Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Month In Review [January 2012]

At the end of each month I'm going to post a Month in Review. Thanks to Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl for the great idea! Basically it will be a summary of everything that's gone on at i blog 4 books during the month so you can catch up if you missed anything. Here's what happened this month!

Well . . . this year has gotten off to a great start! I've read a ton but have struggled to get back on the blogging/reviewing bandwagon. I saw another blogger refer to it as "reviewers block." That pretty much sums it up for me. That's enough of that, though. Let's get to the summary. I like lists, so that's how I'm posting this each month.

Books Read [14]


Did Not Finish
Unhallowed Ground by Mel Starr

Favorite book this month?
Oh . . . you know how I hate picking favorites! While I read a TON of great books this month (I gave most of them 4-5 stars!!!), I’ll narrow it down to two favorites for this month: Ellie’s Haven by Sharlene MacLaren and Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott.

Reviews Posted [8]

Blogside Chats

Giveaways
(in)courage gift certificate - Congrats to Crystal @ Just Another Book Lovin’ Girl!

Update on Reading Challenges
Remember those 10 reading challenges I signed up for? Yeah . . . well, I think I'm off to a pretty good start so far! If you want to see how I'm doing on a specific challenge, you can do that here.

Other Noteworthy Posts / Happenings
  • I've been toying with the idea of giving the blog a makeover and finally did. I love the blog templates at Leelou's Blogs!
  • I'm consistently keeping up with my books now on Goodreads. I'm still going back to update from 2010 and 2011 but 2012 stuff will be updated regularly. Looking for something new to read? Check out my past reads or my to-be-read list.
  • Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin’ Girl graciously hosted me for an interview. It was a ton of fun and hopefully you learned something new about me!
I think that about does it for me. What have you been up to this month?!

FIRST Wildcard Blog Tour: Threads of Hope by Andrea Boeshaar

Threads of Hope
by Andrea Boeshaar
Fabric of Time, Book 1
Historical Christian Fiction / Romance
Published January 3, 2012
Charisma Media
304 pages

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

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



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Realms (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***

About the Book
Kristin Eikaas has her hopes set on a new life in America.

The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people…

Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel.

In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?

My Thoughts
In Threads of Hope Andrea Boeshaar tells the story of Norwegian immigrants and their arrival in America. Kristin is summoned to America by her uncle. His letters paint a picture of a beautiful place with ample opportunities to make a better life for anyone who wants it. Upon arriving in Wisconsin, though, Kristin realizes that her uncles letters were full of lies. When her family makes it clear that she is no longer welcome in their home, she must strike out on her own.

Threads of Hope was a beautiful story. Kristin was an exceptional character one that I found myself rooting for from the very beginning. I loved the Sundberg family (and Sam, in particular). The children were great additions to the story . . . and a big part of Kristin's story, rather than secondary characters that float around in the background.

Ms. Boeshaar's writing was amazing as well. There was a scene where Kristin has gone to work as a house girl for the Sundbergs. Because of the language barrier, she believes that she is to be a slave and wants to please them so badly. I felt such compassion for Kristin during that scene . . . I actually felt a tightness in my chest and just felt for her. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it but any book that can cause me to have a physical reaction is a well-written one for sure!

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series! [5 stars]

I received a free copy from Realms Media and FIRST Wild Card Blog Tours in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers’ conferences, workshops, and women’s groups; and the author of numerous published books, including the Seasons of Redemption series: Unwilling Warrior, Uncertain Heart, Unexpected Love, and Undaunted Faith.

Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter




AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


September 1848
It looks like Norway.
The thought flittered across nineteen-year-old Kristin Eikaas’s mind as Uncle Lars’s wagon bumped along the dirt road. The docks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were behind them, and now they rode through a wooded area that looked just as enchanting as the forests she’d left in Norway. Tall pine trees and giant firs caused the sunshine to dapple on the road. Kristin breathed in the sweet, fresh air. How refreshing it felt in her lungs after being at sea for nearly three months and breathing in only salty sea air or the stale air in her dark, crowded cabin.
A clearing suddenly came into view, and a minute or so later, Kristin eyed the farm fields stretched before her. The sight caused an ache of homesickness. Her poppa had farmed . . .
“Your trip to America was good, ja?” Uncle Lars asked in Norwegian, giving Kristin a sideways glance.
He resembled her father so much that her heart twisted painfully with renewed grief. Except she’d heard about Onkel—about his temper—how he had to leave Norway when he was barely of age, because, Poppa had said, trouble followed him.
But surely he’d grown past all of that. His letters held words of promise, and there was little doubt that her uncle had made a new life for himself here in America.
Just as she would.
Visions of a storefront scampered across her mind’s eye—a shop in which she could sell her finely crocheted and knitted items. A shop in which she could work the spinning wheel, just as Mor had . . .
Uncle Lars arched a brow. “You are tired, liten niese?”
Ja. It was a long journey.” Kristin sent him a sideways glance.
“I am grateful I did not come alone. The Olstads made good traveling companions.”
Her uncle cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “But you have brought my inheritance, ja?” He arched a brow.
Ja.” Kristin thought of the priceless possession she’d brought from Norway.
“And you would not hold out on your onkel, would you?”
Prickles of unease caused Kristin to shift in her seat. She resisted the urge to touch the tiny gold and silver cross pendent suspended from a dainty chain that hung around her neck. Her dress concealed it. She couldn’t give it up, even though it wasn’t legal for a woman to inherit anything in Norway. But the necklace had been her last gift from Mor. A gift from one’s mother wasn’t an inheritance . . . was it? “No, Onkel.”
She turned and peered down from her perch into the back of the wooden wagon bed. Peder Olstad smiled at her, and Kristin relaxed some. Just a year older, he was the brother of Kristin’s very best friend who had remained in Norway with their mother. She and Peder had grown up together, and while he could be annoying and bad tempered at times, he was the closest thing to a brother that she had. And Sylvia—Sylvia was closer than a sister ever could be. It wouldn’t be long, and she and Mrs. Olstad would come to America too. That would be a
happy day!
“You were right,” John Olstad called to Uncle Lars in their native tongue. “Lots of fertile land in this part of the country. I hope to purchase some acres soon.”
“And after you are a landowner for five years, you can be a citizen of America and you can vote.” The Olstad men smiled broadly and replied in unison. “Oh, ja, ja . . . ”
Uncle Lars grinned, causing dozens of wrinkles to appear around his blue eyes. His face was tanned from farming beneath the hot sun, and his tattered leather hat barely concealed the abundance of platinum curls growing out of his large head. “Oh, ja, this is very good land. I am glad I persuaded Esther to leave the Muskego settlement and move northeast. But, as you will soon see, we are still getting settled.”
Ja, how’s that, Lars?”
Kristin heard the note of curiosity in Mr. Olstad’s voice.
“I purchased the land and built a barn and a cabin.” He paused and gave a derisive snort. “Well, a fine home takes time and money.”
“Oh, ja, that way.” Mr. Olstad seemed to understand.
And Kristin did too. One couldn’t expect enormous comforts out in the Wisconsin wilderness.
Just then they passed a stately home situated on the Fox River. Two quaint dormers peered from the angled roof, which appeared to be supported by a pair of white pillars.
“That is Mr. Morgan Martin’s home. He is a lawyer in town.”
Uncle Lars delivered the rest of his explanation with a sneer. “And an Indian agent.”
“Indians?” Kristin’s hand flew to her throat.
“Do not fret. The soldiers across the river at Fort Howard protect the area.”
Kristin forced her taut muscles to relax.
“Out here the deer are plentiful and fishing is good. Fine lumber up here too. But the Norwegian population is small. Nevertheless, we have our own church, and the reverend speaks our language.”
“A good thing,” Mr. Olstad remarked.
“I cannot wait for the day when Far owns land,” Peder said, glancing at Mr. Olstad. “Lots of land.” The warm wind blew his auburn hair outward from his narrow face, and his hazel eyes sparked with enthusiasm, giving the young man a somewhat wild appearance. “But no farming for me. I want to be rich someday.”
“As do we all!” exclaimed Mr. Olstad, whose appearance was an older, worn-out version of his son’s.
Kristin’s mind had parked on land ownership. “And once you are settled, Sylvia will come to America. I cannot wait. I miss her so much.”
She grappled with a fresh onset of tears. Not only was Sylvia her best friend, but she and the entire Olstad clan had also become like family to her ever since a smallpox epidemic ravaged their little village two years ago, claiming the lives of Kristin’s parents and two younger brothers. When Uncle Lars had learned of the tragic news, he offered her a place to stay in his home if she came to America. Onkel wrote that she should be with her family, so Kristin had agreed to make the voyage. Her plans to leave Norway had encouraged the Olstads to do
the same. But raising the funds to travel took time and much hard work. While the Olstads scrimped and saved up their crop earnings, Kristin did spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing for those with money to spare. By God’s grace, they were finally here.
Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to her right.
Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past, with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t wait to own his own farm!
Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers, and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field. Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.
“Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam Sundberg or any members of his family.”
Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her gaze.
Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is so bad about that family?”
“They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the good people of this community.”
“Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.
Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”
“Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.
Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”
Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”
Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg. She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described. Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.
“Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.
“I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never seen an Indian.”
“Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”
“Half-breed, eh?”
Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his chin.
“Interesting,” he added.
“How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin Territory?”
Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”
“And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.
Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster. “Now the government will get rid of those savages once and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese, will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself scalped.”
Ja, Onkel.”
With a measure of alarm, Kristin touched her braided hair and chanced a look at Peder and Mr. Olstad. Both pairs of wide eyes seemed to warn her to heed Uncle Lars’s instructions. She would, of course. But somehow she couldn’t imagine the man they’d just passed doing her any harm. Would he?

Sam Sundberg wiped the beads of perspiration off his brow before dropping his hat back on his head. Who was the little blonde riding next to Lars Eikaas? Sam hadn’t seen her before. And the men in the wagon bed . . . he’d never seen them either.
After a moment’s deliberation he concluded they were the expected arrivals from the “Old Country.” Months ago Sam recalled hearing talk in town about Lars’s orphaned niece sailing to America with friends of the family, so he assumed the two red-haired men and the young lady were the topics of that particular conversation. But wouldn’t it just serve Mr. Eikaas right if that blonde angel turned his household upside down—or, maybe, right-side up?
He smirked at the very idea. Sam didn’t have to meet that young lady to guess Mr. Eikaas would likely have his hands full. Her second backward glance said all Sam needed to know.
The word plucky sprang into his mind. He chuckled. Plucky she
seemed, indeed.
But was she wise enough not to believe everything her uncle said?
Sam thought it a real shame. Years ago Pa and Lars Eikaas had been friends. But then Pa’s silver went missing, insults were traded, and the Eikaases’ prejudice against Ma, Jackson, and Mary kept the feud alive.
The Eikaas wagon rolled out of sight, leaving brown clouds of dust in its wake. A grin threatened as Sam thought again of that plucky blonde’s curious expression. Maybe she did have a mind of her own. Now wouldn’t that be something? Sam thanked God that not everyone around here was as intolerant of Wisconsin Natives as the Eikaas family. There were those who actually befriended the Indians and stood up to government officials in their stead. Like Pa, for instance. Like Sam himself.
The blistering sun beat down on him. Removing his hat once more, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He started pondering the latest government proposal to remove the Indians from their land. First the Oneida tribe had been forced out, and soon the Menominee band would be “removed” and “civilized.” As bad as that was, it irked Sam more to think about how the government figured it knew best for the Indians. Government plans hadn’t succeeded in the past, so why would they now? Something else had to be done. Relocating the Menominee would cause those people nothing but misery. They’d stated as much themselves. Furthermore, the Indians, led by Chief Oshkosh, were determined not to give up their last tract of land. Sam predicted this current government proposal would only serve to stir up more violence between Indians and whites.
But not if he and Pa could help it.
In the distance he heard the clang of the dinner bell. Ma didn’t like him to tarry when food was on the table. Across the beet field, Sam saw his younger brother run on ahead of him. He wagged his head at the twelve-year-old and his voracious appetite.
With one calloused hand gripping the hoe and the other holding the bushel basket, Sam trudged toward their white clapboard home. Its two dormers protruded proudly from the second floor.
Entering the mudroom, he fetched cold water from the inside well, peeled off his hat, and quickly washed up. Next he donned a fresh shirt. Ma insisted upon cleanliness at the supper table. Finally presentable, he made his way into the basement where the summer kitchen and a small eating area were located. The cool air met his sun-stoked skin and Sam sighed, appreciating the noonday respite.
Next he noticed a cake in the middle of the table.
“That looks good enough to eat,” he teased, resisting the urge to steal a finger-full of white frosting.
Ma gave him a smile, and her nut-brown eyes darkened as she set the wooden tureen of turkey and wild rice onto the table. “Since it’s Rachel’s last day with us, I thought I would prepare an extra special dessert.”
Sam glanced across the table at the glowing bride-to-be. In less than twenty-four hours Rachel Decker would become Mrs. Luke Smith. But for the remainder of today she’d fulfill her duties as Ma’s hired house girl who helped with the cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, and ironing whenever Ma came down with one of her episodes, which were sometimes so intensely painful that Ma couldn’t get out of bed without help. Rachel had been both a comfort and an efficient assistant to Ma.
“I helped bake the cake, Sam.”
He grinned at his ten-year-old sister, Mary. “Good job.”
They all sat down, Mary taking her seat beside Rachel. Sam helped his mother into her place at the head of the table then lowered himself into his chair next to Jackson, who’d been named after Major General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of this great country.
“Sam, since your father is away,” Ma began, “will you please ask God’s blessing on our food?”
“Be glad to.” He bowed his head. “Dearest Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provisions. Strengthen and nourish us with this meal so we may glorify Thee with our labors. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
Action ensued all around the table. The women served themselves and then between Sam and Jack, they scraped the bowl clean.
“Good thing Pa’s not home from his meetings in town,” Jack muttered with a crooked grin.
“If your father were home,” Ma retorted, “I would have made more food.”
“Should have made more anyhow.” Jack gave her a teasing grin. “No seconds.” He clanged the bowl and spoon together as if to prove his point.
“You have seconds on your plate already,” Ma said. “Why, I have never seen anyone consume as much food as you do, Jackson.”
His smile broadened. “I’m growing. Soon I’ll be taller than Sam.”
“Brotherly competition.” Sam had to chuckle. But in the next moment, he wondered if his family behaved oddly. Didn’t all families enjoy meals together? Tease and laugh together? Tell stories once the sun went down? According to Rachel, they didn’t. The ebony-haired, dark-eyed young woman had grown up without a mother and had a drunkard for a father . . . until Ma got wind of the situation and took her in. She invited Rachel to stay in the small room adjacent to the kitchen and offered her a job. Rachel had accepted. And now, years later, Rachel would soon marry a fine man, Luke Smith, a friend of Sam’s.
Taking a bite of his meal, he chewed and looked across the table at Mary. Both she and Jack resembled their mother, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and graceful, willowy frames, while Sam took after his father, blue eyes and stocky build, measuring just under six feet. Yet, in spite of the outward dissimilarities, the five Sundbergs were a closely knit family, and Sam felt grateful that he’d known nothing but happiness throughout
his childhood. He had no recollection whatsoever of his biological mother who had taken ill and died during the voyage from Norway to America.
Sam had been but a toddler when she went home to be with the Lord, and soon after disembarking in New York, his father met another Norwegian couple. They helped care for Sam and eventually persuaded Pa to take his young son and move with them to Wisconsin, known back then as part of the “Michigan Territory.” Pa seized the opportunity, believing the promises that westward expansion touted, and he was not disappointed.
He learned to plant, trap, and trade with the Indians, and he became a successful businessman. In time, he saved enough funds to make his dreams of owning land and farming a reality.
Then, when Sam was a boy of eight years, his father met and married Mariah, an Oneida. Like her, many Oneida were Christians and fairly well educated due to the missionaries who had lived among them. In time Sam took to his new mother, and she to him. Through the years Ma cherished and admonished him as though he were her own son. She learned the Norwegian language and could speak it fluently. As far as Sam was concerned, he was her own son—and Mariah, his own mother.
They were a family.
“Was that the Eikaas wagon driving by not long ago?” Mary asked.
Sam snapped from his musing. “Sure was. It appears they have relatives in town.”
“Mr. Eikaas didn’t stop and visit, did he?” Mary’s eyes were as round as gingersnaps.
Sam chuckled. “No, of course not. I can’t recall the last time Lars Eikaas spoke to me . . . or any of the Sundbergs, for that matter.”
“Erik is nice to me at school.” Mary took a bite of her meal.
“Glad to hear it.”
“I can’t wait to begin school next week.”
Sam grinned at his sister’s enthusiasm. He’d felt the same way as a boy.
“Sam, what made you assume Mr. Eikaas transported relatives in his wagon today?”
He glanced at Ma. “A while back I’d heard that Lars’s niece was coming to America, accompanied by friends, and since I didn’t recognize the three passengers in the wagon this morning, I drew my own conclusions.”
“Is she pretty?” Jackson’s cheeks bulged with food.
“Is who pretty?”
“Mr. Eikaas’s niece . . . is she pretty?”
Sam recalled the plucky blonde whose large, cornflower-blue eyes looked back at him with interest from beneath her bonnet. And pretty? As much as Sam hated to admit it, she was about the prettiest young lady he’d ever set eyes on.
Jackson elbowed him. “Hey, I asked you a question.”
Sam gave his younger brother an annoyed look. “Yeah, I s’pose she’s pretty. But don’t go getting any big ideas about me courting her. She’s an Eikaas.”
“You’re awful old to not be married yet.” Jack rolled his dark eyes.
“What do you know about it? I’m only twenty-one.” Sam grinned. “Hush up and eat.” It’s what the boy did best. “So . . . did everyone have a pleasant morning?” He forked another bite of food into his mouth, wondering why he tried so hard to shift the subject off of Lars Eikaas’s niece.

Kristin looked around the one-room shanty with its unhewn walls and narrow, bowed loft. Cotton squares of material covered the windows, making the heat inside nearly unbearable.
Disappointment riddled her being like buckshot. Although she knew she should feel grateful for journeying safely this far, and now to have a roof over her head, she couldn’t seem to shake her displeasure at seeing her relatives’ living quarters. It looked nothing like her uncle had described in his letters nor the homes she’d glimpsed on the way.
“Here is your trunk of belongings,” Uncle Lars said, carrying the wooden chest in on one of his broad shoulders. With a grunt, he set it down in the far corner of the cabin. “Where is my inheritance? Let me have a look at it.”
“Right now, Onkel?”
Ja, ja . . .” Impatience filled his tone.
Pulling open the drawstring of her leather purse, she reached inside and extracted the key. She unlocked the trunk and opened its curved lid. Getting onto her knees, Kristin moved aside her clothes and extra shoes until she found what she searched for. Poppa’s gold watch. She held the black velvet-covered box reverently in her hands for one last, long moment before she stood and presented it to her uncle.
“This belonged to my poppa.”
“Ah . . .” Uncle Lars’s face lit up with delight as he opened the box. Looking to Aunt Esther, he nodded. “This will bring a fair price, do you think?”
Disbelief poured over her. “But . . . you would not sell Poppa’s watch, would you?”
“None of your business!”
Kristin jumped back at the biting reply. Her opinion of her uncle dropped like a rock into a cavern.
“Anything more?” Her uncle bent over the wooden chest and quickly rummaged through it, spilling clothes onto the unswept floor.
Onkel, please, stop. My garments . . .”
“Does not seem to be anything else.” Uncle Lars narrowed his gaze. “Is there?”
“No.” The necklace Mor had given her burned against her already perspiring skin. Still, Kristin refused to part with the gift. “Nothing more. As you know, Poppa was a farmer. He supplemented his income by working at the post office, but no money was ever saved. After my parents died, I sold everything to help pay for a portion of my passage to America. I earned the rest myself.”
“Any money left?”
Kristin shook her head as she picked up the last of her belongings, careful not to meet her uncle’s stare. A little money remained in the special pocket she’d sewn into her petticoat. For safety, she’d kept her funds on her person throughout the entire voyage. The last of her coinage would purchase muchneeded undergarments. She’d managed to save it throughout the journey for the specific purpose of buying new foundations when she reached America. It wasn’t inherited. She’d worked hard for it.
With a grunt Uncle Lars turned and sauntered out of the cabin.
“You will sleep in the loft with your cousins.” Aunt Esther’s tone left no room for questions or argument. Wearing a plain, brown dress with a tan apron pinned to its front, and with her dark brown hair tightly pinned into a bun, the older woman looked as drab as her surroundings. “Your uncle and I sleep on a pallet by the hearth.”
“Yes, Tante. I am sure I will be very comfortable.” Another lie.
“Come, let us eat.” Aunt Esther walked toward the hearth where a heavy black kettle sat on top of a low-burning fire. “There is venison stew for our meal.”
“It sounds delicious.” Kristin’s stomach growled in anticipation. She’d eaten very little on the ship this morning. Excitement plus the waves on Lake Michigan made eating impossible. But after disembarking in Green Bay, her stomach began to settle, and now she was famished.
Aunt Esther called everyone to the table, which occupied an entire corner of the cabin. Her three children, two girls and one boy, ranging in ages from seven to sixteen, came in from outside, as did the Olstads. After a wooden bowl filled with stew was set before each person, the family clasped hands and recited a standard Norwegian prayer . . .
I Jesu navn gar vi til bords,—We sit down in the name of Jesus,
Spise drikke pa ditt ord,—To eat and drink according to Your
Word,
Deg Gud til are, oss til gavn,—To Your honor, Oh Lord, and
for our benefit,
Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn.—We receive food in the name of
Jesus.
Amen.
Having said grace, hands were released, and everyone picked up a spoon and began to eat. Kristin noticed her cousins, Inga and Anna, eyeing her with interest. They resembled their father, blonde curls and blue eyes.
“What do you like to do on sunny afternoons such as this one?” she asked cheerfully, hoping to start conversation. After all, Inga’s age was close to hers. Perhaps her cousin would help her meet friends.
“We do not talk at the table,” Aunt Esther informed her. “We eat, not talk.”
“Yes, Tante.” Kristin glanced at Peder and Mr. Olstad who replied with noncommittal shrugs and kept eating.
Silently, Kristin did the same. The Olstads always had lively discussions around their table.
When the meal ended, the girls cleared the table and the men took young Erik and ambled outside.
“May I help with cleaning up?” Kristin asked her aunt.
“No. You rest today and regain your strength. Tomorrow we are invited to a wedding, the day after is the Sabbath. Then beginning on Monday, you will labor from sunup to sunset like everyone else in this place.”
“Except for one,” Inga quipped. No one but Kristin heard.
“Who?” Her lips moved, although she didn’t utter a sound.
Far, that is who.” Disrespect seeped from Inga’s tone, which was loud and clear.
Hadn’t Aunt Esther overheard it?
Tante suddenly whirled around and glared at Kristin. “Do something with yourself. We are working here.”
With a frown, Kristin backed away. Her aunt’s brusque manner caused her to feel weary and more homesick than
ever. She missed her parents and her little brothers. Why did God take them, leaving her to live life without them? And Sylvia . . . how she longed for her best friend!
Kristin knelt by the trunk and carefully lifted out a soft, knitted shawl that had once belonged to her mother, Lydia Eikaas. Mor had been an excellent seamstress, expert in spinning wool into yarn and thread, as well as in weaving and sewing garments. She’d taught Kristin everything she knew about the craft. Surely Kristin could now put her skills to good use in this new country, this land of opportunity.
She sighed and glanced over to where her aunt and two cousins continued straightening up after the meal. Inga and Anna barely smiled, and her aunt’s expression seemed permanently frozen into a frown. Is that what this country really afforded . . . misery?
Allowing her gaze to wander around the dismal cabin once more, Kristin began to wish she had not come to America.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Announcing the Winners

I had lots of fun with the giveaways over the last week or so. You can expect more giveaways this year. In fact, I've got another one scheduled for the beginning of February, so keep an eye out!

But let's get down to the business of announcing the winners!

The winner of the (in)courage giveaway is . . . 

Crystal at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl

The winner of a copy of The Accidental Bride by Denise Hunter is . . . 

Gwen

Congratulations, ladies! I've emailed both of you. If you didn't get the email, contact me and let me know!

(Winners were selected randomly via random.org.)

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride
by Sandra D. Bricker
Emma Rae Creation, Book 2
Contemporary Christian Fiction / Romance
Published October 1, 2011
Abingdon Press
320 pages



About the Book
As a wedding planner, you'd thinkshe would have the perfect wedding experience...

Sherilyn Caine has left Chicago behind to marry Andrew Drummond IV, an Atlanta native with a family name that tops all the social registers. Landing the job as The Tanglewood’s wedding planner is a piece of cake for someone with a Type A personality; she’s the perfect fit for a wedding destination hotel known for its attention to even the tiniest details.

But when everything else is going along swimmingly, why are her own wedding plans drowning right before her eyes? One way or the other, Sherilyn is determined to make this wedding work—until the latest development threatens to call the whole thing off. Is it possible that Sherilyn is allergic to her fiance?

My Thoughts
Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride was my first introduction to Sandra D. Bricker. I’m so glad I picked this book up!

Sherilyn moves from Chicago to Atlanta to be near her boyfriend and lands a job at a swanky new resort run by her best friend’s boyfriend. I absolutely LOVED Sherilyn and Emma. I felt like their friendship was totally realistic and reminiscent of the two main characters on the TV show Drop Dead Diva. They had their fair share of guy drama and personal issues, yet they stuck by each other through thick and thin.

Bricker did a wonderful job developing multiple relationships within this book. Sometimes when there are two or three relationships that are all highlighted within one book, it gets confusing. Instead of confusion, I felt like each new relationship (friendship or romance) simply added another dimension to the story.

The book is also one of the funniest books I’ve read in a while – both in the dialogue and in some of the quirky characters that pop in and out along the way. So many of the books that I read are full of drama (which I appreciate) but it was nice to read something on the lighter side.

If you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy, this book is for you! Can't wait to read the rest of the series! [4 stars]

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

About the Author
For more than a decade, Sandra D. Bricker lived in Los Angeles and, while writing in every spare moment, worked as a personal assistant and publicist to some of daytime television's hottest stars. Since then she has written three novels for middle-grade readers and several romance novels, including unWANTED: Husband, Change of Heart, Sins of the Past, Wish I Weren't Here, Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas and The Big 5-0h!.

Connect with Sandra D. Bricker
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blog Tour: Unhallowed Ground by Mel Starr

 
Unhallowed Ground
by Mel Starr
Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Book 4
Historical Christian Fiction / Mystery
Published January 2012
Kregel Publications
240 pages



About the Book
Thomas atte Bridge, a man no one likes, is found hanging from a tree near Cowleys Corner. All assume he has taken his own life, but Master Hugh and Kate find evidence that this may not be so.

Many of the town had been harmed by Thomas, and Hugh is not eager to send one of them to the gallows. Then he discovers that the priest John Kellet, atte Bridge’s partner in crime in A Corpse at St. Andrew's Chapel was covertly in Bampton at the time atte Bridge died.

Master Hugh is convinced that Kellet has murdered atte Bridge--one rogue slaughtering another. He sets out for Exeter, where atte Bridge now works. But there he discovers that the priest is an emaciated skeleton of a man, who mourns the folly of his past life. Hugh must return to Bampton and discover which of his friends has murdered his enemy.

My Thoughts
Before I go any further, I need to confess that I was unable to finish reading this book. Therefore, I won't rate this book as I normally would, but I'll let you know why I didn't finish. I read 60 pages (4 chapters) which was about 25% of the book. I feel like that's a pretty good effort.

The book was narrated in such a way that I just could not get into it. The author uses a lot of vocabulary that would have been used in medieval times (when the book was set). A four-page glossary was included, but the words were throughout each passage, which meant I did a lot of flipping back and forth. I'm usually pretty good with context clues; however, it was so unfamiliar to me that I had a hard time engaging with the book.

While I really wanted to like this book, I just didn't click with it. However, if you enjoy medieval, romance, and/or mysteries, check out some of the other reviews. This might be a better fit for you than it was for me. [Rating: DNF]

Thanks to Kregel Publications for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

About the Author
Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Labels

(in)courage (in)mercy 1 star 12 Pearls of Christmas 12 Pearls of Christmas 2012 12 Pearls of Christmas 2013 2 star 2 stars 2.5 stars 2012 Review 3 stars 3.5 stars 4 stars 4.5 stars 5 Minute Friday 5 stars A Year of Weddings Abingdon Press Advent Announcements ARC August Author B-H Books Banned Books Week Barbour Publishing BBAW 2012 beauty Bethany House Blitz Blog Action Day blog hop Blog Mooch Blog Tour Blogaversary Blogging Blogging for Change Blogside Chat Book Blast Book Club Book Trailer Thursday Bout of Books Bout of Books 11.0 Bout of Books 13.0 Bout of Books 7.0 Bout of Books 8.0 Bout of Books 9.0 Brookes Faves celebration Center Street CFBA challenge accepted Character Meet and Greet Charisma Media Children's Christian Speaker Services christianaudio Christmas Christy Awards Clean Sweet community Compassion Compassion Blog Month Contemporary Countdown to Christmas Cover Love Cover Reveal Dani Pettrey David C. Cook Devotion DiAnn Mills DNF Easter Egg Blog Hop End of Summer Read-A-Thon Etsy Events Faith Words Fall Into Reading 2012 FB Chat Fiction FIRST Food Freebies Friday Five Getting To Know You Giveaway Giveaway Hop Glass Road PR goals Grand Finale Great Escapes Guest Blogger Guideposts Books Harlequin Heartwarming Harvest House High Summer Read-A-Thon Historical home goods Hope International Howard Books If the Shoe Fits Influenster Inspired Design Publications Jody Hedlund Jolly VoxBox Just for Fun Kenya Kregel Publications Literacy Read-A-Thon LitFuse Publicity Looking Ahead Love for Books Love Inspired Mailbox Fun Month in Review Moody Publishers Mother of Pearl Mother of Pearl 2013 Movie Music NavPress Net Galley New Hope Publishers New Leaf Publishers New Release Feature Non-Fiction Operation Christmas Child pinterest pray pray for the horn Prism Book Tours Promo Random Random House Random Question RCCleanup read-a-thon Reading Cram reflections Reformation Trust Release Day Retirement Community Revell Review in Haiku River North Road to the Christys Road Trip Romance Samaritan's Purse Sandra Byrd Sandra D Bricker Sandra Leesmith scripture Secret Church shutterfly snacks Snappy Reviews Sneak Peek Spring Break '11 Spring Reading Thing SSMT SSMT 2013 Sterling Summer Lovin' Read-A-Thon summer reading Summerside Press Susan May Warren Suspense Take a Chance on Me Tamera Alexander Tanzania Teaser Tuesday Tens List The B-B Media Group The Story Behind the Story The Travel Bug The Word Thomas Nelson Thursday 3 Top 10 Top Picks Top Ten Tuesday Trailer Tricia Goyer Tyndale House Waiting on Wednesday WaterBrook Multnomah webcast WestBow Press What Are You Reading What's Next Whitaker House WinePress Publishing World Watch List WWW Wednesdays YA Young Adult Zondervan
Powered by Blogger.