The American Trucker & The American Driver

Thursday, August 30, 2012


My husband is a professional driver. In the almost two years we've been together I've gone out on the road with him 3 times. The department of transportation governs these guys TO DEATH! They are allowed to drive 11 hours and be off 10. They can only drive a total of 70 hours and then be off 34 to reset their 70. We rely on them to bring us numerous things. They haul everything from our fuel, frozen goods, to the clothes we wear. YET . . . those of us who drive around can go anywhere we want, drive as long as we want, and the DOT could care less, and it's not the professional driver who causes accidents by texting, eating, or not paying attention it's US the all American driver. Seems a little backward to me that the ones who have the safest record are policed, not the ones who cause the issue.

For example . . . he had a weekend haul last weekend. I went with him, he didn't have the hours to actually make it all the way to California from Idaho and back. We ended up stopping in Nevada mid-afternoon to take 10 hours off, so his clock would reset at midnight, he got up at 3 am and drove us into Idaho. We got in at 9:30 Tuesday morning. He then took off until 5 am this morning, Thursday, to reset his 70 hr clock. It's a crazy numbers game.

Remember . . . as a car you can zip in and out of traffic those big guys can't. So, when there is road construction get over, 2 or 3 minutes aren't going to get you there any faster. It takes them longer to get up to highway speed, especially if their loaded. Try and remember that the next time you see one of them on the road.

Preview: A Duke's Promise

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Duke's Promise
B&H Books (September 1, 2012)
by
Jamie Carie




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



As Jamie’s relationship with God grew, she discovered her heart was filled with songs and poetry. During high school she wrote lyrics for her brother’s band. (And she sang them too!) After college, Jamie married, had two sons and decided to stay home with them. While she homeschooled she wrote skits, poems, plays and short stories for school and church.

When her eldest son turned five she dove into the world of novels. She’d read romance novels for years, but couldn’t relate to the flawless, saintly heroines in Christian romance novels. So she decided to write her own.



Snow Angel was born on a frosty night in an old farmhouse in Fishers, Indiana, where the cold floor gave plenty of motivation for the snow scene. Jamie loves to write late at night when the house is quiet and the darkness seems alive. Elizabeth and Noah had been playacting in her head for a long time, so the story went fast.

Ten years later Snow Angel was published and won the ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, was a National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and a 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. It was the beginning of her dream career.



Jamie and her husband Tony have been married for twenty-one years and live in Indianapolis with their three sons and a giant of a dog named Leo.



If she could only say one thing to her readers it would be, “Live the dreams God has destined you for!”



ABOUT THE BOOK



From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen -- Italy and the marble caves of Carrara -- but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.



Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other -- a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.



If you would like to read the first chapter of A Duke's Promise, go HERE.

Sadly this book has not arrived. I will post a review when I receive it, and have it read.

Preview: House of Mercy

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




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









Today's Wild Card author is:







and the book:





Thomas Nelson (August 7, 2012)




***Special thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Erin Healy is an award-winning fiction editor who has worked with talented novelists such as James Scott Bell, Melody Carlson, Colleen Coble, Brandilyn Collins, Traci DePree, L. B. Graham, Rene Gutteridge, Michelle McKinney Hammond, Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hildreth, Denise Hunter, Randy Ingermanson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Bryan Litfin, Frank Peretti, Lisa Samson, Randy Singer, Robert Whitlow, and many others.



She began working with Ted Dekker in 2002 and edited twelve of his heart-pounding stories before their collaboration on Kiss, the first novel to seat her on "the other side of the desk."

Erin is the owner of WordWright Editorial Services, a consulting firm specializing in fiction book development. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Academy of Christian Editors. She lives with her family in Colorado.







Visit the author's website.





SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Beth has a gift of healing-which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family run their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father's dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision for Beth to destroy it all.



Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. But the repercussions grow more unbearable-a lawsuit, a death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth's only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help. Confused, grieving, but determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild, unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.



Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of God's goodness and mercy.



Genre: Christian Fiction | Suspense





Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

Paperback: 284 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Language: English

ISBN-10: 140168551X

ISBN-13: 9781401685515





AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



























Chapter 1


It wasn’t every day that an old saddle could improve a
horse’s life.


That was what Beth Borzoi was thinking as she stood in the
dusty tack room that smelled like her favorite pair of leather boots. In the
back corner where the splintering-wood walls met, she tugged the faded leather
saddle off the bottommost rung of the heavy-duty rack, where it had sat, unused
and forgotten, for years.


Her little brother, Danny, would have said she was stealing
the saddle. He might have called her a kleptomaniac. That was too strong a
word, but Danny was fifteen and liked to throw bold words around, cocky-like,
show-off rodeo ropes aimed at snagging people. She loved that about him. It was
a cute phase. Even so, she had formed a mental argument against the characterization
of her- self as a thief, in case she needed to use it, because Danny was too
young to understand the true meaning of even stronger words like sacrifice or
situational ethics.


After all, she was working in secret, in the hidden folds of
a summer night, so that both she and the saddle could leave the Blazing B
unnoticed. In the wrong light, it might look like a theft.


The truth was, it was not her saddle to give away. It was
Jacob’s saddle, though in the fifteen years Jacob had lived at the ranch, she had
never seen him use it. The bigger truth was that this saddle abandoned to
tarnish and sawdust could be put to better use. The fenders were plated with
silver, pure metal that could be melted down and converted into money to save a
horse from suffering. Decorative silver bordered the round skirt and framed the
rear housing. The precious metal had been hammered to conform to the gentle
rise of the cantle in the back and the swell in the front. The lovely round
conchos were studded with turquoise. Hand-tooled impressions of wild mountain f
lowers covered the leather everywhere that silver didn’t.


In its day, it must have been a fine show saddle. And if
Jacob valued that at all, he wouldn’t have stored it like this.


Under the naked-bulb beams of the tack room, Beth’s body
cast a shadow over the pretty piece as she hefted it. She blew the dirt and
dander off the horn, swiped off the cracked seat with the flat of her hand,
then turned away her head and sneezed. Colorado’s dry climate had not been kind
to the leather.


She wasn’t stealing. She was saving an animal’s life.


The latch on the barn door released Beth to the midnight air
with a click like a stolen kiss. The saddle weighed about thirty-five pounds,
which was easy to manage when snatching it off a rack and tossing it onto a
horse’s back. But it would feel much heavier by the time she reached her
destination. She’d parked her truck a ways off where the rumbling old clunker
wouldn’t raise questions or family members sleeping in the nearby ranch house.
She’d left her dog at the foot of Danny’s bed with clear orders to stay. She
hoped the animal would mind.


Energized, she crossed the horses’ yard. A few of them
nickered greetings at her, including Hastings, who nuzzled her empty pockets
for treats. The horses never slept in the barn’s stalls unless they were sick.
Even in winter they stayed in the pasture, preferring the outdoor lean-to
shelters.


The Blazing B, a 6,500-acre working cattle ranch, lay to the
northwest of Colorado’s San Luis Valley. The region was called a valley because
this portion of the state was a Rocky Mountain ham- mock that swung between the
San Juans to the west and the Sangre de Cristos to the east. But at more than
seven thousand feet, it was no low-lying flatland. It was, in fact, the highest
alpine valley in the world. And it was the only place in the world that Beth
ever wanted to live. Having graduated from the local community college with
honors and saved enough additional money for her continuing education, she
planned to leave in the fall to begin her first year of veterinary school. She
would be gone as long as it took to earn her license, but her long-term plan
was to return as a more valuable person. Her skills would save the family
thousands of dollars every year, freeing up funds for their most important
task—providing a home and a hard day’s work to discarded men who needed the
peace the Blazing B had to offer.


On this late May night, a light breeze stirred the alfalfa
growing in the pasturelands while the cattle grazed miles away. The herds
always spent their summers on public lands in the mountains while their winter
feed grew in the valley. They were watched over by a pool rider, a hired man
who was a bit like a cow’s version of a shepherd. He stayed with them through
the summer and would bring them home in the fall.


With the winter calving and spring branding a distant
memory, the streams and irrigation wells amply supplied by good mountain
runoff, and the healthy alfalfa fields thickening with a June cutting in mind,
the mood at the Blazing B was peaceful.


When Beth was a quarter mile beyond the barn, a bobbing
light drew her attention to the west side of the pasture, where ancient cottonwood
trees formed a barrier against seasonal winds and snows. She paused, her eyes
searching the darkness beyond this path that she could walk blindfolded. The
light rippled over cottonwood trunks, casting shadows that were
indistinguishable from the real thing.


A man was muttering in a low voice, jabbing his light around
as if it were a stick. She couldn’t make out his words. Then the yellow beam
stilled low to the ground, and she heard a metallic thrust, the scraping ring
of a shovel’s blade being jammed into the dirt.


Beth worried. It had to be Wally, but what was he doing out
at this hour, and at this place? The bunkhouse was two miles away, and the men
had curfews, not to mention strict rules about their access to horses and
vehicles.


She left the path and approached the trees without a
misstep. The moonlight was enough to guide her over the uneven terrain.


“Wally?”


The cutting of the shovel ceased. “Who wants to know?” “It’s
Beth.”


“Beth who?”


“Beth Borzoi. Abel’s daughter. I’m the one who rides
Hastings.” “Well, sure! Right, right. Beth. I’m sorry you have to keep telling
me. You’re awfully nice about it.”


The light that Wally had set on the ground rose and pointed
itself at her, as if to confirm her claims, then dropped to the saddle resting
against her thighs. Wally had been at the ranch for three years, since a stroke
left his body unaffected but struck his brain with a short-term memory
disorder. It was called anterograde amnesia, a forgetfulness of experiences but
not skills. He could work hard but couldn’t hold a job because he was always
forgetting where and when he was supposed to show up. Here at the ranch he
didn’t have to worry about those details. He had psychologists and strategies
to guide him through his days, a community of brothers who reminded him of
everything he really needed to know. Well, most things. He had been on more
than one occasion the butt of hurtful pranks orchestrated by the men who shared
the bunkhouse with him. It was both a curse and a blessing that he was able to
forget such incidents so easily.


Beth was the only Beth at the Blazing B, and the only female
resident besides her mother, but these facts regularly eluded Wally. He never
forgot her father, though, and he knew the names of all the horses, so this was
how Beth had learned to keep putting herself back into the context of his life.


“You’re working hard,” she said. “You know it’s after
eleven.” “Looking for my lockbox. I saw him take it. I followed him here just
an hour ago, but now it’s gone.”


Sometimes it was money that had gone missing. Sometimes it
was a glove or a photograph, or a piece of cake from her mother’s dinner table
that was already in his belly. All the schedules and organizational systems in
the world were not enough to help Wally with this bizarre side effect of his
disorder: whenever a piece of his mind went missing, he would search for it by
digging. Dr. Roy Davis, Wally’s psychiatrist, had curtailed much of Wally’s
compulsive need to overturn the earth by having him perform many of the Blazing
B’s endless irrigation tasks. Even so, the ten square miles of ranch were
riddled with the chinks of Wally’s efforts to find what he had lost.


“That must be really frustrating,” she said. “I hate it when
I lose my stuff.”


“I didn’t lose it. A gray wolf ran off with it. I had it
safe in a secret spot, and he dug it up and carried off the box in his teeth.
Hauled it all the way up here and reburied it. Now tell me, what’s a wolf gonna
do with my legal tender? Buy himself a turkey leg down at the supermarket?”


Wally must have kept a little cash in his box. She could
under- stand his frustration. But this claim stirred up disquiet at the back of
her mind. Dr. Roy would need to know if Wally was seeing things. First off,
gray wolves were hardly ever spotted in Colorado. They’d been run out of the
state before World War II by poachers and hos- tile ranchers, and their return
in recent years was little more than a rumor. Wally might have seen a coyote.
But for another thing, no wild animal dug up a man’s buried treasure and
relocated it. Except maybe a raccoon.


A raccoon trying to run off with a heavy lockbox might actually
be entertaining.


“Tell you what, Wally. If he’s buried it here we’ll have a
better chance of finding it in the morning. When the sun comes up, I’ll help
you. But they’ll be missing you at the bunkhouse about now. Let me take you
back so no one gets upset when they see you’re gone.” Jacob or Dr. Roy would do
bunk checks at midnight.


“Upset? No one can be as upset as I am right now.” He thrust
the shovel into the soft dirt at his feet. “I saw the dog do it. I tracked him
all the way here, like he thought I wouldn’t see him under this full moon. Fool
dog—but who’d believe me? It’s like a freaky fairy tale, isn’t it? Well, I’d
have put that box in a local vault if I didn’t have to keep so many stinkin’
Web addresses and passwords and account numbers and security questions at my
fingertips.” He withdrew a small notebook from his hip pocket and waved the
pages around. It was one of the things he used to keep track of details. “Maybe
I’ll have to rethink that.”


Beth’s hands had become sweaty and a little cramped under
the saddle’s weight. She used her right knee to balance the saddle and fix her
grip. The soft leather suddenly felt like heavy gold bricks out of someone
else’s bank vault.


“Well, let’s go,” she said. “I’ve got my truck right on down
the lane.”


“What do you have there?” Wally returned the notebook to his
pocket, hefted the shovel, and picked his way out of the under- brush, finding
his way by flashlight.


“An old saddle. It’s been in the tack room for years.” She
expected Wally to forget the saddle just as quickly as he would for- get this
night’s adventure and her promise to help him dig in the morning.


He lifted one of the fenders and stroked the silver with his
thumb. “Pretty thing. Probably worth something. Not as much as that box is
worth to me, though.”


“We’ll find it,” Beth said.


“You bet we will.” Wally fell into step beside her. “Thanks
for the ride back, Beth. You’re a good girl. You got your daddy in you.”


With Jacob’s old saddle resting on a blanket in the bed of
her rusty white pickup, Beth followed an access road from the horse pasture by
her own home down into the heart of the Blazing B.


The property’s second ranch house was located more strategically
to the cattle operation, and so it was known to all as the Hub. The Hub was a
practical bachelor pad. Outside, the branding pens and calving sheds and
squeeze chutes and cattle trucks filled up a dusty clearing around the house.
Inside, the carpets and old leather furniture, even when clean, smelled like
men who believed that a hard day’s work followed by a dead sleep—in any
location—was far more gratifying than a hot shower. The house was steeped in
the scent stains of sweat and hay, horses and manure, tanned leather and
barbecue smoke. The men who slept here lived like the bachelors they were. If
their daily labors weren’t enough to impress a woman, the cowboys couldn’t be
bothered with her.


Dr. Roy Davis, known affectionately by all as Dr. Roy, was a
lifelong friend of Beth’s father. Years ago, after the death of Roy’s wife,
Abel and Roy merged their professional passions of ranching and psychiatry and
expanded the Blazing B’s purpose. It became an outreach to functional but
wounded men like Wally who needed a home and a job. Dr. Roy brought his teenage
son, Jacob, along. Now thirty-one, Jacob had never found reason to leave,
except for the years he’d spent away at college earning multiple degrees in agriculture
and animal management. Jacob had been the Blazing B’s general operations
manager for more than five years.


Jacob and his father shared the Hub with Pastor Eric, who
was a divorced minister, and Emory, a therapist who was once a gang leader.
These men were the Borzois’ four full-time employees.


The other men who lived at the Blazing B were called “associates.”
They occupied the bunkhouse, some for a few weeks and some for years. At
present there were six, including Wally.


When Beth stopped her truck in front of the Hub’s porch,
Wally slipped off the seat of her cab, closed the rusty door, and went directly
around back to the bunkhouse. She pulled away and had reached the end of the
drive when a rut jarred the truck and rattled the shovel he’d left in the truck
bed.


In spite of her hurry to take Jacob’s saddle to the people
who needed it, she put the truck in park, jumped out, and jogged the tool up to
the house. The porch light lit the squeaky wood steps, and she took them two at
a time. Jacob would see the tool in the morning when he came out to start up
his own truck and head out to what- ever project was on the schedule. She’d
phone him to make sure.


She was tipping the handle into the corner where the porch
rail met the siding when the Hub’s front door opened and Jacob leaned out.
“Past your bedtime, isn’t it?”  he said,
but he was smiling at


her. Over the years they had settled into a comfortable
big-brother- little-sister relationship, though Beth had never fully outgrown
her adolescent crush on him.


“Found Wally digging up by the barn,” she said.


Surprise pulled his dark brows together. “Now? Where is he?”
“Back in bed, I guess. He said he followed a wolf up to our place. You might
want Dr. Roy to look into that. Your dad should know if Wally’s . . . seeing
things.”


Jacob nodded as he stepped out the door and leaned against
the house. He crossed his arms. “Coyote maybe?”


“Try suggesting that to him. And when was the last time we
had a coyote down here? It’s been ages—not since Danny gave up his chicken
coop.”


“I’ll mention that to Dad. It’s probably nothing. What had
you out at the barn at this hour? Horses okay?”


“Fine.” Beth’s eyes swiveled down to her truck, to Jacob’s
saddle, both well beyond reach of the porch light. She tried to recall all her
justifications for taking the saddle, but in that moment all she could think
was that she should get his permission to do it. She’d known this man more than
half her life. He was kind. He was wise. He’d say yes. He’d want her to take
it.


But she said, “I’m headed out to the Kandinskys’ place.
They’ve got a horse who injured his eye, and it’s pretty bad. They let it go
too long, you know, hoping it would correct itself, maybe wouldn’t need a big
vet bill.”


“The Kandinskys have their own vet on the premises. Who
called you out?”


“It’s not one of their horses, actually. It’s Phil’s.
Remember him?” “Your friend from high school?”


“He’s been working there a year or so. They let him keep the
horse on the property. One of the perks.”


“But he can’t use their vet?”


Beth looked at her feet. “Phil’s family can’t afford their
vet. You know how that goes. We couldn’t afford him. His family doesn’t even
have pets, you know. They run a grocery store. The horse is his little sister’s
project. A 4H thing.”


“Well, tell Phil I said he called the right gal for the
job.”


“I don’t know, Jacob. It sounds really bad. These eye
things— the horse might need surgery.”


She found it unusually difficult to look at him, though she
was sure he was studying her with a suspicious stare by now. But she couldn’t
look at the truck either. Her eyes couldn’t find an object to rest on.


“All you can do is all you can do, Beth. That’ll be as true
after you’re licensed as it is now.”


“But I want to do miracles,” she said.


He chuckled at that, though she hadn’t been joking. “Don’t
we all.” He uncrossed his arms and put his hand on the doorknob, preparing to
go back inside. “I heard some big-shot Thoroughbred breeder is boarding some of
his studs there,” Jacob said. “Some friend of theirs passing through.”


“I heard that too.”


“Maybe that’ll be Phil’s miracle this time—an unexpected
guest, someone with the right know-how or the right resources who will come to
his horse’s rescue.”


“Angels unaware,” Beth said. “Something like that. Night,
Beth.”


Beth didn’t want him to go just yet. “Night.”


She lingered at the door while it closed, hoping he might
intuit what she didn’t have the courage to say.


When he didn’t, she committed to her original plan. She
descended the steps in a quiet rush, wanting to whisk the saddle away before he
could object to what he didn’t know. She wanted to be the one who did the good
works, who made the incredible rescue. She couldn’t help herself. It was her
father’s blood running through her heart.


On the driveway, her smooth-soled boots skimmed the dirt,
whispering back to her truck.


“It’s not your right to do it,” Jacob said. Beth gasped and
whirled at the sound of his voice, unexpected and loud and straight into her
ear, as if he’d been standing on her shoulder. “It’s not your gift to give.”


But the ranch house door was shut tight under the cone of
the porch light, and the bright window revealed nothing inside but heavy
furniture and cluttered tabletops. At the back of the house, a different door
closed heavily. Jacob was headed out to the bunk- house to check on Wally
already.


Beth let her captured breath leave her lungs. She looked
around for an explanation, because she didn’t want to accept that the words
might have been uttered by a guilty conscience.


At the base of the porch steps, crouching in such darkness
that its black center sank into its surroundings, was the form of an unusually
large dog. Erect ears, broad head, slender body. A wolf. She had passed that
spot so closely seconds ago that she could have reached out and stroked its
neck.


She took one step backward. Of course, her mind was dreaming
this up because Wally had suggested a wolf to her. If he hadn’t, she might have
said the silhouette had the outline of a snowman. An inverted snowman guarding
the house from her lies. In May.


Beth stared at it for several seconds, oddly unable to
recall the landscape where she’d spent her entire life. She was distressed not
to be able to say from this distance and angle whether that was a shrub planted
there, or a fence post, or an old piece of equipment that hadn’t made it back
into the supply shed. When the shape of its edges seemed to shift and shudder without
actually moving at all, she decided that her eyes were being tricked by the
darkness.


Convincing herself of this was almost as easy as justifying
her saddle theft.


She turned away from the house and hurried onward, looking back
only once.




Review to come. My book just arrived so I don't have a review for you. Will post it soon.

Preview: Living in Harmony

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Living in Harmony
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
by
Mary Ellis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Mary Ellis is the author of many books, including A Widow's Hope,

Sarah's Christmas Miracle, and A Marriage for Meghan. She and her

 husband live in central Ohio, where they try to live a simpler style of life.



She was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for A Widow's Hope in

2010, and the 3inner of the Award of Merit in the Holt Medallion Awards

for A Widow's Hope in 2010.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Living in Harmony is the first book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series. It's about fresh starts and love...and how faith in God and His perfect plan for our lives provides us with the peace and joy we desire.



Amy King--young, engaged, and Amish--faces difficult challenges in her life when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fiancé, John Detweiler, persuades her and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help the women in their time of need.



John's brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sally readily open their home to the three newcomers. Wise beyond his years, Thomas, a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival, suggesting instead a period of adjustment and counseling.



During this time Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. She wishes to reconnect with her, but this puts a strain on her relationship with John.



Can John and Amy find a way to live in happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to one another?



Watch the book trailer for Living in Harmony:







If you would like to read the first chapter of Living in Harmony, go HERE.

Review later

Story, Our Journey of Heartache and Grace from Eden to Evermore - Reviewed


















Book Blurb:

Recapture the mystery of God's story
With stunning imagery, powerful poetry, and real-life drama, Story is an inspiring journey from the creation of the world to eternity and everything in between. Consummate storyteller Steven James threads together familiar scenes from Scripture that will awaken your faith and inspire you to live in the reality of Christ's sacrifice. As he untangles the intricacies of the whole story of the Bible, you will rediscover the majesty and the mystery you've been missing.

My Thoughts:

Definitely different from his Patrick Bowers files series, yet filled with mystery all its own. I found this to be thought provoking, and very inspiring. It's interesting to me how we read one type of book from an author and then they write something completely different and it is still outstanding. This will be a book that is kept on my keeper shelf to be read again. Highly recommended!

Wanting Rita - Reviewed

Thursday, August 23, 2012



















Book Blurb:

When his high school sweetheart experiences a devastating tragedy, Dr. Alan Lincoln reluctantly returns to his Pennsylvania hometown to see her. It’s been 15 years. Rita was a small town beauty queen—his first love whom he has never forgotten. He was a nerd from a wealthy family. Her family was poor. They formed a strong connection during their senior year, but Rita married someone else, and the marriage ended tragically.

Alan’s marriage of three years is disintegrating, and he sees in Rita the chance to begin again with the true love of his life. Rita has been mentally and emotionally shattered, but she reaches out to Alan and fights to build a new life with him. During a passionate summer, however, the past and present converge and threaten their rekindled love, as Alan and Rita must struggle with old ghosts and new secrets.

My Thoughts:
A great summer read! Wanting Rita dares to ask the question can you go home again?  And when you are reunited with your true love, are there still sparks after all the years? Elyse Douglas not only asks these questions she answers them in her book Wanting Rita.
When Rita goes through a devastating time her mother calls her old boyfriend and begs him to come to town. He comes reluctantly. His marriage is falling apart, he feels drawn to Rita and she to him, yet there are things from their past, and present that they have to deal with.
This is not a feel good, warm fuzzy romance. This is real life, with all the emotion and drama you could want.

Perfectly Ridiculous - Reviewed

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


















Book Blurb:
Daisy Crispin is at a crossroads. In one direction lies the promised land--life at college, away from her embarrassing and overprotective parents. In the other direction is reality--her strapped bank account, an ailing father, and family priorities. Daisy knows the "perfect" daughter wouldn't have to think twice. But maybe Daisy was never really perfect on any level, because she does not want her life to look the way her parents think it should. She won't let that stop her, though. Now that she has been given an exciting free trip to Argentina before going to college, she's thrilled--until her parents decide to go along with her.Hilarious and all too true to life, Perfectly Ridiculous gives teen girls more of what they want and love to read from Kristin Billerbeck.

My Thoughts:
All I kept thinking as I read this was poor Daisy! All a teen wants is to go on a trip without their parents - Daisy didn't get that opportunity, and in true Kristin style there is hilarity around every corner. I couldn't stop laughing! Daisy is going to college in a few months and her parents refuse to let her go to Argentina by herself with her best friend, they insist on going with her, to her embarrassment. 
This is an absolute fun, relaxing, get away read!
 

Preview: The Face of Heaven

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Face of Heaven
Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
by
Murray Pura




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:









Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.











ABOUT THE BOOK   





In April 1861, Lyndel Keim discovers two runaway slaves in her family's barn. When the men are captured and returned to their plantation, Lyndel and her young Amish beau, Nathaniel King, find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish colony



Nathaniel enlists in what will become the famous Iron Brigade of the Union Army. Lyndel enters the fray as a Brigade nurse on the battlefield, sticking close to Nathaniel as they both witness the horrors of war--including the battles at Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, and Antietam. Despite the pair's heroic sacrifices, the Amish only see that Lyndel and Nathaniel have become part of the war effort, and both are banished.



And a severe battle wound at Gettysburg threatens Nathaniel's life. Lyndel must call upon her faith in God to endure the savage conflict and to face its painful aftermath, not knowing if Nathaniel is alive or dead. Will the momentous battle change her life forever, just as it will change the course of the war and the history of her country?



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Face of Heaven, go HERE.

Dying to Read - Reviewed

Monday, August 20, 2012


















Book Blurb:

Cate Kinkaid is just dipping her toe into the world of private investigating until one of the many resumes she has floating around lands her a real job. All she has to do is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? When the big and brooding house happens to contain a dead body, this routine PI job turns out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
Readers will be hooked from the very first chapter of this fast-paced and witty romantic mystery from bestselling and award-winning author Lorena McCourtney.


My Thoughts:

Cate is thirty and hasn't been able to hold a job, so when her Uncle Joe takes pity on her and offers her a job with his P.I. firm she takes it.  All she is suppose to do is go to this address and find out if this young girl, Willow lives there. When she gets there a group of older ladies "The Whodunit" book club are standing out front waiting on Amelia their hostess to open up and let them in, and they aren't talking very nice about her as Cate comes walking up. When the door finally gets opened and they find Willow has left in haste, and their hostess has fallen down a flight of stairs and is dead, Cate doesn't just leave things there. 
Cate resembles the missing Willow, she inherits the dead woman's cat Octavia, the knight-in-shining armor handy man that is all to ready and willing to help Cate. 
With quirky characters, and Cate's dry humor you will be laughing and turning the pages quicker than you can read!
I highly recommend this book!
**Available August 2012 from Revell, a division of Baker Publishers**

Win a Kindle Fire from @SibellaGiorello in "The Stars Shine Bright" Giveaway!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Novelist Sibella Giorello is celebrating the release of the latest book in her praiseworthy Raleigh Harmon series by giving away a Kindle Fire! 



One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • The entire 5-book Raleigh Harmon series.
  • Hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/25/12. The winner will be announced on 8/27/12 on Sibella's blog!

    Just click one of the icons below to enter. Tell your friends about Sibella's giveaway on FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

    Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
















    More about the book:

    After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.

    Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger—and more sinister—is ruining Emerald Meadows.

    She’s never felt more alone.

    Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can’t turn to her family for support. They’re off-limits while she’s undercover, and her mother isn’t speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh’s fiancé wants them to begin their life together—now—precisely when she’s been ordered not to be herself.

    With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the track’s trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancé will make things better—or worse.

    Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she’s faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.
     
     












    Meet Sibella Giorello:

    Sibella Giorello grew up in the mountains of Alaska admiring the beauty and nature that surrounded her. She majored in geology at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts hoping to learn more about the landscape she loved back home. From there Sibella followed a winding path, much like the motorcycle ride she took across the country, which led to her true love, journalism. 

    She found herself in Seattle writing for rock-n-roll magazine and earned a journalism degree from the University of Washington before heading south to the land of great stories.

    In Virginia, Sibella became a features writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was there she also met her husband and would hear Jesus whispering her name at a tent revival.

    Sibella started writing about Raleigh Harmon as a way to keep her love of story-telling alive while staying at home with her young sons. As a journalist and author, her stories have won state and national awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. The Stones Cry Out, the first Raleigh Harmon novel, won a Christy award for debut novel in 2008. Sibella now lives in Washington state with her husband and sons.

    Visit Sibella Giorello online at www.sibellagiorello.com, Facebook or Twitter.
     
    Link to buy the book: 


    My Thoughts:
    I had to start the book over to really understand all the acronyms, which was funny for me because I am a navy brat and former navy wife and acronyms are just apart of life with us. After doing that I was pulled into the book and couldn't put it down. I am a huge horse fan so the racetrack and thoroughbred angle kept me turning the pages. 
    I don't want to say too much because I'll give the story away. If you enjoy a story with mystery and a touch of romance then this is for you. Highly recommended!

     

    Preview: Angel of the Cove

    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:





    Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)



    ***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***





    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





    Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town in Tennessee where she grew up. They count their four children and five grandchildren as the greatest blessings in their lives. Her published books include stories in historical romance and romantic suspense. When not writing or spending time with her family, Sandra enjoys reading, collecting flow blue china, and playing the piano.





    Visit the author's website.





    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:








    Anna Prentiss wants to be a nurse, but first she has to spend a summer in Cades Cove apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself…but she never expected to fall in love with the Cove. Has God’s plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?













    Product Details:

    List Price: $13.99



    Paperback: 304 pages

    Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)

    Language: English

    ISBN-10: 0736948848

    ISBN-13: 978-0736948845







    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:








        Mountain air was supposed to be cool. At least that’s what she’d always heard.






    Anna Prentiss couldn’t be sure because she’d never been this far into the mountains before. But if truth be told, they still had a fair piece to go before they reached the hills that rolled off into the distance.






    The narrow dirt road that led them closer to those hills twisted and bumped its way along. The June heat had dried out the winter mud in this part of Tennessee and produced a dust that threatened to choke her, roiling up and around the buggy. Anna covered her mouth with the lace handkerchief her mother had tucked in her dress pocket and sneezed. The smudge left on the cloth made her wonder what her face must look like.






    She glanced at Uncle Charles, her father’s brother, who sat beside her on the leather seat of the buggy. Perspiration had cut meandering, dusty trails down his cheeks, but he didn’t appear to notice. His attention was focused on trying to avoid the holes that dotted the road.






    She wiped at her face once more before stuffing the handkerchief back in her pocket. It really didn’t matter what she looked like. There was no one to see her. The only living creatures she’d seen all day were some white-tailed deer that had run across the road in front of them and a fox that had peered at her from his dusky hiding place beside the road. In front of them trees lined the long roadway that twisted and turned like a lazy snake slithering deeper into the mountain wilderness. She’d come a long way from the farm in Strawberry Plains.






    A twinge of homesickness washed over her. She closed her eyes and gritted her teeth. The uneasy feeling lingered a moment, but with a determination she’d only recently acquired, she banished thoughts of those she’d left behind to the spot in her heart where her grief lay buried.






    Just then the buggy hit a hole, and Anna grabbed the seat to keep from bouncing onto the floorboard. Uncle Charles flicked the reins across the horse’s back and glanced at her, his spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. Wispy gray hair stuck out from underneath a black hat.






    “Hold on. These roads can be a little rough. We had a hard winter up here.”






    Anna nodded, straightening herself on the buggy seat and studying her uncle’s profile. How many times had he ridden this way to take care of the mountain people he loved? He looked every bit the country doctor. His smooth hands, so unlike her father’s work-roughened ones, gripped the reins tighter as he grinned at her.






    The corner of his mouth curled downward when he smiled, just as her father’s had always done. That was the only similarity she’d ever seen in them, though. Uncle Charles used to say he got the brains and Poppa got the brawn. When she was a little girl, she wondered what he meant. But she knew no matter what it implied, the two brothers shared a bond like few she’d ever seen. And they were the only ones who’d ever encouraged her to follow her dream of becoming a nurse.






    Anna took a deep breath and inhaled the heavy, sweet smell that drifted from the forests on either side of the road. She turned to Uncle Charles. “I’ve been noticing those white flowers that look like shrubs growing along the road. What are they?”






    “Those are our mountain rhododendron,” said Uncle Charles. “There are also pink and purple ones. Sometimes in the summer you can stand on a ridge and look across the mountains at the rhododendrons blooming, and it looks like somebody took a paintbrush and colored the world. It’s a mighty beautiful sight.”






    Anna swiveled in her seat again and looked at Uncle Charles. “Thank you for working out this trip for me.”






    A grin tugged at his mouth. “How many times would you say you’ve thanked me today?”






    “Not enough yet.”






    A sudden breeze ruffled the straw hat her mother had given her, and Anna grabbed the wide brim. After a moment she released it and pulled the handkerchief from her pocket again. Grasping it with both hands, she twisted the cloth until it stretched taut between her fingers. “I hope I don’t disappoint Mrs. Lawson.”






    He didn’t take his eyes off the road but shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry about that. She’s been delivering babies in Cades Cove for a long time, and she’s glad to have an extra pair of hands. It’ll be good experience before you leave for nursing school in the fall.”






    The old anger rose in Anna’s throat. “Only if Robert agrees.” She spit out the barbed words as if they pierced the inside of her mouth. “Why does he have to be so selfish?” She clenched her fists tight together. Ever since their father’s death Robert had assumed the role as head of the family, and he took his responsibilities seriously. Too seriously, if you asked Anna. He never missed an opportunity to tell her how their father wasn’t around anymore to cater to her every whim. The first time he’d said that she felt as if he’d shattered her heart. The pieces had never mended as far as her relationship with him was concerned. But if things went as planned, she would soon be free of his authority.






    “I don’t want you to be angry with your brother, Anna. You may not understand his reasons, but he’s trying his best to be the head of your family. He’s still young and has a lot to learn, but he loves you and wants what’s best for you.”






    Anna crossed her arms and scowled. “All he wants is for me to stay on the farm and marry somebody he thinks will make a good husband.” Anna shook her head. “Well, that’s not what I want. Poppa promised me I’d be able to go. Robert has no right to keep that money hostage.”






    “I know. Your father would have been so proud to know you’ve been accepted.” Uncle Charles’s shoulders drooped with the sigh that drifted from his mouth. “Try to see it from his perspective. You’ve led a sheltered life on the farm, and Robert feels like you aren’t ready for what you’ll see and have to deal with in a big hospital in New York. You think you’ll be able to assist injured and dying people, but it’s different when you’re right there with somebody’s life in your hands. If you find you can’t do it, then Robert is out the money for your tuition, not to mention travel and living expenses.” He cocked a bushy eyebrow at Anna. “And he doesn’t need to be wasting money that can be put to good use on the farm.”






    “I know. He’s told me often enough.” Anna smoothed out her skirt and straightened in her seat. “I’m just thankful you came up with a plan that Robert agreed to. Spending the summer with Mrs. Lawson ought to prove I have the grit to handle New York.”






    “Remember you’ll need a good report from Granny Lawson.”






    Anna smiled. “You don’t have to worry about that. I’m going to listen to her and do everything she tells me, no matter how distasteful I think the task is.” She clenched her fists in her lap. “When I board that train for New York in the fall, it will all be worth it.”






    Uncle Charles shook his head and chuckled. “I’ll leave New York and all its hustle and bustle to you. I prefer to spend my time right here in these mountains.”






    Anna let her gaze rove over the trees on either side of the road. “Still, maybe you’ll come visit me someday. I can show off the maternity ward!”






    He flicked the reins across the horse’s back. “I’ve read a lot about that ward. First one in the country. You’ll be fortunate to work there. But don’t forget you may see a lot of babies born this summer while you’re at Granny’s cabin. And there’s not a better place in the world to learn about nursing. She can teach you things you would never learn at Bellevue. Listen to her and do what she says and you’ll be fine.”






    Anna nodded. “I will.” Her hat slipped to the side, and she reached up and straightened it. “I really can’t thank you enough, Uncle Charles. Everything’s coming together just the way I planned it, and nothing—not even Robert—is going to stand in my way.”






    Uncle Charles sucked in his breath and directed a frown at her. “Nothing? We can only follow the plan God has for us, Anna.”






    She settled back on the seat and cast her eyes over the hazy hills in front of them. “But that is God’s plan for me.”






    “And how do you know?”






    “Because it’s what I’ve dreamed about all my life. God’s never tried to change my mind.”






    “Maybe you’ve never listened to Him.” Uncle Charles stared at her a moment. “Like I said, pay attention to what Granny says. She’ll teach you how God uses those He’s chosen to take care of the sick. It isn’t all done with medicine, Anna. A lot of my medical successes—and Granny’s as well—have come about after a lot of prayer.”






    The buggy hit another bump, and Anna bounced straight up. As far as she could see, the rippling Smoky Mountains stretched out toward the horizon. A plume of wispy fog hung over the valleys. A strange world awaited her out there.






    Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the inn where they’d stayed in Pigeon Forge last night, had taken great pleasure in warning her of what she might face in Cades Cove this summer. Anna clasped her hands in her lap and glanced at Uncle Charles. “Mrs. Johnson said the folks who live in Cades Cove don’t take to strangers.”






    Uncle Charles nodded. “That doesn’t surprise me. What else did she say?”






    Anna took a deep breath and brushed at the new layer of dust on her skirt. “Oh, not much. Just that everybody knows it’s a closed society in the Cove, but it doesn’t matter because no sensible person would want to live there anyway. She called the people there a strange lot.”






    Uncle Charles cocked an eyebrow and chuckled. “Is that right? I hope you didn’t believe her. I know every family in the Cove, and some of them are my good friends.” He hesitated a moment. “Of course you’re going to find some who cause problems—just like you would anywhere else.”






    “Like the moonshiners?”






    He turned to stare at her with wide eyes. “What did Mrs. Johnson tell you about moonshiners?”






    “She said all the men were moonshiners. Are they?”






    Uncle Charles threw back his head and laughed as if he’d just heard the funniest joke of his life. After a few seconds he shook his head. “Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be a few who give the Cove people a bad reputation, but most of the men work too hard to waste their time on such nonsense.” He reached over and patted her hand. “I wouldn’t leave you in a place where you weren’t safe. Mrs. Johnson may run a good inn, but she’s the worst gossip in these mountains.”






    Anna heaved a sigh of relief. “I guess I’m just a little nervous. I want everybody to like me.”






    “They will. Just be yourself and they’ll all love you.”






    Uncle Charles meant well, but doubt still lingered in her mind. Would the people of the Cove accept a stranger into their small community? And if they didn’t, what good could she possibly do in this place?






    She had to succeed. Her future depended on it. She squared her shoulders. There was no turning back.






    As the day wore on, they found themselves deeper in the hills. As they did, a slow awakening began to dawn in the deepest corner of her soul. She’d never seen anything as beautiful as the lush growth that covered the vast mountain range. The air now grew cooler, just as she’d expected it to be, and the sweet smell of mountain laurel mingled with the rhododendrons. As her uncle’s horse, Toby, plodded along the rocky trail that grew steeper with each step, she saw the world through new eyes and stared in awe at the wonders of nature unfolding before her.






    For the last hour she’d sat silent and watched the shallow river that flowed beside the road. The water bubbled over rocks like huge stepping-stones scattered across its bed, and the rippling sound had a lulling effect. She wished they could stop so she could pull off her shoes and wade in the cold mountain stream, but there was no time for such fun today. She turned her attention back to the steep hillside on the other side of the road.






    “It’s beautiful here.”






    Uncle Charles glanced at her. “We’re just about to Wear’s Valley. When we get there, we’ll be close to Cades Cove.”






    Anna wondered if Uncle Charles was tired of her questions about the Cove. She hoped not. She settled in her seat and said, “Tell me more about Cades Cove, Uncle Charles.”






    He pushed his hat back on his head and stared straight ahead. “Well, if you’ve noticed, we’ve been following that stream as the road’s climbed. Pretty soon now we’re gonna reach a place where we turn away from it and head into a flat valley right in the middle of the mountains. That’s Cades Cove. It’s almost like God just took His giant hand and tucked a little piece of heaven right down in the Smokies. The land’s fertile—not so many rocks you can’t farm—and completely surrounded by mountains. You’re gonna love it when you see it, Anna.”






    “How many people live there?”






    He pursed his lips and squinted into the distance. “I’d say there are about two hundred fifty scattered throughout the Cove nowadays. Some left for town life—better work there, you know—but they’ll never find a place that’s as beautiful as these mountains.”






    “How far is it from Mrs. Lawson’s house to where you live?”






    He thought for a moment. “It’s not that far as the crow flies, but it takes me almost three hours going around these roads.”






    A lump formed in her throat. Now that they were closer, she didn’t want him to leave. She scooted a little closer to him on the bench of the buggy. “Will you stay at Mrs. Lawson’s tonight?”






    He shook his head. “No, I’ll have enough daylight left to get home. But don’t worry, I’ll come to the Cove from time to time to check on you. Granny does a good job of taking care of the folks there, but she knows when it’s serious enough to send for me.”






    Anna clasped her hands in her lap to keep him from seeing them tremble. The time had come to begin the test. She couldn’t fail. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. She dredged up all the determination she could muster. No, she wouldn’t fail.






    “How long before we get there, Uncle Charles?”






    “Not much longer. The entrance is up ahead.”





     
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