Review (Christian Fiction): Beyond All Measure (A Hickory Ridge Romance, Book 1) by Dorothy Love

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Beyond All Measure (A Hickory Ridge Romance, Book 1)
by Dorothy Love
Copyright 2011
Thomas Nelson Publishers
314 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59554-900-6
Fiction/Christian/Historical

From the publisher:
Unless she can trust God's love to cast out her fears, Ada may lose the heart of a good man.

Ada Wentworth, a young Bostonian, journeys to Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, in the years following the Civil War. Alone and nearly penniless following a broken engagement, Ada accepts a position as a lady’s companion to the elderly Lillian Willis, a pillar of the community and aunt to the local lumber mill owner, Wyatt Caldwell. Ada intends to use her millinery skills to establish a hat shop and secure her future.

Haunted by unanswered questions from her life in Boston, Ada is most drawn to two townsfolks: Wyatt, a Texan with big plans of his own, and Sophie, a mulatto girl who resides at the Hickory Ridge orphanage. Ada's friendship with Sophia attracts the attention of a group of locals seeking to displace the residents of Two Creeks, a "colored" settlement on the edge of town. As tensions rise, Ada is threatened but refuses to abandon her plan to help the girl.

When Lillian dies, Ada is left without employment or a place to call home. And since Wyatt’s primary purpose for staying in Hickory Ridge was to watch over his aunt, he can now pursue his dream of owning Longhorns in his home state of Texas.

With their feelings for each other growing, Ada must decide whether she can trust God with her future and Wyatt with her heart.


My Review:
The years following the American Civil War were a tumultuous period, especially for the South. Author Dorothy Love has managed to capture the unrest, the struggle to rebuild lives as well as issues of prejudice and racism all the while weaving in a sweet romance. Hickory Ridge, Tennessee, meets Boston, Massachusetts, in this inspiring story of finding ones faith in troubling times and perfect love.

The first thing that came to mind when reading this story was in spite of how different 1871 was compared to today's world some things never change. The spirit of community and the everybody knows everbody's business is something that will never change and in that aspect this book was very authentic. One thing irked me near the end of the story and that was the punishment or lack there of of one of the characters. Without giving too much away she nearly assaulted a main character but no charges were ever pressed. The character who did not press charges struck me as one who would have wanted justice and to protect others, not leave a person who was a danger to society run free.

The romance also left a bit to be desired. I felt Ada and Wyatt were always arguing (no, not the romantic tension kind of clashing, just flat out not getting along) and all of a sudden Wyatt was proposing. It seemed a bit forced. I must say however, that I'm really looking forward to what happens next for some of the characters especially the orphan girl, Sophie and Carrie, the widow. I can't help but hope for Sophie to grow up and find her own love and for Carrie to finally move past her grief. The little peeks into their lives in Beyond All Measure have definitely whetted my appetite for more. For a first inspirational Ms. Love has definitely done well and I'm sure will do nothing but improve with her sophomore novel, Beauty for Ashes.


To learn more about the author visit:

*I received my complimentary review copy from the publisher through Booksneeze.*

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I Can't Wait!!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ohmygosh The Hunger Games is seriously the best YA series I've read since Twilight so the fact that it's also being made into a film series (hopefully better than Twilight) has me really excited. Needless to say this trailer doesn't show a whole lot but still it looks like the movie is going to be amaaaazing! Thoughts on the trailer? The books? Any movies you're looking forward to in 2012?


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COTT Champion Lisa T. Bergren

Monday, August 29, 2011




*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.

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Review (Christian Fiction): Hidden Affections by Delia Parr

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hidden Affections
by Delia Parr
Bethany House Publishers
Copyright 2011
320 pages
ISBN: 9780764206726
Historical Fiction/Romance

From the publisher:
Betrayed by her husband, Annabelle Tyler wears the burden of legally being a divorcee, a difficult position for an upstanding young woman to find herself in. While attempting to start a new life for herself, an unexpected turn of events once again has Annabelle married--this time to Harrison Graymoor, the most eligible, yet elusive, bachelor in Philadelphia. Harrison assures her that he will secure an annulment immediately, unaware that the constable has sent word of the marriage to the press in Philadelphia. And here things continue to go awry. Harrison's past, a philanthropic cousin with his eye on Annabelle, and the appearance of Annabelle's ex-husband threaten the tentative relationship growing between Harrison and his "wife." For two individuals set against marriage, there are certainly a lot of second thoughts regarding the one forced upon them.

My Review:
~3.5 stars~
Period films are some of my absolute favorite things to watch because they bring back a time gone by when life seemed a bit more slower and a lot more romantic. It's the same for historical fiction, everything just seems more romantic. Realistically speaking I know that 100 years ago, even 50 years ago life was a lot more complicated and I *probably* couldn't have survived 5 days in the 1800s without running water or electricity but the mystique of things unknown still draws me to books like this one. Delia Parr certainly makes 1830s Pennsylvania come alive. It probably helps that I live right next door to a grist mill and live in a town that celebrates "Pioneer Days" every fall but for those who do not you won't find it a problem experiencing life in on a Philadelphia estate through Ms. Parr's descriptions. To top it off the characters are amazing. I'm always a fan of the reluctant rogue who gets "tamed" by love and Harrison Graymoor definitely fits the bill. Annabelle Taylor, a divorcee who has to once again deal with a marriage that seemingly has no chance of going beyond the "shotgun" wedding certainly has an impressive spirit. That said the basis for their marriage was a bit hard to believe. Why two strangers would demand that Annabelle marry Harrison, especially since neither was a relation to Annabelle, was beyond me. However after I got past that, which took place in the first chapter, the story definitely got better. I still feel like Ms. Parr's earlier book, Hearts Awakening was her best (5 stars) but this is definitely an improvement over Love's First Bloom (3 stars).

To learn more about the author visit:
Her WEBSITE

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

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Coco's Favorite Whose Line Episode!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

During the summer months my little brother and I stay up late and watch reruns of Whose Line Is it Anyway? on ABC Family. Tonight's episode was a Salute to American Television with special guest stars that included Lassie! If you know anything about dogs or classic tv you know that Lassie is the world's most famous collie and quite possibly the world's most famous dog period. Well Lassie is a favorite in our household especially with Coco, our own collie so I thought I'd share this cute clip on Coco's behalf. :-P


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Wow! 200 followers!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's so hard to believe that over 200 of you think enough of my blog to want to follow it. I'm honored. I wish I could give you all a million dollars to thank you but unfortunately I can't...unless maybe I win the Powerball in the near future. Anywho, to thank you for being SO cool the first two people who are Google Friend Connect followers who email me at steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com saying, "I want a book!"and include your mailing address will each get one surprise book from me! I'll add the two winners names to this post as soon as I get them so if you see two winners here the books have already been claimed. Sorry. US residents only. Void where prohibited.

Winner #1 ~ Katie M.

Winner #2 ~ Sablelexi

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Clash of the Titles: School Girl Crushes and Blushes

Guest post by: 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 COTT

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Review (Christian Fiction): Too Rich for a Bride (The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek, Book 2) by Mona Hodgson

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Too Rich for a Bride (The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek, Book 2)
by Mona Hodgson
Copyright 2010
WaterBrook Press
314 pages
ISBN:978-0-307-45892-6
Fiction/Romance/Historical

From Amazon:
With a head more suited to bookkeeping than a bridal veil, Ida’s dreams include big business- not beaus.

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters, Kat and Nell, in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek, Colorado for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman, Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career.

Under Mollie's tutelage, Ida learns how to play the stock market and revels in her promising accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man's world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions. She ignores her family's reservations about Mollie O'Bryan's business practices, but no matter how she tries, she can't ignore the two men pursuing her affections—Colin Wagner, the dashing lawyer, and Tucker Raines, the traveling preacher.

Ida wants a career more than anything else, so she shrugs off the suitors and pointed “suggestions” that young ladies don’t belong in business. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities truly lie?


My Review:
~3 stars~
I'm as big a fan of the western romance as the next girl but it all gets repetitive sometimes. I'm happy to say that Mona Hodgson's latest book, Too Rich for a Bride is unique. While the setting, a mining town in Colorado, is kind of humdrum the characters are not. I loved that our hero, Tucker Raines, was a traveling preacher turned ice man. You might expect a preacher to pop up in a Christian romance but not a purveyor of ice and ice boxes. That said, the romance felt a bit cold (no pun intended) and I remained disconnected throughout. Although each of the characters were complex and flawed, which I loved, the romance did not work for me. The little that we saw of Ida's sisters and their husbands left me wanting to know what happened next in their lives rather than what would happen between Ida and her beaus. Towards the end of the book the man whom Ida chose even admitted that they didn't get to spend much time together which led the conclusion to feel a bit forced. If there is going to be another book in this series I really hope that Ms. Hodgson puts more of Ida and her husband into the story because they are great characters.

To learn more about the author visit:

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

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Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Birthday Party!

Monday, August 22, 2011



During the past few years in the month of September in honor of my own birthday I've hosted some blog parties that were pretty cool if I do say so myself. While those parties were really successful I thought that for this year I'd tweak it just a liiiiiittle bit. Some of my very favorite authors just so happen to have "book birthdays" coming up in September so I thought it would be fun not only to celebrate me (hey, it's my birthday so I'm allowed to be self-centered right?) but great new books as well. Every guest during my Book Birthday Party will have a book that is releasing during the month of September with the exception of Laura Frantz whose latest novel, The Colonel's Lady was published in August but she's such a special friend I'd thought we'd celebrate belatedly. Each day there will be interviews with authors, guest posts, and excerpts celebrating these incredible authors and their stories. As a special bonus each author has offered some pretty cool giveaways and I'll host my own on the last day of the party.

Now for the fun part...

If you think this party sounds like one you'd like to attend please grab my blog button on the left sidebar of this blog. Come back here and let me know you did so in a comment and leave a link so I can find proof that you grabbed the button by September 4, 2011, (the day before the party) and you will get 2 extra entries for each giveaway!!! Yes, I want to give you all as many chances to win as possible. Tell your friends too and I'll love you forever! Unless I find out otherwise all giveaways are open to US residents only.

Hint: If you want a sneak peek at the special guests just look at the party button carefully. ;-)

Thank you so much and I hope to see you in September!!

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Review (Christian Fiction): Blue Skies Tomorrow (Wings of Glory, Book 3) by Sarah Sundin

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blue Skies Tomorrow (Wings of Glory, Book 3)
by Sarah Sundin
Copyright 2011
Revell Books
448 pages
ISBN: 978-0-8007-3423-7
Historical Romance

From the publisher:
In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

When her husband becomes a casualty of the war in the Pacific, Helen Carlisle throws herself into volunteering for the war effort to conceal her feelings. But keeping up appearances as the grieving widow of a hometown hero is taking its toll. Soon something is going to give.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit. His stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life--and a convenient excuse to ignore his deepest fear. When the beautiful Helen catches his eye and captures his heart, he is determined to win her hand.

But when Ray and Helen are called upon to step out in faith and put their reputations and their lives on the line, can they meet the challenges that face them? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Filled with drama, daring, and all the romance of the WWII era, Blue Skies Tomorrow is the captivating final book in the popular Wings of Glory series.


My Review:
~4.5 stars~
There is absolutely nobody who writes WWII fiction like Sarah Sundin. The drama and the suspense of flying over the enemy lines, the thrill of that first kiss all the way down to the satisfying conclusion every bit of Blue Skies Tomorrow and the books that preceded it are nothing short of spectacular.

In this novel we once again meet up with the Novak brothers, the focus being on Raymond Novak, preacher to be and fighter pilot and war widow, Helen Carlisle. Right off the bat romance fans will be pleased as this book sizzles right from the start but don't let the pretty cover fool you. If ever there was an edgy Christian fiction book this is it. The author doesn't shy away from issues such as domestic violence, guilt, and discrimination. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. Helen and her infant son's plight at the hands of her deceased husband and her father-in-law was very hard for me to read so the happy conclusion to this story was all the more sweet.

Helen was easy to like and I really felt for her as she debated what to do about Ray, her son and her faith. Ray, was as sweet and as hunky (Paul Wesley anyone?) as heroes come and while his ordeal overseas (no spoilers here!) was a little hard to believe it still added to the complexity of the plot which was interesting. For fans of the previous novels, Jack and Walt along with their sweethearts make more than cameo appearances so those who want to know what happens next will be happy.

Blue Skies Tomorrow is a superb read and I'm sad to see this series come to an end. WWII fiction is definitely Sarah's niche and I hope she sticks with it. Read this book and watch a romance unfold and faith being renewed.



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

To learn more about the author visit:

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

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FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + Review: Ransome's Quest (The Ransome Trilogy, Book 3) by Kaye Dacus

Friday, August 19, 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:



Ransome's Quest

(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.”



My Review:
~4 stars~
It's summer, vacation time but just in case you can't make to your tropical destination of choice this year with books like Kaye Dacus's Ransome's Quest there's no need to worry. The latest book in the Ransome Trilogy has sultry breezes, cerulean waters and huge ships that will take you on a journey to rival any trip to the beach. Ms. Dacus has put together a satisfying conclusion for the characters we've all grown to know and love.

The adventures of Julia, Charlotte, William, and Ned along with some exciting and ferocious new characters definitely makes for a real page-turner. Throughout the series each character has grown in their faith while remaining flawed and vulnerable. At times they were scared (if you read this book I dare you not to shiver at the name of Shaw!) and sometimes defiant. Poor Ned, the things he has to go through looking out for Charlotte aka Charles Lott.

All in all Ransome's Quest is a great read for those who like a little romance, a little faith and a lot of adventure. Marylu Tyndall fans will probably love this too. Just a hint, I highly recommend reading this series in order as you will be very confused otherwise with so many characters and backstories.

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Review (YA Fiction): Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1) by Lauren DeStefano

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wither (The Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 1)
by Lauren DeStefano
Copyright 2011
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
358 pages
ISBN: 9781442409057
Fiction

From the publisher:
By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape--before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?


My Review:
~4.5 stars~
Tired of the same ol' same ol' when it comes to YA fiction? I definitely suggest Wither if you're looking for a change. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this book and it was really amazing! It wasn't all about the heroine making cow eyes at the hero the entire time in fact I'm not even sure there is a hero in this book although I have the feeling that we're going to feel Gabriel's presence a lot more in the next book. This book really has it all though, a unique dystopian world where women die at age 20 and men at age 25 due to a genetics issue, great characters and conflict. I have to say that it didn't read like a young adult novel even though Rhine is only 16. I suppose since females only lived 20 years they grew up fast. Wither is definitely going on my keeper shelf and I'm anxiously awaiting book 2, Fever because the conclusion of Wither really makes you wonder!

Note: Some sexual references and mild language


To learn more about the author and her books visit:


*I purchased this book for myself and was under no obligation to provide a review.*

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Wow...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

funny pictures history - But we don't have any money!
see more Historic LOL

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New COTT Champion: A Familiar Evil by Anne Patrick

Monday, August 15, 2011

*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.

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Review (Christian Fiction): The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Colonel's Lady
by Laura Frantz
Copyright 2011
Revell Publishers
416 pages
ISBN: 9780800733414
Historical Fiction

From the publisher:
Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?

Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.


My Review:
Nobody writes frontier romance like Laura Frantz! The Colonel's Lady is yet another example of Christian fiction at it's finest. This book is not simply a historical romance but a story of loss, hope, and the resilience of the human spirit. The beautiful and dangerous Kentucke territory has never been more alive to me and characters have never spoken to me more in any Christian book I've read. From the first shocking accident of an on edge militia to the tender ministrations and care of a lover to his beloved on her sickbed to the final shocking revelation, The Colonel's Lady will leave your heart topsy turvy. If Cass and Roxanna's unfolding relationship doesn't keep you riveted to the page nothing will. Be prepared to stay up long into the night even after the final page is turned thinking about all that happened, not just between the hero and heroine, but at Fort Endeavor and on the battlefield. Make room for The Colonel's Lady on your keeper shelf right beside The Frontiersman's Daughter and Courting Morrow Little.

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

To learn more about Laura and her books visit:
Her WEBSITE

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

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Blog Poll Results & Winner of Restless in Carolina!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thank you everyone for all your votes. All the votes were pretty much spread out but here are the final results and I'm so happy that most of you voted to change nothing at all. You don't know how much I worry about making my general posts as entertaining as possible and my reviews as informative as possible. I know how much I appreciate quality reviews on the blogs I follow so I want to try to return the favor. I'm thrilled to know that you all think so highly of my spot on the Web.

Nothing, it's fine as it is: 8 votes

More giveaways: 7 votes

More author interviews/guest posts: 6 votes

More book reviews: 6 votes

New design: 3 votes (all votes for "new design" were cast before I actually rearranged and redecorated the site)

In the following months I will be trying to host more giveaways and hopefully host more authors. I've been quite busy lately so I haven't had as much time to blog as I would like but coming up in September is something you will really love especially if you voted for more giveaways. ;-) Thank you again to everyone who voted and thanks to random.org for selecting "SUKO" as the winner of Restless in Carolina!

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Tough Choices...

Friday, August 12, 2011

I just saw this post by BBC America on Facebook and I was literally in knots! How in the world am I supposed to choose between 8 of the most talented, respected and *cough cough* hottest men on the planet and pick one as my favorite? Michael Fassbender vs. David Tennant? Yeah I might have stewed over that one a little more than I should have. Hahaha. Ahhh, well it could be a lot worse. This is definitely the perfect way to end the week in my opinion. Click the link below to cast your vote in the Anglo Fan Favorites Quarterfinals, Men 0f 2011 poll. (picture from blogs.bbcamerica.com)


Enjoy! ;-)

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FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + Review: The One Who Waits for Me by Lori Copeland

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 One Who Waits for Me

Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

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



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.



Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:










This new series from bestselling author Lori Copeland, set in North Carolina three months after the Civil War ends, illuminates the gift of hope even in chaos, as the lives of six engaging characters intersect and unfold with the possibility of faith, love, and God’s promise of a future.













Product Details:



List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 320 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736930183

ISBN-13: 978-0736930185





AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







Joanie?”



Beth’s sister stirred, coughing.



Beth gently shook Joanie’s shoulder again, and the young woman opened her eyes, confusion shining in their depths.



“Pa?”



“He passed a few minutes ago. Trella will be waiting for us.”



Joanie lifted her wrist to her mouth and smothered sudden sobbing. “I’m scared, Beth.”



“So am I. Dress quickly.”



The young woman slid out of bed, her bare feet touching the dirt-packed floor. Outside, the familiar sound of pond frogs nearly drowned out soft movements, though there was no need to be silent any more. Ma had preceded Pa in death two days ago. Beth and Joanie had been waiting, praying for the hour of Pa’s death to come swiftly. Together, they lifted their father’s silent form and gently carried him out the front door. He was a slight man, easy to carry. Beth’s heart broke as they took him to the shallow grave they had dug the day before. Ma’s fever had taken her swiftly. Pa had held on for as long as he could. Beth could still hear his voice in her ear: “Take care of your sister, little Beth.” He didn’t have to remind her that there was no protection at all now to save either of them from Uncle Walt and his son, Bear. Beth had known all of her life that one day she and Joanie would have to escape this place—a place of misery.



It was her father’s stubborn act that started the situation Beth and Joanie were immersed in. Pa had hid the plantation deed from his brother and refused to tell him where it was. Their land had belonged to a Jornigan for two hundred years, but Walt claimed that because he was the older brother and allowed Pa to live on his land the deed belonged to him. Pa was a proud man and had no respect for his brother, though his family depended on Walt for a roof over their heads and food on their table. For meager wages they worked Walt’s fields, picked his cotton, and suffered his tyranny along with the other workers. Pa took the location of the hidden deed to his grave—almost. Walt probably figured Beth knew where it was because Pa always favored her. And she did, but she would die before she shared the location with her vile uncle.



By the light of the waning moon the women made short work of placing the corpse in the grave and then filling the hole with dirt. Finished, they stood back and Joanie bowed her head in prayer. “Dear Father, thank You for taking Ma and Pa away from this world. I know they’re with You now, and I promise we won’t cry.” Hot tears streaming down both women’s cheeks belied her words.



Returning to the shanty, Joanie removed her nightshirt and put on boy’s clothes. Dressed in similar denim trousers and a dark shirt, Beth turned and picked up the oil lamp and poured the liquid carefully around the one-room shanty. Yesterday she had packed Ma’s best dishes and quilts and dragged them to the root cellar. It was useless effort. She would never be back here, but she couldn’t bear the thought of fire consuming Ma’s few pretty things. She glanced over her shoulder when the stench of fuel heightened Joanie’s cough. The struggle to breathe had been a constant companion since her younger sister’s birth.



Many nights Beth lay tense and fearful, certain that come light Joanie would be gone. Now that Ma and Pa were dead, Joanie was the one thing left on this earth that held meaning for Beth. She put down the lamp on the table. Walking over to Joanie, she buttoned the last button on her sister’s shirt and tugged her hat brim lower.



“Do you have everything?”



“Yes.”



“Then go outside and wait.”



Nodding, Joanie paused briefly beside the bed where Pa’s tall frame had been earlier. She hesitantly reached out and touched the empty spot. “May you rest in peace, Pa.”



Moonlight shone through the one glass pane facing the south. Beth shook her head. “He was a good man. It’s hard to believe Uncle Walt had the same mother and father.”



Joanie’s breath caught. “Pa was so good and Walt is so…evil.”



“If it were up to me, he would be lying in that grave outside the window, not Pa.”



Beth tried to recall one single time in her life when Walt Jornigan had ever shown an ounce of mercy to anyone. Certainly not to his wife when she was alive. Certainly not to Beth or Joanie. If Joanie was right and there was a God, what would Walt say when he faced Him? She shook the thought aside. She had no compassion for the man or reverence for the God her sister believed in and worshipped.



“We have to go now, Joanie.”



“Yes.” She picked up her Bible from the little table beside the rocking chair and then followed Beth outside the shanty, her breath coming in ragged gasps. Pausing, Joanie bent and succumbed to a coughing spasm. Beth helplessly waited, hoping her sister could make the anticipated trip through the cotton fields. The women had planned for days now to escape if Ma and Pa both passed.



Beth asked gently, “Can you do this?”



Joanie held up a restraining hand. “Just need…a minute.”



Beth wasn’t certain that they could wait long; time was short. Dawn would be breaking soon, and then Walt would discover that Pa had died and the sisters were missing. But they had to leave. Joanie’s asthma was getting worse. Each gasping breath left her drained and hopeless, and Walt refused to let her see a doctor.



When Joanie had mentioned the notice in a discarded Savannah newspaper advertising a piece of land, Beth knew she had to buy the property and provide a home for Joanie. Pa had allowed her and Joanie to keep the wage Uncle Walt paid monthly. Over the years they had saved enough to survive, and the owner was practically giving the small acreage away. They wouldn’t be able to build a permanent structure on their land until she found work, but she and Joanie would own their own place where no one could control them. Beth planned to eventually buy a cow and a few setting hens. At first they could live in a tent—Beth’s eyes roamed the small shanty. It would be better than how they lived now.



Joanie’s spasm passed and she glanced up. “Okay. You…can do it now.”



Beth struck a match.



She glanced at Joanie. The young woman nodded and clutched her Bible to her chest. Beth had found it in one of the cotton picker’s beds after he had moved on and given it to Joanie. Her sister had kept the Bible hidden from sight for fear that Walt would spot it on one of his weekly visits. Beth had known, as Joanie had, that if their uncle had found it he’d have had extra reason to hand out his daily lashing. Joanie kept the deed to their new land between its pages.



After pitching the lighted match into the cabin, Beth quickly closed the heavy door. Stepping to the window, she watched the puddles of kerosene ignite one by one. In just minutes flames were licking the walls and gobbling up the dry tinder. A peculiar sense of relief came over her when she saw tendrils of fire racing through the room, latching onto the front curtain and encompassing the bed.



“Don’t watch.” Joanie slipped her hand into Beth’s. “We have to hurry before Uncle Walt spots the flames.”



Hand in hand, the sisters stepped off the porch, and Beth turned to the mounds of fresh dirt heaped not far from the shanty. Pausing before the fresh graves, she whispered. “I love you both. Rest in peace.”



Joanie had her own goodbyes for their mother. “We don’t want to leave you and Pa here alone, but I know you understand—”



As the flames licked higher, Beth said, “We have to go, Joanie. Don’t look back.”



“I won’t.” Her small hand quivered inside Beth’s. “God has something better for us.”



Beth didn’t answer. She didn’t know whether Ma and Pa were in a good place or not. She didn’t know anything about such things. She just knew they had to run.



The two women dressed in men’s clothing struck off across the cotton fields carrying everything they owned in a small bag. It wasn’t much. A dress for each, clean underclothes, and their nightshirts. Beth had a hairbrush one of the pickers had left behind. She’d kept the treasure well hidden so Walt wouldn’t see it. He’d have taken it from her. He didn’t hold with primping—said combing tangles from one’s hair was a vain act. Finger-picking river-washed hair was all a woman needed.



Fire now raced inside the cabin. By the time Uncle Walt noticed the smoke from the plantation house across the fields, the two sisters would be long gone. No longer would they be under the tyrannical thumb of Walt or Bear Jornigan.



Freedom.



Beth sniffed the night air, thinking she could smell the precious state. Never again would she or Joanie answer to any man. She would run hard and far and find help for Joanie so that she could finally breathe free. In her pocket she fingered the remaining bills she’d taken from the fruit jar in the cabinet. It was all the ready cash Pa and Ma had. They wouldn’t be needing money where they were.



Suddenly there was a sound of a large explosion. Heavy black smoke blanketed the night air. Then another blast.



Kerosene! She’d forgotten the small barrel sitting just outside the back porch.



It was the last sound Beth heard.


My Review:
Lori Copeland's fiction is always a joy to read. The One Who Waits for Me, her latest romance set during the summer following the end of the Civil War, is no exception. While I would have preferred a more in depth look at the relationships of Beth, Joanie, and their friend Trella I kept turning the pages. Since there are so many characters front and center all with their own personal battles and love interests The One Who Waits for Me reads a lot like a novella. I was left wanting more! Gray Eagle a former Confederate spy really intrigued me. After having read Laura Frantz's Courting Morrow Little and The Frontiersman's Daughter with absolutely amazing Native American heroes I was hoping to get to know Gray a bit better but I was a bit let down. Despite that The One Who Waits for Me was a great story that I don't regret reading. I loved seeing the close relationship between Beth and her sister and I loved reading a post-bellum story that wasn't set in the West. Copeland fans and readers of romance should probably give this a try!

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Clash of the Titles: Author's Choice

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Ever wonder what a writer thinks about other genres, authors, and books? Let's find out! I put together some fun questions for our Clash of the Titles authors, as well as our current anonymous Clashing authors. Some of their answer surprised me. Others made me chuckle, or made me think about my own motives.
Here they are!
If you had to choose...




...to do only one of these for the rest of your life, which would it be? Read or write?
Amanda Flower-- Read- I write because I was reader first.
Lisa Lickel-- I’ve written twenty-five novels so far, published five of them and hope that’s not it, and it’s not like I feel I’ve written everything I wanted to...but between Kindle and my p-tbr-pile, there’s well over a hundred books just calling to be read.
Jennifer Slattery- Write, definitely, because that's when I feel God's presence strongest. I also process through my writing, whether penning articles, devos, blog posts or novels. So I imagine if I quit writing, I'd have horrendous therapy bills!
Gail Pallotta-- It would be extremely hard not to read, but I'd write because I feel that God can use my writing, even if it's in a small way.
Michelle Massaro-- mmm, read. That's why I write and it's also a whole lot easier! Lol
...only one genre to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Amanda Flower-- Mystery- I'm a huge mystery fan.
Lisa Lickel-- Ouch! Hit a girl where it hurts. Fantasy.
Author of Excerpt A-- History. I love science fiction, but I have a passion for history.
Jennifer Slattery-- Women's fiction. I love reading about characters ultra dependent on God's grace
Gail Pallotta-- I would read classic books that get at some truth about humanity.
Author of Excerpt B—Romantic Suspense


...only one author to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Amanda Flower-- Nevada Barr- Her description of the nationals parks is amazing.
Lisa Lickel-- Hmmm...besides you, of course...um...Mary Stewart.
Author of Excerpt A-- Jack London. He wrote a lot of man vs. nature kind of stories, which I enjoy a lot.
Jennifer Slattery-- Hm...I'll give three. I love CJ Darlington and the real-life issues she writes about, but I also loved Diana Prusik's debut novel, Delivery. Then there's Athol Dickson. Wow, that fella can write
Michelle Massaro-- C.S. Lewis. He has such a variety of books to read and they all contain such spiritual truths. Screwtape Letters, Chronicals of Narnia, Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, I'd be all set.
Author of Excerpt B-- Tough one! I'll go with Mary Higgins Clark
....only one book (in addition to the Bible) to read for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Gail Pallotta-- Other than the Bible, I rarely read a book more than once, but My all-time favorite book is An American Tragedy.
Author of Excerpt A-- Drat, you took away my answer. Since I can't pick the Bible, I would say Homer's, The Illiad.
Michelle Massaro-- Could I choose the whole set of Narnia books? If not, I'd have to go with Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers. (hehe, is this answer a cheat?)
Author of Excerpt B-- The one that comes to mind first is Danger in the Shadows by Dee Henderson.
What about your COTT reader? What would your answers be to these same questions?


At the Clash of the Title Book Club this month, we're discussing COTT champ Delia Latham's novel, Destiny's Dream. Head over there and see what all the hype is about!

~ April Gardner is the Sr. Editor of COTT, and best-selling author of Wounded Spirits


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New Poll + Giveaway!

Friday, August 5, 2011




This summer it seems as if I've been busier than ever and because of that I haven't had a whole lot of time to blog. I have gained a few new followers and for that I am very grateful. I love ALL you guys, you're the reason I blog. That said I want to make Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot bigger and better. I'm planning to blog more as the summer winds down and want to know how I can improve my blog and make it more fun. If you would be so kind as to take my poll on the left sidebar of this blog that would be a HUGE help to me. I have the poll set so you can vote for more than one item if you think this site needs improvement in multiple areas.

Just an FYI this September is going to be a pretty exciting month here if you like Christian fiction. I'm celebrating my birthday a bit differently than last year and all I can say is it's going to be FUN!!!!

To thank you for your input I'm giving away a slightly used copy of Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh. All you need to do is vote in the poll and let me know you did so with a comment and leave an email so I can contact you if you win! US residents only. Winner drawn next Saturday, August 13, 2011, using random.org.

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FIRST Wild Card Blog Tour + Review: Restless in Carolina (Southern Discomfort, Book 3) by Tamara Leigh

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:


Restless in Carolina

Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer, Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tamara Leigh began her writing career in 1994 and is the best-selling author of fourteen novels, including Splitting Harriet (ACFW Book of the Year winner and RITA Award finalist), Faking Grace (RITA Award Finalist), and Leaving Carolina. A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara enjoys time with her family, faux painting, and reading. She lives with her husband and sons in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Tree-huggin’, animal-lovin’ Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it’s been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it’s time she shed her widow’s weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family’s estate—a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won’t turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn’t return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting—until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight—in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn’t know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she’s worked for…and break her heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421680
ISBN-13: 978-1601421685

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Deep breath. “…and they lived…”

I can do this. It’s not as if I didn’t sense it coming. After all, I can smell an H.E.A. (Happily Ever After) a mile away—or, in this case, twenty-four pages glued between cardboard covers that feature the requisite princess surrounded by cute woodland creatures. And there are the words, right where I knew the cliché of an author would slap them, on the last page in the same font as those preceding them. Deceptively nondescript. Recklessly hopeful. Heartbreakingly false.

“Aunt Bridge,” Birdie chirps, “finish it.”

I look up from the once-upon-a-time crisp page that has been softened, creased, and stained by the obsessive readings in which hermother indulges her.

Eyes wide, cheeks flushed, my niece nods. “Say the magic words.” Magic?

More nodding, and is she quivering? Oh no, I refuse to be a party to this. I smile big, say, “The end,” and close the book. “So, how about another piece of weddin’ cake?”

“No!” She jumps off the footstool she earlier dubbed her “princess throne,” snatches the book from my hand, and opens it to the back. “Wight here!”

I almost correct her initial r-turned-w but according tomy sister, it’s developmental and the sound is coming in fine on its own, just as her other r’s did.

Birdie jabs the H, E, and A. “It’s not the end until you say the magic words.”

And I thought this the lesser of two evils—entertaining my niece and nephew as opposed to standing around at the reception as the bride and groom are toasted by all the happy couples, among them, cousin Piper, soon to be wed to my friend Axel, and cousin Maggie, maybe soon to be engaged to her sculptor man, what’s-his-name.

“Yeah,” Birdie’s twin,Miles, calls from where he’s once more hanging upside down on the rolling ladder I’ve pulled him off twice. “You gotta say the magic words.”

Outrageous! Even my dirt-between-the-toes, scab-ridden, snot-on-the-sleeve nephew is buying into the fantasy.

I spring from the armchair, cross the library, and unhook his ankles from the rung. “You keep doin’ that and you’ll bust your head wide open.” I set him on his feet. “And your mama will—

”No, Bonnie won’t.

“Well, she’ll be tempted to give you a whoopin’.”

Face bright with upside-down color, he glowers.

I’d glower back if I weren’t so grateful for the distraction he provided. “All right, then.” I slap at the ridiculously stiff skirt of the dress Maggie loaned me for my brother’s wedding. “Let’s rejoin the party—”

“You don’t wanna say it.”Miles sets his little legs wide apart. “Do ya?” So much for my distraction.

“You don’t like Birdie’s stories ’cause they have happy endings. And you don’t.”

I clench my toes in the painfully snug high heels on loan from Piper.

“Yep.”Miles punches his fists to his hips. “Even Mama says so.”

My own sister? I shake my head, causing the blond dreads Maggie pulled away from my face with a headband to sweep my back. “That’s not true.”

“Then say it wight now!” Birdie demands.

I peer over my shoulder at where she stands like an angry tin soldier, an arm outthrust, the book extended.

“Admit it,”Miles singsongs.

I snap around and catch my breath at the superior, knowing look on his five-year-old face. He’s his father’s son, all right, a miniature Professor Claude de Feuilles, child development expert.

“You’re not happy.” The professor in training, who looks anything but with his spiked hair, nods.

I know better than to bristle with two cranky, nap-deprived children, but that’s what I’m doing. Feeling as if I’m watching myself from the other side of the room, I cross my arms over my chest. “I’ll admit no such thing.”

“That’s ’cause you’re afraid. Mama said so.” Miles peers past me.

“Didn’t she, Birdie?”

Why is Bonnie discussing my personal life with her barely-out-of-diapers kids?

“Uh-huh. She said so.”

Miles’s smile is smug. “On the drive here, Mama told Daddy this day would be hard on you. That you wouldn’t be happy for Uncle Bart ’cause you’re not happy.”

Not true! Not that I’m thrilled with our brother’s choice of bride, but…come on! Trinity Templeton? Nice enough, but she isn’t operating on a full charge, which wouldn’t be so bad if Bart made up for the difference. Far from it, his past history with illegal stimulants having stripped him of a few billion brain cells.

“She said your heart is”—Miles scrunches his nose, as if assailed by a terrible odor—“constipated.”

What?!

“That you need an M&M, and I don’t think she meant the chocolate kind you eat. Probably one of those—”

“I am not constipated.” Pull back. Nice and easy. I try to heed my inner voice but find myself leaning down and saying, “I’m realistic.”

Birdie stomps the hardwood floor. “Say the magic words!”

“Nope.”Miles shakes his head. “Constipated.”

I shift my cramped jaw. “Re-al-is-tic.”

“Con-sti-pa-ted.”

Pull back, I tell you! He’s five years old. “Just because I don’t believe in fooling a naive little girl into thinkin’ a prince is waiting for her at the other end of childhood and will save her from a fate worse than death and take her to his castle and they’ll live…” I flap a hand. “…you know, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me.”

Isn’t there? “It means I know better. There may be a prince, and he may have a castle, and they may be happy, but don’t count on it lasting. Oh no. He’ll get bored or caught up in work or start cheatin’—you know, decide to put that glass slipper on some other damsel’s foot or kiss another sleeping beauty—or he’ll just up and die like Easton—” No,
nothing at all wrong with you, Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, whose ugly widow’s weeds are showing.

“See!”Miles wags a finger.

Unfortunately, I do. And as I straighten, I hear sniffles.

“Now you done it!” Miles hustles past me. “Got Birdie upset.”

Sure enough, she’s staring at me with flooded eyes. “The prince dies? He dies and leaves the princess all alone?”The book falls from her hand, its meeting with the floor echoing around the library. Then she squeaks out a sob.

“No!” I spring forward, grimacing at the raspy sound the skirt makes as I attempt to reach Birdie before Miles.

He gets there first and puts an arm around her. A meltable moment, my mother would call it. After she gave me a dressing down. And I deserve one. My niece may be on the spoiled side and she may work my nerves, but I love her—even like her when that sweet streak of hers comes through. “It’s okay, Birdie,” Miles soothes. “The prince doesn’t die.”

Yes, he does, but what possessed me to say so? And what if I’ve scarred her for life?

Miles pats her head onto his shoulder. “Aunt Bridge is just”—he gives me the evil eye—“constipated.”

“Yes, Birdie.” I drop to my knees. “I am. My heart, that is. Constipated. I’m so sorry.”

She turns her head and, upper lip shiny with the stuff running out of her nose, says in a hiccupy voice, “The prince doesn’t die?” I grab the book from the floor and turn to the back. “Look. There they are, riding off into the sunset—er, to his castle. Happy. See, it says so.” I tap the H, E, and A.

She sniffs hard, causing that stuff to whoosh up her nose and my gag reflex to go on alert. “Weally happy, Aunt Bridge?”

“Yes.”

“Nope.” Barely-there eyebrows bunching, she lifts her head from Miles’s shoulder. “Not unless you say it.”

Oh dear Go—No, He and I are not talking. Well, He may be talking, but I’m not listening.

“I think you’d better.” Miles punctuates his advice with a sharp nod.

“Okay.” I look down at the page. “…and they lived…” It’s just a fairy tale—highly inflated, overstated fiction for tykes. “…they lived happily…ever…after.”

Birdie blinks in slow motion. “Happily…ever…after. That’s a nice way to say it, like you wanna hold on to it for always.”

Or unstick it from the roof of your mouth. “The end.” I close the book, and it’s all I can do not to toss it over my shoulder. “Here you go.”

She clasps it to her chest. “Happily…ever…after.”

Peachy. But I’ll take her dreamy murmuring over tears any day. Goodness, I can’t believe I made her cry. I stand and pat the skirt back down into its stand-alone shape. “More cake?”

“Yay!” Miles charges past me.

Next time— No, there won’t be a next time. I’m done with Little Golden Books.





Excerpted from Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh Copyright © 2011 by Tamara Leigh. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.



My Review:
Restless in Carolina, Book 3 in the Southern Discomfort series is simply put, wonderful. With enough southern charm and fun even a Yankee will feel right at home in Pickwick, North Carolina. The quirky, animal loving, tree hugging Bridget along with her crazy family and two possible "widow sniffers" (not as weird as it sounds - promise) and a century old feud make the over 330 pages fly by. There were more than a few times when, "I know how you feel girlfriend," went through my head. When a fictional character seems that real the author has done their job well. Every bit of this book was a blast to read but those who have an opossum phobia, consider yourselves warned. Reggie, Bridget's pet of THAT marsupial variety, is present throughout and might just give you the shivers like she did me!

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