Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Reviews.....

I'm going away for a week or so, and I won't (to my knowledge) have any internet access, so my reviews are going to be a bit late. They WILL be there, though!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Christmas Edition by Robin Shope

Lucy Collins has given up on Christmas since the painful break-up with her fiance. Things only get worse when a large newspaper is about to come to town and threatens the livelihood of their family run business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper. At the staff Christmas party, she makes a wish and what seems like the answer to her prayer walks in the front door to apply for the editor position, which they are hoping will bring new life to the paper. Not only is Joe McNamara a genius when it comes to the written word, but he is also gifted with ideas about keeping the newspaper afloat. However, Joe has a secret of his own that he is keeping from Lucy. If she finds it out, then what looks like a promising relationship will unravel, but it's Christmas time, the season of rebirth and miracles. Will the spirit of celebration be enough to heal two hearts? Or will the reality of deception make this the worst Christmas of all?


In Robin's words:

I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)

To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition releases Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition releases in January 2009.

Visit the author's shoutlife and website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 11.99
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601543301
ISBN-13: 978-1601543301

My Review:
I love the cover of this book. It's really pretty :)
The style of writing tended to frustrate me. I'd would be reading, and all of a sudden it would just annoy me. I guess the reason that it annoyed me was because it's how I would probably write :P
The overall story was good, and I think that it would appeal to a lot of people.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925511
ISBN-13: 978-0736925518


Chesterton, Hertfordshire



Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”

My Review:
I loved this book. It was really well written, and easy to read. I got it as a PDF file, and it was the first time that I'd read a book on the computer, but this was a book that made me want to continue reading, which was good.
The Paragon was really great. I loved the fact that Ariana wouldn't marry him if he wasn't a Christian.
I love the era that this was set in, and it had a Jane Austen feel to it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays: Christmas Books

Yes, I know this is once again late! I'm very sorry. I just never seem to have any time on Saturdays :)

Welcome to Faith 'n Fiction Saturday where we get together and talk about our love for Christian fiction. To participate, simply write your answer on your blog, find the permalink of your post and then go enter the permalink into the Mr. Linky at My Friend Amy. Please also link back to Amy's post.

Today's question:
It's Christmas time and one of my favorite things to do is read Christmas themed books. Do you enjoy reading holiday themed books? Do you have any special book you read every year? Do you have a special devotional you like to use? (not fiction..I know!) Have you read any good Christmas books this year?

My answer:
I love reading holiday themed books! Unfortunately, I can't think of very many Christmas themed books that I have. I have 'A Christmas Carol', which I love! I recently got 'The Nativity Story' as well. I think I'm going to start reading these books annually because they're both really good.

I love 'A Christmas Carol' because it reminds me to give joyfully instead of hoarding my money.
I love 'The Nativity Story' because it brings an extra bit of life to the real Nativity Story. I watched the movie of this first, and then read the book. I think that reading helped me understand the movie better. The movie seemed a little disjointed in places, and the book helped explain that much better.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Got To Be True

records Pictures, Images and Photos

Kalea_Kane over at Enroute to Life tagged me for this.

Put your iTunes/Other music device on shuffle.

For each question, press the next button to get your answer.


Tag friends who might enjoy doing this.

I don't think my Mp3 has a shuffle function on it, so I went on Windows Media Player and used the shuffle function on that. Hence, there is a couple of my brothers songs in this list :)

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY? Running after you goodest (remix) by my brother and his friends :P


WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? "Way I Are" by Timbaland

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY? "Catchafire" by Toby Mac. Yeah, that's how my throat feels!

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? "Mr. Lonely" by Akon.

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? "Catchafire" by Toby Mac.

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? "Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns. I hope :)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS? "I just want to be where you are" - Worshippers Collection.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? "Be Thou My Vision" - Worshipper's Collection

WHAT IS 2+2? "Born To Try" by Delta Goodrem

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND? "Someone's Watching Over Me" by Hilary Duff

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE? "Rain Down" by Planetshakers. Hmmm.... This could be taken a few ways :P

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? "Irish Potatoes" by Patch the Pirate. Who knew? :D

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING? "You Are Worthy" by Jason Ingram

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? "Reflector" by Planetshakers

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? "Holy Spirit, Rain Down" - Worshipper's Collection

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET? "The Real Sin Saviour" by Apologetix

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? "Friendship" by Tom Fettke

WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? "Gone" (Long Gone remix) by Toby Mac

HOW WILL YOU DIE? "Prayer for Taylor" by Michael W. Smith

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU? "Shine God's Word" by Patch the Pirate


WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW? "Praise You In This Storm" by Casting Crowns


HOW’S YOUR LOVE LIFE? "Heaven Rejoices" by Lex Brodie


WHAT’S YOUR PARTY SONG? "The Name of the Lord is To Be Praised" by Adreana Arganda

WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR A LIVING? "We're All to Blame" by Sum 41

WHAT WAS THE WEATHER LIKE TODAY? "Forgive Me" by Barlow Girl


WHAT WERE YOUR DREAMS LIKE LAST NIGHT? "Love Them Like Jesus" by Casting Crowns

WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? "Got to Be True" by Steven Curtis Chapman

I won't tag anyone, but if this is something that you think you'd like to do, go ahead and steal it!
But please let me know so that I can come and check yours out :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Christmas Edition by Robin Shope

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Christmas Edition – first book in The Turtle Creek Edition series

The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)


In Robin's words:

I am the Special Education Coordinator for Denton County Juvenile Justice Alternative Program. I work with at risk teens from fifth grade through high school. My husband and I have been married for thirty-one years and we have two grown children. The first two years of marriage, Rick and I traveled overseas as missionaries. Afterwards we served as pastors of a church in Illinois. Presently we live near Dallas, Texas. He is in business and I work for the school system. (My husband still makes yearly mission trips to India.)

To date, my literary works include approximately two hundred articles in magazines such as: Guideposts, Live, Lookout, Mennonite, Christian Reader, Decision, Breakthrough and Christianity Today. Other short stories appear in the books: A Match Made in Heaven, Stories from the Heart, The Evolving Woman, and the New York Times bestseller, In The Arms of Angels by Joan Wester-Anderson. Ann Spangler also used one of my stories in her book, Help! I Can’t Stop Laughing. Another two-dozen stories have been published in the Chicken Soup books. One story, Mom’s Last Laugh, was re-enacted for a PAX-TV program: It’s a Miracle. I co-authored a thriller, The Chase, for Revell. My second book, The Replacement, was released in June 2006. The Candidate was released July, 2007. I continue to publish short stories in magazines. Wildcard, a mystery, will be a spring 2009 release. The Christmas Edition releases Nov. 20. The Valentine Edition releases in January 2009.

Visit the author's shoutlife and website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 11.99
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press (November 21, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601543301
ISBN-13: 978-1601543301


December 1

The usual winter blizzard blew into southern


Lucy Collins carefully maneuvered her car

through the snow that grew deeper with every gust

of wind. She parked directly in front of her family

owned business, The Turtle Creek Newspaper, just

as her brother, Mike, was making his second pass at

clearing away the snow from the drive with the

snow blower.

“Hey, Mike! Help me carry these inside, will

you?” Lucy called to him as she got out of her heated

car. A sharp wind sucked up her words and nearly

knocked her off balance.

Mike turned off the blower and cupped his hand

around his ear. “What did you say?” His breath

circled around his face in the frigid air.

“Help!” Lucy hollered. She popped the trunk and

pivoted her body in an exaggerated fashion-the way

models do when showcasing prizes on a game show.

She stepped to the other side and waved her hands,

palms up, along the food trays and her mother’s

crystal punch bowl set. Then she flashed her

younger brother her biggest smile.

Mike galloped up to the car just as another gust

of wind, hammered snow at them. “It’s freezing out

here! Even my nose hairs are frozen solid. You go on

in. I’ll get these as soon as I’m finished shoveling the


“Thanks.” Lucy gave him a kiss on the cheek. To

keep her balance, she gingerly walked across the

crunchy ice crystals and into the warm building.

Once inside, she tugged off one boot and then the

other, dropping them under her desk. She hung her

coat and scarf on the back of her swivel chair as she

looked around at the decorations of wreaths and

holly. A sprig of mistletoe hung over the empty desk

at the back. That would surely go to waste. Music

played loudly from her dad’s old stereo inside his


Christmas used to be her favorite holiday, but

after a disastrous end to her engagement, a couple of

years ago, this particular holiday now only served as

a dark reminder of broken promises. With prayer

and a loving family, Lucy was ready to start her life

again, which meant buying her own place right after

the first of the year. Working and living with the

same people was often stifling, especially when

they’re her parents.

Lucy’s mom was the cheerleader as well as the

gopher, making sure everyone had what they

needed, whereas Lucy’s father focused persistently

on getting the next edition out and on time.

Each year at Christmastime, however, Harold

Collins took off his publisher hat and donned

something completely different. The weeks wedged

between Thanksgiving and Christmas became about

assisting others. She loved it all and nothing could

ever take her away from this life.

The employees had finished packing up the last

of the boxes from the food drive which were now

stacked neatly, ready to be dropped off at area

shelters. Lucy wanted to acknowledge all the work

they’d done. “For a small cluster of people, we sure

accomplish a truckload of work, fast! These

donations will help many people down and out this

holiday season. Like all the other years we’ve

worked closely together and done a great job.”

Christmas was about unbridled joy but today, try as

she may, she still wasn’t feeling it. Maybe she could

fake it for everyone’s sake. Lucy lowered her head in

modesty and stated, “This is going to be a Christmas

of miracles.”

As if releasing faith into the air, everyone began

to punctuate her words with applause. Right on cue,

Harold Collins stepped out of his office wearing a hat

something like one of the elves might wear. He even

bobbed his head up and down to show off the cluster

of bells that dangled at the tip of the loopy crown.

Lucy couldn’t help but have her first laugh of the

day, along with the other employees.

“I know it’s still over a month until Christmas

but I thought you could use this now,” Harold said as

he produced a fan of festive red and green envelopes.

Squeals of delight resonated as they opened the

envelopes and saw the amount written on the checks

but none was as loud as Ulilla Langston. Lucy’s dad

had inherited her along with the paper when her

grandpa died. Ulilla was a beautiful, black woman

with hair swept close to her head in a French twist.

She carried weight around the place both literally

and figuratively.

“Harold and Margaret Collins,” she crowed, as

her hand fluttered to her chest. “No way can you

afford to give us this.”

“Nonsense!” Harold blustered, and politely

dismissed her words of protest with a wave. “It

should be three times this and you know it! You all

have worked effortlessly and clocked in many

overtime hours in order to get the newspaper out

each week. I am the one who is grateful. Merry


The bell above the front door jingled as Mike

walked in balancing the punch bowl along with the

holiday trays. “Where do you want these, sis?”

“Let me help with that.” Lucy took the top two

trays. “Take the rest into the break room. I’ll follow

you in.”

Margaret touched the sleeve of Lucy’s cardigan.

“Have you finished our Christmas cards yet?”

“I started a month ago and finally finished them

last night. Not only did I hand write each one, but

the envelopes are addressed and stamped.”

“Which of the photographs did you decide on?”

“I thought I told you that all ready. Never mind,

there’s one in my desk I’ll show you.” Lucy set down

the trays. From the desk drawer, she took a single

envelope and handed it to her mother. “Here, I was

looking for something that would embody a perfect

form of truth when it comes to Christianity.”

Margaret stared at the card. A country church

was nestled into a hillside surrounded on all sides by

fresh snowfall. Above, the sky was brilliant blue.

Lucy looked over her mother’s shoulder. She

scrunched her face, second-guessing her

photographic choice. “Does it look okay?”

“It’s a whole lot more than okay. This is simply

breathtaking and looks professionally done. Lucy,

you should have put your logo somewhere on this

card so people would be aware that you are the one

who took this photograph of our church.” Margaret’s

eyes glistened.

“Not this time. I want people to focus on the

birth of our Savior and the hope He gives for our

lives. Mom, in the past year, I have become more

appreciative of the upbringing you and Dad gave

Mike and me and how you shared your faith which

has now become mine.” Lucy choked back her tears

and touched the silver cross she always wore at her


“Those words are the best gift you could ever

give to me.” Margaret hugged her daughter. “I want

nothing more this season than to see you happy.”

Lucy hugged back tightly. “I’m working hard on


“Lucy!” Mike called from the break room. “I

thought you said you were following me in. I’m

making a mess of things trying to get the food set


“Ah, I better go rescue the food from Mike and

start the punch.” Lucy picked up the trays. “By the

way, it’s getting worse outside so could you suggest

to Dad that we better let everyone go home early.”

“I will, but right now, I want to lend you a


Lucy and Mike uncovered the trays of fruit,

cheese, and crackers. Margaret took her home baked

pastries from the refrigerator and arranged them on

top of doilies set on antique dessert plates. Mike

dumped plastic forks from the box into a basket and

then tore open the plates while Lucy poured the

punch into the bowl and added scoops of sherbet. “I

think we’re ready.”

Once everyone had gathered in the break room,

Harold asked one and all to join hands. Together

they asked for the Lord’s blessing. Then they dug in;

plates were quickly filled with condiments, the

routine appetizers, rolled pieces of meat, decorated

sugar cookies, and cinnamon rolls. That was just for

starters. Margaret kept laying out more and more


Lucy sat at the edge of her chair and sipped her

cup of punch. It was fun watching everyone enjoy

themselves. She closed her eyes and drank in their

laughter. This is what she needed, to be surrounded

by such love and acceptance.

The employees had all worked for her father for

years, so she not only knew their names but their

spouses and children. This is what she loved about

the business. It wasn’t work. It was family. At times

they even squabbled like it, too.

When there were only a few squares of

cantaloupe and crumbs of her mother’s cake left,

Lucy suggested, “Before we go home for the

weekend, let’s go around the room and name one gift

we want for Christmas. No limitations on the gift.

Miss Ulilla, would you like to start?”

The society column woman was clearly pleased

to go first. In her world, this was the correct order of

the universe and she didn’t even try to suppress her

smile. Instead she brushed crumbs from her bosom,

cleared her throat and stood to her feet. “Since Lucy

removed the limitations, what I really want for

Christmas are tickets for a Caribbean cruise under

my tree this year.”

“That’s sounds exciting. I feel pretty confident

you can talk Abe here into going along with you.”

Lucy gave the elderly custodian a wink. It was no

secret Abe had been after Ulilla for as long as she

could remember, but Ulilla always put him off.

Abe stepped right in without being asked, “The

gift I am wishing for is that I can buy those tickets

for Ulilla. One for her and one for me. Separate

cabins, of course.” He turned beet red.

After the laughter died down, Lucy went on to

ask her best friend, “What about you, Monica?”

“I’m hoping for money. Lots and lots of money.”

“Here I thought you’d ask for perfume. The

French kind,” Mike said. His lips curled into a

slow smile. For the first time, Lucy caught

something in the air between her best friend and her

brother and it wasn’t perfume. French or otherwise.

Harold set down his plastic plate with a hollow

thump. “The gift I want this year cannot be found

under my tree.”

“Harold.” Margaret touched his arm. “This isn’t

the time.”

“I think it is, Maggie. After being a family

owned business for the last fifty years, first with my

Papa and now on my own, it’s no secret I want to

keep that other newspaper from coming here. Living

in a small town like Turtle Creek, we can’t

withstand the extra competition. Heck, we can

barely make it as it is. We need to come up with

some ideas of how we’re going to generate more

sales, increase our advertisers and get more

subscribers.” He pulled off his elf hat and lowered

his eyes. His thumb rubbed a finger as he spoke “Or

this might just be the last time we stand together

like this for Christmas.” To everyone’s dismay,

Harold had spit out his worrying words. They spread

across the room.

Lucy frowned. Everything her dad said was the

truth. They all knew it.

“My turn!” Lucy picked up her father’s hat and

pulled it down over her ears. Everyone laughed. “My

Christmas gift is to hire a new editor who will knock

the socks off our readers with his fresh ideas and


“And how will you know this editor when he

comes through the front door?” Carol from

advertising asked.

“Because…” Lucy tapped her chin in thought.

“The man I have prayed for will write with heart.”

Unexpected tears gathered along the edges of her

eyes. The end of her nose tingled. “Anyone who can

move an audience with words is going to increase

circulation which will attract businesses to grab ad

space and make readers buy our paper.” She touched

her cross. I have my faith in you, Lord.

The front door jingled. Monica looked out into

the office. “Hey, guys, there’s an awesome looking

guy standing at the front counter. I believe Lucy’s

gift just arrived. Quick Lucy, say another prayer

while you have God’s attention.”

Lucy walked out of the break room with

shoulders squared, back straight. There he stood.

Tall, with sandy brown hair and wickedly wonderful

eyes. Cherry cheeks, too, thanks to the frosty

weather. His gray eyes were unsettling. He stood on

one foot and tapped one shoe against the other to

knock off the snow. Then he repeated the process

with the other shoe. Monica was right. He was a


“How may I help you?” Lucy folded her hands

together and placed them on the counter.

“I’m looking for Lucy Collins.” He stared her in

the eyes.

“You’ve found her.” Lucy heard laughter. She

turned around to see the doorway to the break room

was crowded with faces. All eyes were pinned on

them. Of course, she had to put on a good show for

them. Lucy turned back around and faced him.

Feeling cocky, she said, “I know why you’re here.”

“You do?” he seemed startled.

“Yes, you’re here about the ad I placed in this

week’s paper for an editor.”

His chin dropped and he was speechless for a

moment. “You’re…absolutely right. I did see it

advertised.” The man set his briefcase down and

popped it open. He started shuffling around the

inside of it. Papers rustled. Finally, he looked up

sheepishly. He had worried eyes. “I seem to have

forgotten my resume. Not a good way to start a job

interview. By the way, I’m Joe McNamara.”

Lucy shook his hand and then reached under

the counter for an application. She clamped it down

on a clipboard, slipped a pen underneath and

handed it to him. “I don’t need your resume but I do

need to know if you can write. When you’re done

filling this out, I want you to write an editorial for

me.” She slid a blank piece of paper toward him.

“On what subject?” he scratched the end of his


“You’re the editor so you get to decide.” She

slapped her hand down on the paper.

Joe nodded and then looked around for a place

to sit. He chose a chair from the waiting area. Lucy

watched him as he read the application and then

thoughtfully filled in the blanks. Every now and

then he looked up and caught her staring at him. He

smiled but she quickly looked away.

The Turtle Creek Newspaper employees began

to quickly leave. “Don’t stay too long, Lucy, or you’ll

be trapped in here for the weekend,” Abe warned her

on the way out. For the first time ever, Ulilla was on

his arm.

“I won’t be much longer. I am dreaming of a cozy

fire with hot chocolate.”

“That’s only one of the things I’m dreaming of!”

Ulilla gushed as she plunged through the doorway.

Shocked over Ulilla’s sudden change of heart, Lucy

couldn’t help but stare.

Finally Joe stood to his feet and handed the

clipboard back to her, the pen returned to the same

position as when she had handed it to him. Now it

was Joe’s turn to slide the paper across the counter

to her. Lucy looked at it. Maybe she missed

something. She flipped it over. Both sides were

blank. She looked at Joe quizzically.

“May I?” he asked nodding toward one of the


“Be my guest.” Lucy granted permission and

then caught her reflection in a window. She quickly

pulled off the Santa hat. Static electricity popped

around her head like a lightening rod. She knew she

was blushing and really hoped he wouldn’t notice.

Lucy watched as his long fingers flew across the

keyboard. Her keyboard. The tips of the fingers hit

the center of the keys with great accuracy. Tap-tap tap

the keys sank and rose again. She was close

enough to see the words without her glasses and

didn’t see any red squiggly lines. At least the fella

could spell.

“Psst!” Monica called from the break room.

Lucy turned around. “What?” she mouthed


With frantic movements, Monica motioned for

Lucy to come talk to her. When Lucy walked into the

room, everyone huddled around. “We need details.”

Lucy gave a deep sigh happy to oblige. “His

name is Joe McNamara. According to his

application, he’s from Chicago, so I guess he must be

relocating. He’s trying out for our paper by writing

an editorial for me.”

“Good idea,” Harold said while cramming the

last sugar cookie into his mouth.

“Why would he want to apply for a job with us?”

Mike asked suspiciously as he tied the top of a

plastic garbage bag closed.

“That’s easy to answer. We are the best

newspaper in the entire southern lakes region,”

Harold answered shooting bits of cookie from his

mouth like falling stars.

“Yea, right,” Mike panned as he tossed the bag

on top of the other bags.

“You have to start at a small paper and work

your way up to get into a big city paper,” Monica

explained as she slipped on her winter coat. Then

she winked at Mike. “He’s getting his start right

here with us.”

“Whoa, first I have to hire him, and once he

hears what the pay is, he may just hop back on the


“Finished,” a male voice spoke.

Everyone turned to look. Joe stood just feet

away, holding his paper out.

Lucy hoped he hadn’t heard everything. She

snatched the paper from him and furrowed her brow.

“That was fast.”

“Not when you have something burning inside

that you feel passionately about.”

She held it between her fingers and read aloud.

Saying Goodbye

by Joseph McNamara

What will I ever do without Cafe Books?

Ever since the announcement that the

independent bookseller was going out of business,

I've been a mess. The big chain stores serve a

purpose, sure, but they don't contain the atmosphere

and warmth that emulates from the owners of Cafe

Books. When I walk into their shop, it's like visiting

family. Mr. and Mrs. Myers always greet me and

everyone, with a genuine smile, and when are they

not armed with a recommendation for a new title

they know I'll enjoy? Just for me. They notice me. Me.

Cafe Books is where I first went whale hunting

with Melville and frog collecting with Steinbeck. How

can I forget all the murderous adventures I shared

with my good friend, Mike Hammer, or faced a scary,

yet Brave New World with Huxley? I’ve read more

than books on the leather sofa at Cafe Books. I've

made friends. Lived a million different lives. Cried

countless tears. And have laughed out loud so often,

and so hard, that my stomach still aches from the

memories alone.

How does one say good bye to such a place?

I started patronizing Café Books just off Kenzie

Avenue in Chicago about two years ago. And so when

the owners announced suddenly it would be going out

of business and closing its door yesterday, I made it a

point to stop by.

The room was busy with faithful shoppers who

felt this place was a stabilizing source in their

community. Lexie Jacobson, a 28-year-old hairstylist

scooped up discount novels and a couple of CDs. “I’m

sure going to miss this place,” she said with a shake

of her head. She was not alone with this feeling.

“It’s hard to find bookstores that are not part of a

national chain,” 35-year-old school teacher

Samantha Jones said with a sigh.

The sentiment was expressed again and again by

dozens of patrons.

In the never ending search for bigger and better,

give me the small and unique. Meet me at Café

Books. Help me say goodbye.

No one spoke. Lucy couldn’t take her eyes from

the page. The words evoked warmth and sentiment.

It was more than she had hoped for. He was it. This

was her Christmas gift.

It wasn’t the first sight of him that did it. It

wasn’t the endearing way he drummed his thigh

with the pen when he was nervously trying to figure

out what to write down on his application that

formed her opinion. Nor even his calm manner as he

slid his fingers across her keyboard that made the

difference. It was his words. These words. They were

simple and brilliant. Words that had taken the

breath from her soul. She looked up at him with new

eyes. He got her—yet how could that happen when

they only met minutes ago.

“Wow,” she gulped.

“Well, it was spontaneous.” Joe uneasily tugged

at his collar. “If I had more time, I could have done

much better.”

They smiled at each other as if there was more

to the words that hung in the air. Her mind was

wandering where it shouldn’t. “I need to clarify


“Clarify away, Ms. Collins.”


“Lucy,” he repeated in a sweet tone.

“Um, we can’t afford to pay you much. It’s

obvious you’re quite gifted so I’m not sure we’re what

you’re looking for in a newspaper.”

“The experience is what is valuable here.”

“How much notice do you need to give your old

place?” Harold stepped forward to ask. “The sooner

you can start the better.”

“Dad!” Lucy cut in as blood rushed to her face.

“Ah, my schedule is pretty well wide open, Sir. I

can start as soon as I’m needed, that is if I am hired.

I really don’t need much—a roof over my head

and...a new start.”

Lucy saw it in his eyes. He wasn’t kidding.

“You know, Harold, there is the small apartment

above our garage. Mr. McNamara could stay there

until he finds another place,” Margaret reminded


“I’ll take it,” Joe was quick to accept.

A gust of wind whipped through the building

when Monica opened the door. “Better get a move

on, people. I just heard on the radio that the

Interstate is closed down. The town is pretty well

socked in. It’s time for us to lock up and head for our

homes. I love you all but no way do I want to be

stuck in here with you.”

Everyone went for their coats.

“I better take you home, so I know you made it

safely,” Mike told Monica.

“If you shovel my walk too, there might be a

reward in it for you,” Monica winked as she nudged

his side with her elbow.

“I love rewards.”

“Mike, don’t be long. There are Christmas boxes

in the attic I need for you to get down for me,”

Margaret said following her son out to the parking

lot. “We’re decorating the tree tonight and you can’t

miss it.” She shut the door behind them.

“Ah, is there something you want me to sign? A

contract or something?” Joe asked, quickly looking

from Harold to Lucy.

“I never thought about a contract,” Lucy said,

wondering if they had anything the resembled a


“We don’t do contracts here. A shake of my hand

is how I operate.” Harold slid his arm down through

his winter jacket and out the opening. “You better

come along with us. You’ll never get back to the city


With a simple handshake, Lucy Collins’ day took

a new direction.

My review:
Unfortunately we had a few problems with our computer, so I wasn't able to read the PDF copy of this yet. However, I will be reviewing it as soon as I can get to it :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Faith 'n Fiction Saturdays: Recommended Gifts

Amy over at My Friend Amy is hosting a Faith 'n Fiction Saturday again! (yes, I do realize it's now Friday of the week after :P)

Amy says:
As you may know, I launched a campaign to encourage people to buy books for the holidays (you can visit that site here) and there are some fantastic bloggers who have really contributed a lot of great ideas into the blog. I hope you check it out.

But now it's your turn to share some ideas!
What books should others be buying for Christmas? Do you need any gift help? You can handle this topic in two ways....either make a list of recommended books to give as gifts this year OR ask a question about what book you should get someone. (for whom you have been unable to think of a book gift for).

Keep it about books!

My answer:

Hollywood Nobody series by Lisa Samson
A Life of Faith series by Martha Finley
Mandie series by Lois Gladys Leppard

Adults or older youth:
Sisterchicks series by Robin Jones Gunn
The Austen series by Debra White Smith
O'Malley series by Dee Henderson

These series are really good!
I'm not suggesting that you buy the whole series, but maybe get a friend started on them, or if they're already collecting them, add to their collection.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Leave It to Chance by Sherri Sand

It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

The feature author is:

and her book:

Leave it to Chance
David C. Cook (May 2008)


Sherri Sand is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. When she needs stress relief from wearing all the hats required to clothe, feed and ferry her rambunctious brood, you may find her sitting in a quiet corner of a bistro reading a book (surrounded by chocolate), or running on one of the many trails near her home. Sherri is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. She finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon where she graduated cum laude. Sherri and her family live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

She's also a blogger! So stop by and say hi to Sherri at Creations in the Sand!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799883
ISBN-13: 978-1434799883


“A horse? Mom, what am I going to do with a horse?” Just what she and the kids did not need. Sierra Montgomery sagged back against her old kitchen counter, where afternoon sunlight dappled the white metal cabinets across from her. She pressed the phone tight against her ear, hoping she’d heard wrong, as her four-year-old son, Trevor, ate grapes at the kitchen table.

“Miss Libby wanted you to have it. I’d think you’d be delighted, what with the kids and all. You remember Sally, Miss Libby’s daughter? Well, she just called and said it was all laid out in the will. None of their family could figure out who Sierra Lassiter Montgomery was until Sally remembered me from her mom’s church. So she called and sure enough, you were my daughter.” Sierra’s mom tsked into the phone. “Well, you know how Sally is.”

Sierra hadn’t the foggiest how Sally was, or even who she was. She barely remembered Miss Libby from her Sunday school class eons ago.

“She acted pleased that her mother gave you the horse, but I could tell she was miffed. Though what Sally Owens would do with a horse, I’d like to know.” Her mom’s voice was tight and controlled as if they were discussing how to deal with black spot on her Old English roses.

“But I don’t want a horse. You, of all people, should know that after what happened when—” How could her mom even suggest she get a horse? Painful pictures of her childhood friend Molly floated through her mind.

“Honey, accidents like that don’t happen more than once in a lifetime. Besides, Miss Libby wouldn’t have owned a crazy horse.”

Sierra stared out the window where the school bus would soon release her most precious treasures. Her mom never had understood the resounding impact that summer day had made in her life.

“You really need to think of the kids and how much fun they’d have. It’s not like you’d ever be able to afford to buy them one.”

Sierra wished she were having this conversation with Elise rather than her mother. Her best friend would understand the danger she feared in horses, and in her humorous way come up with a sensible plan that would include not keeping the animal.

Her mom, on the other hand, lived life as if she were on one of those moving conveyors at the airport that people can step on to rest their feet yet keep moving toward their destination. As long as everyone kept traveling forward, she could ignore the emotional baggage dragging behind.

“I don’t understand why Miss Libby would give the horse to me.”

“You know how my bingo club visited the Somerset rest home every week? Well, Miss Libby’s been there for years and she always did comment on how horse crazy you were when she taught your Sunday school class.”

“Mom, that was a phase I went through when I was ten and found National Velvet and Black Beauty at the library. I haven’t seen Miss Libby since middle school.”

“Obviously you were special to Miss Libby. I’d think you might be a little more grateful.”

Deep breath, Sierra told herself. “I am grateful.” An errant grape rolled next to her toe. Trevor’s blond head was bent, intent on arranging the fruit like green soldiers around the edge of his plate. Sierra tossed the grape into the sink and considered how to respond to her mom. She was a dear, but sometimes the woman was like dry kindling on a hot day, and one little spark…. “I’m just not sure that owning a horse would be a wise move at this point in our lives.”

The front door slammed and Sierra felt the walls shudder with the thud. The 3:00 p.m. stampede through the house meant it was time to get off the phone and determine how to get rid of a horse before the kids found out about it.

Her mom sighed. “It’s too bad Sally won’t keep the horse at her place for you, but she said her husband wants the horse gone. He wants to fill the pasture with sheep.”

Sheep? A kitchen chair scraped over the linoleum as Trevor scooted back from the table and dashed for the living room. “Mommy’s got a horse! Mommy’s got a horse!” Wonderful. Little ears, big mouth.

Braden and Emory shot into the kitchen, bright eyes dancing in tandem. Their words tangled together in fevered excitement despite the fact that she was on the phone.

“Where is it?” Braden’s eleven-year-old grin split his face, and his dark hair was rumpled and sweat streaked, likely from a fevered game of basketball during last recess.

She held a hand up to still the questions as her mom went on about the sheep that Sally’s husband probably did not need.

“We have a horse?” Nine-year-old Emory, her blonde hair still neat in its purple headband, fluttered in front of her mom, delight and hope blooming on her face.

Despite the fear of horses building deep in Sierra’s gut, her children’s excitement was a little contagious. She wished Miss Libby had willed her a cat.

Sierra ran her hand down Emory’s soft cheek and whispered. “I’ll be off the phone in a minute, sweetie.”

“Can we ride it?” Em looked at her with elated eyes.

Braden tossed his backpack on the table. “Where are we going to keep it?”

The kids circled her, jabbering with excited questions. Sierra rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers. “I gotta go, Mom. I’ve got to break some cowboy hearts.”

The kids clamored around her, Braden taking the lead with an arm draped across her shoulder. When had he gotten so big? “Do we have a horse, Mom?” He asked the question with a lopsided grin, a foreshadow of the adolescence that had been peeking through lately. The preteen in him didn’t truly believe they had a horse—he was old enough to realize the odds—but little-boy eagerness clung to his smile.

“That would be yes and a no.”

“What? Mom!” he complained.

“I was given a horse, but we’re not going to keep him.” Braden’s arm slid off her shoulder, a scowl replacing his smile. “Why not?”

“Someone gave you a horse?” Emory ignored her brother’s attitude and flashed her most persuasive grin. “Can we keep him? Please!”

Sierra smoothed her hand over the silky hair and leaned close to her daughter’s face as Emory went on. “I think we should get four horses so we each have one. We could go trail riding. Cameron’s mom has horses, and they go riding all the time as a family.”

“We’re not a family anymore,” Braden cut in. “We stopped being a family when mom divorced dad.”

A shard of pain drove into Sierra’s gut. She hadn’t had time to brace for that one. Braden’s anger at the divorce had been building like an old steam engine lately.

“That’s not fair!” Outrage darkened Emory’s features. “It’s not Mom’s fault!”

Sarcasm colored Braden’s voice. “Oh, so it’s all Dad’s fault?”

Sierra saw the confusion that swept over her daughter’s face. She was fiercely loyal to both parents and didn’t know how to defend them against each other.

Sierra spoke in a firm tone. “Braden, that’s enough!”

He scowled at her again. “Whatever.”

Sierra held his gaze until he glanced away.

“Guys, we’re not going to play the blame game. We have plenty to be thankful for, and that’s what is important.”

Braden’s attitude kept pouring it on. “Boy, and we have so much. Spaghetti for dinner every other night.”

“So what, Braden-Maden!” Emory made a face and stuck her tongue out at him.

“No more fighting or you two can go to your rooms.” Her kids were not perfect, but they used to like each other. Something had changed. Her gut said it was her ex-husband, Michael, but what if she was falling into the whole “blame the dad” thing herself? What if she was really the problem? Two weeks without a job had added stress and worry. Had she stopped hugging them as often in between scouring the want ads and trying to manage a home and bills?

“Mom?” There was a quaver in Trevor’s soft voice.

“Yes, honey?” Sierra gave him a gentle smile.

“Can we keep the horse?”

Emory’s blue gaze darted to meet hers, a plea in them. Braden sat with his arms crossed over his chest, but his ears had pricked up.

Sierra looked at them, wanting them to understand and knowing they wouldn’t. “None of us know how to handle or care for a horse, so it wouldn’t be safe to keep him.”

Emory’s face lit up. “Cameron’s mom could teach us.”

“Honey, it’s not that simple. We can’t afford an animal that big. He probably eats as much in groceries as we do, and it would be very expensive to rent a place for him to live.”

“I could mow yards.” Anger at his sister forgotten, Braden turned a hopeful face to her. “We could help out.”

Emory jumped onto the working bandwagon. “Yeah. I could do laundry or something for the neighbors.”

Braden drilled his sister a look that said idiot idea but didn’t say anything.

Trevor bounced in his chair, eager to be a part of keeping the horse. “I could wash cars.”

“Those are great ideas, but they won’t bring in quite enough, especially since it’s getting too cold to mow lawns or wash cars.”

“You just don’t want to keep the horse, Mom,” Braden said. “I get it. End of story.”

“Honey, I’d love for you to have a horse, but when I was young I had a friend—”

Emory spoke in a helpful tone. “We know. Grandma told us about the accident.”

They knew? Wasn’t the story hers to share? “When did Grandma tell you?”

Braden’s voice took on a breezy air. “I don’t know. A while ago. Come on, Mom. We’re not going to do something dumb like your friend did.”

Defensiveness rose inside. “She didn’t do anything dumb. It was the horse that—”

“So because something bad happened to one person, your kids can never do anything fun for the rest of their lives.”

Sierra gave him a look. “Or you learn from your mistakes and help your kids to do the same.”

Braden rolled his eyes at her.

Worry drew lines across her daughter’s forehead. “Are you going to sell him?”

“Yes, Em. So we’re not going to discuss this anymore. You and Braden have homework to do.” At the chorus of groans she held her hands up. “Okay, I guess I’ll have to eat Grandma’s apple pie all by myself.”

Braden grabbed his backpack and slowly dragged it across the floor toward the stairs, annoyance in his voice. “We’re going.” Emory trotted past him up the stairs.

Trevor remained behind, one arm wrapped around her thigh. “I don’t have any homework.”

She squatted and pulled him in for a hug. “Nope, you sure don’t, bud.”

He leaned back. “Do I get a horse?”

Sierra distracted him by inching her fingers up his ribs. “What, Trev?”

He tried to talk around his giggles. “Do I get—Mom!” Her fingers found the tickle spots under his arms and he laughed, his eyes squinted shut and mouth opened wide. She found all his giggle spots, then turned on Sesame Street as the second distraction. Good old Bert and Ernie.

Now what? She had roughly forty-five minutes to figure out how she was going to get rid of a horse and not be a complete zero in her kids’ eyes.

She eyed the phone and made her next move. Five minutes later a white Mazda whipped into her driveway. Sierra hurried out the front door waving her arms to stop Elise before she could start her ritual honking for the kids.

Wide eyed, her platinum blonde friend stared, one long plum-colored nail hovering above the “ooga” horn on the dash. “What?”

“I don’t want the kids to know you’re here.”

Wicked delight spread across her perfectly made-up face. Light plum shadow matched her nails. Tomorrow, both eye shadow and nails could be green. “Let me guess! Mr. Pellum asked you out!”

“Nooooo!” Mr. Pellum was a teacher Sierra and Elise had had a crush on in seventh grade.

“Ummm … you robbed a bank and need me to watch the kids while you fly to Tahiti?”

Sierra gave her a mock-serious look. “Done?”

Elise tilted her head. “Can I get out of the car?”

Sierra glanced toward the house. All was still silent. “Yes, you may.”

Deadpan, Elise nodded and opened the door. “Then I’m done for now.” Her plump body, swathed in a creamy suit with a purple scarf draped across one shoulder, rose gracefully from the small two-seater.

Sierra closed the door for her, then leaned against it. Elise had a way of removing the extraneous and reducing a problem down to the bare essentials. “Elise, I’m in a predicament.”

“Hon, I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

Sierra shook her head. “I don’t think you could have seen this one coming even with your crystal ball.”

Elise gave her the spinster teacher look through narrowed eyes. “I don’t think I like the implications of that.”

Sierra held her hands out. “You are the queen of mind-reading, according to my children.”

Elise chuckled. “It’s a good thing I was just headed out for a latte break when you called. Now what’s the big emergency?” She owned a high-end clothing store for plus-sized women in downtown Eugene.

“A horse.”

Elise glanced around as if one or two might be lurking behind a tree.

“A herd of them or just one?”

“One. Full-sized. Living and breathing.”

“I believe I’m missing some pieces here. Is it moving in with you? Holding one of the children hostage? What?”

Sierra breathed out a slight chuckle and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “You’re not going to believe this, but I inherited it.”

Her friend’s eyes grew wide, emphasizing the lushly mascaraed lashes. “Like someone died and gave you their horse?”

Sierra nodded, raising her brows. “And the kids want to keep him.”

Furrows emerged across Elise’s forehead. “Who is the idiot that told them about the horse?”

Sierra tilted her head with a look that only best friends could give each other.

Elise’s perfectly painted lips smirked. “Moving along, then. Why don’t you keep it? The kids would love it. Heaven knows they deserve it.” She clapped her hands together. “Oh, oh! They could get into 4-H, and Braden could learn to barrel race. That kid would think he’d won the jackpot. Emory and Trevor could get a pig or some of those show roosters.”

Sierra let the idea machine wind down. “I don’t think so.”

“Angora rabbits?”

“No farm animals.”

Elise’s mouth perked into humorous pout. “Sierra, you’re such a spoilsport. Those kids need a pet.”

“A hamster is a pet. A horse is not.”

Diva Elise took the stage, hands on her ample hips. “Don’t tell me you didn’t want a horse growing up. Remember, I was the one who had to sit and watch National Velvet with you time ad nauseam. You’ve said yourself that Braden needs something to take his mind off the problems he’s having at school and with his dad.”

Guilt, a wheelbarrow load of it, dumped on Sierra. “You are supposed to be helping me, Elise, not making it worse. I want to get rid of this horse and …” her eyes dodged away from her friend, “… you know.”

“Mmm-hmm. And still look like Super Mom in your children’s eyes.”

Sierra nodded, but couldn’t find the nerve to say yes.

“Sierra Montgomery, those children have been to heck and back in the last couple years and you’re willing to deny them the pleasure of owning their own free horse because … because of what?”

Sierra stared at the ground for a moment, feeling a tangle of emotions rise within. She let her eyes rest on Elise’s and said quietly, “Fear? Terror? Hysteria?”

A look of puzzlement, then understanding settled on Elise’s face, smoothing away the annoyance. “Molly.”

Sierra nodded. “I won’t put my children in that kind of danger.”

Elise leaned forward and grabbed Sierra’s hands, holding them tight. “Oh, hon. That was a long time ago. Don’t let your life be ruled by the what-ifs. There’s a lot of living left to do. And your kids need to see you taking life by storm, taking chances, not hiding in the shadows.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You were voted most likely to parachute off the Empire State Building.”

Elise gave her a cheeky grin, both dimples winking at her. “We could do it tandem!”

“If you see me jump off the Empire State Building you’ll know my lobotomy was successful, because there is no way in this lifetime you’ll catch this body leaving good sense behind!” Sierra heard the words come from her own mouth and stared at her friend in wonder. “Oh, my gosh. That was so my mom.”

“It was bound to happen, hon.”

Was she serious? “You think I’m turning into her?” Sierra brought a hand to her throat and quickly dropped it. How many times had she seen her mom use the same gesture?

Elise laughed. “You need to stop fretting and just live. We all turn out like our mothers in some respect.”

“All except you. You’re nothing like Vivian.”

“Other than the drinking, smoking, and carousing, I’m exactly like her.”

Sierra lifted a brow. Her mom had rarely let her go to Elise’s house when they were growing up—and for good reason. Elise struck a pose like a fashion model. “Okay, I’m the anti-Vivian.” She gave Sierra a soft smile. “All funnin’ aside, I really think you should keep the horse.”

“I’m not keeping the horse. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.” Sierra took a settling breath and stared at the tree over Elise’s shoulder.

“Michael still hasn’t paid?”

Elise knew more about her finances than her mom did. “He paid, but the check bounced again. So now he’s two months behind in child support.”

“Have you heard if Pollan’s is rehiring?”

“They’re not.” Jarrett’s, the local grocery store where she worked for the three years since the divorce had been recently bought out by Pollan’s. They had laid off the majority of the checkers with the possibility of rehiring some.

Elise cringed as if she was bracing herself for a blow. “And the unemployment fiasco?”

Sierra shut her eyes. “Mr. Jarrett did not pay into our unemployment insurance, so there is no benefit for us to draw from. Yes, it was illegal, and yes he will pay, but it may take months, if not years, for various lawyers and judges to beat it out of him.” She gave Elise a tired smile. “That’s the version minus all the legalese.”

“So the layoffs are final, no unemployment bennies, and you’re out of a job.”

“Momentarily. The résumé has been dusted off and polished.” She gave a wry grin.

“I wish I could hire you at Deluxe Couture, but I promised Nora fulltime work. And besides, your cute little buns would drive my clientele away.”

Sierra waved a hand over her jeans and sweatshirt. “Your clientele would outshine me any day.”

“You sell yourself far too short.” Elise glanced at the hefty rhinestone encrusted watch on her wrist. “Anything else I can do for you? Help the kids with their homework? Babysit while you sweep some tall, dark, handsome man off his feet?”

Sierra laughed. “And where is this dream man going to come from?”

Elise gave a breezy wave of her hand and opened the car door. “Oh, he’ll turn up. You’re too cute to stay single. I actually have someone in mind. Pavo Marcello. He’s a new sales rep from one of my favorite lines. I’ll see if he’s free Friday night. You aren’t doing anything, are you?”

“Hold on!” Sierra stepped in front of the car door to keep her friend from leaving. “First, I’m not looking. Second, given my history, I’m not the best judge of character. I’ve already struck out once in the man department.” She pointed to her face with both index fingers. “Not anxious to try again. Third, you just told me I’m turning into my mom, which makes me definitely not dating material.”

A twist of Elise’s lips signaled a thought. “You know, now that I think about it, I believe he has a boyfriend.” She shook her head and lowered herself into the car. “We’ll keep looking. I’m sure Sir Knight will turn up.”

Sierra shut the car door and grinned down at her friend. “And what about finding your knight?”

Elise gave her a bright smile. “Mr. Pellum is already taken. You really need to find a way to keep that horse; it’ll be your first noble sacrifice.”


The little car backed up, and Elise spoke over the windshield. “The others don’t count.”

Sierra stared at the retreating car. There was no way she was keeping that horse.

After dinner, Sierra crept into Braden’s room. He sat on the bed intent on the Game Boy in his lap, the tinny sound of hard rock bleeding out of his earphones. She waved a hand and he glanced up. She waited and with a look of preteen exasperation he finally pulled the headphones to his shoulders.

“What, Mom?”

“I just wanted to say good night.”

“Good night.” His hands started to readjust the music back into position.

“I looked at your homework.”

“You got into my backpack? Isn’t that like against the law or something? You’re always telling us not to get into your stuff.”

She crossed her arms. Frustration and worry gnawed at her. “You lied to me about doing your assignment. Why, honey?”

He ignored her and started playing his Game Boy.

She took one step and snatched the game from his hands.


“I want some respect when I talk to you, Braden.”

His chin sank toward his chest, his gaze fixed on his bed, his voice low. “I didn’t want to do it.”

She sat next to him, her voice soft. “Is it too hard?”

He shrugged. “It gives me a headache when I work on it.”

“Braden, if you need help, I’d be happy to work with you after school.”

He stared at his knees and picked at a loose string of cotton on his pajama bottoms.

“I got a phone call from Mrs. Hamison today.”

His body came alert, though he didn’t look at her.

“She said you’re flunking most of your subjects, and she hasn’t seen any homework from you since school started a month ago.”

He glanced up, his jaw belligerent, but with fear in his eyes.

“What’s going on? I know school isn’t easy, but you’ve never given up before.”

“Middle school’s harder.”

She wanted to touch him, to brush the hair off his forehead and snuggle him close the way she used to when he was small. Back when a hug and a treat shared over the kitchen table was enough to bring the sparkle back to her son. “She thinks we should have your vision tested.”


“She’s noticed some things in class and thinks it might be helpful.”

He shrugged again. “Can I have my game back?”

“You lied to me, son. Again.”


“You break trust every time you choose to be dishonest. Is that what you want?”

His voice was sullen and he stared at his comforter. “No.”

She touched his leg. “What’s bothering you, honey?”

“I dunno. Can I have my game back?”

She stood up. There was a time for talking and this obviously wasn’t it. “You can have it tomorrow.”

But would tomorrow be any different?

My review:
I really enjoyed this book.
Sierra's mum drove me crazy! I really just wished that she would stop interfering in Sierra's life, and that Sierra would get some backbone and stand up to her.
Sid was a bit cheeky, but a great fatherly figure.
Sierra was very likeable. While I couldn't totally understand where she was coming from (I've never been in any situation like hers), I could see how much she struggled, but also how much she tried.
Elise was brilliant! I loved how she was totally on fire for God, and wasn't willing to let Him be watered down! I hope that I can be like that.
'Leave It to Chance' is a really good book, and the characters are great.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:


David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)


Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

On September 11, Ginger's non-fiction book, Beauty Secrets of the Bible, based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen was released. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 13.99
Paperback: 311 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 1st edition (September 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781448875
ISBN-13: 978-0781448871


And Job said unto God:

I admit I once lived by rumors of you;

now I have it all firsthand…

I’ll never again live

on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.

Job 42, The Message


Tomorrow, someone else will die in my bed.

Someone died in it last month, which is how it came to be called mine.

The infernal clock moved confidently towards 1 a.m., and I turned my head to look at the window. The window of this room is a miserly gesture from the contractors, producing more fog than visage. I watched the gold orbs—the lamps on the lawn of the hospice sputtering off and on in the darkness—that dotted the fogged glass.

That was the last moment I lived as an iver, one whose eyes are veiled.

One orb did not sputter but moved, gliding between the others, moving closer to the window, growing larger and brighter until the light consumed the entire view. I winced from the searing glare and tried to shield my eyes, but the IV line pulled taut. Wrestling with the line to get some slack, I saw the next movement out of the corner of my eye. I bit down hard on my tongue, my body jerking in reflex, and felt the warm blood run back to my throat.

Outside, a hand wiped the fog away from the glass, and I watched the water beads running down the inside of my window. There was no searing light, only this mammoth hand with deep creases in the palms wiping down the window until we both could see each other. A man’s face was against the glass, but no breath fogged his vision. He was a giant, grim man, with an earring in one ear and dark glasses, and he was staring in at me. Even through the morphine, fear snaked along my arms, biting into my stomach, constricting around my throat. I tried to scream, but I could only gulp air and heave little gasps. His expression did not change as he lifted his hands, curling them into fists. I flinched at the last moment, thinking him to be Death, expecting to receive the blow and die.

Then I grew suddenly warm, like the feeling you get stepping out from an old, dark city library into the busy street and a warm spring sun.

Death didn’t even hurt, I rejoiced. I could slip into it like I slipped onto that street, eyes down, my thoughts my own, and simply turn a corner and be gone. I lifted my fingers to beckon him. Yes, I thought. I saw the beautiful Rolex on my birdlike wrist, and saw that it had stopped. It is time.

When I looked back up, he was beside me, staring down, not speaking. I wasn’t dead. His frame was monstrously large, hitting what must be seven feet tall, with a width of muscle strapped across it that was inhuman. As he watched me, his chest didn’t move, and his nostrils didn’t flare, but heat and warm breath radiated from him. When he laid his hands across my eyes, I was too scared to move my head away. His palms covered most of my face, and a sharp buzzing drilled into every pore. He began to move his hands elsewhere, touching and bringing to life every splintered inch of my body. When he got to the cancer, with one swollen lymph node visible even through my stained blue gown, he rested his hands there until the swelling sighed and he swept it away with his hand.

“Wait!” I screamed.

I didn’t want to live. I hadn’t known that was going to be an option. I deserved to be damned. To return to my life was too much to ask of me. I was finished.

“You’ll still be dead by morning,” he reassured me. His voice was deep and clean, no tell-tale dialect or inflection. Taking off his glasses, I saw he had enormous gold eyes, with a black pinhole in the center that stayed round and cold. There was no white in them at all, and they were rimmed all the way around the outside with black. I stared at them, trying to remember where I had seen eyes like this. It was years ago, this much I remembered.

I had to shake myself back to the moment. Clearly, morphine was not setting well with me tonight. I wanted to die in peace. That’s what I paid these extravagant sums for. My hand moved to the nurses’ call button. Mariskka was just down the hall, waiting for her moment to steal my watch. I knew she’d come running.

He grabbed my hand and the shock seared like a hot iron. Crying out, I shook him off and clutched my hand between my breasts, doing my best to sit up with my atrophied stomach muscles and tangled IV.

He leaned in. “I have something for you.”


He leaned in closer. “A second chance.”

Second chances were not my forte. As the most celebrated editor in New York City, I had made a killing. I loved the words that trembling writers slid across my desk, those little black flecks that could destroy their life’s dream or launch a career. I bled red ink over every page, slashing words, cutting lines. No one understood how beautiful they were to me, why I tormented the best writers, always pushing them to bring me more. The crueler I was to the best of them, the more they loved me, like flagellants worshipping me as the master of their order. Only at the end, lying here facing my own death, did I understand why. They embraced the pain, thinking it birthed something greater than themselves. I saw how pitifully wrong they were. There was only pain. This is why I was ready to die. When you finish the last chapter and close the book, there is nothing but pain. It would have been better never to have written. Words betrayed me. And for that, I betrayed the best writer of them all.

“Burn any manuscripts that arrive for me,” I had ordered my nurse, Marisska. “Tell them I’m already dead. Tell them anything.”

“I’ll let you write the truth,” the man whispered.

“I’m not a writer,” I replied. My fear tumbled down into the dark place of my secrets.

“No, you’re not,” he answered. “But you’ve coveted those bestsellers, didn’t you? You knew you could do better. This is your second chance.”

It caught my attention. “How?”

“I will dictate my story to you,” he said. “Then you’ll die.”

Taking dictation? My mouth fell open. “I’m in hell, aren’t I?”

He tilted his head. “Not yet.”

I pushed away from the pillows and grabbed him. Blisters sprang up on my palms and in between my fingers, but I gritted my teeth and spat out my words. “Who are you?”

“The first writer, the Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world. The stories are forgotten here and the Day draws close. I will tell you one of my stories. You will record it.”

“Why me?”

“I like your work.”

I started laughing, the first time I had laughed since I had been brought to this wing of the hospice, where the dying are readied for death, their papers ordered, and discreet pamphlets on “end of life options” left by quiet-soled salesmen. I laughed until I was winded. He rested his hand on my chest, and I caught my breath as he spoke.

“Let’s go find Marisska.”

My review:
I love historical fiction! I love to read about real people and the things that people think they might have done.
This book was great because not only have I had an interest in Henry the 8th and his wives, but Anne Boleyn has always been a special interest of mine. This caused me to think more about how her life might have actually been, and what life in the court was really like.
Also, I had previously read a very, very little bit about Sir Thomas More, but this provided more information about him. I'm really interested in looking more into Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas More now :)
Great job.