Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Choice by Suzanne Woods Fisher & My Review

The Choice
Suzanne Woods Fisher

With a vibrant, fresh style Suzanne Woods Fisher brings readers into the world of a young Amish woman torn between following the man she loves--or joining the community of faith that sustains her, even as she questions some of the decisions of her elders. Her choice begins a torrent of change for her and her family, including a marriage of convenience to silent Daniel Miller. Both bring broken hearts into their arrangement--and secrets that have been held too long. Filled with gentle romance, The Choice opens the world of the Amish--their strong communities, their simple life, and their willingness to put each other first. Combined with Fisher's exceptional gift for character development, this novel, the first in a series, is a welcome reminder that it is never too late to find your way back to God.

***Special thanks to Donna Hausler | Baker Publishing Group for sending me a review copy***

My Review:
This is a fresh look at Amish fiction.
Carrie isn't your typical Amish woman, and she goes through a lot of pain in the first part of the book, but it was really good to see her work through that and continue on to doing what God wanted for her.
I really enjoyed it, and it was an easy read.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Lady by Joyce Wheeler & My Review

About the Book:

Jolene O'Neil has wind, prairie, and cattle in her blood, but circumstances have removed her far from the ranch life she enjoys. John Harris, a handsome Air Force captain, is determined to win her heart, but then there is the ever-present, enticing, urbanite Dexter DeLange . . .

Dexter was the most complex, handsome, and exciting man she had ever known, and she loved him with abandon. However, there were moments she was suspicious of his motives, and even a little scared of his obsession with her . . .

If Jolene follows her heart, will she find happiness, even if she never rides the range again?

From the stability of the family ranch to the glamour of the modeling world, Jolene struggles to find herself and to discover God's plan for her life. With the prairies of South Dakota and Nebraska as background for this unusual story, Jolene O'Neil rides over the pages and into your heart with refreshing honesty and humor.

About the Author:

Joyce Wheeler lives with her husband, Justin, on the family ranch. She counts her blessings that wind, prairie, and family enrich her everyday life.

See it at:

***Special thanks to Rebeca Seitz | Glass Road Public Relations for sending me a review copy.***

My Review:
I found it very hard to stop reading this book! I got it as a PDF file to start with because my hard copy hadn't arrived, but it was still very easy to read.
The story is gripping and keeps you wanting to know what's going to happen next.
I really appreciated that all the loose ends were tied up, and I wasn't left with any questions unanswered.
Jolene is a very strong woman, and it was very enjoyable to watch how she coped with the struggles thrown at her.
I can't wait for more books by this author!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Becoming Lucy by Martha Rogers

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:

Becoming Lucy

Realms (January 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to LeAnn Hamby | Publicity Coordinator | Strang Book Group for sending me a review copy.***


Martha Rogers is a former schoolteacher and English instructor. She served as a newsletter editor for the writer’s organization, Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her novel, Not on the Menu (May 2007), is a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Rogers has a Master’s Degree in Education, worked for twenty-eight years as a secondary teacher, and has worked as a supervisory teacher at University of Houston Clear Lake and as an instructor of English Composition at Houston Community College. Martha and her husband live in Houston, Texas and have worked with teenagers at First Baptist Church for twenty-four years.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 297 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159979912X
ISBN-13: 978-1599799124


Oklahoma Territory 1896

Jake Starnes hunkered down in his jacket. He smelled
frost in the air, but the cold in his bones came from fear, not
the temperature. A gust of wind threatened to take his hat. He shoved it down tighter to secure it.

He peered ahead at the barren landscape and the outline of the town of Barton Creek. Naked trees stretched forth to the skies against a backdrop of prairie grass that spread as far as the eye could see toward distant mountains. It bore no resemblance to the beautiful hills of Texas where he grew up. He missed them, but he'd probably never get the chance to see them again. He sighed in resignation to the life that lay ahead. A life he hadn't chosen. It had chosen him the day he chose to wear a gun.

Mrs. Haynes sat beside him and nudged his arm. "How much longer will we be? Dear little Lucinda. I pray she doesn't have to wait too long for us. I thought Ben would be done with the stock, but since he wasn't, I'm thankful you were available."

"Happy to oblige, ma'am. Won't be long now." Mrs. Haynes had talked about her sister's "poor orphan child" for the past two months. He could sympathize with the child because he lost both his parents just after he turned fifteen. She must be grieving terribly.

The pressure of Mrs. Haynes's hand on his arm brought him to the present. "Jake Starnes, you're not paying one bit of attention to me. If your mind is on the work you left at the ranch, don't worry about it. Ben and the others can take care of your chores."

"I know they will." Gray clouds covered the late October sky. "It's getting darker. Hope we get back home 'fore night sets in. That wind's coming straight down across the prairie with nothing to stop it."

"Dear me, I do pray Lucinda is dressed warmly." Mrs. Haynes pulled her shawl more tightly about her shoulders.

"You said she's coming from Boston, so she knows about cold weather." He peered at the horizon. The few buildings of Barton Creek drew closer. Another ten minutes and they'd be in town.

Jake's stomach began churning like those blue-black clouds rolling across the sky. Were it not for the little girl waiting for them, he'd have turned back home now. If the sheriff in Barton Creek recognized him or had questions about him being a stranger in these parts, he'd be in a heap of trouble.

He'd avoided going into the settlement ever since he came to Oklahoma six months ago. His wanderings ended at the Haynes's spread, where he'd stopped to ask for work. His first intention to stay only a month or so then move on changed when the Haynes showed him a kindness and love he sorely missed. They had become the family he had lost years ago.

Now the thought of entering the town caused fear to rise like bile. What would happen if the lawman in town recognized him and Ben Haynes learned about Jake's past, a past he wanted to forget?

Lucinda stared down at the dusty ground beneath the worn wooden bench of the Wells Fargo depot and twisted her black-gloved hands in her lap. She searched the area for a familiar face. Where were Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben? Her escort had fallen ill in the last town, but Lucinda had been determined to come on alone despite protests, and now she sat here with no one to meet her. Doubt clouded her mind over the decisions of the past month.

With no one else to call family, she'd had no choice but to come west. Aunt Mellie and Uncle Ben could never replace Mama and Papa, but being a part of the Haynes family would help take away the loneliness haunting her days.

She swiped at something as it brushed her cheek. An insect of some kind flew away, and she shuddered. What other strange things would she see this day? Her gaze swept across the scene before her. Several buildings across from the depot included a general store. She stood and made her way across the uneven ruts crisscrossing the street, if the hard-packed ground could be considered a street. A sign advertising Anderson's General Store squeaked on its chains. Welcome warmth greeted her when she pushed her way through the double doors.

A woman behind the counter peered at her. "May I help you, dear?"

The aroma of lamp oil and peppermint mingled in the air. "I stepped in to get out of the wind. I'm waiting for my Uncle Ben and Aunt Amelia to pick me up."

The gray-haired woman wiped her hands on her white apron. "Are you talking about Amelia Haynes?"

"Yes, ma'am. I've come to live with them."

The lady beamed. "Welcome to Barton Creek. I'm Bea Anderson, and that's my husband Carl over there." A slightly bald man helping a customer grinned and nodded in her direction.

Mrs. Anderson pulled up a stool beside the wood stove. "Sit a spell and get warm. Ben and Amelia should be here soon."

A young man by the shelf of canned goods turned and smiled. Lucinda offered a small one in return. Heat rose in her cheeks as he continued to stare.

She broke her gaze and pointed to glass jars filled with a rainbow of colors. "Thank you, but I must go back over to the depot. I'll take a few of those peppermints if you don't mind."

Mrs. Anderson filled a small bag with the candy. "It's a mite colder out now. Sure you don't want to stay here until they arrive?"

Lucinda handed the woman a few coins and grasped the bag. "Thank you for your concern, but I don't want them to have to hunt for me. Maybe I'll see you again."

"If you come to church on Sunday, you surely will." The bell over the door jingled, and another customer entered. Mrs. Anderson turned her attention to the new patron. The young man smiled and nodded as Lucinda turned from the counter. She didn't smile in return. Mrs. Anderson should have introduced him. Were proper manners of no importance here on the frontier?

Lucinda crossed back to the depot that was down from the town's answer for a hotel. The only fully brick building in sight, it had grand windows, and cut glass adorned the wooden doors, but it couldn't compare to the ones in Boston. Of course, nothing in these buildings resembled the beauty of the masonry of her hometown.

She returned to the bench and popped a peppermint into her mouth. The sharp sweetness teased her taste buds as she savored her favorite candy. It brought back memories of Papa bringing a bag of treats home to her every week.

She'd be eighteen in less than six months and old enough to take care of her own affairs. Until then, however, she had to comply with the lawyer's recommendations. At least her aunt and uncle were family, and she longed to be a part of a family once again. She missed having someone concerned about her welfare. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson had been kind, but they had their own affairs to tend to. Her only fear now lay in losing her own identity so far away from everything she knew and loved.

With no idea what lay ahead, one thing was sure: she would have to learn to do without the amenities enjoyed as the only child of a wealthy family. But if Aunt Amelia could come out here and live and be entirely happy, Lucinda had to at least give it a try.

A gust of wind whipped open her dark blue cloak and stirred a small whirlwind of dirt. She coughed from the dust and wrapped the thick wool tighter around her body to ward off the cold. If Aunt Amelia and Uncle Ben didn't arrive soon, she'd have to go back inside to escape the weather.

Mellie Haynes shivered in the frigid air. In a few minutes she'd be with her young niece. Dear Lucinda. How would she fare in this country? Amelia missed her sister and the wonderful letters they exchanged, but that couldn't begin to compare to the grief Lucinda must bear.

The Haynes ranch house may not be as elegant as Lucinda's home in Boston, but it was warm, comfortable, and large enough to accommodate her own son and daughter as well as Lucinda.

She pictured her young niece and Becky together. Surely Lucinda's upbringing would have a positive effect on her
daughter's hoydenish behavior. Of course, Becky was only twelve, but the time had come for her to learn more ladylike ways.

Mellie considered the young man beside her. Jake couldn't be much more than a few years older than Lucinda. Such a handsome face, but so full of sadness, it had drawn her to him like a moth to light when he arrived at the ranch all those months ago. He'd become more like a second son. She wanted to erase that haunted look in his eye and believed she'd succeeded until today.

When they reached the main street, her heart beat a little faster. Her precious niece huddled on the bench, staring at the ground. She would offer Lucinda plenty of comfort and love to help her adjust to all the changes in the days ahead.

Lucinda sat with head bowed against the wind as it blasted around the corner. She yanked on her bonnet to keep it from flying off into the street. She hadn't felt this lonely since the day after the funeral.

Wagon wheels creaked and broke the silence. Her name echoed across the street, and she glanced up. Aunt Amelia waved and called to her again. Relief flooded Lucinda's soul. She bolted from the bench and ran into her aunt's welcoming arms.

Aunt Amelia hugged her tightly. "Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry we're late. Your uncle Ben couldn't leave the ranch, so I had Jake bring me."

A young man in dusty boots and a brown hat stood waiting by the wagon. Hair the color of the wheat fields she'd passed in Kansas escaped from under his hat and brushed his shoulders. He tipped the brim back with a forefinger, and his eyebrows arched as though surprised to see her.

Aunt Amelia hugged her again before stepping back. "Oh, let me look at you. You've grown even more beautiful since we saw you at the funeral." She turned to the cowboy. "Jake, come and meet Lucinda."

The young man sauntered across the unpaved street and removed his hat. Steel blue eyes met Lucinda's gaze and sliced through her with razor sharpness. She gulped. No one had ever looked at her like that.

Aunt Amelia introduced him as Jake Starnes. A muscle twitched in his well-tanned jaw, and a gust of wind blew a few strands of hair across his face. Still, he stared. Curiosity swelled from within, but she averted her eyes. The handsome young man in dirty boots and a blue jacket was like no other young man Lucinda had ever met.

She lifted her chin into the air and turned her gaze toward the station. "My bags are over there."

He stepped behind Lucinda to survey two trunks and a mound of other pieces. He emitted a low whistle. "All that stuff yours?"

At Lucinda's nod, he shook his head, then hefted the smaller trunk onto his shoulder. With his free hand he grasped the handle of her largest bag. "I reckon it'll fit, but we'll all three have to ride on the bench." He strode across the way to a wagon hitched to a pair of horses.

Lucinda scurried to keep up. Dismay swelled in her chest as she surveyed the wooden contraption. No carriage? How far would she have to ride up on that narrow seat? "How far is it?" she asked.

"It's about an hour's drive out to the ranch. Mrs. Haynes, maybe we should have brought the bigger buckboard."

Aunt Amelia covered her mouth with her hand. "I'm sorry. I should have thought of that, but this will have to do for today."

Jake pushed his load into the back of the wagon. He turned to Aunt Amelia and offered his assistance to lift her onto the wooden plank bench. After she settled herself, he nodded toward a step on the side and reached for Lucinda's elbow.

Lucinda tensed at his touch but accepted his help. She perched next to her aunt. Not even a cushion on the boards to soften the impact, but the thickness of her petticoats and coat would ease the bumps a bit.

As soon as she was situated, Jake turned back to the station. "I'll get the rest of your things."

Jake's dark jacket strained across his broad shoulders as he lifted the final two boxes and almost staggered under their weight.

Aunt Amelia leaned against her arm. "Jake's a strong young man and a big help on the ranch."

Lucinda's cheeks again filled with heat. Ashamed to think her aunt caught her observing the cowboy, she let her gaze wander back to the street and the buildings. How different from what she expected, but then she had no way of knowing what awaited her in Barton Creek.

Before she could take time for further inspection, Jake returned to heave the last small trunk onto the wagon.

Jake frowned up at her. "'Tain't Boston, but it's growing."

His words echoed her thoughts and unnerved her even more. She clasped her hands to keep them from shaking.

He unhitched the horses and climbed up beside her aunt, then reached behind him for a heavy wool coat. Jake pushed his long arms into the sleeves and buttoned it around his chest. A flick of the reins and the team moved forward.

Wide-open range and grasslands spread across the scene with distant hills giving character to an otherwise dull landscape with its brown and pale greens. Leafless trees sent crooked fingers into the overcast sky. The land looked as though God had created it and then forgotten it. Lucinda shivered as the wind sent chilling gusts through her cloak.

Aunt Amelia grasped Lucinda's hand. "Our house isn't a big one by any means, but we have plenty of room for you, and Becky is excited to have another girl around the ranch. You'll share a room with her."

Share a room? Lucinda hadn't counted on that either. What other surprises lay waiting for her? The view of bleak land sowed more seeds of doubt in her mind. She should have insisted on staying in Boston. How would she ever fit into life on a ranch in such a lonely place?

If only Mama and Papa hadn't been so protective, she might not be as ill at ease as she was now. The sound of her name broke into her reverie. "What was that, Aunt Amelia?"

"I said Lucinda is rather a formal name for the west. How about Lucy? It's short and easy to say."

Change her name? What next? She rolled the name on her tongue but didn't care for the feel of it. If she changed her name, then she'd be giving up one more part of herself. Manners restrained her tongue from a sharp answer. "I'll have to think about the name for a while if you don't mind, Aunt Amelia."

Her aunt pursed her lips. "Of course, dear, but you can call me Aunt Mellie. Everyone at the ranch and in town does except for this young'un here." She nudged Jake in the arm. "Don't you think she looks like a Lucy?"

Jake shot her a quick look. "Sounds fine to me, ma'am," he said politely.

"Yes, Lucy is a good name." Mrs. Haynes grinned at Jake but spoke to Lucinda. "His name is Jacob, but we all call him Jake. Even your cousins have shortened names."

Love emanated from her aunt, but Lucinda would wait awhile before agreeing to change her name. She leaned forward a bit to observe Jake just as he cut his gaze to hers. A strange feeling of excitement engulfed her, but the unknown sent an icicle of fear through her heart.

Jake matched Lucinda's stare until she turned her head. Was that fear he saw in her eyes? What had he said or done to frighten her?

He observed Lucinda's ramrod straight back, her hands clutching a dark blue cloak around her. Raven black hair peeked from beneath a bonnet. He didn't know her age, but she had to still be in her teen years. What had led him to think Lucinda was a child? Of course Mrs. Haynes always referred to her as a little girl. Nothing prepared him for the young lady seated on the other end of the wagon bench.

Mrs. Haynes eyed Lucinda's traveling clothes. "We'll have to get you some more comfortable things for life on the ranch."

Jake swallowed a chuckle as Lucinda protested. "No need for that. Mr. Sutton thought I needed a proper traveling gown, but most of the things his wife helped me with are much more practical." More practical? Jake doubted it. A refined lady from Boston like her wouldn't know the first thing about what to wear at a ranch. A twinge of sympathy ran through him. She looked as out of place as a pig at a cattle auction.

"Here we are," said Mrs. Haynes. "Welcome to your new home, dear."

Before them the Rocking H ranch spread out across the horizon. The roof outlines of the house, bunkhouse, and barns drew near. Jake urged the horses forward, eager to deliver his unusual charge and return to his work. Lucinda's troubles were none of his business. Besides, he had enough troubles of his own to carry.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth by Shelley Adina & My Review

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth (All About Us #6)

FaithWords; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Miriam Parker of the Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

CONTEST! For a chance to win one of two prizes: a Tiffany's Bracelet OR an All About Us T-shirt, go to Camy Tang's Blog and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet or T-shirt that look similar to the pictures below.


Shelley Adina is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She knows the value of a relationship with a gracious God and loving Christian friends, and she's inviting today's teenage girls to join her in these refreshingly honest books about real life as a Christian teen--with a little extra glitz thrown in for fun! In between books, Adina loves traveling, listening to and making music, and watching all kinds of movies.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: FaithWords; 1 edition (January 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446179647
ISBN-13: 978-0446179645



© 2010 by Shelley Adina

Chapter 1

LET ME PUT it right out there: I’m no sports fan—unless you count surfing, which is more of an attitude to life than a sport. I used to think that there were some things you just knew. But if God were a major league pitcher, He’d be the kind of guy who threw curveballs just to keep you on your toes. To catch you off guard. To prove you wrong about everything you thought.

Which is essentially what happened to us all during the last term of our senior year at Spencer Academy.

My name is Lissa Evelyn Mansfield—yes, I’m back again. Did you miss me? Because, seriously, this last term of high school before my friends and I graduated was so crazed, so unpredictable, that I had to write it all down to try and make sense of it.

But, hey, let’s take a moment here. The words last term of senior year need some respect, not to mention celebration. They need to be paused over and savored. Excuse me.

Okay, I’m back.

The term began in April, and by the time our first set of midterms (or thirdterms, as my roommate Gillian Chang calls them, since we get three sets of exams every term) rolled around at the beginning of May, it was just beginning to sink in that there were only seven weeks of high school left. Seven weeks until freedom. Adulthood. Summer vacation. Adulthood. Home.



“Sarah Lawrence is stalking me,” Gillian moaned from where she sat on her bed in our dorm room. “Here’s another letter.” She fished an envelope out of the pile of mail in her lap and waved it.

I looked up from my MacBook Air, where I was checking e-mail. “Don’t let Emily Overton hear you. She got turned down and her roommate has had to keep her away from open windows for the last month.”

“But I already told them no twice. What’s it going to take?”

“You could fail some exams.” I’m always willing to offer a helpful suggestion. “They can’t help it if they covet your fearsome brain.”

“So does Harvard. And Princeton. Not to mention Stanford and Columbia and Juilliard.” She threw her hands in the air so that the letter flew over her shoulder and bounced off the headboard. “How am I supposed to pick just one? Can I spend a year at each school? I could be a career transfer student.”

“I’m glad I don’t have your decisions to make,” I told her with absolute honesty. “If all those schools were after me, I’d run away and hide.”

“I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing with my life.” She glanced at me. “Or maybe I should say, what God wants me to do with my life.”

“There’s the kicker.” I nodded sagely. “I understand about waiting on the Lord, but . . . He knows about registration deadlines, doesn’t He?”

“Oh, yeah. He knows. I keep asking Him, and He keeps thinking about it. Maybe He wants me to figure out what I want, first. But that’s the impossible part.”

Poor Gillian. She has the kind of brain schools fight over for their research programs. But she’s also a music prodigy—hence the acceptance from Juilliard. Then, to complicate things even more, she also has quite the talent for drawing, and ever since she met my friend Kaz Griffin, her dream has been to create a graphic novel starring a kick-butt Asian girl with a secret identity. Kaz, in case you haven’t met him, is my best friend from my old high school in Santa Barbara. He’s been trying to get his graphic novel published for, like, years, with no success. But I have to hand it to him. He never gives up.

Anyway. Gillian.

“You could always do pre-med at Harvard and minor in art or music,” I suggested. “You know you’re going to need a release valve from all that scientific pressure. It would be good to have the right-brain kind of classes to turn to.”

Gillian pushed the stack of mail off her lap and leaned back against the mound of colorful silk pillows. The letter from Sarah Lawrence crumpled somewhere underneath. “But then how will I know if I’m any good?”

“Um, your grades? Not to mention, if you got an acceptance from Juilliard, you’re good. Full stop, as Mac would say.”

Lady Lindsay MacPhail, aka Mac, was a student here at Spencer for two terms, and she’s one of our little group of friends. She’s gone back to live in London until the end of term, when she’ll return to her family’s castle in Scotland, and she has none of these questions about her life. She knows exactly what degree she’s going to get, when she’ll get it, and what she’ll be doing after that: making the Strathcairn Hotel and Corporate Retreat Center the go-to place for world-class events in the UK.

I envy people who have their future in a laser sight. I’m still trying to figure out what to wear tomorrow.

“What do teachers know?” Gillian asked. I don’t think she was looking for the answer to that one. “If I’m going to find out whether I’m really any good, I have to try to get into an art program and give it everything I’ve got. Try to get an exhibition. Or a publisher. Live in a garret and try to make it as an artist.”

“That sounds scary.”

“I know.” She sighed. “Medical school is the easy path, grasshopper.”

Only Gillian Chang would say something like that.

I turned back to my notebook and saw that while we’d been talking, a message from Kaz had popped up in my inbox.




Date: May 4, 2010

Re: Ow

I am so regretting pushing off physics until senior year. My brain hurts. What was I thinking? Instead of grabbing my board and heading for the beach, I’m stuck down here in my room writing equations I don’t know the answers to.

Does the Jumping Loon tutor over the phone? Can you ask her? I’ll give her anything she wants, including full use of my studly body, if she’ll just say the magic words that will unveil the meaning of x and y, not to mention z.

Life, I’ve got a handle on. X is a mystery.


I looked over my shoulder. “Kaz wants to know if you do physics tutoring over the phone. He says you can do what you want with his body if you help him.” I paused when she didn’t look up from a Neiman Marcus catalog. “I didn’t know you were interested in his body. Does Jeremy know about this?”

“That sounds like a jealous remark.” She flipped a page. “Ooh, nice dress. ChloĆ© does summer so well. Which reminds me, if we’re going on a Senior Cotillion dress safari, we’d better start soon.”

I was not to be sidetracked, no matter how tempting the bait. “Is something going on with you and Kaz?”

She put the catalog down and rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “Yes. Yes, there is.”

I sat there as stunned as if someone had upended a bucket of seawater over me.

Kaz and Gillian? What? How is that possible? When did—

What is the matter with you? Kaz is your friend. You aren’t . . . like that. If he’s interested in Gillian, it’s none of your business.

Poor Jeremy.

“Lissa. Lissa, come back to me.” I blinked at her. My face felt frozen. “For crying out loud, get a grip.” She was trying not to laugh and not succeeding very well. “He’s teasing you. He’s helping me with a plaster mold of his hand for my art project, okay? That’s all.”

“A mold. Of his hand. And you don’t have guys’ hands any closer than Santa Barbara?”

“He has interesting hands, which you’d know if you ever paid any attention.”

Of course he did. And of course I did. Pay attention to him, I mean. He was my best friend. We e-mailed each other, like, twenty times a week.

“And Jeremy’s hands aren’t interesting?”

She picked up the catalog and flipped another page. “Write him back and tell him of course I’ll tutor him. We can start tonight if he’s desperate.”

Hm. Poor Jeremy, indeed. What was going on here? “He wants to know the meaning of x.”

“Don’t we all. Some of us wait for the universe to reveal it to us. And some of us wouldn’t know it if the universe dropped it on our heads.”

“What’s your point?”

But my friend, who usually has all the answers, didn’t reply.

My Review:
I have loved reading this series!!
It's been great to journey with the girls as they grow closer to God and to each other.
This last book was great in that it tied off the story.
The plot line of Vanessa was a huge surprise and it was really interesting to see how she responded to the things thrown her way.
I loved that Lissa did what she thought God wanted instead of allowing others to dictate her actions. It showed just how much she's grown in her walk with God and how much her confidence has grown.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sydney's DC Discovery by Jean Fischer

I'm sorry that this is up so late. I've been away on holiday :)

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:

Sydney’s DC Discovery (Camp Club Girls #2)

Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Books for sending me a review copy.***


Jean Fischer has been writing for children for nearly three decades, and has served as an editor with Golden Books. She has written with Thomas Kinkade, John MacArthur, and “Adventures in Odyssey,” and is one of the authors for Barbour’s Camp Club Girls series. A nature lover, Jean lives in Racine, Wisconsin.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the Camp Club Girl's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602689
ISBN-13: 978-1602602687



Splaaaashhh! Whoosh!

“Watch out!” someone called near Sydney’s ear.

But it was too late. The pent up explosion of the water landed square against Sydney’s back, knocking her to the ground.

Dazed, she rolled onto her back and looked up into the hot summer sky. The water swirled around her whole body. From a distance she heard happy shouting and water gushing onto the street.

A fireman’s face appeared above her. “Are you okay, little girl?”

Little girl? Little girl! I’m twelve years old! I’m not a little girl, Mister.

The indignation snapped Sydney out of her dazed condition. She looked up and saw that two firemen were now looking at her anxiously. Carefully they helped her to her feet.

“Are you okay, little girl?” She looked in the fireman’s face. He seemed so worried that her irritation melted.

Sydney looked down at her soaking gray tank top and shorts. “Yes, sir, I’m fine,” she said. “Thank you,” she added, remembering her manners.

Sydney Lincoln had been talking to one of her neighborhood friends. She hadn’t even noticed the firemen at the fire hydrant behind her. And she sure hadn’t realized she was in the direct line of the nozzle the men were releasing.

Still out of breath from the shock of the water, Sydney dropped onto the curb in front of her house. She tore off her running shoes and socks, and stuck her bare feet into the gutter. She watched as the water from the hydrant down the street shot into the air and out the nozzle. The neighborhood kids laughed and splashed in its flow.

As Sydney’s clothes began to dry in the torrid sun, the water rushed along the curb like a river. It streamed between Sydney’s toes and sent goose bumps creeping up to her knees.

Sydney lived in the middle of a row of brick houses. The two-story tall houses were connected so they looked like one long building. The only windows were in the front and the back. The houses were close to the street, and each had a narrow front porch with three steps leading to a tiny front yard and the sidewalk.

The screen door on Sydney’s house swung open, and her mom stepped outside. “Sydney, have you seen your Aunt Dee yet?” Her curly, black hair was pulled back with a blue band to keep it off of her face.

“No, Mom,” Sydney answered. “I ran past the Metro station looking for her, but she wasn’t there.”

“Well, when she gets here, you two come inside. Dinner’s ready.”

Sydney dipped her fingers into the water and splashed some onto her long, thin arms.

“Don’t you want to come in by the air conditioning?” Her mother fanned herself with a magazine. “Aren’t you hot in the sunshine?”

“No, mom,” Sydney answered. She didn’t think it was necessary to tell her mom about her little brush with the explosion of water.

The cell phone in the pocket of her pink shorts buzzed. Sydney took it out and found a text message from one of her best friends, Elizabeth Anderson. It said: Almost packed.

Sydney tapped a reply on her keypad: Can’t w8 til u get here.

Sydney and Elizabeth had met at Discovery Lake Camp, and although Elizabeth lived in Texas, they talked every day. Four other girls had been with Sydney and Elizabeth in Cabin 12B. They were Bailey Chang, Alexis Howell, McKenzie Phillips, and Kate Oliver. When camp ended, Kate set up a web site so the girls could stay in touch. It was password protected, so it was like their own secret cabin in cyberspace. They’d all bought web cams with baby-sitting money, chore payments, and allowances so they could see each other and talk online. The Camp Club Girls—as they liked to be called—made web cam calls, sent IMs, and frequently met in their own private chat rooms.

Sydney continued typing her message: Will pic u up @ d aport @ 4 2MORO.

“Sydney, I really wish you’d come inside.” Sydney’s mother crossed her arms.

“Okay, in a few minutes, Mother!” Sydney said, without looking up.

The screen door slammed shut.

This was the worst heat wave Washington D.C. had seen in twenty-five years. Everyone had air conditioners blasting. The energy load was way too much, and the night before, the power had gone out. Sydney hated being in total darkness. She was relieved that today seemed normal.

Pack shorts, she typed. Really hot here!

While she sat texting, Sydney heard the thump thump thump of music getting closer and closer. A green jeep raced around the corner, and the booming bass from its stereo echoed inside Sydney’s chest. In the passenger seat, Aunt Dee held on to her tan park ranger hat to keep it from flying off of her head. The jeep screeched to a halt in front of Sydney’s house, and her aunt hopped out.

“Thanks for the ride, Ben,” she yelled over the music. “See you tomorrow.”

The young driver waved and drove off.

Gotta go, Liz, Sydney wrote. Ant D’s home.

Sydney stood and wiped her feet on the grass. “You’re late again,” she said. “Mom’s mad.”

“I know,” Aunt Dee apologized. “There was trouble at the Wall.” She took off her ranger hat and perched it on Sydney’s head. Aunt Dee always blamed her lateness on her job at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. Sydney didn’t understand how she could be so enthusiastic about a long, black wall with a bunch of names carved onto it.

“So what was the trouble?” Sydney wondered.

“I’ll tell you at dinner,” said Aunt Dee. She linked her arm through Sydney’s. “It’s hot out here, girlfriend. Let’s go inside.”

By the time Sydney washed and sat at her place at the table, Mom and Aunt Dee were already eating. Sydney had learned at camp to pray before every meal. So, she bowed her head and said out loud, “Dear Lord, Make us truly grateful for this meal and for all the blessings of this day.” She noticed that her mom and Aunt Dee stopped eating and bowed their heads, too. “And please keep Dad safe,” she said. Sydney always added a blessing for her dad who was serving in the military overseas.

“Amen!” Mom and Aunt Dee chimed.

Sydney poured iced tea into her tall glass and scooped pasta salad onto her plate. “So, what happened at the Wall?” she asked, reaching for a piece of French bread.

“Someone spray painted the sidewalk last night,” Aunt Dee replied. “Graffiti.”

Sydney’s mom got that look on her face—the one where her forehead turned into wrinkled plastic wrap. “You mean vandalism,” she said. “I think it’s just terrible what kids do these days—”

“How do you know it was kids?” Sydney interrupted. Her mouth was full of creamy macaroni. “Kids aren’t the only ones who do bad stuff.”

“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” said Aunt Dee.

“Most times it is,” her mom argued. “Just look around our neighborhood,” She waved her hand toward the kitchen window. “Vandalism everywhere! Who do you think did all that? Not the adults. The kids don’t care about our community. Do they care that this neighborhood used to be a military camp to help slaves that escaped from the South? No! They just want to mess up the nice things that good folks worked so hard to build.” Sydney’s mother sighed and took a long drink of her iced tea.

Mrs. Lincoln worked at the local historical society, and she was very protective of the neighborhood and its landmarks. She liked to talk about how, in the old days, kids had manners and didn’t do anything wrong. Sydney hated it that her mom blamed everything on the kids in the neighborhood.

“There are good kids, too,” Sydney argued. “You don’t see my friends and me running around spray painting everything. Give us some credit!” She looked at her plate and pushed the rest of her pasta salad into a neat little pile. “We care what happens.”

“We don’t know who did it,” said Aunt Dee, trying to stop the argument. “Someone painted GO 64 in front of panel 30W—in orange paint. Ben and some other volunteers scrubbed it this morning. They’ll work on it again tonight when the air cools off some. They’re having a hard time cleaning it. Pass the bread, please.”

“What does GO 64 mean?” Sydney asked, handing her the basket of bread.

“That’s what we’re trying to figure out,” Aunt Dee answered. “We’re wondering if the number 64 is a clue to who did it. Ben said that in some rap music, 64 means a 1964 Chevrolet Impala. Another volunteer plays chess and said 64 is the number of squares on a chessboard. We don’t know what it means.”

“Maybe it’s Interstate 64,” Sydney’s mom suggested. “There’s construction on that freeway and plenty of orange construction cones. Maybe the orange paint is to protest all that.”

“But if it’s about the freeway, or a car, or a chessboard, why would they complain by painting graffiti at the Vietnam Wall? Besides, Interstate 64 is in Virginia,” Aunt Dee said.

“Yes, but there’s some military bases out that way,” Mother said. Then she added, “It’s probably just kids.”

The air conditioning kicked in again, and a cool draft shot from the air vent making the kitchen curtains flutter.

“The Wall’s lighted at night,” Sydney said. “And the Park Police keep an eye on all the monuments. So, why didn’t anyone see who did it?”

“The lights were out,” Aunt Dee reminded her. “The whole city went dark for a while, and the Park Police were busy with that. That’s when it happened, I’m sure. Anyway, it’s a mess, and we have to clean it up fast. The TV stations are already making a big deal out of it.” She dipped her knife into the butter container and slathered butter onto her French bread. “I had such an awful day at work. Everybody blamed everyone else for letting it happen. Like we would let it happen! People don’t know how hard the Park Service works—“

“May I be excused,” Sydney asked, swallowing her last bite of pasta.

“You may,” her mother answered.

Sydney put her dishes into the dishwasher. Then she went upstairs to her room.

The computer on Sydney’s desk was on, and her screensaver cast an eerie blue glow on her yellow bedroom walls. Syd’s bedroom had no windows, so it was always dark. That was the trouble with living in a row house. If your room was in the middle of the house, you had no windows. She flipped the switch on her desk light and tapped the spacebar on the computer. The monitor lit up, and Sydney noticed that McKenzie Phillips was online. She sent her an IM: Talk to me?

The phone icon on the computer screen jiggled back and forth. Sydney clicked on it, and McKenzie’s freckled face appeared. She was sitting at the work island in her family’s kitchen. “What’s up?” she asked.

Sydney turned on her web cam. “Not much,” she said. “I just finished dinner.”

“Me, too,” McKenzie replied. “Well, almost.” She held a slice of cheese pizza in front of her face so Sydney could see it. “We ate early because Dad and Evan have to drive some cattle to pasture. Then they want to practice for the rodeo this weekend.” She pointed to the blue baseball cap on her head. Its yellow letters said: Sulfur Springs Rodeo.

“I didn’t want to hang out downstairs,” Sydney told her. “Someone spray painted graffiti by the Vietnam Wall last night, and Mom blamed it on kids again.”

McKenzie took a bite out of her pizza. “I saw it on the news. Why did she blame it on kids? I mean, anyone could have done it.”

“She blames everything on kids,” Sydney answered. “I think it’s because a lot of the kids around here get into trouble. I try to tell her that we’re not all like that, but she doesn’t listen. Lately she doesn’t listen to anything I say.”

“My mom’s like that, too,” McKenzie said. “Nothing I do is ever right.” Her face lit up. “Hey, the news said it was orange paint, right?”

“Yeah,” Sydney said, fidgeting with her cornrows. “Orange graffiti that said GO 64. So what?”

“So, maybe it’s some crazy nutcase with Agent Orange.”

“Agent who?” Sydney asked.

“Agent Orange!” said McKenzie. “Agent Orange was a chemical they used in Vietnam. I read about it in school. It made some Vietnam soldiers really sick and some even died. So maybe it wasn’t a kid who wrote it. Maybe it’s a guy who got Agent Orange, who’s mad at the government, and wants to get even. By the way, I can’t see you well.”

“You think too much,” Sydney answered. She pulled her desk light closer to her computer and bent it toward her face. “They’re trying to figure out what GO 64 means. My aunt and mom think it could be about some sort of car, or highway, or maybe even a chessboard—“

“A chessboard!” McKenzie screeched. “A person who plays chess won’t spray paint a national monument.”

“I know,” Sydney said. “Some gang member probably wrote it. Anyhow, I don’t care. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”

“I can see you fine now,” McKenzie said, changing the subject. “So, when is Elizabeth coming?”

“She and her Uncle Dan are flying in from Texas tomorrow,” Sydney answered. “Aunt Dee and I are going pick them up at the airport at four. We’ll take her uncle to his hotel, and then Elizabeth will come here to stay with us.”

“Can Elizabeth’s Uncle Dan get around all by himself?” McKenzie asked. She twisted a strand of her shoulder-length hair around her fingers. “I mean, he’s in a wheelchair and everything.”

“As far as I know, he can,” Sydney answered. “Elizabeth said he plays wheelchair basketball and competes in wheelchair races, so I suppose he gets around just fine by himself. I’m sure once he gets to the hotel, his Vietnam buddies will help him out if he needs help.”

McKenzie reached for a gallon milk container on the kitchen counter. She poured herself a glass. “Well, at least you and Elizabeth don’t have to hang around with him the whole time. He’ll be busy with his reunion stuff, right?”

“Right,” Sydney agreed. “We’ll see him Monday at the Vietnam Wall. Aunt Dee wants to give him the tour, and she thinks that Elizabeth and I should be there. Otherwise, we’re on our own.” Sydney heard strange sounds coming from her computer speakers. “Is that mooing?” she asked.

“Can you hear it?” said McKenzie. “That’s Olivia, our old milk cow. About this time every day, she wanders up to the kitchen window and talks to us. I’ll move the camera, and you can see her.”

McKenzie’s face disappeared from the screen. Sydney watched her friend’s bare feet move across the kitchen floor as she carried the web cam to the window. Then a big, black-and-white cow head appeared. Olivia stood chewing her cud and looking at Sydney with huge, brown eyes.

“Earth to Mac! Earth to Mac!” Sydney called into her computer’s microphone. “Come back Mac!”

Sydney watched McKenzie’s bare feet walk back to the computer. Then her face showed up on the screen.

“Isn’t Olivia awesome?” she said. “You really should come to Montana, Syd. We have tons of animals. I know you’d love it, and we could ride horses and hike, just like we did at camp.”

“Maybe I will some day,” Sydney replied. “But, right now, I’m signing off. I want to clean up my room before Elizabeth gets here from Texas. All of my junk is piled on the other bed. If I don’t move it she won’t have a place to sleep.”

“Okay then,” McKenzie said. “I’ll sign off, too—and eat more pizza.” She picked up the gooey slice from her plate and took another bite. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“See ya,” Sydney answered, switching off her web cam.

Everything in her room looked neat except for the other twin bed. It was hardly ever used, so that was where Sydney stored most of her stuff. It held boxes filled with colorful papers and art materials, magazines, piles of clothes, posters she planned to put up in her room. Sydney had so much stuff stored there that she didn’t know what to do with it all. Under my bed, I guess, she thought.

Before long, the bed was cleaned. Sydney changed the sheets. Then she went to her closet and pulled out a new black and tan bedspread that matched her own. She threw it on top of the bed and tucked it neatly around the pillow.

“Sydney?” Aunt Dee stood in the doorway. She held a long, white envelope. “This came for you.”

The letter was from Elizabeth. Sydney tore open the flap and found a note taped to an information sheet.

Uncle Dan wanted me to send you this so your mom can keep track of him. Just in case of an emergency. It’s his reunion schedule.

Sydney Lincoln read the heading on the sheet of paper. It said, “Annual Reunion—64th Transportation Company, Vietnam.”

Camp Club Girls & the Mystery at Discovery Lake by Renae Brumbaugh & My Review

I'm really sorry that this is up so late. I've been away on holiday :)

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:

Camp Club Girls & the Mystery at Discovery Lake

Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Books for sending me a review copy.***


Renae Brumbaugh lives in Texas with her pastor husband, two noisy children, and two dogs. She's authored four books in Barbour’s Camp Club Girls’ series, and Morning Coffee with James (Chalice Press), and has contributed to several anthologies. Her humor column and articles have appeared in publications across the country.

Visit the Camp Club Girl's website.
Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602670
ISBN-13: 978-1602602670


Chapter One

“Shhhhhhh!” Sydney told Bailey. “What was that noise?”

“What noise?” asked Bailey.

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” commanded her new friend.

The two listened with all their focused energy. Then, there it was. Footsteps. Large, heavy footsteps.

The girls stood in terrified uncertainty.


Sydney gasped as the eerie shriek filled the air.

Yahahoho ho ho!

Bailey trembled uncontrollably as the crazy, unworldly laugh followed.

“Run!” Sydney screamed. The two dashed as fast as their legs could carry them, back toward the camp. Sydney stopped twice, waiting for Bailey’s shorter legs to catch up.


Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth sat in the middle of the dusty road, trying to cram her underwear back into her suitcase before anyone saw. I thought wheels were supposed to make a suitcase easier, she thought. Instead, the rolling blue luggage had tipped over three times before it finally popped open, leaving her belongings strewn in the street.

Suddenly, she was nearly barreled over by two girls running frantically. “Run for your life!” the smaller one cried. “It’s after us!”

“Whoa, calm down,” Elizabeth focused on the terrified girls.

The taller one panted. “Something’s back there!”

Elizabeth looked toward the golf course but saw nothing. She noticed that the smaller girl seemed to struggle for air, and her protective instincts took over. “Calm down. You’ll be okay.”

“Need. . .inhaler,” gasped the girl.

Elizabeth sprang into action, digging through the girl’s backpack until she found a small blue inhaler. Then she helped hold it steady while the slight girl gasped in the medication. The taller girl kept looking toward the miniature golf course they’d just left. “Sorry,” the small girl whispered. “I’m supposed to keep that in my pocket, but I got so excited I forgot.”

“I’m Elizabeth. Why don’t you tell me what happened.”

“I’m Bailey,” said the short, dark-haired girl. “Bailey Chang.”

“And I’m Sydney Lincoln,” said the tall, dark-skinned girl with beaded braids. “We were at the golf course, and. . .and. . .”

“And something came after us!” exclaimed Bailey.

Elizabeth looked skeptical as she tucked a strand of long blond hair into the clip at the base of her neck.

“Is this your first year here? This is my third year here, and the most dangerous thing I’ve seen is a skunk.”

The girls giggled but didn’t look convinced. “Come with us. We’ll show you.” Bailey pulled Elizabeth back toward the golf course.

“I thought you were afraid of whatever it was! Why do you want to go back there?” Elizabeth asked.

The young girl stood to her full height. “Because I am going to be a professional golfer. And I’m not going to let whatever that was bully me. I plan to practice my golf strokes while I’m here.”

“Will you tell me exactly what happened?” Elizabeth asked Sydney.

Sydney looked each girl in the eye and spoke slowly. “Something or someone is in the woods by the golf course. And it wasn’t a friendly.” She paused for dramatic effect. “And. . .it came after us.”


Kate Oliver leaned back on her bed and smiled. Yes! I got the bed by the window! she thought. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get good reception for my laptop and cell phone. She tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear. It was too short to stay there, and just long enough to drive her crazy.

Bam! The cabin’s outer door slammed, and Kate heard voices. Pushing her black-framed glasses up on her nose, she sat up. Two girls entered the room, giggling and talking.

“I can’t believe I’m finally here! This is so cool. And look at this cute little dorm room! It’s just like the cabin in The Parent Trap! Oh, hello!” The fun-looking brunette with piercing blue eyes greeted Kate. “I’m Alex Howell. Alexis, really, but nobody calls me that except my mother. I am so excited! This will be the best two weeks ever!”

Kate smiled and reached to shake the girl’s hand. “Kate Oliver,” she said. “Welcome to cabin 12B.” She looked at the other girl.

The girl’s freckles matched her curly auburn hair, and she offered a friendly smile. “Hi there. I’m McKenzie Phillips.”


The two girls looked at Elizabeth stubbornly, as if needing to prove their story to her. Hearing another bus pull up, Elizabeth remembered her belongings, which were still lying in the middle of the road.

“I’ll tell you what. You help me get this awful suitcase to cabin 12B, and then I’ll walk to the golf course with you. Deal?”

Bailey’s mouth dropped open, and Sydney’s eyes widened.

“You’re in cabin 12B?” asked Sydney.

“That’s our cabin!” exclaimed Bailey.

Now it was Elizabeth’s turn to be surprised. “You’re kidding! Wow. It is a small world. Okay, roomies, help me hide my underwear before the entire camp sees, and we’ll be on our way.”

The girls gathered the strewn articles of clothing. Bailey held up one particular article of clothing and giggled. “Tinkerbell? Seriously, you have Tinkerbell on your . . .”

Elizabeth snatched the unmentionables from Bailey, crammed them in her suitcase, and snapped it shut. “Not another word, shorty!” Elizabeth scolded, but with a twinkle in her eye. The three girls chattered all the way to cabin 12B. As they approached the cabin, the two younger girls pulled their luggage out from behind some bushes.

“We sat together on the bus from the airport, and we both wanted to see the golf course before we did anything else. So we stowed our suitcases here until we got back,” explained Sydney.

Elizabeth laughed. With these two as roommates, this year’s camp experience would be far from dull.

The girls entered the cabin and located room B to the right. Three girls were already there, smiling and laughing.

“Hello, I’m Elizabeth. I guess we’ll be roommates!” She tossed her things on the lower bunk closest to the door, and Sydney placed her things on the bunk above that. Bailey took the top bunk next to Sydney. After an awkward pause, McKenzie stepped forward.

“I’m McKenzie Phillips,” she said. “I’m thirteen, and I’m from White Sulphur Springs, Montana.”

Alex bounced forward. “I’m Alexis Howell, Alex for short. I’m twelve, and I’m from Sacramento.”

“Sydney. Twelve. Washington, D.C.”

“Oh, that is so cool. Do you know the president?” asked Bailey, and everyone laughed. “I’m Bailey Chang. I’m nine, and I’m from Peoria, Illinois. And just so you’ll all know, I plan to be the next Tiger Woods. I’ll be glad to sign autographs, if you want. They’ll be worth money some day.”

Elizabeth stepped forward. “I’ll take one, Bailey. I’ll sell it and use the money for college. I’m Elizabeth Anderson, fourteen, from Amarillo, Texas.”

“Well, I guess that leaves me,” said Kate. “Kate Oliver, eleven, Philadelphia.”

Alexis jumped up and down. “Oh, this will be so much fun! Kate brought her laptop with her. I have the coolest roommates ever!”

Everyone’s attention turned to Kate’s bed, which was covered with a laptop and several small gadgets. “What is all that stuff?” asked Sydney. The girls gathered around Kate’s bed and watched her pull items out of a black backpack.

“It’s like a magician’s bag. It has no bottom,” mused McKenzie.

Kate laughed. “My dad teaches robotics at Penn State, so he’s always bringing home little devices to test out. Some of them are really helpful. Some of them are just fun to play with.”

One by one, she pulled the oddly shaped gadgets out of her bag, describing the functions of each.

“This is my cell phone. It can take pictures and short video clips, has a GPS tracker, a satellite map, Internet access, a motion sensor, a voice recorder, and about a zillion other things!” Aiming it at the others, she said, “Say cheese!”

The other girls leaned together and smiled. “Cheeeeeeeeeeeeese!”

Kate saved the picture, then passed the phone to the others and dug through her backpack again. “This digital recorder can record conversations up to thirty feet away.”

Sydney squinted her eyes. “You’re kidding! That thing is the size of a contact lens! Let me see!” Kate handed her the recorder and kept digging.

“This is a reader,” she continued, holding up a small penlike device.

“A what?” asked McKenzie.

“A reader. You run it across words on a page, and it records them to memory. Like a small scanner.”

“That is so cool! I had no idea stuff like this existed!” McKenzie examined the reader.

“Here, I have my Bible. Will you show us how the reader works?” Elizabeth grabbed a worn Bible from her bag and handed it to Kate.

“Sure. You turn it on by pressing this button, and. . .” She ran the pen over a page in Psalms.

Elizabeth giggled. “I’ve heard of hiding God’s Word in your heart, but never in your pen!”

The gadget girl suddenly stopped her display to announce, “Hey, I’m starved. Is anybody else hungry?”

“It’s almost dinnertime,” announced Elizabeth. “But first, we have some business to take care of at the golf course.”

The girls listened as Sydney and Bailey described their experience.

“Whoa, cool!” exclaimed Alex. “We have a mystery on our hands! Why don’t we go right now and check it out?”

“Why don’t we eat first?” called out Kate. “Starving girl here, remember?” The others laughed at the petite girl whose stomach was growling loudly.

Since it was almost dinnertime, the group decided to head to the dining hall first. Bailey led the way, taking over as tour guide.

“Wait for me,” called Alex. “I need to grab my lip gloss!” She shoved strawberry Lip Smackers into her pocket.

The group wandered through the camp, with Bailey pointing out different sites. Suddenly, she stopped. “Well, guys, I hate to tell you this. . .but I have no idea how to get to the dining hall from here.”

“It’s this way,” stated Elizabeth. “You’ll get your bearings. My first year here, it took me the whole time before I could find my way around. But I get lost in a closet.”

McKenzie spoke up. “Come on, girls, let’s go. Remember, Kate’s about to starve. We wouldn’t want her to waste away to nothing.”

Everyone laughed at Kate, who pretended to be nearly fainting. “I need sustenance, and I need it now!”

The group arrived at the dining hall with seven minutes to spare. They stood near the front of the line, and Elizabeth said, “Get ready for a long meal. The camp director will explain all the camp rules, introduce the counselors, and tell us more than we want to know about Camp Discovery Lake.”

“Terrific.” Bailey sighed. “I wanted to visit the golf course before dark.”

“Don’t worry,” said Alex. “After the story you and Sydney told, I think we all want to find out what’s down there.”

“Really?” Bailey said. “You’ll all come?”

“You bet!” said McKenzie. “The girls of cabin 12B stick together!”


The sun was dipping behind the horizon by the time the girls left the dining hall.

“Hooray! We can finally go to the golf course!” Bailey called.

“We’d better hurry. It’s getting dark,” said Elizabeth.

“Yeah, and after the story you and Sydney told, I certainly don’t want to be there after dark,” added Kate.

The girls scurried while chattering about the different camp activities they wanted to try. Before they knew it, the sun was gone and they could barely see the road. “Why is the golf course so far away from the main camp?” asked Alex nervously.

Sydney laughed. “So nobody will get hit on the head with a stray golf ball!”

Suddenly, a voice called out from the woods.

“Who? Who? Who?”

“What was that?” whispered Bailey.

“Who?” came the voice again.

McKenzie giggled. “You city girls don’t know much about the country, do you? That was an owl!”

The others burst into laughter as the voice called again, “Who?”

“I’m Sydney! Who are you?” Sydney shouted, and the laughter continued.

“It sure does get dark here, doesn’t it?” said Kate. “It never gets this dark in the city.”

“Are we close to the golf course?” asked Alex.

“It doesn’t seem nearly as far in the daytime,” Elizabeth told her.

They continued, each trying to seem brave. The trees that had seemed friendly and protecting in the daytime now loomed like angry giants. The girls’ steps became slower and slower as they struggled to see where they were stepping.

Finally, Kate stopped and looked at the sky through the trees. “Look, everybody! It’s the Big Dipper!” The other five girls looked to where she pointed.

“Wow, the sky is beautiful. It’s so dark, and the stars are so bright,” whispered Sydney.

“The stars are never this bright in Sacramento,” Alex commented. “The city lights are brighter. Hey, this reminds me of an episode of Charlie’s Angels, where the Angels’ car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and they had to use the stars to find their way home.”

The girls were so focused on the sky that they didn’t notice the image moving toward them. Kate was the first to lower her eyes, and she blinked in confusion. Adjusting her eyeglasses, she whispered, “Uh, guys?”

The girls continued pointing out the brightest stars.

Kate tried to make her voice louder, but terror kept it to a soft squeak. “G–g–guys?” The image moved closer, but still, no one heard her. Finally, Kate grabbed Sydney’s sleeve. “Wh–wh–what is that?” she squeaked.

Sydney looked. “Oh, my word! What in the world is that?”

The girls saw a white stripe in the road, moving slowly, steadily toward them. They were frozen, until Elizabeth yelled, “Skunk!”

Camp Discovery Lake resounded with shrieks and squeals as the girls ran back toward the cabins. McKenzie led the way with Alex close on her heels.

The girls didn’t slow down until they had burst through the door of cabin 12B. Falling onto the beds, they panted, then soon began giggling.

“Can you believe it? A skunk! We were scared of a little bitty skunk!” howled McKenzie.

“I don’t know about you, McKenzie, but I wasn’t about to smell like Pepe Le Pew out there!” retorted Alex, and the girls laughed even harder.

“Hey, Sydney, is that what scared you today? Some forest creature?”

Sydney and Bailey stopped giggling and looked at one another. “No,” they replied.

“Whatever we heard was not small,” said Bailey. “And it wasn’t friendly.”

“And it definitely came after us,” added Sydney.

My Review:
I've only just started reading this, so I don't have much of an opinion on it.
However, one thing that I've picked up is that a mobile phone (cellphone for the Americans) seems to be something that is very rare...most girls that I know of that age already have a phone, and use it a lot. It didn't seem to add up, but that was just a minor thing.
My 13-year-old sister read this and really enjoyed it :)