It's Steelers Season....On Dancing with the Stars!!!!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

OMG how cool is this??!! Hines Ward, quite possibly the best wide receiver in professional football, is going to be on ABC's Dancing with the Stars!!! I'm sooooo excited since Hines is one of my favorite Steeler players. Since he's a wide receiver and as such has to make a lot of great moves on the playing field I'm thinking he's going to do great on the show, plus with all that determination and work ethic he has to go far! Without even seeing the show who is an early favorite for you?

Meet the cast by clicking the image below if you didn't see the big reveal tonight during The Bachelor!

Photo

Image from ABC.com

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First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: A Billion Reasons Why by Kristin Billerbeck

Friday, February 25, 2011


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:




A Billion Reasons Why


Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)


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


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




A Fine Romance


Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.


That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.


“Katie,” a voice said.


The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.


Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.


Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.


“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”


Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.


“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”



Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.


Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.


As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.


“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”


“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.


“I did. I sent my regrets.”


“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”


She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.


“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”


“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”


“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.


If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.


“Give me one reason.”


She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”


Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.


He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.


“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”


Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.


He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.


The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.


“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.


The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.


“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”


“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”


“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”


“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”


“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.


“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.


“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.


“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”


“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.


Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”


Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”


“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”


“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”


Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.


“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”


The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.


“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”


“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”


“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”


But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.


“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”


Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”


Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.


Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.


“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”


“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”


“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”


“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”


“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”


The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.


It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?


“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”


She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”


“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.


Apparently the small talk had ended.


“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”


Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.


“And who you date is my problem, how?”


“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”


“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”


“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”


“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”


“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”


e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.


“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”


He flinched. “Below the belt.”


A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.


Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”


“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”


He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”


“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Katie-bug.”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”


“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”


She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”


“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“Uh-huh.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”



“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”


That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.


“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”


“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”


“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”


She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.


“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”


“Engaged?” He stepped away.


She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.


“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”


The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.


“You know what I meant.”


“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”


She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.


“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”


“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”


“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.


“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”




My Review:
I knew right from the start that I was going to love this book, I mean with that ice rink on the cover who wouldn't? A Billion Reasons Why just gets better and better from the cover on. It's everything that makes a great story. It entertains, it grabs and holds your attention from the very first page, it has the sigh-inducing romance factor and most importantly a great delivery of the Christian message. Let's face facts, all Christian fiction should have some kind of message but sometimes books can get too preachy or the message is so obscure you have to dig for it. I know some people like those kinds of stories but I don't. A Billion Reasons Why is near to perfect though, not too preachy...just right! It is also modern but with a fun throwback to the 1940s and reminded me a bit of a chick flick.

I know I've said this about books in the past but I just love it when I can picture characters in a book as clearly as I can my favorite characters on the big screen. After reading this I felt as if I knew Katie, Luc and even Dexter. I already have the actors cast for the film in my head! When I can get so enveloped in a story you know it has to be good.

I haven't read a book by Kristin Billerbeck since the Stockingdale series ages ago but I'm so glad to have the chance to get reacquainted with Kristin's classic writing style and quirky characters. A Billion Reasons Why is a fun read and a great way to pass the time on a lazy Spring day! I can't wait for her next book!

Another Clash of the Titles Victory!!

Another COTT Victory!

This week Elaine Marie Cooper takes the crown over at Clash of the Titles. The category was Most Romantic Moment and the excerpt was from her novel The Road to Deer Run. She beat out her competitor Lorna Seilstad with a 54% to 46% vote.

Elaine is a wonderful addition to the COTT hall of fame, her warmth and enthusiasm making her Clash one of the most enjoyable yet. And Elaine is no stranger to the site. She's been a participating reader and sponsor for months. So when she got the news she had been chosen, she responded: I am shouting for joy that my submission has been accepted! Thank you so much!! I am very honored to be a COTT contender!

A snippet from Elaine's excerpt:
Mary began to relax. Daniel’s voice was soothing to her spirit. By the time the brush had reached the crown of her head, she was closing her eyes, the tension falling from her face.

Daniel smoothed her soft locks with his hand. “There. Your hair is lovely.”

If you missed it, you can read the full excerpt here.


What did Elaine think of her Clash? It's clear she's enjoyed every minute, even before knowing the verdict:
I'm so excited for this opportunity, Michelle and again, I so appreciate having my excerpt chosen. Thank you.

And once the Clash was underway:
It's a thrill to be here at COTT!

It's a thrill to have you! Elaine's energy infused the entire two weeks of the Clash with excitement and fun. It ended up being one of the most commented-on clashes, for both contenders.


Readers were just as delighted. A few comments:
Caught me up in what is behind the attack this woman faced and how can she get over it. Such a compassionate man at her side

The quiet strengthening of a bond between the characters, apparently in the aftermath of a terrible experience. That's wonderful! But what did it for me? He was brushing her hair. /sigh/

This sounds wonderful. I love reading about the revolutionary war and I like your cover!

Way to go, Elaine! Find out more about Elaine in her COTT interview here.

Professional History:
Christian, Wife, Mother, Grammie to triplets, Registered Nurse, Novelist, Blog Writer for Reflections in Hindsight http://reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress.com and The Barn Door www.thebarndoor.net , Magazine Freelance writer, Newspaper columnist.

Fun Bio:
I have three favorite grandchildren: Jack, Chloe and Luke. :-) I love my family. I drink hot tea all year and LOTS of it (caffeinated of course). I want to rescue all the shelter dogs but my husband says, "NO!" (we already have three dogs...) I cry at Hallmark commercials. I love Hallmark movies. I love to read, write, crochet, cross stitch, watch Jane Austen movies. I love to look at my flower garden (after I have weeded it and when there is no snow!) I hate mushrooms. I dream of living closer to my grandbabies.

Make sure to come take part in our next Clash on Monday: Emotional Intensity from our waiting-to-be-published authors.

by Michelle Massaro

Black 'n Gold Girl Style!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Check out this cute Vera Bradley Baroque Fabric Book Tote that I found on Barnes and Noble.com! Does this fit my Black 'n Gold Girl style or what? It kinda even matches my blog!

Details


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Waiting on Wednesday: A Heart Revealed (Winds of Change, Book 2) by Julie Lessman

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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Jill over @ Breaking the Spine hosts a weekly meme that features one book that you can't wait to be released! Be sure to visit Jill's site to see what she and other readers can't wait to get their hands on.

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

Julie Lessman is one of my absolute favorite romance writers so I'm definitely looking forward to her latest novel in the Winds of Change series, A Heart Revealed this September. Check out the cover and a short blurb below...

I like this cover. With the dark clover background those yellow roses really pop!


From the publisher:
Ten years ago, Emma Malloy fled Dublin for Boston as a battered woman, escaping the husband who scarred her beautiful face. The physical and emotional wounds have faded with time, and her life is finally full of purpose and free from the pain of her past. But when she falls for her friend Charity's handsome and charming brother, Sean O'Connor, fear and shame threaten to destroy her. Could Sean and Emma ever have a future together? Or is Emma doomed to live out the rest of her life denying the only true love she's ever known?

Filled with intense passion and longing, deception and revelation, A Heart Revealed will hold readers in its grip until the very last page

Releases September 2011, Available for Pre-order NOW!

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The Doctor Is In...This Spring!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thanks to Ruth @ Booktalk and More for reminding me that Series 6 of my favorite show, Doctor Who will be premiering this April on the BBC and BBC America. I've been in love with Doctor Who since I caught it when it first aired on the SyFy channel nearly 6 years ago. Although there have been three different doctors and I've loved each and every one my favorite is the current Doctor as played by Matt Smith. He's so funny and totally cute in a nerdy sort of way! Check out the trailer for series 6 below. I'm excited that the Tardis will be landing in the US! ;-)




I just had to share this too since it's so fun!

Laying Bare

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reading all the excerpts shared at Clash of the Titles this month, and discussing falling for heroes, has made me think back to other tender scenes I've encountered. Many stories make our hearts beat faster or awaken a deep longing within us—both in books and movies—and one such story is The Notebook. Yeah, yeah, it's often ridiculed by the guys. But women everywhere swoon. Why? Because in the movie we see a man who loves a woman—even when she doesn't know him.

Sound familiar?

We've been having a pitter-patter love fest here at COTT the past few weeks with all these Romantic Moments--by Lorna Seilstad, Elaine Marie Cooper, Joanne Troppello, and Karen Witemeyer--and as we come down off the sugar rush of Valentine's candy it occurred to me that no Valentine's month would be complete without focusing on our first love. And I don't mean the boy you kissed behind the bleachers in seventh grade, or even prince charming. I'm talking about the King of Kings. Today I thought it only appropriate to turn my eyes upward.

John 1:10 tells us that He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.

So The Notebook in this way is a picture of Christ loving his bride, the church. Christ is the lover of our souls!

We also read in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. And from John 15:13 we know Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

His love is not based on what we do or how we look. It's not based on seduction, flirtation, or how we make Him feel. He loves us for who we are; He loves us when we are exposed.

Isn't it breath-takingly romantic when a husband finds his wife most beautiful first thing in the morning, before she's applied her makeup and arranged her hair just right? So also, we need no "beauty tricks" to win Him. We don't need to hide our flaws, whether physical or spiritual. We couldn't if we tried—all things are laid bare before Him. And yet He loves us. Enough to die.

That's what I call a hero.

Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me and drawing me into your embrace; for loving me with all my flaws exposed. I'm deep in love with you, Lord.

What other pictures of Christ have you found in romantic stories? Or, share how He captures your heart.

By Michelle Massaro

**All next week, readers who comment on COTT are entered to win a free book from one of our authors, so let your friends and readers know! Extra entries for following us in any form--twitter, fb, blogger, networkedblogs--just let us know you have. =)**

Christian Fiction Review: Tandem by Tracey Bateman

Tandem
by Tracey Bateman
Copyright 2010
Waterbrok Press
314 pages
ISBN: 978-0-307-45717-2
Fiction/Suspense

From the publisher:
As obsession and loss become dark partners, how far must the people of Abbey Hills go to survive?

Six months ago, brutal murders shook the small Ozark town—murders that stopped after a house fire reportedly claimed the killer’s life. Lauryn McBride's family auction house has taken responsibility for the estate sale of one of the victims—the enigmatic Markus Chisom. Submerging herself in Chisom’s beautiful but strange world, Lauryn welcomes the reprieve from watching Alzheimer’s steal her father from her, piece by piece. She soon realizes that centuries-old secrets tie Abbey Hills to the Chisom estate and a mysterious evil will do anything to make sure those secrets stay hidden. Even the man who grew up loving her may not be able to protect Lauryn from the danger.

When Amede Dastillon receives an unexpected package from Abbey Hills, she hopes it might be the key in tracking down her beloved sister, long estranged from her family. Visiting Abbey Hills seems the logical next step in her search, but Amede is unusually affected by the town, and when mutilated carcasses begin turning up again in the small community, the local law enforcement isn’t sure if they are confronting a familiar evil or a new terror.

Two women brought together by questions that seem to have no answers. Can they overcome the loss and darkness threatening to devour them—or will their own demons condemn them to an emotional wasteland?


My Review:
I am a fan of both paranormal fiction and Christian fiction but I'll be the first to admit I was a little worried about how vampires and a Christian theme would mesh. It turns out I didn't have a lot to worry about, author Tracey Bateman combined both wonderfully. That said this is a rather dark novel so it may not suit everyone. There's murder, voodoo, and curses involved so it's not for the faint of heart. I feel like I've been saying that a lot about Christian fiction that I've been reading. It may be just a coincidence that I've been gravitating toward tales with a more serious side or is this a sign of a new trend in faith-based fiction?

Either way Tandem is a good book, however I must say that I didn't find it as dynamic or mysterious as Thirsty. Maybe it's because I kind of knew what to expect from the vampires. I'm not sure what it was but the end of the story did not set well with me. I can't say much without giving it away but with the revelations that are brought to light in the last few chapters the last few chapters were resolved way too easily. If this book had a few more chapters I probably would have liked it as much as Thristy.

Tracey Bateman is still one of my favorite authors. I love her style and her ability to write a sweet romance like her Heartsong Presents historicals and totally surprise me with a book like Thirsty. I'm really looking forward to reading her latest book from Summerside Press (written under pen name Tracey Cross), Love Finds You in Dodge City, Kansas.

To learn more about the author visit:

*I received my review copy from the publisher, I was not obligated to provide a positive review, just an honest one.*

Early Spring Cleaning Find: My Old Toys

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Believe it or not I do, at times, do more than blog and read, sometimes I clean house! *wink* Well today I was looking through my closets (yeah I have two but unfortunately they're not full of my clothes) and I found some of my old toys! I cleared out my Barbie collection at least ten years ago but some I kept for sentimental reasons for instance a few my grandmother had bought for me before she passed on and today I found them again. Oh boy the memories! I can remember playing house even though I never had a dream house I improvised using a cardboard box or just pretended that Barbie was off on a road trip since I did have the Barbie car. No Corvette of course because even in those days I was a Mustang girl.

Besides my Barbies I also found a Cupcake doll! For those who are little younger they were dolls that wore plastic and rubber clothes (don't worry they were prettier than they sound) that you could literally turn insi
de out so the doll looked like a cupcake. So cool, or at least I thought so back in the day. Will someone please tell me that they remember those dolls? :-) I also found an old Troll doll with neon purple hair and a tutu! I think everyone my age had at least one Troll doll, right? I was no Mimi Bobeck but I had a few back in the day. The 90s were good for toys. I remember some of my favorites including the Magna Doodle, Betsy Wetsy, and the ever popular Creepy Crawlers! Those were the good old days. At the risk of sounding old...where have all the cool toys gone that don't require ten page instruction booklets and an Internet connection? *Sigh* times sure have changed.

More Pretties: Covers of Upcoming Christian Fiction Releases

Monday, February 14, 2011

Last week I posted a few covers of some Summer releases from Bethany House. Well in my surfing around the web I found a few more covers that I love including Deeanne Gist's Love on the Line! I promise not to go crazy with cover posts on this blog but I just can't help myself from sharing some of these since they are sooo pretty!







So what do you think, pretty or no?

Christian Fiction Review: Lady in the Mist (The Midwives, Book 1) by Laurie Alice Eakes

Lady in the Mist (The Midwives, Book 1)
by Laurie Alice Eakes
Copyright 2011
Revell Books
416 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3452-7
Fiction/Historical Romance


From the publisher:
By virtue of her profession as a midwife, Tabitha Eckles is the keeper of many secrets. Dominick Cherrett is a man with his own secret to keep: namely, why he, a British aristocrat, is on American soil working as an indentured servant.

In a time when relations between America and England rest on the edge of a knife, Tabitha and Dominick cross paths, leading them on a journey of intrigue, threats, public disgrace, and . . . love. But can Tabitha trust Dominick? Finding true love seems impossible in a world set against them.

With stirring writing that draws you directly into the story, Lady in the Mist takes you on the thrilling ride of love's discovery.

My Review:
I've seen this author's books in the past but I don't believe they were full length novels so when I saw the pretty cover for this book and I realized it was a full length story about a midwife I had to read it. From the very beginning I knew this would not be a let down. From the misty dunes of the Virginia shore to the joy's of new life, not a detail was spared. The triumphs and trials of a midwife are laid out so beautifully one can't help but feel every emotion in their soul. It is so amazing to me how a midwife's reputation as a lady was often more important than her actual skills in the birthing room. Lady in the Mist is a great story that's quite a bit different from most Christian historical romances that I've read. The mystery and murder make it a tad darker and give it a more serious tone which I find most refreshing!

“Available February 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

To learn more about the author visit:

*I received my complimentary book from the publisher in exchange for posting my honest review.*

Season of Love Blog Party Winner!!!

Thanks to all who stopped by to visit yesterday and for leaving such great comments! I wish I could send you all books but sadly I cannot. I had to choose one winner and that person as selected by random.org is...

Leanne!!!!

Leanne has been notified via email and has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be selected.

I hope you all have a great Valentine's Day and stop by my blog often to visit!!!

Season of Love Blog Party Day 7: Special Guest Laura Frantz + Giveaway!

Sunday, February 13, 2011



Throughout my journey as reader, reviewer and blogger I've met a lot of great people. Some of them you've already met if you've been visiting each site on the Seasons of Love party/blog hop this week. They are all prolific bloggers and great friends. I've also been blessed enough to meet some great authors who have also become friends, including Laura Frantz, author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little and the upcoming book, The Colonel's Lady. I don't know how she does it but in between her family, and writing books she also maintains a great website with interesting posts on everything from history to writing and devotions. I think if you visit her site you'll be a follower for life! Without further ado here's Laura Frantz!



Interview with author Laura Frantz

1.)What is your favorite romance story? besides your own of course. ;-)

It must be the writer in me but the first thing I think of are romantic literary couples. :-) Think Katie O'Connor and Luke. Charity and Mitch. Faith and Collin. Marguerite and Trip. Rachel and Rand. Jack and Ruth. And then there's Lael and Ian…Morrow and Red Shirt… I'm sure you could add to the list! Not to mention the classic couples like Darcy and Elizabeth and Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester.

This may sound a bit grim for Valentine's Day but I've always been touched by real-life couples who have been married a very long time and then die within days of each other. I like to think they had such a deep affection that they couldn't be
without each other.



2.) Do you have a favorite romantic movie?

Ah, Renee, you well know! :-) Until last August it was The Last of the Mohicans but now it is the one and only North and South! I'm afraid no other film will ever measure up nor will there ever be a hero like John (heartbreak) Thornton/Richard Crispin Armitage. The balcony scene where Margaret throws her arms around his neck…the Northbound train kiss…the moment their fingers touch over teacups. Sigh. I could go on and on. And I thank you readers for introducing me to him!


3.) Favorite love song?

This is going to brand me an old woman, I'm afraid. Ever heard of Bryan Adams? He had some incredibly romantic songs way back when, when I was - uh, your age:-). But I have to say the most romantic- sounding songs I've ever heard are played on the fiddle or violin. Songs like Ashokan Farewell and the music of master fiddlers in centuries past.


4.) The ultimate romantic getaway locale?

Hmmm - this one has come up a lot lately… I'd have to say SCOTLAND once again. Those Scottish heroes in their kilts and that Gaelic lilt woo one like nothing else:-)! Unless it could be all that Cadbury chocolate down south in England… Stay tuned for my Scottish hero in The Ballantyne Legacy. I hope you'll fall head over heels!


5.) What do you love most about being a writer?

Writing romantic scenes. Truly, when you're a writer you just stay in love all the time - with your husband, your current hero/characters, and the author of true romance, our Lord and Savior. I also have to mention hearing from readers is such a privilege and a joy. No one ever says the same thing about how a book has touched them. That's the beauty of writing inspirational fiction. There's a sacred element involved in that the Lord ministers to people through the written word in very personal ways. I'm always a bit awed by that.


6.) Can you share a favorite romantic scene from one of your books or one that was edited out?

Ready for some heartbreak here? I deleted the morning after scene following the waterfall wedding night between Miss Morrow and her man :-(. Sorry, dear readers, 'twas just a wee bit too intimate and for my eyes only. But it was oh so sweet! I couldn't bear to throw it away so it went into my outtakes file. I felt that I was baring my soul a little too much in that scene. Nothing inappropriate, mind you, but it was like spilling my heart onto the page… I will say that in that particular scene a certain someone shares with a certain someone that he has saved himself for her all those years and has loved her for a very long time.


7.) A piece of sage advice on love or romance that you've learned or that someone has told you that's true or just plain funny?

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder - if you're truly in love. My favorite romances involve distance and letter writing, savoring each moment of a slow-growing romance. Very old-fashioned. Not the hurly burly of the here and now. If it's real it doesn't matter how far apart you are. If it's God-ordained distance is a moot point. When Randy and I were dating we just held hands for months. Nothing else. But how sweet that was!


8.) Okay this is kind of a fun question:

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, I happen to believe that this is true for us ladies as well (at least for me anyways). What would your hubby make, if he had limitless culinary skills, to warm the cockles of your heart?

Oh, this one makes me chuckle:-)… My wonderful husband cannot even operate the microwave. So…in my dreams, I would have Randy don a chef's hat and whip up some prime rib with horseradish sauce, risotto, spinach soufflĂ©, fettuccini alfredo (you can't have too much pasta, ya know) and then wow me with a lemon meringue pie, southern style. Top it off with some sweet tea and you'd probably be pretty sick :-(. I do so love to eat!


Thanks a million, Renee, for such great questions and for allowing me to mingle with your readers once again. You all are such a blessing!

Be sure to visit Laura @ Her WEBSITE!

*******
To celebrate romance I'm offering a gift pack of three Christian fiction romance books to one lucky winner. One book is the brand new release, Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones (this one is an early favorite for my top ten books of the year list!) and two other books that will be a surprise since I LOVE surprises!!!!

EXTRA ENTRY: Which cover of those pictured above is your fave?
To enter just leave a comment with your email in a format similar to this: steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com. US residents only please. Void where prohibited. Contest open until Feb. 13th, 11:59pm EST. Winner will be drawn on Feb, 14th using random.org, notified by email and announced on this blog. Winner will have 48 hours from time I email them to respond or another winner will be selected at random.

Remember to click HERE for all the other sites that hosted the party this week and to visit Amber's blog tomorrow for the grand finale!

Clash of the Titles: This Week's Winner!!!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


At This Site They Bravely Battled...

It's time once more to announce a new Hero at Clash of the Titles. Two authors fought not with weapons and warriors, but with gentleness and devotion. This was a clash of Romantic Moments. Our swooning excerpts were from Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride, and Joanne Tropello's Mr. Shipley's Governess. Two fantastically romantic scenes. And the winner is...

Karen Witemeyer's A Tailor-Made Bride!

Congratulations! A Tailor-Made Bride is Karen's debut novel and recently won the 2010 Best Western Romance contest. So it's really no surprise that she's won this week's honors at COTT as well. A snippet from her winning excerpt:

"So…uh…did you like the sunflowers?" J.T. steeled himself as Hannah turned to pass him a platter.
Her eyes widened slightly and roses bloomed in her cheeks, but the smile that followed unclenched his gut. "I loved them. The other gifts as well. Thank you."
"You're welcome."

She bent back to her task, rummaging in the grayish water for something else to wash. "I had hoped they were from you."

J.T. forced a casual air to his voice he was far from feeling. "You got someone else courting you?"


(for the full excerpt, click HERE)

Some reader quotes:
· Beautiful excerpts, both of them! But, I confess, I was hooked from the moment J.T. dried Hannah's hands with his towel.

· Ah, so romantic. What a wonderful way to start the "love" month!

· I was pulled straight into the scene without even knowing it. Drying the hands up to tracing the "hollow at the base of the neck" was a detail that drew the reader in.
About writing such romantic moments into her novel, Karen says:
The joy in writing these scenes is that as the omniscient author, I know these two people are meant to be together, and I get to help them discover that truth for themselves.

Of her time at COTT, Karen comments:
It's been so much fun to participate.

Karen lives in Abilene, TX with her hunky, computer nerd husband who has heroically saved her sanity on several occasions when evil glitches arise to assault her laptop. They have three children who think it's cool that their mom writes books even if the people on her covers usually have no heads. Karen is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler.

To read about how she met that hunky husband of hers and the crush she has on her heroes, click HERE

*****
About the book:
When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind--shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

About the Author
Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House Publishing. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. Visit Karen online at http://www.karenwitemeyer.com

*****
Congratulations once again, Karen! COTT's next Clash begins Monday, V-Day, with two more Romantic Moments. Don't forget to vote and enter the free book drawing!

Article by Michelle Massaro, COTT Assistant Editor

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Kaydie (Montana Skies, Book 2) by Penny Zeller

Friday, February 11, 2011

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:


Kaydie – Book 2 in the Montana Skies Series

Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Penny Zeller is the author of McKenzie, first in her Montana Skies Series, along with several other books, numerous magazine articles and her blog, A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author: http://pennyzeller.wordpress.com. She’s committed to nurturing women and children in their Christian walk, through a women’s prayer group, as a Bible study leader, through the organization she co-founded, “The Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out,” and as a frequent speaker. She desires to use her gifts of writing and storytelling to glorify God and draw others closer to Him. When she’s not writing, Penny enjoys spending time with her family, camping, hiking, canoeing, and playing volleyball. She and her husband Lon, along with their two children live in Wyoming.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Since the death of her abusive husband, Kaydie Kraemer’s life has been easier, but she’s wary of men and builds a wall of protection around her, staying with her sister McKenzie as she awaits the birth of her baby. Haunted by her painful marriage, , Kaydie is determined never to fall in love again, and it will take the grace of God to change her mind—the same grace that works in the heart of ranch hand Jonah Dickenson, a confirmed bachelor who has unhealed wounds of his own to overcome.


Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742174
ISBN-13: 978-1603742177

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


October 1889

Pine Haven, Montana Territory

“No, Darius, I’m not going with you!” Kaydie Kraemer winced in pain as her husband, Darius, grabbed her arm and pulled her out the door of her sister’s house toward his waiting horse. She tried to pull her arm loose from his tight grasp, but her efforts were futile.

Darius then reached around and grabbed her other arm, squeezing it so hard that Kaydie could already see the bruises he would leave behind. “You don’t have a choice, Kaydie. You’re my wife, remember?”

“No, Darius. I’m staying here. I don’t want to be married to you anymore.” Kaydie fought back her tears, hating that they would be sign of weakness to her callous husband.

“You don’t have a choice,” he snarled. “Now, you can either come willingly, or I can carry you. Which will it be? Because I ain’t leavin’ without you.” He turned his head to the side and spit on the front porch.

“I thought—I thought you were dead,” Kaydie stammered.

Darius threw back his head with an evil laugh, which caused the nostrils on his prominent nose to flare in and out. His mouth was open wide, revealing more missing teeth than Kaydie remembered. His stringy brown curls bounced from his collar, and he removed a hand from Kaydie only long enough to slick back the few strands of greasy hair that had fallen over his forehead. He narrowed his eyes, which were already too small for his large face, making them appear even smaller. “I had you fooled, didn’t I? You’re a foolish woman, Kaydie. Ain’t no way I’m gonna die and let you go free! When you said ‘I do,’ it meant that you were bound to me forever!” He gritted his teeth and gripped her arm even tighter.

“No, Darius! No!”

Kaydie’s eyes popped open, and she stared into the darkness. She could hear her heart thumping in her ears, a sound loud enough to rival cannon fire. She placed her hand over her heart and felt it thudding wildly. Sweat poured down her neck; her hands were damp with moisture, and her forehead was covered in beads of perspiration. It was just a nightmare, she told herself, still breathless with terror. The vision had seemed so real.

Her heart continued to pound as she reached with her other hand and rubbed her belly. “I think it was only a nightmare, little one.” She sat up, swung her legs over the side of the bed, and stood to her feet. Groping in the dark, she made her way to the window and looked outside. The moon and the stars were the only things she could see. Darius and his horse were nowhere in sight.

“Thank You, Lord, that it was just a dream,” Kaydie whispered, then turned around and went back to her bed. Burying her face in her pillow, she whimpered softly, not wanting to wake McKenzie, Zach, and Davey. “Thank You, God, that Darius is not coming back,” she prayed, her voice muffled by the pillow. “Thank You that You are my ‘refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’”

You are safe here, My child, she felt the Lord say to her.

“I know, Lord, but I don’t feel safe—not with the memory of Darius,” she whispered. Turning over on her back, she gazed up at the ceiling, and the words of Psalm 91 filled her heart: “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.”

Tears of joy slid down Kaydie’s face and onto the pillow. “We’re going to be all right, little one,” she whispered to the baby within her. “We’re going to be all right, because the Lord will keep us safe.” She gently rubbed her belly again, thankful that God had been there when her husband had been tormenting her and had delivered her from him.

Darius was dead, and he wasn’t coming back to take her away. Kaydie had been there. She’d seen it happen. Now, here she was, staying with her beloved sister McKenzie, McKenzie’s husband, Zach Sawyer, and their young son, Davey. Never would Kaydie have guessed that McKenzie would move to the Montana Territory and marry a rancher. For one thing, McKenzie had always despised hard work; for another, she’d had her eye on a wealthy doctor from Boston for years. Yet, from everything Kaydie had seen in her first month at the Sawyer Ranch, McKenzie was happy and wouldn’t trade her life there for anything.

McKenzie had told her that God had changed her heart. Kaydie smiled at the memory because He had changed her heart, as well. She had learned about the Lord from Ethel, the woman who had taken her in after Darius’s death and given her a steady dose of God’s Word. That solid foundation had stayed with Kaydie, and she yearned to know more about her Creator day by day. Yes, she had grown up knowing there was a God, but she hadn’t truly experienced Him until Ethel had helped her begin a relationship with Him.

Kaydie turned from one side to the other, unable to fall asleep. In a few short hours, it would be dawn, and she would join the Sawyer family and their hired help at the kitchen table for breakfast. The day she’d met each of the members of McKenzie’s new family filled her mind, and she recalled asking McKenzie in private about each one of them. Fearful of placing herself and her unborn baby in danger again, Kaydie had felt it necessary to find out as much as she could about the people with whom she would be living as long as she stayed with her sister. She felt safe around Zach—and, of course, precious Davey. But the others she wasn’t so sure about, especially the hired man named Jonah, who had met her in downtown Pine Haven and driven her to the Sawyer Ranch the day she’d found McKenzie….

***

“Thank you, McKenzie, for taking me in like this,” Kaydie said as she sat with her sister on the front porch, sipping tea. The late September air was chilly, but the fresh breeze felt good.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” McKenzie said. She leaned over and put her arm around her sister. “I have missed you something horrible, Kaydie. I thought for a while that I might never see you again.”

“I thought the same thing, myself,” said Kaydie. “I never dreamed you would go to all that trouble to find me. I hoped that you would, but I knew better than to count on it.”

“It happened thanks only to the Lord,” McKenzie said. “Montana Territory is a huge place. I could not have imagined how big it is until I arrived here, and I’ve seen barely a fraction of it. To have found you within its borders is a miracle, indeed.”

“Yes, it is,” Kaydie agreed. “I must have thanked the Lord more times than I can count for rescuing me through you.”

“And I must have thanked the Lord more times than I can count for rescuing you and bringing you to me,” McKenzie said with a giggle.

Kaydie giggled then, too—something she hadn’t done for a long time. Oh, how she had missed her sister! “I think you were the only one in our family who didn’t give up on me,” she said, growing serious again.

“Well, Mother did come out here to take me back to Boston—”

“Thank you, McKenzie.”

“You are more than welcome. Besides, I couldn’t let ‘my baby’ stay lost somewhere in the uncivilized Montana Territory forever!”

Kaydie giggled again. “I think Mother feared you would call me ‘my baby’ as long as you lived!”

“Mother feared a lot of things,” said McKenzie. “However, I don’t think she ever counted on my leaving our home in Boston to become a wife on the wild frontier and then falling in love with a rancher!”

Kaydie smiled and shook her head. “No, I don’t believe she did, or her worst fear would have come true.”

“I think the worst thing, though, would have been for Peyton to have done the same thing we did—follow a man to the ends of the earth and forsake our privileged upbringing.”

“Oh, Peyton never would have done such a thing.” Kaydie rolled her eyes. “Perhaps she isn’t our true sister. She’s so different from us.”

“She’s our true sister, just unique. I pray for her daily that she will someday find true joy.”

“It would take a completely different outlook on her part—as well as the part of Maxwell—for that to happen,” Kaydie said. She thought of her oldest sister’s uppity, prudish husband. “Speaking of husbands, Zach seems like a good one,” she said, choosing to change the subject to something more positive.

“He is. I’m blessed beyond belief, Kaydie. It took me so long to see the gem that he is. Someday, I’ll have to share the entire story with you. To think that I could have missed out on him because of my own pride and stubbornness….” She shivered.

“I’m happy for you, McKenzie.”

“Someday, God will give you a love like that, Kaydie.”

“Oh, I think the days of courtship and marriage are over for me. I have my little one to think about now.”

“I know marriage is the furthest thing from your mind right now, especially in light of the horrid circumstances in which you found yourself while married to Darius. Still, I have faith that someday God will bless you with the husband He’s planned for you all along.”

“I suppose I might reconsider marriage—when I’m forty-five,” Kaydie said, laughing. But she wasn’t kidding. Never again would she trust a man, especially with her heart. She now had not only herself to consider, but also—and more important—her baby. How many times had she thanked the Lord that her baby hadn’t been born while Darius was alive? She shuddered at the realization that her survival—and her baby’s survival—would have been unlikely, at best, if she had remained with Darius. No, never again would Kaydie be so foolish as to fall in love. Things like true love happened only to others, like McKenzie, and not to her. Such a thought might have in the past bothered her, but not now. She was content in the thought of being reunited with the sister she loved and of soon becoming a mother.

“I will tell you whose marriage is a wonderful model: Asa and Rosemary’s,” McKenzie said. “They both have taught me so much about a marriage that’s centered on God, and they’ve been married pretty close to forever.”

“Yes, it was so nice to meet them yesterday,” Kaydie said. “They seemed quite friendly and charitable.”

“They are. I wasn’t fond of Rosemary at first, and I didn’t really know Asa, since he works with Zach outside most of the time, but once I became acquainted with them, I realized the treasures they are. They have both taught me so much—especially Rosemary. She’s like the mother we never had. No offense to Mother, for I know she tried the best she knew how to raise us, but Rosemary…she’s different. She has always been so accepting of me, even when I didn’t accept her. She taught me how to cook and stitch and how to survive in a home so different from anything I had ever known. She and Asa are like grandparents to Davey, and I believe Zach has all but adopted them as a second set of parents, even though he speaks very well of his parents, who, as I told you, are deceased.”

“I think I shall like Rosemary, too,” Kaydie said. “And Asa does seem like a good father figure.”

“That he is. His Irish accent makes him unique in these parts. I think Rosemary confided to me once that was one of the things that drew her to him when they began courting so many years ago.”

“They live just down the road, right?” Kaydie asked.

“Yes, they do. It’s nice having them so close. I know you’ll come to love Rosemary as much as I do.” McKenzie paused. “And then there’s Jonah Dickenson, the other hired man. He’s a hard worker, always willing to help. He lives alone in the bunkhouse.”

“He makes me nervous,” Kaydie admitted.

“Jonah?” McKenzie asked. “Why do you say that?”

“When he brought me here from town yesterday, there was just something about him…I can’t place my finger on it, exactly, but it was odd.”

“I’m not sure what it could be, Kaydie. He’s never been anything but polite, and Zach doesn’t know what he would do without him. I think the two of them have become brothers, in a way. When Davey’s father, Will, died, I think Jonah slipped into the spot he’d had in Zach’s heart.”

“I think it’s wonderful that Zach adopted Davey after his parents died,” Kaydie said.

“Yes. A man who accepts another’s child as his own is a special man, indeed. Of course, who wouldn’t want Davey for a son? I loved him almost immediately.”

“So, you don’t think I need to be afraid of Jonah?”

“I honestly don’t, Kaydie, but if he makes you uncomfortable, you are within your rights to keep your distance. If he ever does anything….” McKenzie paused. “If he ever lays a hand on you or anything else, tell Zach or me right away. Promise?”

“I promise,” said Kaydie.

“But, again, I don’t see any reason to fear him. He’s a godly man with a heart the size of the Montana Territory. I think you’ll discover that for yourself once you get to know him.”

Kaydie nodded but still wasn’t convinced.





My Review:
4/5 stars
This romantic western set in the late 19th century is sure to please all readers of Christian romance. From the sweet and shy Kaydie to the ranch hand who has sworn off, love I really enjoyed every character and every detail. While there's nothing radical or new about this story or it's setting it hearkens back to classics like Janette Oke's prairie stories but with slightly more romance, so you can't go wrong. It's great to see two characters who were wary of each other and of love come together and grow in their faith. I also enjoyed the fact that this book wasn't only about Kaydie and Jonah but there was a great secondary love story between Gerald and Geraldine. If you're like me you gotta love it when couples are such a great match in all ways, including name! Very cute and clever Ms. Zeller! Kaydie is a great second book, no sophomore slump in my opinion. I can't wait to get my hands on the third book!

New Clips: Jane Eyre (2011)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

As I posted late last year one of my very favorite books, Jane Eyre is being remade yet again for the big screen. If you're a follower of news of the film like I am you've probably been disappointed in the lack of clips and sneak peeks other than the original teaser trailer release a few months ago. Well thanks to Charley Brown @ Enchanted Serenity of Period Films blog I learned last night that there were two brand new clips one being the very swoonworthy scene right after Jane saves Rochester from being burned in his bed!!!! If that scene is any indication for the rest of the movie, I think it's going to be awesome! Check it out below and see for yourself.




Doesn't Michael Fassbender have the dreamiest voice?!

I didn't post the other clip since I figured out the load time of this blog with a lot of videos is reaaaaally slow but you can go HERE to check that one out.

First Wild Card Blog Tour + My Review: Come to Me by Laura J. Davis

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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:


Come to Me

Word Alive Press (October 21, 2010)

***Special thanks to Laura J. Davis for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




A singer and songwriter for over 25 years, Laura J. Davis began writing full-time, after an emergency surgery caused the loss of her singing voice. She is a member of Canada's largest community of writers who are Christian, The Word Guild, where she volunteers as a first editor. Laura and her husband, Jim, reside in London, Ontario.



Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Step back in time and experience the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother. Come to Me offers the reader an intimate glimpse into the lives of Jesus and His family in a way that brings them to life. The themes of trusting in God and surrendering to Him are evident throughout this remarkable story.

From the cradle to the cross, Come to Me speaks to the hearts of those who are seeking, and deepens the faith of long-time believers. It is a moving tale of the life of Christ from the mother who raised Him to become the Saviour of the world.


Product Details:

List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 338 pages
Publisher: Word Alive Press (October 21, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1435705564
ISBN-13: 978-1435705562

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Jerusalem 44 A.D.


She sat outside for over an hour meditating, praying and remembering. The rising sun wrapped her in a warm cocoon that threatened to lull her back to sleep. Mary arched her back and stretched. She ran her hands over the cream-coloured pillow covering her precious bench and yawned. Joseph had surprised her with the bench the first year they were married. They would often sit together in the early morning hours, when the rest of the world was still asleep and the sun was waking up.

How she longed for those times again, when Joseph would take her hand and they would begin the day in prayer and dedication to Yahweh. My sweet Joseph, how I long to hear your voice and feel your embrace once more.

She had known Joseph for most of her life. In a village as small as Nazareth, it would have been unusual if their paths had never crossed. Older than her by twelve years, Joseph had watched Mary grow from a child into a beautiful young woman. With careful planning, he had placed himself in her life with the purpose of marrying her when she came of age. He had called her ‘Little Mary’ and she had called him her ‘Gentle Giant,’ names said with an affection that had grown into a deep and lasting love.

“You’re such a long way up, Joseph!” she would laugh. “I get a sore neck just looking at you, much less kissing you.”

Then one day he had come into the house and said, “Little Mary, I have a surprise for you, but first, you must close your eyes!” Mary obeyed and felt Joseph sweep her up in his muscular arms and place her on something soft and luxurious.

“Open your eyes now,” Joseph said, his brown eyes twinkling with excitement.

“Oh, Joseph!” For the first time in their marriage, she was able to look straight into his eyes.

“What is this?” She looked at her bare feet and wiggled her toes into the cream-coloured pillow that stretched across a new oak bench. A small gasp of surprise escaped her lips. “It is beautiful.” She sighed as she ran her hands along the back of the bench. “Hear O Israel…Oh, Joseph! You have carved the Shema into it. Oh, how precious.” She clasped her hands together and turned toward her husband. “You made me a prayer bench.” Her almond shaped eyes shone with delight.

“Ah, well … my motives are not that pure I am afraid.”

She tilted her head. “Oh?”

“Yes, I was thinking we could use it so you wouldn’t get a sore neck kissing me.” He wrapped his arms around her tiny waist pulling her close. “Or you could use it for praying.” He shrugged and smiled. “Your choice.”

She laughed and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I think for now I shall use it for kissing you and later I will use it for prayer.”

Mary sighed, a sleepy smile lingering on her face. They had dubbed it the kissing bench. They had thought it was something their children would laugh and giggle over in the years to come. What a wonderful life we made together!

It was a good marriage, despite its uncertain beginnings. So many events had happened in those early days that Mary could not imagine which memory she cherished most—the angelic visitation, the birth of Jesus, or his resurrection. The enormity of what had transpired in her life had humbled her more than she realized.

Of course, she would never cherish the memories of what they had done to her firstborn son. Forgiving them was easier than forgetting. She could never forget. How long had it been since that horrible day? She could still smell the blood and hear Jesus’ screams mingled with her own. Her chest grew tight with grief as she closed her eyes to dispel the images that had haunted her for the last eleven years.

She was fifty-eight years old and until six months ago had been with her nephew, the Apostle John, on a brief visit to Rome to strengthen the churches there. When the Emperor Claudius began expelling Jews from Rome, John had decided that she should return to his home in Jerusalem for her own safety.

“Poor John,” she muttered as she recalled the argument she had had with him over returning.

“It’s too dangerous for you in Rome now, woman!” He had pleaded with her all day and finally in anger and frustration gathered up her belongings and started stuffing them into a satchel. “As the mother of our Lord and a Jew, your life is in more danger than mine right now. This discussion is over. You will leave without any more arguments.”

Mary remembered folding her arms across her chest and swallowing the angry words that had threatened to spill from her lips. No one had ever talked to her in such a manner.

“John, if it is dangerous, why are you staying? Should I, the mother of the Messiah, become a coward and run to save my life when others are dying? It is not right. Your brother James was beheaded for proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah. I should do no less.”

“Jesus charged me with your safety, Aunt Mary. Would you have me dishonour my Lord by shirking my responsibilities?”

That was when she had seen the pain and anguish on his weathered face. She had finally understood. He could not bear losing her as he had his brother and so she submitted to his wishes.

He took her to Jerusalem, stayed for a while to help her adjust and then returned to Rome to minister to the churches there. She now spent her days with the other believers in Jerusalem, meeting together regularly for prayer and fellowship. Today she was expecting Luke, a Greek physician led to salvation through the Apostle Paul.

As she waited for his arrival, she kicked off her sandals and wiggled her toes. Although it had rained the night before, it was now a beautiful spring day. Mary loved the earthy smell in the air after a rainfall. It was a combination of mud, water and worms that oddly reminded her of the seaside. Breathing deeply, she leaned her head against the rough stone of John’s home, stretched out her bare feet and plopped them in the nearest puddle.

From the time she was a child, she had often gone barefoot through the hills of Galilee after it had rained, for she loved to squish her toes in the mud and feel the cool blades of grass on her feet. In Jerusalem a plot of grass was hard to come by, which made her miss her home in Nazareth all the more. Joseph had always worried that she might cut her feet on the sharp rocks, or sting them on the nettles hidden throughout the Galilean countryside.

She sighed and closed her eyes. Oh Joseph, my darling, there is no fear of that here.

“He is risen!”

Startled, Mary shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up to see a blonde, blue-eyed man, with a clean-shaven face and strong jaw line.

“He is risen indeed! You must be Luke. John has told me so much about you. Come to check up on me have you?” She smiled, grabbed the bowl of olives that sat beside her and put it on her lap.

Luke chuckled, his dimples showing off his chiselled features. “Actually, I just wanted the chance to meet my Lord’s mother - but don’t tell John. He thinks I’m here to inquire after your health.”

She laughed, her brown eyes sparkling. “You don’t fool me—either of you. John sends so many different people to check on my welfare that it’s a wonder I can remember all their names.”

She patted the bench inviting Luke to sit. Taking some olives from the bowl, Mary proceeded to pit them. Luke watched in fascination at how quickly her slender fingers worked.

“May I help?” He asked.

Raising her eyebrows, Mary stared at Luke for a moment, then nodded and placed the bowl between them. “Jesus used to like pitting olives too. He said he found it calming.” She giggled. “Unfortunately, he ate more than he pitted.”

Luke chuckled as he popped an olive into his mouth.

“I’ll tell you what I told Jesus,” she said, shaking her finger at him. “If you eat more than you pit, then you’ve just had your supper.”

“Well then, I’d best stop eating them, as I’m used to eating more than olives at my meals.”

“Get to work then and I might feed you more than olives!”

Content in an affable silence, they settled into their work. Luke immediately felt welcome, as if he had known Mary his whole life and he told her so. Mary blushed and thanked him.

“Oh, my goodness!” She suddenly jumped up from the bench and ran into the house.

Luke, perplexed at her sudden disappearance, continued pitting olives. He was about to follow her into the house when she returned with a basin of water to wash the dust off his feet. She knelt on the ground and removed his sandals. Embarrassed that the mother of the Lord was washing his feet, Luke swallowed his discomfort and allowed her to minister to him, remembering the lesson Jesus had taught his disciples the last night they were together.

When she finished, she proceeded to wash her own feet and then put her sandals back on. This led her to tell him about Joseph and his fear of her running barefoot.

“He was such a wonderful man,” she said. “He was a man who feared the Almighty, a good man—especially when I found myself with child.” She poured the dirty water from the basin onto the ground and then sat beside him. “You cannot begin to imagine what it was like during those days! I was fourteen years old, betrothed to a man much older than I and with child –but not with his child.”

She grew still and stared off into the distance. Luke gazed at her in silence, revelling in the fact that he was with the woman who had given birth to the Saviour of the world. He wondered how she had handled that night. Where was she when the labour had begun? Who had delivered the baby? Had there been any complications? Luke had so many questions, he hardly knew where to begin.

Mary’s eyelids dropped as she let her mind wander back to the night of Jesus’ birth. She had been surprised at the pain. In fact, she had never realized it would hurt so badly. Afterwards, oh afterwards, the reward of her son was so great that she had thought her heart would split wide open with love. The King of the world had been born to her!

“Happy thoughts?”

Mary’s eyes flew open. Blushing, she smiled and said, “His birth—it amazes me still.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, what was it like back then? When you found out you were … um … with child?”

“It’s been over forty-four years since Jesus’ birth.” She shrugged. “Aside from my immediate family, I’ve never really talked to anyone about it before.” Mary sighed and pitted more olives as she contemplated how much she should tell the young doctor.


One dollar from each copy of Come to Me sold, will be given to Compassion Canada's Unsponsored Children's Fund." Compassion Canada is the Canadian arm of Compassion International.

My Review:
I'll admit Biblical fiction isn't something I usually read a lot of but when given the opportunity to read this debut novel by Laura Davis I jumped at the chance. I'm always excited to discover new authors and I'm happy to say that I enjoyed Come to Me and I'm looking forward to read more from Ms. Davis. I was expecting the story to be about Mary and her life but it was actually Mary recounting the story of Jesus's life. I still enjoyed it as the author seems to really have a heart for God and she didn't take any outlandish liberties. Come to Me is a very quick read that I'm sure any Christian reader will enjoy and treasure.