Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cover Attraction: While We're Far Apart by Lynn Austin

Title: While We're Far Apart
Author: Lynn Austin
Release Date: 10/01/2010
Publisher: Bethany House

About the book:

In an unassuming apartment building in Brooklyn, New York, three lives intersect as the reality of war invades each aspect of their lives. Young Esther is heartbroken when her father decides to enlist in the army shortly after the death of her mother. Penny Goodrich has been in love with Eddie Shaffer for as long as she can remember; now that Eddie's wife is dead, Penny feels she has been given a second chance and offers to care for his children in the hope that he will finally notice her and marry her after the war. And elderly Mr. Mendel, the landlord, waits for the war to end to hear what has happened to his son trapped in war-torn Hungary.

But during the long, endless wait for victory overseas, life on the home front will go from bad to worse. Yet these characters will find themselves growing and changing in ways they never expected--and ultimately discovering truths about God's love... even when He is silent.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No, I'm Really Not Speedy Gonzales

I'm sure I'm not the only one that loves spring. Since I've become a bit of a garden addict, I just love seeing my flowerbeds fill up with new flowers. My hydrangea bush has started to bloom, as well as all my rose bushes. Ahhh....I just love it.

But this year, I need to get some bulbs in the ground to start filling up some new flowerbeds that I set up last fall. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I'll have those bulbs in the ground by this weekend. I've only ever planted bulbs once before, and had mixed results, so I'm a little nervous about doing it again. This year, I've already bought some dahlia bulbs to plant in the flowerbed in my front yard. If they bloom, I'll upload some pics.....cross your fingers for me. *grin*

My gardening plans would've started a little sooner had I not had a little accident at the house about a week and a half ago. I have now learned that I cannot race through my house like Speedy Gonzales. There are consequences when I do that. :o)

DH decided to order pizza the other night, and told me beforehand: "Hon, when the pizza guy gets here, will you come and get the dogs so they don't race out the front door?" (Bella, our chug, likes to escape out the front door if she gets a chance, and runs all over the neighborhood like she's going on vacation or something.) I said I'd help him with that when the time came. About thirty minutes later, the pizza is at the house. I'm in my newly-cleaned craft room, and race to get to the living room to keep the dogs under control. Just before I make it out of my room, I bang (yes, bang) my left pinky toe into the desk that's right next to the door. Oh. My. Gosh. I have never known such pain in my whole life. And I'm sure you can visualize this scene quite well in your mind....the dogs are going nuts, hubby's trying to pay for the pizza, and I'm screaming bloody murder. I literally could not even walk to the living room, and we're talking a very short distance between my craft room and the living room. I plopped down in the hallway, and just cry like a baby because my whole foot hurts SOOO bad, and all I did was hit that little bitty toe. (Also going through my mind was what the pizza guy must be thinking.) Bella must've heard my blood-curling screams, so she comes to see if I'm alright. She then proceeds to pee right there in the hallway on the carpet....right in front of me. By this time I'm thinking, "Could this night get any worse?" Yep...sure could...she decided she'd do the same thing in the living room. Needless to say, she was not my biggest fan that particular night....didn't like hubby much, either.

Hubby was so sweet for the rest of the night, though, I must say. Cleaned up the doggie pee, and was checking up on me the whole time. Got me an icepack for my foot, got it all propped up, and then he started, "Hon, do you wanna go to the doctor tomorrow?" I respond with a pleading "please don't make me go!!" He's like, "Are you sure? Your toe might be broken." I'm convinced that it's not broken because it looks normal, just a nice shade of red. (Yeah, there's a reason why I never went into the medical field.)

The next morning I decide to make an appointment to see the doc. Good thing I did, too, because my husband can diagnose stuff better than I can. Sure enough...my left pinky toe was indeed broken. Unfortunately, there's nothing they can do about that at the doctor's office except tell me to go to the drugstore and get some tape so I can wrap the pinky toe to the toe beside it. Seriously, I've lived on this earth for 28 years, and never broken a bone in my life. And when I decide that I'd like to break one, I think it should be, according to the doctor, "the smallest, most insignificant bone in your body....it's not there for much, except to probably help you balance better." Great. Well, if I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna do it right.

So, for the past week and a half, I have worn the most unattractive shoes in my closet simply because they are the most comfortable. (Lesson #1, never throw out all your ugly shoes...you never know when you might need them.) And if you've never broken your toe, you'd think it's not that big a deal...until it is. I cannot run, I can't lift anything really heavy (yep, experienced that one firsthand), and I walk around looking like I need a cane.

Oh, and the doctor also said no yardwork. While normally I would love to hear that, I've got to work on my flowerbeds. Hubby is great at a lot of things, but planting flowers is not something that he's tried, and I don't think he really wants to. So, as long as I can get outside early enough on Friday morning before it gets up to 80 degrees (yep, the hot temps are already here in west TN), I'll sit myself on the ground, plant those bulbs, and hope that there will be fruits to my labor come summertime.

Monday, March 29, 2010

CFBA Tour and Book Review: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa



Summerside Press (March 1, 2010)



by



Melanie Dobson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Beroth Dobson is the author of the inspirational novels Together for Good (2006), Going for Broke (2007), The Black Cloister (2008), Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana (2009), Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (2010), Refuge on Crescent Hill (2010), and The Silent Order (2010) as well as the co-author of Latte for One and Loving It! A Single Woman's Guide to Living Life to Its Fullest (2000).

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.

ABOUT THE BOOK



Times are hard in 1894. Desperate for work, former banker Jacob Hirsch rides the rails west from Chicago with his four-year-old daughter, Cassie. When a life-threatening illness strands the pair in Homestead, Iowa, the local Amana villagers welcome the father and daughter into their peaceful society. Liesel, a young Amana woman, nurses Cassie back to health, and the Homestead elders offer Jacob work. But Jacobs growing interest in Liesel complicates his position in the Amanas. Will he fight to stay in the only place that feels like home, even if it means giving up the woman he loves? Or will Liesel leave her beloved community to face the outside world with Jacob and Cassie at her side?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa, go HERE.

My thoughts:

This was a very good story, and my first experience with author Melanie Dobson. It was also my first time reading a story that shared some history about the Amana Society. As with all the books in the Love Finds You series, this story focuses on a real town in the US as well as some of the history of that town.

I loved the gradual relationship that formed between Jacob and Liesel. At the beginning of the book, Liesel is engaged to another man, and is advised several times that she must guard her heart and not become to attached to Jacob and his precious daughter, Cassie. Jacob and Cassie first arrive in the town of Homestead with Cassie sick with diphtheria. The three of them are quarantined at the local doctor's house for several weeks while Cassie recovers, and they gradually get to know each other. Liesel is confused at first as to why Cassie's mother is not there to care for her sick child, but Jacob has not shared with her yet that he lost his wife in childbirth the year before. The more Liesel gets to know Jacob, the more she realizes that no one is giving him a fair chance. All he wants to do is to find work and care for his daughter. When the Elders first learn that Jacob knows how to swim, they realize that maybe they should give him a chance after all because he can be a huge help to the rest of the community. Once Jacob is cleared from the quarantine, he begins to work on a dredge boat with some of the other locals, and Liesel continues to care for Cassie while he is away. During this time, Liesel becomes very attached to Cassie, and wonders what the future holds in her relationship with Cassie's father.

The Amana Society seemed very similar to the Amish lifestyle, which was one of the reasons I was intrigued to read this book. The Amanas have Elders that oversee the entire community and make sure that everyone is contributing and following the rules, whereas the Amish have Bishops that lead the church services and make sure that their community is following the guidelines of their Ordnung. In both communities, everyone looks out for each other, and they all do their best to maintain a lifestyle that is set apart from the outside world. The biggest difference between the two was that the Amanas lived in a communal society with everyone contributing to the community. The members do not have to worry with money because all of their resources are shared with one another.

The only thing that I would've liked to have seen more of was the history of the Amana people and their Society. I wished there had been more of it sprinkled throughout the story because there were a couple of scenes where certain things didn't make sense. To give the author credit, there was a footnote at the end that explained what happened to their Society in the years following 1894 (the year this story took place).

All in all, I think Ms. Dobson is a very good storyteller, and is very good at invoking emotions in her stories. If you haven't had the opportunity to read anything in the Love Finds You series or anything by Melanie Dobson, this story would get a high recommendation from me. I'm surprised that this is only the first book that I've read by her, but I can promise you this...it most certainly will not be my last!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We Have a Winner!

We have a winner!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who put in an entry for the Paula Deen giveaway...I wish I could give goodies to everyone! And if you didn't win this time around, please do visit CSNStores.com because truly, their prices are quite good, and there are LOTS of bargains to be found!

And now, the winner! Thanks to the random number generator at Random.org, the lucky winner is.....

32 - Bermudaonion

I hope you'll enjoy your new goodies! I will be contacting you shortly to get all the necessary info so that your new stuff can be on its way to ya. :o)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CFBA Tour and Book Review: Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis




This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Heart Of Stone





Zondervan (March 1, 2010)



by



Jill Marie Landis


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Marie Landis is the bestselling author of over twenty novels. She has won numerous awards for her sweeping emotional romances, such as Summer Moon and Magnolia Creek. In recent years, as market demands turned to tales of vampires, erotica, and hotter, sexier historical romances, Jill turned to writing Inspirational Western Romances for Steeple Hill Books. She truly feels back in the saddle again, working on stories that are a joy to write. With her toes in the sand and head in the clouds, Jill now lives in Hawaii with her husband, Steve.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Laura Foster, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past.

When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’d not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down─it’s also his own.

When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name─and her heart─by telling him the truth?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Heart Of Stone, go HERE.
My thoughts:

I love books that are full of suspense, especially when I don't expect it. Historical romance novels are not typically known for suspense, but this one had just the perfect dose to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. Most everyone had a secret of some sort, and all I could do was patiently wait as they were revealed and the reactions to those secrets shared.

Laura's character had such a genuine quality about it. I loved that she stuck to her guns about creating a new life for herself after the horrible circumstances in her childhood....even though her new life was a lie. She was deadly serious about no one learning that she had been forced into prostitution as a child because she knew as soon as her secret got out, her new life would crumble all around her. The author did a great job of subtly sharing Laura's feelings of unworthiness, but equally sharing how she would love to one day have a man care for her, and not because of what she could offer them physically.

The relationship that developed between Laura and Brand was slow and gradual, but very beautiful. There were lots of bumps along the way, none of them pleasant. Brand had to deal with a huge secret from his past, and Laura got a couple of threats from men that are ready to expose her for what she used to be. In spite of all the roadblocks, their attraction for each other became stronger and stronger. But for it to last, they had to overcome each others' past and the secrets that it held.

Since reading Heart of Stone, I cannot wait to read what Ms. Landis has in store next in this series! There were several moments when I noticed a similarity to Julie Lessman's style of writing. Julie is known for her passionate storytelling, but also for some of the heated scenes that her characters find themselves in. Ms. Landis, by comparison, also had several scenes in this book that just crackled with intensity, whether it was a romantic scene or one where the suspense was enough to make my heart skip a beat. Ms. Landis is a very talented author, and one I'll be watching for a LOT more in the future!

*This book was provided to me free from the publisher for review purposes.

**Click here to purchase a copy of Heart of Stone.

Cover Attraction: Dancing on Glass by Pamela Binnings Ewen

Title: Dancing on Glass
Author: Pamela Binnings Ewen
Release Date: 6/30/2010
Publisher: B&H Publishing

About the book:

In the steamy city of New Orleans in 1974, Amalise Catoir sees Phillip Sharp as a charming, magnetic artist, unlike any man she has known. A young lawyer herself, raised in a small-town Christian home and on the brink of a career with a large firm, she is strong and successful, yet sometimes too trusting and whimsical. Ama’s rash decision to marry Phillip proves to be a mistake as he becomes overly possessive, drawing his wife away from family, friends, and her faith. His insidious, dangerous behavior becomes her dark, inescapable secret.

In this lawyer’s unraveling world, can grace survive Ama’s fatal choice? What would you do when prayers seem to go unanswered, faith has slipped away, evil stalks, and you feel yourself forever dancing on shattered glass?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Review: The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

About the book:

When Clara Fields and her aunt are kicked off their wagon train, a store owner in Buttonwood offers a chance at redemption: if Clara can wed his grandson off to any of the local girls within a month, he’ll sign over his two story house. Desperate to provide for the woman who raised her, Clara agrees. How hard can it be to find a bride for one handsome doctor? More difficult than she imagined, when Saul Reed seems determined to remain a bachelor. Clara will need strong faith --- and all her wits --- to wrangle a resolution for THE BRIDE BARGAIN.

My thoughts:

This was a really cute and sweet story, and I truly enjoyed Kelly's fresh and lively style of writing. I was very impressed with how much she has been able to accomplish in her young career as a writer, and if this book is any indication, she's got a very bright future as an author. Even though this was a very predictable story, it was interesting enough to keep me engaged throughout, and from the halfway point to the end, I actually could not put it down! :o)

However, I do have one small complaint about this book. To me, it seemed that there was almost no Christian theme, which is the opposite of what I've read in some other reviews. I don't expect an author to lead me to Jesus everytime I read a Christian fiction novel, but I'd at least like them to get more of a spiritual message across. Fans of not-so-preachy novels would find this book appealing.

I am quite anxious to read book 2 of this series which, I believe, is supposed to explain more of the local town feud between the Specks and the Grogans. I'm also interested to know more of what's happening with Midge, Clara, and Dr. Reed, and the rest of the town of Buttonwood. After reading The Bride Bargain, Kelly Eileen Hake is definitely an author that I'll be reading in the future!

4 Stars

*This book was purchased by me.

**Click here to purchase your own copy of The Bride Bargain.

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll

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:


B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
FBI Field Office
Knoxville, Tennessee

Jonathan’s throat closed as he stared at the building from the parking lot. He gripped the package tight in his arthritic hands. Could he do this? Turn over evidence that would implicate him?

His heart raced and he froze. Not the best time for his atrial fibrillation to make an appearance. Despite being on the heart transplant list for eight months, it looked like his progressed heart disease would do him in. The most important reason he couldn’t go to prison—he’d never get a heart and would die. While Carmen wanted him to confess his crimes, she wouldn’t want him to die. The memory of saying good-bye to his beloved mere hours ago scorched his soul.

Her eyes fluttered open. Those blue orbs, which had once sparkled even in the absence of light, now blinked flat and lifeless.

He swallowed hard.

“Jonathan,” her voice croaked, “it’s time.”

Tears burned the backs of his eyes, and he rested his hand over her parchmentlike skin. “No, Carmen. Please, let me get the medicine.”

Her eyelids drooped and she gasped. Air wheezed in her lungs. “Sweetheart, the fight’s . . . gone from me.” She let out a hiss, faint and eerie. “The cancer’s . . . won.”

Jonathan laid his lips against her cheek, her skin cold and clammy, as if in preparation for the morgue. How could she continue to refuse the medicine? Even though she didn’t approve of his means of acquisition, the drugs had kept her alive for five years. Five years he cherished every minute of. He’d do anything to keep her alive and the pain at bay—the intense pain that had become her constant companion these last two weeks. It killed him to witness her agony.

She licked her bottom lip, but no moisture soaked into the cracked flesh. “You’ve done . . . your best by me, Jonathan. I know . . . you meant . . . no harm to . . . anyone.” Her eyes lit as they once had. “Oh, how I’ve enjoyed loving you.”

His insides turned to oatmeal. Stubborn woman—she’d allow herself to die, all because she discovered how he’d gotten the money.

“Promise me . . . you’ll . . . tell the . . . truth. Admit what . . . you’ve done.” Her breath rattled. “What you’ve . . . all done.”

Pulling himself from the wretched memory, Jonathan breathed through the heat tightening his chest. He’d secure himself the best deal possible—immunity—or he wouldn’t decipher the papers. And without him no one could make sense of the accounting system he’d created more than five years ago. Officials hadn’t a clue.

With a deep breath he headed to the guardhouse in front of the fenced FBI building. His legs threatened to rebel, stiffening with every step. He forced himself to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

At the guardhouse, a man behind bulletproof glass looked up. “May I help you?”

“I need to . . . see someone.”

“About what, sir?”

“I have some information regarding a crime.” He waved the file he held.

“One moment, sir, and someone will be with you.”

Jonathan stared at the cloudy sky. He could still turn back, get away scot-free. His heartbeat sped. The world blurred. No, he couldn’t lose consciousness now, nor could he go back on his promise. He owed it to Carmen. No matter what happened, he’d honor Carmen’s dying wish.

“Sir?” A young man in a suit stood beside the fenced entry, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “May I help you?”

Jonathan lifted the file. “I have some evidence regarding an ongoing crime ring.”

The agent motioned him toward a metal-detector arch. “Come through this way, sir.”

Jonathan’s steps wavered. He dragged his feet toward the archway.

A car door creaked. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder just as two men in full tactical gear stormed toward them. He had a split second to recognize one of the men’s eyes, just before gunfire erupted.

A vise gripped Jonathan’s heart, and he slumped to the dirty tile floor, the squeezing of his heart demanding his paralysis.

Too late. I’m sorry, Carmen.

Two Weeks Later—Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Golden Gloves Boxing of Knoxville

Ooof!

Brannon Callahan’s head jerked backward. She swiped her headgear with her glove.

“You aren’t concentrating on your form. You’re just trying to whale on me.” Steve Burroughs, her supervisor and sparring partner, bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Then why am I the one getting hit?” She threw a right jab that missed his jaw.

He brushed her off with his glove. “Don’t try to street fight me. Box.”

She clamped down on her mouthpiece and threw an uppercut with her left fist. It made contact, sending vibrations up her arm.

He wobbled backward, then got his balance. “Nice shot.”

It felt good to hit something. Hard. Sparring with Steve was the best form of venting. The energy had to be spent somehow—why not get a workout at the same time? She ducked a right cross, then followed through with a left-right combination. Both shots made full contact.

Steve spit out his mouthpiece and leaned against the ropes. “I think that’s enough for today, girl. I’m an old man, remember?”

She couldn’t fight the grin. Although only in his late forties, the chief ranger looked two decades older. With gray hair, hawk nose, and skin like tanned leather, Steve had already lived a lifetime.

She removed her mouthpiece, gloves, and headgear before sitting on the canvas. “Old? You’re still kickin’ me in the ring.”

He tossed her a towel and sat beside her. “So you wanna tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered this afternoon?”

She shrugged.

“Come on, spit it out. I know something’s gnawing at you, just like you were picking a fight with me in the ring. What’s up?”

How could she explain? “I’m not exactly keen that the district feels there’s a need for another pilot in the park.” She tightened the scrunchie keeping her hair out of her face.

“That’s a compliment—having you on staff has been so successful they want to expand.”

“But I have to train him. Did you notice his arrogance?” She ripped at the tape bound around her knuckles. “He’s nothing more than a young upstart with an ego bigger than the helicopter.” While only thirty-six, she often felt older than Steve looked.

“You’re so good, you can come across a bit intimidating at first, girl.” Steve grabbed the ropes and pulled to standing, then offered her a hand. “Give him a chance.”

She let Steve tug her up. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if he had maturity, I still have to train him. With all the rescues we’ve been called out on of late . . . well, I really don’t have the time.” She exited the ring. “Like those kids yesterday.” She shook her head as she waited for Steve to join her on the gym floor. “Their stupidity almost cost them their lives.”

“They were young, Brannon.”

“Please. Any amateur with half a brain should know better than to try to climb Clingmans Dome in winter.” Didn’t people realize if something happened to them they’d leave behind devastated family and friends? Loved ones who would mourn them forever? She fought against the familiar pain every time she participated in a search and rescue. All because people hadn’t taken necessary precautions.

“They didn’t know any better.”

“It takes a special kind of stupid not to have researched your climb.” Most SARs could be avoided if people planned a little more. It ripped her apart that so many parents, grandparents, siblings . . . fiancĂ©es . . . survived to deal with such grief. She’d tasted the bitterness of grief—twice—and the aftertaste still lingered.

Steve paused outside the locker rooms and shifted his sparring gear to one hand. “I agree, but most people don’t see the dangers we do every day.” He tapped her shoulder. “Hit the showers, champ. You stink.”

She laughed as she headed into the ladies’ locker room. Maybe Steve was right and the new pilot just made a lousy first impression. Maybe he’d be easy to train.

Please, God, let it be so.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.
US Marshals Office, Howard Baker Federal Courthouse
Knoxville, Tennessee

“You want me to escort a heart?” Roark struggled to keep his voice calm. He tapped the butt of his Beretta, welcoming it back to its rightful place on his hip.

Senior US Marshal Gerald Demott glared. “Look, I know you think this is a slight, but it’s important. And for your first assignment back on the job . . .”

“IA cleared me of all wrongdoing. I’m seeing the shrink and everything.” He gritted his teeth and exhaled. “I’ve been released to return to active duty.”

“This is active. It’s a field assignment, and it’s important. Here’s the case information.” Demott passed him a folder, then glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry or you’ll miss your flight.”

Roark grabbed the file and turned to go.

“Holland.”

He looked back at his boss. “Yeah?”

Demott held out Roark’s badge. “You might want to take this with you, too.”

Roark accepted the metal emblem, then clipped it to his belt before marching out of Demott’s office. A heart. His job was to escort a human heart from North Carolina to Knoxville. Any rookie could handle that. But no, they still didn’t trust him enough to handle a real assignment.

He’d done everything they asked—took a medical leave of absence while Internal Affairs went over every painful minute
of his failed mission, saw the shrink they demanded he speak to every week since Mindy’s death, answered their relentless questions. The shrink reiterated he’d been forgiven for acting on his own.

Maybe one day he’d forgive himself. How many innocent lives would he have to save for his conscience to leave him be?

Roark slipped into the car, then headed to the airport. But to be assigned a heart transport? Not only was it wrong, it was downright insulting. After almost fifteen years as a marshal, he’d earned the benefit of the doubt from his supervisors. Especially Demott. His boss should know him better, know he’d only disregard orders if it was a matter of life and death.

But Mindy Pugsley died. They’d all died.

He pushed the nagging voice from his mind. Even Dr. Martin had advised him not to dwell on the past. On what had gone wrong. On disobeying a direct order.

If only Mindy didn’t haunt his dreams.

Roark touched the angry scar that ran along his right cheekbone to his chin. A constant reminder that he’d failed, that he’d made a mistake that took someone’s life. He’d have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.

He skidded the car into the airport’s short-term parking lot. After securing the car and gathering the case folder, Roark grabbed his coat. Snowflakes pelted downward, swirling on the bursts of wind and settling on the concrete. The purple hues of the setting sun streaked across the mountain peaks beyond the runways, making the January snow grab the last hope of light.

Yes, he’d handle this mundane assignment, then tell Demott he wanted back on real active duty. Making a difference would be the best thing for him. Would make him feel whole again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FIRST Wild Card Tour: A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus

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:

Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart, Publicist, of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Author Kaye Dacus enjoyed her visits to a local television station while researching this book. She likes to say she writes “inspirational romance with a sense of humor.” She lives in Nashville and graduated from Seton Hill University’s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. She is an active member and former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602604568
ISBN-13: 978-1602604568

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



“You did what?”

Forbes Guidry sank into the tall-backed leather chair, extremities numb, and stared at the couple sitting across the desk from him. As a partner in the largest law firm in Bonneterre, Louisiana, he’d heard a lot of shocking things over the fourteen years he’d been practicing. But nothing had hit him quite like this.

“We eloped.” His sister held up her left hand where a diamond wedding band had been added below the antique engagement ring she’d sported for the past three months. “I know you were looking forward to being Major’s best man, which is why we’re telling you before breaking it to the rest of the family.”

He hardly spared a glance at his best friend—now his brother-in-law—before pinning his gaze on his sister. “Meredith, this is a joke, right? What about the meeting Monday with Anne—the plans we discussed?” Sure, Meredith had been a little too quiet during that meeting, had voiced concerns about how big the wedding seemed to be growing, but she’d been coming off working a huge event that weekend and had been tired. . .hadn’t she?

“Things were getting out of hand—had already gone too far.”

“Stop.” Forbes fought the urge to press his hands over his ears. “Way too much information.”

Major chuckled; Meredith frowned at both of them. “Oh, for mercy’s sake. I’m talking about the wedding plans. Neither of us wanted a big wedding, but every time we met with Anne—or you, or anyone in the family—it grew exponentially. Especially once Mom and Dad stuck their oars in and started making lists of all of their business acquaintances that needed to be invited.”

Forbes stared at his sister, dumbfounded. He prided himself on knowing exactly what each member of his family was thinking before they ever thought it. How had this blindsided him so completely?

He finally turned his attention on Major. “When you came in Tuesday to talk about the restaurant, did you already have this planned?”

“No. Not planned. We’d discussed it, but it wasn’t until that night when we made the decision.” Major had the good grace to look abashed.

And you didn’t call me? Forbes reined in the childish words with a tight fist of control. He faced his sister again. “When and where did you get married?”

“Yesterday, when Mom and Dad met us at Beausoleil Pointe Center for lunch with Major’s mom. We’d asked the chaplain to perform the ceremony, and we got married in the pavilion where Major proposed to me.”

Forbes turned away from the dewy-eyed look Meredith gave her new husband, feeling ill. That would explain why Meredith hadn’t shown up for dinner with the siblings and cousins last night. He’d just assumed she was working overtime preparing for an event this weekend.

When the silence stretched, Forbes looked at them again.

Meredith’s eyes narrowed speculatively at Forbes. “Major, would you mind if I had a private word with my brother?”

“Sure. No problem.” Major stood, smoothing the front of his chinos. “I–I’ll wait for you out in the car.”

“Thanks.” Meredith never pulled her gaze away from Forbes—giving him the look that had always been able to make him squirm.

Forbes watched his friend leave the office, then pressed his lips together and faced his sister again.

“What is it that bothers you most? That you aren’t going to be best man, that you don’t get to be involved and have a say in the wedding plans, or that you didn’t see this coming?” Meredith crossed her legs and clasped her hands around her knee, her expression betraying smugness and amusement.

What bothered him most was that over the past six or eight months, Meredith had slowly been pulling away from the family. Ever since she’d bought that house against his—and their parents’—advice, she’d started keeping secrets, spending less time with them. As the oldest, it was his responsibility to keep his six brothers and sisters in line, to watch out for and protect them, and to guide them in making their decisions. Mom and Dad had laid that burden on him early in life, and he’d gladly carried it. But how could he express that to Meredith without coming across sounding like a little boy who hadn’t gotten his way?

“I’m not bothered, just surprised. You’re the last person in the family I’d expect to do something without planning it out well in advance.” He gave her his most charming grin. “It is what you do for a living, after all.”

She responded with a half smile. “And thus the reason for eloping. Between the busiest event-load we’ve ever had, the Warehouse Row project, and Major getting ready for the groundbreaking on the restaurant, we were just tired of schedules and checklists and menus and seating charts. Now Marci won’t feel like her wedding is being overshadowed by her oldest sister’s, since she decided to plan a Christmas wedding and we didn’t want to wait that long.”

He could see her point, but. . . “Don’t you feel like you’ve cheated yourself out of the wedding you always wanted? Growing up, you and Anne used to talk about your dream weddings.”

Meredith shrugged. “Anne always had the ideas. I guess that’s why she’s been such a great success as a wedding planner—every week she had bigger and grander ideas. Whenever I really thought about it, I couldn’t imagine myself in the big dress, my hair all done up, standing there in front of that many people. I guess I never dreamed about a wedding—I just dreamed about falling in love and being married.”

Come to think about it, Forbes couldn’t picture his jeans–and–T-shirt sister in a fluffy white gown, either. He ran his finger along the edge of the desk blotter.

“And look at the bright side: Now you don’t have to find a date for the wedding.”

He released a derisive sound in the back of his throat. “Yes, since that worked out so well at Anne’s wedding—for my date, anyway.”

“How do you always manage to find these women who’re just trying to make their boyfriends jealous?”

He shrugged.

“You know, I know someone I think would be perfect for you, if you’d like me to see if she’d be agreeable to being set up on a blind date with you.”

His insides quivered at the idea. “Thank you kindly, but I’ll have to pass and just leave it up to chance. As I told George Laurence a long time ago, when God’s ready for me to fall in love, He’ll throw the right woman into my path.”

“Uh, did you think that maybe your sisters’ and cousins’ attempts to set you up on dates might be God’s way of throwing the right woman in your path?”

“Not unless He’s shared something with you He hasn’t told me.” Forbes rounded the desk and held out his hand to his sister. She rose, and he pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations, Sis. I’m confident that you and Major will be happier together than you can even imagine.”

“I know we will be.”

“I’ll walk you out.”

Halfway down the stairs, he paused. “What about a honeymoon? Don’t tell me you’re going to just drop everything and take a two-week vacation that hasn’t been on the schedule for the past six months.”

“No. Since the events next week can be handled by our assistants, we’re leaving next Wednesday for a long weekend in Colorado. Amazing how this managed to coincide with the Aspen Food and Wine Classic that Major’s always wanted to go to, huh?” But from the smile on her face, he could tell she didn’t begrudge indulging Major’s wishes in the least.

Heading back to his office after seeing his sister and brother-in-law off—would he ever get used to that?—Forbes feigned harriedness to keep anyone from trying to stop him for a chat.

“Samantha, no calls for the next half hour, please,” he told his secretary on his way past her desk.

“Yes, Mr. Guidry.”

He leaned against his door after closing it. His office, with its walls of built-in, dark wood cabinets and bookcases, seemed to press in around him.

What he’d told Meredith was true; he was absolutely certain that she and Major would have a happy marriage. Both of them were easygoing, almost too eager to give up what they wanted to make someone else happy. Forbes had learned a long time ago that he didn’t have the right personality to get married. Every girl he’d dated in high school or college had wanted to go out with him because of his looks. And every one of them had eventually broken up with him for one of two reasons: Either she thought he was selfish and didn’t pay enough attention to her, or she thought he was too controlling and tried to smother her.

He’d completely given up on dating after his ten-year high school class reunion, at which he’d overheard two of his ex-girlfriends having a laugh about how it was no surprise to them that he wasn’t married yet.

He crossed to the window behind his desk and leaned against the frame, staring down at the visitor parking lot. His twenty-year reunion was coming up in the fall. And while he’d love to find some ravishing beauty to take to it to shut up all those exes, he didn’t want the hassle of expectations that came from taking someone out on a date.

When the thirty minutes he’d given himself to brood expired, he opened the office door and asked Samantha to come in to review his schedule for the remainder of the day.

He made several notes in his PDA while she reviewed the afternoon’s appointments and meetings. When she finished and closed her planner, she hesitated, biting her lips.

“What is it?” He leaned back in his chair, curious. She’d never acted in the least intimidated or scared of him before. She’d worked for him a little less than a year, but she was the first secretary he’d had who didn’t seem to mind a boss others had called a micromanager—had even stood up to him a time or two.

“Someone from Bonneterre Lifestyles called a little while ago. It seems you didn’t RSVP for the dinner tonight.”

Forbes groaned. Ever since he’d assisted in partner Tess Folse’s run for city council five years ago—during which he’d given many speeches, appeared on all the local channels’ news broadcasts, and had his photo in the paper multiple times—he’d been a fixture on the magazine’s beefcake list, having garnered enough votes to win and get his face on the front cover twice.

“I suppose it’s black tie?”

Samantha nodded. “That’s what the gal said.”

“Seven o’clock?”

“They offered a car—a limo—for you, if you want.”

He pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose. The three other partners—all women—were thrilled every year when he told them of his inclusion on the list. The articles enumerating his accomplishments were good exposure for the firm, they’d say. Up until now, he’d found some excuse or another to avoid the dinner. This year, Tess, Sandra, and Esther had strongly suggested he make an appearance at the magazine’s big publicity event at which the magazine’s cover would be revealed and the top five bachelors named and recognized with awards.

He glanced over Samantha’s head at the three plaques and two glass trophies on a display shelf. Maybe they needed to give him a new award—Bonneterre’s Most Perpetual Bachelor. He hoped this year he wasn’t again the oldest man on the list.

“Call them back and tell them I’d be delighted to attend, but I’ll drive myself.”

“Will do, boss.” Samantha scooped up her planner and the folders Forbes had given her to refile, and crossed to the door. “And Mr. Guidry?”

“Yes, Samantha?”

“Do try to have fun tonight, okay?”

“Uh-huh. As fun as jumping into a pool full of thumbtacks.”

Samantha’s laughter followed her out of the room.

His gaze flickered back to the emblems of his perpetual singleness. He’d heard the magazine always invited the year’s Most Eligible Bachelorettes to the dinner—possibly hoping to set up a relationship and eventual wedding they could report in their pages. Maybe he could find someone there to take to the reunion—so long as she understood there were no strings attached.

[insert line space]

Alaine Delacroix scrubbed off her on-air makeup. “Matt, have you seen Pricilla since I went off air? I need to talk to her about the event tonight.”

The intern frowned. “I thought you were a guest at the thing, not covering it.”

“Who else is going to cover something like that other than me? I’m the only reporter at this station who covers the social scene.” Not that she wanted to anymore. But until the news director actually looked at the hard-news pieces she’d been doing on her own time, she’d be stuck covering the fluff stories as she had for the past decade of her life.

“If I see her, I’ll tell her you need to talk to her.” The college student waved and left the small prep room.

Alaine turned to check her appearance in the large mirror to make sure she didn’t have mascara smeared down her cheeks. She made the inspection as quick as possible, hating to see her own reflection with no makeup. Even with her shoulder-length black hair still styled from her noon broadcast, with no makeup on, all she saw in the mirror were flaws—dark circles under her eyes, freckles scattered across her nose and cheeks, and the bumps on her forehead that never seemed to go away.

She applied concealer under her eyes, powder all over her face, and a touch of eye makeup, blush, and lip gloss before returning to her desk in the newsroom. Once upon a time, Alaine Delacroix would have thought nothing of walking around with no makeup on. But that had been a very long time ago; she’d been a different person then.

An envelope with the station’s logo and return address in the top left corner sat on her chair when she got back to her cubicle, bearing her name in handwriting she didn’t recognize. She opened it—and smiled. She’d hoped the marketing director would be able to come through for her.

She picked up her phone and dialed a number from memory.

“Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, Events and Facilities, this is Meredith.”

“Hey, girl. It’s Alaine.”

“Oh—hi.” Meredith sounded funny. “What’s up?”

Alaine laughed. “I can’t believe you’re going to pretend you don’t know why I’m calling you.”

“You—how did you find out?”

All traces of amusement evaporated, her reporter’s instincts kicking in. Meredith sounded like someone who had a secret. “You know a journalist can’t reveal her sources. So? Spill it. I want details.”

“I haven’t told most of my family yet. If I give you details, you have to promise you won’t say anything to anyone until after Sunday. We’re telling the family at dinner after church.”

“Strictly off the record.” Alaine picked up a pen and steno pad, but forced herself to put them down again and rotate in her chair so that her back was to the desk.

“We had the chaplain at Beausoleil Pointe Center marry us yesterday afternoon. We surprised our parents.”

All the air in Alaine’s lungs froze solid. Meredith Guidry and Major O’Hara had eloped? “But I thought you were having your cousin Anne plan a big wedding for you. I was hoping to cover it, since Major has become quite the celebrity, what with his cooking segments on my show.”

“We decided we were just too busy to try to plan a big wedding. And we’ve already wasted eight years. Why put it off any longer?”

A flash-fire of jealousy forced the air out of Alaine’s lungs. Meredith had been one of her few friends who was still unmarried—and the only true friend Alaine had had in years. She hated being single; even more than becoming a serious journalist, getting married was the one thing she wanted most in life. Yet at thirty-two years old, she was starting to worry that the chances of either dream coming true were not just slipping, but sprinting, away.

Alaine had to swallow past the huge lump in her throat to make her voice work. “Congratulations, Mere. I’m really happy for you.” She glanced down at the envelope crumpled in her fist. “Oh, I got the passes for the Art without Limits exhibit preview and fundraiser at the Beausoleil Fine Arts Center, if you’re still interested in going.”

“Of course I am. And since Major’s catering it, I won’t have to feel guilty about going off and leaving him home alone. Thanks again for thinking of me.”

“I don’t know anyone else who likes art, and I hate going to those things by myself.” She twisted the spiral cord around her finger tightly, trying to see if the slight pain would help squeeze out her envy.

“Same here—oh, my other line just lit up. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay. Bye.” Alaine turned around to hang up the receiver, then put her head down on her folded arms atop the desk. God, why is everyone I know married or engaged? Am I the last old maid left in Bonneterre?

She knew the answer to that, of course. Twenty-four other “eligible bachelorettes” would be at the Bonneterre Lifestyles dinner along with her, if they all showed up. And who wouldn’t, when they’d have VIP access to the handsomest, wealthiest, highest-profile single men in town for the evening?

Mother’s constant harping on her to get married—and soon—was starting to make Alaine feel like something was wrong with her for still being single at her age. The facts that Joe and his wife couldn’t have kids and that Tony, at age twenty-six, wasn’t anywhere near ready to settle down put all the pressure of producing grandchildren anytime soon on Alaine. And she wasn’t even sure she wanted kids.

She sat up and tried to run her fingers through her hair—before remembering it was still shellacked with hair spray.

Maybe tonight she’d give those bachelors more than just a professional glance. Maybe it was time to get a little arm candy to show her parents—and anyone else who might be looking—that she was at least trying. And she never knew: Mr. Right could be Bachelor Number One, Two, or Twenty-Five.

**I haven't gotten to read this one yet...yikes!...but can let you know that book one of this series, Stand-In Groom, is just about one of the best romances I've read in a LONG time!! I'm working on book 2 right now, so when I'm through with that one, I'll start right up on this one. :o) Be watching for my review in the coming weeks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CFBA Tour: Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs



This week, the
 


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 


is introducing
 


Here Burns My Candle
 


WaterBrook Press (March 16, 2010)
 


by
 


Liz Curtis Higgs
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In her best-selling series of Bad Girls of the Bible books, workbooks, and videos, Liz Curtis Higgs breathes new life into ancient tales about the most infamous—and intriguing—women in scriptural history, from Jezebel to Mary Magdalene. Biblically sound and cutting-edge fresh, these popular titles have helped more than one million women around the world experience God's grace anew. Her best-selling historical novels, which transport the stories of Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, and Dinah to eighteenth-century Scotland, have also helped her readers view these familiar characters in a new light. And her nonfiction book, Embrace Grace, winner of a 2007 Retailers Choice Award, presents her message of hope in an engaging and personal way, speaking directly to the hearts of her readers.

A veteran speaker, Liz has presented more than 1,600 encouraging programs for audiences in all 50 states and 10 foreign countries: South Africa, Indonesia, Germany, France, England, Canada, Ecuador, Scotland, Portugal, and New Zealand. In 1995, she received the Council of Peers Award for Excellence from the National Speakers Association, becoming one of only 32 women in the world named to their CPAE-Speaker Hall of Fame.

Feature articles about Liz have appeared in more than 250 major newspapers and magazines across the country, as well as online with Salon.com, Beliefnet.com and Spirituality.com. She has also been interviewed on more than 600 radio and television stations, including guest appearances on PBS, A&E, MSNBC, NPR, TBN with Kirk Cameron, CBC Canada, BBC Radio Scotland, Rhema Broadcasting New Zealand, Radio Pulpit South Africa, LifeToday with James Robison, Focus on the Family, Janet Parshall's America, 100 Huntley Street and Midday Connection.

Liz is the author of twenty-six books, with more than three million copies in print.

Her fiction includes two contemporary novels, one novella, and four historical novels. And she has written five books for young children.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A mother who cannot face her future.

A daughter who cannot escape her past.


Lady Elisabeth Kerr is a keeper of secrets. A Highlander by birth and a Lowlander by marriage, she honors the auld ways, even as doubts and fears stir deep within her.

Her husband, Lord Donald, has secrets of his own, well hidden from the household, yet whispered among the town gossips.

His mother, the dowager Lady Marjory, hides gold beneath her floor and guilt inside her heart. Though her two abiding passions are maintaining her place in society and coddling her grown sons, Marjory’s many regrets, buried in Greyfriars Churchyard, continue to plague her.
One by one the Kerr family secrets begin to surface, even as bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh in September 1745, intent on capturing the crown.

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.

Watch the book video:



If you would like to read the first chapter of Here Burns My Candle, go HERE.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Review: June Bug by Chris Fabry

About the book:

June Bug believed everything her daddy told her. That is, until she walked into Walmart and saw her face on a list of missing children. The discovery begins a quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.

My thoughts:

This book literally left me speechless after I turned the final page. Tears were streaming down my face, which is a rarity for me with any novel. This book had such a tenderness to it, particularly with the love that a father has for a daughter. That struck a chord with me since I am so close to my father, and as a girl, looked up to him for everything. But it also dealt with the harsh realities of life, and how, despite the best-made plans, things just don't always turn out the way people want them to.

I loved the connections to Les Miserables. Knowing that there were similarities in the storylines, I was a little bit impatient for things to play out like I knew they did in Les Mis. Instead, the author just gave a little morsel every now and then, and before too long, I realized that he was retelling only part of the story of Les Mis, and sometimes, not sharing details as they happened, but rather in retrospect. This may make the story sound unappealing, but trust me, when those connections with Les Mis occurred, it was oh-so-powerful.

Trust me on this one thing....if you're looking for a book that is lyrical in it's storytelling, and one that will resonate with you long after you've finished it, then you can't go wrong with reading June Bug. I am soooo eager now to go back and read Chris' first book, Dogwood. If it's anything like June Bug, then I doubt I'll be disappointed at all. June Bug has earned a spot on my favorite books list, for sure.

5 Stars

*This book was provided to me free by the publisher.

**Click here to purchase your own copy of June Bug.

Mailbox Monday!

It's time again for Mailbox Monday! If you'd like to join in the fun, just go to The Printed Page...Marcia hosts this event every week.

I can't believe it's been almost 6 months since I last participated in this meme....oh, what a slacker I am. And um, I know you don't want to see the very long list of what I've gotten in the past 6 months, so we'll just stick with what came this past week. :o)

Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd (From publisher)
Saving Sailor by Renee Riva (From BookMooch)
The Healing Season by Ruth Axtell Morren (From BookMooch)
Watching the Tree Limbs by Mary DeMuth (From PBS)
It's Not About Me by Michelle Sutton (From PBS)
Where Grace Abides by B.J. Hoff (From PBS)
Quest of Hope by C.D. Baker (From SwapTree)
Proof by Bill Bright and Jack Cavanaugh (From Swaptree)
Lord Foulgrin's Letters by Randy Alcorn (From Swaptree)
Broken Things by Andrea Boeshaar (From Swaptree)

Holy cow...that's 10 books!!! I've got some reading to do for sure!!

I'm particularly jazzed about finally getting a copy of Michelle Sutton's first book, It's Not About Me. This book has gotten 5-star reviews all over the place, and I simply cannot wait to read it. :o)

I'm also very excited to read the new Sandra Byrd book, Asking for Trouble. Her last set of books, The French Twist Series, are some of the best books I've read in a long time. Be watching in the next few weeks for a review of that one! :o)

Friday, March 12, 2010

CFRB Tour and Book Review: One Smooth Stone by Marcia Lee Laycock



This month, CFRB presents One Smooth Stone by Marcia Lee Laycock.


About the Book:

Alex Donnelly is trying desperately to hide from his past, the police and especially God. He picks a good place to hide – the wilderness of Canada’s Yukon, but he finds even there he is pursued by all of the above. Confronted with intriguing information and burning to know more about his real parents, Alex returns to his birthplace, Seattle Washington, only to discover that his mother had tried to abort him. The trauma sends him on the run again but God has orchestrated a divine appointment for him back in the Yukon. The story is filled with miraculous healing, struggles with rage and an obsession with revenge. It illustrates that God never gives up, as Alex learns that no matter how far you run, God will find you and no matter what you have done, God will forgive you.

About the Author:

Marcia’s writing began in the attic of her parents’ home where she wrote stories for her dolls. They didn’t complain so she kept it up. God has blessed her with publication in magazines, newspapers, on radio and the web. Her work has garnered praise from notable writers Mark Buchanan, Sigmund Brouwer and Phil Callaway. Her first devotional book, The Spur of the Moment won an Award of Merit at Write Canada and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia writes a weekly devotional column that goes out to over 4,000 people. Her devotionals have been published by The Upper Room and The Quiet Hour, among others, as well as in anthologies compiled by Multnomah and Thomas Nelson. Marcia is currently the Sunday devotional columnist for Novel Journey.com and was a contributor to Hot Apple Cider.

My thoughts:

This book really exceeded my expectations. It was flat-out just a good story that had a little bit of a mystery going on, a little possibility for romance, and a whole lot of God's love. It was so very refreshing to read a story that dealt with real problems that could only be solved by turning to a real God, and also the continual theme that simply was, "You can't run away from God."

Alex is not a perfect person...not by a long shot. He pretty much becomes a loner once he becomes of age because of how badly he was treated in his early years, especially while he was in the foster system. All of a sudden, there is the possibility that he's about to receive a huge inheritance. That is...if he is the Alex Donnelly that's supposed to be receiving it. Alex actually doesn't care one whit about the money. He just wants some answers for why it involves his parents who passed away when he was just a child.

I loved how, in spite of Alex trying to run away from all that was happening to him at once, there were people all around surrounding him with Christian love. Even though the road was long and hard for pretty much everyone that was involved in Alex's life in some way or another, they never gave up on him. Wow...if only all Christians could respond like that on a daily basis, who knows what God might have in store for them?!?!

This is a great book for men and women alike. It deals with some tough issues, including rape, so it's probably best for just adults. Also, there is supposed to be a sequel in the works to One Smooth Stone....well, there's gotta be one because the very last line of the book is a cliffhanger! Hurry, Marcia, hurry! I'm ready to read it! :o)

4 Stars



Visit the author's website.

Purchase One Smooth Stone from
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or the publisher.


Check out these other member blogs this week for more info.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover Attraction: Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark


Release Date: 10/01/2010

About the book:

From the bestselling author of Shadows of Lancaster County comes an exciting new romantic mystery set in Amish country.

When New York marketing executive Samantha Collins finds herself unemployed, she moves out of her pricey Manhattan apartment to sleepy Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. She plans on running the bed-and-breakfast she had bought as an investment in Lancaster County. However, when the manager she lets go is later found murdered on the property, Samantha’s troubles take a serious turn.

A handsome local wishes to befriend her, but can she trust him? And when her ex-boyfriend shows up, wanting to reconcile, can she cope with him in the middle of this crisis? Samantha must learn to depend on the Savior she has recently taken into her heart. And she’ll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove threaten her livelihood, her safety, and ultimately her life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Paula Deen and a Giveaway, Too!

Well, the time has finally come to share some goodies with y'all!! A few weeks ago, I blogged about getting the chance to do my first product review courtesy of CSNStores.com. Not only was I getting the chance to do the review, but there was also a surprise in the works for my readers. So, sit back with your cup of coffee or tea, and be prepared to drool at least a little. :o)
_____________________________________

My first item up for review is the Paula Deen 9 X 13 Stoneware Baker. It's first use was for this delectable little recipe I came across a few weeks ago for Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. I originally saw the recipe over at Colletta's blog, Colletta's Kitchen Sink. Then, when I realized I was about to get a new baker, I thought....what a perfect first recipe! :o)

I love every single thing about this piece! Even though it's color is not even remotely part of my overall kitchen color scheme, that won't stop me one bit from using it. I love the enamel finish since nothing else in my kitchen has it, and it helps me build upon my existing cookware pieces. Probably my favorite thing about it (as well as the loaf pan coming up next) is that they're so easy to clean! All of my other stoneware pieces (mostly from Pampered Chef) cannot be washed with soap because the stoneware is so porous. The Paula Deen collection of stoneware, however, is dishwasher safe, and even if I didn't want to use the dishwasher to wash it, it doesn't matter because I can have this thing washed and rinsed in a snap!
Next up is the Paula Deen 9 X5 Stoneware Loaf Pan. Now, I am no expert when it comes to making bread....which is why the actual loaf of bread itself is not very attractive. But in this case, I'm fortunate that it didn't have to look all that pretty to still taste good. This particular loaf of bread is Milk and Honey Bread. Definitely a first-time recipe for me with my first-time use of this pan. I was so very pleased at how evenly the bread cooked, with the bottom of the loaf turning a perfect golden brown. The recipe itself called for the pan to be sprayed before I put the dough in. When I went to remove the bread from the pan after it had cooked and cooled, I was so impressed that there was nothing stuck to the bottom of the pan! I don't always get those results from some of my other pans! And just like the 9 X 13 Baker, it was the easiest cleanup you ever saw! I told hubby that he better watch out....I may become a bread-making machine!

And last, but not least, the third item up for review is one of her books--Paula Deen's Kitchen Wisdom and Recipe Journal. I haven't had a chance yet to use this book really the way it's supposed to be used, but oh, how I know it will come in handy in my kitchen! :o) The whole book is divided into three sections with tabs for each section, and lots of blank pages throughout to list favorite recipes or recipes that are from friends and family. And occasionally, there's a little tidbit of wisdom from Ms. Paula herself. I tell ya, this girl is country as cornbread, and it shows when she goes to "talking" in the book. I can't wait to start fillin' this thing up with all sorts of recipes, especially the ones from my family. I already know the first one that I'll write in there--my mom's recipe for Lemon Icebox Pie....yum!
________________________________

So, I promised some goodies, too, didn't I? Well, the great folks at CSNStores are offering 2 great items for one lucky person. First up, you have the chance to win your own copy of Paula Deen's Kitchen Wisdom and Recipe Journal as well as the Paula Deen Cookbook Stand in Antique Bronze. Both of these items are great, and have a value of $27! Who can pass up TWO ITEMS that great for free?!?! :o)

Here's how it'll work:

Option 1--Leave a comment with your email address for one entry. If you do not leave an email address, your entry will be tossed out.

Option 2--Leave a comment and become a follower or subscriber to my blog for two entries.

Option 3--Leave a comment, become a follower/subscriber, and post this giveaway on your blog for 3 entries.

The giveaway will be open through Wednesday, March 24th, and the drawing will take place on Thursday, March 25th. The winner will be contacted by email within 24 hours of the drawing, and will need to provide their mailing address and phone number to receive their free items. Contest is limited to US addresses only.

One other footnote....
To keep this post from being so long, I did not include the recipes for the Milk and Honey Bread or the Lemon Icebox Pie. The bread recipe is from one of my other cookbooks, and the pie is my mom's recipe. If you're interested in either recipe, send me an email (my email addy is up at the top of the blog) and I'd be happy to pass them on to you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

CFBA Tour: Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Hearts Awakening



Bethany House (March 1, 2010)



by



Delia Parr


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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






ABOUT THE BOOK:


Two people in desperate circumstances. Life has left few choices for Elvira Kilmer. Her hopes for marriage and a family of her own have long since passed her by, and her arrival on Dillon's Island, nestled in the Susquehanna River, is not of her choosing, either.

She needs work. And Jackson Smith needs a housekeeper. Yet Ellie never imagined the widower would be so young...so handsome. Jackson, on the other hand, has never met anyone quite so...plain. But he quickly comes to realize that Ellie's presence may solve his own problems--both the rearing of his young boys and the scandal that surrounds his first marriage.

When Jackson offers her something quite out of the ordinary, will Ellie look beyond mere necessity and risk opening her heart?

Yet what options does she have? To marry would mean a home and stability. So despite the rumors circling Jackson and his first wife, Ellie accepts this unlikely proposal...

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Awakening, go HERE.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cover Attraction: Embers of Love by Tracie Peterson

Title: Embers of Love
Author: Tracie Peterson
Release Date: 10/01/2010
Publisher: Bethany House

About the book:

The logging industry in eastern Texas is booming, and Deborah Vandermark plans to assist her family's business now that she's completed college. Unexpectedly, her best friend, Lizzie Decker, accompanies her back home--fleeing a wedding and groom she has no interest in. Deborah, the determined matchmaker, puts her sights on uniting her brother and dear friend in a true love match. Deborah soon meets Dr. Christopher Clayton, a much-needed addition to the town. As their lives intersect, Deborah realizes that she has a much greater interest in medicine and science than the bookkeeping she was trained in. But when typhoid begins to spread and Lizzie's jilted fiance returns, Deborah wonders if true love can overcome such obstacles...for those dearest to her, and for herself.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

CFBA Tour: Somewhere to Belong by Judith Miller


This week, the



Christian Fiction Blog Alliance



is introducing



Somewhere to Belong



Bethany House (March 1, 2010)



by



Judith Miller


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


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 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.

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.

Note: 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 and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Johanna Ilg has lived her entire life in Main Amana, one of the seven villages settled by devout Christians who believe in cooperative living, a simple lifestyle, and faithful service to God. Although she’s always longed to see the outside world, Johanna believes her future is rooted in Amana. But when she learns a troubling secret, the world she thought she knew is shattered. Is this truly where she belongs?

Berta Schumacher has lived a privileged life in Chicago, so when her parents decide they want a simpler life in Amana, Iowa, she resists. Under the strictures of the Amana villages, her rebellion reaches new heights. Will her heart ever be content among the plain people of Amana?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Somewhere to Belong , go HERE