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Thursday, May 31, 2012

First Wild Card Tour: Mary's Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley

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:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning author with more than 650,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers—where she received the Mentor of the Year award in 2006—DFW Ready Writers, and Christian Authors Network. She lives in Hurst, Texas, with her husband of over 45 years.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Mary Lenora Murray was adopted by parents who had recently lost a child while on the last wagon train west in 1867. When she is thirteen years old, Mary’s mother and her two older sisters die in the cholera pandemic, leaving her the oldest child with four younger siblings to raise. Her father, in his grief, pours himself into keeping the farm going, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.




Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386177
ISBN-13: 978-1616386177



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


"Pa?” Mary Lenor a Murray shouted back over her shoulder as she picked up the heavy picnic basket. “You ready to go?” Why does he always drag his feet when we’re going to
church?
Her father came through the mud room into the kitchen, letting the screen door slam shut behind him. He smelled of heat, hay, and sunshine, with the strong tang of muck from the barn mingled in. By the looks of his clothes, attending church was the farthest thing from his mind. His ratty trousers held smudges of several dark colors. She didn’t even want to guess what they were. And the long sleeves of his undershirt, the only thing covering his torso, were shoved above his elbows. Grayed and dingy, the shirt would never be white again, no matter how hard she tried to get it clean.
Mary bit her tongue to keep from scolding him as she did her younger brothers and sister when they made such a racket entering the house. No doubt he would give her some excuse about having too much work to go to church. Not a big surprise. She’d heard it all before too many times.
He set a bucket of fresh water beside the dry sink and gripped his fingers around the front straps of his suspenders. That always signaled he was about to tell her something she didn’t want to hear.
“I’m not going today.” This time he didn’t really make any excuses, just this bald-faced comment.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to calm her anger. She’d give him a sweet answer even if the words tasted bitter in her mouth. “The new pastor is coming today. We’re having dinner on the grounds after the service. Remember, I told you when we got home last Sunday.” She flashed what she hoped was a warm smile at him and prayed he couldn’t tell it
was fake.






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“What happened to the last one? He didn’t last very long, did he?” Pa started washing his hands with the bar of homemade soap she kept in a dish on the shelf. “Don’t understand why that church can’t keep a pastor. Someone musta run him off.”
Mary couldn’t keep from huffing out a breath this time. “I told you about that too.” She clamped her lips closed before she asked the question that often bounced around her mind. Why don’t you ever listen to me? At seventeen she was close enough to being an adult to be treated like one, and she’d carried the load of a woman in this household for years.
“His wife died, and his father-in-law begged him to bring the grandchildren closer to where they live, so he headed back to Ohio. Living in the same community as their grandparents, he’d have a lot of help with the younger ones.”
Mary had never known her own grandparents, none of them. Not her mother’s parents. Not her father’s parents. Not the par- ents of whoever gave birth to her. She didn’t wonder about any of them very often, but today her heart longed for someone who really loved her.
With bright red curly hair and fair skin that freckled more every time she stepped into the sunlight, she didn’t resemble anyone in this family that had adopted her as an infant. Since they were black Irish, they all had dark hair and striking blue eyes, not like her murky green ones. And none of them had ever wanted to know what she thought about anything—except her mother.
“Well, I’ve gotta lot to do today.” Her father reached for the towel she’d made out of feed sacks. “You and the others go ahead. I might come over that way at dinner time.”
No, you won’t. Mary had heard his statement often enough to know he was trying to placate her so she would leave him alone. So she would.
“Frances, George, Bobby, come on. We don’t want to be late.”






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Lena neL son DooLey


She shifted the handle of the loaded basket to her other arm. “Frances, you grab the jug of spring water. We might get thirsty.” Her father’s icy blue eyes pierced her. “Pretty warm out today.
No sign of rain.”
“We’ll be picnicking in the field between the church and Willamette Falls. It’s cooler there, especially under the trees with the breeze blowing across the water.” She started toward the front door.
“Keep your eyes on the boys.” His harsh command followed her. “Don’t let either of them fall into the river. They could drown. Water’s fast right there.”
She nodded but didn’t answer or look back at him. All he cared about were those boys and getting them raised old enough to really help with the farming. He already worked them harder than any of the neighbors did their sons who were the same ages.
Six long years ago her mother and older sisters contracted diphtheria when they went to help Aunt Miriam and Uncle Leland settle in their house on a farm about five miles from theirs. On the trip to Oregon one of them had contracted the dread disease and didn’t know it until after they arrived. No one knew they were all dead until Pa went looking for Ma, Carrie, and Annette a couple of days later. He saw the quarantine sign someone nailed to a fence post and didn’t go closer until he had help. When he came home, he told Mary she would have to take over the keeping of the house. Six long years ago.
When did my life become such drudgery? Had it ever been any- thing else? At least not since Ma died, which seemed like an
eternity ago.
















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M a ry ’s Ble s si ng


4 4 4


Daniel Winthrop whistled while he dressed for church. He looked forward with anticipation to the moment when he would lay eyes on Mary Murray. Even her name had a musical ring to it.
He’d been waiting and planning what to say when he approached her. Today he would start his subtle courting. With the situation at the Murray farm, he knew he would have his work cut out for him to convince her she could start a life of her own with him. After he achieved that, he’d ask her father for her hand.
Visions of coming home to her each night and building a family together moved through his head like the slides of photo- graphs in the Holmes stereopticon they had at home. He loved her already, but more than that, he wanted to get her out of that house, where she was loaded down with so much work and responsibility.
Daniel had often gone with his mother when she bought fresh produce from the Murrays, so he knew what her life had been like since her mother died. Their families came to Oregon on the same wagon train, so he’d known her all his life. He was only three years older than she was, and he had watched her over the last few years as she blossomed into a beautiful young woman.
Mary needed to be appreciated and cared for, and he was just the man to do it.
“Daniel, we’re leaving soon.” His father’s voice prodded him from his dreams.
With a final peek into the tall cheval glass, he straightened his necktie before he headed out the door of his room. “I’m on my way.”
He bounded down the stairs and took their picnic basket






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from his mother. “Something really smells good.” He gave a loud sniff. “Do you need me to test and make sure it’s all right?”
He welcomed her playful slap on his hand that crept toward the cover on the basket. Her laughter reminded him of the chimes he had heard in the larger church in Portland.
“Not a single bite until dinner.” Like a queen, she swept out the door Father held open for her.
Their familiar ritual warmed his heart. He looked forward to creating family rituals with Mary. Once more he whistled as he headed toward the brougham. Nothing could cloud his day.
When they pulled up to the Methodist church, his father guided the team toward the back, where a large area paved with fine gravel gave plenty of space for those who arrived in horse- drawn vehicles. While Father helped Mother down from the open carriage, Daniel took the reins and tied them to one of the hitching rails that outlined the space. He chose the rail under
a spreading black cottonwood tree where the limbs were just beginning to show the leaf buds.
He scanned the lot, looking for the Murray wagon. Not there. Disappointed, he stared at the ground. Please, God, let Mary come today.
Clopping hoofs and a jingling harness accompanied a wagon
taking too fast of a turn into the parking area. Daniel cut his eyes toward the advancing disaster. Two of the wheels did indeed lift from the ground. Before he could get a shout out of his mouth, he heard Mary’s sweet voice.
“Lean to the right, boys!”
George and Bobby, Mary’s brothers, scrambled across the seat, followed by Frances. The wagon wheels settled into the gravel, and Mary pulled on the reins.
“Easy. Settle down.” Even though she spoke to the horses, he
heard every word.






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His heart that had almost leapt from his chest also settled down when he realized she was no longer in danger. Thank You, Lord.
The wagon came to a standstill, and Mary put her dainty hand to her chest and released a deep breath. The green cotton fabric, sprigged with white flowers, looked good on her, setting off her red hair, pulled up into a bunch on the top of her head. Without a hat or bonnet covering it, the sun danced across the curls. He loved seeing the wisps frame her face. That’s how he pictured her when he dreamed about their future.
Mary sat a moment without moving. She was probably scared out of her wits. Where was her father? He should have been driving the wagon, not her. How long had it been since the man had attended services? Daniel couldn’t remember the last time. It was not a good thing for a man to neglect his spiritual nature. He’d just have to pray harder for Mr. Murray.
Daniel hurried toward them. “Hi, Mary.”
She looked up, straight into his eyes, fear still flickering in the back of her gaze. “Daniel. Good morning.” Her words came out riding on short breaths.
He took hold of the bridle of the horse nearest him. “I can hitch your team under the trees for you.”
After releasing another deep breath, Mary nodded. “Thank you. I’d like that.” She turned toward her siblings. “Frances, you get the picnic basket, and George, you carry the jug of water. Go find us a pew, perhaps near the back of the sanctuary, and put the things under the bench. I’ll be right in.”
The younger children climbed out of the wagon and followed their sister’s instructions. Mary watched them until they’d gone around the side of the building toward the front. Then she stood up.
Before she could try to climb over the side, Daniel hurried to








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help. He held out his hand to her. She stared at it, then looked at his face.
“I’ll help you down.” He gave her his most beguiling smile. For the first time since she arrived, she smiled back, and pink
bled up her neck into her cheeks. Her blush went straight to his heart. Oh, yes, he loved this woman.
Mary slipped her slim fingers into his hand. Even through the white cotton gloves, he felt the connection as warmth sparked up his arm like fireworks on Independence Day. She glanced down so she could see the step. When she hesitated, he let go of her hand and both of his spanned her tiny waist. With a deft swing, he had her on the ground in seconds. He wished he had the right to pull her into an embrace. Wouldn’t that just set the tongues a-wagging? He couldn’t do that to her. Mary needed to be cherished for the treasure she was. And as far as Daniel could see, her father really didn’t treat her that way.
He watched her walk toward the front of the building, enjoying the way her skirt swayed with each step, barely brushing the tops of her black patent shoes. That is one beau- tiful woman. He turned back to her team. Walking beside the horses, he led them toward the hitching rail where his family’s brougham was parked, hoping it would give him the oppor- tunity to help her back up onto the wagon seat. As he crossed the lot, several other conveyances entered, and he waved and exchanged greetings with each family.
The church was the first one established in Oregon City. At that time, it was the Methodist Mission but grew as the town did. Along the way, members of this body had a great influence on what happened in the burgeoning city. And that was still true today. His Winthrop ancestors, who settled nearby, had been instrumental in both the growth of the church and of the
town. He felt a sense of pride at being a part of something that






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important, and he wanted to increase the town’s assets, because he planned to raise his own family here. Maybe establish a dynasty of his own, watching his sons and daughters, then his grandchildren, prosper.
His woolgathering slowed the progress of tying the horses to their spot. He needed to hurry so he wouldn’t miss the begin- ning of the service. As he opened the front door, Mrs. Slidell struck the first chord on the new Mason and Hamlin reed organ. The church had ordered the instrument from the manufacturing plant in Buffalo, New York. When it arrived only a couple of weeks before, the music added a special feeling to the worship and helped most people stay on the right tune better than the old piano did. He hummed along with the introduction to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” his favorite hymn.
Glancing around the room, Daniel finally spied Mary and her siblings sitting on the second pew from the back on the right side of the aisle. He squared his shoulders and confidently approached the wooden bench. He asked if he could sit with them, and she scooted over to make room. Just what he wanted. He would be sitting right beside her.
Throughout the service, Daniel had a hard time keeping his mind on the proceedings. Mary sat close enough for him to touch her if he leaned a little to his right. He was so tempted to bump against her arm, but he held back. He imagined clasping her hand in his and holding it for longer than just a few seconds while helping her down from a conveyance or through a doorway, really wrapping his large fingers around hers and intertwining their fingers. Just thinking about it caught his breath.
He whooshed it out, and she turned toward him, her eyes wid- ening with a question. After flashing a smile at her, he glanced up at Rev. Horton. The man’s delivery was smooth, and his words
made a lot of sense. He’d be a good pastor for them, but Daniel






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couldn’t keep a single word of his message in his mind. Not while he could feel Mary’s presence with every cell in his body.
Instead, in his mind he searched up and down the streets of Oregon City, seeking a place to turn into a home for him and his beloved. If the right house wasn’t for sale, he could build her one. She could help him choose the design. That’s what he’d do. Build her the home she’d always dreamed of. His heart squeezed with the knowledge of what he planned to do. He could hardly keep the idea to himself. He hoped it wouldn’t take too long for him to convince her that they should marry.
He’d even hire servants to help her manage their home. Whatever her heart desired, he’d do everything he could to present her with all she wanted. He only hoped it wouldn’t take too long. At twenty years old, he was ready to move on to the next phase of his life—with Mary by his side.
“Now let us bow our heads in prayer.” Rev. Horton raised his hands to bless the whole congregation.
Daniel dropped his head toward his chest. How had the man finished his sermon without Daniel noticing? Next Sunday he’d have to listen more closely. He really did want to get to know the new pastor and his family.
“Amen.” After the pastor pronounced the word, several other men echoed it.
Daniel watched his father rise from the second pew near the front on the left side of the aisle and take his place beside the new preacher. He placed his arm across the man’s shoulders. “Dear friends, on your behalf, I welcome our new pastor. Now let’s all meet his lovely family.” He waved toward a woman sitting on the front pew. “Mrs. Horton?”
The woman stood and turned toward the congregation. She was pretty, but not as young or as pretty as Mary.
“And,” Father’s voice boomed, “these are their children.”






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Four stair-step youngsters stood beside their mother. The tallest, a boy. The next, a girl. Then another boy, and the shortest, a cute little girl. As if they had rehearsed it, they bowed toward the people in unison.
Several women across the sanctuary oooed or aahed before a loud round of applause broke out. The three oldest children gave shy smiles, and the youngest tugged at her mother’s skirts. When Mrs. Horton picked her up, the girl waved to the people, clearly enjoying the attention.
“I hope you all brought your blankets and picnic baskets.” Father beamed at the crowd. “We’re going to spread our food together. I believe there are plenty of sawhorse tables set up near the building. And you can pick a spot under the trees to settle for your meal. Just don’t forget to take the time to greet our new ministerial family while you’re here.” Father led the Horton family down the aisle and out the front door.
Daniel turned back toward Mary. “Perhaps you and your brothers and sister could spread your blanket beside my family’s.” A tiny smile graced Mary’s sweet mouth. “If you’re sure your
mother wouldn’t mind, I’d like that.”
“Oh, yes. I’m sure.” He stepped into the nearly empty aisle and moved back to let Mary and her family precede him, and he quickly followed behind.
His heartbeat accelerated just thinking about spending spe- cial time with the object of his affections. Without thinking, he started whistling a happy tune.
Mary glanced back at him. “I didn’t know you whistled.”
“Oh, yes. I’m a man of many talents.” His heart leapt at the interest he read in her gaze. Things were well on their way to working out just the way he wanted them to.



My Review:


Mary Murray has had a very hard life, especially since her Mother and older Sisters died when she was eleven. Her father had depended on her to raise her younger sister and two younger brothers. A lot of responsibility for a child, while father then looses himself in his grief. Daniel has know Mary all his life and becomes smitten with her, ah you will think now someone is going to rescue her. Not quite that easy. There is a lot more tragedy and heartbreak on the way. There will be some questions answered and others still to be revealed. This is such an enjoyable and quick read, that you don't want it to end....can't wait until next year when hopefully all will be revealed. In the meantime, enjoy this book, it is well worth it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tywebbin Blog Tour: Against the Gates of Hell: A Crack House Exodus by Mylow Young Review and Giveaway

Crack House Exodus

He had always looked down on those who partook and pedaled drugs which claimed the lives of many in the streets. Now Kerby Wilson finds himself held captive by his own pride and going down a very desperate path of his own. Distraught over the death of his parents and, the murder of a fellow police officer, Kerby alienates those closest to him, pushing them away¿his wife, brother, police force buddies and old friends. As the bottom falls out of his life and darkness consumes his soul, he sells all that he holds dear for an elusive state of peace.
Herby, Kerby's identical twin brother also known as Junior, is angry with Kerby for turning on his family, friends, and the police force and for going down this destructive path. As his heart hardens and he is caught up in his own battle of resentment and bitterness, he tries to shut Kerby out. But Rene, his God-fearing wife won't allow that to happen. Instead she continually appeals to his conscience, reminding him of God's unfailing love and Kerby's need for his help.
After Kerby's latest antics, Junior and the rest of their family and friends are challenged to push past their struggles with Kerby's addiction to help him. Will Kerby accept the help of his family and friends' Will he stop running and turn to the only one who can saved him and give him the power to stand against the gates of hell. This hope-filled story is one that gives a glimpse into the world of an addict and the struggles of those who love them and highlights the power of God's grace, love and forgiveness..



About the Author
MYLOW YOUNG is a native of Philadelphia and has struggled with drug addiction for more than half of his life. After several stays at Bethel Colony of Mercy and even serving in that same ministry, consistency in his life was not to be found. After totally surrendering his life to Jesus Christ and discovering his identity in Christ, he has found newness of life. Mylow and his wife Sondra attend The Connection of Statesville Church where Mylow serves as a Deacon. Mylow is available for speaking engagements at your church, youth group, Sunday school service or recovery group and can be contacted at "gatesofhell1@gmail.com".

MYLOW YOUNG is a graduate of University City High School in Philadelphia and attended the Basic Bible Institute of Pennsylvania. He is a licensed minister and deacon at the Connection Church in Statesville, N.C. where he currently resides with his wife Sondra. For more information visit: mylowyoung.com.



Purchase the Book Online at: Amazon.com
BarnesandNoble.com

For More Information Visit the author online at: www.mylowyoung.com View the blog tour schedule at: http://www.tywebbin.com/blog-tours/authors-on-tour/2012-tours/
My Review:

This book took me a full two days to read, and at times is a little wordy, but the message is Supreme! The story is about Kerby and Herby, identical twins, and their loving supportive family. Throughout the story there is a leaning, loving and supporting relationship with God. Herby is a Police Officer, and Kerby, a former Cop, is for use of a better word...an Addict! There are times in the book that you wonder if he will ever break the Coke habit?? What a horrible drug, and the violence [be prepared for a lot of it] and everything that goes with it is very heartbreaking! Right to the very last words of this book will you find out if Kerby will ever make it? You will become attached to many of these characters, and actually want to spend more time with them. This is my first book by Mylow Young, and hope there are many more!

Please allow Rafflecopter to load in order to win!! a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Wild Card Tours: The Anniversary Waltz: A novel by Darrel Nelson

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:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Darrel Nelson is a graduate of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, with bachelor’s degrees in English and education. He is a schoolteacher by profession, with thirty-three years of teaching experience, and currently teaches fourth grade at Raymond Elementary School. Nelson has had an article published in Lethbridge Magazine and has written several dramatic plays, two of which won provincial recognition and were showcased at a drama festival. He won the CJOC radio songwriting contest two years running and has had one song receive international airplay. Writing has always been a passion, and over the years he has written four novels intended for the juvenile market. They are unpublished as yet, but he reads them annually to his fourth-grade students. The Anniversary Waltz is his first novel intended for the adult market. Hometown: Raymond, Alberta, Canada

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




It’s the summer of 1946, and Adam Carlson has just returned from the war to his home in Reunion, Montana. Despite the strained relationship with his father, Adam sets out to revive the dilapidated family farm, neglected since his departure overseas four years ago. After some convincing to take a rest from his labors, he attends the town festival, where he meets Elizabeth Baxter, a young woman going steady with his former high school rival and now influential banker, Nathan Roberts.





Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616387157
ISBN-13: 978-1616387150



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


July 1946


Adam Carlson shifted in his seat on the Greyhound bus and stared wearily out the window. He couldn’t remember being this tired, not even during the heaviest part of the
fighting in Italy. But he was too excited to close his eyes now. He had finally received his discharge and was almost home. The return voyage across the Atlantic by army transport ship made him seasick, and the four-day journey across the country by train seemed to last forever. But that was all behind him, compartmen- talized in his memory along with a thousand other images he would just as soon forget. All that remained was the thirty-mile bus ride north from Great Falls.
Running a hand through his wavy, brown hair, he studied the landscape he hadn’t seen in four years—except in his dreams. And he had dreamed about his hometown of Reunion, Montana, a great deal, especially while lying under the stars at night and smelling the earthy aroma of freshly dug foxholes. Those were the times he wondered if he would ever see the Great Plains again or feel the wind on his face. He ached to see the Rocky Mountains and gaze at the foothills as they merged with the plains and stretched eastward into infinity. This was the country he loved, the country for which he had fought. Big Sky Country—a corner of heaven.
He noticed a hawk in the distance, riding the invisible current on graceful wings, circling above a stand of cottonwood trees. At that moment, he decided, it had been worth it—all of it.
Even though he had enlisted against his father’s wishes.
As the son of Hector Carlson, dry land farmer, Adam hadn’t needed to enlist. But he wanted to satisfy his sense of adven- ture. He wanted to see the world outside the farm’s boundaries, to answer the call of plain, old-fashioned patriotism. Remember Pearl Harbor! Laborers could be hired to bring in the harvest, he’d told his father, but who was going to go overseas and fight for a cause greater than one family’s run of bad luck?
Hector hadn’t accepted this reasoning, however. He tried to talk Adam into staying and helping run the farm. When his efforts proved futile, he gave up talking to his son at all. He didn’t come to see Adam off, nor did he write once in the four years Adam was away, not even a quick note scribbled at the bottom of the regular letters Adam received from his mother, Maude.
Adam shook the memory away and felt his heart rate quicken as the bus made the last turn leading into Reunion. The anticipa- tion of meeting his parents made him feel strangely nervous. It was dreamlike, as unreal as the world he had just left.
His thoughts went to those who would not be returning. Sixteen of his friends and comrades had fallen in Europe and were now permanent occupants. They would be forever denied the thrill of a homecoming and the anticipation of getting on with their lives. They would never see the mountains again or watch the maturing fields of wheat sway in the wind like a planted ocean. In their memory he closed his eyes, fighting his emotions as the Greyhound turned onto Main Street and headed for the bus stop in front of the Reunion Mercantile.
Several people were waiting on the sidewalk, anxiously craning to see inside the bus. A face appeared in the barbershop window next door to the Mercantile, peering out to study the scene. Two doors down a woman clutching several garments paused before entering Yang’s Dry Cleaners and glanced toward the bus stop. In a small rural community like Reunion, where grain prices and the weather were the main topics of conversation, the arrival of the Greyhound attracted attention.
Inside the bus the driver announced, “Reunion. Please remember to take all your personal belongings. I’ll set your lug- gage on the curb.” He opened the door, and those who were get- ting off made their way forward.
Adam remained in his seat, looking out the window. He watched as each person emerged and was immediately engulfed by waiting arms. It was heartwarming to see people embrace, cry, and laugh all at the same time. He wondered if his father would be this demonstrative, but he already knew the answer to that.
The bus driver reappeared in the doorway a few minutes later. “Isn’t this your stop, soldier?” He smiled sympathetically. “Sometimes it’s as hard coming home as it is leaving, isn’t it?”
Adam nodded and eased his six-foot frame out of the seat. He put on his service cap and adjusted his uniform before making his way up the aisle.
“Good luck,” the driver said, patting him on the shoulder. Adam stood in the door of the bus for a moment, watching
the happy scene. A woman in a blue cotton dress made her way through the crowd. It took Adam a moment to recognize his mother. She had aged during the past four years and looked so frail that he wondered how she got through the crowd without being snapped like a dry twig.
“Adam . . . Adam!” she called, her voice filled with so much emotion she could hardly speak. Tears formed in her eyes and ran down her cheeks as Adam quickly descended the bus steps. She took him in her arms and embraced him with surprising strength. “Oh, my son, God has answered my prayers and brought you back to me.”
Adam held her for a long time, his eyes closed, his lips quiv- ering. Maude silently wept on his shoulder and rubbed the tears with the back of her thin hand. Finally she held him at arm’s length as if unable to believe her eyes. Adam smiled reassuringly and gazed out over the crowd.
“He didn’t come,” she said, in answer to his unspoken question. Adam looked into his mother’s face. “But at least you came.” She reached up and stroked his cheek, her hand trembling.
“Of course I came. Wild horses couldn’t—” She changed the topic abruptly, likely realizing it would only serve to emphasize her husband’s absence if she didn’t. “Where’s your luggage?” she asked. “Let’s get you home so you can rest. You look exhausted.” So do you, he wanted to say, but he just smiled at her. It was obvious that the intervening years had taken their toll on her too. Adam led her toward the passengers who were sorting through the luggage, which was now sitting on the curb. He had no dif- ficulty identifying his two suitcases. They bore little resemblance to the ones he’d purchased four years earlier at the Mercantile. They were now held together by rope and packaging tape, and both of them showed evidence of journeys they’d taken aboard buses, trains, ships, army trucks, jeeps, and, on one occasion, an Italian farmer’s hay cart.
Maude had no difficulty identifying her son’s luggage either. As she reached for one of the suitcases, Adam quickly intercepted her. “I’ve got them, Mom,” he said, picking up the suitcases and adjusting his grip on the sweat-stained leather handles.
“The truck’s parked in front of the dry cleaners,” Maude said, taking hold of his arm and leading him through the crowd.
Adam nodded to the bus driver, who gave him a thumbs-up gesture, and followed his mother down the sidewalk, answering her questions and asking a few of his own. He realized the words of greeting he practiced on the bus were unnecessary. He hoped it would be the same when he finally met his father. But somehow he doubted it.
As the farm came into view, Adam drew in a deep breath. The surrounding fields of wheat and barley, a vibrant green beneath
a robin’s egg sky, were a pastoral setting of majesty and peace- fulness. But in many ways, returning home was like riding into enemy territory. Several times during the war, he had run into an ambush and barely escaped with his life, using every skill possible to survive. Today he felt like there was no refuge. He could only proceed directly into the line of fire and hope for the best.
His mind raced wildly as the pickup truck rattled through the gate and stopped in front of the house. He reached for the door handle but hesitated, taking everything in one more time in case it suddenly vanished . . . like a dream upon awakening.
The farmyard had changed. The two-story, clapboard house looked tired and faded, and several shutters hung at odd angles. The veranda tilted slightly to the south, and the railing was missing several spindles. The pump out in the yard had only a stub of a handle, and the clothesline beside it sagged noticeably. The woodshed and the barn were badly weathered, and the poplar tree near the garden now held only remnants of the tree house that he and his father had built years earlier.
Perhaps the farmyard had always looked like this and he hadn’t noticed. But a fresh coat of paint would do wonders to hide the wrinkles and blemishes, and he resolved to paint every building before winter. He would shore up the clothesline, repair the front step, fix the shutters, replace the handle on the pump . . .
A burst of energy surged through him. He would make it up to his father by getting the farm back in shape. It would be like he had never left. He would show his father that he did care.
Maude put her hand on his. “Before we go in, there’s some- thing I want to say. Despite your father not coming to meet you today, he does love you.”
Exhaling slowly, Adam turned toward her. “He has a funny way of showing it.”
“He has a hard time expressing his feelings sometimes, that’s all.” “He didn’t write once in four years.”
Maude stared out of the truck window, focusing on nothing in particular. She seemed to be searching for the right words. “I can’t say I agree with how he’s handled things, son. And I’m not trying to make excuses for him. But it’s been hard on him too. I just wanted you to know that.” She patted Adam’s hand. “I just hope the two of you can let bygones be bygones.”
Adam leaned over and kissed his mother on the cheek. “You’re a good woman, Maude Carlson.”
She smiled in appreciation, but her smile faded as the barn door opened and her husband stepped out into the sunlight. She glanced over at her son, who squared his shoulders and pulled on the door handle.
Adam was struck by how much his father had aged. His hair was much thinner, and his sun-hardened, wrinkled skin was stretched like tanned hide on a pole frame. His complexion resembled buckskin, rough side out, and his leanness added a sharp edge to his features. A permanent scowl creased his fore- head, and his mouth sagged at the corners.
Hector remained motionless, as though he was a gargoyle guarding the farmyard. His expression looked equally sullen and fierce, and Adam slowly approached him. Staring down the enemy in the fields and streets of Italy had not been this hard.
Maude hurried toward her husband. “Hec, it’s our boy! Adam’s home!”
Adam studied his father’s face, looking for any sign of wel- come . . . or forgiveness. But Hector’s granite-like countenance remained unchanged. Adam stopped several paces away and stood before his father like a disobedient child.
Hector met his son’s eyes momentarily, and then his gaze wan- dered over Adam’s uniform. The silence deepened and Adam felt the tension increase.
Maude narrowed her eyes. “Well, Hec, say something.”
Hector scratched his stubbled chin and cleared his throat. “They treat you okay?”
What a strange question, Adam thought. Was his father refer- ring to the army or the enemy? In all honesty, neither of them had treated him well. The army had removed four years of his life with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, and the Germans had been far less subtle than that. They had tried to kill him.
Adam felt numb as the memories of the past four years flooded his heart, a trickle at first and then a gush. The experience had been more overwhelming than he ever expected. And with one question his father had reduced it to insignificance.

“You know I don’t agree with what you did,” Hector said. “But
I’m glad you didn’t go and get yourself killed.” Adam forced a smiled. “I’m glad I didn’t either.”
Maude looked anxiously from one to the other. “Hec, this calls for a feast of the fatted calf. Get some beet greens from the garden, and I’ll cook a roast with all the trimmings.”
Hector remained motionless.
She shooed him away from the barn. “You go on, now.” Embracing Adam, she said, “Go have a bath and get some rest, son. I’ll call you for dinner. There’s so much to talk about.”
Adam glanced at the retreating figure of his father and returned to the truck to get his luggage, aware that his mother was reverting to her proven formula for restoring peace on earth, good will toward men: a delicious meal. In the past, good food had settled more arguments in the family than had any line of reasoning, logic, or argument. The way to a man’s heart . . .


My Review:


I loved this book, and could not put it down! The Prologue of the book let me know that Adam and Elizabeth ended up together, and were celebrating their 60th Wedding Anniversary. When the story opened Elizabeth was dating a banker named Nathan, and Adam was just returning from WWII. Such sweet reunions he had with his family, only his Dad Nathan still seems to be holding a grudge. There are so many tender moments ...like when Aunt Lenora gives Elizabeth her Mother's rings! Then there are some tragic and heartbreaking times. Throughout the story you see God's hand on their lives! Don't miss this quick and heartwarming read, back to a time right after the War, enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

Lake Manawa Summers (Book 3)
The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.
Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

Lorna Seilstad

Lorna Seilstad has called Iowa home her whole life. She received her B.S. in education from Lubbock Christian University. After her first child was born, she stopped teaching and became a professional wiper. "I wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, baby's bottoms, and countertops every day. But at naptime, I wrote." Today, she writes historical fiction with a generous dash of humor.

My Review:


Lilly Hart is working her fingers to the bone and taking care of her 6 year old son Levi! Her husband Ben died in a tragic train accident, and her in-laws want to take Levi and send him to boarding school. They start the book living in a tent at Lake Manawa.
This is the third book in this wonderful series! I hate to see it ending! All of our friends are back, and we spend some time with them. There is also a new character....Nick Perrin. He is building a new roller coaster at the Lake, and trying to capture Lilly's eye. Sparks will begin to fly...even in the kitchen!! Loved it! Of course delightful Levi will keep everyone hopping with his six year old enthusiasm. Don't miss this wonderful read, and conclusion to this great series!

Available May 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Thank you Revell Publishing for letting me review this book, there was no other compensation, and I was not required to give a positive review.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Bride Wore Blue: A Novel by Mona Hodgson

The Bride Wore Blue: A NovelThe Bride Wore Blue: A Novel by Mona Hodgson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another wonderful visit with the Sinclair sisters and a return to Cripple Creek CO.
We begin our journey with the youngest sister Vivian and Aunt Alma on the train, soon to arrive at Cripple Creek....and then the adventure and life changing adventure begins. The train is being robbed, and Vivian accidentally trips one of the bandits.
She is hoping to obtain a job as a fashion designer, and puts her talent to work in describing these hooligans. She meets the Deputy, who takes her statement, and her heart...Carter Alywn.
Be ready for a lot of action, and warm family reunions. You will feel so sorry for Vivian as she tries to find employment. She does make so very bad decisions, but who doesn't at such a young age?
Am so thankful that Mona Hodgson is giving us another installment, and wonderful visit to come with this great family, and I include Aunt Hattie in this family.
Throughout this book there is a reliance on God....and we find out that nothing is to big for him to Forgive.

I received this book from the Publisher Waterbrook Press thought their blogging for books program, and was not required to give a positive review.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Revell Blog Tour: A Love Forbidden: A Novel by Kathleen Morgan

/
About Heart of the Rockies (Book 2)
Moved by the desire for adventure and a yearning to help the Ute Indians, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado. The new job, however, isn't what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian Agent, and the unrealistic demands of the US government. Her unexpected encounter with Jesse Blackwater, an embittered half-breed Ute and childhood friend, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst the spiraling tensions threatening to explode into a catastrophic Indian uprising.

Set amongst the wilds of the Colorado Rockies in 1879, this is a tale of a forbidden love and a faith tested in the cauldron of intolerance and the harsh realities of life on the untamed frontier. Bestselling author Kathleen Morgan deftly explores themes of mercy, fidelity to one's beliefs despite what others think or do, and compassion for those different from oneself as she plumbs the depths of the human heart and the healing power of God's love.



Kathleen the Author
Kathleen began her career writing contemporary romances and soon moved to historical and futuristic romances. She sold her first book, a futuristic romance, in April 1990 while stationed in Korea as an Army nurse. Additional romances soon followed, until she had sold a total of fifteen books in the general market, establishing a loyal readership along the way.
Since that time, she has received numerous awards for her work, including a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award and Career Achievement award, and The Literary Times award for Literary Excellence in the Field of Romantic Fiction. She was also a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist.
Kathleen now focuses her writing talents in the area of inspirational fiction, offering readers characters who struggle to redefine their growing faith in everyday life.
Here is the backcover copy:
Moved by the desire for adventure and a yearning to help the Ute Indians, twenty-year-old Shiloh Wainright impulsively accepts a teaching position at the White River Indian Agency in northwestern Colorado.
The new job, however, isn’t what she imagined it would be, and Shiloh soon finds herself caught in the cross fire between the Utes, their unyielding Indian Agent, and the unrealistic demands of the US government.
Her unexpected encounter with Jesse Blackwater, an embittered half-breed Ute and childhood friend, only complicates matters as they battle their growing feelings for each other amidst the spiraling tensions threatening to explode into a catastrophic Indian uprising.


My Review:

The cover on this book pulled me in, but it took me awhile to get into the story. The setting of the book is in beautiful Colorado in the late 1870's, and we get to travel through this area with the characters. Jesse Blackwater and Shiloh Wainwright end up in the same Indian Village, when Shiloh tries to take a job there as a teacher. What a hard life poor Jesse has had and he really touched me....things that should never go on in a child's life, happened to him.

You can feel the sparks fly between the two, but Jesse or Nuaru has lost site of the God he accepted in his youth. I can see God's hand in putting Shiloh and Jesse back into ones lives in the Ute's Village. We follow the Goverment plan to move these people off their land and onto a Reservation. Of course, there is resistance...I tried to think how I would feel with someone coming in and taking my land?? You will wonder how all of this is going to come out, and if they will survive to marry?? Also will both come to terms with Forgiveness?

This is a reality read, things that happened mixed in with a different type of Love story. Enjoy!

I received this book from the Publisher Revell, and was not required to give a positive review.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston

Reckless Heart Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I so enjoy visiting with the Kauffman family, I've come to know them. We are visiting with Lydia Bontrager and her struggles. Her baby sister Ruthie is diagnosed with Leukemia and the family is very worried and financially strapped.
Besides the worry about her sister she is at a crossroad as to what she want to do...be a teacher or work in her Grandmother Elizabeth's bakery? She is also facing some challenges from some decisions she made, and really regrets. At 16 she takes on the role of an adult, filling in her Mom who has to go to the hospital and stay with Ruthie. So Besides working full time, she has a full time job being a Mother to her two other younger siblings.
The Amish Community rallies around the family, and the prayer chains are active...including the new "English" neighbors. With the new neighbors comes a boy Lydia's age...Tristan. You will be wondering who she is going to end up with?? Tristan, life long friend Joshua, or trouble Mahlon?
Another great read by Amy Clipston...Enjoy!

I received this book from Netgalley and the Publisher Zondervan.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Water Cycle by Mayra Calvani

The Water CycleThe Water Cycle by Mayra Calvani
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My 7 year old Grandson and I read this book together, and we greatly enjoyed it.
He was able to read parts to me, and loved answering the questions...like what was Ginger the cat feeling when she was hiding under the porch, during the hail storm? There are several questions like that, and and he had a delightful time thinking up answers.
We followed the journey of the rain droplets that got to heavy for the clouds to hold. We read about rain, floods....he felt sorry for the poor kids and Mom in the back of the truck! Also hail and snow...and then how the water got back up to the clouds.
This is a really great learning experience, and he did the word search at the end.
I received a copy of this book from the author Mayra Calvani and was not required to give a positive review.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888?created

Monday, May 21, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour: Beyond Hope's Valley (The Big Sky Series, #3) by Tricia Goyer Review and Giveaway

After an extended stay in Montana, where Amish traditions are different than in her home state, Marianna Sommer returns to Indiana for two reasons, first to help her brother and his girlfriend prepare for a baby and their wedding. Second, to plan her own wedding to Aaron Zook -- a marriage she’s been dreaming about ever since childhood. And yet, although she had missed the idyllic farms and families of her upbringing, Marianna is surprised that Indiana is somehow making her long now for Montana. As months pass, secrets that were hidden in winter’s frozen grasp thaw and take on a life of their own. The truths about a child, about a past relationship, and about God’s plans are being revealed. Walking through a valley of questions, Marianna must hold on to hope as she decides where and with whom her heart truly belongs.



Tricia Goyer is the author of thirty books including Songbird Under a German Moon, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife.

Win a Custom Amish Prize Pack from @TriciaGoyer in her Beyond Hope's Valley Giveaway! RSVP for All Things Amish Party {5/21}! Celebrate with Tricia and enter to win a custom-made Amish Wall hanging in the colors of your choice ... and much more!


One fortunate winner will receive: 
  •  Custom Amish Wall Hanging {You choose the colors!} 
  • An Amish Doll {Sweet.} 
  • Amish-made basket {It’s picnic season!} 
  • Doilies, potholder and an Amish cookbook {All items form Bird-in-Hand, PA!} 
  • Three book Big Sky Amish series {Be swept away by this captivating series.} 

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 20th. Winner will be announced at "All Things Amish" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/21. Tricia will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from her website) and giving away books, gift certificates and more! 

So grab your copy of Beyond Hope's Valley and join Tricia on the evening of the May 21st for a fun chat, trivia contest (How much do you know about the Amish?) and lots of giveaways. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)
Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 21st!


My Review:

I have so enjoyed my visit with Sommer family and have loved Marianne, and her sweet giving personality. We begin this book on our way back to where we started in Indiana. You will wonder if Marianne is about to finally wed Aaron Zook, a wedding she has planned in her mind forever. We also wonder about her feelings for Ben...if we all could look ahead down the future road. I love the reliance on God! We have been following these beloved characters through three books and this one being the final. I hate to say goodbye, you will have to read through a lot of heartache, and love. Although you can read this book alone, I wouldn't miss reading Beside Still Waters and Along Wooded Paths you will "Love" them. Be ready for a great conclusion to this wonderful series, and wish I could have more visits. Enjoy!!
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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tours: Forever Hilltop by Judy Baer

Romantic Times says of Forever Hilltop, "These two stories in one volume feature amazing characters - some are witting and some are quirky, but all of them are loveable and memorable. The small town comes to life and will remain with readers for a long time. Baer knows what her fans look for in a feel-good book and does not disappoint in either story."

Meet Alex Armstrong, former city dweller who has just accepted his first parish assignment to a small community in the wilds of North Dakota. In Hilltop Township, Alex becomes familiar with the colorful residents and their odd traditions, from rommegrot to lutefisk. And then there’s the excitement the single pastor creates among the unmarried women in the community! Alex soon discovers that his new church home has as much to teach him as he has to teach them, providing all with An Unlikely Blessing.

Surprising Grace

Alex Armstrong is settling into his new role as pastor of Hilltop Church, and he’s even starting to understand the strange ways of the people who populate this barren stretch of North Dakota prairie. But he also finds that his flock needs help and counsel like he never imagined. In this cozy and entertaining read, Alex must choose between the woman he once planned to marry—and the home he’s come to love.

Judy K Baer

Judy Baer was born and grew up on a farm on the prairies of North Dakota, experiencing many of the same things as her Hilltop characters. An only child, she spent most of her days with imaginary people-either those she read about or those she made up in her head.
Baer graduated from Concordia College with majors in English and education and a minor in religion. While at the time, she was simply studying what interested her, Baer later realized that she was educating herself for her future career as a Christian writer. She certainly put her education to use as she is the author of more than 75 books.
A certified professional life coach now certified in three coaching disciplines, Baer coaches primarily professional and aspiring writers. She is also a faculty advisor in the Department of Human Development at St. Mary's University in Minneapolis, MN. Baer has two daughters and three step children. She and her husband live in Minnesota.
She invites you to visit her at her web site www.judykbaer.com for more information on her and her books.

Kindle Giveaway



One grand prize winner will receive:

A brand new Kindle Touch for you AND one to giveaway to the friend of your choice Forever Hilltop by Judy K Baer for you and a one for a friend

Hurry, the giveaway ends on 5/22/12. The winner will be announced 5/24/12 on Judy’s blog!

Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Judy's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

My Reviews:

Part One: Forever Hilltop An Unlikely Blessing

I so enjoyed the characters in this book, made me wish I lived there! A perfect Rural Town America, and most everyone was looking out for another. When Alex Armstrong arrived in North Dakota, the people of Hilltop Township, did not expect the new Minister to stay. Love all the food arriving, and it warmed my Heart with the arrival of Tripod! You can see God's Hand in his calling Alex here, and he warms up to Country life real fast. From the beginning you wonder if the two churches involved in sharing this Minister will ever be brought back together. There are hurts that have lasted decades, and some hands that held out are left hanging. You will adore the Character Will, and his Hoomain Society. He sounds so cute, and full of mischief...I for one cannot wait to read the next book to find out how things come along, and renew old friendships!

Part Two: Forever Hilltop Surprising Grace

Just finished the second book in the two book Book!! Surprising Grace....we continued on with Pastor Alex, and the lives of these great folks in Hilltop ND Township. I hope there is to be more, these are for the most part wonderful God loving people. This is a continuation of An Unlikely Blessing...we will find some romance, some answers to questions, and some heartbreaks, and a loving community there to help. Alex contacts Natalie, who broke his heart, and now we will wonder if he will leave where God had led him? Or will he find someone else? What about darling Will, and his Hoomaine Society? Will something be done about Bucky Chadwick...who is really frightening everyone. Also Dixon's sister Emmy returns for a visit. I also loved what Lydia Olson does to her brothers, who have learned to depend on her for all there meals and taking care of the home. Enjoy this two book wonder of Love and Family...all who live here watch out for all like family.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Arms Of Love (An Amish Beginnings Novel) by Kelly Long

Arms Of Love (An Amish Beginnings Novel)Arms Of Love by Kelly Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very different type of Amish Story, with a lot of Historical reference. It takes place in Lancaster PA, but not the current Amish population. The Bishop doesn't come around all that often, and the district sounds huge, but a small number of Amish. Weddings can only happen when he comes, and it could be many months in between.
There are a lot of sad happenings in this story, death in childbirth, loss of a spouse in war, and home burning down, murder, imprisonment, and horrible child abuse. Not really happy topics.
The story did keep me turning the page, and kept my interest. It takes awhile for all of this to work out, and some of the happenings are so different that what we are used to with Amish stories.

I received this book from the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and Netgalley, and was not required to give a positive review.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pump Your Book Virtual Tours: The Unhappy Little Dragon: Lessons Learned by Carolyn Wolfe



This is the tale of a little Dragon who has a big problem, he cannot control his fire! After a major mishap, he runs away into the forest and has a wonderful adventure where he meets new friends, learns that every creature has a unique gift, and also finds out the special way in which he can use his own remarkable gift of fire.

Little Dragon Excerpt Shelley asked, looking at Happy expectantly.
Shelley The Turtle said,”Let me ask you something son, when you practice your fire burning skills-what do you tell yourself?”
“Tell myself? What do you mean?” asked Happy not understanding what his new friend was getting at.
Shelley answered, “Well, maybe I should ask instead, how do you feel when you practice holding in your flame?
“Oh that! I feel scared, so scared that I will fail and burn everything up!” Happy answered sadly.
“Well now, I have a suggestion for you. Try feeling like you will not burn everything up. Instead tell yourself you will succeed in keeping your fire to yourself!” Shelley told him.
“But I am so scared. I really don’t think I can tell myself that I won’t burn everything up when I know I will!”
Happy argued in a worried little voice.
Shelley looked at Happy’s very unhappy face and said,”I have news for you Happy, and I want you to listen to me now!”
Then Shelley continued to explain.
“Dragons aren’t the only ones who have special gifts, Happy, no, no! All of the animals were given a special gift of one kind or another. All of us had to learn how to use it wisely, just like you. You sort of have to grow into your gift, like growing up! That’s why the animals need a teacher.
Can you guess what my special gift is?” Shelley asked, expectantly.
Happy didn’t know the answer so he shook his head and just kept quiet.
“Why Happy, I am a teacher!” Shelley said proudly.


Carolyn Wolfe’s Bio
Carolyn Wolfe is a free lance writer, poet, and author of six books including her collections of poetry, short stories and her first children’s book of bedtime stories in verse, titled: The Bedtime Of The Sky and Other Sleepy Bye Stories. In this, her sixth book, The Unhappy Little Dragon, Lessons Learned, she reveals the journey of Happy the dragon, who, while trying to understand how to master his uncontrollable gift of fire, has an exciting adventure in the woods. His forest friends help him understand his gift and that he really is a very special dragon indeed! Ms. Wolfe lives in the Shenandoah Valley with her Photographer, husband Scott, and her houseful of animal companions. For more information about Ms. Wolfe and her books please visit her website at: www.whenthemoonspeaks.com.
Purchase this book at Amazon.

My Review:

Our boys loved this delightful book. The story revolves around a young [8 season old] dragon, who has a major problem...he can't control his fire. No matter how hard he tries Happy has accidents! The kids thought it was quite funny when he burned up the teacher's ruler! They also felt bad when he had a major accident at a big family party. The boys loved learning about the other animals in the forest and understanding what gifts God had given to them. A very thought provoking read, and it helped them to think about what gifts they have. I think this will be a book we will be reading again and again, and exploring it a bit deeper.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Litfuse Blog Tour: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade & Nook Giveaway


Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance. Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light...whether he likes it or not. When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed.

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She's been a fan of all things romantic ever since. Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad that Becky's passion for reading turned into a passion for writing.  She published three historical romances with Avon Books, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her kids, then recently returned to writing sheerly for the love of it. She felt led to move to the genre of contemporary Christian romance and couldn't be more thrilled with it. These days Becky can be found failing but trying to keep up with her housework, sweating at the gym, carting her kids around town, playing tennis, hunched over her computer, eating chocolate, or collapsed on the sofa watching TV with her husband.
Learn more at: www.BeckyWade.com
Meet Becky



My Review:
This is truly God's hand on everyone, he has placed the perfect people for the job at the place they need to be. I found myself trying to outwit God...but he has a plan and it must be followed! There is a lot of pain in some of the character's lives, mainly Matt, and you really want to hold him and hug him. He is running from that kind of compassion, and hits the wall with Grandma and Kate. There are so many chuckles here...you will love the Seniors!! Can you believe "poker night"! There also "love" interests here that come with a Lot of demands....change your hair....do something about your clothes...and more!! This becomes a real page turner with you guessing all the way. Enjoy this really sweet read!

Win a Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™ in Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and RSVP for FB Party {5/24}! Celebrate with Becky by entering her My Stubborn Heart Giveaway and connecting with her during the Author Chat Party on 5/24!


One fortunate winner will receive:
  • A Brand New Nook Simple Touch™ with GlowLight™
  • A $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Certificate
  • A copy of My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on May 24th. Winner will be announced at the "My Stubborn Heart" Author Chat Facebook Party on 5/24. Becky will be hosting an book chat, testing your trivia skills and giving away some great prizes!

So grab your copy of My Stubborn Heart and join Becky on the evening of the May 24th for a chance to meet Becky and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Enter via E-mail Enter via Facebook Enter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 24th!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

What  I  Didn’t  Know  |  Rhonda  Shrock

 
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  What  I   Didn't  Know  by  Rhonda  Shrock
 
  I  always  knew  I  wanted  to  be  a  mother.   As  a  girl,  I  played  house  with  my   dollies,  shushing  them  when  they  cried  and  kissing  their  plastic  heads.
 
  Looking  back  at  that  girl,  I  realize  now  that  there  was  a  lot  she  didn't  know.    This  morning  over  my  fresh-­‐ground  coffee,  this  mother  of  22-­‐1/2  years   scratched  out  a  list  of  10  things  she  didn't  know  then  that  she  knows  now.
 
  1.   I  didn't  know  -­‐  how  could  I?  -­‐  just  how  completely  a  tiny,  helpless  scrap   of  humanity  can  capture  the  heart  and  hold  it  forever.   From  that  first   whooshing  heartbeat  and  the  first  butterfly  brushes,  a  mother's  heart  is  never  again   her  own.   For  all  eternity,  it  enlarges,  walking  and  pulsing  and  moving  outside   of  her  body;  in  my  case,  in  the  shape  of  a  blue-­‐eyed  boy  with  rooster  tails.    Times  four.
 
  2.   I  didn't  know  that  the  size  of  a  mother's  heart  is  always  changing,   stretching  to  embrace  each  new  baby  that  comes,  then  growing  again  to  love  their   friends  and  then  their  own  families.
 
  3.   I  never  knew,  as  I  changed  my  dolly's  dress,  how  many  reasons  there   are  to  worry  when  you're  a  mama.     Didn't  know  about  the  nighttime   vigils.   Didn't  know  the  anxiety  of  separation,  the  terror  that  floods  when  you   turn  around  in  the  grocery  store  and  they're  gone.   Didn't  know  about  the   fear  of  the  pond  next  door  or  the  concern  that  pays  for  swimming  lessons.    Didn't  know  the  thousand-­‐and-­‐one  reasons  that  keep  a  mother  awake,   whispering  prayers  on  her  pillow  in  the  dark.
 
  4.   No  one  told  me  that  loving  so  much  means  that  you  will  hurt  hard  and   keen;   that  what  pains  your  child  hurts  you  even  worse.   I  didn't   know  then  that  a  playground  taunt  travels  through  that  smaller  heart  and  lands   square  in  yours,  stinging  and  burning  like  fire.   I  didn't  know  that   motherhood  makes  lionesses  of  us  all  and  that  there'd  be  days  I'd  have  to  bite  my   tongue  and  pray  to  not  sin.
 
  5.   I  didn't  know  how  exhausting  it  is,  being  a  mother.   I  didn't   know  that  it  takes  everything  you've  got  and  then  some.   Didn't  know  the   bone-­‐deep  exhaustion;  how  it  strips  you  bare  and  shows  how  selfish  you  can  be,  but,   too,  that  you  have  more  strength  than  you  know.
 
  6.   I  didn't  know,  playing  house,  how  much  joy  mothers  feel;  joy  so   big  that  it  makes  up  for  the  pain.   Just  looking  at  those  eyes  and  the  curve  of   the  cheek  can  make  you  so  happy  it  hurts.   Watching  them  grow  and  find  their   talent  and  win  at  something...all  the  money  in  the  world  can  never  buy  that  kind  of   happiness.
 
  7.   I  didn't  know  how  making  babies  and  raising  them,  how  it  binds  you  to   their  father.   I  didn't  know  the  intimacy  you  feel  when  your  eyes  meet   above  those  tousled  heads,  and  your  smiles  say,  "Just  look  at  what  we've  done."
 
  8.   That  girl  in  the  homemade  dress,  she  didn't  know  that  letting  go  is  one   of  the  hardest  things  a  grown-­‐up  mama  will  ever  do.   Rocking  those   babies  in  that  small  rocking  chair,  she  didn't  really  know  that  babies  grow  up  and   walk  away  and  there  goes  your  heart,  out  into  the  big,  wide  world.   No  one   told  her  that  part.
 
  9.   I  had  no  idea  how  rewarding  it  is,  being  a  mother.   How  the   happiness  that  comes  from  boy  kisses  and  awkward  hugs  can't  be  bought  or  sold.    How  proud  you  feel  when  you  see  what  they're  growing  up  to  be  and  that  all   the  planting  and  pruning  and  watering  and  feeding  is  finally  making  fruit!
 
  10.   I  didn't  know  how  much  my  babies  would  enrich  my  spiritual  life  or   how  they  would  change  the  way  I  pray.   I  didn't  realize  they  would  lead   me  to  a  deeper  dependence  on  the  Heavenly  Father  or  how  I  much  I  would  need  His   wisdom  to  raise  them  aright.
 
  These  are  things  I  didn't  know  before  I  was  a  mother.   But  I  know  them  now.    Oh,  how  I  know  them  now!   And  I’d  do  it  all  again.  
 
 
  ###
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Rhonda  Schrock  lives  in  Northern  Indiana  with  her  husband  and  4  sons,  ages  22,   18,  13,  and  5.  By  day,  she  is  a  telecommuting  medical  transcriptionist.  In  the  early   morning  hours,  she  flees  to  a  local  coffee  shop  where  she  pens  “Grounds  for   Insanity,”  a  weekly  column  that  appears  in  The  Goshen  News.  She  is  an  occasional   guest  columnist  in  The  Hutch  News.   She’s  also  blogged  professionally  for  her   son’s  school  of  choice,  Bethel  College,  in  addition  to  humor  and  parenting  blogs,  and   maintains  her  personal  blog,  “The  Natives  are  Getting  Restless.”  She  is  a  writer  and  editor   for  the  magazine,  "Cooking  &  Such:   Adventures  in  Plain  Living."    She  survives  and  thrives  on  prayer,  mochas,  and  books.   
 
 
 
 
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