Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: The Dead Rise First by Alton Ragan and Robert McLaughlin

About the book:

In the small town of Jordan, Oklahoma residents find themselves the victim of a shocking terrorist attack. A society so completely dependent on technology for its security and commerce has suddenly been turned upside down. Even worse than the uncertainty of their immediate safety is another problem that no one can explain.

People who have been dead for years are popping up all over town, appearing and giving witness that the Rapture of the Church is eminent but for the lost, the Great Tribulation. Who will listen to their message and repent and who will refuse to believe their own eyes?

Meet Jack, a pastor who is suddenly slapped in the face by what has happened and then baffled when he spots Sister Gregg, a former member of his church. The only trouble is the last time he saw the woman was at her own funeral. The town begins to shake at these events and as a church turns to their leader, Pastor Jack desperately searches for the answers he must give his congregation. How much time remains for people to repent is anyone’s guess, for Jack and his flock it’s a race to reach the lost.

The Dead Rise First is a fast paced, intriguing read for anyone interested in the Rapture. This book brings something new to readers and is provoking discussion among scholars with this one question: why do the dead rise first? Although purely fiction, the events are based on scriptural answers that unearth a new understanding concerning the rapture of the Church. Does it reveal a mystery about how God will raise the dead in Christ as seen in 1Thess. 4:13-14? Will it be the same way Jesus resurrected in Matthew 27:52-53? You decide.

My thoughts:

Let me be honest here....self-published books always make me nervous.  I haven't read many, but every experience I've ever had has always been less than stellar.  In spite of that, I decided to give The Dead Rise First a chance.  When I first read the description of the book, I was immediately reminded of Terri Blackstock's Restoration Series that deals with the whole world being thrown on it's end by an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). The world was in total chaos because nothing electronic would work--no electricity, no phones, no tv, nothing.  Now, combine all that happening at the same time as dead people walking all around, except they don't look dead.  It's not difficult to see why I was so intrigued to read this book.

Overall, I'd say it was a good story.  It had a good pace and likable characters, and at the same time, the authors provided scriptural information to get their message across.  That's not the norm in most Christian novels that I read, but I found that it worked here.  At one point, I actually got out my own Bible to search out the truth for myself, and well as reference a few other verses that weren't mentioned in the book regarding the Rapture and the dead rising first.

But as with any self-published novel I've come across, there were a few issues.  The first one had to do with the lack of editing, which seems to be common.  There were several passages I needed to reread to understand what the authors were trying to say because either something was misspelled or there was a problem with the punctuation. 

The other problem I had didn't appear until the last 1/4th of the book.  Now, I know most Christian novels have a mix of Christians and the unsaved.  However, that should not give the author free reign to insert whatever language he/she wants into that non-believer's mouth.  I don't want to read that someone didn't give a rat's...(insert curse word)...about anything.  I also don't want to read "h-e-double-toothpicks" in any way except for the place it represents for the unsaved.  Both of those examples appeared at least 5 times in this book, if I counted correctly.  For a Christian novel, it's completely inappropriate to use this sort of language.  Most authors think this makes their unsaved character(s) more believable to show them acting and talking in a worldly manner, but if I wanted to read that kind of language, I'd go pick up a secular novel.  This is the first time I've ever gone on such a rant about this, but it's sad that it's actually becoming a trend in Christian fiction.  Major Christian publishers (not just the self-published) are printing these novels with bad language in them, and I hope and pray that this is not the future for this genre.

*Coming down from my soapbox*

With all that said, I have mixed feelings about recommending this novel.  While the story was good, the language issue will keep me from passing this book on to a friend.  I just can't do it in good conscience.  If there is a second novel in the works, as is indicated at the back of the book, I hope the authors will rethink what is included as well as the audience they are trying to minister to.

3 Stars

**Many thanks to Hamby Media for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to visit the authors' website.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour and Book Review: Judgment Day by Wanda Dyson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Judgment Day
WaterBrook Press (September 21, 2010)

Wanda Dyson


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

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

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

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


Sensational journalism has never been so deadly.

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

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

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

Watch the book trailer:

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

My thoughts:

Spectacular and intense are just two words to describe how great this book was!  I didn't have any doubts initially that it wouldn't be a great book because I've read one of Ms. Dyson's books in the past, and was equally amazed then by her great gift of suspenseful storytelling.

This book had high energy and action all the way through with enough twists and turns to rival a back-woods, off-the-main-drag road.  There were times when I didn't know who could be trusted, who had a secret, or who had a hidden agenda.  It wasn't so much a case of "whodunit" as it was "now I know who's in charge, and I need to know what they're going to do next."

What really confused me, though, was the book's description.  See, the back of my book says this:  "Bitter and angry, Suzanne returns home one day to find an entrepreneur she is investigating, John Edward Sterling, unconscious on her living room floor."  First of all, John Sterling wasn't an entrepreneur in the story; he was a senator.  He was a main character throughout the story, mostly through word of mouth.  The person that was actually unconscious (and later murdered) in Suzanne's home was a nurse that had barely been mentioned before this scene was set up.  I can't help but wonder what the deal was with this mix-up.  Had it been the senator as the murder victim, it would've been a completely different story.  Instead, it's a sort of no-name character that had very little purpose in the story as a whole.

In spite of the description issue, Judgment Day was still an incredible story, and I had it finished it in a day.  Wanda Dyson is yet another author whose past novels need to make their way into my hands at some point down the road...she's that good.  :o)

4 Stars

**Many thanks to WaterBrook through CFBA for providing a copy for review.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

About the book:

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

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

My thoughts:

I have been anticipating A Hope Undaunted for well over a year now, and before I even cracked the spine, I knew I would be in for a rollercoaster ride of passion and drama.  In that respect, A Hope Undaunted did not disappoint one bit.  But I have to confess that while Julie Lessman is on my favorite authors list right under Francine Rivers, I just did not love this book.  I know I'm probably one of the few in that category, but I have to be honest.  I liked it, but I didn't love it...there really is a difference.

Having gotten to know young Katie O'Connor in the Daughters of Boston series, I knew her personality wouldn't have changed much from childhood to an older teenager.  She was a spoiled brat in the first series, and she was a spoiled brat through about the first half of this book.  I couldn't seem to get past her selfish nature that popped up all over the place.  And the other half of the time, she couldn't seem to make up her mind which I chalked up to immaturity and wanting to be free from her father's strict rules.  Another thing that bothered me in regards to Katie was that she was eighteen years old, and in between two guys with lots of emotions flying all over the place.  In spite of her father's summer plans to keep her away from bad boy Jack, she still managed to get into, what I thought were, compromising situations with Luke at the Boston Children's Aid Society.  Now, her parents really liked Luke over Jack, as did I, but I think if they knew what was happening between Katie and Luke in the workplace, that whole situation would've been nipped in the bud quicker than a blink.  All that aside, how Katie responded to all of her emotions was completely normal for someone her age.  She wanted so badly to exercise her freedom that she sometimes made unwise decisions regarding her feelings, not to mention that both Luke and Jack were on the receiving end of her emotional decisions.

Julie is known for writing edgy, romantic, Christian fiction, and every bit of that was present in this book.  But compared to her 3 previous novels, the edginess was actually toned down in this book.  There was more focus on the relationships between the characters, especially Faith and Collin and Marcy and Patrick.  Even though I wasn't a fan of Katie as a whole, the romance, and especially the kissing scenes, between her and Luke were explosive!  I don't think Julie will ever lose her touch in that department!  Between the edginess and the romance, you'd think there'd barely be enough space for anything else, but the Christian elements in this book were simply perfect.  And if you're not careful, Julie may just step on your toes a bit with more Biblical truths than your Sunday morning preacher.

Even though A Hope Undaunted was my least favorite book featuring the O'Connor clan, I will never grow tired of getting my O'Connor fix just like Karen Kingsbury fans have to get their Baxter family fix.  I hope the wait won't be long between A Hope Undaunted and her next book, A Heart Revealed, which will tell the story of Sean and Emma.  I have loved Emma's quiet nature from the moment she was first introduced in the Daughters of Boston series.  There's no doubt in my mind that their story will be a good one.  :o) 

4 Stars
**Many thanks to Winsome Communications for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to purchase a copy of A Hope Undaunted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour: Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Love's First Bloom

Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)

Delia Parr


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


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

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

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

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

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

CFBA Blog Tour: In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In Every Heartbeat
Bethany House (September 1, 2010)

Kim Vogel Sawyer


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


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Book Review: Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad/4 Stars

About the book:

It's 1895, and spunky Marguerite Westing is thrilled to discover that her family will summer at Lake Manawa! Escaping her boring suitor, Roger, Marguerite stumbles upon two new loves---sailing and her instructor, Trip. But when her father's gambling threatens to ruin them all, will she marry Roger to save her family's name and fortune?

My thoughts:

What a fun, fun book!  I knew from the first second I saw the cover that I was going to be in for an adventure.  All I had to do was take one look at Marguerite's face on the front cover and I knew that's she's gotten herself into something, most likely trouble.

If I had Camilla Westing for a mother, I'm afraid I'd run away from home!  I think she meant well in her own way, but her actions caused Marguerite to distance herself as far as possible.  Thankfully, she had the sweetest father in the wide world, who made the great suggestion of spending their summer at the beautiful Lake Manawa.  What an adventure that turned out to be!  Lake Manawa was the perfect place for Marguerite to discover a new love in sailing, and also in a certain handsome sailor.

The sailing, the swimming, and all sorts of other fun activities made this book so enjoyable to read.  It made me wish that I had enough free time to spend an entire summer at a lake with no obligations.  Since that's no where close to being possible, it was nice to live vicariously through Marguerite and imagine that adventure.  I am most anxious to see what Lorna has in store next at Lake Manawa. 

4 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  Yes

**Many thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to purchase a copy of Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour: More Than Words by Judith Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Bethany House; Original edition (September 1, 2010)


Judith Miller


Most readers want to know how authors 'got started' writing. My first novel, Threads of Love, was conceived when I was commuting sixty miles to work each day. I wanted to tell the story of a pioneer girl coming to Kansas and the faith that sustained her as she adjusted to a new life. When the book was completed, I tucked it away. I had absolutely no idea how publication of a book occurred and had given no thought to the concept. However, through a co-worker, I was directed to Tracie Peterson who, at that time, worked down the hall from me. Having never met Tracie, I was totally unaware of her writing career, but God intervened. The rest is, as they say, history....

With a graciousness that continues to amaze me, Tracie agreed to read my story, directed me to a publisher, and gave me information on a Christian writers conference. Since that first encounter many years ago, I have been blessed with the publication of numerous books, novellas and a juvenile fiction book. Joyously, Tracie and I had the opportunity to develop a blessed friendship. In fact, we have co-authored several series together, including The Bells of Lowell, the Lights of Lowell and The Broadmoor Legacy. In addition, I have continued to write several solo series. Please check those out on the "My Books" page on my website.

God's design on the lives of His people never ceases to amaze me! Because I am eternally grateful for my own forgiveness and salvation, I strive to share God's desire to pull us from the mire of sin and set us free to live exciting lives for Him. Through His abundant grace and love, God gifts and equips each of us to share the story of salvation and eternal life. Won't you share His story using the special gifts He has given you?


Journey to the charming villages of the Amana Colonies, 1885

Gretchen Kohler is an Amana storekeeper's daughter with a secret passion for writing. But artistic pursuits are frowned upon in her conservative Amana village, so she confines her poems and stories to her journals, letting only close friends read them.

When a young reporter comes into her store, she believes she's found a kindred spirit. She shares a few of her stories with him--only to have her trust betrayed in the worst of ways, resulting in trouble for her entire community.

The scandal is made even worse by the fact that gypsies have camped nearby and seem to be preying upon the Amanans' compassionate, pacifist nature. Will Gretchen lose her job, her reputation, and the love of her childhood beau all because of one bad decision?

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her novels, two of which have placed in the CBA top ten lists. In addition to her writing, Judy is a certified legal assistant. Judy makes her home in Topeka, Kansas.

If you would like to read the first chapter of More than Words, go HERE.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book Review: Fighting for Bread and Roses by Lynn A. Coleman

About the book:

Romance, family, and politics converge explosively in a suspicious murder during the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912 and threaten to engulf a 21st-century woman researching the strike. When textile workers went on strike in 1912 for better wages and working conditions, they never imagined the violence that would overwhelm them. The first person to die was Anna Lopizzo . . . and then John Rami . . . and then many others. The strikers claimed the police had killed Anna, but the police said one of the strikers shot her. Who was right?

Fast forward to present-day Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Lindsey Marc, a historic mystery writer, is tracking down what really happened to Anna and the other workers. Along the way, someone gets wind of what Lindsey is researching and is threatened by what she may discover. It begins with phone calls and quickly moves to ransacking her hotel room. Can Lindsey find out the truth before something terrible happens to her?

My thoughts:

All I can say is WOW!!!  I never expected to love this book so much!  A friend recommended it to me ages ago, and I procrastinated for a very long time before I decided to pick it up and read it.  Let me tell better get to steppin', and do the same! You will not be sorry!

I love historical fiction, but I really love historical fiction with a mystery.  Even more, I love historical fiction that is told in conjunction with a present-day story.  All of that is wrapped up perfectly in this book.  The history in the book is based on true events that I had never even heard of until now.  I did a little internet searching to see if any of the characters ever existed, and so far, I've found info on two.  In retrospect, that just made this book so much more interesting.  I mean, we all know the Civil War happened, but I feel that I can relate to a story more when I know that the characters I'm reading about actually existed and aren't fictitious.

Then, there's the mystery, and it's a good 'un--not only in the historical account, but in the present-day drama that is Lindsey Marc's life.  I had the mystery pretty well solved on my own, but there were a few things that crept up that I didn't expect to happen.  Honestly, the whole book is a roller-coaster ride, but it kept me on the edge of my seat as a reader from page one clear to the end. 

Since this book was written 2005, my guess is that the author didn't have any thoughts on a sequel, or even a series featuring Lindsey Marc.  But honestly, that would be such a great idea!  The sky's the limit on stories like this combining the past with the present, and I'd be an instant fan for sure.

4.5 Stars

**I received a copy of this book through

Monday, September 13, 2010

Book Review: The Bride Blunder by Kelly Eileen Hake

About the book:

One Name...

When Gavin Miller hires on to set up a gristmill for the prospering town of Buttonwood, Nebraska, he's looking to build more than a business. For the first time, Gavin is in a position to request the hand of the woman he's never forgotten; Miss Marguerite Chandler.

Divided Between Two Cousins,

When Marguerite's cousin steps down from the stage, Gavin realizes the terrible blunder he's made. While he never forgot Marguerite was the French word for Daisy, he'd failed to recall that the two cousins shared their grandmother's name, and Marge was the nickname of the wrong Miss Marguerite Chandler!

Equals Big Trouble for Three Hearts!

Marge rejects his offer of marriage when she discovers the truth and goes about setting up a school in town. She's found a place in Buttonwood, but just when Gavin's beginning to think maybe Marge holds a place in his life, a distraught Daisy descends upon the town with a broken heart-and a broken engagement.

Can God's will become clear even after The Bride Blunder?

My thoughts:

The Bride Blunder was a good conclusion to the Prairie Promises series by Kelly Eileen Hake.  While I must confess that book two, The Bride Backfire, was my overall favorite, The Bride Blunder served to wrap up a few loose ends with one of my favorite characters, Midge.  I really wanted to see her find the perfect mate, and believe me, she does.

What really disappointed me was that this was basically three stories in one, and at times, I simply lost interest.  I wish that Marge and Gavin's story had been more in the forefront, but unfortunately when it was, it seemed to be the same thing churned over and over again.  On the other hand, Daisy's portion of the story was really good, and I loved the determination she found in herself toward the end. 

But I've saved the best character for last....cranky Ermintrude.  Well, who wouldn't be cranky all the time with a name like that?!?!  Don't think for a second that she's not gonna give you a piece of her mind, even if you don't ask for it.  She had so much spunk and personality that, at times, she had me roaring with laughter!  Every western needs someone like her.  :o)
While this wasn't my favorite book of Kelly's, I am definitely a fan of her work.  The first two books in this series were very well-written, and I'm eager to get my hands on some of her other books.  The Bride Blunder gets a rating of 3 Stars.
**Many thanks to Barbour Books through NetGalley for providing a copy for review.

CFBA Blog Tour: The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Bridge of Peace
WaterBrook Press; Original edition (August 31, 2010)
Cindy Woodsmall


Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times best-selling author whose connection with the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

She was also a homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter.

Her first novel released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.

Her second book, When the Morning Comes, hit numerous best-sellers lists across the US, including edging into the extended list of the New York Times, coming in at number thirty-four.

Her third book, When the Soul Mends, hit the New York Times best-sellers list, coming in at number thirteen, as well as making the USA Today’s best-sellers list.

Cindy continues to write and release best-selling works of fiction, and she’s also written a nonfiction work with an Old Order Amish friend, Miriam Flaud. The book is titled Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women. It will release March 11, 2011.

Her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.

As an adult, Cindy became friends with a wonderful Old Order Amish family who opened their home to her. Although the two women, Miriam and Cindy, live seven hundred miles apart geographically, and a century apart by customs, when they come together they never lack for commonality, laughter, and dreams of what only God can accomplish through His children.

Cindy, her husband, their three sons and two daughters-in-law reside in Georgia.


Love alone isn’t enough to overcome some obstacles.

Lena Kauffman is a young Old Order Amish schoolteacher who has dealt all her life with attention raised by a noticeable birthmark on her cheek. Having learned to move past the stares and whispers, Lena channels her zest for living into her love of teaching. But tensions mount as she is challenged to work with a rebellious young man and deal with several crises at the schoolhouse that threaten her other students. Her lack of submission and use of ideas that don’t line up with the Old Ways strengthen the school board’s case as they begin to believe that Lena is behind all the trouble.

One member of the school board, Grey Graber, feels trapped by his own stifling circumstances. His wife, Elsie, has shut him out of her life, and he doesn’t know how long he can continue to live as if nothing is wrong. As the two finally come to a place of working toward a better marriage, tragedy befalls their family.

Lena and Grey have been life-long friends, but their relationship begins to crumble amidst unsettling deceptions, propelling each of them to finally face their own secrets. Can they both find a way past their losses and discover the strength to build a new bridge?

Win a "Trip To Amish Country"...contest opens August 31st -December 31st...go HERE to enter!

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bridge of Peace, go HERE.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: For Time and Eternity by Allison Pittman

About the book:

When Camilla Deardon hears their songs coming on a breeze, they sound just like the songs in her own church. This is all she knows of the Mormons camping near her family's farm. Mama and Papa warned her to stay away, but she doesn't understand their fear, especially after meeting a young Mormon man named Nathan Fox. So handsome. So charming. His eyes hold the very image of this Zion he talks about, and his step seems a promise to take her there.

Though Camilla knows she should obey her parents, she can't refuse her heart. But Nathan's promises can never prepare her for what she will face in Utah. She's been willing to share her husband's faith, but can she share her marriage with another woman?

My thoughts:

Allison Pittman can flat write a book...period.  If it had not been for a suggestion from a friend of mine several years ago, I doubt I would've ever discovered Allison's books.  Since then, though, I've become a fan through and through.  Her historical novels always seem to have some a little different from all the rest--sometimes, it's unique characters, but almost always, it's a story that pulls at my emotions from start to finish.

For Time and Eternity was a novel I wanted to read from the first moment I read the description.  I've been on a little bit of a kick with this particular book "style" lately, and I knew Allison's take on this point in history would not disappoint.  It also helped that she had first-hand knowledge of the Mormon church and their practices.  Now, I'm not Mormon, I don't know any Mormons, but I do have a basic knowledge of their beliefs.  What really saddens me is how many people were drawn into this religion in it's early years, maybe before they were fully aware of what they were getting into.  Honestly, what sane woman wants to share her husband?  Um, not me.  Thankfully, as a church they have eliminated all practices of polygamy, but it's still a part of their history.  Now, only the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints) participate in polygamy.

I felt all of Camilla's emotions through this entire book.  Camilla had more on her young shoulders than most people have when they're twice her age, and she had so many decisions that she had to make...some that were split-second.  One came when she had to choose between her parents and this new boy, Nathan Fox.  She barely knew him, and she didn't understand why her parents didn't want her around him.  After time, their reasons became very clear.  And thankfully, Camilla's mother insisted that she read her Bible daily, and journal a verse every day.  This early nurturing in Scripture would be the difference maker in Camilla's adult, married life.

If you decide to read For Time and Eternity, let me warn you that this is not your typical novel--not just because it has both Mormon and Christian elements, but because it will literally have your emotions on overdrive from page one through to the very end.  It was an excellent story that was heartbreaking, but beautifully told.  My only complaint was that it didn't last long enough!

5 Stars

Southern?  No
Sass?  No

**Many thanks to Glass Roads PR for providing a copy for review.

**Click here to purchase a copy of For Time and Eternity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

CFBA Blog Tour: The Thorn by Beverly Lewis

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Thorn 
Bethany House (September 7, 2010)

Beverly Lewis


Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."


Lancaster County, with its rolling meadows and secret byways, may seem idyllic, but it is not without its thorns. THE ROSE TRILOGY is the stirring saga of two Amish sisters on the fringes of the church, and the unforeseen discoveries that change their lives.

Rose Kauffman, a spirited young woman, has a close friendship with the bishop's foster son. Nick dresses Plain and works hard but stirs up plenty of trouble too. Rose's sister cautions her against becoming too involved, but Rose is being courted by a good, Amish fellow, so dismisses the warnings.

Meanwhile, Rose keeps house for an English widower but is startled when he forbids her to ever go upstairs. What is the man hiding? Rose's older sister, Hen, knows more than she should about falling for the wrong man. Unable to abandon her Amish ways, Hen is soon separated from her very modern husband.

Mattie, their young daughter, must visit her father regularly, but Hen demands she wear Amish attire--and speak Pennsylvania Dutch, despite her husband's wishes. Will Hen be able to reestablish her place among the People she abandoned? And will she be able to convince Rose to steer clear of rogue neighbor Nick?

Watch the book trailer:

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

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review: The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris

About the book:

Robbing a stagecoach on Christmas Eve and kidnapping a woman passenger is the last thing Luke Sullivan expects to do. He just wanted to reclaim the money stolen from him, but ends up with a feisty copper-haired orphan thrown over his shoulder who was on her way to marry Sullivan's bitter enemy.

Emily McCarthy is an orphan out of options. Forced to marry because she was too old for her orphanage, she doesn't take kindly to her "rescue." Still she trusts God can turn any situation to good especially when it seems Sullivan may just be the man of her dreams. But Sullivan's crossed a dangerous man unused to losing and Emily may just be the prize he's unwilling to sacrifice.

My thoughts:

I usually love mail-order bride stories, and I even like an occasional western, but the combination of both in this book just did not do it for me. I’m not sure where it started to go wrong, but overall, the story did not flow well.

I came into the story expecting Emily’s point of view. After all, the story is called “The Vigilante’s Bride,” emphasis on bride. She came out west as a mail-order bride to this foul man, which she, thankfully, did not have to marry. Once she was released of her marital obligations, the story switched to Luke’s point of view. He’s the vigilante of the story, and that’s really where I lost interest. There seemed to be too much focus on the unrest between the New Hope ranch where Luke and Emily were living, and the ranch owned by Bart Axel, the man Emily came out west to marry. Also, there was little to no romance, and hardly any character development, particularly for Emily.

If you’re looking for a story about a mail-order bride, then let me suggest Lori Copeland or Amanda Cabot. As for western stories, I highly recommend Mary Connealy. All of these authors weave excellent stories that will hold your interest…I guarantee it. My rating for The Vigilante’s Bride is 2 Stars.
**Thanks to Bethany House through CFBA for providing a copy for review.
**Click here to purchase a copy of The Vigilante's Bride.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Hope for Hannah by Jerry Eicher

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:

Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


As a boy, Jerry Eicher spent eight years in Honduras where his grandfather helped found an Amish community outreach. As an adult, Jerry taught for two terms in parochial Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. He has been involved in church renewal for 14 years and has preached in churches and conducted weekend meetings of in-depth Bible teaching. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930442
ISBN-13: 978-0736930444


Hannah Byler awoke with a start. She sat up in bed and listened. The wind outside the small cabin stirred in the pine trees. The moon, already high in the sky when she and Jake went to bed, shone brightly through the log cabin window.

Beside her she heard Jake’s deep, even breathing. She had grown accustomed to the comforting sound in the few short months since they’d been married. She laid back down on the pillow. Perhaps it was just her imagination. There was no sound—nothing to indicate something might be wrong.

But her heart beat faster—and fearfully. Something was wrong—but what?

“Jake,” she whispered, her hand gently shaking his shoulder. “Jake, vagh uff.”

“What is it?” he asked groggily. He spoke louder than she wished he would at the moment.

“I don’t know,” she whispered again and hoped he would get the hint. “I think there’s something outside.”

Jake listened and sat up in bed with his arms braced on the mattress.

“I don’t hear anything,” he said, a little quieter this time. “There are all kinds of noises in the mountains at night.”

“I think something is outside,” she insisted.

They both were silent a moment, waiting and listening. Hannah half expected Jake to lower his head back to his pillow, tell her the fears were a bad dream, and go back to sleep. Instead he pushed back the covers and set his feet on the floor.

Just then a loud snuff outside the log wall stopped him. They both froze. Hannah didn’t recognize the sound. No animal she knew ever made such a noise.

“It sounds like a pig,” Jake said, his voice low. “What are pigs doing out here at nighttime?”

“It’s not a pig,” Hannah whispered back. No stray pig, even in the nighttime, could create such tension. “It’s something else.”

“But what?” Jake asked, the sound coming again, seemingly right against the log wall.

Hannah lay rigid, filled with an overpowering sense that something large and fierce stood outside.

“I’m going to go see what’s out there.” Jake had made up his mind, and Hannah made no objection.

Jake felt under the bed for his flashlight and then moved toward the door. Somehow Hannah found the courage to follow but stayed close to Jake.

Their steps made the wooden floor creak, the only sound to be heard.

Jake slowly pulled open the wooden front door, his flashlight piercing the darkness as he moved it slowly left and then right.

“Nothing here,” he said quietly and then stepped outside.

Hannah looked around Jake toward the edge of the porch. “It was around the corner,” she whispered.

Jake walked slowly toward the corner of the house, but Hannah stayed on the porch near the front door.

Jake stopped momentarily and then stepped around the corner of the house. Hannah could only see a low glow from the flashlight. In the distance by the light of the moon, the misty line of the Cabinet Mountains accented the utter ruggedness of this country. During the day, the sight still thrilled her, but now that same view loomed dangerously.

For the first time since they’d moved into the cabin after their wedding, Hannah wondered whether this place was a little too much for the two of them. Was a remote cabin, a mile off the main road and up this dirt path into the foothills of the Cabinet Mountains, really what she wanted?

“It’s a bear!” Jake’s voice came from around the corner. “Come take a look—quick—before it’s gone.”

“Gone,” she whispered.

“Come see!” Jake’s urgent voice came again.

Again Hannah found courage from somewhere. She stepped around the corner of the house and let her gaze follow the beam of Jake’s flashlight, which now pierced the edge of the clearing around their cabin. At the end of the beam, a furry long-haired bear—as large as the one she’d seen once at the zoo—stood looking back at them, its head raised and sniffing the air.

“It’s a grizzly,” Jake said, excitement in his voice. “See its hump?”

“Then why are we out here?” Hannah asked, nearly overcome with the urge to run and desperate for solid walls between her and this huge creature.

“The men at the lumberyard said there aren’t many around,” Jake said in her ear. “Mostly black bears down in this area.”

“Shouldn’t we be inside?” she asked the question another way, pulling on his arm. “It’s not going away.”

“It will leave sooner if we stay in sight rather than go inside,” he told her, his light playing on the creature whose head was still in the air and turned in their direction.

“Well, I’m going inside,” she said, her courage now wholly depleted.

“It’s going,” Jake announced, and so she paused. They watched, fascinated, as the great creature bobbed its head and disappeared into the woods.

“It’s gone,” Jake said, a bit disappointed. “That was a grizzly.”

They turned back to the cabin, Hannah following Jake’s lead. As they stepped onto the porch, Hannah considered their front door. Suddenly the solid slat door—so bulky before—now looked thin, an unlikely protection against the hulk that had just disappeared into the dark tree line.

“What if it comes back?” she asked.

“It won’t. It’s just passing through,” he assured her. “They don’t like humans. They’re wanderers anyway. It’ll probably not come this way again—ever.”

Not reassured, Hannah shut the door tightly behind them and pushed the latch firmly into place.

“Bears hang around,” she told him. “This one could come back.”

“Then we’ll deal with it. Maybe the game warden can help. I doubt it will return, though.” Jake was fast losing interest and ready for his bed again.

Jake snuggled under the covers, pulling them tight up to his chin. “These are cold nights,” he commented. “Winter’s just around the corner. I have to get some sleep.”

Hannah agreed and pulled her own covers up tight. Jake’s job on the logging crew involved hard manual labor that required a good night’s sleep. She didn’t begrudge him his desire for sleep.

“I sure hope it doesn’t come back,” she said finally.

“I doubt it will,” he muttered, but Hannah could tell he was already nearly asleep.

To the sounds of Jake’s breathing, she lay awake and unable to stop her thoughts. Home, where she had grown up in Indiana, now seemed far away, a hazy blur against the fast pace of the past few months.

What is Mom doing? she wondered. No doubt she’s comfortably asleep in their white two-story home, secure another night just like the night before and ready to face another day just like the day before.

Thoughts of her earlier summers in Montana—tending to Aunt Betty’s riding stable—pushed into her mind. This country had seemed so glorious then, and she had dreamed of her return.

The wedding had come first. She smiled in the darkness while she remembered the special day. After a flurry of letters and Jake’s visits as often as he could, Betty got her wish for a wedding in Montana. Hannah’s mother realized it was for the best. Because the plans for Hannah’s wedding to Sam Knepp ended in a disaster back home in Indiana, Roy and Kathy decided they couldn’t have the wedding there and possibly face that embarrassment again. Even Jake was in favor of the wedding in Montana—here where they had met.

Their hearts were in Montana now—close to the land and the small Amish community in the shadow of the Cabinet Mountains. But lately Hannah asked herself if living out here in the middle of nowhere was really for their best. Then she was thankful that at least she was with Jake—better here with Jake than anywhere else without him.

But as she lay in the darkness unable to sleep, she found herself wishing for close neighbors. She wished she could get up now and walk to the front door, knowing that someone else lived within calling distance—or at least within running distance if it came to that. Now, with a bear around, a night wanderer with mischief on his mind, there was nowhere to go. She shuddered.

She wondered if she could outrun a bear and reach a neighbor’s house. She pictured herself lifting her skirt for greater speed. How fast can bears run? Can they see well at night to scout out their prey?

Hannah shivered in the darkness and listened to Jake’s even breathing, wondering how he could sleep after what they had just seen. A grizzly! Jake had been sure it was a grizzly they’d heard sniffing around their cabin just outside their bedroom wall. Why was Jake not more alarmed? He had even seemed fascinated, as if it didn’t bother him at all.

She had always thought she was the courageous one, the one who wanted adventure. After all, she had come out to Montana on her own that first summer. The mountains had fascinated her, drawn her in, and given her strength. But tonight those same mountains had turned on her and given her a bear for a gift—a grizzly. Even the stately pine trees, with their whispers that soothed her before, now seemed to talk of dark things she knew nothing about, things too awful to say out loud.

She turned in the bed, hoping she wouldn’t disturb Jake. She thought of his job on the logging crew, really a job of last resort. Yes, at first it was a blessing because they needed the income, but now it had become more and more of a burden. Jake didn’t complain, but the burden was apparent in the stoop of his shoulders when he came home at night. It revealed itself in his descriptions of how he operated the cutter, navigated the steep slopes, and worked with logs that rolled down the sides of the mountains. She also heard it in his descriptions of Mr. Wesley, his boss. She had met Mr. Wesley once when he had stopped by the house to interview Jake for the job. He operated the largest timber company in Libby, and his huge, burly form matched his position, nearly filling their cabin door that day. She had been too glad Jake had gotten the job to worry much about Mr. Wesley, but after he left she was glad she wouldn’t see him every day.

Hannah shivered again, feeling the sharp chill that seeped into the log house—the same one that seemed so wonderful in summer. Winter would come soon to this strange land, and neither she nor Jake had ever been through one here.

Hannah willed herself to stop thinking. Now she knew for certain. There had been something she wanted to tell Jake but had wanted to wait until she was sure. Now on this night—the night the bear came—she was certain. The strangeness puzzled her. How could a bear’s unexpected visit and this wonderful news have anything to do with each other?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review: Choosing to SEE by Mary Beth Chapman and Ellen Vaughn

About the book:

From the beginning, Mary Beth Chapman's life was not how she planned. All she wanted was a calm, peaceful life of stability and control. Instead, God gave her an award-winning singer/songwriter husband, crazy schedules, and a houseful of creatively rambunctious children. Most difficult of all, God's plans for her also included tragedy.

In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth unveils her struggle to allow God to write the story of her life, both the happy chapters and the tragic ones. And as the story unfolds, she's been forced to wrestle with some of life's biggest questions: Where is God when things fall apart? Why does God allow terrible things to happen? How can I survive hard times?

No matter where you find yourself in your own life story, you will treasure the way Mary Beth shows that even in the hard times, there is hope if you choose to SEE.

My thoughts:

When I first heard about this book, I knew it was going to be a must-read for me.  I have been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman practically my entire life, thanks to my brother.  Steven was just becoming popular in the CCM scene when I was about 5, and my brother was addicted to his music.  I remember riding in the car with him and my dad, and my brother would be pleading with the radio station to play "The Great Adventure."  :o)  Once my bro left the nest, the addiction to SCC's music was passed on to me.  I have always appreciated that he writes his songs strictly based on Scripture, and as a side note, if you've never checked out his music before, you won't be disappointed. 

Another reason I wanted to read this book was because of sheer curiousity.  I admit that sounds terrible because this is a story of grief, but it's true.  I think it's natural that we gravitate a bit toward celebrity in any form, and for that reason, I was curious to hear Mary Beth's side of the story.  This book started with her sharing brief parts of her early childhood, and how certain things contributed to how she handled problems in her adult life.  No lie, it was tough to read her struggle....but she never let go of God.  She shared what her life plans were, and how God turned them upside down over and over again.  She shared the stories from each one of their Chinese adoptions, and how God made each and every one come together in His perfect time.

It was so encouraging to read how their entire family trusted God for everything, and unfortunately, not surprising that the Enemy has attacked them on every side.  But what Satan intended for evil, God intended for good!  Sweet Maria had such a short life on this earth, but through little things she left behind, the Chapman family knew where she was, and that she had only left them for a little while.  All they had to do was SEE! 

This book would be ideal for those currently dealing with grief, or those who have had a death in their family.  It offers so much encouragement, even for those not going through a tough time.  For Steven Curtis Chapman fans, there are several snippets of song lyrics that he's written through the years that go with the timeline of their lives (think "I Will Be Here," "Go There With You," and "Fingerprints of God").  My rating for this book is 4 Stars.

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

**Thanks to Donna Hausler with Baker Publishing Group for providing a copy for review. 

FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Dream for Hannah by Jerry Eicher

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:

Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Karri James of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


As a boy, Jerry Eicher spent eight years in Honduras where his grandfather helped found an Amish community outreach. As an adult, Jerry taught for two terms in parochial Amish and Mennonite schools in Ohio and Illinois. He has been involved in church renewal for 14 years and has preached in churches and conducted weekend meetings of in-depth Bible teaching. Jerry lives with his wife, Tina, and their four children in Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $11.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930450
ISBN-13: 978-0736930451


Outside Hannah Miller’s upstairs window, springtime had come. The earth was finally awakening from what had been a worse than normal northern Indiana winter.

Breakfast was finished, and her mother would soon call from downstairs for help. Her cousins were coming to visit this evening, and there was a lot of work to do.

As she secured her dark hair beneath the head covering she wore for work, Hannah glanced down at the paper on which she had scribbled the words of the poem. Surely she had time for another quick read, and that would have to do. Her almost seventeen-year-old hands trembled as she held the writing in front of her.

The words of the poem by E.S. White, written in 1908, gripped her again.

A Ballad of Spring

It’s Spring, my Love.

Bowed down with care,

Your branches are stripped and bare.

Old Winter’s past.

Its snow and cold

Have melted long and lost their hold.

The earth it waited

With bated breath for something more,

For life renewed called from its core.

It opens wide its arms.

For strength, for vigor, for its best,

It stirs its creatures to their nests.

All around it lies the warmth

Because the sun has drawn near,

Touching, caressing, there and here.

Arise, it calls.

The pomegranates bloom.

They yell that life has room.

Will you come, my Dear,

Hold my hand, touch what I bring?

Because, my Love, it’s Spring.

Hannah paused as thoughts raced through her head. Can this be true? Is there really such a feeling? Is this something I could really feel…this thing called love?

Then, from downstairs she heard the urgent sound of her mother’s voice, “Hannah, time to start the day.”

“Yes, I’m coming,” she called as she quickly placed the poem on the dresser, smoothed the last wrinkles out of the bed covers, and then rushed out of her room and down the stairs.

“The wash needs to be started right away,” her mom said as she busied herself with the dishes in the kitchen sink.

“Yes, right away,” Hannah said. After making one last check for dirty clothes in the bedrooms, she made her way down to the basement. The sparse room seemed dingy and damp, in stark contrast to the fresh spring day she had seen from her upstairs window. She’d much rather be outside, but the laundry must be done.

Hannah ran the water into the tub from the attached hose. When the water reached the fill line, she turned off the water and tossed in the first load of dirty clothes. With a jerk on the starter rope, the old tub started vibrating. The motor changed its speed and sound as the center tumbler turned, dragging the load of pants and shirts through the water.

As Hannah reached inside the washer to check the progress, the memory of the poem returned to her. Then she thought of James back in seventh grade. His grin had been lopsided but cute. He was a sweet boy—his eyes always lit up whenever Hannah looked at him. Was that the first stirrings of whatever this thing called “love” was?

Surely not. Such ideas! If someone could read my thoughts… “A dumm-kopf, that’s what they’d say,” she spoke aloud, smiling at her youthful memory.

Her hand dodged the tumbler’s wrath, but still the tumbler caught a piece of cloth and whipped water in her direction.

Then her memory moved up to eighth grade. Sam Knepp. A thirteen-year-old girl just had to have someone to like. The other girls would have thought her a true dummkopf if she had no one. And so she had picked Sam at random. What other choice had there been? Sam sat across the aisle from her. He was sort of cute. He had freckles, red hair, and a good smile. But there was that horrible habit he had of opening his mouth when he was puzzled or surprised.

When Hannah told the other girls she liked Sam, they reacted with admiration. So she had made the right choice. Maybe she was not a dummkopf. Her friend Mary stuck up for her choice. Mary was blonde and sweet on Laverne, who was truly a wonder in the world of Amish eighth graders. He was easily the best-looking boy in the district. In fact Hannah would have picked Laverne had he not already been taken by Mary. For some reason, it didn’t bother her that Annie, who was in the sixth grade, had her attention on Sam; blushing every time he walked by, but saying nothing.

No, Hannah decided, Sam didn’t fit for her. Not really. Maybe Laverne would have been a good choice, but not as long as he was Mary’s choice. Hannah supposed even now that Laverne and Mary would soon be dating.

“Hannah,” her mother called from upstairs, “are you done yet?”

“Coming,” Hannah called out. “This old washer is going as fast as it can.”

“Well, hurry up. The clothing needs to be on the line soon. The sun is already well up.”

“Yes,” Hannah called out again, “I’ll get it out as soon as I can.”

Minutes later the cycle was finished, and Hannah quickly loaded the basket with the heavy wet laundry and made her way up the steps and out to the clothesline.

Outside, the glorious spring day greeted her brightly. Hannah turned her face skyward and almost lost her grip on the basket as she soaked in the warm sunshine. What a glorious spring it was going to be! It felt so good to be young and alive.

Hannah began pinning the wet clothes onto the line till they stretched out, heavy in the still morning air. Later the breeze would pick up and dry the clothes as they flapped in the wind. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Hannah hoped the wind would stay gentle until the last piece was fully dry, but with spring days, one was never sure. The wind could have a mind of its own.

She stood back and watched with approval the first of the wash begin to move slightly in the breeze. Yes, this is going to be a wonderful spring, she decided as she picked up the basket and turned to go back inside.

The sun was still out when the first buggies arrived for the evening’s family gathering. Two buggies came in, one right after the other, and then two more arrived fifteen minutes later. Among the guests were Ben and Susan Yoder—Susan was Hannah’s mom’s cousin. Also in attendance were Leroy and John, brothers on her dad’s side, and Mose, Leroy’s brother-in-law. Other people who were in some way connected to the Millers had also been invited. Having a few outside guests allowed for some spontaneity while maintaining some of the structures formed by the natural family. Sam Knepp came that night because one of the cousins had taken the notion to invite him.

It amused Hannah to see Sam again, having just thought of him that morning. She noticed that he still had that habit of occasionally allowing his mouth to drop open almost randomly.

After a hearty supper, all the young people went outside to play. Since so many younger children were involved, they had to choose a simple game. The game they chose was Wolf, which caused Hannah to consider whether or not she might be too old to join in. The game involved races run at full speed in the darkness. When all of the cousins and Sam announced they would play, Hannah decided to join in. After all, Sam and she were the same age. If he could play, so could she.

With that decided, the game was called to order, and the first “wolf”—her cousin Micah—was chosen. He picked the big tree beside the house for his home base, hollered loudly that the game had begun, and began to count. The children scattered to find hiding places before he counted to one hundred. Hannah decided to try to bluff the wolf by hiding just around the corner of the house.

At the count of a hundred, the wolf silently moved to the edge of the house, stuck his head around the corner, spotted Hannah, and howled with glee. He easily beat her back to the tree trunk.

“That was stupid of me,” Hannah muttered as she joined Micah at the tree.

“They try that on me all the time,” the wolf crowed in triumph. “Now let’s get the rest of them. You go around the house that way, and I’ll take the side you hid on.”

Hannah imitated the wolf’s trick, now that she was one herself, but the corner of the house produced no hidden sheep. The moon had already set by now, and the only light came from the stars. This corner of the house was particularly dark, absent of any light beams from the gas lanterns in the living room and kitchen.

Hannah felt her way along the house and, hearing a noise, she turned toward the front porch where she flushed someone out of the bush and found herself in a race back to the tree trunk. Hannah wasn’t sure who she was chasing, but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was who got to the tree first.

Just as she passed the corner of the house, Hannah’s world exploded into a deeper darkness than the evening around her. Sam, the one she had flushed from the bush, somehow collided with Hannah. He flew backward, and Hannah flew off into complete darkness in the other direction. Two other racers just missed her fallen body and dodged Sam who had now crawled slowly to a sitting position.

Young cousin Jonas, one of the children who had to jump to avoid Hannah’s body, immediately ran to the kitchen door, stuck his head in, and yelled in his loudest little-boy voice, “Someone bring a light! There’s been a hurt!”

Roy Miller, Hannah’s father, reacted first. He grabbed the kitchen lantern from its hook and ran outside.

“What’s going on?” he called from the porch, holding his lantern aloft, the light reaching out in a great circle.

“She’s hurt! Over here!” Sam called. He now rested on his left elbow and pointed toward Hannah’s still body.

As Roy approached, Sam slowly huddled closer to Hannah, both hands wrapped around his head. “Hannah,” he whispered, “are you hurt?”

By the light of Roy’s approaching lantern, Sam saw that Hannah was not moving. He took his hands off his head and gently pushed her arm but got no response. “You okay?” he asked again, tilting his head sideways to look down at her.

“Oh no, I hurt her!” Sam yelled as he jumped to his feet. He then stood speechless, his mouth wide open.

With the lantern in hand, Roy was now standing over the two young people. Glancing briefly at Sam, Roy reached for Hannah’s hand and then focused his attention on Hannah’s head, which had obviously taken the brunt of the hit as evidenced by a deep gash and wound to her left eye. Roy gently gathered Hannah in his arms and spoke to his brother, Leroy, standing beside him.

“Better take a look at Sam,” Roy said with a motion of his head toward the boy, and then he headed to the kitchen with Hannah.

Hannah’s mom met them at the door. “How bad is she hurt?” she asked, holding the kitchen door open.

“I don’t know,” Roy told her. “Let’s get her to the couch.”

Roy placed Hannah down gently and then stepped aside as Kathy got her first good look at Hannah’s head.

“We have to take her to the doctor—now,” Kathy said. “This looks serious.”

“Are you sure?” Roy said. “Is it that bad?”

“Roy, just look at her eye and that cut on her head!”

Roy, for the first time, carefully studied his daughter’s injury and then nodded. “Can someone run down to Mr. Bowen’s place and call for a driver?” he asked.

“I’ll go,” Ben said as he headed for the door.

Hannah had become alert enough to barely moan but nothing more.

Ben returned minutes later, a little breathless but with news. “Mr. Bowen said it wasn’t necessary to call for a ride. He’ll take her himself.”

“Da Hah be praised,” Roy said, worried about his daughter.

Old Mr. Bowen drove his car up to the front porch. Roy helped the groggy Hannah into the backseat.

“Why don’t you ride in the back with her?” Roy suggested to Kathy.

Kathy nodded, slid in next to Hannah, and held her upright against her own shoulder. With Roy in the front seat, Mr. Bowen pulled out of the driveway.

“Is she hurt badly?” Mr. Bowen asked.

“I can’t tell,” Roy said. “Her head seems to have…quite a gash in it. And her left eye doesn’t look normal.”

“I’ll get you there as fast as I can.” Mr. Bowen accelerated slowly on the gravel road and hung tightly onto the steering wheel. Once they reached the blacktop, he sped up considerably.

They reached Elkhart without incident, and Mr. Bowen pulled into the hospital parking lot. Roy quickly got out, opened the back door, and helped Hannah out of the car. He and Kathy took Hannah’s arms and made their way into the emergency room reception area.

The attending nurse took one look at Hannah, brought a wheelchair for her, and then took her to an examining room to wait for the doctor.

An hour later Roy and Kathy were seated in the waiting room.

“Did they say how bad she is?” Roy asked again.

“The nurse said she’ll be fine. That’s all she said,” Kathy repeated.

“Will she lose the eye?”

“No, surely not,” Kathy said, though with some uncertainty.

“We’ll just have to trust,” he said, attempting a smile and squeezing her hand.

“I’ll wait for you folks. Whatever time this takes,” Mr. Bowen assured them.

“That awful nice of you,” Kathy said. “We can call when we’re done. This could take much of the night.”

“The Mrs. understands,” Mr. Bowen said. “I don’t need much sleep myself anyway.”

“It’s still nice of you,” Kathy said with a smile as she took a seat beside Roy.

A few minutes later, the attending doctor walked into the waiting room and motioned for Hannah’s parents to follow him.

“I’m Dr. Benson,” he announced to the couple as they walked down the hall. “Your daughter is resting now. There isn’t much more we can do other than keep her under observation. We can’t let her sleep for a while, of course.”

“What happened?” Kathy asked.

“A bad concussion, that’s all, from what I can tell. The bone structure of her skull has actually been damaged where the impact occurred. That’s also what caused her left eye to protrude. We patched her up as best we could. Now nature will have to take its course. The eye, I believe, will return to normal now that we have taken the worst of the pressure off. We’d like to keep her here under observation for a day or two just to be sure.”

“Yes, of course,” Roy said. “I appreciate the prompt attention. She had us really worried. Will we be able to see her now?”

“Yes, the nurse will take you back. Do you have any questions?”

Roy and Kathy looked at each other, and Kathy said, “No, doctor, I don’t think so. Thank you for all you’ve done.”

The couple then followed the nurse into the elevator and two floors up.

Hannah lay in the bed, covered with white sheets and kept awake by a watchful nurse. The bed beside Hannah was occupied by another girl whose face was turned away from them. She moved slightly when they walked in but didn’t turn in their direction.

“You’re in good hands,” Kathy whispered and squeezed Hannah’s hand.

Hannah blinked slowly but made no other response.

“A little groggy,” the nurse said and smiled. “We gave her something for the pain.”

“We’d better leave, then, I suppose,” Kathy whispered. “They’ll take good care of you, Hannah. I’ll come back tomorrow first thing.”

Hannah nodded, and Kathy brushed her hand across her cheek.

At the doorway, Kathy glanced back quickly before she followed Roy out.

“She looked okay,” Roy assured her.

“But here—all night by herself.”

“They’ll watch her. You can come back in the morning. Half the night’s gone already the way it is.”

“I suppose so,” Kathy agreed.

Roy pushed the elevator button. They stepped inside when the doors opened and arrived at the waiting room to find Mr. Bowen had nodded off, his chin on his chest.

“We’re back,” Roy whispered into his ear.

He awoke with a start, grinned, and promptly bounced to his feet.

“How is she?” he asked as they walked outside.

“She’ll be okay,” Roy said, “but she’s staying for a day or two.”

“Sounds good for how she looked,” Mr. Bowen commented. “So let me get you folks home. I suppose you’re ready?”

“That we are,” Roy agreed.

Mr. Bowen drove slowly on the way home, taking his time around the curves. When he pulled into the Miller’s graveled driveway, he turned to Kathy in the backseat. “What’s your driver situation for tomorrow?”

“I have no one,” Kathy said, “and I have to go first thing in the morning, but I’ll call around from the pay phone.”

“No, just count on me as your driver until this is over,” Mr. Bowen said.

“That’s awfully nice of you,” Kathy said, “but we don’t to want to take advantage.”

“Think nothing of it,” Mr. Bowen assured her. “I’m more than glad to help out.”