Wednesday, August 31, 2011

CFBA: The Survivor by Shelley Shepard Gray


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Survivor
Avon Inspire; Original edition (August 30, 2011)

by
Shelley Shepard Gray




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Shelley Shepard Gray is the beloved author of the Sisters of the Heart series, including Hidden, Wanted, and Forgiven. Before writing, she was a teacher in both Texas and Colorado. She now writes full time and lives in southern Ohio with her husband and two children. When not writing, Shelley volunteers at church, reads, and enjoys walking her miniature dachshund on her town's scenic bike trail.



Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page







ABOUT THE BOOK



One of today’s most beloved authors of inspirational Christian fiction, Shelley Shepard Gray completes her acclaimed Families of Honor series with The Survivor—a poignant and beautiful story of love and faith in a small Amish community. Delving once more into the lives of these devout and fascinating folk, as she did in her popular Sisters of the Heart and Seasons of Sugarcreek novels, Gray tells the story of a young Amish woman who has survived the ravages of cancer, but now longs for the love of the one man who can heal her lonely heart. Like Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall, Shelley Shepard Gray introduces readers to characters they will never forget as she masterfully depicts a world of simple living, abiding faith, and honest emotions.



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

I haven't had a chance to read this one yet but I'm dying to get into it! I have never been disappointed with any of Ms. Gray's books! Have your read this one? What did you think? 

Monday, August 29, 2011

COTT Champ: Lisa T. Bergren

Guest post by Michelle Massaro






Congratulations, Lisa T. Bergren, author of Waterfall! Lisa's winning excerpt was discovered by COTT's new Talent Scout, Katie McCurdy. You can read Katie's review here. This YA title is being highly-praised by adults and is only the second YA title to win at Clash Of The Titles. Visit Lisa's site to learn more about her.


About the book:



Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.
Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved…
and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know…and love itself.


Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.


And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?


Sounds amazing, doesn't it? No wonder it won! If you're ready to read it, head to Amazon now. You can read Lisa's COTT interview here or check out her excerpt here.



Lisa, welcome to the COTT Hall of Fame. We're very happy to have you join us!


Readers, do you hunger for a well-written convo--one dripping with sarcasm or perhaps laced with unspoken meaning? Maybe you like a quick wit or a character whose comments make you LOL. Wish you could influence the dialogue of the fictional characters you read? This week COTT is hosting a showdown for the Snappiest Dialogue. Hurry on over and let our authors know what you like, and what you long to see, in the spoken interaction between characters. See you there!




* Michelle Massaro is the Assistant Editor for COTT and has a passion for evangelizing through fiction. She writes contemporary inspirational novels with heart-rending themes intended to frame the message of God’s healing love. Michelle has written for Romantic Times, Circle Of Friends, and Pentalk Community, among others. Find her on twitter @MLMassaro, Facebook, or her blog, Adventures in Writing, and join the fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Heart of the MatterHeart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Tessa has a successful life with her two children and her pediatric plastic surgeon husband, Nick. She just never feels like it's enough though! She is jealous of her brother Dex and sister-in-law Rachel's relationship and she feels that hers will never measure up.



Valerie is a single mom to adorable Charlie. Valerie's law experience does not prepare her for the accident that will threaten a friendship.



Nick and Tessa should be out happily celebrating another anniversary together. His cell phone rings and there is an emergency at the hospital. Perfect timing?



This book focuses on yet another scandal in the love lives of the characters. Keeping to true Emily Giffin form, characters become tangled up in webs of lies and infidelity. This is a quick read and one that can be enjoyed after a long week of work!



The characters will leave the reader with all different emotions. My favorite character in this book is Charlie. He seems to be the only level-headed person in the whole book! It's amazing the pull a child can have on another person and the way they make us put our lives in perspective!



View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

FIRST: Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic and Treasures from Grandma's Attic by Arleta Richardson


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 books:




and 


Treasures from Grandma’s Attic


David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



The late Arleta Richardson grew up an only child in Chicago, living in a hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan. Under the care of her maternal grandmother, she listened for hours to stories from her grandmother’s childhood. With unusual recall, Arleta began to write these stories for an audience that now numbers over two million. “My grandmother would be amazed to know her stories have gone around the world,” Arleta said.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:




Grandma did what? You might be surprised. Back in the 1880’s, when she was a young girl named Mabel, trouble seemed to follow her everywhere. She and her best friend, Sarah Jane, had the best intentions at home and at school, but somehow clumsiness and mischief always seemed to intrude. Whether getting into a sticky mess with face cream, traveling to the big city, sneaking out to a birthday party or studying for the spelling bee, Mabel’s brilliant ideas only seemed to show how much she had to learn. And each of her mishaps turned into lessons in honesty, patience and responsibility.


Arleta Richardson’s beloved series, Grandma’s Attic, returns with Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic and Treasures from Grandma’s Attic, the third and fourth books in the refreshed classic collection for girls ages 8 to 12. These compilations of tales recount humorous and poignant memories from Grandma Mabel’s childhood on a Michigan farm in the late 1800’s. Combining the warmth and spirit of Little House on the Prairie with a Christian focus, these books transport readers back to a simpler time to learn lessons surprisingly relevant in today’s world.


Even though these stories took place over a hundred years ago, there are some things about being a girl that never change. Just like Mabel, girls still want to be prettier or more independent. It’s all part of growing up. But the amazing thing is—Grandma felt the same way! Sometimes your brother teases you or someone you thought was a friend turns out to be insincere. Sometimes you’re certain you know better than your parents, only to discover to your horror that they might have been right. It’s all part of growing up.



Richardson’s wholesome stories have reached more than two million readers worldwide. Parents appreciate the godly values and character they promote while children love the captivating storytelling that recounts childhood memories of mischief and joy. These books are ideal for homes, schools, libraries or gifts and are certain to be treasured. So return to Grandma’s attic, where true tales of yesteryear bring timeless lessons for today, combining the appeal of historical fiction for girls with the truth of God’s Word. Each captivating story promotes godly character and values with humor, understanding and warmth.


Product Details:



Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic:


List Price: $6.99

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403812

ISBN-13: 978-0781403818



Treasures from Grandma’s Attic:


Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403820

ISBN-13: 978-0781403825


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTERS:



Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic


When Grandma Was a Little Girl


One hundred years! What a long, long time ago that is! Not very many people are still alive who can remember that far back. But through the magic of stories, we can be right there again.


  When I was a little girl, I thought no one could tell a story like my grandma.


  “Tell me about when you were a little girl,” I would say. Soon I would be back on the farm in northern Michigan with young Mabel—who became my grandmother—her mother and father, and her brothers, Reuben and Roy.


  The old kitchen where I sat to hear many of Grandma’s stories didn’t look the same as when she was a little girl. Then there was no electricity nor running water. But my grandma still lived in the house she grew up in. I had no trouble imagining all the funny jams that Grandma and her best friend, Sarah Jane, got into. Or how it felt to wear long flannel stockings and high-buttoned shoes.


  From the dusty old attic to the front parlor with its slippery furniture, Grandma’s old house was a storybook just waiting to be opened. I was fortunate to have a grandma who knew just how to open it. She loved to tell a story just as much as I loved to hear one.


  Come with me now, back to the old kitchen in that Michigan farmhouse, and enjoy the laughter and tears of many years ago....


1


Face Cream from Godey’s Lady’s Book


Receiving mail always excited me. I never had to be told to get the mail for Grandma on my way home from school. But sometimes the mail became even more important. Like the time I was watching for something I had ordered from Woman’s Home Companion.


  When the small package finally arrived, my face revealed how excited I was.


  “What did you get a sample of this time?” Grandma asked as I came in proudly carrying the precious box.


  “You’ll see. Just wait till I show you,” I said, promising Grandma the box held something special.


  Quickly I tore the wrapping paper off the small box. Inside was a jar of skin cream for wrinkles.


  Grandma laughed when she saw it. “You certainly don’t need that,” she said. “Now it might do me some good if those things ever really worked.”


  “You aren’t wrinkled, Grandma,” I protested. “Your face is nice and smooth.”


  “Perhaps so. But not because of what I’ve rubbed on it. More than likely I’ve inherited a smooth skin.”


  She took the jar of cream and looked at the ingredients “This doesn’t look quite as dangerous as some stuff Sarah Jane and I mixed up one day. Did I ever tell you about that?”


  “No, I’m sure you didn’t,” I replied. “Tell me now.”


  Grandma picked up her crocheting, and I settled back to listen to a story about Grandma and her friend, Sarah Jane, when they were my age.


***


Sarah Jane had a cousin who lived in the city. This cousin often came to stay at Sarah Jane’s for a few days. She brought things with her that we were not accustomed to seeing.


  One morning as Sarah Jane and I were walking to school together, Sarah Jane told me some very exciting news. “My cousin Laura will be here tomorrow. She’s going to stay all next week. Won’t that be fun?”


  “Yes,” I agreed. “I’m glad she’s coming. What do you think she’ll bring this time?”


  “Probably some pretty new dresses and hats,” Sarah Jane guessed. “She might even let us try them on.”


  “Oh, I’m sure she wouldn’t want us to try on her dresses. But maybe she wouldn’t mind if we peeked at ourselves in the mirror to see how the hats looked.”


  Laura arrived the next day with several new hats. She amiably agreed that we might try them on.


  They were too big, and had a tendency to slide down over our noses. But to us, they were the latest fashion.


  As we laid the hats back on the bed, Sarah Jane spied something else that interested her. It was a magazine for ladies. We had not seen more than half a dozen magazines in our lives, so this was exciting.


  “Oh, Laura,” Sarah Jane cried, “may we look at your magazine? We’ll be very careful.”


  “Why, yes. I’m not going to be reading it right away. Go ahead.”


  Eagerly we snatched the magazine and ran out to the porch. The cover pictured a lady with a very fashionable dress and hat, carrying a frilly parasol. The name of the magazine was Godey’s Lady’s Book.


  “Ooh! Look at the ruffles on her dress!” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “Wouldn’t you just love to have one dress with all those ribbons and things?”


  “Yes, but there’s little chance I’ll ever have it,” I replied. “Ma wouldn’t iron that many ruffles for anything. Besides, we’re not grown up enough to have dresses like that. It looks like it might be organdy, doesn’t it?”


  “Mmm-hum,” Sarah Jane agreed. “It looks like something soft, all right. And look at her hair. It must be long to make that big a roll around her head.”


  We spread the magazine across our laps and studied each page carefully. Nothing escaped our notice. “I sure wish we were grown up,” Sarah Jane sighed. “Think how much prettier we’d be.”


  “Yes, and how much more fun we could have. These ladies don’t spend all their time going to school and doing chores. They just get all dressed up and sit around looking pretty.”


  We looked for a moment in silence; then Sarah Jane noticed something interesting. “Look here, Mabel. Here’s something you can make to get rid of wrinkles on your face.”


  I looked where she was reading.


Guaranteed to remove wrinkles. Melt together a quantity of white wax and honey. When it becomes liquid, add the juice of several lemons. Spread the mixture liberally on your face and allow it to dry. In addition to smoothing out your wrinkles, this formula will leave your skin soft, smooth, and freckle free.


  “But we don’t have any wrinkles,” I pointed out.


  “That doesn’t matter,” Sarah Jane replied. “If it takes wrinkles away, it should keep us from getting them too. Besides,” she added critically, “it says it takes away freckles. And you have plenty of those.”


  I rubbed my nose reflectively. “I sure do. Do you suppose that stuff really would take them off?”


  “We can try it and see. I’ll put some on if you will. Where shall we mix it up?”


  This would be a problem, since Sarah Jane’s mother was baking in her kitchen. It would be better to work where we wouldn’t have to answer questions about what we were doing.


  “Let’s go to your house and see what your mother is doing,” Sarah Jane suggested.


  We hurriedly returned the magazine to Laura’s bedroom and dashed back outdoors.


  “Do you have all the things we need to put in it?” Sarah Jane asked.


  “I know we have wax left over from Ma’s jelly glasses. And I’m sure we have lemons. But I don’t know how much honey is left.


  “I know where we can get some, though.” I continued. “Remember that hollow tree in the woods? We found honey there last week.”


  Soon we were on our way to collect it in a small pail.


  “This is sure going to be messy and sticky to put on our faces,” I commented as we filled the pail.


  “Probably the wax takes the sticky out,” Sarah Jane replied. “Anyway, if it takes away your freckles and makes our skin smooth, it won’t matter if it is a little gooey. I wonder how long we leave it on.”


  “The directions said to let it dry,” I reminded her. “I suppose the longer you leave it there, the more good it does. We’ll have to take it off before we go in to supper, I guess.”


  “I guess so,” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “I don’t know what your brothers would say. But I’m not going to give Caleb a chance to make fun of me.”


  I knew what Reuben and Roy would say, too, and I was pretty sure I could predict what Ma would say. There seemed to be no reason to let them know about it.


  Fortune was with us, for the kitchen was empty when we cautiously opened the back door. Ma heard us come in and called down from upstairs, “Do you need something, Mabel?”


  “No, Ma’am,”  I answered. “But we might like a cookie.”


  “Help yourself,” Ma replied. “I’m too busy tearing rags to come down right now. You can pour yourselves some milk too.”


  I assured her that we could. With a sigh of relief, we went to the pantry for a kettle in which to melt the wax and honey.


  “This looks big enough,” Sarah Jane said. “You start that getting hot, and I’ll squeeze the lemons. Do you think two will be enough?”


  “I guess two is ‘several.’ Maybe we can tell by the way it looks whether we need more or not.”


  “I don’t see how,” Sarah Jane argued. “We never saw any of this stuff before. But we’ll start with two, anyway.”


  I placed the pan containing the wax and honey on the hottest part of the stove and pulled up a chair to sit on. “Do you suppose I ought to stir it?” I inquired. “It doesn’t look as though it’s mixing very fast.”


  “Give it time,” Sarah Jane advised. “Once the wax melts down, it will mix.”


  After a short time, the mixture began to bubble.


  “There, see?” she said, stirring it with a spoon. “You can’t tell which is wax and which is honey. I think it’s time to put in the lemon juice.” She picked up the juice, but I stopped her.


  “You have to take the seeds out, first, silly. You don’t want knobs all over your face, do you?”


  “I guess you’re right. That wouldn’t look too good, would it?”


  She dug the seeds out, and we carefully stirred the lemon juice into the pan.


  “Umm, it smells good,” I observed.


  Sarah Jane agreed. “In fact, it smells a little like Ma’s cough syrup. Do you want to taste it?”


  “Sure, I’ll take a little taste.” I licked some off the spoon and smacked my lips. “It’s fine,” I reported. “If it tastes that good, it will certainly be safe to use. Let’s take it to my room and try it.”


  We carefully lifted the kettle from the stove. Together we carried the kettle upstairs and set it on my dresser.


  “It will have to cool a little before we put it on,” I said.


  “What if the wax gets hard again? We’ll have to take it downstairs and heat it all over.”


  “It won’t,” I assured her. “The honey will keep it from getting too hard.” By the time the mixture was cool enough to use, it was thick and gooey—but still spreadable.


  “Well, here goes,” Sarah Jane said. She dipped a big blob out and spread it on her face. I did the same. Soon our faces were covered with the sticky mess.


  “Don’t get it in your hair,” I warned. “It looks like it would be awfully hard to get out. I wonder how long it will take to dry?”


  “The magazine didn’t say that. It would probably dry faster outside in the sun. But someone is sure to see us out there. We’d better stay here.... I wish we had brought the magazine to look at.”


  “We can look at the Sears catalog,” I suggested. “Let’s play like we’re ordering things for our own house.”


  We sat down on the floor and spread the catalog out in front of us. After several minutes, Sarah Jane felt her face.


  “I think it’s dry, Mabel,” she announced, hardly moving her lips. “It doesn’t bend or anything.”


  I touched mine and discovered the same thing. The mask was solid and hard. It was impossible to move my mouth to speak, so my voice had a funny sound when I answered her.


  “So’s mine. Maybe we’d better start taking it off now.”


  We ran to the mirror and looked at ourselves.


  “We sure look funny.” Sarah Jane laughed the best she could without moving her face. “How did the magazine say to get it off?”


  Suddenly we looked at each other in dismay. The magazine hadn’t said anything about removing the mixture, only how to fix and spread it on.


  “Well, we’ve done it again,” I said. “How come everything we try works until we’re ready to undo it? We’ll just have to figure some way to get rid of it.”


  We certainly did try. We pushed the heavy masks that covered our faces. We pulled them, knocked on them, and tried to soak them off. They would not budge.


  “I think we used too much wax and not enough honey,” Sarah Jane puffed as she flopped back down on the bed.


  “That’s certainly a great thing to think of now,” I answered crossly. “The only way to move wax is to melt it. And we certainly can’t stick our faces in the fire!”


  “Mine feels like it’s already on fire. I don’t think this stuff is good for your skin.”


  “You’re going to have to think about more than that,” I told her. “Or this stuff will be your skin. There has to be some way to get it off.”


  “We’ve tried everything we can think of. We’ll just have to go down and let your rna help us.”


  That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. But I could see no other alternative. Slowly we trudged down to the kitchen.


  Ma was working at the stove, and she said cheerfully, “Are you girls hungry again? It won’t be long until suppertime, so you’d better not eat ....”


  She turned around as she spoke. When she spotted us standing in the doorway, her eyes widened in disbelief.


  “What on earth? ... What have you done to yourselves?”


  I burst into tears. The sight of drops of tears running down that ridiculous mask must have been more than Ma could stand. Suddenly she began to laugh. She laughed until she had to sit down.


  “It’s not funny, Ma. We can’t get it off! We’ll have to wear it the rest of our lives!”


  Ma controlled herself long enough to come over and feel my face. “What did you put in it?” she asked. “That will help me know how to take it off.”


  We told her.


  “If you two ever live to grow up, it will only be the Lord’s good mercy. The only thing we can do is apply something hot enough to melt the wax,” Ma told us quickly.


  “But we boiled the wax, Ma,” I cried. “You can’t boil our faces!”


  “No, 1won’t try anything as drastic as that. I’ll just use hot towels until it gets soft enough to pull away.”


  After several applications, we were finally able to start peeling the mixture off. As it came loose, our skin came with it.


  “Ouch! That hurts,” I cried.


  But Ma could not stop. By the time the last bits of wax and honey were removed, our faces were fiery red and raw.


  “What did we do wrong?” Sarah Jane wailed. “We made it just like the magazine said.”


  “You may have used the wrong quantities, or left it on too long,” Ma said. “At any rate, I don’t think you’ll try it again.”


  “I know I won’t,” Sarah Jane moaned. “I’m going to tell Laura she should ignore that page in her magazine.” She looked at me. “The stuff did one thing they said it would, Mabel. I don’t see any freckles.”


  “There’s no skin left, either,” I retorted. “I’d rather have freckles than a face like this.”


  “Never mind.” Ma tried to soothe us. “Your faces will be all right in a couple of days.”


  “A couple of days!” I howled. “We can’t go to school looking like this!”


***


  “We did, though.” Grandma laughed as she finished the story. “After a while we were able to laugh with the others over our foolishness.”


  I looked at the little jar of cream that had come in the mail.


  “I don’t think I’ll use this, Grandma. I guess I’ll just let my face get wrinkled if it wants to!”



************************************************


Treasures from Grandma's Attic


Cousin Agatha


My best friend, Sarah Jane, and I were walking home from school on a cold November afternoon.


  “Do you realize, Mabel, that 1886 is almost over? Another year of nothing important ever happening is nearly gone.”


  “Well, we still have a good bit of life ahead of us,” I replied.


  “You don’t know that,” Sarah Jane said darkly, “We’re thirteen and a half. We may already have lived nearly a third of our allotted time.”


  “The O’Dells live to be awfully old,” I told her. “So, unless I get run down by a horse and buggy, I’ll probably be around awhile.”


  We walked along in silence. Then suddenly Sarah Jane pulled me to the side of the road.


  “Here’s the horse and buggy that could keep you from becoming an old lady,” she kidded. We turned to see my pa coming down the road.


  “Want to ride the rest of the way, girls?” he called. We clambered into the buggy, and Pa clucked to Nellie.


  “What did you get in town?” I asked.


  “Some things for the farm and a letter for your ma.” Around the next bend, Pa slowed Nellie to a halt. “Your stop, Sarah Jane.”


  “Thanks, Mr. O’Dell.” Sarah Jane jumped down. “I’ll be over to study later, Mabel. ‘Bye.”


  “Who’s the letter from?” I asked Pa.


  “Can’t tell from the handwriting. We’ll have to wait for Ma to tell us.”


  When Ma opened the letter, she looked puzzled. “This is from your cousin Agatha,”  she said to Pa. “Why didn’t she address it to you, too?”


  “If I know Aggie, she wants something,” Pa declared. “And she figured you’d be more likely to listen to her sad story.”


  Ma read the letter and shook her head at Pa. “She just wants to come for Thanksgiving. Now aren’t you ashamed of talking that way?”


  “No, I’m not. That’s what Aggie says she wants. You can be sure there’s more there than meets the eye. Are you going to tell her to come ahead?”


  “Why, of course!” Ma exclaimed. “If I were a widowed lady up in years, I’d want to be with family on Thanksgiving. Why shouldn’t I tell her to come?”


  Pa took his hat from the peg by the door and started for the barn, where my older brothers were already at work. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,”  he remarked as he left.


  “What did Pa warn you about?” I asked as soon as the door closed behind him. “What does Cousin Agatha want?”


  “I don’t believe Pa was talking to you,” Ma replied. “You heard me say that she wants to come for Thanksgiving.”


  “Yes, but Pa said—”


  “That’s enough, Mabel. We won’t discuss it further.”


  I watched silently as Ma sat down at the kitchen table and answered Cousin Agatha’s letter.


  Snow began to fall two days before the holiday, and Pa had to hitch up the sleigh to go into town and meet the train.


  “It will be just our misfortune to have a real blizzard and be snowed in with that woman for a week,” he grumbled.


  “Having Aggie here a few days won’t hurt you,” Ma said. “The way you carry on, you’d think she was coming to stay forever!”


  Pa’s look said he considered that a distinct possibility. As I helped Ma with the pies, I questioned her about Cousin Agatha.


  “Has she been here before? I can’t remember seeing her.”


  “I guess you were pretty small last time Agatha visited,” Ma replied. “I expect she gets lonely in that big house in the city.”


  “What do you suppose she wants besides dinner?” I ventured.


  “Friendly company,” Ma snapped. “And we’re going to give it to her.”


  When the pies were in the oven, I hung around the window, watching for the sleigh. It was nearly dark when I heard the bells on Nellie’s harness ring out across the snow.


  “They’re coming, Ma,” I called, and Ma hurried to the door with the lamp held high over her head. The boys and I crowded behind her. Pa jumped down from the sleigh and turned to help Cousin Agatha.


  “I don’t need any assistance from you, James,” a firm voice spoke. “I’m perfectly capable of leaving any conveyance under my own power.”


  “She talks like a book!” Roy whispered, and Reuben poked him. I watched in awe as a tall, unbending figure sailed into the kitchen.


  “Well, Maryanne,” she said, “it’s good to see you.” She removed her big hat, jabbed a long hat pin into it, and handed the hat to me. “You must be Mabel.”


  I nodded wordlessly.


  “What’s the matter? Can’t you speak?” she boomed.


  “Yes, ma’am,” I gulped nervously.


  “Then don’t stand there bobbing your head like a monkey on a stick. People will think you have no sense. You can put that hat in my room.”


  I stared openmouthed at this unusual person until a gentle push from Ma sent me in the direction of the guest room.


  After dinner and prayers, Pa rose with the intention of going to the barn.


  “James!” Cousin Agatha’s voice stopped him. “Surely you aren’t going to do the chores with these two great hulking fellows sitting here, are you?”


  The two great hulking fellows leaped for the door with a speed I didn’t know they had.


  “I should guess so,” Cousin Agatha exclaimed with satisfaction. “If there’s anything I can’t abide, it’s a lazy child.”


  As she spoke, Cousin Agatha pulled Ma’s rocker to the stove and lowered herself into it. “This chair would be more comfortable if there were something to put my feet on,” she said, “but I suppose one can’t expect the amenities in a place like this.”


  I looked at Ma for some clue as to what “amenities” might be. This was not a word we had encountered in our speller.


  “Run into the parlor and get the footstool, Mabel,” Ma directed.


  When Cousin Agatha was settled with her hands in her lap and her feet off the cold floor, I started the dishes.


  “Maryanne, don’t you think Mabel’s dress is a mite too short?”


  Startled, I looked down at my dress.


  “No,” Ma’s calm voice replied. “She’s only thirteen, you know. I don’t want her to be grown up too soon.”


  “There is such a thing as modesty, you know.” Cousin Agatha sniffed.


  Pa and the boys returned just then, so Ma didn’t answer. I steered an uneasy path around Cousin Agatha all evening. For the first time I could remember, I was glad when bedtime came.


  The next day was Thanksgiving, and the house was filled with the aroma of good things to eat. From her rocker, Cousin Agatha offered suggestions as Ma scurried about the kitchen.


  “Isn’t it time to baste the turkey, Maryanne? I don’t care for dry fowl.”


  “I see the boys running around out there with that mangy dog as though they had nothing to do. Shouldn’t they be chopping wood or something?”


  “I should think Mabel could be helping you instead of reading a book. If there’s one thing I can’t abide . . . “


  “Mabel will set the table when it’s time,” Ma put in. “Maybe you’d like to peel some potatoes?”


  The horrified look on Cousin Agatha’s face said she wouldn’t consider it, so Ma withdrew her offer.


  A bump on the door indicated that the “mangy dog” was tired of the cold. I laid down my book and let Pep in. He made straight for the stove and his rug.


  “Mercy!” Cousin Agatha cried. “Do you let that—that animal in the kitchen?”


  “Yes,” Ma replied. “He’s not a young dog any longer. He isn’t any bother, and he does enjoy the heat.”


  “Humph.” Agatha pulled her skirts around her. “I wouldn’t allow any livestock in my kitchen. Can’t think what earthly good a dog can be.” She glared at Pep, who responded with a thump of his tail and a sigh of contentment.


  “Dumb creature,” Cousin Agatha muttered.


  “Pep isn’t dumb, Cousin Agatha,” I said. “He’s really the smartest dog I know.”


  “I was not referring to his intellect or lack of it,” she told me, “‘Dumb’ indicates an inability to speak. You will have to concede that he is unable to carry on a conversation.”


  I was ready to dispute that, too, but Ma shook her head. Cousin Agatha continued to give Pep disparaging glances.


  “Didn’t you ever have any pets at your house, Cousin Agatha?” I asked.


  “Pets? I should say not! Where in the Bible does it say that God made animals for man’s playthings? They’re meant to earn their keep, not sprawl out around the house absorbing heat.”


  “Oh, Pep works,” I assured her. “He’s been taking the cows out and bringing them back for years now.”


  Cousin Agatha was not impressed. She sat back in the rocker and eyed Pep with disfavor. “The one thing I can’t abide, next to a lazy child, is a useless animal—and in the house!”


  I began to look nervously at Ma, thinking she might send Pep to the barn to keep the peace. But she went on about her work, serenely ignoring Cousin Agatha’s hints. I was glad when it was time to set the table.


  After we had eaten, Pa took the Bible down from the cupboard and read our Thanksgiving chapter, Psalm 100. Then he prayed, thanking the Lord for Cousin Agatha and asking the Lord’s blessing on her just as he did on the rest of us. When he had finished, Cousin Agatha spoke up.


  “I believe that I will stay here until Christmas, James. Then, if I find it to my liking, I could sell the house in the city and continue on with you. Maryanne could use some help in teaching these children how to be useful.”


  In the stunned silence that followed, I looked at Pa and Ma to see how this news had affected them. Ma looked pale. Before Pa could open his mouth to answer, Cousin Agatha rose from the table. “I’ll just go to my room for a bit of rest,” she said. “We’ll discuss this later.”


  When she had left, we gazed at each other helplessly.


  “Is there anything in the Bible that tells you what to do now?” I asked Pa.


  “Well, it says if we don’t love our brother whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can’t see? I think that probably applies to cousins as well.”


  “I’d love her better if I couldn’t see her.” Reuben declared. “We don’t have to let her stay, do we, Pa?”


  “No, we don’t have to,” Pa replied. “We could ask her to leave tomorrow as planned. But I’m not sure that would be right. What do you think, Ma?”


  “I wouldn’t want to live alone in the city,” Ma said slowly. “I can see that she would prefer the company of a family. I suppose we should ask her to stay until Christmas.”


  “I think she already asked herself,” Roy ventured. “But she did say if she found things to her liking. . . .”


  We all looked at Roy. Pa said, “You’re not planning something that wouldn’t be to her liking, are you?”


  “Oh, no, sir!” Roy quickly answered. “Not me.”


  Pa signed. “I’m not sure I’d blame you. She’s not an easy person to live with. We’ll all have to be especially patient with her.”


  There wasn’t much Thanksgiving atmosphere in the kitchen as we did the dishes.


  “How can we possibly stand it for another whole month?” I moaned.


  “The Lord only sends us one day at a time,” Ma informed me. “Don’t worry about more than that. When the other days arrive, you’ll probably find out you worried about all the wrong things.”


  As soon as the work was finished, I put on my coat and walked over to Sarah Jane’s.


  “What will you do if she stays on after Christmas?” she asked.


  “I’ll just die.”


  “I thought you were going to be a long-living O’Dell.”


  “I changed my mind,” I retorted. “What would you do if you were in my place?”


  “I’d probably make her life miserable so she’d want to leave.”


  “You know I couldn’t get away with that. Pa believes that Christian love is the best solution.”


  “All right, then,” Sarah Jane said with a shrug. “Love her to death.”


  As though to fulfill Pa’s prediction, snow began to fall heavily that night. By morning we were snowed in.


  “Snowed in?” Cousin Agatha repeated. “You mean unable to leave the house at all?”


  “That’s right,” Pa replied. “This one is coming straight down from Canada.”


  Cousin Agatha looked troubled. “I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all.”


  “We’ll be all right,” Ma reassured her. “We have plenty of wood and all the food we need.”


  But Cousin Agatha was not to be reassured. I watched her stare into the fire and twist her handkerchief around her fingers. Why, she’s frightened! I thought. This old lady had been directing things all her life, and here was something she couldn’t control. Suddenly I felt sorry for her.


  “Cousin Agatha,” I said, “we have fun when we’re snowed in. We play games and pop corn and tell stories. You’ll enjoy it. I know you will!”


  I ran over and put my arms around her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. She looked at me in surprise.


  “That’s the first time anyone has hugged me since I can remember,” she said. “Do you really like me, Mabel?”


  Right then I knew that I did like Cousin Agatha a whole lot. Behind her stern front was another person who needed to be loved and wanted.


  “Oh, yes, Cousin Agatha,” I replied. “I really do. You’ll see what a good time we’ll have together.”


  The smile that lighted her face was bright enough to chase away any gloom that had settled over the kitchen. And deep down inside, I felt real good.





I cannot tell you how absolutely THRILLED I am to be able to share these books with my daughter! My mom shared them with me as a child and now I can pass them along. Many Saturdays, I'd curl up with these books as a young girl and get lost in the many fantastic stories! I highly recommend them to moms, grandmoms, daughters, aunts, nieces, granddaughters, etc. These books would make a beautiful baby shower gift! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

CFBA: Another look at Ransome's Quest by Kaye Dacus



This week, the
 
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
 
Ransome’s Quest
 
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)
 
by
 
Kaye Dacus
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers.

Kaye Dacus (KAY DAY-cuss) is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there. She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her blog and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


ABOUT THE BOOK


The pirate El Salvador has haunted the waters of the Caribbean for almost ten years. When he snatched Charlotte Ransome, it was a case of mistaken identity. Now Charlotte's brother, whose reputation in battle is the stuff of legend, is searching for him with a dogged determination. But another rumor has reached El Salvador's ears: Julia Ransome has been kidnapped by the man feared by all other pirates--the pirate known only as Shaw. The violent and blood-thirsty savage from whom El Salvador was trying to protect her.

When word reaches William of Julia's disappearance, his heart is torn--he cannot abandon the search for his sister, yet he must also rescue Julia. Ned Cochrane offers a solution: Ned will continue the search for Charlotte while William goes after Julia. William's quest will lead him to a greater understanding of faith and love as he must accept help from sworn enemy and have faith that Julia's life is in God's hands.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Ransome’s Quest, go HERE.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

COTT: School Girl Crushes and Blushes

Guest post by: http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/">Jennifer Slattery
Do you remember those dances held during junior high and high school? How you and your friends would spend hours pre-dance talking about what you'd wear, how you'd do your hair, and...giggle, blush, giggle...who might ask you to dance? Only those dances never quite ended up how we envisioned, at least not in my school. Inevitably, the guys huddled near the far, heavily-shadowed wall while the girls spent their time crying in the bathroom or trying to comfort their near hysterical friend hiding in the stall.
At least in Junior High. High School got a little better and people actually danced, and the bathrooms were far less crowded with splotchy-faced, sniffling girls.
But reading this week's excerpts actually brought me back even further...to sixth grade.
We didn't have dances--instead, our school hosted skating parties. Do you remember those? "Elvirah" blaring from those gigantic speakers while a disco ball lit up the room, making that feather pinned in your hair really stand out. (Those have come back, btw. Seriously.) We'd do the hokey-pokey, skate on one foot, then backward...but what the girls waited for, holding their breath and scanning the glittering room for their short, waif-thin and equally shy hero, was when the DJ announced, "Find a parnter!"
Now here's where it gets really fun, and extremely embarrassing, but remember I was a stupid kid with absolutely no life....
Who knew come skating party time, a boy--maybe even the boy--might hold my hand. Oh, the very thought made my stomach twirl.
In preparation, I slathered lotion on my hands the week leading up the event--and I mean slathered. Then, I'd rub it in and hold my hand out to my mom. "Are my hands soft? Feel them."
She'd laugh and feel my hand. Then I'd slather on more. "Feel them now."
She remained patient for about three or four applications.
What about you? Any stupid, cheek-burning stories to share?
Be sure to come meet our competing authors this week on http://www.clashofthetitles.com/">COTT>



I don't personally have any stories to share. I wish I did! I refused to participate much in the dances. I'd go but I was the shy wallflower who was never asked to dance. I never had a boyfriend in jr. high or high school. I was incredibly picky and focused on school. I feel that all that paid off in the end though! The first time I met my husband, he was walking off a plane. We'd seen pics of each other (we met online) but he looked completely different when coming off the plane. I'd seen a pic of him with a beard. He'd shaved it off before coming to see me. Needless to say, I walked all the way to baggage claim with this man and never said a word. Finally, before getting to my car, I looked at him and said, "You are Michael, right?" How embarrassing it would have been had that not been him!! What about you? 

Dael and the Painted People by Allan Richard Shickman


Dael and the Painted People (Book 3 in the Zan-Gah Series)Dael and the Painted People by Allan Richard Shickman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this third book of the Zan-Gah series, Dael is running from his Ba-Coro family to venture out on his own. He looks back and sees Sparrow following him...Sparrow who cannot talk...Sparrow who is so torn up by Rydl's rejection that Dael is unsure of how to handle her. They form an unlikely bond when they find themselves among the painted people.


Dael is an enigma to the painted people, just as they are to him and Sparrow. To fit in, Dael and Sparrow spread the red clay all over their bodies and begin to learn the language. For the first time since knowing her, Dael can see that Sparrow has picked up the clicking language of the red people. She becomes even more social after bearing Dael a son named Xiti.


The red people's shaman is a very stern, large man who isn't impressed with Dael and the mystical powers he possesses. Shnur tries multiple times to rid his people of Dael, but his people begin to give Dael more allegiance. It's not until a prank and a healing take place that things change for the worse.


After some reuniting among friends takes place, Dael and Sparrow are finally able to heal more hurts and move on with life amongst the people they have loved for so long.


I want to thank Bonnie of Earthshaker Books for offering this book to me to read. I have read all three books in this series now and highly recommend them to readers of all ages!


Read my review of Zan-Gah A Prehistoric Adventure here


Read my review of Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country here


I was SUPER DUPER EXCITED to read the last line in the book. I won't tell you what it is but it means that I might get to learn more about my favorite character (who happens to be a very minor character)!! Thank you Allan Richard Shickman for writing such fascinating novels!


View all my reviews

Friday, August 19, 2011

Thomas Nelson is giving away $10,000!





From Thomas Nelson:

One of the highlights of our days in the Fiction department at Thomas Nelson? Receiving reader letters—either directly addressed to us or passed along from our talented authors. It’s critical to be reminded that at the end of our long days acquiring, editing, designing, selling, marketing, and publicizing books, those stories are reaching readers, striking nerves, changing lives.  We want readers’ feedback.  How stories have given you hope.  Which authors’ series you can’t help from sharing with everyone you meet. We want to know what makes you stay up late in the night to finish a story, and conversely what turns you away.

We’re conducting a series of surveys—seeking answers from readers who love Christian fiction.  Up for grabs is a free ebook for every respondent who completes the survery, as well as a $10,000 prize for one entrant.  The responses we gather will help shape the future of the books we publish for years to come.  As well as the data we’re collecting here, we’ll also seek more in-depth feedback from a panel we’ll develop over the next year.  More details to come. The note below from one of authors gives a specific picture of how reader feedback shapes her work.  In short, your opinion matters! We thank you for your time and appreciate your responding.

--Thomas Nelson Fiction


Dear Friends--

Your opinion matters. It really does. I love hearing from readers about what worked for them in a story and about what doesn’t work. Reader feedback changed the balance between romance and suspense in my novels. After the Rock Harbor trilogy, I wanted to write more suspense in my novels because that’s what I personally like. But readers really wanted more relationship and romance in the books so I moved back that direction to about the same mix of 50/50 that the Rock Harbor novels contained. I write for you even more than for myself.

I had no intention of setting a whole series of books at Bluebird, Texas. It was going to be only one book, but readers sent me requests in droves for more books. The fourth book in the Lonestar series, Lonestar Angel, will be out in October. The Rock Harbor novels were going to be complete at three. There are now five and I’m thinking about another one! All due to reader demand.

I’ve often asked for reader input on names and locations too. When I was struggling for a name for my hero in The Lightkeeper’s Ball, I turned to my readers. Harrison really fit my character, and my readers told me. Love that! When I was trying to decide on a location for the new Hope Beach series I’ve started, I asked readers. Their overwhelming response was for a series set in the Outer Banks so guess what I’m writing?!

That’s why we’re coming to you for answers. We want to give you what you really want! Don’t be afraid to let us know what you really think. We value your honesty and the time it will take to share with us. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Your friend,
Colleen Coble

FIRST: Ransome's Quest by Kaye Dacus


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


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



Today's Wild Card author is:





and the book:




(The Ransome Trilogy)


Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kaye Dacus, author of Ransome’s Honor has a BA in English, with a minor in history, and an MA in writing popular fiction. Her love of the Regency era started with Jane Austen. Her passion for literature and for history come together to shape her creative, well-researched, and engaging writing.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:






This engaging end to the Ransome Trilogy is a fast-paced tale of love, faith, and danger on the Caribbean Sea in the early 1800s. Captain William Ransome frantically searches for his kidnapped wife and sister. But who will rescue them when buried secrets emerge and challenge everything they believe?







Product Details:


List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736927557

ISBN-13: 978-0736927550


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:





 It is too dangerous.”


 William Ransome snapped his cutlass into its scabbard and turned to face his wife. “The longer I delay, the farther away they take Charlotte.”


 Dread froze his lungs, his stomach, his heart. Charlotte. His sister. Taken. “If anything happens to her…”


 Julia wrapped her arms around her abdomen and leaned against one of the heavy posts at the end of the bed. “Why the message to my father? What has he to do with Charlotte?”


 William double-checked the load of his pistol and tucked it under his belt. “Your father has publicly vowed—more than once—to rid the Caribbean of pirates and privateers for good. Charlotte was likely a target of opportunity, not purpose.”


 “But if the man’s argument is with my father, it should have been me taken, not Charlotte.”


 William could not disagree with her. Nor could he agree, as the very idea of Julia’s being taken by pirates nearly ripped his heart from his chest. “I should have put her on that ship in Barbados returning to England. If I had followed my conscience”—instead of listening to Julia’s and Charlotte’s emotional arguments—“she would have been well out of harm’s way by now.”


 They both startled at a knock on the door.


 “Come.”


 The door opened at his command, revealing Jeremiah. “The horses are ready, Commodore.”


 “Very good.” William took up his case and hat and moved toward the door.


 Julia stepped in front of him, expression imploring. “Please, William, wait until dawn. The roads are treacherous enough in the full light of day. At night…and you do not know where you are going. What good will it do Charlotte if you become lost or…or something else happens to you or the horse? Or what if the pirates have laid a trap and done this to lure you from the safety of the house?”


 A mirthless laugh expanded in his throat, but he stifled it. Safety of the house? Was the house safe when the brigands had snatched Charlotte from the porch almost directly outside this very room?


 “I am sending Asher with him, Miss Julia,” Jeremiah said. “He knows the roads ’twixt here and Kingston better than anyone I know.”


 William tore his gaze away from Julia’s anxious face. “Jeremiah, I am depending on you to protect Mrs. Ransome and ensure no harm comes to her while I am away.”


 “I will protect her with my life, sir.”


 He stepped around Julia and handed his bag and hat to Jeremiah. “Thank you. I shall join you in a moment.”


 As he hoped, Jeremiah understood the dismissal. He gave a slight bow and left the room, closing the door behind him.


 William took Julia by the shoulders and directed her to the chaise positioned at the end of their bed. He had to apply more pressure than he liked to make her sit. “You are to stay at Tierra Dulce. You will keep an escort with you at all times. I want armed guards posted near the house.”


 She nodded, never blinking or breaking eye contact. “Yes, William.”


 “If you hear any word from Charlotte or receive”—his voice caught in his throat—“a ransom demand from the pirate, you will send a messenger to Fort Charles. They will get word to me.”


 “Yes, William.”


 Heart tearing asunder at the necessity of leaving Julia behind, he bent over and pressed his forehead to hers. “Pray for Charlotte.”


 Julia’s hands slid around behind his neck, her fingers twining in his hair. She angled her head and kissed him. “I promise. I will pray for you also, my love.”


 He kissed her again and then tore himself away from her embrace. “I must go. I promise I will return—and I will bring Charlotte with me.”


 Determined to not look back, he made for the door. He opened it and then hesitated. Without turning around, he said the words he needed to say, just in case they were the last he ever said to his wife. “I love you.”


 “I love you, William.” Though softly spoken, her words acted as the command that loosed him from his mooring. He stepped through the door and closed it, leaving her on the other side.


 Ned Cochrane paced the drive below the porch steps when William exited the house. He barely spared his former first officer a glance. Intellectually, he knew Ned had done his best, having been taken by surprise and set upon by several men. However, in his heart, he wanted to rail at the younger man for failing to protect Charlotte.


 Though a horse was his least favorite mode of transportation, William easily swung himself up into the saddle. Once he was settled—and Ned appeared to be also—William nodded at Asher to lead the way.


 Darkness enveloped them. Behind, the light from the house acted as a siren’s call, beckoning him to turn, to look, to regret his decision to leave in the dead of night and wish he had taken Julia’s advice and waited until dawn.


 His neck ached from the effort of keeping his face forward instead of giving in to temptation and taking one last look at the house, hoping to catch a final glimpse of Julia.


 He focused on the bumpy motion of the animal underneath him. He must leave all thoughts of—all worries about—Julia behind, just as he now left her home behind. Jeremiah had known Julia most of her life. He had been as much of a substitute father for Julia as her father, Admiral Witherington, had been for William.


 No, he could not worry about Julia and her safety. Rescuing Charlotte must be his only focus, his only thought.


 The monotonous rhythm of the horses’ hooves, at a walk over the dark, deeply rutted dirt roads, along with the necessity of keeping his eyes trained on the light shirt stretched across Asher’s broad back, lulled William into a stupor.


 Ahead lay his ship. The thought of boarding Alexandra and getting under sail chipped away at his anxiety. As soon as he was on the water, as soon as he stood on the quarterdeck and issued the command to weigh anchor, he would be that much closer to finding Charlotte and bringing her home.


 The road widened, and Ned pulled up beside him.


 “You are certain the man did not identify himself?”


 “No, sir. He did not give his name. He only said her safety depended on the mercy of a pirate.” Ned’s voice came across flat and hoarse.


 “What were you doing out on the porch, alone with her in the dark?” Even as William asked this, he reminded himself Ned was not at fault. But if Charlotte had been inside, perhaps…


 “I followed them—Miss Ransome and Winchester—when they went for their walk. I did not trust Mrs. Ransome’s steward to behave honorably.” He paused. “I need not have worried. Char—Miss Ransome handled the situation admirably and dispatched Winchester, and their engagement, with aplomb.”


 “Winchester was with you when she was taken? Why did you not tell me this before?”


 “No, sir. Miss Ransome dismissed him. He had been gone for…several minutes.”


 Could Winchester be involved? Dread sank like a cannonball in William’s gut. Julia already suspected the steward of embezzling money from the plantation. And William had left her there with that man—


 “I asked her to marry me.”


 If Winchester were involved, and this was a ploy to get William away from Tierra—he yanked the reins. The horse voiced its protest and jerked and swerved, nearly unseating William. “I beg your pardon?”


 “After Charlotte broke her engagement with Winchester, we talked about our mutual regard. I proposed marriage to her, and she accepted.” Ned’s words barely rose above the sounds of the horses’ hooves on the hard-packed earth.


 From a sinking ship into shark-infested waters. Could Charlotte not have waited even a full day after breaking one engagement before forming another—again, without her family’s knowledge? “And if I refuse my permission?”


 “Then we shall wait. We’ll wait until you think I am worthy to marry her, sir.”


 Worthy to marry her. William did not have to think hard to remember standing before Julia’s father twelve years ago and saying the same words. Sir Edward had graciously given him—a poor, threadbare lieutenant with no prospects and nothing to recommend him as husband or son-in-law—a father’s blessing for William and Julia to marry based on nothing other than their love for each other. William had been the one to deem himself unworthy of her affections, and he had almost lost her forever.


 “We shall discuss this after we return Charlotte home.”


 “I pray that will be soon, sir.”


 “So do I, Ned. So do I.”


 Charlotte  awoke with a gasp. Wooden planks formed the low ceiling above her. A canvas hammock conformed to her body and swung with the heave and haw of the ocean beneath the ship.


 A ship?


 Not possible. They had made port, hadn’t they?


 She stared at the underside of the deck above, trying to clear the haziness from her brain. Yes. They had made port. Left Alexandra and ridden in carriage across those horrible, rutted roads to Tierra Dulce, Julia’s sugar plantation. The low, sprawling white house with the deep porch that wrapped all the way around and the white draperies billowing through the open windows.


 The porch. She blinked rapidly. The porch. At night. In the dark. Henry Winchester and…and Ned.


 She bolted upright and then flung her torso over the side of the hammock as her stomach heaved.


 Why should she be sick? She hadn’t experienced a moment of seasickness on the crossing from England to Jamaica. She climbed out of the hammock, skirt and petticoats hindering her progress until she hoisted them above her knees, and made for the small table with a glass and pitcher.


 Wan light from the stern windows sparkled through the glass, revealing a residue of white powder in the bottom of it. She set the glass back on the stand. Last night the pirate had made her drink from the glass, and then everything had gone hazy. But before that…


 She buried her face in her hands. Being torn away from Ned. She prayed they had not killed him. She’d heard no gunshot, but as their raid had been one of stealth, they would more likely have used a blade to end Ned’s life.


 A sob ripped at her throat, but she forced it to stay contained. She would not give the pirates the satisfaction of seeing her upset. And she must, and would, find a means of escape.


 Thirst got the better of her, and she lifted the china pitcher of water and rinsed her mouth before drinking deeply the brackish liquid. She then turned and surveyed the cabin. Obviously the pirate captain’s quarters. Though smaller than Ned’s aboard Audacious, which was in turn smaller than William’s aboard Alexandra, the room was neatly kept, with serviceable furnishings, whitewashed walls and ceiling, and plain floors. Nothing to exhibit the extravagance or wealth she’d expected to see in a pirate’s private lair.


 The desk. Perhaps something there would tell her more about her captor. She crossed to it, rather surprised by the empty work surface. No stacks of the papers or books like the ones resting on William’s or Ned’s worktables. Her fingers itched to open the drawer under the desktop and the small doors and drawers along the high back of it, but Mama had taught her better than that.


 Two miniatures hanging above the desk caught her eye. One showed a woman, probably a few years older than Charlotte, with dark hair and angular features. Too plain to be called pretty, but not ugly either. The green backdrop of the second painting contrasted vividly with the reddish-brown hair of a pretty girl and matched her vibrant green eyes.


 Mahogany hair and green eyes—just like Julia. Why would a pirate have a portrait of Julia hanging in his cabin? But, she corrected herself, the painting was of a girl no older than thirteen or fourteen. Surely the resemblance to Julia was merely coincidental.


 “She was lovely, was she not?”


 Charlotte gasped and whirled. A dark-haired man dressed in a blue coat that resembled a commodore’s or admiral’s—complete with prodigious amounts of gold braid about the cuffs, collar, and lapels—stood in the doorway of the cabin.


 He tossed a bicorne hat—also similar to a navy officer’s—onto the oblong table in the middle of the cabin, clasped his hands behind his back, and sauntered toward her, his eyes on the portrait.


 “What do you want with me?”


 “I am sorry for the manner of your coming here, Miss…?” He cocked one eyebrow at her.


 “Ransome. Charlotte Ransome. My brother is Commodore William Ransome. He will hunt you down. And when he finds you—”


 “When he finds me,” the pirate said, sighing, “I am certain the encounter shall be quite violent and bloody. Is that what you were going to say?”


 Charlotte ground her teeth together. The man stood there, serene as a vicar on the Sabbath, acting as if they stood in a drawing room in Liverpool discussing the weather. “What do you want with me?”


 “With you? Nothing.” He flicked an invisible speck of dust from the oval frame. “My business is with her.”


 “With her?” Charlotte nodded toward the painting. “Is that…?”


 “Julia Witherington—or Julia Ransome, as I have lately learned. Empress of the Tierra Dulce sugar empire.”


 The strange lilt in his voice when he said Julia’s name sent a chill down Charlotte’s spine. “Yes, she is married. To my brother.”


 “The famous Commodore Ransome.” The pirate turned and ambled toward the dining table. “His reputation precedes him.”


 Worry riddled Charlotte at the pirate’s lack of worry over the thought of William’s hunting him down and blowing him and his crew out of the water. After Charlotte escaped, naturally.


 “You were not part of my plan, little Charlotte Ransome.” He turned, leaned against the edge of the table, and crossed his arms. The coat pulled across his broad chest and muscular shoulders. A lock of dark hair fell over his forehead, softening the way his heavy black brows hooded his eyes. His nose had been aquiline once, but now it sported a bump about halfway down from whence the rest of the appendage angled slightly to his left. A scar stretched across his forehead and down into his left eyebrow. On first sight he could have passed for Spanish, but his accent marked him as an Englishman.


 If he weren’t a no-good, dastardly, cowardly, kidnapping pirate, she might consider him handsome.


 “Did you kill him?” The question squeezed past her throat unbidden.


 “Him?”


 “Ned—Captain Cochrane. The man with me on the porch.” She schooled her emotions as best she could, pretending the man standing before her was none other than Kent, her nemesis during her days aboard Audacious as a midshipman.


 “If he is dead, it is through no work of me or my men. We do not kill for sport, only for defense.”


 “Ha!” The mirthless laugh popped out before she could stop it. “Morality from a pirate? Someone who spends his life pillaging and thieving and destroying and killing and…and…” Heat flooded her face.


 “And?” The pirate stood and stalked toward her, an odd gleam in his dark eyes. “And ravishing young women? Is that what you were going to say?”


 Charlotte backed away, right into the edge of the desk. She gripped it hard. “N-no.”


 The pirate leaned over her, hands on either side of her atop the desk, trapping her. “Do not try to lie to me, little Charlotte Ransome. You have no talent for it.”


 Stays digging into her waist, she bent as far back as she could. “Yes, then. Ravishing.” Not that he would get a chance to ravish her. A fork. A penknife. Anything with a sharp edge or point. Once she had something like that in her possession, she would be able to defend herself against him.


 Up close, the pirate’s brown eyes held chips of gold and green. A hint of dark whiskers lay just beneath the skin of his jaw and above his upper lip.


 He blinked when someone knocked on the door but didn’t move. “Come!”


 “Captain, Lau and Declan are back.”


 “Very good. I shall meet with them in the wheelhouse momentarily to hear their report. Dismissed.”


 Charlotte wanted to cry out to stop the other man from leaving, but she knew she deluded herself. She was no safer with any man on this ship than with their captain.


 Would Ned still want her—even be able to look at her—after the pirates were finished with her?


 “What’s this?” The pirate reached up and touched Charlotte’s cheek. “Tears?”


 She shook her head, more to dislodge his hand than in denial.


 With another sigh he straightened and then handed her a handkerchief. “Calm yourself, Miss Ransome. I have no intention of ravishing you. Nor of allowing anyone else to ravish you. While you are aboard my ship, you are under my protection.”


 He crossed to the table and retrieved his hat. “You, however, must stay to this cabin at all times. Though my men know my rules of conduct, a few of them might give in to the temptation of their baser desires should they see you about on deck.”


 Charlotte leaned heavily against the desk. The handkerchief in her hand was of the finest lawn, embroidered white-on-white with a Greek-key design around the edge. She frowned at the bit of cloth. Why would a pirate carry something so delicate?


 He settled the bicorne on his dark head, points fore-and-aft, the same way the officers of the Royal Navy wore theirs.


 “Who are you?”


 He touched the fore tip of the hat and then flourished a bow. “I am called El Salvador, and you are aboard my ship, Vengeance. Welcome to my home, Miss Ransome.”



Watch for a giveaway of this title coming soon right here on my blog! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

CFBA: Dancing on Glass by Pamela Ewen



This week, the
 
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
 
Dancing on Glass
 
B&H Books (August 1, 2011)
 
by
 
Pamela Ewen
 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Until recently retiring to write full time, Pamela Binnings Ewen was a partner in the Houston office of the international law firm of BakerBotts, L.L.P., specializing in corporate finance. She now lives just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, with her husband, James Lott.


She has served on the Board of Directors of Inprint, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting the literary arts in Houston, Texas, as well as the Advisory Board for The New Orleans Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans; Pamela is a co-founder of the Northshore Literary Society in the Greater New Orleans area. She is also a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

Pamela’s first novel, Walk Back The Cat (Broadman & Holman. May, 2006) is the story of an embittered and powerful clergyman who learns an ancient secret, confronting him with truth and a choice that may destroy him.

She is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed non-fiction book Faith On Trial, published by Broadman & Holman in 1999, currently in its third printing.

Although it was written for non-lawyers, Faith On Trial was also chosen as a text for a course on law and religion at Yale Law School in the Spring of 2000, along with The Case For Christ by Lee Stroble. Continuing the apologetics begun in Faith On Trial, Pamela also appears with Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, Darrell Bock, Lee Stroble, and others in the film Jesus: Fact or Fiction, a Campus Crusade for Christ production.

Pamela is the latest writer to emerge from a Louisiana family recognized for its statistically improbable number of successful authors. A cousin, James Lee Burke, who won the Edgar Award, wrote about the common ancestral grandfathers in his Civil War novel White Dove At Morning.

Among other writers in the family are Andre Dubus (Best Picture Oscar nomination for The Bedroom; his son, Andre Dubus III, author of The House of Sand and Fog, a Best Picture Oscar nomination and an Oprah pick; Elizabeth Nell Dubus (the Cajun trilogy); and Alafair Burke, just starting out with the well received Samantha Kincaid mystery series.  

ABOUT THE BOOK


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


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

If you would like to read the first chapter of Dancing on Glass, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:



Next Christian Fiction Book Club!!!

EdgyInspirationalRomance
I had such a great time hosting the Christian Fiction Book Club this past weekend. We featured Ronie Kendig's Digitalis and had a blast! You can still participate in the event if you'd like. We'd love to hear your feedback!

Coming up next, Lydia will be hosting The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund on September 24. Check out the official announcement on Joy's blog!

I look forward to seeing you join the next book club. I have just ordered The Preacher's Bride and will dive into it as soon as I receive it!

Would you like to host a book club of the month event? Let Joy know when you check out her blog!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New COTT Champion: A Familiar Evil by Anne Patrick

 *guest post by Jennifer Slattery


The next Clash of the Titles literary champion is Anne Patrick! Her her novel A Familiar Evil won the vote for Author’s Choice.
Here’s a blip of her COTT winning excerpt (excerpt B):
“Excuse me. I’m looking for Chief Russell.”

Jordan’s stomach did a nosedive at the familiar voice of her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
“You found her,” Frank answered.
Jordan looked up just as Sam smiled. “Indeed I have.” He started toward her desk.
Colleen barged through the opened door. “Chief, there’s an Agent Russell here to see…oh, I guess you found her.”
“Agent Russell,” Frank repeated. He turned back to Jordan, “Isn’t Russell your married name?” He then shifted his gaze back to Sam, “That must mean you’re her husband.”
“Not for much longer.” Jordan hurried around her desk and ushered Frank out the door. “You’ll be hearing from me.” She closed the door and looked at Sam. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m here at your request.”
Read the full excerpt here.
A few reader comments: 
  • I'm hooked! Loved the tension between Jordan and Sam.
  • Both were really good! I Liked Excerpt B because of the rather humorous exchange between husband and wife. :-) Definitely a book I'd want to get and read!
  • Love tension in Excerpt B. And there's promise of lots more!! 
After reading Anne’s tension-filled excerpt, we wanted to know how she came up with such great stories. Her answer? She writes on the fly.
“I’m a Pantser,” Anne said. “I never plan anything. As a matter of fact I didn’t know who the killer was in A Familiar Evil until toward the end of the book when he sprang out at me and said, ‘I’m your man.’ Of course I had suspected he was the one but I wasn’t for sure. There are several possibilities.”
Her plot ideas come to her just as unexpectedly. “Often times when I'm researching one book, ideas for another start to sprout,” Anne said. “Reading the paper is another good source for me. Life is truly stranger than fiction.
Read the full interview here.
What Anne had to say about her time on Clash:
"Thanks for having me here at COTT. You ladies are awesome!"
Want to join the fun? Hop on over to Clash of the Titles now to vote for our next literary champion and be entered into our drawing for a free book! And don’t forget to stop by Clash of the Titles Book Club to join our cyber-chat. We’re devouring Delia Latham’s Destiny’s Dream.
*Jennifer Slattery is the marketing manager for Clash of the Titles. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, the Christian Pulse, and Samie Sisters. She’s also written for numerous other publications and websites including the Breakthrough Intercessor, Bloom!, Afictionado, the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, and Granola Bar Devotions. She has a short piece in Bethany House’s Love is a Flame (under a pen name) forwarded by Gary Chapman, another piece in Cathy Messecar’s A Still and Quiet Soul, and a third piece scheduled to appear in Majesty House’s Popcorn Miracles. You can find out more about her and her writing at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud and you can catch some great writing tips at her writing blog, Words That Keep.