Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What's On Your Nightstand? September 29, 2010





This is meme hosted by 5 Minutes for Books. It happens on the fourth Tuesday of every month. This was supposed to be up yesterday but I had problems finding the cord that connects the camera to the computer. The stacks are really big this month. I have a lot of review books which are the third picture. I am doing quite a few reading challenges including the Maud Hart Lovelace that starts on October 1. I have not had as much time to read during the week because I get distracted by the Internet and TV which I hope to work on soon. I have also been staying later at work to exercise. I lost 17 lbs and I really want to keep it off. The second picture are the Steeple Hill books I read for fun and it has grown also. The 24 hour read a thon is coming up not this weekend but next so hopefully I can get a lot read. All the books look really good and I can't wait to read them. :)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall Into Reading 2010 Question One


Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge. This time she is doing a question every Tuesday.
http://callapidderdays.com

Today's question is: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to your reading? What prevents you from reading as much as you’d like?

My answer: The Internet and TV are big distractions for me. I have also been getting home later in the evening since I stay and work out.

Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson (Review)

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Judgment Day
WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)


by
Wanda Dyson






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Wanda Dyson – "a shining example of what Christian fiction is becoming..." (Christian Fiction Review). She's been called a "natural" and a "master of pacing," but her fans know that whether it's police thrillers, suspense, or bringing a true story to life, Wanda knows how to take her readers on a journey they'll never forget.



Wanda is a multipublished suspense author, currently writing for Random House/Waterbrook. Her one attempt at a nonfiction book was picked for an exclusive release on Oprah. In addition to writing full time, she is also the appointment coordinator for the CCWC, Great Philadelphia Christian Writers, and ACFW conferences.



Wanda lives in Western Maryland on a 125 acre farm with a menagerie of animals and when she's not writing critically acclaimed suspense, or away at conferences, you can find her zipping across the fields on a 4-wheeler with Maya, her German Shepherd, or plodding along at a more leisurely pace on her horse, Nanza.



With the release of her newest hit, Judgment Day, Wanda is heading back to the keyboard to start on her next high-octane thriller, The Vigilante.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.



The weekly cable news show Judgment Day with Suzanne Kidwell promises to expose businessmen, religious leaders, and politicians for the lies they tell. Suzanne positions herself as a champion of ethics and morality with a backbone of steel—until a revelation of her shoddy investigation tactics and creative fact embellishing put her in hot water with her employers, putting her credibility in question and threatening her professional ambitions.



Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find her deceased boyfriend, Dr. Guy Mandeville’s nurse, Cecelia Forbes unconscious on her living room floor. Before the night is over, Cecelia is dead, Suzanne has her blood on her hands, and the police are arresting her for murder. She needs help to prove her innocence, but her only hope, private investigator Marcus Crisp, is also her ex-fiancĂ©–the man she betrayed in college.



Marcus and his partner Alexandria Fisher-Hawthorne reluctantly agree to take the case, but they won’t cut Suzanne any slack. Exposing her lack of ethics and the lives she’s destroyed in her fight for ratings does little to make them think Suzanne is innocent. But as Marcus digs into the mire of secrets surrounding her enemies, he unveils an alliance well-worth killing for. Now all he has to do is keep Suzanne and Alex alive long enough to prove it.



Watch the book trailer:







If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Judgment Day, go HERE.

My Review:

Overall this was an okay book. I had a hard time getting into it at first. Toward the middle it picked up and the mystery and suspense kept me reading. I wish the characters were a little more developed. I liked the two detectives, Marcus and Alexandra, the best. I hope she does another story with them. Suzanne, the main character, was hard to like but I think that is the way it needed to be and by the end of the story she had learned some hard lessons and changed some for the good which I liked. If you like Christian mystery/suspense then you would like this book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's Monday What Are You Reading? September 27, 2010

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

What I read last week:
- A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow
- Listen by Rene Gutteridge
- Love, Charleston by Beth Webb Hart
- A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
- Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson

What I am currently reading:
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- The Mayan Apocalypse by Alton Gansky and Mark Hitchcock
- Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie

What I am reading next:
- The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly
- Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander
- Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe by Irene Brand and Anita Higman
- The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens

Reviews I posted last week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/hope-undaunted-by-julie-lessman-review.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/listen-by-rene-gutteridge-review.html

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com


* I cannot believe it is already one o'clock on Sunday afternoon. The weekend has flown by. The laundry is almost done. I still need to go to Wal Mart and the grocery store. I usually do it on Saturdays but yesterday I read two books instead. lol

* I have the urge to bake but I still have three books to read for the week and I am already tired. So that might have to wait for another night.

* This week is Banned Books week and while I am not participating in any challenges associated with it I wanted to mention it. I have read many of the books on the list and cannot believe they were banned by some schools. I think parents have the right to censor what their children read but not everyone else's. There is always the question of whether it violates the first amendment. Definitely something to ponder this week especially.

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

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Listen by Rene Gutteridge (Review)



Paperback: 432 pages

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (January 11, 2010)

ISBN-13: 978-1414324333



About the book:

Someone is listening...

The quaint, close-knit community of Marlo was the ideal place to live...until someone started posting private conversations online for everyone to read, word-for-word. Now it's neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, as careless comments and hurtful accusations turn the town upside down. Violence and paranoia escalate, and the police scramble to find the person responsible before more people get hurt, or even killed.

But what responsibility do the residents of Marlo have for the words they say when they think no one is listening?


My Review:
I loved this book. It was amazing. Words are so powerful and most of the time we do not even think about what we are saying or the impact they might have both negative and positive. I was riveted by this book and read it in one morning. The characters and plot were interesting and unique. It had a suspense and mystery aspect to it also as we race to discover who is posting every one's private conservations on the Internet and stop them. The main characters are the Underwood family. Damien the father is a reporter, Kay the mother sells real estate, and the two teenage children are Hunter and Jenna. A typical small town American family. Also an important character is Frank Meritt, a long time cop best friend to the family. I do not want to give away all the plot details but this book was definitely thought provoking and well written. I feel convicted for sure and will be watching my words better. The last part of the book is "Speak Kindly. Love Powerfully. Listen Fully." Highly Recommended. :)




About the author:

Rene is the author of sixteen novels, including her latest release, LISTEN, from Tyndale House Publishers. Her other suspense titles include, THE SPLITTING STORM, STORM GATHERING and STORM SURGE, plus her very first novel, GHOST WRITER (Bethany House Publishers). She is also known as a comedy writer. Her latest comedic novel is NEVER THE BRIDE, co-written with screenwriter Cheryl McKay (of The Ultimate Gift).

Her other comedy titles from WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishers include The BOO SERIES: Boo, Boo Who, Boo Hiss, Boo Humbug and THE OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS SERIES; (Scoop, Snitch, Skid). Another very popular comedy title is MY LIFE AS A DOORMAT, a Women of Faith selection for 2006, from Thomas Nelson. She has written one novelization, THE ULTIMATE GIFT, for Thomas Nelson.

She also has extensive experience writing comedy sketches, and worked for five years as the director of drama for a downtown church. She has a degree specializing in Screenwriting, for which she earned the Excellence in Mass Communication Award, and graduated magna cum laude.

She is married to Sean, a musician and worship leader, and has two children. They reside in Oklahoma, where Rene writes full time and enjoys instructing in college classrooms and writers conferences.


Review copy provided by Tyndale House Publishers.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Secret of The Shroud by Pamela Ewen

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


The Secret of The Shroud
B&H Books (September 1, 2010)


by
Pamela Ewen






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Pamela’s first novel, Walk Back The Cat (Broadman & Holman. May, 2006) is the story of an embittered and powerful clergyman who learns an ancient secret, confronting him with truth and a choice that may destroy him.



She is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed non-fiction book Faith On Trial, published by Broadman & Holman in 1999, currently in its third printing.



Although it was written for non-lawyers, Faith On Trial was also chosen as a text for a course on law and religion at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2000, along with The Case For Christ by Lee Stroble. Continuing the apologetics begun in Faith On Trial, Pamela also appears with Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, Darrell Bock, Lee Stroble, and others in the film Jesus: Fact or Fiction, a Campus Crusade for Christ production.



Her most recent novel, The Moon in the Mango Tree (B&H Publishing Group, May 2008) is currently available online and in bookstores everywhere. Set in the 1920’s and based on a true story, it is about a woman faced with making a choice between career and love, and her search for faith over the glittering decade. Pamela’s upcoming book, Dancing On Glass, which was recently short-listed as a finalist for the Faulkner/Wisdom creative writing novel award, will be released in the spring of 2011, and she is currently working on a sequel.



ABOUT THE BOOK



A frightened apostle in AD 33, a tragic child in the 1950s, and a slick, twenty-first century church leader are all linked by the secret of the Shroud of Turin, the purported burial cloth of Jesus-and by something more.



Wesley Bright, a corrupt, media-savvy clergyman, is out to destroy the Christian church of the God who abandoned him in his boyhood. Likable and entertaining, Bright keeps his motives well hidden. But as he seeks revenge, leading the church toward unknowing destruction, the mysterious Shroud of Turin stands in his way.



Strange characters and clues emerge like shadows limned in mist as the most recent discoveries on the Shroud connect the pieces of a fascinating puzzle. When Wesley learns the ancient secret, he’s forced to confront a terrible choice: keep the secret—and the power, wealth, and fame he’s won over the years—or expose it...and lose everything.



At stake is one thing: absolute truth.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Secret of The Shroud, go HERE.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Love's First Bloom


Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)


by
Delia Parr






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Delia Parr, pen name for Mary Lechleidner, is the author of 10 historical novels and the winner of several awards, including the Laurel Wreath Award for Historical Romance and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Inspirational Book. She is a full-time high school teacher who spends her summer vacations writing and kayaking. The mother of three grown children, she lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.









ABOUT THE BOOK



Ruth Livingstone's life changes drastically the day her father puts a young child in her arms and sends her to a small village in New Jersey under an assumed name. There Ruth pretends to be a widow and quietly secludes herself until her father is acquitted of a crime.



But with the emergence of the penny press, the imagination of the reading public is stirred, and her father's trial stands center stage. Asher Tripp is the brash newspaperman who determines that this case is the event he can use to redeem himself as a journalist.



Ruth finds solace tending a garden along the banks of the Toms River--a place where she can find a measure of peace in the midst of the sorrow that continues to build. It is also here that Asher Tripp finds a temporary residence, all in an attempt to discover if the lovely creature known as Widow Malloy is truly Ruth Livingstone, the woman every newspaper has been looking for.



Love begins to slowly bloom...but is the affection they share strong enough to withstand the secrets that separate them?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Love's First Bloom, go HERE.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow

*** I am still reading but close to being done so review coming soon. ***

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 Very Private Grave (Book 1: The Monastery Murders)

Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Donna Fletcher Crow for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:






Donna Fletcher Crow is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, primarily novels dealing with British history.


Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1854249681
ISBN-13: 978-1854249685

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Felicity flung her history book against the wall. She wasn’t studying for the priesthood to learn about ancient saints. She wanted to bring justice to this screwed-up world. Children were starving in Africa, war was ravaging the Middle East, women everywhere were treated as inferiors. Even here in England—

She stopped her internal rant when she realized the crash of her book had obscured the knock at her door. Reluctantly she picked up the book, noting with satisfaction the smudge it had left on the wall, and went into the hall. Her groan wasn’t entirely internal when she made out the black cassock and grey scapular of her caller through the glass panel of the door. She couldn’t have been in less of a mood to see one of the long-faced monks who ran the College of the Transfiguration which she had chosen to attend in a moment of temporary insanity. She jerked the door open with a bang.

“Father Dominic!” Felicity was immediately sorry for her surly mood. Fr. Dominic was an entirely different matter. She was always happy to see him. “I didn’t realize you were back from your pilgrimage.” She held the door wide for him as he limped down the hall to her living room.

“Just returned, my dear. Just returned.” As he spoke he smiled with a twinkle in his eyes that belied his 85 years, but he couldn’t quite suppress a small sigh as he lowered himself stiffly onto her sofa.

“I’ll put the kettle on.” Felicity turned toward her small kitchen. “I’m so sorry I don’t have any scones.”

“No, no. Just tea today— black.”

She looked at him, puzzled for a moment, then remembered. Oh, yes— today was Ash Wednesday. Solemn fast and all that. Felicity mentally rolled her eyes as she filled the kettle with water and clicked it on.

A few minutes later she filled his cup with a steaming, amber stream of his favorite Yorkshire Gold tea. The Community had a year or two ago started serving a cheaper blend of tea and donating the money saved thereby to the African Children’s Fund Fr. Dominic chaired— a worthy cause, but the tea was dreadful.

He raised his cup, “Oh, who could ask for more? The nectar of the gods.” Still, she knew he was missing her scones for which he sometimes provided little jars of quince jam from the community kitchen. And at Christmas he had brought her favorite— slices of dark, rich fruit cake encased in marzipan an inch thick.

And yet today she wondered if he noticed what he was or wasn’t eating at all, he was so animated with his plans for the major funding drive the Children’s Fund was set to launch. “If one puts together abortion, infant mortality, AIDS and traumatic deaths, South Africa’s daily death toll is appalling. Thousands die in a matter of months. If this were a war, such troop causalities would not be acceptable. The entire future of that nation— the whole continent, really— is at stake. They simply cannot afford to lose so many of their people— especially the children who are the future. If you don’t maintain health and keep order, instability, violence and poverty tear a country apart.”

Felicity nodded vigorously. Yes, this was more like it. This was what she wanted to hear about, not some useless church history nonsense. Fr. Dominic had spent his life working in South Africa, and today his passion made every word strike her heart. “And it isn’t just South Africa, the rest of the continent looks to them— to us— for stability. If South Africa fails, millions of Africans will curse us— we who stand by and let it happen.”

Still, there was hope, Dominic had talked to key people while on pilgrimage and had secured a source for a vast amount for the fund, although he didn't say what that source was. “This will be enough to build a first rate hospital for AIDS babies in Africa and fund a research wing for prevention and cure. There are good leaders in the government. There are people working for justice. If we can just give the people hope to hold on— "

His eyes took on a dreamy look and a little smile played around his mouth. "Hope. That’s what it’s always been about. Through the centuries . . . At last, the treasure to be put to a truly worthy use. . ." He ducked his head and took a quick sip of tea. “Forgive me, I’ve said too much.” He became suddenly thoughtful and lapsed into a most uncharacteristic silence. All Felicity’s best efforts couldn’t coax any more stories from him. Perhaps it was just the solemnity of the day, but Felicity did miss his stories— even the ones she had heard multiple times.

He drained his cup and set it down. “Ah, thank you my dear. Always a pleasure to be in your bright company. But now I must be getting back up the hill. Father Superior has asked me to do the ashing at mass, so I must prepare.” He struggled to his feet, his broad-shouldered, once-muscular frame revealing gauntness under the weight of his black woolen cassock, as did the folds of flesh that hung beneath his square jaw.

“Oh, I almost forgot,” he patted the canvas scrip which hung at his side from a strap slung across his chest. “I thought this might interest you.” He held out a small parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied up with old-fashioned string. His hand shook ever so slightly as Felicity took it from him. The gesture was so endearing: his shyness charming; his eagerness humbling. If the circumstances had been vastly different he could have been a suitor offering jewels to his beloved, or perhaps in an earlier age a troubadour bestowing an ode to his lady. And oddly enough, Felicity had the distinct impression that he hadn’t at all forgotten, but rather that delivering this small package had been the sole object of his visit. One might almost say his mission.

Felicity couldn’t help herself. She stepped forward and kissed him on his cheek. “Thank you, Father.”

Unexpectedly he placed his hands on each side of her forehead. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you always.” She felt a warmth from his hands that infused her whole head and radiated toward her body as if she were being bathed in warm oil. She almost fancied a faint scent of spice as he made the sign of the cross over her.

Moving inside a bubble of hushed awe, she held the door for him and he walked out slowly, as if reluctant to leave, stepping carefully to avoid limping. “I’ll see you at mass, Father.”

She shut the door behind him and turned to the window to watch his slow progress down the uneven sidewalk, his grey scapular blowing in the wind. Somehow she wanted to call out to him, to cling to the moment, but already it was passing, the normality of the day moving in on a holy moment. Yet even as she turned away from the window, the warmth of his touch remained on her head. She turned back one last time, her hand held out to him, but no one was there. Only a fleeting shadow brushed the corner of her eye. She shivered, but when she blinked the sky was clear.

"Right. Back to the real world." Felicity spoke aloud to make herself focus. She looked longingly at the small brown package in her hand. It felt like a book. A very slim volume. Had Father D. found a publisher for his poetry? Her fingers plucked at the string. No. If this was a collection of her friend’s poetry perusing it must not be rushed. Reading it would be her treat when she finished the work she had set for herself for the day. Lectures had been cancelled to mark the solemnity, but essays would still be due when they were due. With a sigh she slipped the gift into one of the copious patch pockets of her skirt and returned to the tome on the Anglo-Saxon church Fr. Antony had assigned, forcing herself to concentrate on its obscure irrelevancies.

That had been the hardest thing she had found about adjusting to her first year at theological college— the constant pressure for work, the lack of time to pursue her own interests— and that in a monastery, even. You really would think, living with a bunch of monks and future priests you'd have all the time in the world. Felicity shook her head.

And besides that, there was no margin for error on her part. As one of only four women among the student body of forty-some— and the only American— Felicity felt a double burden to reach the highest standards possible. This was the first year the Anglo-Catholic College of the Transfiguration had accepted women as ordinands, although they were still housed off campus awaiting alterations to the dormitories. Before "the Great Change" a few women enrolled as students, but were not allowed equal status with the male ordinands. Last year, however, the college had submitted to the winds of change and the powers that be, so now the women had full status— and double pressure.

Felicity, however was never one to let such barriers discourage her. She could rise to any challenge and her determination to succeed in this male-dominated world knew no limits. Anyway, she had few complaints. She had been warmly welcomed— by most. A handful of ordinands and perhaps two or three of the monks or lay teachers were less warm— whether because she was female or because she was American she wasn’t sure.

Two hours later the insistent ringing of the community bell called her back from her reading just in time to fling a long black cassock on over her shetland sweater and dash across the street and up the hill to the Community grounds. Her long legs carried her the distance in under three minutes— she had timed it once. Once inside the high stone wall enclosing the Community she slowed her pace. It never failed. No matter how irritated she became with all the ancient ritual and nonsense of the place, there was something about the storybook quality of it all that got through to her in her quieter moments.

The spicy scent of incense met her at the door of the church. She dipped her finger in the bowl of holy water and turned to share it with the brother just behind her. Shy Br. Matthew extended a plump finger without meeting her eyes. They each crossed themselves and slipped into their seats in the choir.

“Miserere mei, Deus. . .” The choir and cantors had practiced for weeks to be able to sing Psalm 51 to the haunting melody composed by Allegri. The words ascended to the vaulted ceiling; the echoes reverberated. Candles flickered in the shadowed corners. She had been here for six months— long enough for the uniqueness of it all to have palled to boredom— but somehow there was a fascination she couldn't define. “Mystery,” the monks would tell her. And she could do no better.

What was the right term to describe how she was living? Counter-cultural existence? Alternate lifestyle? She pondered for a moment, then smiled. Parallel universe. That was it. She was definitely living in a parallel universe. The rest of the world was out there, going about its everyday life, with no idea that this world existed alongside of it.

It was a wonderful, cozy, secretive feeling as she thought of bankers and shopkeepers rushing home after a busy day, mothers preparing dinner for hungry school children, farmers milking their cows— all over this little green island the workaday world hummed along to the pace of modern life. And here she was on a verdant hillside in Yorkshire living a life hardly anyone knew even existed. Harry Potter. It was a very Harry Potter experience.

She forced her attention back to the penitential service with its weighty readings, somber plainchant responses, and minor key music set against purple vestments. Only when they came to the blessing of the ashes did she realize Fr. Dominic wasn’t in his usual place. Her disappointment was sharp. He had definitely said he was to do the imposition of the ashes and she had felt receiving the ashen cross on her forehead from that dear man would give the ancient ritual added meaning. Instead, Fr. Antony, one of the secular priests who lectured at the college, not even one of the monastic community, stood to hold the small pot of palm ashes while Fr. Anselm, the Superior of the Community, blessed them with holy water and incense.

Felicity knelt at the altar rail, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes were cold, a sooty mark of grief, gritty on her forehead.

“Amen,” she responded automatically.

She was back in her seat, turning ahead to the final hymn, “Forty Days and Forty Nights,” when she heard the soft slapping of sandals on the stone floor. Oh, there’s Fr. Dominic. She relaxed at the thought, putting away her worries that he had been taken suddenly ill. But her relief was short-lived when Fr. Clement, the Principal of the college, and Jonathan Breen, a scholar making a retreat at the monastery, slipped to the altar for their ashes.

The final notes of the postlude were still echoing high overhead when Felicity rose from her seat and hurried outside. Dinner, a vegetarian Lenten meal, would start in the refectory almost immediately and it wouldn’t do to be late. If she hurried, though, she could just dash back to her flat and pick up a book of Latin poetry for Fr. Dominic. She had a new volume of Horace, and she knew Fr. D loved the Roman's half Stoic, half Epicurean philosophy. He would have time to enjoy what he called his “guilty pleasure” while he recuperated from his indisposition.

She bounded up the single flight of stairs, flung open her door and came to a sudden halt. “Oh!” The cry was knocked from her like a punch in the stomach. She couldn’t believe it. She backed against the wall, closing her eyes in the hope that all would right itself when she opened them. It didn’t. The entire flat had been turned upside down.

Felicity stood frozen for perhaps a full minute, trying to take it all in: books pulled from shelves, drawers pulled from her desk, cushions flung from chairs. Hardly breathing, she rushed into her kitchen, bath, bedroom— all chaos— sheets and duvet ripped from her bed, clothes pulled from her wardrobe. She picked her way through scattered papers, dumped files, ripped letters. Dimly she registered that her computer and CD player were still there. Oh, and there was the Horace book still by her bed. She pulled her purse from under a pile of clothes. Empty. But its contents lay nearby. Credit cards and money still there.

Not robbery. So then, what? Why?

Was this an anti-women-clergy thing? Had she underestimated the extent of the resentment? Or was it an anti-American thing? The American president was widely unpopular in England. Had he done something to trigger an anti-American demonstration? Felicity would be the last to know. She never turned on the news.

Well, whatever it was, she would show them. If someone in the college thought they could scare her off by flinging a few books around she’d give them something new to think about. She stormed out, slamming her door hard enough to rattle the glass pane and strode up the hill at twice the speed she had run down it. Not for nothing her years of rigorous exercise at the ballet barre. When she reached the monastery grounds she keyed in the numbers on the security lock with angry jabs and barely waited for the high, black iron gates to swing open before she was speeding up the graveled walk.

Felicity's long blond braid thumped against her back as she charged onward, her mind seething. If those self-righteous prigs who posed as her fellow students thought they could put her off with some sophomoric trick—

She approached the college building, practicing the speech she would deliver to all assembled for dinner in the refectory: “Now listen up, you lot! If you think you can push me around just because your skirts are longer than mine. . .”

She punched a clenched-fist gesture toward her imaginary cassock-clad audience, then saw the Horace book still clutched in her hand. Oh, yes. First things first. She would have missed the opening prayer anyway. She would just run by Father D’s room— then she would tell them.

She hurried on up the path beyond the college to the monastery, ran her swipe card through the lock, and was halfway down the hall before the door clicked shut behind her. She had only been to Dominic’s room once before, to collect a poetry book he was anxious to share with her, but she would have had no trouble locating it, even had the door not been standing ajar.

She pushed it wider, preparing to step in. “Father D— ” she stopped at the sight of a man in a black cassock standing there praying. He jerked around at the sound of her voice and she recognized Fr. Antony, her church history lecturer.

She took a step backward when she saw the look of horror on his sheet-white face. “Felicity. Don’t come in.” He held up a hand to stop her and she saw it was covered with blood.

“Father D! Is he hemorrhaging?” She lunged forward, then stopped at the sight before her.

The whole room seemed covered in blood. Bright red splotches on the pristine white walls and bedding, on the open pages of a prayer book, on the statue of Our Lord, forming lurid stigmata on His hands extended in mercy. . .

And in the center of the floor, in a pool of red, his battered head all but unrecognizable— her beloved Father Dominic. The smell of fresh blood clogged her nostrils. Gorge rose in her throat.

“Felicity— ” Fr. Antony extended his reddened hands to her in a pleading gesture.

“No!” She screamed, wielding her Latin book as a shield against the blood, a red haze of shock and horror clouding her vision.

She couldn’t believe Antony's face could get even whiter. “Felicity, wait. Listen—”

She dimly registered his words, but the voice in her head shouted with far greater force. No! It can’t be. It's a mistake. She was in the wrong room. Must be. She shook her head against the nightmare she had seen yet couldn't accept that she had seen. Blackness rolled toward her.

She staggered backward into the hall and slumped to the floor as the room spun before her. She closed her eyes against the darkness as her mind reeled, groping for a coherent thought. How could this be?

Only a short time ago she had been reveling in the peace of this remote holy place. Where could such violence have come from? How was it possible here? In a place of prayer? To a holy man. Why?

If Fr. Dominic wasn't safe who could be?

And even as the questions tumbled, half-formed through her head, even as her mind denied the act her eyes saw, she knew she had to find an explanation. How could she continue studying— believing in— purpose and justice if such senseless irrationality reigned free?

Focusing on the questions gave her strength to get her feet under her again.

Antony was still standing dazed in the gore-splattered room looking as though he could collapse in the middle of the pool of blood. Felicity grabbed his arm, jerked him into the corridor, and shoved him against the wall where he stayed, leaning heavily. He held his hands before his face as if unbelieving they were his own. “When he missed mass I came to check on him. . . I felt for a pulse— ”

“We must get help!” Felicity looked wildly around.

“Yes, of course.” Her energy seemed to galvanize Antony. He pushed himself forward unsteadily. “Forgive me, I feel so stupid. It was the horror. I— we must tell the Superior. He’ll call the police.”

“Police? You mean an ambulance.” Felicity started toward the room again. Yes, that was it— how could she have dithered so when they must get help. “He’s lost so much blood, but maybe—”

“No!” Antony gripped her shoulder with more strength than she realized he was capable of. “Don’t go in there again, Felicity. It’s useless.”

She knew. She had seen the blood.

Fall Into Reading 2010 My List



I love this reading challenge created and hosted by Katrina at Callpidder Days. Even if you do not want to participate check out her blog. It is one of my favorites.
http://callapidderdays.com/

I think it was my first ever reading challenge and this is my fourth time participating in it. It has grown so big there are usually a couple hundred participants. It starts on September 22 and ends on December 20. It is very low key and well organized.

Go here for the basic information: http://callapidderdays.com/2010/09/fall-into-reading-2010-the-basics.html Go here for information on prizes and giveaways: http://callapidderdays.com/2010/09/fall-into-reading-2010-prizes-and-giveaways.html Go here for posting guidelines: http://callapidderdays.com/2010/09/fall-into-reading-2010-posting-guidelines.html


My List:

Regular Fiction including:

- Heavens to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Betsy In Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Betsy was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
- Mr. Dixon Disappears by Ian Sanson
- Spring Muslin by Georgette Heyer
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
- The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens
- A Long Long Time Ago by Brigid Pasulka
- Blackout by Connie Willis
- The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton
- The Ocean in the Closet by Yuko Taniguchi
- One Foot in the Black by Kurt Kamm


Christian Fiction:

- A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
- Judgement Day by Wanda Dyson
- The Mayan Apocalypse by Alton Gansky
- The Thorn by Beverly Lewis
- Within My Heart by Tamara Alexander
- Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner
- While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin
- Love Charleston by Beth Webb Hart
- A Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- The House on Malcolm Street by Leisha Kelly
- Love Remains by Kaye Dacus
- An Honest Love by Kathleen Fuller
- Love on a Dime by Cara Lynn James
- Solitary by Travis Thrasher
- Thirsty by Tracey Bateman
- Sworn to Protect by Diann Mills
- The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
- Final Touch by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins
- The Waiting by Suzanne Woods Fisher
- Don't Look Back by Lynette Eason
- Snow Day by Billy Coffey
- Embers of Love by Tracie Bateman
- Emily's Chance by Sharon Gillenwater
- Lydia's Charm by Wanda Brunsetter
- A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener
- The Snowflake by Jamie Carie
- Sunset Beach by Trish Perry
- MIA: Missing in Atlanta by Debby Giusti
- Healing Sands by Nancy Rue and Stephen Arterburn
- Symphony of Secrets by Sharon Hinck
- Head in the Clouds by Karen Whitemeyer
- Hatteras Girl by Alice Wisler
- Divine Appointments by Charlene Baumbich
- Goodness Gracious Green by Judy Christie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


In Every Heartbeat
Bethany House (September 1, 2010)


by
Kim Vogel Sawyer






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Kim Vogel Sawyer is the author of fifteen novels, including several CBA and ECPA bestsellers. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year Award, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Kim is active in her church, where she leads women's fellowship and participates in both voice and bell choirs. In her spare time, she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband, Don, reside in central Kansas, and have three daughters and six grandchildren.



ABOUT THE BOOK





As three friends who grew up in the same orphanage head off to college together, they each harbor a cherished dream.



Libby Conley hopes to become a famous journalist. Pete Leidig believes God has called him to study to become a minister. And Bennett Martin plans to pledge a fraternity, find a place to belong, and have as much fun as possible.



But as tensions rise around the world on the brink of World War I, the friends' differing aspirations and opinions begin to divide them, as well. And when Libby makes a shocking discovery about Pete's family, will it drive a final wedge between the friends or bond them in ways they never anticipated?



If you would like to read the first chapter of In Every Heartbeat, go HERE.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang

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:


Whisper on the Wind

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

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Maureen Lang has always had a passion for writing. She wrote her first novel longhand around the age of 10, put the pages into a notebook she had covered with soft deerskin (nothing but the best!), then passed it around the neighborhood to rave reviews. It was so much fun she's been writing ever since. Eventually Maureen became the recipient of a Golden Heart Award from Romance Writers of America, followed by the publication of three secular romance novels. Life took some turns after that, and she gave up writing for 15 years, until the Lord claimed her to write for Him. Soon she won a Noble Theme Award from American Christian Fiction Writers and has since published several novels, including Pieces of Silver (a 2007 Christy Award finalist), Remember Me, The Oak Leaves, On Sparrow Hill, and My Sister Dilly. Maureen lives in the Midwest with her husband, her two sons, and their much-loved dog, Susie.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414324367
ISBN-13: 978-1414324364

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Part I

September 1916

Scope of War Broadens

Rumania joins Allied Powers with hopes of shortening the war

Germany has declared war in response, claiming Rumania disgracefully broke treaties with Austria-Hungary and Germany. The Allied Powers, at the forefront including France, Britain, and Russia, welcome additional men and arms. They remind the world which country was the first to break a treaty when Germany marched into Belgium in direct defiance of an agreement to respect Belgium’s neutrality should international strife begin.

Fifteen nations are now at war.

La Libre Belgique


Chapter One

“Oh, God,” Isa Lassone whispered, “You’ve seen me this far; don’t let me start doubting now.”

A few cool raindrops fell on her upturned face, blending with the warm tears on her cheeks. Where was her new guide? The one she’d left on the Holland side of the border had said she needed only to crawl through a culvert, then worm her way ten feet to the right, and there he would be.

Crickets chirped, and from behind her she heard water trickle from the foul-smelling culvert through which she’d just crept. Some of the smell clung to her shoes and the bottom of her peasant’s skirt, but it was Belgian dirt, so she wouldn’t complain. The prayer and the contents of her satchel reminded her why she was here, in this Belgian frontier the occupying German army strove to keep empty. For almost two years Isa had plotted, saved, worked, and defied everyone she knew—all to get to this very spot.

Then she heard it—the chirrup she’d been taught to listen for. Her guide had whistled it until Isa could pick out the cadence from any other.

She edged upward to see better, still hidden in the tall grass of the meadow. The scant mist cooled her cheeks, joining the oil and ash she’d been given to camouflage the whiteness of her skin. She must have grown used to its unpleasant odor, coupled with the scent she had picked up in the culvert, because now she could smell only grass. Twigs and dirt clung to her hands and clothes, but she didn’t care. She, Isabelle Lassone, who’d once bedecked the cover of the Ladies’ Home Journal with a group of other young American socialites, now crawled like a snake across a remote, soggy Belgian field. She must reach that sound.

Uneven ground and the things she’d hidden under her cloak and skirt slowed her crawl. Her wrist twisted inside a hole—no doubt the entrance to some creature’s home—and she nearly fell flat before scuttling onward again. Nothing would stop her now, not after all she’d been through to get this far, not after everything she’d given up.

Then her frantic belly dash ended. The tall grass hid everything but the path she left behind, and suddenly she hit something—or rather, someone.

“Say nothing.” She barely heard the words from the broad-shouldered figure. He was dressed as she was, in simple, dark clothing, to escape notice of the few guards left to enforce the job their wire fencing now did along the border. Isa could not see his face. His hair was covered by a cap, and his skin, like hers, had been smeared with ash.

Keeping low, the guide scurried ahead, and Isa had all she could do to follow. Sweat seeped from pores suffocated beneath her clothes. She ignored rocks that poked her hands and knees, spiky grass slapping her face, dirt kicked up into her eyes by the toe of her guide’s boot.

He stopped without warning and her face nearly hit his sole.

In the darkness she could not see far ahead, but she realized they’d come to a fence of barbed wire. A moment ago she had been sweating, but now she shivered. The electric fences she’d been warned about . . . where bodies were sometimes trapped, left for the vultures and as a grim warning to those like her.

Her guide raised a hand to silence whatever words she might have uttered. Then he reached for something—a canvas—hidden in the grass, pulling it away from what lay beneath. Isa could barely make out the round shape of a motor tire. He took a cloth from under his shirt and slipped it beneath the fence where the ground dipped. With deft quickness, he hoisted the wire up with the tire, only rubber touching the fencing. Then he motioned for her to go through.

Isa hesitated. Not long ago she would have thought anyone crazy for telling tales of the things she’d found herself doing lately, things she’d nearly convinced her brother, Charles, she was capable of handling despite his urgent warnings.

She took the precious satchel from her back and tossed it through the opening, then followed with ease, even padded as she was with more secret goods beneath her rough clothing. Her guide’s touch startled her. Looking back, she saw him hold the bottom of her soiled cotton skirt so it would touch nothing but rubber. Then he passed through too. He strapped the tire and its canvas to his back while she slipped her satchel in place.

Clouds that had barely sprinkled earlier suddenly released a steady rainfall. Isa’s heart soared heavenward even as countless droplets fell to earth. She’d made it! Surely it would’ve been impossible to pass those electrified wires in this sort of rain, but God had held it off. It was just one more blessing, one more confirmation that she’d done the right thing, no matter what Charles and everyone else thought.

Soon her guide stopped again and pulled the tire from his back, stuffing it deep within the cover of a bush. Then he continued, still pulling himself along like a frog with two broken legs. Isa followed even as the journey went on farther and took longer than she’d expected.

She hadn’t realized she would have to crawl through half of Belgium to get to the nearest village. Tension and fatigue soon stiffened her limbs, adding weight to the packets she carried.

She heard no sound other than her own uneven breathing. She should welcome the silence—surely it was better than the sound of marching, booted feet or a motorcar rumbling over the terrain. Despite the triumph she’d felt just moments ago, her fear returned. They hid with good reason. Somewhere out there German soldiers carried guns they wouldn’t hesitate to use against two people caught on the border, where citizens were verboten.

“Let me have your satchel,” her guide whispered over his shoulder.

Isa pulled it from her back, keeping her eye on it all the while. He flipped it open. She knew what he would find: a single change of clothes, a purse with exactly fifty francs inside, a small loaf of bread—dark bread, the kind she was told they made on this side of the blockades—plus her small New Testament and a diary. And her flute. Most especially, her flute.

“What is this book?” His voice was hushed, raspy.

“A Bible.”

“No, the other one. What is it?”

“It’s mine.”

“What is it doing in this satchel?”

“I—I wanted to bring it.”

“What have you written in here?”

Instantly flushed with embarrassment, she was glad that he couldn’t see her face any better than she could see his under the cover of darkness. No one would ever read the words written in that diary, not even the person to whom she’d written each and every one. Well, perhaps one day he might, if they grew old together. If he let her grow old at his side.

“It’s personal.”

He thrust it toward her. “Get rid of it.”

“I will not!”

“Then I will.” He bolted from belly to knees, hurling the little book far beyond reach. It was gone in the night, splashing into a body of water that no doubt fed into the culvert she knew too well.

Isa rose to her knees, the object of her gaze vanished in the blackness. The pages that securely held each intimate thought, each dream, each hope for her future—gone. Every page a visit with the man she loved, now forever lost.

“How dare you! You had no right.”

The guide ignored her as he resumed the scuttle forward.

Fury pushed Isa now. That diary had meant more to her than this dark figure could know. When at last he stopped and stood beneath the low branches of a forest to scrape the wild heath off his clothes, Isa circled to confront him.

At that moment the clouds parted enough to allow a bit of moonlight to illuminate them. And there he was, in glorious detail—older, somehow, and thinner, but the black brows, the perfectly straight nose, the square jaw, and the eyes that with a single look could toss aside every sensible thought she might have. The very man about whom—and to whom—that diary had been written.

Her heart skipped wildly, rage abandoned. “Edward!”

All he offered was confused scrutiny, a glance taking her in from head to foot. She took off her hat and her blonde hair tumbled to her shoulders. In the dim light he might not be able to see the blue of her eyes, but surely he saw her familiar smile, the shape of her face, and the welcome that sprang from the deepest part of her.

The look on his face changed from confusion to recognition. Then astonishment.

“Isa?”

She threw herself toward him, and he received her as she dreamed he might one day, with his strong arms enveloping her, his face smiling a welcome. His eyes, if only she could see them better in the darkness, must be warm and happy. She longed for him to kiss her and raised her face, but there the dream ended. He pushed her away to arm’s length.

If there had been any warmth in his eyes a moment ago, it was gone now, replaced by something not nearly as pleasant.

“What are you doing here? I thought it was a fool’s mission to bring somebody in. A girl, no less. And it’s you, of all people!”

She offered a smile. “Well, hello to you too, Edward. After more than two years I’d expected you to be happy to see me. A guide was supposed to take me to you; no one told me it would be you.”

“We’ll retrace right now, young lady.” He took one of her hands and moved away so easily that he must have believed she would follow.

“I’m not going anywhere, except home. If you knew what I’ve been through to get here, you wouldn’t even suggest such an absurd notion.”

“Absurd? Let me give you the definition of the word, Isa. Absurd is smuggling someone into a country occupied by the German army, into a starving prison camp. Do you know how many people have been killed here? Is the rest of the world so fooled by the Germans that you don’t even know?”

“Edward, I’m sure no one on the outside knows everything that’s going on, except maybe Charles. He was in France, caught behind the lines. And now he’s working with the British, not far from where you were born. In Folkestone.”

“Your brother? Working? Now there’s a new concept. He should have talked you out of coming here.”

Isa wouldn’t admit just how hard Charles had tried. “I found my guide through him. Mr. Gourard—”

“Gourard! He was here—he was with us the day my father was shot.”

“Oh, Edward.” She leaned into him. “He told me your father was killed.” Tears filled her eyes, an apparently endless supply since she’d been told the news. “I’m so sorry.”

He pushed her away, but not before she saw his brows dip as if to hide the pain in his eyes. “Look, we can’t stand here and argue. The rain was working with us to keep the sentries away, but if we have to go through that fence when it’s this wet, we’d better go now before it gets worse. We’ve got to keep moving.”

“I’m not going back.” If he knew her at all, he would recognize the tone that always came with getting her way.

He stood still a long moment, looking one direction, then the other, finally stooping to pick up her satchel—now lighter with the absence of one small diary—and heading back to the grassland.

She grabbed his arm. “No, Edward! I won’t go. I—I’ll do anything to stay. I’ve been through too much to give up now.”

He turned on her then, with a look on his face she’d never seen before—and his was a face she’d studied, memorized, dreamed of, since she was seven and he twelve. That the war had aged him was obvious, and yet he was still Edward.

He dropped the satchel to clutch both of her arms. “Do you think I’ll let you walk into a death camp? That’s what Belgium is, even your precious Brussels. Go back home, Isa. Your parents got you out. Before all this. Why would you be foolish enough to come back?”

“I came because of you—you and your family. And because this is my home.”

His grip loosened, then tightened again. He brought his face close, and Isa’s pulse pounded at her temples. But there was no romance in his eyes. They were so crazed she couldn’t look away if she wanted to.

“Isa,” he said, low, “I’m asking you to go back.”

Her heart sped. “Only if you come out with me,” she whispered. Then, because that seemed to reveal too much and yet not enough, she added, “After we get your mother and Jonah.”

He dropped his hands and turned away, facing the grassland instead of the trees.

She could tell him what she had hidden inside her flute; surely that would change his mind about the wisdom of her actions. But something held her back. If she gave it to him now, he might simply accept the flute but return her to the border anyway. No, she wouldn’t reveal her secret. Not yet.




Isa picked up her satchel and started walking—deeper into Belgium, away from the grassland, into the wood that no doubt served a nearby village. Beneath her skirt and blouse, the other goods she carried tightened her clothes so she could barely breathe, but she didn’t stop. She didn’t even look back.

Before long she heard Edward’s footfall behind her. At first they did not speak, and Isa didn’t care. Her journey had ended the moment she saw his face. This was where she’d longed to be. She’d prayed her way across the Atlantic, escaped the wrath of her brother and all those he worked with. Days of persuasion led to downright begging, until she’d tried going around them and contacted Brand Whitlock, the American ambassador to Belgium, to arrange her passage home to Brussels.

But her begging had accomplished nothing.

Yet her journey had not ended there, thanks to the whispered advice of a clerk who worked in Folkestone with her brother. When Charles went off on an errand, another man approached her and spoke the name of a guide who started Isa on the final leg of her journey to Edward’s side.

“We’re coming to the village road,” Edward said flatly. “I was told your papers would give your name as Anna Feldson from Brussels, which match mine as John Feldson. We are cousins, and I am bringing you home from visiting our sick grandmother in Turnhout. There is a German sentry on the other side of this village, and we’ll no doubt be stopped. There won’t be anyone on the street at this hour, which is a good thing because even the locals won’t trust us. Nobody likes strangers anymore, especially this close to the border. So if we do see anybody, keep to yourself and don’t say a word.”

She nodded. A few minutes later the trees parted and she saw shadows of buildings ahead. The rain had let up to a drizzle again, and the moon peeked out to give them a bit of light. She wasn’t soaked through but knew a wind would send a chill, especially now that the anxiety of crawling through the underbrush was behind them.

Edward stopped. “I’m only going to ask once more, Isa, and then I’ll not ask again.” Now he turned to look directly into her eyes. “We have enough darkness left to make it safely. Let me take you back to the border.”

“I can’t,” she whispered. When the crease between his eyes deepened, she said, “This is where I belong, Edward. It must be where God wants me, or I never would have succeeded.”

“God.” He nearly snorted the word before he turned from her and started walking again toward the village.

“Yes!” She hurried to catch up. “If I told you all the ways He’s protected me so I could get this far, you wouldn’t doubt me.”

Edward turned on her. “I refuse to hear it, Isa. God’s not in Belgium anymore; you’ll find that out for yourself soon enough.”

His words stung. God had used Edward to show her His love to begin with, and she knew He wasn’t about to let Edward go. Had Edward let go of God, then? When? And why, when he must need God more than ever if things here were harder than she had imagined?

They walked through the quiet village without incident, the soft leather soles of their wet shoes soundless on the cobbles. The village was so like many others of Belgium: a few small homes made of familiar brick, a stone church with its tall bell tower, and a windmill to grind grain into flour. So different from the frame homes or sprawling businesses Isa had left behind in New York, but so dear that she wanted to smile as deeply as Edward frowned.

At the other end of the narrow village street, there was indeed a German officer stationed on the road. Isa’s heart thudded so loudly in her ears she wondered if she would be able to hear over it, or if the soldier would hear it too.

But he said nothing, not a word, at least not to her. He looked at them, looked at their papers, then asked Edward in rather bad French why they were traveling so early in the morning, having come so far from Turnhout already.

Edward replied that the steam tram was unreliable but that they hoped to reach the next village in time to catch it anyway.

The soldier waved them through.

“That was easier than I expected,” Isa whispered once they were well away.

“Don’t underestimate other soldiers based on that one. A suspicious one with a rifle can do as he pleases.”

But Isa was too relieved to be gloomy. “Amazing how I can still understand you through your clenched jaw, Edward.”

Edward didn’t look at her. “We have to be in Geel in less than an hour if we expect to make the tram.”

They made their way in silence, under sporadic drizzle and meagerly emerging sunlight. When at last they came to the next town, it was quiet until they reached the tram station, where soldiers outnumbered civilians. So many soldiers did what the rain couldn’t: dampened Isa’s spirits.

She had a fair understanding of German, but she could barely keep up. Not that she needed to; the soldiers ignored her, speaking of mundane things to one another, hardly worthy of interest. She prayed it would stay that way, that she and Edward would be invisible to each and every armed soldier.

A commotion erupted from the front of the platform. German commands, a snicker here and there. Silence from the civilians.

A man not much older than Edward was forced at gunpoint to open the packet he carried, to remove his coat and hat, even his shoes. A soldier patted him from shoulder to ankle.

Isa could barely watch and wanted more than anything to turn away. To run away. She told herself to look elsewhere, to allow the victim that much dignity, but was transfixed by the sight of such a personal invasion. Her throat tightened so that she couldn’t swallow, could barely breathe. She couldn’t possibly withstand such a search, and not just for modesty’s sake. “Edward . . .”

“Keep your eyes down and don’t say a word.”

“But—”

“Quiet.”

A tram entered the station and the man was allowed to board, everyone else soon following. Edward nudged Isa and they took seats.

The secret goods beneath Isa’s cloak and clothing clung to her skin, as if each sheet, each letter were as eager as she not to be noticed. She feared the slightest move would sound a rustle. Carefully, slowly, she stuffed her satchel beneath the seat, wanting to take comfort that it had escaped notice. If her flute was looked at with any scrutiny . . . She couldn’t bear to think of it.

The vehicle rumbled along far slower than the pace of Isa’s heartbeat. She wanted the luxury of looking out at the land she loved, the fields and the villages, the rooftops and steeples, the mills and the farms, but her stomach didn’t allow her eyes to enjoy any of it. At each stop a few soldiers departed, but new ones joined them. She tried not to study what went on, at least not conspicuously, but longed to learn how the soldiers chose which civilians to search. It appeared entirely random. More men were searched, but women weren’t spared. One holding a baby was made to unswathe her child, who screamed and squirmed when jostled from its secure hold.

Isa did as Edward told her, kept quiet, eyes cast downward or upon the passing landscape that under any other circumstances would have been like a gift from the finest art palette. One hour, then two. After the third she could stand it no longer. Surely they were near their destination? But she had no idea how far Louvain might be at the rate they were going with so many stops and searches. No doubt they could travel more safely by foot without losing much time.

Six times she nearly spoke, to urge Edward to take her out of this tram. Six times she held back. But one more search and she could resist her impulses no more.

“I—I must get off the tram, Edward. I’m sick.”

“Sick?”

“Yes, I must get away from—” She wanted to say away from the soldiers but dared not in case any of them spoke French and overheard. “I must get away from this awful tram. The stop and go is making me ill.”

“Another hour. Surely you can last?”

She shook her head even as from the edge of her vision she saw a soldier looking her way. How do you not look guilty when you’re completely, utterly, culpable?

Isa stood as the tram came to a slow stop at the next intersection. She kept her back to the soldiers, jumping to the ground just as soon as it was safe to do so. Then, without waiting for Edward, she walked forward as if she knew exactly where she was going.

She walked a block, well out of sight from the disappearing tram. There she stood . . . not amid one of the lovely villages, with their ancient way of life so quaintly preserved and appreciated. Instead, she found herself at the end of a row of destruction. Crumbling homes, demolished shops. Burned ruins of a town she once knew. Aerschot, where she’d dined and laughed and dreamed of walking the street with Edward’s hand in hers.

A moment later Edward’s shadow joined hers. “Are you positively mad?”

“We’re in Aerschot?” she asked, barely hearing his question.

“Obviously. And several hours’ walk from Brussels. Do you know how ridiculous that was? We don’t need any complications, Isa.”

She faced him. “Your contact didn’t tell you what I’d be carrying, did he?”

Suspicion took the place of the anger on his face. “What?”

“Well,” she began slowly, “I would try to show you, but among other things, I’m afraid I’d never get everything back in place.”

He let out what she could only call a disgusted sigh as he ran a hand through his dark hair—hair that seemed thinner and yet sprang instantly back into place, symmetrical waves that framed his forehead, covered his ears. He needed a haircut, but she found she liked the way he looked too much to think of changing anything, even the length of his hair.

“Isa, Isa,” he said, shaking his head all the while. “I should make you take out every scrap and burn it right here and now. Do you know what could have happened if you’d been searched on that tram?”

“Which is why we’re no longer on it.”

“You might have warned me!”

“I tried!”

He paced away, then turned to stand nearly nose-to-nose with her again. Not exactly the stance she’d dreamed of when she’d imagined him at such close proximity, but it sent her pulse racing anyway.

“You could have been shot. Do you know that? Shot.”

She nodded. “They warned me.”

His brows rose and his mouth dropped open. “Then why did you agree to the risk?”

“Gourard told me there are no newspapers, no information at all about what the rest of the world is doing to try to save Belgium and end this war. How have you lived so long without knowing what’s going on? I have the best portions of a couple of recent newspapers. And I have letters, too. Letters from soldiers. Don’t their families deserve to know they’re all right?”

“It doesn’t matter what I think. Gourard shouldn’t have taken your life so lightly or trusted such things to a young, naive child.”

“Child! I’m perfectly capable of deciding what risks I will or won’t take. I’m the one to decide what I will or won’t do for Belgium.”

“It was bad enough for you to come back, but to bring contraband—it’s beyond foolish.”

“Edward, don’t be angry with me. I’ll deliver the letters and then be done with it if you like, if it’s too dangerous for us. But I won’t abandon what I brought with me.”

“I don’t care about the risk for me. I’ve done so many things the Germans could shoot me for that one more thing doesn’t matter. It’s you. Maybe the Germans wouldn’t shoot you—being just a girl—but who knows?”

“I’m not—” . . . just a girl. But she didn’t bother with the words. She doubted they’d convince him.

She looked away, embarrassed. All she could think of when she agreed to smuggle the letters was how desperately she had wanted news of him and how other families cut off from their loved ones must be desperate too. She couldn’t have refused to take a chance with the letters and lived with herself. “I agreed to take the risk for the same reasons you’ve taken so many. Your mother and father didn’t teach values only to you and Jonah, you know.”

He emitted something between a moan and a laugh, then took her arm. “We’re going somewhere for you to take out the letters. And the newspaper clips.”

“But, Edward—”

He looked at her then, and she could see he was not to be argued with. “I’ll carry them in my cloak. It won’t be the first time.”




Monster Armored Cars Used by British in Charge on the Somme

Called “tanks” by those who’ve seen them, Allied soldiers themselves refer to these huge traveling fort machines as “Willies.” Driven like motorcars but able to scale barbed wire, leap trenches, knock down houses, and snap off tree limbs, they are a formidable weapon indeed and will no doubt play an important role in the defeat of the Germans.

La Libre Belgique

A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman (Review)



Paperback: 505 pages
Publisher: Revell (September 1, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0800734152


WINDS OF CHANGE SERIES, BOOK 1 -- A HOPE UNDAUNTED:

What happens when the boy she loved to hate ... becomes the man she hates to love?


The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O'Connor is the epitome of the new woman--smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband--good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Cluny McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face to face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?

My Review:
I thought this was a good book although a bit long. It took me a few days even though it was a page turner. There were many surprises. I thought everything was settled and then it changed. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I was happy with the ending. It is technically the start of a new series but the same characters are there from her last series. The main focus is on Katie O Connor this book. We find out what happened to the main characters of the previous books in this one too. They are all family so it flows find. It seems best to read all four books in order to avoid spoilers and they are all good. The characters and plot are interesting and well developed. It is not your typical Christian historical fiction because the author shows real life passion and emotions in the story. It was not too edgy for me and I am pretty conservative so I think all readers will be fine. Recommended. :)


About the author:
Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and 2009 Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever and is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied.



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

It's Monday What Are You Reading? September 20, 2010

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

What I read last week:
- Immanuel's Veins by Ted Dekker
- Petra by T. L. Higley
- A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

What I am currently reading:
- Shore Thing by Julie Carobini
- The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean
- A Long Long Time Ago and essentially True by Brigid Pasulka
- A Very Private Grave by Donna Fletcher Crow

What I am reading next:
- In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer
- Whisper on the Wind by Maureen Lang
- Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

Reviews I posted last week:
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/black-madonna-by-davis-bunn-review.html
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/autumns-promise-by-shelley-shepard-gray.html
http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/09/immanuels-veins-by-ted-dekker-review.html

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Sunday Salon September 19, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com


* This is going to be a busy but exciting week. The fall TV shows start back and the Fall Into Reading Challenge starts on Wednesday. It feels anything but like Fall here in the deep south. I for one am not complaining. I like summer and do not want it to end.

* This weekend has gone by so fast. I am so tired. I am behind on my reading and have a lot of book tours coming up. The laundry is almost done so hopefully I can finish another book tonight.

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

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Black Madonna by Davis Bunn (Review)



Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; 1st edition (September 7, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-1416556336

About the book:

Following the internationally acclaimed Gold of Kings, Storm Syrrell returns in the compelling story of The Black Madonna.

Antiques expert Storm Syrrell heads to Europe to investigate the clandestine trade in religious artifacts. She dismisses superstitious tales of miraculous healings and divine omens. Yet when an obsessive Russian oligarch calls—just as her friend Harry Bennett vanishes—all assumptions must be cast aside. Storm seeks answers in a medieval monastery. There, the scarred visage of an icon provokes ever more startling questions. Is she prepared to confront both earthly and spiritual powers? Storm remains haunted by lessons in love and betrayal that lie just outside her grasp. But hesitation now holds mortal consequences.


My Review:
Although the beginning was a bit slow and confusing I did enjoy this Christian thriller. It is the second in the series featuring Storm Syrrell. It can stand on its own but it is better after reading the first to me. Once the action picked up this book was page turner. It had mystery, suspense, and little romance too. It reminded me of National Treasure the movie and Laura Croft: Tomb Raider. The characters and plot were interesting and mostly developed. I hope there is a third book featuring these characters. I recommend the first book and this one. :)
About the author:

Known by his fans as the, "Gentleman Adventurer" Davis Bunn is a multi-award winning best-selling author who consistently delivers engaging stories and thrilling adventures. He has served as the Novelist in Residence at Oxford University for the past ten years and was recently invited into BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts).

Davis Bunn is a lover of adventure in many forms, including his decades-long involvement in surfing (yes, he's been bitten by a shark). Fluent in three languages, Bunn's travels include Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. He and his wife, Isabella, divide their time between homes in England and Florida's West Coast.

Learn more about the unique life and mind of Davis Bunn at http://www.davisbunn.com/.
Review copy provided by Glass Road PR for book tour.

Autumn's Promise by Shelley Shepard Gray (Review)

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Autumn's Promise
Avon Inspire (August 3, 2010)


by


Shelley Shepard 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 is releasing four novels by Shelley this year.



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



Some promises are meant to be broken...



Until Robert Miller met Lilly Allen, his world had been dark. A widower after only two years of marriage, he'd been living in a haze, feeling that, at twenty-four, his life was already over.



But thanks to his friendship with Lilly, he now has new reasons to wake up each day. He knows his connection to her doesn't make sense. She's only nineteen, with a past the whole town talks about. Even more, she's not Amish, like Robert. A marriage between the two of them could never happen.



Lilly's heart is drawn to Robert, not to his faith. No matter how much she admires his quiet strength and dependability, she doesn't think she could ever give up her independence and reliance on the modern world. Is their love doomed before it even begins?



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

My Review:

This is the third and last book in this series. I have enjoyed reading all of them. They are not your typical Amish fiction books and are more contemporary. I recommend reading them in order mainly because Lilly is a main character in all of them and her story wraps up in this book. I loved how Lilly and Robert fall in love and hurt with them over the differences in their lives that might end up keeping them apart forever. I was on pins and needles toward the end waiting to see how the book ends. It did not end like I thought it would which is good because I liked it better. The characters and plot were interesting and developed. Highly Recommended. :)