Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday's Freebies

Time for some more freebies! These look pretty good! Can't wait to find some free time to read some of these. :)


Dead Reckoning
by Ronie Kendig


Gods & Kings
by Lynn Austin


Highland Blessings
by Jennifer Hudson Taylor


I Shall Not Want
by Debbie Viguie

Freebies can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, or anywhere else ebooks are sold.

Life Verse

I read this post about life verses the other day and it got me thinking.

I have one. (Two actually.)

It seems like all the girls in my youth group in middle school had one. I don't really remember if our youth minister or a Sunday school teacher encouraged us to choose one. But I just know that several of us had them. I can still tell you what some of the other girls' verses were (are?).

The one I chose during middle school is Isaiah 40:30-31. Oh what an encouragement this has been to me over the years!

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31, NIV

Several years ago, a roommate shared Psalm 90:14 with me during a particularly difficult year of school. It is a constant reminder to soak myself in the Word and let God be my ultimate satisfaction. It's actually one that I would say is a life verse for my marriage as well.

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14, NIV

Do you have a life verse? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Children's Series from Max Lucado


Max Lucado's new Little Hermie books Thank You, God, for Loving Me and Thank You, God, for Blessing Me are precious board books that are sure to be the perfect addition to your child's library. The pictures are colorful and the sweet rhymes on each page teach preschoolers about God. Thank You, God, for Blessing Me teaches children that all things come from God, and Thank You, God, for Loving Me teaches children about God's great love for them.

I received free copies of these books from Thomas Nelson and Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About Thank You, God, for Blessing Me
Meet Little Hermie—the cutest baby caterpillar in the garden! Little Hermie’s thankful heart shows toddlers how to be thankful for God’s blessings.

Little Hermie is thankful for everything God has given him. He goes through his day thanking God for his many blessings in this adorable board book with flocking on the cover!

About Thank You, God, for Loving Me
Little Hermie and the baby bug garden friends teach little ones about God’s love for them.

God loves all of His creatures. Little Hermie explores all of the ways God loves him and his friends in this sweet board book with glitter on the cover.

About Little Hermie
With over 5.5 million brands units sold, the new Little Hermie books open the wonderful world of the Hermie & Friends garden to an entirely new audience.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

And the winner is ...

Congratulations to 


winner of the 


giveaway!

I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Special thanks to Jamie Carie for sponsoring this giveaway!

*The winner has been contacted via email and has 48 hours to respond.

The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden


Again, I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. But this one's just so pretty! If I ever got to wear a fancy, schmancy dress from the late 1800s, this would be the one. Gorgeous!

Now . . . down to the business of the actual book. Simply put: I loved it.

Clara and Daniel come from different worlds, but their friendship blossoms despite their differences. They've grown up since they last saw each other twelve years ago. Now they find themselves just as drawn to one another as they once were. Will they be able to overcome all the obstacles in their path and find happiness together?

Elizabeth Camden is another new author. And another one I will be following from here on out. Her debut novel was amazing. I was impressed with the way she wove together seemingly different story lines into one beautiful novel.

I highly recommend The Lady of Bolton Hill and can't wait for The Rose of Winslow Street to make its appearance in January!

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for my fair and honest review. 

About the Book
When Clara Endicott and Daniel Tremain's worlds collide after twelve years apart, the spark that was once between them immediately reignites into a romance neither of them thought possible.

But time has changed them both.

Daniel is an industrial titan with powerful enemies. Clara is an idealistic journalist determined to defend underprivileged workers.

Can they withstand the cost of their convictions while their hearts - and lives - hang in the balance?

About the Author
Elizabeth Camden received a master's in History from University of Virginia and a master's in Library Science from Indiana University. She is a research librarian by day and she scribbles away on her next novel by night. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

Before he had time to answer Ma said, "I understand you're getting all moved into your offices in town. When will you be open for business, Mr. Monroe?"

Daniel laid his napkin neatly on the table. "I had hoped it would be this week, but a few things still need to be done. I asked Kate if she could help out, but it seems her studies are taking up her spare time."

Kate's face flushed again as all eyes turned toward her. "I - I just don't think I'd be of much help with fixing up your office."

Erin's eyes lit up, "Oh, Mr. Monroe, I'd love to help you. I'm quite good at arranging furniture."

Kate almost choked and grabbed her glass of water. Erin help Daniel? She should have told him yes.

Autumn Song by Martha Rogers, pg. 47-48

FIRST Blog Tour: Cherished by Kim Cash Tate


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:

Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kim Cash Tate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Her mother, a manager with AT&T, and her father, an educator, divorced when she was young. Even after the divorce, one thing her parents agreed on was the importance of education. She attended both public and private Catholic schools, and college was a given. Tate chose the University of Maryland.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she distinguished herself as a law student at George Washington University. She was invited to join the Journal staff, and a summer job at a respected law firm in her beloved Washington, D.C. followed by a one-year clerkship with a federal judge in Madison.

Tate’s law career took off in Madison. Once the clerkship ended, she was hired on at a large firm. In spite of her success, she was plagued by constant feelings of discontentment and loneliness for the racially diverse environment she left behind in D.C. She began seeking faith, simply as a means of maintaining sanity. After she and Bill married, the couple began attending a local AME church, and they both felt Jesus calling.

When her children were young, Tate left her thriving law career to stay home. A passionate and persuasive communicator, she tried her hand at writing. More Christian than African-American shares her story of finding her identity in Christ rather than in her race, which had been a major focus for her. Her first novel was Heavenly Places, followed by Faithful and her newest release, Cherished. Tate was a speaker for Women of Faith in both 2010 and 2011.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Kim Cash Tate explores Psalm 103:12 as she takes her readers down the path to God’s forgiveness and reconciliation in her newest novel, Cherished. Readers will discover that God can still use them in spite of their worst choices. And He doesn’t just forgive them, but they are truly cherished!

Tate’s story will show her readers how God can bring beauty from ashes. She has a unique way of weaving her characters’ lives together, leading back to one great point—God’s tremendous mercy and grace. In the words of one of her characters, “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like it would take a while to work my way back into God’s good graces, but it was like…”—she flung wide her arms—“…He just embraced me.” We too can be embraced by the same great love when we learn that true forgiveness for ALL of our sins is right before us.

Growing up in Saint Louis, Kelli London dreamed of becoming a songwriter and glorifying God with her songs of praise. But after falling into sin, she walks away from her dreams. Heather Anderson’s life has spun out of control—first an affair with a married man and then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band. Broken and alone, she discovers the only one who can save her. Brian Howard grew up as a science geek. But after making the worst mistake of his life after high school, he finds forgiveness in Christ and is being led down a completely different path. Now he must choose whether to continue pursuing his PhD in biochemistry or to become a full time Christian rapper.

MY THOUGHTS:
Cherished by Kim Cash Tate was an absolute delight! It’s obviously a follow-up novel (to Tate’s Faithful), but I had no problems at all picking up with the characters and the storyline. It stands alone quite well.

The plot features Kelli and Heather, two women in their mid-twenties, who both have quite a bit of baggage from their past. When God brings them together to be mentored by Cyd, God begins to show off in some pretty big ways!

To me, the best aspects of the novel were the more spiritual ones (though the entire books was fantastic!). The mentoring relationship between Cyd and Kelli and Heather was inspiring and had me really considering the relationships in my life. There were constant reminders to rest in God’s timing and trust Him to care for you in all circumstances. Additionally, themes of forgiveness, unconditional love, accountability, faith, and trust were interwoven throughout the story. It’s often difficult to weave spiritual themes into a story without it being trite or cheesy, but Tate succeeded in producing a believable and realistic story.

I especially loved the fact that it made me think about my own life in light of the themes that Tate brought to light.

The only thing that threw me a bit from time to time was some of the conversational language. Slang words and phrases (that are quite natural when spoken) seemed a bit forced when written in the dialogue.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Cherished.


Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548556
ISBN-13: 978-1595548559

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Kelli London took her place on the piano bench and waited for her cue, grateful that her jittery hands were hidden from the crowd. She shouldn’t have agreed to do this, but she loved her brother and had never seen him happier. How could she say no to singing at his wedding?

But it was the song Cedric had asked her to sing, one he’d heard only by chance. He had no idea what it meant to her. He didn’t know that singing it would unleash memories of the last person she ever wanted to think about.

Laughter rose from the pews, and Kelli looked up, wondering what she’d missed.

“. . . and I’m sure Cedric wants me to get to the vows ASAP,” Pastor Lyles was saying, “so they can get to that kiss they’ve been waiting for.”

Kelli had only met the pastor once before, at her brother Lindell’s wedding last fall, but it didn’t take long to love his spirit and his style. A black man in his late fifties, he’d started Living Word Community Church decades ago and watched it grow into a multi-ethnic megachurch. At least a couple hundred members were here today. Kelli guessed none of them thought twice about the various hues and accents that had gathered to see this black couple wed. She loved that spirit too.

Cedric was shaking his head with a shamefaced grin as the pastor called him out. Cyd was smiling up at him, gorgeous, beaming like the bright light she’d become in Cedric’s life.

Pastor Lyles continued. “But I don’t think he’ll mind one last song, and it’s a special one, written by his sister.”

Kelli drew a deep breath as Cedric and Cyd smiled over at her, Lindell and Stephanie too—the flip side of last fall. Then Stephanie and Lindell were the bride and groom, and Cyd and Cedric were maid of honor and best man, which was how they met. Kelli loved the story, how Cyd turned forty on her younger sister’s wedding day, thinking she’d never marry herself. Now here she was—a June bride. It was romantic that her brothers would now be married to sisters, but it somehow added to her melancholy, that each of them had found the love of his life.

Kelli gazed at the piano keys, and knowing they had to, her fingers tapped the first notes. She fought to stay in the moment, in the church. Her eyes swept Cyd and Cedric, imagined the lyrics were just for them . . .

I will love you till the stars don’t shine
And I will love you till the oceans run dry
I will love you till you know every why
I will, I will

Her eyes closed, and he was there. A shiver of remembrance danced down her arms. She could still see that distant look in his eyes, could even hear him, that tone of indifference that echoed forever in her head. Kelli opened her eyes to capture another image—any image—but he was everywhere now. And her heart allowed itself to be crushed all over again.

I will love you like an endless stream
A million miles won’t take your heart from me
I will love you every breath you breathe
I will, I will

Almost to the bridge, Kelli could feel her emotions cresting with the song. She closed her eyes again as they took over, filling her voice, magnifying her range, powering her through. She played the final chords with the salt of tears on her lips and bowed her head at the last note . . . and heard—applause? She looked out and saw the guests on their feet and Cedric and Cyd fully turned, facing her—Cyd wiping tears from her cheeks. With her own anxiety about singing it, Kelli hadn’t given thought to whether people might actually like the song.

She pulled a tissue from the box atop the piano, dabbed her cheeks, and blew her nose, then muscled a heart-heavy smile to acknowledge everyone’s kindness. When she moved back to the front pew beside her mother, only then did the guests stop clapping and sit.

“When did you write that?” her mother asked, patting her thigh. “That was beautiful.”

“Thanks, Mom. I wrote it . . . a long time ago.”

She turned her gaze to the ceremony, her heart beating a little faster still, puzzled by the response to the song. It coaxed a different memory to the surface, and as Cyd and Cedric exchanged vows, Kelli thought about her long-ago dream of writing music that God would somehow use. Then the better part of her brain kicked in, reminding her that she’d left songwriting behind, that she knew better than to dream. That all those dreams had turned to dust.

“Kelli! Girrrl . . .”

Kelli looked up—midpivot in the Electric Slide—and saw Stephanie threading her way through the line dancers in her champagne-colored dress. Soon as the song started, it seemed everybody left tables and mingled to claim a spot on the parquet floor. Kelli waved her sister-in-law over.

“I’ve been looking for you.” Stephanie scooted between Kelli and Devin, a nine-year-old cousin, as rows of people sidestepped to the right. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you . . . girl, you sang that song. I had no idea—hold up, am I doing this right?” She was headed a different direction from everyone else. “Why am I even out here? I hate this stupid dance.”

Kelli laughed. “Back, Steph. We’re going back.”

“Oh.” Stephanie checked Devin to get in sync, then leaned her head Kelli’s way again, her voice elevated. “Anyway, I told Lindell I couldn’t believe he didn’t tell me about that song, ’cause I would’ve had you sing it at our wedding. And he said he’d never heard it . . . and then I couldn’t believe that.”

“I know. Crazy, right? This way, Steph. Pivot left.”

Stephanie was behind her now, and Kelli turned to make sure she was following, but Devin had it under control.

Like a traffic cop, he moved his hands left, then right to direct her which way to go next. “And pivot,” he announced, to the amusement of those around them.

Side by side with Stephanie again, Kelli continued. “Lindell and Cedric had already moved out of the house by the time I started writing songs in high school, so it was easy to kind of keep my music to myself.” She shrugged. “Cedric overheard it because I didn’t know he was there.”

“Hmph,” Stephanie said. “If I had that kind of talent, everybody would know about it. They’d have to tell me to be quiet.”

The music switched, and they could hear people near the center of the floor cheering, “Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric! Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric!”

Kelli and Stephanie craned their necks, moving toward the action.

“Oh, goodness,” Stephanie said, laughing. “Look at your brother. He’s at it again.”
Kelli laughed too, remembering Cedric and Cyd on the dance floor at Stephanie and Lindell’s reception. Now the two had cut a wide swath in the middle of the floor with a different line dance, this one a little livelier.

Kelli and Stephanie worked their way to a spot in the inner circle.

“Have you seen this version?” Stephanie asked.

Kelli nodded. “But you know Cedric’s gonna add his own twist.”

Instead of a simple sidestep, Cedric led Cyd in bouncy moves to the left, with a slide before going right. And instead of a normal pivot, they did some kind of kick, kick, turn—with Cedric twirling Cyd into a two-step before moving back to the line dance, all of it seamless. The crowd was fired up.

After a couple of rounds, Cedric spotted Kelli and pulled her to the center.
“I don’t know if you can hang with a twenty-five-year-old, big brother.” Although Cedric was a fit forty-two, Kelli didn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about his age. “I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your guests.”

“Oh, you got jokes? We’ll see about that, baby sis.”

Cyd led the cheers this time as Kelli whipped some different moves on him. Cedric paused, then mimicked every last one to let her know she couldn’t show him up. Lindell dragged Stephanie out there—literally—and Kelli was in stitches watching them try to copy what she and Cedric were doing. Soon everyone on the floor had joined in again, and then the music switched to Motown, which got its own cheers.

Cedric draped one arm around Kelli and the other around Cyd and led them off the floor. They stopped at the bridal party table, which had emptied of all but Dana, one of Cyd’s bridesmaids.

“Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Cedric asked. “We need all the forty-and-over folk representing.”

Dana glared at him. “Let’s see how well you ‘represent’ with some heels on. My feet are killing me.” Then she nodded toward the dance floor. “My husband left me. He’s out there with the kids. And last I saw, Scott wasn’t representing too well either. He looked almost as bad as Stephanie with that Electric Slide.”

“I heard that, Dana,” Stephanie said, walking up with Lindell. “I could learn the dumb dance if I cared to. And since you’re trying to clown me, I might do it just to keep my black rhythm points. Can’t have a white guy showing me up.”

Dana got a kick out of that, laughing as auburn wisps fell about her face. “How about a white girl? Let’s tell the deejay to play it again and see who’s got it.”
Stephanie eased into a seat. “Uh, no thanks. I always told you, you’re one of those black white girls. You can go on the dance floor.”

Dana eyed the dancers out there. “Well, pray for Mackenzie. I think the poor thing takes after Scott. Look at them.”

Kelli’s heart was smiling. Because she lived out of state, she didn’t know these women well—not even her sisters-in-law—but from her brief interactions, including last night’s rehearsal dinner, she could tell she would like them.

Cyd pulled out a chair and sat, her beautiful gown, passed down from her mother, swishing over the sides. “Ahh . . . think I can get away with sitting like this for maybe five minutes?”

Cedric massaged her shoulders. “You’re good. The Jackson Five’s got everybody occupied.”

Dana touched Kelli’s arm. “The bridal table was talking about you earlier.”

“Me? Why?” Kelli took a seat.

“Are you kidding? That song. It was beautiful.”

Kelli blushed. “Thank you.”

“That’s my little sister.” Cedric beamed.

“Mine too!” Lindell said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “So proud of you, girl.” He looked at the others. “Just got her master’s too, from UT–Austin.”

“I heard,” Dana said. “Is your degree in music?”

Kelli shook her head. “One’s in communications and the other’s in public relations.”

“Wow, two?” Dana nodded. “That’s awesome.”

“Well . . . not really. Just means I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Kelli didn’t mind admitting it. “But I’m done being a professional student. I’m looking for a job now—”

“—in Texas.” Cedric’s tone made clear what he thought of that. “What part of Texas?” Stephanie asked. “Are you trying to stay in Austin?”

“I’ve been looking at possibilities in Austin and Houston . . .and Dallas.”

“Mostly Dallas, I’d bet,” Cedric said. “That’s where her boyfriend is.” He looked around playfully. “Where is he anyway? I wanted to meet him, see if he measures up. What’s his name? Miller?”

Kelli smirked at her big brother. “Miles. Miles Reed. He wanted to meet you all too, but he had a conflict.”

“I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity,” Cedric said, “if I can get you to move back to St. Louis.”

Cyd perked up. “Ooh, Kelli, I’d love that. Any chance?”

“I . . . doubt it.” Kelli hedged to be polite; her mind had said a fast no. She hadn’t lived in St. Louis since she left for college, and the distance had been good. Her mother had relocated to Little Rock to care for her mother, so Kelli had gone there on school breaks.

“How’s the job market in Texas?” Cedric asked. “Improved any?”

Cedric knew the answer perfectly well. He was a VP at a head-hunting firm. He’d made some calls for her, but nothing had materialized.

“Not exactly,” Kelli admitted. “I’ve been looking since early in the year, and, well . . . it’s nearing the end of June.”

Lindell rubbed his chin. “I’m thinking you can be unemployed in St. Louis just as well as in Austin.”

Cedric gave a big nod to his brother. “Better than in Austin. In St. Louis, you can be unemployed and hang out with your brothers.”

Cyd raised a hand. “And sisters. Don’t forget about us.”

“All of us,” Dana said. “We’d love to plug you into Daughters’ Fellowship.”

“What’s that?” Kelli asked.

“It started years ago with Dana, Phyllis, and me.” Cyd pointed toward the dance floor at her other bridesmaid. “Real informal. We’d do potluck and talk about—sometimes cry about—what God was doing in our lives. Stephanie crashed the party last year.” Cyd smiled at her younger sister. “It’s evolved into kind of a Bible study/gabfest.”

“Emphasis on gab,” Cedric said. “Amazing how two hours can turn into five—every single time. You’d think you’d run out of things to talk about.”

“Now, now, brother,” Lindell said, “don’t exaggerate. I think it was four and a half hours last time.”

Cedric and Lindell shared a laugh as the women pounced.

“We’re praying too, you know,” Dana said. “Getting that fuel we need to be the best we can be.”

“Lindell knows.” Stephanie gave him the eye. “I left the house with an attitude before that last meeting. Came back changed. Didn’t I?”

Lindell threw up his hands. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I might be the biggest DF fan at the table. Stephanie’s not the same woman I married.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Babe, that’s a good thing! I’m just sayin’.”

Kelli laughed as Lindell backpedaled. For years her brothers had been busy with their careers, living the bachelor life. Hadn’t occurred to them or her that they should live near one another, be a part of each other's lives. But now they were both settled down, with wives Kelli would love to know better. She’d always wanted sisters. And it was strange that she, Cyd, and Stephanie kind of looked alike—all of them tall with honey brown skin and long brown hair.

And Daughters’ Fellowship sounded great. Her own relationship with God wasn’t where it should be. She’d known that for some time. Just wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right track. The thought of getting together with these women, talking and learning from them, felt like water to her parched soul.

If only it were in another city . . .

Kelli sighed as she looked around the table at the laughter, the ribbing, the love. Did she really want to stay in Austin, away from all of this?

And what about Miles? They’d been dating almost a year. Although he’d graduated from UT–Austin last December and moved back to Dallas, the distance didn’t seem so great with them both in Texas. Still, they were already several hours apart. Would a few more make a huge difference?

Kelli looked up as her mother stopped at their table.

“Hey, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Cedric said, placing an arm around her.

“No, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Lindell said, hugging her other side.

Francine London glowed with pride. “You boys are something else,” she said. “And I didn’t come to see y’all. I came to see how my daughters-in-law are doing.”

“Oh, it’s like that now?” Cedric asked. “I get married, and I get kicked to the curb?”

Francine laughed, keeping her arms around her sons’ waists. “I’m wondering what’s gonna happen when you all start having my grandchildren. I’m not gonna like being all the way in Little Rock.”

“You need to move back too,” Lindell said.

Francine dismissed it with a shake of the head. “Your grandmother’s not doing well, can’t get around, so we’re better off staying put.”

“Well, help us convince your daughter to move back,” Cedric said. “We’ve been working on her.”

Francine looked at Kelli, nodding. “I was thinking about that today, how nice it would be if you could be around your brothers and their wives. You know I’m big on family.”

“Yes, I know, Mom.” Kelli cut them off at the pass. “So . . . which one of you would be willing to let your little sister move in?”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Your Opinion Matters

I'm curious as to what you (my readers!) are interested in reading on this blog, so I added a poll to the right side. Will you take just a minute and let me know what you want to see more of? I know that I have lots of visitors every day, but since most of you are silent readers, I'm not sure who you are. Therefore, I don't really know what you're looking for on the blog. :)

Thanks so much! I've got a couple of reviews that I'm hoping to finish up and post this week. And . . . don't forget about the giveaway going on right now!

Gabby, God’s Little Angel by Sheila Walsh

I fell in love with reading as a child. Recently, I’ve chosen a few children’s books so that I can highlight them for you. I love the thought of children getting hooked on reading at a young age. And even more, I love the thought of children being introduced to God at a young age! So . . . I will be showcasing more children’s books on the site as I receive galleys.


Gabby, God’s Little Angel by Sheila Walsh is the first in a new series for children about a somewhat clumsy guardian angel. The book is absolutely precious! The illustrations are adorable – very colorful and cutesy! The best part of the book, though, is the message that God protects and watches over us! The story told of God’s very personal interaction in our lives, rather than a distant, far-off God. I also loved how Gabby’s purpose was to show that God cares for us. This is a very sweet story that will show God’s love and care for us to young readers.

I received a free galley of this book from Thomas Nelson and Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.


About the Book
This first book in a delightful new series offers a comforting message for young readers—God loves you very much and is always watching over you!

What little girl wouldn’t love her very own guardian angel? Parents and children alike will be won over by this humorous tale of Gabby, a guardian angel in training who has much to learn about taking care of God’s little ones. Her new assignment is to protect a young girl named Sophie, but Gabby soon realizes that watching after Sophie is a bigger challenge than she had expected! After a close call while riding her pony, Sophie learns what the Bible says about guardian angels: “He will put his angels in charge of you. They will watch over you wherever you go” (Psalm 91:11 ICB).

About the Author
Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. A featured speaker with Women of Faith®, Sheila has reached more than 3.5 million women  by artistically combining honesty, vulnerability, and humor with God's Word.

Author of the best-selling memoir Honestly and the Gold Medallion nominee for The Heartache No One Sees, Sheila's most recent release, The Shelter of God's Promises, has also been turned into a DVD curriculum and in-depth Bible study. The Gigi, God's Little Princess book and video series has won the National Retailer's Choice Award twice and is the most popular Christian brand for young girls in the United States.

Sheila co-hosted The 700 Club and her own show Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh. She is currently completing her Masters in Theology.



Follow Sheila on her websiteTwitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

I'm reading The Colonel's Lady by Laura Frantz so here's a little snippet.

Passing him the journal, she took a long, unhindered look at him as he contemplated the offering. Hands in her lap, she stifled the urge to reach out and ease the tense lines of his brow, smooth away his every worry. The heady scent of bergamot mingled with the sharp but subtle tang of lye and sent her senses swimming. She could no longer remember what Ambrose looked like, or smelled like, or was like. All she knew was Cassius Clayton McLinn. All she wanted began and ended with him. (pg. 127)

Don't forget about the giveaway going on this week as well! As for me . . . I'm going back to my book!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Random Question: Jamie Carie

Arrrrgh, matey! In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I'm featuring Jamie Carie in today's Random Question interview! Her most recent release (out this month!) is Pirate of My Heart. I absolutely loved it and I hope you will check it out too! Take a peek at my review and a sample chapter. Oh . . . and keep reading all the way to the end for a surprise!


What was the inspiration behind Pirate of My Heart?
After writing a couple of pretty intense books (Angel’s Den and Love’s First Light) I wanted to try something lighter and more fun. As the story developed the sparks really started to fly between Lady Kendra Townsend and American sea captain, Dorian Colburn. I love it when my characters become so real they take over the story and that’s how this book felt from the start. I just let them tell me what will happen next, discovering with them their adventure and how they will fall in love.

What were some of your favorite books as a child?
I was a true bookworm so I love this question! Around third grade my dad (I’m a PK) decided to throw out the television. My brother and I weren’t too happy about that, I can tell you! But in the next two years I discovered books. I read Heidi, the Little House on the Prairie series, Little Women and anything by Louisa May Alcott, and by fourteen I was reading historical romances. I also have a fond memory of a set of red hardcover books that came with our encyclopedias that were full of fables, short stories and classic fairy tales. To this day, I love fairy tales!

What kind of snacks do you have in your pantry right now?
Right now I have a huge box of those Carr’s crackers as we are having our annual neighborhood party this weekend and I’m bringing dip and crackers (I have to confess I got into them last night!). I’m sure there are some chips, fish crackers, granola bars and cookies in there as well!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through several stages: Olympic gymnast, ballerina, singer-songwriter, secretary, teacher, cosmetologist, advertising executive, business woman (my years as a teenager working at McDonalds made me think it would be fun to own a food franchise one day). Notice author isn’t on the list? I don’t know why but I never thought of it until I was in my late twenties and started writing in earnest.

If you could visit any place in the United States, where would you go?
Hawaii or Alaska. Opposites, I know! Since two of my books (Snow Angel and The Snowflake) are set in Alaska I’ve always wanted to visit there, but the beach sounds so wonderful right now. I would have to flip a coin. :)

What verse or passage of Scripture would you consider to be your “life verse”?
I don’t know that I have a “life verse” but Isaiah 61:1 (and the whole chapter) has always meant a lot to me. Kind of like a life’s mission statement. I hope my books and my life reflect this.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.”
Isaiah 61:1, NIV

What are you working on now?
I am so excited to be working on book three, A Duke’s Promise, in my first series! It’s called the Forgotten Castles series and is a story about a young woman who has been told that her treasure hunting parents are dead and that the powerful Duke of St. Easton is now her guardian. (Book one is The Guardian Duke – out February 2012, book two is The Forgiven Duke – out July 2012 and book three is A Duke’s Promise – out September 2012, so you won’t have to wait long in between books!). Lady Alexandria Featherstone doesn’t believe her parents are so ill-fated and takes off on a three-book journey over Ireland, Iceland and Italy to rescue them. Adventure, romance, some comical side characters that my son Seth (19) helped me dream up and God’s loving redemption! It’s my best work to date, I think!

Want to hang out with Jamie a bit more?!
Make sure to check out Jamie's blog for a couple of really fun quizzes (what's your pirate name?!) and some pirate booty too! You can also keep up with her on Facebook and Twitter.

And now . . . a fun surprise!
Because Jamie is awesome and super-generous, she is giving away a copy of Pirate of My Heart to one lucky reader! Isn't she great?!

Mandatory entry:
- Leave a comment for Jamie on this post.
- Make sure to include your email address disguised like this: iblog4books at gmail dot com

Extra entries:
- Follow this blog (+1)
- Like i blog 4 books on Facebook (+1)
- Follow @iblog4books on Twitter
- Let others know about this really fun giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or any other means of social media (+2)

U.S. residents only. Winner will be randomly selected. Once announced the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their address. Otherwise, I will have to choose another winner. Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Monday, September 26. 

*** Update: The winner has been announced! ***

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shutterfly Photo Books!


I don’t know about you but I’m always at a loss about what to DO with all the bajillions of pictures I take. I have shoeboxes full of pictures taken back in the days of film cameras. I have a giant box of photo albums of the ones I took time to place into albums. And once I moved into the digital camera age, I now have CDs, DVDs, flash drives, and folders on my laptop full of pictures that I’ve taken. Sadly, none of them are really out and available for me to enjoy daily or even just in a nostalgic moment.

After our incredible vacation this past spring, Hubs and I decided that we would compile some of the *best* photos into a photo book, have it printed, and then display it. What a great “souvenir!”

I promptly sat down and uploaded our favorite pictures to Shutterfly and set about designing a really fun photo book to commemorate our trip. It’s super-easy. You can choose to have a fairly “automated” layout, or you can choose from tons of layouts, backgrounds, and “scrapbooking” accessories. You can spend as much or as little time as you want getting the look you’re going for. And the prices are fairly reasonable . . . starting at around $15 per book.

This offer has reminded me to dive back in and finish it up, and I look forward to displaying it on our coffee table for a while . . . at least until our next trip!

Want a free photo book from Shutterfly? Check out the details here . . . but hurry, the offer ends today!

Since Christmas is right around the corner, don’t forget about Shutterfly for your Christmas cards and thank you cards!

I received a free photo book from Shutterfly in exchange for my post.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Attracted by Fire by DiAnn Mills


I'm not going to lie. While I was interested in reading Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills because it's a suspense / romance and I'd heard great things about DiAnn Mills' novels, I chose it because of the cover. I know, I know. You're not supposed to judge a book by its cover . . . but you know you do it too! Anyway. The girl on the front reminds me so much of Dr. Brennan on the TV show Bones (which I love!), so I had to pick it up. :)

I started reading one night with the thought of reading "just a few pages." Six chapters later, I was still going strong. (Who needs sleep?!) I was sucked in from the first page and read furiously to the end. Attracted to Fire is incredibly fast-paced. The characters are dynamite. The writing is fantastic. I actually got giddy as the relationship between Ash and Meghan developed! In many ways the book read like a movie . . . I can easily see this playing out on the big screen!

My only (very small) complaint is that there were a couple of times when things seemed a bit rushed. Not overly . . . but just skipped a few tiny steps.

I loved how DiAnn wrote faith into Meghan and Ash's stories. Sometimes it comes off as cheesy, but DiAnn did a great job writing in realistic, faith-based conversations that could potentially draw readers to Christ. Which . . . isn't that the goal?!

All in all, this is my favorite type of novel. Action. Romance. Faith. I can't wait to read other books by DiAnn Mills!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House in exchange for my fair and honest review.

[Attracted to Fire will be available in October 2011.]


From the back cover . . . 
Only one assignment stands between Special Agent Meghan Connors and her dream of protecting the president.

After threats are made against the vice president's rebellious daughter, Meghan is added to her protective detail on a secluded Texas ranch, far from the media and any would-be assassins. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as challenging as safeguarding Lindsay Hall. He has a reputation for being critical and exacting, but behind his tough exterior, Meghan finds Ash is equally dedicated to upholding their oath.

When Vice President Hall is sworn in as president, threats on his daughter escalate and security on the ranch is breached. But who is the real target, and who can be trusted? As Ash and Meghan investigate, they uncover a deadly conspiracy that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined . . . and only they can put the pieces together before it's too late.

About the Author
DiAnn Mills is the Christy Award-winning, bestselling author of more than fifteen novels - including the Call of Duty series - with over one and a half million copies in print. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband. Visit her website at www.diannmills.com.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Verse 18!


Woot! Woot! We're on verse 18 for the year!

A co-worker shared this verse at our staff meeting yesterday morning. I thought it was such a great picture of the Lord covering us and us resting in Him.

Of Benjamin he said, "The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders."
Deuteronomy 33:12, ESV

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond


Spring for Susannah by Catherine Richmond is an impressive debut novel. Set in the wilds of North Dakota, Susannah must learn to love her new husband, how to survive in a new place, and - more importantly - how to trust God.

Richmond's writing style is fantastic. I was gripped from the very beginning and stayed completely engrossed to the very end. Jesse and Susannah were delightful characters. They felt like friends by the end of the novel! While most of the book was written from the perspective of Susannah, I loved how some chapters were written from Jesse's point of view and each chapter started with a thought from Jesse . . . usually in the form of a prayer. The strength of Jesse's relationship with the Lord was refreshing. I loved how friends and the community were influential in caring for Susannah when she needed help the most.

I cannot wait to see what Catherine Richmond writes next!

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Net Galley in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Hundreds of miles from home, Susannah faces an uncertain future as a mail-order bride on the untamed Dakota prairie.

When her parents die suddenly, and no suitors call, Susannah resigns herself to the only option available: becoming a mail-order bride. Agreeing to marry her pastor's brother, Jesse, Susannah leaves the only home she's ever known for the untamed frontier of the Dakota Territory.

Her new husband is more loving and patient with her than she believes she deserves. Still, there is also a wildness to him that mirrors the wilderness surrounding them. And Susannah finds herself constantly on edge. But Jesse's confidence in her—and his faith in God's perfect plan—slowly begin to chip away at the wall she hides behind.

When she miscarries in the brutal Dakota winter, Susannah's fledgling faith in herself and in God begins to crumble. Still, Jesse's love is unwavering. Just when it seems like winter will never end, Susannah finally sees the first tentative evidence of spring. And with it, the realization that more than the landscape has changed.
She looks to the future with a renewed heart. Yet in her wildest dreams, she couldn't predict all that awaits her.

About the Author
Catherine Richmond was focused on her career as an occupational therapist until a special song planted a story idea in her mind. That idea would ultimately become Spring for Susannah, her first novel. She is also a founder and moderator of Nebraska Novelists critique group and lives in Nebraska with her husband.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Life Everlasting by Robert Whitlow


Life Everlasting by Robert Whitlow is an intriguing legal thriller. The plot was intricate and the characters were well-developed. A number of difficult topics were addressed throughout.

When I chose this book, I was unaware that this was a sequel. While most books in a series can somewhat stand on their own, this one definitely does not. It felt like Life Everlasting picked up right where Life Support (which I had not read) left off - more like one story in two books rather than two separate books. The book was pretty difficult to get into and I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I felt like most of my complaints were due to the fact that I hadn't read the first one. I'll give Robert Whitlow a second chance (and choose the first book this time!).

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson / Booksneeze in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Book
Though Alexia's client's life no longer hangs in the balance, eternal questions linger.

The music stopped, the room emptied, and Baxter Richardson opened his eyes for the first time in months. He should have died from his involuntary plunge off a cliff. But he's alive, and mortal danger remains. Familiar enemies stalk him. New ones hover close at hand.

Meanwhile, haunted by accusing apparitions and the tightening dragnet of criminal investigation, Baxter's wife, Rena, is losing her patience. And quite possibly her mind.

Caught in the middle of it all is Alexia Lindale, a lawyer forced to find her way through deceptive alliances, uncertain romances, and courtroom intrigue. It's a struggle of life, death . . . and life everlasting.

About the Author
Robert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

A few more things . . .

I know that I posted a (really long) reflection with my thoughts on 9/11 on Sunday, but I wanted to come back to it for one more post.

Over the past 10 years, I have read some really amazing books about the events of 9/11. And more importantly about the way God has worked through the tragedy of 9/11.

I highly recommend them!!!

The Gospel and September 11 by David Platt
Pastor David Platt preached this message on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. It's a powerful message and will challenge you to look at biblical truth about God, suffering, tragedy, and the hope we have in Christ.

As the Towers Fell: Stories of Unshakable Faith on 9-11 by Lisa Chilson-Rose
This was written by my boss in New York City. Fantastic!

God @ Ground Zero by Ray Giunta and Lynda Rutledge Stephenson


God's Grace from Ground Zero: Seeking God's Heart for the Future of Our World by Jim Cymbala and Stephen Sorenson

Firehouse by David Halberstam
This book features the crew of FDNY Ladder 35 / Engine 40 and details the lives of the 11 men lost on 9/11. If you want to know what it was like, read this book. [Note: This is not a Christian book. It's been a while since I've read it, but I think the language may be pretty rough in a few places.]

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly post hosted by MizB on her blog Should Be Reading.

It's easy! Just pick up your current read (or one of them!), open to a random page, and choose a couple of sentences on the page to post as a teaser. No spoilers please! Make sure to tell which book you pulled the quote from so others can check it out if they're interested.

I absolutely devoured Attracted to Fire by DiAnn Mills. Here's a quick sneak peek . . .

Meghan gave him Lindsay's answer. "He says it's important. Has to do with your father."

Lindsay held her breath and reached for the phone. She was tucked away here and not causing any problems. What else did he want? (pg. 209)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blog Tour: Fairer than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott


What a treat to discover a new author that I love! Rosslyn Elliott's debut novel Fairer than Morning is absolutely fantastic! Much deeper than many books in the same genre, Elliott addresses serious topics and issues of morality and character. Best of all, she points readers to a relationship with Christ to help them through tough situations. I loved the characters of Ann and Will and appreciated the way Elliott portrayed a strong female role.

One of the unique parts of this story is how Rosslyn portrays Will and his spiritual transformation. Typically, in Christian fiction I feel like the female characters are thoroughly developed . . . but the male characters not as much. Will is a major part of the story, and his faith in Christ is real.

I highly recommend Fairer than Morning and look forward to reading the remaining books in The Saddler's Legacy series!!

I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson in exchange for my participation in this blog tour. I was not required to give a positive review.

About the Book
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.

On a small farm in 19th-century Ohio , young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann's dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.

Ann travels to Pittsburgh , accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker's apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann's compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann's father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.

When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

Read an excerpt here.

About the Author
Rosslyn Elliott grew up in a military family and relocated so often that she attended nine schools before her high school graduation. With the help of excellent teachers, she qualified to attend Yale University , where she earned a BA in English and Theater. She worked in business and as a schoolteacher before returning to study at Emory University , where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 2006. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue her lifelong dream of writing fiction. She lives in the Southwest, where she homeschools her daughter and teaches in children's ministry.

For more about Rosslyn, visit her website.

And . . . There's a CONTEST!!!
To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Fairer Than MorningRosslyn Elliott is giving away two fabulous prize packages. The first is brand new KINDLE in her Fairer Than Morning Kindle Giveaway. Then on September 20th she's giving away a $200 gift certificate toward a Custom-Made Historical Reproduction Dress (from Recollections) during the Fairer Than Morning Book Club Chat Party on Facebook! Sigh...romantic.

Fairer Than Morning is receiving wonderful reviews - Library Journal said, "A well-written historical series debut…". Read more reviews here.

Be sure to join the fun and enter the Kindle contest - 


One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi
* Fairer Than Morning (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/19. Winner will be announced on 9/20 at Rosslyn's Book Club Facebook Party. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Then be sure to RSVP for Rosslyn's Facebook Party! During the party Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, hosting a book chat about Fairer Than Morning (don't worry if you haven't read the book yet - you could win a copy!) & historical Fiction, testing your trivia skills. She'll also be giving away that $200 gift certificate toward a FABULOUS custom-made period dress from Recollections!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I've sort of stuck my head in the sand as the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 approached. It's always been such an emotional anniversary. In years past, I've sat glued to the TV and watched every special that aired and really immersed myself in it. Probably beyond what's actually healthy. Over the last few years, I've realized that I just can't let myself get to that place. I need to remember, watch a little, and keep on moving.

I hope that doesn't sound callous. It's not meant to be. It's just reality for me.

I still remember that day ten years ago like it was yesterday. There are pictures in my head that I don't think will ever go away. Feelings, thoughts, images. They are all there. Trapped.

I lived by myself that year. It was my third year at Auburn, and in an effort to escape the craziness of dorm life, I had found a single apartment a few blocks off campus. I only had one class on Tuesdays that semester - Bowling at 3:00. So Tuesdays were a "sleep in" day.

The alarm went off and the radio hosts were talking about a plane flying into the World Trade Center. I thought it was a joke. They kept on, so I grabbed a blanket and turned on the TV in the den. I don't think I moved for the rest of the morning. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.

I remember seeing the second plane fly into the building.

I remember seeing the first tower fall.

And then the second.

I remember calling my mom and asking her if she was watching. We just couldn't believe it.

I finally got a shower and went to class. The teacher couldn't believe anyone showed up. We basically spent the entire hour watching the news at the bowling alley. There were more important things than learning how to keep score in bowling that day.

Mom called me and told me stop and get gas. I stopped at a gas station about a block from my apartment and waited for about 45 minutes to get gas. There was a limit as to how many gallons we could put in our cars.

I sat in my apartment for the rest of the night and watched the news. I tried to study for an accounting test the next day. The professor sent out this really tacky email saying that we absolutely were having the test. She didn't see any reason to cancel the test. She was a jerk. I remember that my toilet broke that night. I don't know why I remember that. I'm telling you . . . everything is still there.

More than the events that occurred, I remember how I felt.

Scared.

Lonely.

Angry.

So emotional.

It was a long time before those feelings went away.

I can remember having this incredible urge to get in my car and start driving to New York. I wanted to help.

Instead I found things to do around campus. Ran the blood drive for two days. Lit candles. Attended a prayer service.

Fast forward.

In December of that year I had an opportunity to go to New York with a group from church. Our main goal was to distribute toys to children who lost a parent on 9/11. It was an incredible experience.

I had a pass that allowed me to go into the edge of "the pile."

When I got back to my room that night, I noticed the ash on my shoes. I thought I might never wash them again. It just didn't seem right somehow.

I met some folks at the Metro New York Baptist Association who invited me to come back for the summer.

That was a life-changing summer.

The city was so different than when I had visited over Thanksgiving the year before. It was quieter. The people were still grieving.

Our of our main ministry focuses was to the men at the fire station around the corner from our office / apartment. Ladder 35 / Engine 40. They lost 11 men on 9/11.

The first time I walked into their station house, I immediately noticed 11 pairs of boots, hats, and coats. Right where they were left on 9/11. The chalk boards from that day were still exactly as they were. There were still flowers and memorials just outside, near the front door.

These men were still deep in the throes of grief.

I remember one guy in particular - Rob. He and a buddy were planning a bike ride from New York City to Washington, DC in memory of their fallen brothers.

None of those guys that I met that summer knew Jesus. That was the saddest thing of all to me.

I remember walking through Grand Central Station and seeing the posters still hanging everywhere. "Have you seen _____? Last seen on 9/11 in ____." The worst were the pictures that were subsequently taped to the original "missing" posters. They said things like, "Baby Girl was born on ___." "We miss you!" "Happy Birthday!" "Your son graduated from high school."

Time continued to creep along.

I visited the FDNY Museum one Saturday afternoon. They had these books where people could write messages to loved ones or just general notes about 9/11. I wrote a message, wiped a tear, and stood up. A woman with a thick New York accent was standing next to me. As I straightened up, she just fell into my arms. I will never forget her sobbing on my shoulder. New Yorkers typically don't touch . . . much less hug and weep on a stranger's shoulder.

Brian and Lori were police officers that became special friends over the summer. Both found renewed faith as a result of the tragedy of 9/11. Both had tremendous health issues that stemmed from the stress of that terrible tragedy.

It's ironic. The first time I visited New York (on vacation), I felt like I could take it or leave it. Certainly not a place I would choose to go back to. After 9/11, NYC became a place I fell in love with.

Hubs and I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to NYC this past summer. In some ways it felt like a continuation of ministry that began for me in 2002.

I think it's important to remember the past. But more than just remembering the past, I think it's important to remember that God is still God.

If we don't cling to Truth, then it's all for nothing. But if we cling to Jesus and use this as an opportunity to share the gospel with people who are hurting, God will get tremendous glory from this terrible tragedy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Another Bundle of Freebies!!!

Apparently September is the "month o' freebies." I posted earlier this week about a ton of free ebooks and here are four more! Enjoy!

Sweet Baklava
by Debby Mayne

You Can't Do Everything So Do Something
by Shane Stanford

A Time to Heal
by Barbara Cameron

When All Hail Breaks Loose
by Pat Day

FIRST Blog Tour: Pirate of My Heart

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:

B&H Books (September 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, B&H Publishing Group, A Division of LifeWay Christian Resources for sending me a review copy.***

Wanna know what I think? Check out my review here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
When her doting father dies, Lady Kendra Townsend is given a choice: marry the horrid man of her cold, money-grubbing uncle's choosing or leave England to risk a new life in America with unknown relatives. Armed with the faith that God has a plan for her, Kendra boards a cargo ship and meets American sea captain Dorian Colburn. But the captain has been wounded by a woman before and guards his independent life. A swashbuckling man doesn't need an English heiress to make him slow down, feel again, or be challenged with questions about his faith-or so he thinks. It is not until Dorian must save Kendra from the dark forces surrounding her that he decides she may be worth the risk.



Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805448152
ISBN-13: 978-0805448153

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

PROLOGUE

Arundel, England 1777

The grey clouds of dawn shivered against the paned glass of the castle, shrouding the three figures at the side of the four-poster bed in an eerie light. The raging storm of the night before had settled into a dreary misting rain though an occasional jagged flash of lightning flaunted its power, not yet ready to relinquish its right to ravish the leaden sky. Dim light clung to the faces of those inside the bedchamber where the very walls seemed to echo the anguish felt inside the room.

All that could be heard in the chamber was the shallow, labored breathing of the one abed. A frail creature, now, pale and lifeless after the travails of childbirth. The others included the old family doctor, Radley, who hovered beside his patient and friend of many years with a strained look in his eyes. Hovering in the shadows was Bridget, the lady's long-standing nurse and companion. But their suffering was not to be compared to the tall, handsome gentleman who knelt at the woman's bedside, her hand clasped in his; a haunted look in his eyes that attested to the fact that he too feared the end was near for his beloved.

He gazed down at the limp form of his wife. She lay so still, so pale, sunk into the feather mattress as if she'd become a part of it. In a matter of hours she'd become a shallow breathing shell of the bright and glorious women she had once been. How was he to live without her? His heart spasmed with the thought.

He held his breath as her thin, white eyelids opened to reveal pain-racked eyes the color of bluebells. She exerted a small strength in squeezing his hand while a serene smile played at her lips. Her voice was a weak whisper. "I will not be leaving you forever, my darling. Our daughter will grow strong and always be a symbol of the love we shared."

"No." Edward groaned in anguish, his head falling forward, his hand clasping tight as if to force his strength into her. "I will not let you go."

"Love her, Edward, love her with all that you are." Lady Eileen closed her eyes seeming to gather what little strength she had to continue speaking. A small, whimpering sound came from the shadows of the room where Bridget held the newborn babe to her bosom. Lady Eileen opened her eyes at the sound. "Please, let me hold my sweet child."

The nurse skirted around the bed with the tiny bundle, her eyes bright with tears. "She's the mos' beautiful of babes, my lady, truly she is." She laid the wee babe in her mother's fragile arms.

His wife stared down at their daughter and then looked up at him. Her voice became fierce but still so quiet Edward had to lean in to catch the words. "This one has a special purpose in life and I expect you all to care for her as I would have."

Edward could only nod, mute and staring, aching with grief.

"I have one more request to ask of you, my love." Her breath rasped in and out causing the panic in Edward's stomach to claw into his chest like a nightmare's hand, but he nodded for her to continue and clung to her hand.

"My greatest joy in life has been you. I want her to find love, someone to share her life with who is as kind, as loving and wonderful as I have had in you." She rested a moment before continuing. "Let her choose, Edward, do not make a match for her. I know it is right." She gasped for a final breath. "I've made provision. In my will . . . no entailments, Edward. Give her the dragonfly brooch as a promise from me that I will be looking down from heaven to keep her safe."

"Of course, my darling, anything you ask I will do."

A small smile touched Eileen's lips as she gazed at their beautiful child for the last time. With a single tear sliding down her cheek she kissed the light fuzz on the child's head. "I love you." She breathed the words with her last breath, barely audible, and then she went still.

Edward collapsed over her limp hand still clutched in his strong one. "No," he cried with ragged breath. He brought the hand to his check, soaking it with his tears, willing her to come back to him.



CHAPTER ONE
Arundel, England - 1796

Kendra stopped halfway down the path that led to the stables, happiness lifting her heart at the autumn scene. The leaves had turned into a crimson, sunny yellow and carroty riot of color, as if a magician had waved a wand during the night and created a new world. She stepped across the lawn, feeling the kind of happiness that burst against the walls of her chest, stopping long enough to turn in slow circles so to watch the waving leaf show. She closed her eyes, still slowly twirling and smiled up toward heaven, humming a simple song of praise to God. The notes of her song danced around her and made a happy knot form in her throat. There was nothing she loved more than singing praises to God. Her father had instilled his love for God in her since she was a child - always making sure they had a curate in the village residence for weekly services at St. Nicholas Parish Church, praying with her each night before bedtime and teaching her scriptures and hymns. Most of all, he’d been an example of someone who was temperate, kind and patient. They had memorized the scripture about the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control - and often reminded each other of the one they should practice when the occasion called for it. She wished so much to be like him but sometimes her best intentions went awry and she fell short, far short of her father’s shining example.

The sound of wheels crunching over dead leaves gave her pause. She stopped, turned toward the horse-shoe drive at the front of the castle and saw a shiny black post-chaise carriage. Who could it be? They had not seen visitors in so long. Kendra hurried toward the entrance to meet their guest, then came to an abrupt stop and clasped her hands in front of her dress. She held her breath as a tall, handsome man sprang from the carriage. He was dressed in a waist-coat of navy wool with an intricately knotted necktie at his throat, cream colored breeches and matching hose. She lifted her gaze to his face. Her jaw dropped with surprise. The face staring back at her looked like the one in her bedchamber mirror each morning . . . except for the color of his eyes.
Andrew Townsend matched his nieces startling gape as he found himself looking into the younger, female version of himself. Surely this was not Edward's daughter! She could have been his own child. Recovering from his shock with more effort than he'd exerted in months, Andrew questioned the young lady. "And who might this lovely creature be? A relative of mine, perhaps?"

She curtsied and smiled up at him. "I'm Kendra Townsend sir, and who might you be?" Her smile was soft and contagious, so irresistible that Andrew found himself thawing in her presence.

"I am Andrew Townsend, your uncle, my dear." He held out his hand in greeting. "I am most pleased to finally meet you. It seems we bear a striking resemblance to one another."

"You're very handsome." She stated with bold faced honesty.

Andrew let out a bark of laughter. "Well. Thank you, I'm sure. Now, would you be so kind as to show me to your father? I have some business to conduct with him."

"Of course, sir." Kendra replied as she reached for his arm. "Your papa's brother, his twin, aren't you?" Her eyes lit up as she led him through the front door, past their astonished looking butler, and down the wide corridor, the elegant carpet making silence of their footsteps. Just as well, the surprise element couldn't hurt to gage how his dear brother was going to react to his request. “Father will be in his study with his solicitor this time of day.” At her knock they heard a preoccupied "come in."

The Earl of Arundel sat behind an ancient desk with stacks of documents in front of him. Facing him was Mr. Walcott, the trusted family solicitor. As they walked into the study, Edward's face lit up with joy. Then, as he looked beyond her, his eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.

"Andrew?"

Andrew put on his best smile and chuckled, walking forward toward his brother. He needed Ed to accept him back into the family fold and that might require some persuasion. "Great heavens, man, is it really you?" Edward came from behind the desk and greeted him with a handshake and an awkward hug that turned into a haphazard slapping against his shoulder. "You remember Parker Walcott." He motioned to the man who had risen, eyes round behind his spectacles.

"Yes, of course, how's the family, Parker? Dorothy and the children doing well?" Andrew felt the smooth mask of charm take hold of his being and hoped Parker would take the hint. He looked as if he’d seen a ghost.

"Oh, very good, my lord, yes indeed. And yourself?"

"After meeting my lovely niece here, I couldn't be in better spirits." Andrew replied. "Ed, why have you failed to mention our likeness in your letters? It nearly frightened us both out of our wits when we clapped eyes on one another." The laughter in his voice was real this time.

"It's been so long since I've seen you." Edward hastened to explain. "Until this moment I didn't realize just how much you resemble each other." He glanced from one to the other, astonishment and something disapproving, consternation perhaps in his eyes before continuing. "Your eyes are more blue than her unusual shade of violet, but you’re quite right, you resemble twins more than you and I ever did. It's remarkable, isn't it?"

Edward motioned for Andrew to have a seat. "Please, join us." They both looked up at Kendra to find her staring at Andrew. Andrew winked at her as he plopped down in the chair beside Parker. Edward cleared his throat and frowned at his daughter. "Kendra, go down and have Willabee bring up some refreshments please."

Kendra nodded but clung to Andrew's side before she left. "How long can you stay Uncle Andrew? You should stay at least until the end of the week." Her eyes were bright with excitement.

"And what, pray tell, happens at the end of the week?" Andrew asked with a half grin that he'd been told sent the ladies into a swoon.

"I've persuaded papa to have a garden party." Her eyes slid to her father before she continued. "He hates to entertain you know, but I've been so forlorn for company my own age since my friend, Lucinda, moved away that he's feeling guilty and has agreed. Please say you'll stay. Lady Willowbee's girls will be absolutely speechless for once."

"I seem to recall a Lady Willowbee, lives down the way, only other gentry around here, eh?" At Kendra's nod Andrew chuckled with the memory. "A bit of a sour puss. Are her girls as malicious and back-biting as she and her sisters used to be?"

Kendra put her hand to her mouth in an attempt to suppress a horrified giggle.

"Can't offend them though," Andrew continued with grave mirth, "must do our duty and invite the only other cream de la cream in the area, even though it is soured cream, is that the dilemma you find yourself in, my dear?"

“Papa says I must love them as the Bible says.” Kendra raised her brows in beseeching charm that he recognized as one of his own trademark moves. "But if you were there it would be ever so much easier. They will be nice in hopes of an introduction. Please say you'll stay."

Andrew caught his brother's gaze and asked in a soft voice. "Can you deny her anything?"

Edward looked down and cleared his throat, a red flush filling his cheeks. "Very little, I'm afraid.

Swinging back to Kendra's expectant gaze, Andrew mused. "I will have to give you your answer later, moppet, but I promise I'll try.

That seemed to satisfy her as she gave him a happy nod and turned to leave the men to their business.

"You're going to have a devil of a time fighting off all the suitors at your door, Edward. She's amazing." Andrew remarked as he watched the whirl of Kendra's skirts around the door as she left.

Edward sighed. "I've already had my share of offers, but she's just nineteen. I'm not ready to see her betrothed to anyone yet."

"I can understand why, she brightens up the old place." Pausing, Andrew ran his fingers through his blond hair and added. "I was truly sorry about Eileen, Edward. I would have attended the funeral had I not been out of the county."

"I won't pretend I was anything other than devastated. But time has a way of taking the edge off the grief and Kendra has taken care of the rest. I don't know how I would have gone on if she had died with her mother.”

Andrew didn't know how to respond to his brother's heart-wrenching revelation. Edward had aged in more than the receding hairline and creases around his mouth it would seem. Andrew cleared his throat and looked down at the floor.

Edward leaned across the desk, his hands clasped together. "Enough about me, what have you been doing with yourself these last fifteen years?"

"A little of everything, I dare say. Traveled around a good bit." The rake's smile slide across his lips and he shrugged. "Been enjoying life with good drink, fine horseflesh and beautiful women."

Edward shook his head in an older brotherly way. "I know only too well of your love for the worldly passions. It's a life that will never satisfy you, you know. I have to hear of your exploits every time I'm in London. When will you settle down? Start a family of your own?"

A bark of laughter escaped Andrew's throat. Not here ten minutes and he was already getting the lecture. "Now is not a good time for thinking of that, Ed. I - uh, seem to have gotten myself into a bit of a jam." Glancing at Parker Walcott, Andrew girded up his courage and rushed out the rest before his nerve failed him. "I was hoping to have a word with you, big brother. I have some business I would like to discuss."

Parker rose rather abruptly for one keen to the family's business dealings. Andrew smothered a chuckle as the solicitor beat a hasty path to the door. "I will bid you both good day, my lord. You and your brother have much catching up to do." Andrew suppressed a chuckle as he scurried from the room.

After the door was closed silence descended upon the room. Andrew braced his arms on his legs and pressed his sweaty palms together.

Edward broke the silence with a voice both grave and guarded. "What can I do for you, Andrew?"

Shifting in the chair, Andrew ran a well-manicured hand though his blond hair, took a deep breath and plunged into his story.
It would seem Andrew had heard, through a reputable source, about an investment that was sure to make him a very wealthy man. The Brougham Company had been started to finance several voyages of trade to America with goods the colonist desperately needed. Five great ships had set sail over six months ago to deliver their goods. Andrew had invested all that he had and was given a great deal of credit as he bore the Townsend name.

The first two ships to sail had been attacked by pirates and overtaken. The following ship did not survive a great storm, and of the two that made it to America, one had perishables on it that were ill-packed, causing the contents to spoil, while the other had cheaper goods that even when sold at an exorbitant price did not come close to making up for the expense of the trip. "I've lost everything and my creditors are threatening Newgate Prison if I don't come up with the funds."

Edward listened with sinking despair. It seemed fate would never grant his twin the power he so desperately coveted. "Of course I will help you, Andrew. Have your creditors send me the contracts and I will take care of them." He paused before continuing in a fatherly tone. "I understand you want to handle matters on your own, but please consider consulting me or even Walcott before plunging into a scheme like this in the future." Edward pressed his lips together with that eagle-eyed stare that always made Andrew squirm in his chair. "I could have had the company investigated for you, at the very least."

"Of course." Andrew shook his head, eyes downcast. The act was growing tedious but pressed on. "It's just that I was so excited. I wanted to surprise you and mother with my good fortune. I realize the family thinks me a spoiled dandy so I wanted to do something to make you all proud. Instead I proved what an idiot I am."

"Now don't be too hard on yourself. We've been through worse and we'll come through this together."

"I can't thank you enough, Ed, just the thought of that prison sent me fleeing here on wings. There is just one more thing," Andrew rushed out, fidgeting with his fingers. "I was wondering if the creditors could go through old Parker instead of you. That way it won't become common knowledge that my brother had to pay off my debts. It's a matter of pride you see." He raised his brows and gave Edward a shrug of his shoulders.

"Of course. There's no need for our business to become something for the gossip mills."

Andrew stood up, gave his brother a quick, firm hug, and hurried from the room.
Edward gazed at the closed door, sadness and bewilderment weighing down his shoulders like a heavy blanket. He had not seen his brother for years, and then when he finally did come home, it was only because he was in trouble and needed money. Would they ever be close?

Dear God, help me reach him.

He let his thoughts drift back to their childhood, a good and proper upbringing he had always thought, but not without its animosities. Animosities that led all the way back to their birth.

They had heard the tale countless times. Edward had been the first-born twin, the heir to the earldom, but it had come about by a strange quirk of fate. His mother, who now lived on her own estate miles from Arundel, had pushed for hours with no sign of the babies coming.

The midwife, in an effort to feel the baby's position, placed one hand on the extended abdomen and the other inside the womb. She pulled back in surprise. "Your ladyship, I do believe you are having twins. There's a head and feet near the opening."

His mother gasped and her face whitened. "Twins! I shan't be able to do it."

The contractions continued though, strengthened instead of daunted by the thought of two.

Hours dragged by as they all wondered if Lady Lenora would be able to deliver the babies. In a wondrous moment, a hushed moment between pushes, a tiny foot poked out of the womb. The midwife didn't say anything but knew the importance of the firstborn's place so she tied a scarlet thread around the tiny ankle. Gently slipping the foot back up, she concentrated on delivering the baby in the head-down position. The child seemed ready to cooperate and after several more minutes emerged from the womb.

"A boy, my lady." One of the servants rushed to take the child to clean him before he was presented to his mother. After another hour, Lady Lenora held two healthy sons. She noticed the thread and looked up at the midwife. "But what's this, Ida?"

The midwife told the story of how that child had poked his little foot out first and thought to tie the yarn around his foot in the event that Lord Townsend would regard him the first born.

And he had. Lord Albert Townsend named the babe with the string around his ankle Edward Alexander Townsend, and proclaimed him the rightful heir. Lenora named his twin brother, Andrew Richard Townsend and thought that son cheated.

Edward's knuckles whitened with the memory as he clinched his hands into fists. They'd been so close when they were boys! Inseparable until the day Andrew heard the story of his birth bluntly put by a stable hand. Andrew had changed then, pulling away and becoming distant and ever more brooding. After awhile it seemed they had little in common and less to like about each other. And that wasn't even the worst of it. The resentment his mother held destroyed their marriage. Lenora devoted herself to spoiling her younger son which forced the earl to take Edward's causes.

Edward sighed, his head dropping forward, sadness pulling at his heart. They were so different in every way. Andrew was strikingly handsome with his fair hair and pale blue eyes, so much like their mother. Edward supposed he was the epitome of an Englishman with his dark brown hair, aristocratic nose, and hazel eyes. And that was only their outward differences. Inwardly they couldn't be more distant. He a long-grieving widower and Andrew a financially destitute dandy in dire straits. But he was back.

His brother had come home.

Maybe if he loved him enough, if he showed it and gave him all the attention and praise and . . . well, whatever it was that Andrew needed, maybe he could, uptight Englishman that he was, humble himself and shower his brother with love.

Father, help me love him the way he needs it. Help me show him You.
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