Everyday Tidbits...

The first day of school is always so bittersweet. Love being back on a schedule. Miss my boys.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Live Relationally: Lessons from the Women of Genesis (Fresh Life Series)...Review

About the book:
Quick: name your favorite Bible character! Is it a woman? Chances are it's not, even though women are central to God's story-and His plan. Genesis alone is peopled with women who experience death, marriage, divorce, rape, and family tragedy. And if that sounds like something out of yesterday's headlines , it just goes to show that the Bible has a message for you-today.

In Live Relationally, you'll discover the vivid lessons and rich wisdom of Israel's founding mothers. From the complicated Tamar to the often oversimplified Eve, they are wives and mothers, slaves and owners, sinners and saints . and each woman's story will touch your heart.

Perfect for every age, appropriate for groups or individual study, and intended for today's on-the-go woman, the Fresh Life series of Bible studies requires just 20 minutes a day for a meaningful contemplation of God's Word.

About the authors:
Lenya Heitzig is an ECPA Gold Medallion Winner author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women's counselor with Youth With a Mission,Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast-growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and coauthor of Pathways to God's Treasures,Lenya currently serves as Director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Pierce Rose is the author of A Garden of Friends and the coauthor of several Bible studies, including the Gold Medallion Winner, Pathway to God. A graduate of Texas Tech, Penny has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women's Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women's programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny and her family make their home in New Mexico.

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Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables of Jesus (Fresh Life Series)...Preview

About the book:
Ever read one of Jesus' parables and ask, "What is He talking about?" If so, you're not alone. Jesus' own disciples were also perplexed by the enigmatic stories Christ told.

Now you-alone or with your small group-can dig deeper into the meaning of these parables to uncover their important meaning for your walk with Christ. Designed with today's busy woman in mind, each lesson can be completed in as little as 20 minutes per day, but leave you with a lifetime of valuable insights.

Based on the inductive Bible study method, each lesson conjures vivid imagery of the sights and sounds of ancient Israel alongside poignant application questions for today. There's something here for Christians of all shapes and sizes-everyone will leave with a more profound understanding of Christ's amazing parables.

About the authors:
Lenya Heitzig is an ECPA Gold Medallion Winner author and popular Bible teacher. After beginning her ministry as a single women's counselor with Youth With a Mission, Lenya married Skip and together they started Calvary of Albuquerque, one of the fast-growing churches in the country. The author of Holy Moments and coauthor of Pathways to God's Treasures, Lenya currently serves as Director of Women at Calvary, overseeing weekly Bible studies and yearly retreats. Lenya and Skip live in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Penny Pierce Rose is the author of A Garden of Friends and the coauthor of several Bible studies, including the Gold Medallion Winner, Pathway to God. A graduate of Texas Tech, Penny has served on the board of directors for the Southwest Women's Festival and develops Bible study curriculum for the women's programs at Calvary of Albuquerque. Penny and her family make their home in New Mexico.

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Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood...Review

About the book:
Your spirit yearns to soar, but your feet—and faith—are stuck in the diaper-by-diaper mud of everyday responsibilities. How can you de-muck when you’re chronically exhausted and relentlessly robbed of abundant life by the joy-sucking dully-funks? Mom Needs Chocolate will help you get back in touch with rejuvenating joy and empowering faith! In mom-to-mom, smile-provoking style, humorist Debora M. Coty paints her offbeat picture of reality with a tangy twist, and offers outrageous coping tips, off-the-wall insights, sisterly hugs and warmencouragement.

With witty frankness and wild abandon, she tackles the highs and lows (and mediums) of marriage, the horror of embarrassing children, the defeat (and re-defeat) of depression, aging grossfully (er, gracefully), and a veritable grocery list of othermud-between-your-toes issues. You will glimpse the all-too-familiar in these hilarious and heartwarming stories, and remember how to hear God’s still, small voice above blathering kids, howling pets and snarling traffic!

A delightful little book full of wisdom and humor. I was not familiar with Debora M. Coty before picking up this book, but she's hysterical.

Debora uses humor and faith to offer encouragement and insight to those who often feel rundown and exhausted from our lives as mothers. Each short chapter covers a particular theme: Pregnancy, Repentance, Forgiveness, Motivation, Gratitude, Self-Image and Loving Your Neighbor (one of my favorites), to name a few. With quotes, scriptures, anecdotes and vignettes, you find yourself enlightened. A short, "Faith in Action" section at the end of each chapter gives you some food for thought and possible actions to improve this particular area of your life. Each chapter can stand alone, but together they will brighten your day.

This is the perfect book to leave in your purse. I read it over the course of a couple of days while I waited to pick up my son after school.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Public Relations, LLC, for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Debora M. Coty here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 10/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood...Wildcard!

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:


Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood

Regal (April 1, 2009)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Debora M. Coty is the author or contributor to several books, including Mom NEEDS Chocolate: Hugs, Humor and Hope for Surviving Motherhood. A resident of Florida where she lives with her husband, Coty raised two children and enjoyed a dedicated career as an Occupational Therapist before beginning to chase her God-given dream of writing. She is known for communicating sound biblical concepts with a refreshing, light-hearted style. Her writings can be read in her monthly newspaper column, Grace Notes: God’s Grace for Everyday Living.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Regal (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0830745920
ISBN-13: 978-0830745920

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


My Cups Runneth Over

Pregnancy

A baby is an inestimable blessing and a bother.

Mark Twain

As for you, be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.

Genesis 9:7, NASB

There are a few things I’ve learned while fulfilling the “be fruitful and multiply” mandate.

Pregnancy draws you closer to your spouse. During an emergency stop in our driveway while I tossed my cookies in the grass, my husband, Chuck, tried to comfort me. Soon we were throwing up side by side. It was the most romantic thing he’s ever done. Those two brown spots on our lawn were the envy of all my friends.

Childbirth classes are invaluable informational sources. At the country hospital we’d chosen, one young farmer raised his hand the week after we learned about Braxton Hicks false labor contractions. He earnestly addressed the nurse instructor, “Ma’am, my wife’s been miserable all week. Could you tell us again about them Briggs and Stratton things?” He was the same strapping fellow who confided the first week, “We ain’t ever had any babies, but we’ve birthed a lot of cows.”

The budding momma’s swelling belly and the ledge over her innie-turned-outie navel aren’t the only evolutions in the body’s profile. Average-sized breasts become huge globes that bump into everything. It’s like having volleyballs attached to your chest. These alien chest globes take on their own personalities. I called mine the Bobbing Twins, Freddie and Flopsie. I addressed them directly: “Freddie, stop bouncing around or I’m going to fall off this bike,” or “Flopsie, you’re gonna have to squeeze into this DDD cup—there is no E.”

Finally, you’re in your ninth month. Ah, but the surprises are not over. After hours of sweating, teeth grinding and PUSHing, you are rewarded with a tiny screaming miracle. The little bugger has a surprisingly strong sucking reflex, and when he latches on, it feels like a vice grip to this incredibly sensitive part of your anatomy. You’re awfully glad you did that desensitization with the washcloth beforehand. I once commented to Chuck after performing this unpleasant ritual that rubbing myself with terrycloth made me empathize with that old table he was sanding.

“Hmmm. Yes, dear,” he answered, only half listening. I later overheard him inform his sister on the phone, “Debbie uses sandpaper on her chest to get ready for the baby.” No wonder his family thinks I’m weird.

Shortly after giving birth, my friend Julia (also a nursing mother) and I decided to take a well-deserved tennis break. Leaving the babies with their daddies, we headed for the courts. The blissful quiet was shattered by a wailing infant in a passing stroller, triggering that mysterious internal milk breaker switch. Julia and I simultaneously clutched our chests like gunshot victims at the incoming flood.

“Stop it, Freddie! Not now, Flopsie!” I pleaded with the Twins as two dark, wet spots appeared in strategic locations on the front of my white tennis shirt. Julia and I mopped ourselves between points with a soggy sweatband, bringing strange new meaning to the term, “bosom buddies.”1

Son of Man, thank You for the blessing of family and the miracle of babies. Make me more like You because they may end up being like me.



Note

1. Adapted from “My Cups Runneth Over” by Debora M. Coty, first appearing in Today’s Christian Woman, November/December 2004 issue. Used by permission.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

So, I'm a bit late with this, but thanks to all who entered my giveaway for Casting Off!

And, thanks to random.org, the winners are:

Bermudaonion and Lulu O!

I've sent emails. Congratulations to both. Send me your snail mail addresses and I'll send them off to the publisher!

Emmy's Equal...Review

About the book:
Get ready for a suspenseful romantic adventure deep in the heart of Texas. Emmy Dane doesn’t want to give up her petticoats and frills for boots and spurs when her family decides to take up ranching in South Texas. Diego Marcelo’s mother tells him God will soon deliver him from his loneliness—but he assures her he has no need of deliverance . . .that is, until Emmy disrupts the entire way of life at the ranch. Can Diego put his jealousy aside before time runs out? And will Emmy admit she’s found her match in the stubborn foreman?

After a slow start, this one picked up and was enjoyable. The characters were likeable and grow on you. Diego Marcelo is the strong, handsome, exotic ranch foreman who is like a second son to the ranch owner. He is also best friends with the owner's son Cuddy. When Emmy and her family arrive at the Twisted-R ranch for a visit, both men are immediately taken with her beauty. And, Emmy is the spoiled little girl who, predictably, grows up and wins the heart of Diego.

Diego's heritage is Hispanic and Native-American and the look into the differences in culture was interesting.

With cattle drives, prairie fires, rustlers and thieves, this South Texas adventure is somewhat predictable, but also entertaining and a nice diversion. It's an easy, Christian read. Not too preachy, but God is definitely a part of some of the characters' lives.

This is the third book in the Texas Fortunes series. I have not read the first two, and while having that back story is always nice, this stands alone well.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Marcia Gruver here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, October 26, 2009

When the Good News Gets Even Better: Rediscovering the Gospels through First-Century Jewish Eyes...Preview

About the book:
Walk through the Gospel Narratives in Hebrew sandals.


Imagine that you grew up as a Hebrew in the first Century. Imagine that the culture, the customs, and the perspectives in which you were raised were the window through which you would see and hear all that Jesus did and said. This unique Bible study allows you to see these Biographies of Jesus the way they were originally intended. See and feel the places, the people and the emotions as you experience the Gospels in a fresh new way.


This study allows you to read these letters just as their original audience did and provides vital insights into the Jewish culture, customs, and perspectives, giving a fresh and thoroughly relevant context to the life of Christ. Using a three-month format, this study combines all four Gospels into one comprehensive and chronological narrative, allowing you to focus on the overall themes and truths as they occurred.


Come experience the Gospels as never before—as observer, reader, and witness to those miraculous events and times.


About the author:
Neb Hayden is Director of International Student Development at The King's College in New York City. A former quarterback for "Bear Bryant" at Alabama, Neb has been involved his adult life with the fellowship in Washington, D.C. who work behind the scenes to nurture and encourage the leadership in over 180 nations. The group also works behind the scenes of the National Prayer Breakfast. Neb speaks and teaches extensively at seminars, conferences, and retreats the He and his wife, Susan live in New York City and are the parents of three grown sons and two daughters-in-law.
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Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jewel of His Heart...Review

About the book:
Their future is as wide open as the Montana sky. Juliana Brady is alone in an 1890s Montana mining town, with few prospects for making a living. But she is determined not to be dependent on the charity of others. Josh McBride is trying to scrape up a living from his sheep herd while he builds his ranch. But when he discovers some rare stones on his property, he's tempted by the prospect of fast money. When their paths cross, Juliana and Josh must make a choice--the world's riches and promises, or the eternal value of love.


As often happens, I'm going to be the reviewer who goes against the grain!

I will admit to being disappointed. While I think that this is a story with a lot of potential, it just wasn't for me. Oh, I liked it well enough, but it certainly didn't touch me or move me in any way. It's billed as a wonderful, tender romance, but it seemed to be missing the true spark that draws you in and makes you feel like you're a part of the story. Forced, is the word that comes to mind. I liked the characters, I didn't really connect with them, and I found some of the dialogue stilted and awkward. Juliana and Josh are likeable enough, and some of the supporting characters are colorful and flesh out the story a bit more.

The historical aspect of this era is fascinating. I had no idea that sapphires were mined in Montana. The author has some notes at the end of the novel that detail additional historical facts and clarify which ones are true in the story.

An easy, Christian read. The second in a series, it seems to stand alone well. I haven't read the first one, but it didn't seem to be a problem. I'm certain that Maggie Brendan fans and those who love historical novels will enjoy this one.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Donna Hausler from the Baker Publishing Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Maggie Brendan here. You can purchase the book here.

Read 10/09

* *
2/5 Stars

Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind...Preview

About the book:
A twenty-year veteran of the classroom, elementary school teacher Phillip Done takes readers through a lively and hilarious year in the classroom. Starting with the relative calm before the storm of buying school supplies and posting class lists, he shares the distinct personalities of grades K-4, what he learned from two professional trick or treating 8-year-old boys, the art of learning cursive and letter-writing, how kindergartners try to trap leprechauns, and what every child should experience before he or she grows up.

These charming, sweet, and funny tales of Mr. Done's trials and triumphs as an award-winning schoolteacher will touch readers' hearts and remind them of the true joys of childhood. We all have that one special, favorite grade school teacher whom we fondly remember throughout our adult lives - and every teacher also has students whom they will never forget. This is the perfect book for teachers, parents, and anyone else who is looking for a lighthearted, nostalgic read.

About the author:
Phillip Done knows it is a child’s birthday without looking at the calendar, that broken candy canes do not taste as good as unbroken ones, that peanut M&Ms spark in the microwave (Peeps do not), and that measuring the diameter of an Oreo cookie is more fun than measuring the diameter of a coffee can lid. After pumping up his 500th red rubber ball, he decided it was time to write it all down. Hence, 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny and Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind: Thoughts on Teacherhood were born.

A veteran of twenty-plus years in the classroom, Done is a five-time champion of the staff watermelon-eating contest and was nominated for the Disney Teacher of the Year Award. He took a pie in the face at this year’s school talent show and was honored as a Teacher of the Year in California. When not searching for envelopes for newly pulled teeth or making rain parkas out of Hefty bags on rainy field trips, Phil accepted the prestigious Charles Schwab Distinguished Teacher Award from Charles Schwab himself. (He refrained from asking Mr. Schwab if Intel was a good buy.)

Born in San Jose, California, he grew up in Sunnyvale, attended Fremont High School, and studied music and education at San Jose State University. He currently lives in Mountain View, California. His passions are teaching, old movies, and garage sales. His writing has also appeared in Real Simple, Instructor, Parent and Child, and NEA Today.
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Thanks to Anna Balasi of Hatchette Book Group for the opportunity to tour this book. You can learn more about Phillip Done here. You can purchase your own copy of this book here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Emmy's Equal...Wildcard!

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:


Emmy’s Equal

Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Marcia Gruver lives with her husband in Huffman, Texas, and has published various articles, poems, and devotionals. Her novel, Love Never Fails (renamed Chasing Charity), won third place in the 2007 American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest. Marcia is a member of ACFW, Fellowship of Christian Writers (FCW), and The Writers View.

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 9, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602077
ISBN-13: 978-1602602076

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Humble, Texas, August, 1906


The stagnant well appeared bottomless, as dank and murky as a grave. Emmy rested her arms on the cold, jagged stones and leaned to peer into the abyss. Mama’s embroidered lace hankie, shimmering in the meager light, hung from an outcropping of rock about four feet down. Narrowing her eyes, she peered at the spot of white that stood out from the surrounding darkness and heaved a sigh, stirring the fetid air below and raising a noxious odor that took her breath.

She pushed up her sleeves and blasted a droopy blonde ringlet from her eyes with a frustrated puff of air. There was no help for it—at the risk of certain death, she had to retrieve that handkerchief.

A figure loomed, drawing alongside her with a grunt.

She jumped, and her heart shot past her throat. Chest pounding, she wasted a glare on the dark profile, noticing for the first time a scatter of lines around his eyes and tiny gray curlicues in his sideburns.

“Nash! I nearly leapt over the side.” She swatted his arm. “I’ve asked you to stop sneaking up on me. I’ve a good mind to fit you with a cowbell.”

A chuckle rumbled from his chest, as deep as the chasm. “I didn’t go to scare you, Miss Emmy.” He bent his lanky body so far she feared he’d tumble headfirst into the never-ending shaft. “Say, what we looking for inside this hole?”

“We’re not looking for anything. I’ve already found it.” Emmy clutched his shirtsleeve and pulled him away. “Go fetch me a lantern, and be quick about it.” She tucked her chin in the direction of the palomino pony languishing under a nearby oak, nibbling at the circle of high grass around the trunk. “Take Trouble. He’ll be quicker than walking.”

Nash frowned and rubbed the knuckles of one hand along his temple, as if an ache had sprung up there. “What you need a lantern for, with the sun up and shining the past five hours? There’s plenty of light to see.”

She braced herself and pointed. “Not down there.”

Nash’s sleepy eyes flew open. His startled gaze bounced along her finger to the circular wall of weathered stones. “Down there?” He took a cautious step back. “What’s in this sour old pit that might concern you?”

Emmy swallowed hard. She could trust Nash with anything but dreaded his reaction all the same. “It’s. . .one of mama’s hankies.” She squeezed her eyes shut and ducked her head.

His shoulders eased, and he ambled over to gaze inside. “Is that all?”

If only it were. Emmy risked a peek at him. “You don’t understand.”

He winced as if she’d spoken a bad omen. “Uh, uh. Not from her good batch? Them she’s always cackling about?”

Emmy cringed and nodded.

The delicate, lacy linens held an uncommon depth of meaning for Emmy’s mama. Hand embroidered in Germany by her grandmother then brought to the Americas and placed in Mama’s hope chest, they represented heart, hearth, and homeland to Magdalena Dane. In equal measure, they represented distress, discontent, and discord to her only daughter, because the bothersome bits of cloth seemed determined to cause Emmy grief.

Nash’s stunned expression hardened into an accusing glare. “Why, Miss Emmy? Why you done brought about such misery? You ain’t s’posed to touch ’em, and you know it.” His graying brows fluttered up and down, like two moths bent on escape. “There’s scarce few left, and your mama blames you for them what’s missing.”

She moaned and flapped her hands. “I didn’t mean to take the silly thing. It was warm when I rode out this morning. I knew I’d likely sweat, so I snagged a hankie from the clothesline. I never looked at it until a few minutes ago. That’s how this terrible mishap came about. I held it up as I rode, staring in disbelief. Trouble was galloping across the yard when the wind caught it and. . .” She motioned behind her. “The willful rag drifted down the well before I could stop the horse and chase after it.”

Emmy lowered her eyes then peered up at him through her lashes. “None of this is my fault, Nash. Papa should’ve covered this smelly cistern months ago, and those wretched handkerchiefs have a mind of their own.”

The hint of a smile played around Nash’s lips. “If so, they harbor a mighty poor opinion of you.”

She wrinkled her nose at him.

Wagging his head, he rested the back of his hand on his side. “In all my years of working for your family, of all the fits I’ve seen your mama pitch, the worst have been over the loss of them fancy scraps of cloth.” He shuddered. “Miss Emmy, I’d be mighty grateful if you’d wait and break the news to her after I leave for the day. She gon’ be powerful upset.”

Emmy held up and wiggled a finger. “On the contrary. I won’t be upsetting Mama.”

“How you figure that?”

“Because there’s no need to tell her.”

Nash propped his elbow in one hand and rubbed his chin with the other. “Missy, I thought you was done telling lies and scheming. Don’t forget you’re a saint of God now.”

A saint of God. Yes, she was, through no fault of her own. Like Elijah’s fiery chariot, God had swirled into Emmy’s life in a weak moment and delivered her from herself. Not that she minded His day-to-day presence. In fact, she rather enjoyed the peace He brought. It was during times of temptation when she found the constant stirring in her heart to do the right thing a bit of a bother. Yet no wonder, really. In the past, she’d had precious little practice in doing the right thing.

She blinked up at Nash. “I have no plans to lie, and I won’t need to scheme. We’re simply going to return great-grandmother’s hankie to Mama’s clothesline, washed, rinsed, and fresh as a newborn calf.”

Nash stared then shook his head. “No ma’am. You jus’ forget about what we gon’ do. Question is how are you gon’ pull it off?”

“I’ll show you.” She shooed him with her hands. “Run fetch that lantern like I asked and leave the rest to me.”

Still shaking his head, Nash mounted Trouble and laid in his heels. The horse bolted the short distance across the yard to the well-kept shed tucked behind Emmy’s two-story house. With a furtive glance toward the porch, Nash eased the door open and slipped inside.

While she waited, Emmy watched a rowdy band of crows swarm Nash’s cornfield. The black bandits bickered and pecked for position before settling in for a meal, oblivious to the mop-headed stick Nash had dressed in a ragged shirt and floppy hat and then shoved in the ground. She dared not call his attention to the culprits or he’d bluster after them, shouting and waving his arms like a demented windmill, leaving her to cope alone with her pressing dilemma.

She jerked her gaze from the birds when Nash rode up and slid off Trouble to the ground, a lighted lantern in his hand.

Handing over the light with a flourish, he lowered one brow and pinned her with a squinty look. “Here’s what you asked for. Jus’ be sure to leave me plumb out of the story when you go explaining yourself to your mama.”

He turned to go, but Emmy caught hold of his shirttail. “Not so fast. I’m not done with you.”

Nash covered his ears and reeled away. “Don’t tell me no mo’. I ain’t seen nothing, and I ain’t heard nothing. If anybody needs me, I’ll be feeding the chickens.”

Emmy aimed a haughty laugh at his back. “It’s too late for that. You’re in up to your hat, and it’s no less punishment than you deserve for sneaking about all the time.”

Nash dug in his heels and stood facing the grove of loblolly pine at the edge of the yard, his body stiff as a post.

Repentant, she softened her voice to a plea. “I’m sorry, Nash. I had no call to utter such a thing. It’s just. . .I can’t do this without you.”

Arms dangling at his sides, he tipped his head toward the sky and whispered something, a prayer no doubt, before turning to face her. “What you want me to do?”

She peppered him with grateful kisses then grabbed his hand. “Come over here.” Hauling him to the gaping cavity, she lowered the lamp. “See? There it is.”

They gazed at the only bright spot in the oppressive gloom, their ability to see inside the shaft made no better by the frail circle of yellow light.

Nash shrugged and drew back from the side. “Too far down. May as well wave it goodbye then go fess up to what you done.”

Emmy gripped his arm. “Nonsense. We can get it out of there.”

“How, short of fishing it out with a cane pole? And I got no hooks.” He scratched his head. “I reckon I could take my hammer and pound a bend in a nail.”

She shook her head. “Too risky. If the hankie slips off it’ll settle to the bottom, and that’ll be the end of it.” She drew a determined breath. “I have a better idea.”

Nash’s eyebrows rose on his forehead, reaching new heights, even for him. “What sort of idea? Harebrained or foolhardy? Them’s the only two kinds you have.”

She swallowed hard and fingered the wooden bucket sitting on the wall. “I’m going to straddle this, and you’ll lower me down to fetch it.”

The shaggy brows bested their last mark. “You cain’t mean it, Miss Emmy.”

“I do so.”

“Then your idea is both harebrained and foolhardy. You must be plain tetched up under them pretty white locks. S’pose that rope snaps in two?”

“Oh, pooh.” She patted the heavy hemp coiled around the crank. “This rope is thick and sound.” She pointed over her shoulder at the horse. “You could lower Trouble down that well.”

He nodded. “Yes’m. That’s exactly what I’d be doing.” He jerked off his weathered hat and dashed it against his leg. “Don’t ask me to put you in that kind of danger. No, missy. I won’t do it. Not for nothing in this wide world.”

Touched, Emmy smiled at the man who’d been like a father to her over the years, far more of a parent than her own papa, who didn’t stay home often enough to have much practice at the role. She took Nash’s hand and squeezed it. “I won’t be in any danger. As long as you’re holding the handle, I know I’ll be safe.” She peered up into his sulky brown eyes. “You know if you don’t help me I’ll just find a way to do it myself. I have to get that hankie.”

He gaped at her. “The silly thing ain’t worth dying for, is it? Your mama has fussed at you before, and you lived to tell the tale. Why is this time so all-fired special?”

She squared around to face him. “I can’t have her angry about anything just now. I’m planning to ask permission to go to St. Louis when Mama travels with Aunt Bertha to South Texas. It’ll be hard enough to convince her as it is. If she gets in a snit, my plan is doomed.”

“Why they going off so far?”

“It’s Aunt Bertha’s idea. Now that she has money, she’s determined to go into the cattle business. She’s bent on learning all she can. Papa knows a very successful rancher down south who’s willing to teach her everything he knows.”

“Cain’t you jus’ stay home?”

“They’ll be gone for a month or better. Mama refuses to leave me here alone for that long, and I’d much prefer going to see Charity.”

Nash smiled and nodded. “ ’Specially with her jus’ done birthing the little one.”

Emmy beamed. “Exactly. I can help Charity bring him home.”

A thrill coursed through her at the thought of seeing Charity and Buddy’s new baby boy. Emmy and Charity were as close as twin sisters, best friends like their mamas had always been. Emmy’s mama and Aunt Bertha had grown up together in Jefferson before moving to Humble.

Last year, a handsome young oilman came to town and found oil on Aunt Bertha’s land. Charity wound up married to him and soon left for St. Louis to meet his parents. When Buddy found out she was expecting, he kept her in the city so she’d be close to good medical care.

Not a day had passed that Emmy didn’t think of Charity and long to see her. She was coming home next month, bringing little Thad to meet the family.

Nash narrowed his eyes. “You ain’t jus’ trying to sneak off to St. Louis to see that oilman friend of Mistah Buddy’s, are you? Don’t think I didn’t see you making eyes at him the whole time that preacher was trying to marry off Miss Charity.”

Emmy whirled. “Who? Mr. Ritter?” She dismissed the thought with a wave of her hand. “Jerry Ritter was just a passing fancy.”

Nash raised a cynical brow.

“Oh, pooh, Nash! You stop that!” She fiddled the row of tiny buttons on her sleeve. “Besides. . .Aunt Bertha claims Mr. Ritter was recently betrothed to a childhood sweetheart.” She flicked off an insect from the cuff of her blouse and dashed away her humiliation with the same resolve. “Therefore, my desire to be in St. Louis has nothing to do with him. I just need to see Charity. If I get into any more trouble, Mama’s bound to haul me with them to that dreadful desert town instead. If she does, I’ll just dry up along with it and perish. I mean it!”

Grinding the toe of his oversized boot in the dirt, Nash sighed and shifted his weight. “I don’t know, Miss Emmy. . .”

Emmy stifled a grin. She had him. “I’ll be just fine. I promise. Now help me climb up.”

Still mumbling his objections, he offered an elbow to Emmy so she could pull up and sit on the uneven stones. Unfastening the buttoned flap on her split skirt, she swung her legs over and settled on the side, trying hard not to look past her boots. “Turn your head while I sit astride the pail. It won’t look so dainty in this outfit.”

Nash gazed toward the field, obviously too distracted to notice the raiding crows.

Still clinging to his arm, Emmy held her breath and pulled the dangling rope closer, guiding it between her legs. “All right, I’m ready. Lean your weight into the handle. I’m about to push off.”

Nash shifted his gaze to the sky. “Oh, sweet Jesus. Please protect this chil’.”

Holding her breath, she scooted from the edge, squealing when her body spun and dipped about a foot. “Nash! Have you got it?”

“I’ve got it. Stop squirming now. You heavier than you look.”

Emmy forced herself to still, more afraid than she’d expected to be. She felt more than saw the yawning gulf, a great gaping mouth poised to swallow her whole. “Hand me the lantern and then you can lower me. But go slowly, for heaven’s sake.”

She breathed a prayer as she spiraled past the opening and descended. Glancing up, she bit her lip and watched the rope unwind from the wobbly reel, outlined by a circle of light. Misguided but determined white roots that had pushed through cracks in the mortar groped at her, snagging her hem and sleeves. Crisscrossed nets of taught, silky threads offered whispers of resistance before giving way and sticking to the exposed parts of her legs. Emmy held the soft glow of the lamp closer to the side, shuddering when eight-legged bodies skittered in every direction. She gritted her teeth, suppressing a shriek and the urge to order Nash to haul her out of the wide-awake nightmare.

You can do this. Just a little more and you’ll be there. Three more turns and you’ll have Mama’s hankie in your hands. This will all be worth it then.

Exhaling her relief, she drew even with the jutting rock that had caught the precious heirloom. Holding the lantern out of the way, she swayed her body until the motion brought her closer to the wall.

She snatched at the white spot. Instead of soft linen, she felt thick, sticky padding. In place of the crush of a napkin gathered in her palm, there was the unmistakable writhing of something alive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing...Preview

About the book:
Successful fifty-something, Susan Anderson owns and operates a hip hair salon on the Las Vegas strip, decorated with her collection of disco memorabilia accumulated decades ago when she was one of the beautiful people on New York's disco scene.

Now happily married, Susan is known for her business savvy, her fabulous vintage ensembles, her faith, her big heart - and the impromptu disco dance numbers salon staff and clients join in when the spirit moves. If life is a dance, Susan's mastered all the loves.


But an exciting business opportunity and her husband's impending retirement rock her world, shaking Susan's foundation and revealing regrets and painful memories she thought she'd dealt with. Will Susan be able to face her past, reinvent her marriage, build her dream... and keep on dancing?



About the author:
Allison Bottke spent 17 years as a professional fund-raiser before her personal journey prompted her to create the best-selling God Allows U-Turns anthologies. Now a popular speaker and author of hip-lit fiction as well as nonfiction, Allison was one of the first plus-size models with the Wilhelmina agency. Today, she has created a place where fun, fashion, food, family, and faith merge to empower and inspire boomer women all around the world. That place is www.BoomerBabesRock.com.
--------------------------
Thanks to Audra Jennings at The B&B Media Group and David C. Cook for the opportunity to tour this book. You can purchase your own copy here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Love is a Battlefield...Review

About the book.
Take a walk in Shiloh National Military Park in this fun, fast-paced romance by Annalisa Daughety, a new voice in women’s contemporary fiction. Recent history has taught Kristy O’Neal not to believe in love or risk her heart. Ace Kennedy came to Shiloh to research his family history—but it’s Park Ranger Kristy he’s studying. Using his own ancestors as an example, can he prove that true love really does exist before Kristy walks away forever?


After being left, publicly, at the altar, Kristy returns to work as a park ranger, only to find her job already filled by a handsome stranger. She reluctantly accepts a seasonal position, and hopes that somehow, something permanent will show up before the end of the summer. Ace Kennedy is working as a park ranger in Kristy's job, but is really at the park to do research about his ancestors for a book he's writing. As he grows to care for Kristy, she learns to open her heart and trust again.

I enjoyed this. Although nothing stellar, it's simply an enjoyable, light read. Subplots could be distracting, but do add to the story and set up the next one. Christian, easily recommended.

My first reaction was that a military park makes an interesting setting for a romance novel. However, on the book's dedication page, the author thanks her former co-workers at Shiloh National Military Park, so her knowledge is first-hand. Since I've always loved National Parks though, I thought this was a fun behind-the-scenes story. The first of a series, the second follows next year, and is set at the Washington Monument.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Annalisa Daughtey here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * *
3/5 Stars

Love is a Battlefield...Wildcard!

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:


Love is a Battlefield

Barbour Books (October 1, 2009)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Annalisa Daughety lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where she works as an event planner. After attending Freed-Hardeman University, where she majored in American Studies, Annalisa worked at Shiloh National Military Park as a park ranger. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and loves gardening, shopping, and watching sports. For more information, visit her Web site at .

Visit the author's website.





Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602604770
ISBN-13: 978-1602604773

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


If someone had told Kristy O’Neal that the battlefield at Shiloh would see another casualty nearly one hundred and fifty years after the battle ended, she’d have thought they were crazy.

Yet, two weeks ago, one last soldier had been injured on the majestic field. And Kristy had the battle scars to prove it. Admittedly, her wound was emotional, not physical, but she still wondered if the splintered pieces of her heart might be tougher to knit back together than a bullet-shattered bone.

Ready or not, her recovery time was over, so she squared her shoulders and headed back onto the hallowed ground. Never let it be said that Kristy couldn’t soldier up with the best of them. Ranger hat firmly in place and gold badge glinting in the May sunlight, she marched briskly to the visitor center.

“Morning, Kristy.” Ranger Owen Branam stopped putting money in the cash register slots long enough to nod in her direction. “You have a nice trip?” He closed the drawer, finished with his preparations for the day’s visitors.

Nice trip? A cruise spent faking allergies to explain away tears. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

“Lovely.” she managed what she hoped was a convincing smile. “The weather was great.” Scooting past him, she attempted to make it to her office without further questioning.

“Umm. Kristy?”

The apprehension in the older man’s voice made her stop in her tracks. She slowly turned to look back at Owen.

He ran his finger around the neck of his shirt as if he had a little too much starch in the collar. “The chief asked me to have you go straight up to his office when you got in.” He motioned toward the counter. “You can leave your things here. I’ll keep an eye on them while you’re upstairs.”

Only five minutes into her morning and her plan to fly as far under the radar as possible had already gone out the window. So much for the low-key first day back she’d hoped for.

“Thanks, Owen.” Kristy put her hat on the counter and tucked her purse underneath the desk.

As she got to the top of the stairs, an unfamiliar voice called out a greeting to Owen. Twisting around, she peeked over the railing. Wow. A Johnny Depp lookalike was helping Owen straighten the brochures. The second thing she noticed about him, after his movie star resemblance, was the park service uniform he wore. Surely, he wasn’t a new employee. She’d only been gone a few weeks. Things didn’t usually happen that quickly at Shiloh National Military Park.

“Glad to have you back.”

The gruff voice of Chief Ranger Hank Strong made her jump and turn around.

She felt her face grow hot. Had he been watching her ogle Ranger Depp? She cleared her throat.

“Glad to be back.” She followed him into his office and perched on one of the uncomfortable plastic chairs in front of his desk. Her gaze skimmed over a hodgepodge of furniture, maps, and historical books. None of the furnishings matched, except for Hank’s oversized desk and equally oversized chair that had always reminded her of a king’s throne.

“Good, good.” Hank settled himself behind the desk and peered at her over his round bifocals. “Look, Kristy. There’s no easy way to tell you this.” For a moment, an expression that looked like uncertainty flitted over his weathered face.

Uh-oh. As befitted his name, Hank Strong was always sure of himself. Whatever he was about to say, she wasn’t going to like it.

“I told you before you left on your trip there’d be a job waiting for you when you got back,” Hank paused.

Kristy could tell he was choosing his words carefully.

She nodded. “Yes. And believe me, I’m so grateful.” When she’d turned in her two-week notice, it had felt like she was letting him down, letting the park down. After all, she’d begun working at Shiloh while she was still in college. It was the only place she’d ever worked—or ever wanted to work, for that matter. After her plans had abruptly changed, she’d been relieved when Hank stepped in and told her there was still a place for her at Shiloh.

“Well, there was one thing I didn’t mention.”

“Oh?” Why do his words sound so ominous?

“By the time I found out you weren’t moving and were still available to work, your position had been filled.” He shook his head. “I’m sorry, Kristy. The paperwork had already gone through. There was nothing that could be done.”

She tried to catch her breath. Knowing she was at least able to come back to work at the park was the only thing that had gotten her through the past two weeks. “But you said. . .” Her voice trailed off as she willed herself not to panic.

“I know. I said I had a position for you. And I do.” He leaned back a little in his chair, visibly relieved to have the bad news off his chest. “You’re welcome to stay on as a seasonal ranger.”

Seasonal? That was where she’d started, nine years earlier, the summer after her freshman year of college. She glanced around, hoping for a paper bag she could breathe into. Of course, what she needed most was a rewind button that would allow her to go back in time and decide not to quit her job. But if she could travel back to the past, knowing what she did now, there wouldn’t have been a reason to leave Shiloh in the first place.

“You want me to be a seasonal?” Kristy’s voice squeaked. “What about my salary?”

A frown drew his bushy brows together. “There’ll be a pay cut. And you’ll move to the office shared by the seasonal staff. In fact, Owen has already put your box of office doodads in there.”

If she hadn’t been so shell-shocked, she probably would’ve laughed at his word for the contents of the box she’d left in her former office weeks earlier. Instead, all she could think was how she’d planned to stop by and pick her things up once the movers arrived. But the moving van had been permanently rerouted.

“You can still live in park housing. I know you’ve already packed most of your things, but Owen said he didn’t think you’d actually moved anything out yet.” He handed her a manila folder. “Your decision, kiddo. We’d love to keep you around. You’re a great park ranger. But I understand if you want to go in a different direction now.”

She took the file from him and glanced at the paperwork inside. The contents of the folder would effectively help to move her back down the career ladder she’d been climbing.

“What happens in September?” The seasonal positions at Shiloh ran from Memorial Day through Labor Day. And since they were only a few days shy of Memorial Day, she figured she should feel lucky there was even a seasonal position still available. They usually filled pretty quickly.

“Well.” He leaned back even farther and pressed his fingertips together. “At that juncture you’ll have a few options. Perhaps a permanent position will open here. Or we can look around at other parks and try to get you a transfer.”

Or I can leave the park service.

He rose to his feet. “If you want to think about it for a day or two, that’s fine.”

She knew Hank well enough to know that giving her time to consider the offer was his way of being sympathetic. Despite her trembling legs, she managed to stand. “Thank you,” she mumbled and scurried for the stairs, her mind spinning like a recently fired cannonball.

A permanent position opening at Shiloh was pretty much out of the question. Most of the rangers planned to stay until retirement age, some of them even longer. And she wasn’t interested in a transfer. This was the park she loved. Kristy had grown up in nearby Savannah, Tennessee, and some of her earliest memories were of the cannons and monuments at Shiloh.

Owen avoided eye contact with her as she descended the stairs.

Thanks a lot, buddy.

He’d obviously known what the meeting was going to be about, but hadn’t had the nerve to give her a warning before she went upstairs. Kristy couldn’t blame him though. No one liked to be the bearer of bad news.

And with her newfound knowledge, the mystery of the unfamiliar ranger was solved. The Johnny Depp lookalike was the ranger who now had her position. Not to mention her office.

She silently gathered her hat and purse from the front desk and took them to the room reserved for seasonal staff. As she passed the office she used to occupy, a fleeting glance told her that Ranger Depp wasn’t inside. The seasonal office, if it could even be called an office, was full of old desks and equipment. Kristy turned on the light and took in the sparsely decorated white walls. It was a far cry from the cheerful yellow she’d painted her former office last year. Thankfully, the other members of the seasonal staff wouldn’t arrive until Monday. At least I should have peace until Memorial Day. She could even move the desks and junk, buy some paint for the walls, and live out the next few days in Pretend Everything’s Okay Land.

Except, eventually, she’d have to face reality.

She flipped on the computer and silently tapped her fingers on the desk as she waited forever for it to boot up.

Can I do this? Can I take a step down in pay and status? Seasonals were at the low end of the totem pole. She remembered those days all too well. Getting assigned the tasks no one else wanted to do and being expected to do them without grumbling. Would they do that to her again? Or would she continue to be treated as permanent staff, despite the demotion?

Demotion. Ouch.

Either way, it wouldn’t be pleasant.

She glanced down at the box of her things on the floor next to the computer, and tears flooded her eyes. Empty picture frames peeked out from the box flaps. The pictures that had once been in them were nowhere in sight. Someone had wanted to spare her feelings today. Either that, or they didn’t want to be stuck with an emotional female to console.

The frames might’ve been without pictures, but Kristy knew what they’d once held. Her heart pounded as she grabbed all three frames and tossed them in the trashcan, taking unexpected pleasure in the sight and sound of shattering glass. A yellow and white wad under a large shard caught her eye. She couldn’t resist carefully fishing it out of the can, even though she knew better.

Kristy unwrinkled the ball and smoothed it out on the old, beat-up desk, running her hand over the creases in the paper. Fancy paper, as Owen called it months ago when he’d first seen it. Her vision blurred with fresh tears, but she didn’t need to read the words to know what they said.

For a long moment, she stared down at the engraved invitation.

To her wedding.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Casting Off...Giveaway

Thanks to Kaitlyn from Berkley/NAL, Penguin Group USA, I can offer two copies of this terrific book as a giveaway. To enter, just leave me a comment with an email address.

I don't like making people jump through hoops to enter a giveaway. It's always nice if your comment was something other than "please enter me" and it would make my day (and could garner an additional entry) to have you as a follower.

However, it's fall and the weather has cooled off, so I'm feeling a bit...generous, and as long as I have your email address, it will suffice!

Giveaway ends Saturday 10/24. I will announce the winner then.

Giveaway Closed.

Casting Off...Review

About the book:
Casting Off:

1. Ending a knitted work.
2. Releasing lines holding a boat to its mooring.
3. Letting go...

On a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland, the fishermen’s handmade sweaters tell a story. Each is unique—feelings stitched into rows, memories into patterns.

It is here that Rebecca Moray comes to research a book on Irish knitting. With her daughter, Rowan, accompanying her, she hopes to lose herself in the history of the island and forget her own painful past. Soon, the townsfolk’s warm embrace wraps Rebecca and Rowan in a world of friendship, laughter, and love.

And it is here that young Rowan befriends Sean Morahan, a cantankerous old fisherman, despite his attempts to scare her off. As Rebecca watches her daughter interact with Morahan, she recognizes in his eyes a look that speaks of a dark knowledge not unlike her own. And when current storms threaten to resurrect old ones, Morahan and Rebecca find themselves on a collision course—with Rowan caught between them—each buffeted by waves of regret and recrimination. Only by walking headfirst into the winds will they find the faith to forgive without forgetting…and reach the shore.

A thoroughly charming novel. I was a bit hesitant to read another book about knitting, because I haven't truly enjoyed those I've read in the past. However, this one is charming. Set in modern-day Ireland, on a small island off the coast, Rebecca's story unfolds like a ball of yarn: sometimes gently rolling and other times bouncing out of her control. Predictably, she comes to terms with her past and accepts her new future.

The people of the island become Rebecca's new family as they embrace her and Rowan. It is through their gentle love and acceptance that Rebecca is finally able to face the demons of her past and move forward. Sean's part of the story is more melodramatic, his regrets and the ghosts of his past, real.
But with Rowan's arrival on the island, old Sean finally faces his that past and is able to atone for his wrongdoings.

With themes of domestic abuse, regret and forgiveness, this is a sweet, gentle story. The characters, and the island itself, work their way into your heart. The fascinating history of Irish knitting and the fishermen sweaters is explored, with details about the patterns and their meanings to the families and fishermen of Ireland.

Thanks to Kaitlyn Kennedy from
Berkley/NAL, Penguin Group USA for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Nicole R. Dickson here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Song of Renewal...Preview

About the book:
The Wakefields seem to have everything. Garrison is a hugely successful graphic artist. Liza is an active member of the community and a patron of the arts. Their 16-year-old daughter Angel is bright, beautiful, and a gifted dancer. At the same time, though, they have traded away many of their dreams. Garrison gave up a future as an accomplished painter to make money. Liza suspended her own dancing career to raise a family. And Angel is setting aside her ambitions to live her mother's dream.

When Angel gets into a car accident that kills her first love, the Wakefields' lives turn on a dime. While Angel lies in a coma from which even the best prognosis is devastating, Garrison and Liza sit by her side, their once-passionate marriage in tatters. As their heartache over Angel builds, Garrison and Liza struggle to rediscover who they once were--and who they were meant to be. They come to realize that it will take everything they have within themselves to heal Angel, heal their hearts, and renew the power of their love.

At once romantic, inspiring, and empowering, Song of Renewal is a rare bauble of a novel, one with something to say to every family.

About the Author:
Emily Sue Harvey is a past president of the Southeastern Writers Association. She has contributed to several volumes in the “Chicken Soup” and “Chocolate for Women” series, has published articles in multiple venues, and is the host of the website www.RenewalStories.com. She is the mother of grown children and lives with her husband in Startex, SC. Song of Renewal is her first novel.
--------------------------
Thanks to Joy Strazza of Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media for the opportunity to tour this book. You can learn more about Emily Sue Harvey here. You can purchase the book here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bella's Private Diary...A Must Read!

If you want a good laugh, check out this link: The Private Diary of Bella Swan. Bella Swan in a nutshell, and all the melodrama of Twilight. Brilliant! Absolutely Brilliant!

The Last Word...Review

About the book:
When Vanessa Jessup returns home from her sophomore year of college, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she's pregnant-by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her middle daughter rejected the father's abortion ultimatum, she's also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing and angry that the professor has disappeared without so much as a nickel of child support.

But that's not all Brill's got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. And she's trying to find that deadbeat dad, while Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.

The killer seems to be everywhere and nowhere. How can a police chief—and a mother—do her job with her life on the line? In a show of grace under pressure, Brill will manage to have the last word, even if it kills her.


Admittedly, I haven't read anything else by Kathy Herman, and this is the second in a trilogy. While it stands alone well, there are also many references to situations that I assume happened in the first novel.

It wasn't a difficult book to read, it just wasn't one that I found to be incredible or enthralling. I liked it well enough, and while I know the author was going for drama and suspense, much of the story seemed far-fetched to me. I could see it as some episode of a law enforcement show, actually. I also had a hard time relating to Brill, the main character. That could be because I haven't read the first book, and knowing her history could certainly endear her to readers. Emily's voice and thoughts seemed too old for her age. I also found the subplot of Vanessa running off all the time and meeting the "old man" in the park a bit strange, although I realize why the author put it into the book and how it tied into the story. It just seemed awkward and the whole thing wrapped up too neatly.

While I do think that, for the most part, some of the discussions between Vanessa and her parents regarding her pregnancy were realistic and accurate, I also found the story very preachy, to the point of lecturing.

I think that this is a book fans of Kathy Herman and Brill Jessup will love. I liked it well enough, it just didn't do much for me. I do recommend reading the books in order. A third book will follow next year and be more focused on Ethan's story.

Thanks to First Wildcard and Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for the opportunity to review this book. You can find out more about Kathy Herman here. You can read the first chapter here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/09

* *
2/5 Stars

The Last Word...Wildcard!

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Last Word (Sophie Trace Trilogy)

David C. Cook (2009)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fourteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren and live in Tyler, Texas.

Visit the author's website.





The Last Word, by Kathy Herman from David C. Cook on Vimeo.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 340
Vendor: David C. Cook (2009)
ISBN: 143476785X
ISBN-13: 9781434767851

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Police Chief Brill Jessup pored over the department’s budget for the rest of the fiscal year and couldn’t see any way she could afford to hire another patrol officer without going to the city council. She sighed. The last time she asked those tightwads for additional funds she practically had to beg.


A strange noise interrupted her thoughts. She peered through the blinds on the glass wall into the bustling detective bureau and listened intently. There it was again.


A burly man appeared in the doorway. He bumped off either side, then staggered into her office. Facedown. Hands dripping with blood, clutching his abdomen.


“What in the world …?” She jumped to her feet, frozen in place.


Detective Sean O’Toole looked up and stretched out his hand toward her, his eyes screaming with pain. He collapsed in front of her desk and hit the floor.


“Officer down!” she shouted. “I need an ambulance—now!”


She hurried around the side of her desk, grabbed the clean hand towel next to the coffeepot, and got down on her knees. She laid the towel over the bloody wound and applied pressure.


“Sean, talk to me. What happened?”


The detective’s face was ashen. “He c-came from behind … put me in a choke hold … stuck a knife in my gut … said he was coming after you—to f-finish the job.”


“You never saw his face?”


“No. Hairy arms. White guy. Navy blue short sleeves. Smelled like c-cigarettes. Deep voice.”


“Where did this happen?”


“Hallway. Watercooler.”


Sean moaned, his face pallid and contorted with pain, his eyes slits of icy blue.


“Come on, Sean, stay with me.”


Detective Captain Trent Norris burst into her office. “I’ll take it from here, Chief.”


“How did he get from the watercooler to my office without someone in the DB seeing he needed help?”


“I guess we were all focused on other things. It’s been crazy.”


Trent got down on the floor and swapped places with her, his palms pressed over the wound. “Hang in there, buddy. The paramedics are just down the block. They’ll be here any second. You’re going to be fine. Stay with me. Talk to me.”



Brill sprang to her feet and hurried over to the officers who crowded outside her door. “O’Toole was just stabbed by some lowlife who snuck up behind him at the water cooler. We’re looking for a white man wearing a short-sleeve, navy blue shirt, possibly bloodstained.”


She locked gazes with Sean’s partner. “Detective Rousseaux, secure the scene and make sure it’s not compromised.


“Captain Dickson, lock down the building and search every corner of every room.


“Sergeant Chavez, set up a containment for two blocks around the building.


“Sergeant Huntman, clear the route to St. Luke’s and make sure we have officers in radio cars ready to escort the ambulance. Come on, people, move it!”


The officers scrambled in all directions, and she ran out to the restroom.


She tore off paper towels until she had a stack, folded them in half and held them under the faucet, then pressed out the excess water and rushed back to her office.


She got on her knees and gently pressed the wet towels onto Sean’s forehead, all too aware he was sweating profusely and still bleeding despite the pressure Trent was keeping on the wound. “We need something to elevate his legs.”


She went over to the bookshelf and grabbed several thick books and put them under Sean’s feet, hoping he wouldn’t die of shock before the paramedics arrived.


Lord, don’t take him now. He’s young. He’s got a wife and three kids.


“Come on, buddy, talk to me.” Trent patted Sean’s cheeks. “What else do you remember about this creep?”


“Tell Jessica I love her. The kids, too. Promise me.”


“You’re not going to die,” Trent said. “The bleeding’s slowing down. Talk to me, Sean. We want whoever did this to you.”


“He’s coming after the chief. Going to kill her.”


“Who’s going to kill her?” Trent’s dark eyes shot Brill a glance. “Give us something else. You’re too sharp of a detective to have missed anything.”


“Had a mark. Top of right hand.”


“What kind of mark?”


“A tattoo. Or b-birthmark. Size of a quarter.”


Brill heard voices and heavy footsteps in the DB, and seconds later two paramedics glided through the door and asked her to stand aside with Trent.



She observed in disbelief as the pair worked to save her detective’s life, heartsick that she might have to tell his wife and children he’d been murdered on her watch—and just feet away from armed police officers.


She started to brush the hair out of her eyes and realized her hands were bloody. She shuddered with the realization that whoever thrust a knife into Sean O’Toole had threatened to finish the job when he got to her.


~~~~~~~~~


Five hours later Brill sat at the conference table in her office with Detective Captain Trent Norris, Detective Beau Jack Rousseaux, Patrol Captain Pate Dickson, and Sheriff Sam Parker trying to assess where they were in the case.


“It’s a miracle Sean made it through surgery.” Brill looked from man to man. “We could be sitting here planning his funeral.”


“He’s too stubborn to die,” Beau Jack said.


“Stubborn’s no match for a knife blade, Detective. I want this animal locked up.”


“Don’t forget he threatened to come after you,” Trent said.


“How’d he get in here, anyway?”


Pate’s face turned pink. “One of my sergeants, Tiller, reported that a white man dressed in navy blue coveralls with the Miller’s Air Conditioning logo on the pocket was standing outside the door when he arrived this morning. The guy said he was here to fix the AC. He had a toolbox and a big smile. Dark hair and mustache. Big guy. Looked fifty to fifty-five.”


“So the sergeant just keyed in the combination and let him in without checking with maintenance?” Beau Jack said. “Real smart move.”


Pate stroked his chin. “Come on, Miller’s service people are in here all the time. The sergeant let down his guard. We’ve all done it.”


“Yeah, well, my partner nearly died because Sergeant Tiller let down his guard.”


“What’s done is done,” Brill said. “It’s not like we have a precedent for this kind of thing in the Sophie Trace PD.”


Beau Jack stuck a Tootsie Pop in his mouth. “I guess we do now.”


“We definitely need to tighten security,” Trent said. “Since we have no idea who this guy is, everyone we bring into the DB to be interviewed will be suspect.”


“I can’t spend the rest of my life in fear of this nutcase coming after me,” Brill said. “I have a job to do. Trent, you take charge of tightening security. All of us need to heighten our awareness of our surroundings. Anything or anyone that doesn’t feel right, check it out.”



Sam’s white eyebrows came together. “I can’t believe y’all were that trusting. My deputies would never let unauthorized individuals into a secured area. They’re trained to follow protocol.”


“So are my officers.” Brill forced herself not to sound defensive.


“But those of you in the county sheriff’s department deal with a broader range of criminals. Until now, the Sophie Trace PD had no reason to fear an officer being attacked in a secured area.”


“I’ll cover it in each briefing,” Trent said. “From this day forward, no one gets in the secured area until he has clearance. I don’t care how inconvenient it is to check him out.”


Brill looked over at Pate. “Tell me about your search of the building.”


“No evidence was found in the building, ma’am. My officers searched every nook and cranny and checked the sinks for hair and blood. Doesn’t appear the attacker stopped to clean up.”


“How’d Chavez do with the containment?” she said.


“He contained a two-block area around city hall, checked license plates, and talked with pedestrians. That yielded one female witness who passed the suspect on the sidewalk around 10:45—just after O’Toole was stabbed. The suspect was headed down First Street at a pretty good clip. Our witness says he was overweight, average height, dressed in navy blue coveralls and a black windbreaker and carrying a gray toolbox. She said he was wearing sunglasses and did not have a mustache. She’s working with Tiller and our sketch artist. We ought to have something soon.”


“Did she see which way he went?” Trent said.


Pate shook his head. “Once he passed her, she didn’t give him a second thought until Chavez questioned her.”


“Well,” Brill said, “I’m eager to see the sketch. If this man has threatened to come after me, I’d sure like to see if I recognize him.”


~~~~~~~~~


A short time later, Brill sat at her desk and studied the artist’s sketch of the man who stabbed Sean O’Toole. Sergeant Tiller was the only one who saw the suspect’s eyes, and the female witness was the

only one who saw his mouth without the mustache. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put a name to the face or even explain what it was about him that looked familiar.


Her cell phone vibrated, and she read the display screen.


“There you are,” she said. “I guess you got my message?”


“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kurt Jessup said. “I’ve been following the news. I’m glad Sean pulled through. Must’ve been horrible for you.”


“I thought we were going to lose him.”


She told Kurt everything that had happened from the time Sean O’Toole staggered into her office until the paramedics took him to St. Luke’s in an ambulance—except that the assailant told O’Toole he was coming after her to “finish the job.” Why get into that over the phone?


“Sounds intense. You must be emotionally drained.”


“I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet. It was surreal washing Sean’s blood off my hands, and I had to throw away my uniform shirt. Beau Jack lent me the extra shirt he had in his locker so Emily wouldn’t have to see the mess. Does she know about the stabbing?”


“Yes, but I made sure she’s not planted in front of the TV, listening to the gory details. It’ll just trigger thoughts of the hostage ordeal, and we both know she’s not over it.”


Are any of us? Brill glanced up at the clock. “I’ll be home in forty-five minutes. Is Vanessa there yet? I can hardly wait to see her.”


“She’ll be here between seven and eight. Said not to plan on her for dinner.”


“By the time I get home, it’ll be too late to cook anything,” Brill said. “And you know what Friday night is like. If we go out, we’ll have to wait forever, and I don’t want Vanessa to come home to an empty house.”


“I’ve got it covered, honey. I bought a baked chicken and a quart of potato salad at the grocery store. We’ve got stuff here for a green salad. That should work.”


“What would I do without you?”


Kurt laughed. “I have no idea.”


“I’ll see you soon. I love you.”


“Love you, too.”


Brill hung up the phone and looked out the window. Through the leafy trees and beyond the ridges of hazy green foothills, the blue gray silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains dominated the early evening sky. She sat for a moment and just enjoyed the beauty and the calm.


Lord, thank You for letting Sean pull through.


Her office phone rang, and she picked it up. “Yes, LaTeesha.”


“Captain Donovan from the Memphis PD is on line one for you.”


“Thanks.” She pushed the blinking button. “Hello, John.”


“Hey. It’s great to hear your voice. Saw you on the news last fall. I figured you’d make a name for yourself, but I didn’t think you’d go to such extreme measures.”


She smiled. “Things got pretty crazy, all right. So are you enjoying my old office?”


“Not today. I’ve got bad news … Zack Rogers was stabbed night before last. Happened in his driveway. Some worthless piece of garbage came up behind him and stuck a knife in his gut, and said to tell District Attorney Cromwell he was coming after him. I didn’t call you because the doc said Zack was going to be all right. But his heart gave out …”—John’s voice cracked—“an hour ago. No one saw it coming. His kids are still in high school, and with their mother dead … well, it’s a tragic loss. I knew you’d want to know since you and Zack were partners for so long.”


Brill felt a wave of nausea sweep over her, a decade of memories flashing through her mind in an instant.


“The thing is,” John said, “we knew Zack was being targeted because one of my detectives was stabbed last week, and the perp told him he was coming after Zack. We offered Zack protection, but you know how independent he was—bound and determined he could take care of himself.”


Brill’s heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it. “John, one of my detectives was stabbed today just outside the detective bureau. The attacker told him he was coming after me, to finish the job. This can’t be a coincidence.”


There was a long moment of dead air, and she figured John was processing the implications.


“You and Zack helped put away lots of perps, Brill. And Jason Cromwell was district attorney during the time you two were partners. Did anybody ever threaten you?”


“Are you kidding? All the time. We blew it off.”


“Well, looks like one of them was dead serious. Anybody in particular stand out?”



“Sure, Bart and Sampson Rhodes. But they’re lifers and not eligible for parole. Zack and I busted them what, nine or ten years ago? If they had been serious about taking us out, they could’ve snapped their fingers and gotten it done in nine or ten minutes.”


“Maybe they’re patient,”


“Or maybe this is someone else,” Brill said. “Someone who was forced to wait a long time for the chance to get even—someone who served out his sentence. Someone who wouldn’t think of hiring a hit man, but rather delights in the systematic elimination of the people who put him away. Someone who enhances his enjoyment by first stabbing a person who is close to the intended victim and making sure that person lives long enough to tell the intended victim that he or she is next.”


“You’ve worked with the FBI profilers so long you actually sound like one.”


“Unfortunately, John, I think I’m right.”


©2009 Cook Communications Ministries. The Last Word by Kathy Herman. Used with permission. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.