WIN EUPHEMANIA

Monday, November 29, 2010





How did die become kick the bucket, underwear become unmentionables,
and having an affair become hiking the Appalachian trail? Originally
used to avoid blasphemy, honor taboos, and make nice, euphemisms have
become embedded in the fabric of our language. EUPHEMANIA traces the
origins of euphemisms from a tool of the church to a form of gentility
to today's instrument of commercial, political, and postmodern
doublespeak.

As much social commentary as a book for word lovers, EUPHEMANIA is a lively and thought-provoking look at the power
of words and our power over them.

Here is a link for a Quiz for fun quiz about euphemisms http://www.ralphkeyes.com/euphemania/quiz.shtml

Thanks to Hachette Publishing I have 2 copies of this book to giveaway. This giveaway is open to the U.S. and Canada, NO P.O. Boxes. This giveaway will start today, Monday, November 29th and I will use a randomizer and pull the winner on Monday, December 13th . The winner will have 48 hrs from being contacted to send me their mailing info if they fail to do so I will pull another winner. To enter you must be a follower of my blog, leave your email address. If you do not your entry will be deleted. To receive extra entries you can do the following . . . 1. if you are already follower of this blog say so in your original comment; DO NOT LEAVE AN ADDITONAL COMMENT. 2. If you are a NEW follower leave an additional comment. 3. Tweet about this on twitter, and leave an additional comment with the link. 4. Blog about this giveaway and leave the link. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Emily

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Emily of Deep Valley
Harper Perennial Modern Classics; Reprint edition (October 12, 2010)
by
Mitali Perkins






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from Mitali: Who In The World Is Mitali Perkins?



That's a good question. I've been trying to figure it out myself, spending most of my life crossing borders.



I was born Mitali Bose in Kolkata (Calcutta), India, and always tried to live up to my name—which means “friendly” in the Bangla language. I had to! Because my family moved so much, it was the only way I could make new friends.



By the time I was 11, I'd lived in Ghana, Cameroon, London, New York and Mexico before settling in California just in time for middle school. Yep, I was the new kid again, in seventh grade, the year everybody barely makes it through.



My biggest lifeline during those early years was story. Books were my rock, my stability, my safe place as I navigated the border between California suburbia and the Bengali culture of my traditional home.



After studying political science at Stanford and public policy at U.C. Berkeley, I taught in middle school, high school and college. When I began to write fiction, my protagonists were often—not surprisingly—strong female characters trying to bridge different cultures.



Mitali Perkins is the author of several books for young people, including SECRET KEEPER (Random House), MONSOON SUMMER (Random House), RICKSHAW GIRL (Charlesbridge), and the FIRST DAUGHTER books (Dutton).



ABOUT THE BOOK



Often cited as Maud Hart Lovelace’s (of Betsy-Tacy fame) best novel, Emily of Deep Valley is now back in print, with a new foreword by acclaimed young adult author Mitali Perkins and new archival material about the characters’ real lives.



Emily Webster, an orphan living with her grandfather, is not like the other girls her age in Deep Valley, Minnesota. The gulf between Emily and her classmates widens even more when they graduate from Deep Valley High School in 1912. Emily longs to go off to college with everyone else, but she can’t leave her grandfather. Emily resigns herself to facing a “lost winter,” but soon decides to stop feeling sorry for herself. And with a new program of study, a growing interest in the Syrian community, and a handsome new teacher at the high school to fill her days, Emily gains more than she ever dreamed...



In addition to her beloved Betsy-Tacy books, Maud Hart Lovelace wrote three more stories set in the fictional town of Deep Valley: Winona’s Pony Cart, Carney’s House Party and Emily of Deep Valley. Longtime fans and new readers alike will be delighted to find the Deep Valley books available again for the first time in many years.



If you would like to browse inside Emily of Deep Valley, go HERE.

Divine

Friday, November 26, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Divine Appointments
WaterBrook Press; Reprint edition (September 21, 2010)
by
Charlene Baumbich




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Charlene Ann Baumbich is the author of the previous three books in the Partonville series. A popular speaker, journalist, and author, for several years she has lectured to women’s groups and retreats. Baumbich is also an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Today’s Christian Woman, and numerous other publications. She is the author of six nonfiction books of humor and inspiration.



Charlene says: For over two decades of writing and speaking, my passionate pursuit to entertain and rejuvenate using humor (I love to laugh-especially at myself), uncommon wisdom, and passionate insights has been affirmed through countless calls, letters, and evaluation sheets. A reader recently e-mailed, "There is so much depression and sadness in this world. I applaud you for reminding all of us to treasure the moments in our lives, and for encouraging us to find joy in the little things. What you do helps so many to rise above the heaviness of life and live, and laugh, and face another day, so thanks!!!!" That is exactly why I keep doing what I do.



I am a firm believer in the power of story (short or book-length, funny or insightful, real or fiction, on stage or page) to accomplish my purpose, which is to remind you: Don't Miss Your Life! Whether you're tuning into me live or in print, fasten your seatbelt. I promise you a wild, fun, provocative, heart-warming ride.



ABOUT THE BOOK





Josie Brooks, at the age of 47, thought she was leading an enviable single life. A successful consultant, she calls her own shots, goes where the money is, and never needs to compromise. But her precisely managed world begins to falter during a Chicago contract when an economic downturn, a bleeding heart boss, and the loyalty and kindness between endangered employees ding her coat of armor.



Throw in hot flashes, a dose of loneliness, a peculiar longing for intimacy, an

unquenchable thirst—not to mention a mysterious snow globe with a serene landscape, complete with a flowing river and lush greenery that seems to be beckoning her in—and Josie’s buttoned-up life is on the verge of coming completely undone.



Maybe her solitary existence isn’t as fulfilling as she has convinced herself to believe. It will take a few new friends, a mystical encounter, and an unexpected journey to set Josie on her own path to “right-sizing” and making the life changes that really matter. Filled with laugh-out loud moments and a gentle dash of inspiration, Divine Appointments is another heartwarming charmer from a master storyteller.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Divine Appointments, go HERE.

Mend Mark

Wednesday, November 24, 2010






Designed to represent the scars Jesus incurred on His wrists during the crucifixion, this one-size-fits-all stretchy type bracelet deposits a round mark on each side of the wrist. With the word “REMEMBER” on one circular disc and “LOVE” on the other, this bracelet can serve not only to help believers share their faith, but also to remind the wearer of Christ’s sacrificial love – His blood shed on our behalf when we were still sinners.

Lightkeeper

Monday, November 22, 2010



This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Lightkeeper's Bride
Thomas Nelson (October 19, 2010)
by
Colleen Coble




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Author Colleen Coble’s thirty-five novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, the Booksellers Best, and the 2009 Best Books of Indiana-Fiction award. She writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail and love begin with a happy ending.



A word from Colleen: God has been faithful, though the path has not been easy. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. God wouldn’t let me give up, and I like to think the struggle made me stronger. God has given me so much in my life, most importantly my great family, a loving church family at New Life Baptist Church, and my wonderful publishing family at Nelson Books.



ABOUT THE BOOK



A thrilling romantic mystery set in the lush Victorian age.



Central Operator Katie Russell's inquisitive ways have just uncovered her parents' plan for her marriage to wealthy bachelor Bartholomew Foster. Her heart is unmoved, but she knows the match will bring her family status and respectability.



Then Katie overhears a phone conversation that makes her uneasy and asks authorities to investigate. But the caller is nowhere to be found. Mysterious connections arise between the caller and a ship lost at sea.



Against propriety, Katie questions the new lighthouse keeper, Will Jesperson. Then a smallpox epidemic forces their quarantine in his lighthouse. Though of low social status, Will's bravery and kindness remove Katie's suspicion and win her love. Katie and Will together work to solve the mystery of the missing girl and the lost ship as God gives the couple the desire of their hearts.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Lightkeeper's Bride, go HERE.

Win A copy of Pat Conroy's new book My Reading Life

Saturday, November 20, 2010




Pat Conroy, the beloved American storyteller, is also a vora­cious reader. He has for years kept a notebook in which he notes words or phrases, just from a love of language. But read­ing for him is not simply a pleasure to be enjoyed in off-hours or a source of inspiration for his own writing. It would hardly be an exaggeration to claim that reading has saved his life, and if not his life then surely his sanity. In My Reading Life, Conroy revisits a life of passionate reading. He includes wonderful anecdotes from his school days, mov­ing accounts of how reading pulled him through dark times, and even lists of books that particularly influenced him at vari­ous stages of his life, including grammar school, high school, and college. Readers will be enchanted with his ruminations on reading and books, and want to own and share this perfect gift book for the holidays. And, come graduation time, My Reading Life will establish itself as a perennial favorite, as did Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Thanks to Doubleday I have two copies of this book to giveaway. This is open to the U.S. only and NO P.O. boxes. This giveaway will start today, Saturday, November 20th and I will use a randomizer and pull the winner on Saturday, December 11th. The winner will have 48 hrs from being contacted to send me their mailing info if they fail to do so I will pull another winner. To enter you must be a follower of my blog, leave your email address. If you do not your entry will be deleted. To receive extra entries you can do the following . . . 1. if you are already follower of this blog say so in your original comment; DO NOT LEAVE AN ADDITONAL COMMENT. 2. If you are a NEW follower leave an additional comment. 3. Tweet about this on twitter, and leave an additional comment with the link. 4. Blog about this giveaway and leave the link. GOOD LUCK!!!!

Outlive Your Life ~ Reviewed

Thursday, November 18, 2010






These are difficult days in our world's history. 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, natural disasters are gouging entire nations, and economic uncertainty still reigns across the globe. But you and I have been given an opportunity to make a big difference. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life? We are created by a great God to do great works. He invites us to outlive our lives, not just in heaven, but here on earth. Let's live our lives in such a way that the world will be glad we did.

My thoughts: Max Lucado is my kind of guy! I have always loved the way he writes! He is down to earth and has a way of intersecting daily life with God's word and showing us how we can be true examples to those around us. This book is a challenge, it challenges Christians to use the circumstances they are in and the people they come in contact with to make a difference in our world. Max bases his book on the sermons in Acts, and really he hits home on so many levels. If we as Christians would be more like the Acts church we could accomplish so much more! I highly recommend this book! I give it a lighthouse and shine a light on it for pointing a path to God!

Silent

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Silent Order
Summerside Press (November 1, 2010)
by
Melanie Dobson




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good.



Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.



Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.



Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Rural America - 1928. After the murder of his partner, Detective Rollin Wells hides away in an Amish home near Sugarcreek, Ohio, to find out who in the police force is

collaborating with Cleveland’s notorious mob. While Rollin searches for answers to his partner’s death, he befriends an elusive young Amish woman named Katie and her young son. As Rollin learns about Katie’s past, he’s shocked at the secret Katie is hiding - a secret that has haunted Rollin for eight years.



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Silent Order, go HERE.

My Thoughts: I am going to do my best to not bash the author here. This has to be the most far fetched ideas I have ever heard of. I am Italian, and love a good Mafia story, however I could not even follow this story line! I am really sad about it as I was really looking forward to reading it!

Norah Jones - New Album - Released Today

Tuesday, November 16, 2010









Norah is quite the versatile artist. When I first put this CD in I thought I was going to be listening to something between Frank Sinatra to folk, as the album progressed the music changed. This album has flavors from Jazz, Pop, R&B, Hip Hop, to Country. I really enjoyed this album, and I think this would be enjoyable from young to old. I would add this album to your Christmas shopping list for the music lovers on your list. I guarantee they will love it!

Exposed: A Novel

Monday, November 15, 2010






Allyson Graham, marriage counselor and lover of love, lived a life of romance few could imagine. Until her husband's secret addiction stared at her from the computer screen. Will she be able to forgive the man who lied to her all of those precious years? Follow her painful story alongside the heartbreaking story of Taylor Adams, a young girl searching for her worth in the world. As Allyson struggles to forgive her husband for lying about his addiction, Taylor naively falls into the same self-destructive industry and discovers that the attention and fun is nothing like she thought it would be. Discover the hearts of these two women as they search for beauty after the rain.

My Thoughts: As a woman whose former husband has an addiction to porn, I could not identify with Ally. She was a woman claiming to be a Christian and just continued to allow her anger to eat her alive. There didn't seem to be any end to her montage. It was over 200 pages before Ally actually started to allow God be the lover of her heart and begin to extend some forgiveness to her husband. I really was able to have compassion and understanding for Taylor. She was a girl who had such low self-esteem and when she answered the ad in the newspaper she really thought she was going to be a model, little did she know what she was getting herself into. I have to give Ally props for keeping the story building until the end and showing how destructive this industry is on both sides of the spectrum. I do recommend this book, I highly caution that this book is not for those who have no interest in getting down and dirty, meaning this book is straight up and true to what is real in the porn world, and what is happening to the men that we love, and to our young girls who are seeking love and acceptance so please take that into consideration when you read this book.

Long Time

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Long Time Coming
Abingdon Press (November 1, 2010)
by
Vanessa Miller






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Vanessa Miller of Dayton, Ohio, is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. Her stage productions include: Get You Some Business, Don’t Turn Your Back on God, and Can’t You Hear Them Crying. Vanessa is currently in the process of turning the novels in the Rain Series into stage productions.



Vanessa has been writing since she was a young child. When she wasn’t writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels, reading great books consumed her free time. However, it wasn’t until she committed her life to the Lord in 1994 that she realized all gifts and anointing come from God. She then set out to write redemption stories that glorify God.



To date, Vanessa has completed the Rain and Storm Series. She is currently working on the Forsaken series, Second Chance at Love series and a single title, Long Time Coming. Vanessa believes that each book will touch readers across the country in a special way. It is, after all, her God-given destiny to write and produce plays and novels that bring deliverance to God’s people. These books have received rave reviews, winning Best Christian Fiction Awards and topping numerous Bestseller’s lists.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Two women from different worlds find hope together.



Faithful Christian Deidre Clark-Morris is a professional career-minded woman with a loving husband, but no children. Kenisha Smalls has lived in poverty all her life. She has three children by three different men and has just been diagnosed with inoperable cervical cancer.



While the meeting between these two women appears accidental, it becomes their catalyst of hope. Neither woman expects the blessing that God has in store for her. While Deidre will guide Kenisha on the path to eternal life with Jesus Christ, Kenisha will teach Deidre how to stand strong against the hard-knocks of life.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Long Time Coming, go HERE





Watch the book video:



Christmas At Harringtons




Sometimes the best gift is a second chance

Christmas is approaching, and Lena Markham finds herself penniless, friendless, and nearly hopeless. She is trying to restart her life, but job opportunities are practically nonexistent. When a secondhand red coat unexpectedly lands her a job as Mrs. Santa at a department store, Lena finally thinks her luck is changing. But can she keep her past a secret?

My Thoughts: It's that time of year again. Ornaments are on display at Hallmark, Toys R Us has it's big toy book out and kids are wide eyed and full of wonder waiting for Christmas, parents are beginning the trek to the stores to find that special gift to put under the tree. It is the perfect time to pick up Melody Carlson's book Christmas At Harringtons. Lena has been in jail and is on her way to New Haven, MN for a new start. She is afraid that just mentioning the fact that she was in jail is going to ruin any chance she has of a new start. This book is a beautiful book of restoration, and hope. This was a great way to start off the Christmas season!

Glimpses of Heaven




More true stories of the tender beauty of life's end

There is more to death than simply ceasing to live. In Glimpses of Heaven, retired hospice nurse Trudy Harris offered an intimate look at the final days and moments of terminally ill and dying people. Now she shares more of her stories and also stories from other medical and hospice professionals, allowing the veil to be drawn back on God's handiwork, while we are both living and dying.

If you have lost a loved one, are facing a terminal illness, or are simply curious about what happens when we pass from life to death, More Glimpses of Heaven offers you an even deeper insight into God's plan for our lives every day.

My thoughts: This was a book that really touched my heart, being able to get a peek in from a Christian nurse's perspective on the final days of the terminally ill. God is a Great God and just as He planned our entrance into this world He orchestrates our exit. This is a beautiful book, and I would highly recommend to a grieving family as a book of healing.

IN A HURRY TO REMARRY

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Something I just don't get, or will never understand! Why those who have gone through the train wreck of divorce would be in such a hurry to find another partner to get married to and not take the time to heal and recover from before getting into a new relationship, especially one that could lead to marriage. If there is one thing that I will preach until the day I die to divorced men and women it is that you have to give yourself time to heal, and recover, and you also have to be whole in Christ before you can be with anyone else! This is not a process you can RUSH! It is something that you have to do with Christ and allow Him to take His time to grow and stretch you into who He wants you to be. If you rush this process or skip it you will be missing out on countless blessings, and could potentially set yourself up for failure . . even another failed marriage. So take your time and enjoy getting to know yourself - as God has created you. It is a wonderful blessing!

Cresmont

Friday, November 12, 2010

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:


Crestmont

Star Publish (April 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Holly Weiss for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Holly Weiss is a vocal instructor, retired professional singer and a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing. A polio survivor, she lives in upstate New York with her husband. Crestmont is her first novel.


Visit the author's website.






Product Details:

List Price: $18.95
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Star Publish (April 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935188100
ISBN-13: 978-1935188100

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


En route to Eagles Mere

1925



People buzzed around the Allentown train station the next day, stopping only to check departure times or to collect their children and suitcases. Gracie bought her ticket, hurriedly counting the rest of the money in her purse. Selecting a magazine called Time from the newsstand next to the ticket counter she leafed through it, lingering over an article about President Coolidge.

“Watch it, Missy,” growled a man pushing a huge steamer trunk on a dolly. She jumped out of the way and hastily handed the vendor the money for the magazine and a Milky Way candy bar. Thinking she might feel less overwhelmed outside the station, she checked the board for the departing platform for the Wilkes-Barre train and dodged her way out of the terminal.

On the platform, people were crammed into each available seat, but quickly rose to board when the train to Philadelphia was announced. Gracie sat down alone, set her red suitcase between her legs, and wolfed down the candy bar. She glanced distractedly at the cover of the magazine, realizing she hated the news and politics, but instructed herself to read it on the train to Wilkes-Barre so she could be better informed.

Ducking her head nervously when people filtered in to catch the next train, Gracie spied a book someone had abandoned called Sister Carrie. Quickly, she snatched if off the bench and browsed through it. The main character was a girl who wanted to go to Chicago and be a famous actress. Excited now that she had a friend with a similar goal to keep her company; she put it in her suitcase just as the conductor called “All aboard!” Nervously climbing the steep steps onto the train, she settled into a brown leather seat and opened the Time magazine. She tried to read, but remorse gnawed at her concentration like a woodpecker hammering her skull.

“Ne-e-xt stop, Wilkes Ba-a-are.” Clutching her red suitcase, Gracie stepped off the train with an unsettling combination of anticipation and fear. After consulting a man in a maroon uniform with a name tag on his breast pocket, she found the east entrance of the train station where she was to meet the Crestmont car. The clock on the wall said 10:45. Sitting on a bench in the sun, she nervously paged through her magazine while she waited.

A huge black Buick Touring Car pulled up to the curb with “The Crestmont Inn” painted on the side in yellow letters. A spindly man in his mid twenties climbed out. He was impeccably dressed in gray and black pinstriped trousers and a gray jacket. Gracie guessed the yellow of his tie had been chosen to match the lettering on the car. He was so skinny that she giggled, imagining herself pushing him over with one finger. He had a very prominent Adam’s apple, a broad forehead and a face that narrowed into a pointy chin.

Waving to someone behind her on the tracks, he shouted, “Dorothy, still keeping those students of yours in line?” His wide smile made Gracie relax a bit.

Shyly, she stepped forward. “Hello, my name is Gracie Antes. Is this the shuttle to the Crestmont Inn?”

“You must be the new girl.” He stuck out a bony hand. “I’m PT, driver, bowling alley attendant and gofer for Mr. Woods, Crestmont’s owner. Hop in.”

“Well, I don’t know. I mean, my interview is this afternoon. Will we make it on time?”

“Yup.” Feeling like she had been given an order, Gracie slid into the middle seat of the car.

The generously proportioned middle-aged woman he had called Dorothy ran from the platform to the car, straw hat flopping, struggling with a suitcase and hatbox. She threw her free arm around PT and kissed him loudly on the cheek. “Oh, my word, if it isn’t PT. Isn’t it a long time between summers?” He stashed her suitcase in the trunk along with Gracie’s, and Dorothy slid into the passenger seat in the front.

A sickeningly sweet odor of roses filled the car. Gracie discretely wound her window down a few inches to let in some air.

“I nearly missed my trolley to the station. Dear me, I am just neither here nor there without my car. I need to pick it up next week, PT, so I’ll be shuttling back here with you. Hello, there, dear,” she said, extending a hand back to Gracie. “I’m Dorothy, one of the antique waitresses.”

“Pleased to meet you, ma’am. I’m Gracie Antes.”

“Oh, please don’t ma’am me. My students do it all year and it makes me feel old. I need my Crestmont summers to liven up these forty-five-year-old bones. Call me Dorothy. Whew, it certainly is hot enough. Oh look, there’s Isaiah and Olivia. Yoo-hoo!” She beckoned to them from the car window. “All aboard the Crestmont shuttle.”

A burly man with skin like coal and big apple cheeks protectively ushered a dainty woman with copper skin into the car. The woman’s elegance and quiet nature made Gracie like her immediately.

“Guess that’s it for this run,” PT said, starting the engine.

After they introduced themselves, Isaiah pounded Gracie on the back and said, “One big happy family, right, Olivia?” He drew the palm of his wife’s tiny hand to his lips and kissed it. Sniffing suspiciously, he wrinkled his nose. “Lord Almighty, Dorothy, I hate that roses stink stuff you wear. Don’t you bring that smell into my kitchen, hear?”

“It’s imported Ashes of Roses eau de cologne, Isaiah,” she corrected him. “It was Lawrence’s favorite, bless my dear husband’s soul, and as long as Sears carries it, I will continue to wear it. And as far as your kitchen goes, there are so many aromas floating about no one will notice a little perfume. Besides, Mrs. Swett loves it and says so each summer when she hands me a fine tip.”

“I don’t know how you can be so hotsy-totsy to those old biddies in the dining room. They act like they run the place instead of Mr. Woods. You are crazy to take those tables near the lakeside windows, Dorothy. Why, you have to deal with all three of them at once, plus two husbands. Who’s that one always feeling like she’s sick—Mrs. Pennyswoon?”

“Mrs. Pennington, Isaiah. Be kind, now,” Olivia said softly, with a slight accent Gracie couldn’t identify.

“First of all, Isaiah,” Dorothy instructed, “if you ever stepped out of your kitchen you would see that the west window tables afford a commanding view of the lake and are therefore reserved for our, shall we say, more faithful, well-to-do guests. Secondly, Mrs. Woods has graciously assigned them to me because she feels I have the maturity and skills to mitigate some of their outlandish behavior.”

“Hey, PT,” Isaiah chuckled, “translate, please.”

“Dorothy is good at keeping the Rude Regals in line, so Mrs. Woods gives her the tables where she gets really great tips.”

“Thanks, pal,” said Isaiah.

“Oh, my word, I simply am beside myself when I hear people call them the Rude Regals. They are people with problems, just like you and me. Mrs. Pennington’s ailments are an indication that she needs some attention. Miss Woodford simply feels she is of a higher station than anyone else. If I can show some special attention or give deference to make someone happy, then I will do it. Besides, I find it a challenge to use my people skills on a higher level with the adults at the Crestmont than with my elementary students.”

The more everyone else talked, the more Gracie knew it would take some doing to feel like she fit in. Her stomach grumbled, and she wished she had bought more than a candy bar for lunch. The clouds she watched from her window glided like wavy streamers in the sky. As they motored toward the Crestmont, her eyes got heavy. Realizing that she would need a lot more energy before the day was over; she turned her head toward the window and tried to sleep. “Dear God,” she prayed, “Please make this be all right. If I was wrong to do it, then turn it for good.”

After a long drive, PT slowed the car when they passed through stone pillars on either side of the Crestmont driveway. They ascended a steep hill to an immense three-story brown building with yellow awnings. PT parked the car. Gracie stood nervously by while the others grabbed their luggage and dashed off in a flash, saying, “See you soon!”

“Come on, I’ll show you to Mr. Woods’ office,” PT said, lifting Gracie’s suitcase out of the trunk. Gracie took in the immensity of the porch as they walked up the center steps. Once they were inside the striking lobby area, PT pointed to a huge grandfather clock. “That’s my favorite. Name’s Old Tim,” he explained. “Mrs. Woods’ father had it shipped from England when he built the place.”

Gracie’s heart started to flutter. Oh, honestly, what had she gotten herself into? She tried not to trip over her own feet.

PT knocked on an office door, flicked his eyes toward it and said, “They’re swell people. Good luck.”

“Come in!” called a high-pitched, authoritative male voice.


Looking for that SPECIAL Gift this Christmas

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you've ever seen Ron DiCianni's work you know how moving, and powerful it is.




Through fine art reproductions, Christian artwork, biblical prints, calendars, and books of the highest quality, TPI is ministering to families, individuals, and churches with the Gospel of Jesus Christ—a message that Christ lived, died that we may know redemption, and will return, and that this truth impacts our lives every day—all in visual form. Each work is of the highest artistic quality and skill but is intended for purposes far beyond decoration. Rather, every piece of exquisite art uses arguably the most powerful medium of communication—the visual—to tell the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, transcending cultures, languages, backgrounds, and denominations like no other form of media can.

TPI artist Ron DiCianni has focused his career for the past twenty years on the Gospel message. While some may not immediately recognize the name, they do recognize his art. Others see his awe-inspiring pieces and are surprised that they have not encountered them before. The powerful images evoke so great an emotion that those who view DiCianni’s pieces do not simply want a reproduction; they suddenly recognize that they need it in order to share with others. Tapestry believes that a print sold is a life touched and their goal is to create an awareness of their art so that more lives can be touched by the Gospel message.

Visit the TPI website and find a gift for Christmas that is not only beautiful but has meaning behind it.

Inspired

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Amy Inspired
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
by
Bethany Pierce




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



After completing a master's in Creative Writing and working as a visiting instructor at Miami University in Ohio, Bethany Pierce now lives with her husband in Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is a member of the McGuffey Art Center and continues to write. Her first book, Feeling for Bones, was one of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2007.



ABOUT THE BOOK



With rejections piling up, she could use just a little inspiration...



Amy Gallagher is an aspiring writer who, after countless rejections, has settled for a career as an English professor in small-town Ohio just to pay the bills. All her dreams suddenly start to unravel as rejections pile up--both from publishers and her boyfriend.



But just as Amy fears her life is stuck in a holding pattern, she meets the mysterious, attractive, and unavailable Eli. She struggles to walk the fine line between friendship and something more with Eli, even as staying true to her faith becomes unexpectedly complicated.



When secrets, tragedy, and poor decisions cause rifts in Amy's relationships, she must come to terms with who she's become, her unrealized aspirations for her life, and the state of her faith. Can she dare to hope that she will find love and fulfillment despite it all?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Amy Inspired, go HERE.

Hatteras

Monday, November 8, 2010

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hatteras Girl
Bethany House; Original edition (October 1, 2010)
by
Alice Wisler




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Alice J. Wisler is an author, public speaker, advocate, and fundraiser. She has been a guest on several radio and TV programs to promote her self-published cookbooks, Slices of Sunlight and Down the Cereal Aisle. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University and has traveled the country in jobs that minister to people. Alice was raised in Japan and currently resides in Durham, North Carolina.



Facts about Alice

* Born in Osaka, Japan and lived in Japan for 18 years

* Went to Kyoto International School and Canadian Academy

* Majored in Social Work and graduated in 1983 from Eastern Mennonite University

* Worked at a group home for disadvantaged kids outside of Philadelphia

* Taught English and Culture Orientation at a refugee camp in the Philippines

* Taught English as a Second Language in Japan

* Speaks and teaches on Writing the Heartache

* Has three kids on earth, and one in Heaven

* Recently got married to Carl on 2/7/09



ABOUT THE BOOK



There are two things twenty-nine-year-old Jackie Donovan asks God for: an honest, wonderful man to marry, and to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Outer Banks region. In the meantime, Jackie works for Lighthouse Views magazine, writing articles about other local business owners, and intrepidly goes on the blind dates set up by her well-meaning but oh-so-clueless relatives.



There's one specific property Jackie dreams of purchasing: the Bailey Place, a fabulous old home where Jackie spent many happy childhood afternoons, a place that has now fallen into disrepair because of its outrageous price tag.



When Jackie meets handsome Davis Erickson, who holds the key to the Bailey Place, Jackie is sure God has answered both her prayers. But as Jackie learns some disturbing details about Davis's past, she begins to question her own motivation. Will she risk her long-held dreams to find out the truth?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Hatteras Girl, go HERE.

10 Hrs

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:


10 Hours to Live: A True Story of Healing and Supernatural Living

Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brian Wills is an author, missionary, conference speaker, and former tennis pro, best known for his miraculous healing from a rare, deadly cancer known as Burkitt’s Lymphoma. He is the first and only person to date to survive the disease after being diagnosed in its advanced stages; he went on to compete on the pro tennis circuit, and later serve as a national coach and executive director for the U. S. Tennis Association. He and his wife, Beth, founded Healing For the Nations and currently serve as missionaries. The Wills’s have four children and live near Richmond, Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742433
ISBN-13: 978-1603742436

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



CHAPTER ONE


Two-Minute Warning


My hand was moist on the racquet as I slammed an ace across the net and watched my opponent scramble, almost tripping as he missed the ball. At twenty-two, I had almost sixteen years of experience on the tennis court. My serve proved they were years well spent. So did the record I held when I graduated from Drury University: 121 wins—more than any other player in the school’s history at that time. Now, as the assistant coach at the University of Richmond, I was training hard for my upcoming trip to Europe, where I would play on the professional satellite circuit.


Perspiration matted my shirt to my back as I sprinted to hit a backhand across the net. In mid-stride, I caught my breath as something like liquid fire snaked across my abdomen. Sweat dotted my upper lip, not from exertion, but from the mind-numbing pain that seared me, licking my insides to a slow burn. I faltered—my steps unsteady, and my hand trembling on the racquet. Gritting my teeth, I decided to take a break and sat in the locker room with my head in my hands. What’s happening to me?


My doctor had said the occasional bouts of pain were the result of overtraining, so I’d cut back on my training schedule. I made sure I got plenty of rest and ate well. But it didn’t help. When I least expected it, the fire still roared to life and caught my breath away. Since the pain was in my lower abdomen, close to my bladder, I’d gone to see a urologist.


"It must be in your head," he’d said, dismissing me.


He was wrong. He had to be. There was nothing psychological about the pain that drove me off the court that day. Thankfully, when the pain left my body, it disappeared from my mind. Weeks passed in a blur of activity as I prepared for my flight to Europe. This would be the fulfillment of a lifetime of dreaming and training. I refused to let it be marred by the sudden flames of fire.


Sidelined


My flight was scheduled to depart on Super Bowl Sunday, the last Sunday in January 1987. That week, snow fell in piles so deep that the world looked like it had been iced with a thick layer of whipped topping. I waded out into the snow and let my shovel slice through the drifts that covered the driveway. Bundled against the freezing wind, I worked up a sweat, and, by the time I’d finished clearing away the snow, my back ached, strained by the repetitive work. I fell into an exhausted sleep Friday night but woke around midnight with chills, fever, and pain. Saturday morning, I went to see my family doctor.


"Your blood count is alarming," he said, frowning. "I’m going to admit you to the hospital for further tests."


"But my flight leaves tomorrow!"


It appeared that I would not be on it. My family rallied around me at the hospital. "Nothing’s changed except the date you leave," they assured me. "We’ll reschedule your flight."


After being admitted to Chippenham Hospital in Richmond, Virginia, I curled up in a fetal position on the bed in my private room and clenched my jaw against the unrelenting back pain. Outside, snow and ice covered the parking lot. Inside, I shook with chills, despite the warmth of the room. My stomach felt full and distended.


Over the next nine days, I suffered through a sigmoidoscopy, a CT scan, a needle biopsy, and multiple blood tests. I was stunned when the tests revealed that my right kidney had stopped working. No wonder my back was hurting! The pain hadn’t come from shoveling snow or my training schedule.


"You may have a kidney stone," the doctor said, hazarding a guess.


Each day, family and friends showed up at the hospital to encourage me. At night, when they all went home, and the hustle and bustle of the hospital dimmed with the lights, I lay in bed and pondered my situation. I was a twenty-two-year-old athlete in excellent physical condition. It couldn’t be anything serious.


Could it?


The Sentence


On February 6, the ninth day of my hospitalization, my parents, brother, sister, aunt, and uncle were in my room laughing and telling stories when my doctor arrived.


"I have some really bad news," he said, sorrow dimming his kind eyes. "Brian has a mass in his abdomen the size of a golf ball, which has been diagnosed as Burkitt’s lymphoma, a rare, fatal disease usually found in African children. It progresses very quickly, and there are only three hospitals in the world that treat it. I’m trying to get you into the closest one: the National Institute of Health, NIH, in Bethesda, Maryland."


We must have looked as baffled as we felt.


"Do you have any questions?" the doctor probed.


We couldn’t think of a thing to say except that we wanted to go home for the weekend and pray.


"That’s fine," the doctor said, "but I must warn you—this is a very fast-growing tumor. It’s been known to kill children in a day."


Taking a Stand


The doctor’s words hung over the room like a death sentence long after he’d gone. The once-smiling faces of my family members looked stricken. I reeled inside, trying to regain my bearings. How could I have a serious illness? I was young and healthy. My whole life stretched before me like a promise.


Some of my family already understood what I had yet to grasp: the tumor was malignant, and I was fighting for my life. I’d been hit hard by a foe called Burkitt’s lymphoma.


Our family’s quick response to go home for the weekend to pray came as no surprise. We’d always been a close Christian family. Just as my father and grandfather had passed their love of sports down to me, my parents had passed down to us kids a spiritual heritage. They had lived their faith in front of us; they weren’t ashamed to let it show. I’d grown up attending the local church and traipsing along with them when they made hospital and nursing home visits. My parents also ministered to young people, and it wasn’t unusual for groups of up to forty of them to gather at our house, worshipping God until the wee hours of the morning.


The gospel I’d witnessed since I was a child was not a weak one. I had attended healing services, and I’d seen blind eyes opened. I’d witnessed deaf ears hear again. I’d seen polio victims completely healed. I’d been instantly healed of many childhood injuries, and my parents had dug into spiritual healing a few years before when my mother had been diagnosed with allergies. Later, my father received a diagnosis of cancer. Through it all, we learned that God’s Word, written in the Bible, was alive and powerful. We’d also learned the power of our own words. By believing God and confessing His Word over their situations, both of my parents had been healed.


I didn’t know what Burkitt’s lymphoma was, but healing had always come easy for me. I left the hospital ready to receive a miracle.


At home that weekend, as I tried to sleep, I realized that what my doctor had said was true: I was running out of time. Lying on my side, I could see the cancerous mass—now much larger than a golf ball—move as I turned.


Open Doors


While I was trying to receive my healing, my doctor was doing everything possible to get me into the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He was told that there was a six-month wait.


A few months earlier, my doctor had attended a medical conference. During the conference, a physician sitting beside him had introduced himself and given my doctor his card. "I’m at the National Institute of Health," he’d said. "If you run across someone with a very fast-growing cancer, like Burkitt’s lymphoma, give me a call. That’s my specialty."


On Monday, my doctor called this man, and every door to the NIH swung open for us.


On Tuesday, my parents drove me to Maryland for a consultation. The National Institute of Health was an impressive complex of distinguished-looking buildings housing the newest technology, as well as personnel doing cutting-edge research. By the time we arrived, the pain was so severe I couldn’t walk; my family carried me inside.


Ushered into a small room, I was examined by Dr. Young, one of the world’s leading authorities on Burkitt’s lymphoma. Afterward, he shook his head. "I don’t think there’s anything I can do for you," he said. "You’re too far gone."


Too far gone?


Beaten at the Game of Life


The tumor that had been the size of a golf ball on Friday now measured almost ten inches in diameter. The cancer had spread to my lungs, liver, and most of the organs of my body. "Today is Tuesday, and your son won’t be alive by Friday," the doctor explained to my parents. "I’ll admit him to the hospital and keep him as comfortable as possible." He stepped out of the room to make the necessary arrangements.


I felt like I’d been shoved over a precipice and was hurtling toward destruction at breakneck speed. I didn’t know how to stop my fall. My life had spiraled out of control.


It was my mother’s words that slowed my descent and set me on solid ground again. "No, God’s Word says that by Jesus’ stripes, Brian is healed. ‘Let God be true, and every man a liar.’" (See Isaiah 53:5 kjv; Romans 3:4 niv.)


"Let God be true, and every man a liar," we all agreed.


"We’re going to make our stand right now and believe God, no matter what the doctors say," she announced.


In my mind’s eye, I saw a football game in progress. One team was whipping the other when I heard a two-minute warning. I realized that, so far, my team was being beaten by Burkitt’s lymphoma, and there was a two-minute warning in my life. The game wasn’t over yet, but I knew that without a miracle, I would never make it out of the hospital alive.



A Perfect Blend

Friday, November 5, 2010

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Perfect Blend

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2010)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Trish Perry is an award-winning writer and editor of Ink and the Spirit, a quarterly newsletter of the Capital Christian Writers organization in the Washington DC area. She has published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media, and she is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group.


Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736930159
ISBN-13: 978-0736930154

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



Steph Vandergrift was jilted in a truly beautiful place.

She focused on her surroundings so she wouldn’t break down and openly sob in front of people passing her on their way to work. Eyes blinking and chin quivering, she desperately sought distraction in the old stone buildings, lush spring greenery, and fragrant wisteria and lavender from the well-tended landscape nearby.

Rick told her she would love Middleburg, one of the most charming little towns in northern Virginia. When he proposed—

She breathed deeply against the urge to wail as if she were at an ancient European funeral.

When Rick proposed, he said she would even love his law firm’s stately, historic building. This was where she sat now, her dark bangs in her eyes. Despite the warm spring air, she huddled outside on the front steps, certain her brain—or surely her heart—would burst if she didn’t stop and collect herself.

A sudden leave of absence. That’s what the receptionist told her. Rick had taken a sudden leave of absence. And Steph knew she was whom he had suddenly left.

She swallowed hard. She stood and dusted off her short flared skirt in an attempt to look nonchalant while she sized up her situation. Where was she going to go? Where? She wiped away a tear, but another one swiftly took its place. She needed to not do this here, in the middle of this quaint old town.

God, what do I do now? Please tell me.

Distraction. She needed another distraction right now.

Across the street a middle-aged woman stepped out the front door of a small building, the white-painted stone of which was gorgeously weathered. She bent to lift a watering can, and her loose blond curls fell forward. She tended to the flower boxes that hung, moss-laden, from green-shuttered front windows. Then she seemed to sense someone watching her. She turned around and smiled at Steph before calling out to her.

“Good morning, dear. Are you all right over there?”

Steph took a few steps away from Rick’s building and tried to look purposeful. She managed to say, “Yes, I—” before her throat seized and then released a torrent of weeping and incoherent babbling.

So much for her stoic resolve.

Within seconds the woman was across the street and at Steph’s side. She smelled like vanilla and strawberries.

“You poor girl. Whatever is the matter?”

Steph tried to speak between heaving sobs. “…were s’posed to elope…left everything…job, family, friends…he’s not here…leave of absence…what…gonna do?” And then full-on wailing obliterated any further at-tempts at communication.

The woman enveloped Steph with her free arm, the other still holding the watering can, and steered her toward the little stone house across the street.

“You just come with me this instant. You mustn’t stand out here all alone like this.”

Yes. That was it. She was all alone. Rick had lured her away from everyone she loved. Everything she knew. She had left them all to marry him. It seemed like such a romantic notion, to elope after her parents had expressed their disapproval of Rick. And then what did the dirtbag do but desert her here?

The enticing smell of fresh-baked bread wafted all around them when they entered the little shop. Despite her anguish Steph sensed a rumble in her stomach. She thought she must be more beast than damsel to actually harbor hope for a pastry or two in the middle of this catastrophe.

“You have a seat right there.” The woman coaxed her into a wicker chair at one of the lace-covered tables in the dining area. “What you need is a nice, soothing cup of chamomile. Just give me a moment.” Before she went too far away, she stepped back to the table and placed a box of tissues within Steph’s reach.

Once Steph was alone again, reality descended. What was she going to do? Granted, she hadn’t walked out on a stellar career. She could get another job selling men’s suits in just about any department store, she supposed. But she didn’t know anyone here in Middleburg. Should she hang her head and drag herself back home to Baltimore? Why had she made such a scene before leaving? She hadn’t quietly sneaked away. No, she had to pull an all-out, in-your-face confrontation with her parents. A dramatic disconnect with her friends and roommates. And all of them had simply been trying to save her from exactly what just happened.

As she had always feared, her judgment was completely whacked. She had forgotten plans for any long-term career once she and Rick became serious. She thought she would spend the rest of her life married to an up-and-coming real estate attorney and raise their two perfect children and faithful dog in this adorable, classy town. Why had she believed that would happen simply because Rick said it would?

“Here we go, dear.”

It finally dawned on Steph that the woman had a faint accent. British? That would fit with this cute little shop, with its delicately flowered wall-paper and elegant china cabinets. The small, framed paintings hanging here and there looked like scenes of the British countryside.

The woman set a serving tray on the table and placed each item in front of Steph. A white porcelain china pot, painted with miniature violets, from which she poured tea into a delicate rose-covered cup and saucer. A plate with a couple of triangular biscuits on it. They smelled like butter and sweetness. And two dainty bowls: one holding strawberry preserves, and the other holding what looked like sour cream.

Steph realized she was able to stop crying as long as she stopped focusing on herself for a moment. She looked up and pressed a tissue against her nose. “Thank you so much. You didn’t have to—”

“No need for that. Go on, now.” The woman gestured at the food and tea and sat down across from Steph. Her gentle blue eyes reminded Steph of her mother during better times. “You’ll feel better if you have a bit to eat and some nice, relaxing tea.”

As soon as Steph lifted one of the biscuits, the woman said, “I’m Millicent Ashford Jewell. Everyone calls me Milly.”

“Steph.” She spoke around an absolutely delicious bite. She rubbed crumbs from her fingers and shook Milly’s hand. “Steph Vandergrift. Thank you for being so kind.”

Milly smiled and put a spoon of the cream on Steph’s plate for her. “Clotted cream. One of God’s great gifts, in my opinion. Marvelous on the scones.”

Clotted cream. Now that sounded downright nasty. But Steph was a self-admitted people pleaser, and she had never been one to ignore God’s great gifts. So she put a little of the cream on her next bite of scone. And then nearly moaned, it was so fantastic.

“But that’s just really thick whipped cream!”

Milly said, “I think you like it, right?”

“I love it.”

Milly stood. “I have a few matters to tend to in the kitchen. Feel free to walk back and get me if you need me. We don’t stand on ceremony around here.”

The shop door opened as Steph swallowed a sip of tea. She followed Milly’s delighted gaze toward the door and took another nibble of scone. Mmm. “Absolutely yummy.”

A crooked smile spread across the face of the young man who walked through the door. He looked directly at Steph and acted as if her comment were all about him. With a lift of his eyebrows and a tilt of the head, he said, “Well, thank you very much.”

Milly laughed and approached him. They hugged each other.

“Welcome back, stranger,” Milly said. “How was vacation?”

Steph didn’t pay much attention to their conversation after that. The man seemed to be in a hurry, which was fine by her. Otherwise she feared Milly might want to introduce them. She’d rather a man that attractive not look at her too closely right now.

Steph watched his warm brown eyes, which never seemed to lose their smile. She noticed he never once messed with his short, tousled blond hair or fussed with anything else about his looks. Yet, when he walked with Milly toward the kitchen, Steph saw how perfectly, yet casually, he was dressed and groomed.

Her heart was broken, thanks to Rick’s wimpy, childish retreat from her life. But Milly’s chamomile tea and warm scones made her feel a little better. And despite her circumstances and the many question marks in her immediate future, she was still able to appreciate a good-looking man. She leaned sideways to watch him at the kitchen door until he disappeared from view. He and Milly were out of earshot, so Steph surprised only herself when she whispered it again.

“Absolutely yummy.”



Great cozy book! I really enjoyed this one! A definite must read!

Grace

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Grace
Avon Inspire; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
by
Shelley Shepard Gray






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







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







ABOUT THE BOOK

It's Christmastime at the Brenneman Bed & Breakfast, and everyone is excited about closing down for the holiday.



Anna and Henry will be celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple, and for Katie and Jonathan Lundy, it's their first Christmas with baby Stefan. Winnie and Samuel Miller plan to stop by as well for a wonderful two weeks of family and rest.



But when two unexpected visitors show up, hoping to stay for Christmas, the family must test their commitment to hospitality. Levi is a widower who lost his wife four years ago and can't bear the thought of another Christmas alone. And Melody is a young pregnant woman who won't open up about how she ended up on her own at Christmas at almost nine months pregnant.



Anna, who knows a thing or two about keeping secrets, doesn't trust her, and strives to find out the truth about these two strangers who have disrupted their holiday. But as the Christmas spirit descends on them all, as well as snow that traps them in the inn, a healing and hopefulness takes over, allowing new relationships to be built, and the boundaries of family to be extended.



If you'd like to read the first chapter of Grace, go HERE.

Everything Christmas

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

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 authors are:


and the book:


Everything Christmas

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:


David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters, LLC, a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the 101 Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030772929X
ISBN-13: 978-0307729293

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



December 1


Let Us Keep Christmas

Grace Noll Crowell

Whatever else be lost among the years,

Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;

Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,

Let us hold close one day, remembering

It’s poignant meaning for the hearts of men.

Let us get back our childlike faith again.




The History of Christmas

Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The twelve days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, gift giving, carnivals, carolers going from house to house, holiday feasts, even church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians. These traditions were passed down throughout the known world and were popular in Rome long before the birth of Christ.

Most historians say that some three centuries after the birth of Christ, Christianity was spreading rapidly. Church leaders were alarmed that their converts continued to honor the ancient celebrations honoring pagan gods. Early Christians had chosen to keep the birth of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, without merriment. For centuries they had forbidden their members to take part in those ancient celebrations. But now it seemed it was a losing battle. As a compromise, they agreed to allow their members to partake in a demure and respectful celebration of the birth of Christ. Thus, the Christian celebration we know as Christmas was born in Rome, near the date 336 AD.

The actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, so the early Christians chose December 25, probably to compete with the wildly popular Roman festival of Saturnalia. Eventually, most of the customs from the festival of Saturnalia were adopted into the celebration of Christmas and given new and sacred meanings.

Today, Christmas is both a holiday and a holy day. In America, it is the biggest event of the year, celebrated by people of all ages.




Christmas Every Day

William Dean Howells

The little girl came into her papa’s study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

“Well, once there was a little pig—”

She stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

“Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?”

“About Christmas. It’s getting to be the season.”

“Well!” Her papa roused himself. “Then I’ll tell you about the little girl that wanted it Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?”

“First-rate!” said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

“Very well, then, this little pig—Oh, what are you pounding me for?”

“Because you said little pig instead of little girl.”

“I should like to know what’s the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted Christmas every day!”

“Papa!” said the little girl warningly. At this her papa began to tell the story.

Once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year, and as soon as Thanksgiving was over she began to send postcards to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn’t have it. But the old Fairy never answered, and after a while the little girl found out that the Fairy wouldn’t notice anything but real letters sealed outside with a monogram—or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send letters, and just the day before Christmas, she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having it longer.

The little girl was excited already, preparing for the old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day. So she resolved to keep the Fairy’s promise to herself and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true, but then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus fill the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents. Then she waited until the rest of the family was up, and she burst into the library to look at the large presents laid out on the library table—books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs, and inkstands, and skates, and photograph frames, and boxes of watercolors, and dolls’ houses—and the big Christmas tree, lighted and standing in the middle.

She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she did not want any breakfast, and the whole forenoon the presents kept pouring in that had not been delivered the night before, and she went round giving the presents she had got for other people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache crying, and her papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of fool’s paradise another year, and they had a light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

The little girl slept very heavily and very late, but she was wakened at last by the other children dancing around her bed with their stockings full of presents in their hands. “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” they all shouted.

“Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday,” said the little girl, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

Her brothers and sisters just laughed. “We don’t know about that. It’s Christmas today, anyway. You come into the library and see.”

Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and so on.

There was the Christmas tree blazing away, and the family picking out their presents, and her father looking perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. “I’m sure I don’t see how I’m to dispose of all these things,” said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of a joke, and so she ate so much candy she didn’t want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache, crying.

Now, the next day, it was the same thing over again, but everybody getting crosser, and at the end of a week’s time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else’s, and it made the most dreadful mix.

The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself, she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn’t dare to, and she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred. So it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine’s Day and Washington’s Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn’t skip even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was some little relief.

After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries—well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn’t get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful!

After it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn’t even cry anymore.

And now it was on the Fourth of July! On the Fourth of July, the first boy in the United States woke up and found out that his firecrackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks. Before ten o’clock every boy in the United States discovered that his July Fourth things had turned into Christmas things and was so mad. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration of Independence, instead of saying, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary,” he was sure to sing, “God rest you merry gentlemen.” It was perfectly awful.

About the beginning of October the little girl took to sitting down on dolls wherever she found them—she hated the sight of them so, and by Thanksgiving she just slammed her presents across the room. By that time people didn’t carry presents around nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window, and, instead of taking great pains to write “For dear Papa,” or “Mama “ or “Brother,” or “Sister,” they used to write, “Take it, you horrid old thing!” and then go and bang it against the front door.

Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk or they would arrest them.

Before Thanksgiving came it had leaked out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had talked about it in her sleep, and after that hardly anybody would play with her, because if it had not been for her greediness it wouldn’t have happened. And now, when it came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been eaten for her old Christmas dinners and if she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. And the very next day the little girl began sending letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it. But it didn’t do any good, and then she got to calling at the Fairy’s house, but the girl that came to the door always said, “Not at home,” or “Engaged,” or something like that, and so it went on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning—

“She found it was all nothing but a dream,” suggested the little girl.

“No indeed!” said her papa. “It was all every bit true!”

“What did she find out, then?”

“Why, that it wasn’t Christmas at last, and wasn’t ever going to be, anymore. Now it’s time for breakfast.”

The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

“You shan’t go if you’re going to leave it so!”

“How do you want it left?”

“Christmas once a year.”

“All right,” said her papa, and he went on again.

Well, with no Christmas ever again, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country. People met together everywhere and kissed and cried for joy. Carts went around and gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river, and it made the fish perfectly sick. And the whole United States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were burning up their presents of all kinds. They had the greatest time!

The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she hoped the Fairy would keep her promise and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy frowned, and said that now the little girl was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she’d better look out. This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a thousand years, and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten, and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she was agreed. Then the little girl said, “What’re your shoes made of?” And the Fairy said, “Leather.” And the little girl said, “Bargain’s done forever,” and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home, she was so glad.

“How will that do?” asked the papa.

“First-rate!” said the little girl, but she hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

“Are you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that child?”

“Oh, just a tale with a moral.”

The little girl caught him around the neck again.

“We know! Don’t you tell what, papa! Don’t you tell what!”



William Dean Howells (1837—1920) Best known as an editor and critic, this American fiction writer produced more than forty novels and story collections. He challenged American authors to choose American subjects, portray them honestly, and create characters who use native-American speech. As a critic, he helped to introduce writers like Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, and Stephen Crane to American readers.




What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past,

courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow

with blessings rich and eternal, and that

every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo




Scented Applesauce-Cinnamon

Ornaments



3 cups applesauce

3 cups ground cinnamon



Mix applesauce and cinnamon together until it is thick enough to hold a form. Flatten the mixture on a flat surface and cut into cookie-cutter shapes.

Place cookie shapes on a cookie sheet to dry for 3 to 4 days depending on the size and thickness of the cookies. If using as a hanging ornament, make a hole with a toothpick before drying.

Makes 15 ornaments.




Chestnut Dressing

8 Tbsp. butter

3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

16 ounces chestnuts

1 large chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 pound sourdough bread, cubed

3 cups turkey stock



Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut a deep X into the flattest side of each chestnut and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until outer skin of chestnut splits. Wrap roasted chestnuts in a towel to keep warm. Peel off the tough outer skin of the chestnut and thinner inner skin with a sharp knife. Chop the chestnuts coarsely and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Empty skillet contents into a large bowl. Add cubed bread, parsley, and enough stock to moisten the mix, about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in chestnuts and add salt and pepper to taste.

Use to stuff poultry or place in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with 1/2 cup more stock, and bake 30 minutes to an hour.

Makes 10–11 cups.




Roasted Goose

1 goose, 10–12 pounds

1 orange, halved

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For giblet stock (used in gravy):

2 onions, quartered

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 pints of water

2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (to thicken)



The goose should be defrosted and left at room temperature for at least 2 or 3 hours before cooking to bring it to equilibrium. This will improve the overall texture of the finished product. Remove the giblets from the goose and set aside. Wash the bird thoroughly inside and out with cool water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut away any loose pieces of fat. Then rub the orange inside and outside of the bird. Mix the salt and pepper and rub into the skin and inside the cavity of the bird to season it.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Truss the bird by folding the wings back under the body. Then tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Lightly prick the skin of the bird several times with a fork to allow the fat to adequately render during the cooking process. It is important not to pierce the flesh of the bird. Place the goose breast-side up on a rack in the roasting pan, and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes to develop some initial color. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking for approximately 3 hours.

Make a simple giblet stock to fortify and enrich the gravy while the goose is roasting by placing the giblets in a saucepan with some goose fat and cooking over low heat until browned. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about one hour. Strain and cool until needed.

The goose is done when the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 175°F. For a visual test to see if the goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. If not, then return to the oven for additional roasting time.

Once the goose is cooked, allow it to rest for 20–30 minutes. This will allow the meat to firm up and will help retain the juiciness of the bird. Remove all of the drippings from the roasting pan, strain, and remove the fat. Add these defatted drippings to the giblet broth and season to taste. To thicken the gravy, combine 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. of water and add to the gravy. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1–2 minutes or until thickened.




O Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks



O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,

And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child,

Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;

Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,

The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!



Historical Note:

On Christmas Eve, 1865, Phillips Brooks was in Jerusalem, a trip intended to inspire spiritual rebirth after the horrors of the Civil War. Just a few months earlier, he had spoken at the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln. That clear night as he walked the streets of the Holy City, he had a sudden inspiration. Renting a horse, he set out for Bethlehem. After a solitary journey under the clear night sky, Brooks reached the tiny, remote village and was surrounded by the spirit of the first Christmas. His impoverished soul was refreshed as he considered what had happened there so many years before. Three years later on Christmas Eve, 1868, as he sat alone in his study preparing his sermon for the next day, he felt inspired to pen the words to this beautiful carol.




I, the Lord All-Powerful,

will send my messenger

to prepare the way for me.

Then suddenly the Lord

you are looking for

will appear in his temple.

The messenger you desire

is coming with my promise,

and he is on his way.

(Malachi 3:1, cev)

 
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