jon Clarke Griffin, the new local man she’s met, is all he seems to be.

My Review:

This is a reprint of the 1998 "The Key", which really did not matter to me. I have read some of this author's other works and liked them. This book was an okay Amish fiction book. The plot and characters were interesting just not as strong as some of the current Amish fiction books. It is still enjoyable and worth reading. I am planning on reading the second book in the series. Recommended.

Sworn to Protect by Diann Mills

I have not read this book yet but I loved the first book in this series. Great romantic suspense.
This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Sworn To Protect
Tyndale House (April 2010)


by
DiAnn Mills






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.



DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.



Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.



DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.



She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.





ABOUT THE BOOK







Border Patrol Agent Danika Morales sends illegal immigrants back to Mexico; a job she's paid dearly for. Her husband, Toby, was murdered two years ago trying to help and his murder's never been solved. Now a string of attacks and arrests leads her to believe that someone from McAllen profits from sneaking undocumented immigrants into the country and somehow this illegal activity is tied to her husband, Toby's death.



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



Watch the book trailer video:



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Never Let You Go by Erin Healy (Review)




Book Description
Losing everything has made Lexi hold those she loves tightly. Hell is determined to loosen her grip.


Lexi lives in the shadow of choices her husband made. Especially Grant’s choice to leave seven years ago, without a word. Her relationship with their daughter, Molly, is now the most important thing in her life. Lexi will do anything—work grueling hours, attend church on her only day off, sacrifice financially—just to see Molly smile.


When Grant shows up declaring his intent to re-enter their daughter’s life, Lexi is skeptical of his motives. She soon determines not to let him near Molly. Then a drug dealer named Warden arrives on Lexi’s doorstep, demanding payment of Grant’s old debts.


But that's just the earthly perspective. Staggering supernatural events are spilling into her world in real and shocking ways. Hell's fury is great, but Heaven's power is greater still. In a novel that defies easy categorization, this has all the early buzz of the breakthrough read of 2010.
My Review:
Wow. This is a wonderful book if you like supernatural suspense with a little spiritual warfare too. I read it in one night. It is not pleasant happy feel good but still a well written book and good for its genre. The characters and plot are well developed and held my attention from page one. It was a little scary in parts but I love the ending. The main themes are grace and forgiveness. You might not want to read it at night like I did. lol Recommended. :)
Thank you Thomas Nelson Publishers for my review copy.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason (Review)




From the Back Cover:


The FBI has a secret weapon. But now the secret's out.


When missing teens begin turning up dead in a small Southern town, the FBI sends in Special Agent Samantha Cash to help crack the case. Her methods are invisible, and she never quits until the case is closed.


Homicide detective Connor Wolfe has his hands full. His relationship with his headstrong daughter is in a tailspin, and the string of unsolved murders has the town demanding answers. Connor is running out of ideas--and time.


Samantha joins Connor in a race against the clock to save the next victim. And the killer starts to get personal.


Too Close to Home ratchets up the suspense with each page even as love blossoms in the face of danger. Read this one with the lights on!


My Review:

I am a huge Dee Henderson fan. She is one of my favorite authors. Lynette Eason writes books that are in the same category, romantic suspense. Although this book had more of a crime thriller part to it, it was well written and I enjoyed it. It is fast paced, suspenseful, and a page turner. The characters are well developed and the romance between Samantha and Conner developed naturally. I read the excerpt for the second book in the series and I look forward to reading it too. Recommended.



"My friend Lynette has a hit on her hands with this romantic suspense. I enjoyed every minute. The plot managed to surprise and captivate me, and the romance was priceless."--Dee Henderson, bestselling author, the O'Malley series


"A fast-moving tale filled with nonstop action. No chance to catch your breath with this one!"--Irene Hannon, bestselling author, the Heroes of Quantico series


"Eason gives the reader an exciting ride with characters you will care about."--Margaret Daley, award-winning Steeple Hill romantic suspense author


About the author:


Lynette Eason is the author of eight novels and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Lynette and her husband and their two children make their home in South Carolina.



Available April 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Thank you Donna at Revell for my review copy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Its Monday What Are You Reading? April 12, 2010



This is a weekly Meme run by Sheila @ One Persons Journey through a world of Books. Post the books completed last week, the books you are currently reading, and the books you hope to finish this week.

What I read last week:
- Through Thick and Thin by Sandra Byrd
- Heading Home by Renee Riva
- Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum
- Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason
- A Stranger's Wish by Gayle Roper

What I need to review:
Way too many to list.

What I am reading now:
- The Three Muskteers by Alexander Dumas

What I am reading next:
- Forgot Me Not by Vicki Hinze
- Sworn to Protect by Diann Mills
- In Harm's Way by Irene Hannon

The Sunday Salon April 11, 2010 and 24 hour read a thon end meme

The Sunday Salon.com



* So Saturday I participated in the 24 hour read at thon but I only made it 16 hours. Around 12:30 A. M. today I gave out.



* Friday was my 27th birthday and my sister and I went shopping and ate at the mall food court. We love the french fries at Steak Escape.

I don't feel any different for being officially another year older. Maybe a little depressed because I have not accomplished as much as I want too.



* Today(Sunday) I plan on doing laundry and cleaning up the house. I also have two review books for this week that have not been read yet. And I might be going to dinner with my Dad and sister. :)



End of Event Meme 24 hour read a thon

* 1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Actually this time it was the first two because I had a hard time waking up and woke up 2 hours past start time.



2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason



3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

No, it was great!



4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Everything was good.



5. How many books did you read?4



6. What were the names of the books you read?

- Heading Home by Renee Riva

- Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum

- Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason

- A Stranger's Wish by Gayle Roper



7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Heading Home and Cool Beans



8. Which did you enjoy least?

All of them were good.



9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Was not a cheerleader



10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I will probably participate as a reader although I think I would like trying to be a cheerleader too. They do a great job and are very encouraging. :)





* I hope everyone has a great Sunday and lots of reading time in the coming week. :)

Update Hours 13,14,15, and 16

Total books read: 4
Total pages read: 1,082
Total min. read: 750

Going to sleep now but it has been fun as usual. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Update hours 11 and 12

Total books read: 3
Total pages read: 867
Total min. read: 547
Total mini challenges: 3

Mid-Event Survey

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now?
Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason

2. How many books have you read so far?
2

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
All of them lol

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
No interruptions besides cats wanting to be petted

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I have not accomplished as much as possible as far as pages read

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
No

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Get up on time :)

9. Are you getting tired yet?
A little but I feel more awake than I did this morning.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
No

Update Hours 9 and 10

Total books read so far: 2
Total pages read so far: 720
Total min. read so far: 460
Currently Reading: Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason

Update Hours 7 and 8

Books Read: 2
Heading Home by Renee Riva
Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum

Total pages read: 568

Total min. read: 352

Mini challenges completed: 2

Currently reading: Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason

Update Hours 5 and 6

Total pages read so far: 442
Total min. read so far: 273
Total books read: 1 and half
Currently reading Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum

Update Hours 3 and 4 for me

Total pages read so far: 257

Total time read so far: 160 min.

Total memes participated in: 2

Total books read so far: 1 , Heading Home by Renee Riva, wonderful book one of my favorites this year

Update

My hours1 and 2 which are actually three and four. I think.
I read 13mintues and 22 pgs.
In hour two I read 60 min and 86 pages.

Total pgs read: 108
Total time read: 73 min.
Total mini challenges: 2
Current book reading: Heading Home by Renee Riva

Hour Two Mini Challenge

For this mini challenge, Miss Remmers wants to know what we've surrounded ourselves with to kick off the readathon:

" In this challenge we would like you to write a post on your blogs about your kick off strategy. What have you surrounded yourself with for these early hours of the challenge besides your books? Is there a coffee thermos, lucky book mark, snacks, pillow.... We want to know how you have prepared so you do not have to leave your cozy reading space (by the way - we'd like to know what is too.... (are you still in bed, a chair, the couch.....)"

Me: I am getting a very late start this year by two hours. I was supposed to start at 7 but could not make myself get out of bed. So 9 will my start time. I was in my bed but I am thinking a move to the couch might be a good idea soon. I have lots of little bags of chips, oranges, strawberry twizzlers, and frosted oatmeal cookies to eat. In my room are my piles of books on my dresser, desk, and bookshelves. :)

Intro meme 24 hour read a thon

Where are you reading from today?
Mostly my bed. But since I overslept by almost two hours I will switch it up with the couch too.

3 facts about me …
- I share the same birthday with my Uncle Michael, April 9
- I love trees and books
- My absolute favorite color is green

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
Way too many to count

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
No, read as much as possible

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
Lots of snacks. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sworn to Protect by Diann Mills

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:


Sworn to Protect (Book #2 in Call of Duty series)

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 4, 2010)

***Special thanks to Mavis Sanders, Corporate Publicist, Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. DiAnn's first book was published in 1998, and she currently has more than 40 books in print, with combined sales of over one million copies. In 2009, Tyndale House introduced Breach of Trust, Book #1 in her Call of Duty series about women with dangerous occupations. Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA best-seller list. Eight of her books have been nominated for the American Christian Fiction Writers' book-of-the-year contest, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007. Lightning and Lace was a 2008 Christy Award finalist.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America's Faith, Hope, and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins's Christian Writers Guild. DiAnn and her husband live in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414320515
ISBN-13: 978-1414320519

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


We are truly a nation of immigrants.
But we are also a nation of laws.

Brent Ashabranner

McAllen, Texas

The Rio Grande was not just murky. It was toxic. Danika Morales respected the river’s temperament—lazy and rushing, crystal and muddy, breathtaking and devastating. To many illegal immigrants, its flowing water signified hope and an opportunity for a better tomorrow, while others viewed the river crossing as a means of smuggling drugs or spreading terrorism. But for Danika, the depths meant death, and it didn’t discriminate among its victims. That was why she chose a Border Patrol badge and carried a gun.

Shortly after the 8 a.m. muster, Danika snatched up the keys to the Tahoe assigned to her for the next ten hours and checked out an M4. A hum of voices, most with Hispanic accents and clipped with occasional laughter, swirled around the station. A labyrinth of sights and sounds had succeeded in disorienting her. A daze.

She took a sip of the steaming coffee in hopes no one saw how the day’s date affected her. Her hands shook. The twelfth of July. The second anniversary of Toby’s murder. She thought she could handle it better than this, but the raw ache still seared her heart.

“Tough day for me too,” Jacob whispered beside her. “We can get through this together.” The familiar tone of voice, as in many times before, nearly paralyzed her. Jacob sounded so much like his brother.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with her brother-in-law and glanced at his muscular frame and the silver streaks in his closely cropped hair, everything about him oddly different from Toby. Gone were the gentleness, the patience, and the outstretched arms of love.

“Thanks. But I’m all right.”

He frowned, a typical expression. “Well, I’m not, and you shouldn’t be either.”

She was in no mood to rile him today. “I miss Toby every minute of the day, but we have to move on. He would have wanted it that way.”

“Not till his murderer is found.” Jacob’s jaw tightened. “I’m disappointed in you.”

Danika took another sip of the hot coffee, burning her tongue. Caustic words threatened to surface and add one more brick to the wall dividing them. “I want the killer found too. I’m committed to it. I think about him every day and mourn for our daughter, who will never know her daddy. But I choose not to spend my time harboring hate and vengeance.”

“You must not have really loved my brother.”

The words cut deep, as Jacob must have known they would. No woman could have loved Toby like she did. “I refuse to be browbeaten by you anymore. Your hate is going to explode in your own backyard one day.” She stopped herself before she lit a match to his temper. Actually, she’d rather have been dropped in the bush for the next ten hours with a shotgun and a can of OFF! than argue with him. But the time had come to distance herself from Jacob.

“Hey, Danika,” an agent called, “do these belong to you?”

She turned to see wiry Felipe Chavez carrying a vase with a huge bouquet of roses. They remembered. She swallowed a chunk of life. “Oh, guys, you didn’t have to do this.”

Felipe made his way toward her. The other agents hushed; then one of them started to clap. She smiled through the tears as he handed her the clear glass vase. The sweet fragrance no longer reminded her of death, but of life and her resolve to live each day in a way that commemorated Toby’s devotion to her and their little daughter. Perhaps this was what the two-year marker meant.

She took the roses and studied the small crowd of agents. Good men, all of them—even Jacob.

“We cared about what happened to Toby too,” Felipe said with a grim smile.

Danika brushed her finger around one of the delicate petals and formed her words. Memories had stalked her like a demon since last night. “Don’t know what to say except thank you. Toby was a soldier for his own cause, and he spent his life doing what he believed in. Just like all of us.”

One agent shook his head, frowned, and left the room. Far too many explanations for his disapproval raced through her mind. But Danika needed to put the ugliness behind her.

She set the flowers on the long table in front of her. “Today is the second anniversary of Toby’s death. All of you have looked after me and my daughter, especially during holidays and special occasions. His death is why I’m more dedicated than ever to help protect the border.” She paused, sensing her emotions rushing into chaos. “I appreciate your remembering him and the sacrifice he made, especially since his beliefs were controversial.” Enough said.

She took a deep, cleansing breath. “I brought doughnuts.”

And they were buttermilk, Toby’s favorite.

She glanced at Jacob, hoping to end the tension between them. How Barbara could stay married to him was beyond her comprehension. He treated her and their four kids like yesterday’s trash.

Danika wound through the crowd of agents, greeting those who offered condolences and others who offered a good-morning.

The field operations supervisor, Agent Oden Herrera, stood in front of the flags—the U.S., Homeland Security, and the Border Patrol. Pushing the emotions of regret and grief about Toby aside, Danika captured the supervisor’s attention. “During the muster you said intel had picked up a cocaine drop last night?”

Herrera walked to a wall map and pointed. “Like I said earlier: arrested seven men and two women right along here, your area. A kid had a small bag of cocaine on him. Most likely a deterrent. The drug smuggler either hid it before being apprehended, or he’s still waiting for someone to pick him up. Dogs have been out there most of the night, but Barnett and Fire-Eater are headed that way in a few minutes.”

Danika finished her coffee and made her way into the stifling heat and stopped by Jon Barnett’s truck. As Fire-Eater’s handler, he had everyone’s admiration, and the Belgian sheepdog had a reputation for being the best of the K-9s. Barnett snapped on the dog’s leash and waved.

“I hear we’re working the same area today.” Danika refrained from patting Fire-Eater. Some days he wasn’t people friendly. After seeing the dog in action a few times when he’d found drug runners, she sometimes felt sorry for those he brought down.

Barnett grinned and wiped the sweat already beading on his face. “He’s a good dog, Morales. Just needs a little help with his people skills.” He laughed, his freckles deepening in the intense sun. “And he’s great with the wife and kids. Like another member of the family.” He pulled out his keys. “Do you want to talk? We have a few minutes.”

All she really wanted was for the day to be over. Talking increased the chances of liquid emotion—which was more lethal than the river flowing between the U.S. and Mexico. “No thanks. I’m fine.”

“Do you need to talk?”

“It’s been two years.” Therapeutic or not, she would not open up, even to a sweet guy like Barnett. She’d spent hours building a reputation as a tough agent, and she wasn’t about to take a nosedive now.

“Right, and the sooner you admit that today has crept up on you worse than a case of food poisoning, the better you’ll feel.”

She had to agree. “Have you turned psychologist?”

“Fire-Eater and five kids taught me all I know.”

“I had a dog when I was a kid,” she said, looking for any subject except Toby. “Gentle, sensed my moods, smart. My best friend. Sure missed him when he was gone.” Danika blinked back a tear, despising her reaction. She stared at Fire-Eater rather than look into Barnett’s face.

“I bet he slept at the foot of your bed.”

Fire-Eater climbed into the backseat of the double-cab truck.

“Sometimes in it. We even shared meals. I didn’t like meat, and he’d eat it for me.”

“Who’s your best friend now?”

She swallowed the ever-increasing lump in her throat. “Toby’s gone, and I have a tough time in church.”

“Confession is a beginning. Any family?”

“Toby’s family has been good to me.” Never mind Jacob. “My folks never approved of my marriage.” She sucked in a breath. It hissed like the poisonous snakes she feared. “Well-meaning friends do this to me.”

“Do you feel any better?”

Sneak. “Yeah, thanks, doc. You—”

Fire-Eater barked. No doubt anxious to get moving. The animal and Jacob had similar personalities, but today she’d rather be with the dog.

HHH

Danika turned off Old Military Road and bounced along a narrow dirt and gravel path, bordered by tall, thick grass and brush and laden with prickly pears on the Rio Grande side and more thick brush on the other. Jon had radioed ahead and reported signs from last night, but nothing new. Every agent was on alert. Trouble brewed along the entire two-thousand-mile border between Mexico and the United States. Drug cartels were slaughtering innocent people in the streets, and those on the U.S. side feared it was only a matter of time before the fighting spilled over the line. Not on her watch.

She drove slowly past the few houses perched on the right side of the road, most of which had been stash houses at one time or another, havens for illegal aliens and drug smugglers. She stopped the truck beside a well-worn trail to look for recent signs in the dirt. After a generous spray of mosquito repellent on her uniform and hands, she stepped into the stifling ninety-degree heat and bent to study the hours-old footprints indicating where the illegals had gained access into Texas before being apprehended. Most of them only wanted an opportunity to better themselves, but others had a darker agenda. At least she hoped the footprints had been accounted for.

A breeze from the north fanned her face and offered a brief reprieve from the unrelenting sun. The tall grass with its thick growth waved as though mocking her commitment to the Border Patrol.

Fifteen minutes later, Barnett radioed a call for assistance.

“Spotted a man wearing a backpack near the 112 sensor. He headed into the carrizo.”

Danika ran back to the truck and raced her vehicle toward Barnett’s location. She wanted to tell him to wait for backup and not search through the thick grass alone, but she knew Barnett and Fire-Eater were a team and stayed on the traffic. The smuggler probably hid on a rattler’s nest.

She was the first to respond to Barnett’s request. Pulling in behind his truck, she unclipped her HK from her belt while radioing her arrival. She grabbed her cell phone and dialed his number.

“Barnett, I’m here,” she said. “Tell me you’re not in the middle of the carrizo.”

He chuckled. “Fire-Eater’s after him. I’m skirting it. Neither one of us is coming out until we have our man.”

She pocketed her cell phone and followed the agent’s footprints on the dusty road until they disappeared into the thicket. Hot as it was, the Kevlar vest felt good, even if it was worthless against a stab wound or a shotgun blast.

Fire-Eater barked, snapping Danika’s attention toward the riverbank. The dog growled from somewhere in the depths of the overgrowth.

Gunfire cracked in the still morning air. Alert to the danger, she pulled her weapon.

“This is the United States Border Patrol! Come out with your hands up!” Barnett’s voice roared.

Another shot fired. Fire-Eater yelped.

Blood pumping, Danika yanked out her radio. “Shots fired. Shots fired. Agent or K-9 may be down.”

Two more shots pierced the air.

When Barnett didn’t respond, she clicked the radio in place on her belt. “Barnett,” she yelled, “tell me you’re all right.”

Nothing.

A dark-haired man emerged from the right side of the road several yards away, wearing a backpack that no doubt contained drugs. His attention scattered in different directions.

“Alto, o disparo,” she said.

The man turned and fired at her before racing across the road. The bullet angled to her left. Danika returned the fire and sank a bullet into his thigh. He fell, and she raced toward him.

“Drop the gun, or I’ll be forced to shoot again.”

He kept his fingers wrapped around it. She wrestled with the rage that always seemed to lie below the surface of her control. If she killed him, she could claim self-defense. But her job title meant self-control.

“I said drop the gun.” She fired above him and kept running in his direction.

He lifted his hand and aimed. Instinctively she pumped a bullet into his hand. His wound caused a burst of blood to splatter the ground and the quiet air to echo with obscenities. Still he refused to release the hold on his gun.

“Do you want your whole hand blown off?” She stood over him and clamped her booted foot over his injured hand.

He screamed, and she pointed her firearm at his face. Danika trembled. She wasn’t a murderer, but anger did struggle to rule her emotions.

“You’ll pay for this,” the man said. “I know who you are, and there’s a contract out for you.”

“You aren’t the first or the last to threaten me.” She picked up the man’s gun, an older model Beretta. With his leg and hand bleeding, he wasn’t going anywhere. She slipped the handcuffs from her belt and clamped them on his wrists. Rolling him over, she brushed his bleeding leg against the hard ground, and he moaned. Where was backup? Please, let Barnett be okay. Five kids. A respected agent.

“The drug cartels will destroy the Border Patrol.”

“Big talk for a man in handcuffs.”

“You wait and see who wins.” He spit on her boot. “You’ll never find out who killed your husband.”

She smothered the gasp that nearly stole her breath. How did the man know her? know about Toby’s death? He clearly had inside information—information that couldn’t have been obtained easily. Unless Toby’s murder was related to something bigger than she had imagined.

Focus. Now was not the time to weigh the shooter’s words. Later she’d look into it.

Her gaze searched the area. An outstretched arm poked through the overgrowth where the downed man had attempted to cross the road. She hurried, gun raised, eyes taking in every inch of the brush. As she grew closer, she saw the rest of Barnett’s body sprawled on the trodden grass. Blood soaked the ground, creating a small puddle of red against the vibrant green. Danika bent to his side.

Barnett moaned. “He shot Fire-Eater,” he whispered. “Get him.”

“I have him cuffed. Hold on. Help’s coming.” She pulled out the radio. “Need EMS. Agent down.”

She hadn’t been there for Toby, but she could be there for Barnett.