Book Quotes

“but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”― Jane Austen

Monday, February 27, 2012

Don't despair!


High-level suspense that's addicting! ~ Not This Time by Vicki Hinze ~Review


About the Book

Small town scandal. International terrorist attack. Who among them is the traitor?
Sara and Beth have built a multi-million dollar business together, but their once solid friendship is now strained. Beth is leery of Sara’s husband, and when he is kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.

Then, their small town of Seagrove Village is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn’t know who to trust. Someone she knows is linked to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past. She knows she shouldn’t fall in love with him, but she can’t resist or even explain their bond. As her world unravels around her, she wonders, is it possible to be beyond redemption?

Click here to download the first chapter of Not This Time.

My Review

Do you really know your friends and neighbors?

Not This Time is the third book in the Crossroad Crisis Center series and if you love a suspenseful story that will keep you up late then this is the one for you! The pacing was rapid with barely a moment to breathe that made it hard to put down. It totally drew me in and had me flipping the pages as fast I could read them. Spellbinding suspense kept me thinking of possible scenarios each time I had to lay it aside.

My favorite character is Joe. He’s a Shadow Watcher, part of an elite group that is hunting NINA, a terrorist organization, and their operatives. He’s introduced in book two, Deadly Ties, and I was so happy to see him spotlighted in his own story. Of course, he’s not an attention hog, so we get lots of face time with Beth, Sara, and Jeff who are trying to figure out who is behind the latest attack, and a murder or two, in Seagrove Village. But Joe has a special something. Maybe it’s his Cajun drawl that surfaces, and the pitch of his voice, when he’s talking to Beth. He unconsciously slips into his “real” self around her, trusting her with his secrets.

And boy howdy, there are some big secrets in Seagrove Village! I was shocked to find out the identities of some of the terrorists, and I’m usually pretty good at ferreting out the bad guys. Some of the scenes are so sad but there’s a theme of redemption that is unquestionably one of the best I have ever read. Not This Time, along with Forget Me Not and Deadly Ties, has a place of honor on my bookshelf because I will be reading and re-reading them for years to come!

WaterBrook Multnomah provided a copy of the book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review, just my opinion of the book, which I have done. No compensation has been received.

PLEASE RANK MY REVIEW HERE! Thank you so much :)

Purchase links for Print & EBook:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Other Formats for Not This Time

Unabridged Audiobook Download

Written by Vicki Hinze
Read by Dorothy Dillingham Blue

Release Date: Feb 21, 2012

Shop for audiobook downloads at these retailers:
Audible.com | eMusic | iTunes | Simply Audiobooks

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lost and Found by Ginny L. Yttrup ~ Review/Giveaway

I am so happy to introduce y'all to my guest reviewer today, Judy Burgi. Many of you are familiar with Judy, and have read her comments around the blogosphere on book giveaways and author interviews. Judy is a fellow book enthusiast I met over this past year through blogging. She has graciously accepted my invitation to do some reviews, as I can't possibly read and review all the books that I would like to, and she has an opportunity to share some books than I am not able to acquire. 

Without further ado...
Welcome, Judy, to Stuff & Nonsense!

Lost and Found by Ginny L. Yttrup ~ Reviewed by Judy Burgi

Lost and Found - A Powerful Message!

Jenna Durand Bouvier – Wife of Gerard Bouvier and Daughter-in-law to Brigitte Bouvier.  Jenna has lived an unhappy life for years jumping through hoops to win her Mother-in-law’s approval.  Will she ever win that approval?

Brigitte Bouvier – Mother to Gerard and Mother-in-law to Jenna.  Owner of  Domain de la Bouvier and Enterprises.   Brigitte is a woman who is and must be in control of everyone and every situation.  Out to destroy anyone who gets in her way.  Will she destroy Jenna?

Andee Bell – Andee is involved with Jenna’s brother Jason.   She is a highly successful business woman.  Andee is hiding a past that has wounded her deeply.  She is a woman who never lets her guard down, ever!  Is she a friend or foe of Jenna’s?

Matthew MacGregor – Matthew is a Spiritual Director.  Upon meeting Jenna he feels an immediate connection with her based on their mutual love for Christ.  Can he help Jenna on her spiritual journey?

This book is about power, greed, control, emotional manipulation, and betrayal.

I found myself pondering who would allow themselves to be put through such long term emotional abuse and would they, could they walk away from such a lifestyle?

What type of person enjoys controlling another individual in this way?  Why is power and control such a rush for them?  Why is it necessary to prey upon a weaker individual?

This book took me through many emotions.  I absolutely disliked that Jenna took everything that Brigitte dished out.  Brigitte definitely was a force to answer to and how dare anyone go against her orders.    I also had a hard time with Andee’s betrayal.  What she did to get on the good side of Brigitte was something I had a hard time with.

When the Holy Spirit began working in the lives of Jenna, Andee, and Matthew it brought me to tears.

We may find ourselves in the same situation as Jenna and perhaps even Andee.  Maybe we’ve already been there.  This book will open the reader’s eyes allowing everyone to see that Christ is the answer.  It is as simple as picking up our crosses and following him, denying all others who might be holding us back from our walk with Him.

This book has such a spiritual impact.  Thank you Ginny L. Yttrup for making that happen.  Your message comes across loud and clear.

Lost and Found is the first book of this author that I have read.  It has left me thirsting for more.

I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of Lost and Found to read and review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.


You can purchase Ginny's books at most online retailers, or at your local Christian bookstore. 

Judy has offered her signed copy of this book to a reader of this blog! Leave a comment welcoming Judy to be entered :) Giveaway will end on March 2nd at Midnight.

Open to US Only!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When the Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason ~ Review

About the Book


After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.

But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Chock-full of the suspense and romantic tension you've come to expect from Lynette Eason,                 When the Smoke Clears is the explosive first book in the Deadly Reunions series.







Author Bio

Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including Too Close to HomeDon't Look Back, and A Killer Among Us. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother of two, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.

You can contact her at the following places:

http://www.lynetteeason.com/

https://www.facebook.com/lynette.eason

http://www.infinitesuspensefromlynetteeason.blogspot.com/



My Review

I have a few go-to authors for suspense and Lynette Eason is right at the top! I am assured that every time I open to page one, I am NOT going to want to put the book down until I am finished.  Reading this one in the middle of the night, after my husband left for work, was almost more than I could take, but I toughed it out and was rewarded with much satisfaction for my bravery!

When the Smoke Clears is the ultimate in fast-paced suspense with the right amount of humor to give me just enough time to make sure that the creaking I heard was just this old house and then plunge me right back into the fray. I was right there, creeping down the dark basement stairs, and dodging bullets. I’m sure I was!

I had several theories along the way as to who was the villain. I even thought at one point it was who it was, but then a twist and turn occurred and I thought, Nah. It can’t be. I was guessing right up until the end and that’s what keeps me coming back for more. There’s still someone that needs to be exposed, and that makes waiting on the second and third books in the series extremely difficult. I am not a patient person!

This is one of my favorite books I have read! There’s a perfect blend of suspense and intrigue, a little romance and a spiritual theme of restoration running throughout. I highly encourage you to get a copy, especially those who live in the SC/NC area. The settings will be familiar. That’s another thing I enjoy about Lynette’s books. They’re set in my region and that always makes for a fun read.

Thanks to Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, and the author for my review copy. These are my honest thoughts on the book.

To purchase:



Price:$14.99
Number of pages:352
Publication Date:Feb. 12
Formats:Paperback

Monday, February 20, 2012

Do you have a Kindle?

I have a separate page for Kindle freebies but I couldn't pass up passing these offers along. I don't know how long they last, but today I know they are FREE! Always check to make sure, though before you buy. If it says "free for prime" it is NOT free unless you have a Prime Membership.
Valeria's CrossA Time to Love (Quilts of Lancaster County Series #1)

Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride (Emma Rae Creation)Long Time Coming

Legacy Lane (Book One in the Hart's Crossing series)Heart of Gold

Ruby (Dakotah Treasures #1)To Love Anew (Sydney Cove Series #1)

 

HAPPY READING!!!


 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Books & Recipes


As many of you know, I post my book reviews on Stuff & Nonsense II

If you're a Regency Fiction fan, check out the new book by Julie Klassen, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall. It is excellent! I reviewed it here.





Regency Romance and Mystery from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen
To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch–both former suitors.
As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?
Brimming with romance and danger, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall takes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.
So grab a cup of tea or coffee, along with The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, and settle in for a nice cozy afternoon of reading!


Now, on to a couple of recipes I found this week. 
The first is a delicious soup from the cooking blog of Deborah Vogts. Click here.
*Image belongs to CountryatHeartRecipes.com

And for the dessert, I made Soft Caramel Popcorn from The Girl Who Ate Everything.
*Image belongs to The Girl Who Ate Everything

PLEASE VISIT THEIR SITES FOR GREAT RECIPES. You will thoroughly enjoy them!

Do you have any favorite books or recipes you'd like to share? 


Made anything super yummy lately?


Leave a comment and share!

*no infringement intended.

Long awaited and worth it! The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen

I had to go big with this cover. It's amazing, isn't it?!! Just perfect for all us Regency Era fans.  







Regency Romance and Mystery from Bestselling Author Julie Klassen

To escape a scheme to marry her off to a dishonorable man, Margaret Macy flees London disguised as a housemaid. If she can remain unwed until her next birthday, she will receive an inheritance, and with it, sweet independence. But she never planned on actually working as a servant. And certainly not in the home of Nathaniel and Lewis Upchurch--both former suitors.

As she fumbles through the first real work of her life, Margaret struggles to keep her identity secret when suspicions arise and prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall. Can she avoid a trap meant to force her from hiding?

Brimming with romance and danger, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall takes readers inside the fascinating belowstairs world of a 19th-century English manor, where appearances can be deceiving.

My Review

Delightful - giving great pleasure or delight; highly pleasing: a delightful surprise.

That’s what The Maid of Fairbourne Hall is, delightful.

Margaret Macy has a choice. Marry her disgusting step-brother, under duress from her sorry excuse for a step father, or flee London. Choosing to flee, she disguises herself as a maid and escapes, only to end up being hired as an actual maid at Fairbourne Hall. There are some moments of nose wrinkling, like when Nora (Margaret’s alias name) has to empty the chamber pots. Ew! But it was fun to read and easy to visualize all the scenes, especially since watching Downton Abbey, even though that’s set in a different era.  

Nathaniel Upchurch is described as not being as handsome as his brother, but from the moment he was introduced into the story, I thought he was better looking. Rugged and rough. I know. That’s real shallow of me but hey, it’s a Regency romance. What do you expect? Seriously though, he’s a second son, under a lot of pressure from his father, trying to right the family finances. Being a godly man, he conducts a devotional and prayer each morning with his staff, which I thought was just wonderful. I don’t think I’ve seen that depicted in any of the books I’ve read so far. So you see he is more handsome than that scoundrel older brother of his.

One of my favorite parts of the book is between Margaret and her former lady’s maid, Joan. Joan is dismissed from her employment at the same time that Margaret needs to flee, so they leave together. Joan has no respect for Margaret, which is understandable considering the way she was treated, but the relationship that develops between them over the next few months was heartwarming. They’re hired by different households but come into contact with each several times through various circumstances. To see Margaret come to the place where she respected Joan, and vise versa, was touching.

This book is beautifully written, with plenty of drama, intrigue, humor, romance and a steady spiritual thread woven throughout. As a Regency Era fan, I live for the moment a Julie Klassen novel hits the shelves. If you’re not already a fan, you will be!

Bethany House provided a copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive one, just my honest opinion, which I have done. No other compensation has been received.

You can purchase your copy today at any of the following, because I'm not giving away mine ;) There are just some books that are keepers. This is one I will definitely be reading again and again!




or you can check with your local retailer. 


Price:$14.99

ISBN:978-0-7642-0709-9

ISBN-10:0-7642-0709-1

Dimensions:5.5 x 8.5

Number of pages:416

Carton Quantity:32

Publication Date:Jan. 12

Formats:Paperback

About Julie

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She has won the Christy Award: Historical Romance for The Silent Governess(2010) and The Girl in the Gatehouse (2011) which also won the 2010 Midwest Book Award for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. For more information, visit www.julieklassen.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour ~ To Love and to Cherish by Kelly Irvin

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 (February 1, 2012)


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

 

Kelly Irvin is a Kansas native and has been writing professionally for 25 years. She and her husband, Tim, make their home in Texas. They have two children, three cats, and a tankful of fish. A public relations professional, Kelly is also the author of two romantic suspense novels and writes short stories in her spare time.

Visit the author's website.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In author Kelly Irvin’s first installment in the Bliss Creek Amish series, readers will find a charming, romantic story of how God works even in the darkest moments.

It’s been four years since Carl left. Four years since he left the safety of the small Amish community for the Englisch world. And in four years, Emma’s heart has only begun to heal.

Now, with the unexpected death of her parents, Emma is plunged back into a world of despair and confusion. It’s a confusion only compounded by Carl’s return. She’s supposed to be in love with him...so why can’t she keep her mind off Thomas, the strong, quiet widower who always seems to be underfoot? Could the man she only knew as a friend be the one to help her to heal?

In a world that seems to be changing no matter how tightly she clings to the past, this one woman must see beyond her pain and open her heart to trust once again.




Product Details:
List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943714
ISBN-13: 978-0736943710

 

My Thoughts

I'm about halfway through this book but I can honestly say that it is good! I have never read anything by this author but I will be eagerly awaiting her next book coming out in Oct 2012!

The writing is excellent, plot is good, and boy, oh boy, is there some emotional moments in this one! My favorite character already is Thomas! He's an "older" man for our heroine Emma but I do believe he is going to be perfect for her :) He reminds me of my own husband in that he doesn't have much to say but when he does, it means something!


I know fans of Amish fiction are going to love this book from a fresh new voice in the genre!
If I have time, I will do a more in depth review later but suffice it to say I am heading to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup and sit down to find out what's going to happen in Bliss Creek today :)

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


  The ripe aroma of wet earth filling the air around her, Emma Shirack shifted the basket of tomatoes on her hip and picked up her pace on the dirt road. Her bare feet sank down as the mud oozed between her toes.

      The sky was dark overhead as rain clouds gathered in the distance. She should’ve taken the buggy, but hitching the horse seemed a waste of time when it was such a short walk to the produce stand on the highway. “Come on, girls. We have to get these tomatoes to Catherine at the stand quickly or we’re going to get wet walking home.”

  Giggles met her urging. She glanced back to see the twins squatting in the middle of the road. Lillie had a small rock in her hand, and the two of them peered at it as if they’d found a great treasure. “Girls! Now!”

  She used her schoolteacher voice. At five her sisters hadn’t been to her school yet, but they recognized the authority in her tone. Lillie hopped to her feet, Mary right behind her. “See, it’s a pretty rock, schweschder.”

  Jah, very pretty, but right now we have work to do.” A fat drop of rain plopped right between Emma’s eyes. “As soon as we give the tomatoes to Catherine we’ll go back to the house to start the chicken and dumplings for tonight.”

  Mary dropped the rock and clapped her tiny hands. “Dumplings!”

  Her braids bouncing in glee, Lillie did the same. “Dumplings!”

  Two peas in a pod. Emma smiled and focused on the road ahead. The smile faded. It would be so easy to pretend the twins were hers. But that would be wrong. They were her little sisters. At twenty-three, she alone among her friends had no babies of her own. As Mudder liked to say, “In God’s time, not yours.” Emma clung to that thought.

  One more curve and they would be at the highway.

  “Schweschder, where do the clouds—”

  The shrieking of rubber on asphalt drowned out Lillie’s question. Emma stopped dead in her tracks. The sound of ripping metal tore the air. A horse’s fearful whinnies screamed and echoed against the glowering sky.

  Emma’s basket hit the ground. She’d spent enough time at the produce stand to know that sound. She lifted her long skirt, leaped across the spilled tomatoes, and ran. “Girls, go to the side of the road and sit down. Don’t move! I’ll send someone for you!” she shouted, not looking back. “Do as I say!”

  The sound of their childish voices whipped in the wind around her. If she was right about that sound she couldn’t let them see what lay ahead. For a few minutes, they were better off on the side of the less-traveled farm road with each other for company.

  Oh, God, let me be wrong. Let it be a near miss. Let it be an empty wagon. Let it be…anything but the worst. She stumbled on the rutted road and her heavy dress tangled around her legs. Sweat mingled with splashing raindrops. She fought to breathe in the heavy, humid air.

  The road straightened. Emma blinked against a sudden gust of moist, hot wind. Where dirt road met asphalt, where their way met the Englisch way, a buggy sprawled on its side, its metal wheels twisted and broken, the orange triangle-shaped symbol for slow still dangling from the back. A mammoth wheat truck, the black tarp that covered its load flapping in the wind, dwarfed the spindly remains.

  Emma jerked to a stop. No air filled her lungs, and black and purple dots danced on the periphery of her vision. She bent, hands on her knees, and gasped for oxygen. Nothing. Her lungs ached. Her heart pounded.

  The horse reared and screamed, its nostrils flaring, eyes frozen wide open, frantic with fear. Her sister Catherine had two hands on the reins, trying to calm the flailing horse. “Easy, girl, easy!” Catherine’s words didn’t match the heart-wrenching anguish of her tone as she fumbled with the harness. “Down, girl. It’s over. Easy!”

  Catherine. What was she doing here? Their horse. Their gray mare. Emma forced herself to think. Their horse. Her sister. Her gaze dropped to the figure on the dark, wet pavement. No. No. No.

  Her neighbor Thomas Brennaman knelt next to a twisted figure that lay motionless. Her brother Luke crouched down next to him, bending over the still, white face. Mudder’s face. Thomas raised his head and his fingers touched Mudder’s throat. Emma swallowed the bile in her throat. She tore her gaze from the picture, her heart pounding.

  A man in overalls and a John Deere hat held a cell phone to his ear. “Hurry. Tell them to hurry. They’re hurt bad,” he bellowed. “It’s them Amish people with their buggies. I think I…I think I killed them!”

  Killed them. No. Suddenly adrenaline overcame the paralyzing dread. She dashed forward. “Mudder! Daed!”

  With all the strength he could muster, Luke staggered to his feet. “Emma, help Catherine with the horse! Let it loose before it hurts someone.”

  What was Luke doing here? Why wasn’t he at his shop? She shook off her questions and his command and dropped to her knees next to her mother’s still body.

  But Thomas grabbed her arms and pulled her to her feet again. His broad frame served as a formidable barrier between Emma and her mother. “No, Emma. Do as Luke says.”

  “I can help her!”

  Thomas’s grip kept her from sinking to the ground again. Eyes the color of maple syrup held her tight in their gaze. Thomas, of all people, knew this kind of pain. “Your mudder is gone, Emma.”

  Still, she struggled. “Daed!”

  Luke’s strangled sob spoke for him. “No, Daed.” She ripped away from Thomas and dashed around the broken buggy. “Please!”

  Luke held up two bloody hands, palms flat in the air. Emma slammed to a halt. Her brother’s raw agony radiated from his sweet, plain features. His lips trembled over his long beard. “No. Don’t look. Don’t! I tried, but nothing.” His voice cracked. “He was already gone. Help Catherine. Help her!”

  Sirens, their shrill cry an alien sound in this Kansas farmland, cut the air. Emma backed away from Luke. The rough asphalt scraped her feet, but she welcomed pain—the only thing that could penetrate this kind of numbness. She shook her head. “No. No!”

  Catherine’s cries forced her back into the moment. Here was something Emma could do, something to ease the horrible, enormous sense that she should be doing something. She ran to Catherine’s side and together they loosened the horse’s restraints and led her to the grassy shoulder of the road. The mare, sides lathered with sweat, snorted and pranced but didn’t bolt. “Easy, girl, easy.” Emma patted her long, graceful neck. “It’s all right.”

  Words of comfort murmured where there was none.

  Catherine threw herself into Emma’s arms. “It was horrible. I saw the whole thing from the produce stand. Mudder waved to me and smiled as they slowed down to make the turn. Then the truck came…”

  Catherine’s voice faded. Her knees buckled.

  Emma struggled to hold her up. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

  Her poor sister would have the images burned on her brain forever. Catherine didn’t need to see any more of this horrific scene. Emma grasped her sister’s trembling shoulders. “I need you to do something for me.”

  Catherine’s face was white and wet with rain and tears. “I couldn’t help them. I can’t help anyone.”

  “Yes, you can.” Emma hugged her and then gave a gentle shove. “Lillie and Mary are down the road. Go get them. Take them home.”

  Catherine shook her head and sobbed. “I don’t want to tell them—”

  “Don’t. Don’t tell them anything.”

  Catherine wiped at her face with a sodden sleeve. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay with you?”

  “Go. Make sure they’re safe. Take them home. Luke and I will come when we can.”

  “What about Annie and Mark? They’ll wonder why Mudder hasn’t come home from town yet.”

  “Tell them there’s been an accident. Then wait for Luke and me.”

  Catherine took off, her stride unsteady at first, then she picked up speed. Faster and faster, as if those horrifying images pursued her.

  Emma wanted to run after her, surpass her, and keep on running forever.

  “Miss? Miss!”

  She forced herself to turn and face the wreckage.

  “It was an accident.” The farmer, his craggy, sun-ravaged face wet—whether from rain or tears Emma couldn’t tell—moved closer. He crumpled the green John Deere cap in his huge hand, smoothed it, crumpled it again. “I’m sorry, so sorry. I was in a hurry to get to the mill in Bliss Creek before the rain came. I drove up over the bluff and they were right there. I guess they slowed down to make the turn. I tried to stop. I did, but the truck skidded into them.” He wiped his face with the backs of his stubby fingers. “It was an accident.”

  Luke strode toward them, his long legs eating up the road. Her bear-sized brother usually walked the road the way he walked life—in a calm, deliberate manner. Now the world had tilted, taking everything familiar with it. “I know, Mr. Cramer. Don’t worry. We forgive you.”

  The man’s mouth gaped wide, exposing crooked teeth. After a second, it closed. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you.”

  Emma raised her head to the spattering of raindrops. Maybe they would wash away the anger in her heart. When Carl had left, she’d thought the worst thing that could ever happen to her was done. Over. Now this. Not an intentional abandoning, but an accidental one. In the end, the effect was the same.

  Luke was right to forgive. But sometimes right was too hard.


 

WINNER!!!

Our Valentine's Day winner of Amelia's Journey by Martha Rogers is....


 


Congratulations!!! 


An email has been sent. Thanks to all who came by and entered!


DON'T FORGET: You need to sign up to follow my blog by Email or RSS, as the GFC(Google Follower) is being retired today! Yes, I am sad to see all your wonderful faces leave but Google made that decision, not me :(  See my previous post about that here.

I hope you'll consider signing up in one of the other ways so you don't miss out on any of the upcoming author interviews, reviews and giveaways!

 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Cupid Shot Me Blog Hop!

I TOTALLY forgot about this hop being hosted by the fantabulous Diane Estrella @ That's What I'm Here For! I'll have to type out my story quickly, so there may be some errors :)


My freshman year of college, WAY back in 1980, I stopped at the local Mickey D's most days on the way to, or from, classes to get a cinnamon danish, or a double cheeseburger with no ketchup, extra onions, depending on if I was eating breakfast or lunch.

Now I don't know about your local McD's but mine had a couple of cute guys working there! A couple times I saw this one guy stick his head around the shake machine and all I could see were these gorgeous blue eyes under a shock of dark hair! No body ever came out, just part of the head.

Apparently, he was interested. So much so that as I was standing in line one day he came in the front door, unbeknownst to me, and bumped me from behind into an elderly man in front of me, all the while grinning from ear to ear as he went on back behind the counter. I was not amused!

The next day...I go in for my double cheeseburger, no ketchup, extra onions. Little do I know that "the pushy guy" is going to make my burger and he has a little surprise for me. Back then those particular burgers came in boxes. Remember? Well, extra onions would normally mean...a few extra. Not a TON. He put so many onions on that burger it wasn't even funny! Ok, it was funny. He knew I would bring it back. There was that big grin again and those blue eyes sparkled!!!

Fast forward to a few days later - You knew I was going back, right?! It was super busy that morning and I had a friend who worked there. As I was walking out she hollared across the restaurant at me, "Hey! My manager wants to know if you'll go out with him." I hollared back, "He can ask me himself!" And I walked out. Humph! That'll show him.

When I came in the next time, I honestly don't remember how many days it was, but I do remember the date. It was December 4th, 1980, early morning. The "guy" finally came out from behind the counter, walked over to my table... well, he sort of swaggered ;) asked if he could sit down and proceeded to ask me out! My heart was pounding so hard and fast I was sure he could see it beating :)  It was love at first bite sight!

I know in my ♥ that God brought us together but Mickey D's will always hold a special place in our ♥'s!

We'll celebrate 30 years of marriage this summer!

And that's How Cupid Shot Me!




Visit Diane to read more fun Cupid stories @ http://dianeestrella.com/?p=8424.

*logo and double cheeseburger images are mcdonald's, no infringement intended!
*cupid is from microsoft clipart

♥ Happy Valentine's Day ♥



1 Corinthians 13:4–8a 
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails ... 
♥ My sweetheart sent me these beautiful flowers along with a precious teddy bear and a decadent box of chocolates ♥

Song of Solomon 8:6 
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.


Have a great day in the Lord!

Happy Valentine's Day and a gift of Amelia's Journey by Martha Rogers!

Happy Valentine's Day!

My gift to you today is my review copy! Leave me a comment after the post and you'll be entered to win. Ends at midnight tonight! Continental US Only!





My Thoughts

Heartwarming and delightful as always! This book is just right for curling up under a warm blanket with a steaming hot cup of tea or cocoa. You'll be transported to a time of gentility coupled with just enough tension and romance to make you want to go and get the rest of the series :)


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


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





Today's Wild Card author is:





and the book:




Realms (January 3, 2012)





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





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Martha Rogers is the author of Becoming Lucy; Morning for Dove; Finding Becky; Caroline’s Choice; Not on the Menu, a part of a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo; and River Walk Christmas, a novella collection with Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. A former schoolteacher and English instructor, she has a master’s degree in education and lives with her husband in Houston, Texas.

Visit the author's website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



For Ben Haynes it is love at first sight, but can a Boston socialite find true happiness with a cowboy from Kansas?

Once childhood friends, Ben Haynes is taken with Amelia Carlyle when he runs into her at her sister’s wedding. Although he will be returning to Kansas and life on his father’s ranch, Ben calls on Amelia several times, and they find they have more in common than they first realized. As he leaves for Kansas, they promise to write.

Back in Kansas, Ben begins to save money toward a home for Amelia even though he has not made his intentions known. He’s relying on God to make a way. Meanwhile, Amelia is presented to society and has several young men vying for her attention.

Although Ben has captured Amelia’s heart, her parents make every effort to discourage the relationship, even forbidding Amelia to correspond with him. Amelia tells Ben that she will wait for him as long as it takes, but will the love and loss they experience along the way bring them closer or drive them apart forever?


Product Details:

List Price: $12.99

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616385820
ISBN-13: 978-1616385828


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Saturday, August 19, 1876


 Amelia Carlyle's face ached from the smile pasted on

Uit for the last three-quarters of an hour. Would this

ceremony never end? She balanced first on one foot and then the other to relieve the pain caused by the white satin pumps Amanda had insisted Amelia must wear.

  Amanda's face glowed with the radiance of the love she had for Charles Scott Bishop, the man who became her husband today. If that love ever happened to Amelia, and she decided to marry, it'd be a small and simple wed ding without all this pomp and circumstance.

   At last the minister pronounced them husband and wife, and Charles leaned forward to kiss his bride. Amelia's thoughts went immediately to the buffet to be served at the reception. Mama and Papa had spared no expense for their oldest daughter's wedding, and Amelia anticipated the spread of lobster, roast beef, croissants,  and wedding cake.

   Amanda and Charles made their way back up the aisle, and Amelia dreaded walking even that short distance in her shoes, but she put on another smile and made it to the front steps of the church where carriages waited to take them to the hotel for the reception.

   Once they arrived, guests mingled and  greeted the bride and groom, but Amelia found the closest table and sat down to slip off her shoes. Her white-stockinged toes wiggled in  great relief to  be free of  their bindings. She turned her back to the room to hide her most unseemly behavior, but comfort won over decorum. She lifted her skirts to run her fingers along the arch of one foot, which relaxed in contentment. Of course if anyone asked her to dance later, she may not be able to squeeze her feet back into the slippers, but she had seen no one with whom she cared to dance anyway.

“Excuse me, Miss Carlyle?”

   Amelia snatched the hem of her skirt and yanked it down to cover her legs and feet. She whirled around to find herself looking up into eyes so dark brown, they were almost black. The man towered over her with broad shoul- ders that blocked any view of the room behind him. A tingling started in her toes and progressed its way to her heart. Why had she not noticed this handsome young man before? “Yes, I’m Miss Carlyle, but I do believe you have the advantage.” His smile sent even more tremors through her bones. “I . . . I don’t recall having met you before.”

“Of course you don’t. You were twelve, and I was a skinny   fourteen-year-old.  Neither  of us paid much attention to the other when we last met at my grandparents’ home for dinner after church one Sunday. My name’s Benjamin Haynes.”

   Benjamin Haynes, of course, the son of her parents’ best friends of  school days, but what was he doing in Boston? His family lived in Kansas. “Oh, yes, that was a few years ago. Have you moved back here?”

He grinned, and his eyes sparkled with amusement. “No, but my parents found your sister’s wedding to be the perfect opportunity for a return trip, and I must say now I’m glad I came along.”

Heat rose in  her cheeks, and her tongue turned to mush. She simply stared back at him with what she hoped was not a stupid smile. What if he asked her to dance? Her feet crossed and rubbed against one another beneath her dress. She’d never get her feet back into those shoes.

“May I get you some refreshment?”

   Amelia nodded. “A . . . a cup of punch would be nice.” As he turned to carry out the request, she groaned. Another thing she’d forgotten, no buffet table without her shoes. If she dared walk across the floor without them, her skirt would drag and give away her secret. As if in protest, her stomach grumbled and sent a wave of hunger pangs to her brain. All that food so near, yet it may as well be in another town for all the good it did her seated across the room.

   Her gaze landed on Benjamin at the serving table. Although she vaguely remembered him from his last visit, he  appeared much taller and was certainly more hand- some than he had been then. His dark brown hair even curled slightly at the neckline. Of course she hadn’t been truly interested in boys at that time. Being noticed by him created a bit of delight in her now.

   Benjamin returned, not only with a cup of punch, but also with a plate filled with some of her favorites from the buffet array. “I thought you might not want to cross the floor to the serving table without your shoes, so I brought it to you. I hope you like what I selected.”

Heat again filled her face. He’d noticed her shoeless feet and had sought to save her further embarrassment by being so polite. For that her stomach thanked him. “Thank you, Mr. Haynes. This will do quite nicely, but what about you? When will you eat?”

“If you’ll allow me, I’ll get my plate and rejoin you.” “I’d like that very much, thank you.” Her heart beat

in double time as he returned to the buffet and made his own selections. His broad shoulders hinted at the muscles and strength that must be hidden beneath the sleeves of the black suit he wore. The evening took on a whole new interest, and Amelia tucked her feet well beneath her skirts to keep them hidden from view.

   When he returned, he sat in the chair next to hers. Miracles of miracles, no one asked to join them, and they remained alone. Her father may have a few words about that later, but for the time being, Amelia planned to enjoy every minute she could have with Mr. Benjamin Haynes.

   He spread a napkin across his lap. “Tell me, Miss Haynes, what have you been doing since the last time I saw you?”

It had only been a little more than five years ago, but it may as well have been a lifetime for all Amelia could remember. Her mind a blank, she could only stare at him.

He must think her to be a complete ninny. She cleared her throat. “In school, but of what interest could that possibly be to you? I would imagine your life has been much more eventful and interesting.”

   Benjamin grinned at  her and sipped his punch. He set the cup back on the table and cocked his head to one side. “My life has been herding cattle and getting them to market as well as bustin’ broncos to have horses to ride.”

“Now that sounds a lot more exciting than going to school, taking piano lessons, and learning to embroider.” She pictured him herding cattle or riding a bucking horse. An appealing image.

A young  man  approached  the table,  and Amelia cringed. The last person she wanted to see wore a deter- mined expression on his face. Rudolph, Charles’s brother, wanted to dance, but his surly attitude the night before at a family dinner had frightened Amelia in a way she couldn’t quite explain.

He  stopped  beside  Amelia  and  Benjamin.  “Miss Carlyle, may I have the honor of this dance with you?” His dark eyes held nothing but malice even though his words were polite.

She stuck a shoeless foot out from under her dress. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bishop, but I don’t have my shoes on and have decided not  to dance this evening. I’m  sure you under- stand I can’t be on the dance floor in my stocking feet.”

He glared at her for a moment, then, without a word, swiveled on his heel and strode across the room. Amelia shivered, thankful she had removed her shoes.

“I must say, that was rude.”  Benjamin frowned after the man.

   Amelia nodded then smiled at  Benjamin. “He’s Charles’s brother, and I’m glad I didn’t have to dance with him.” She picked up a pastry. “Let’s enjoy ourselves and not think about rude men like Rudolph Bishop.” Indeed, she wanted to know everything she could learn about Benjamin Haynes.


Ben wanted to know more about this intriguing young woman he’d known in childhood. Until his father decided to pick up stakes and head west to start his own ranch, the  Carlyle and Haynes families had spent many week- ends together as his father and Mr. Carlyle had been close friends and schoolmates.

   How thankful he was now that he had not insisted that he be left behind to help the ranch hands with the herds. If he had, he would not be sitting across from the lovely young woman in a pink dress.

“Amelia, do you remember the week my family left for Kansas? Your parents gave a wonderful farewell party for us. Of course you were only five, but I hoped you might recall that night.” If she did remember, he might find him- self in trouble as he had delighted in pulling her golden brown curls more than once just to see her reaction, and she hadn’t disappointed. She had stomped her foot and hit him each time until his mother corralled him the third time and made him stay by her side.

Amelia chewed a  piece of pastry and narrowed her eyes at him. She swallowed and pursed her lips. “Was that the time you kept pulling my curls?”

Heat rose in his face. “You do remember. I apologize for my awful behavior that evening, but you looked so cute with those long curls hanging down from that big yellow bow.”

   Amelia laughed. “I forgive you, but it hurt that last time, and I wanted to cry. I wasn’t about to let you see me in tears, and I believe your mother took care of you. Mary Beth and I had fun after that.”

“Yes, Mama made sure I  stayed by her side, and I didn’t have much fun the rest of the evening. I’m glad you did though. Then your family came to the railway station to see us off on our adventure westward.” That had been some scene with both their mothers crying and their fathers promising to keep in touch.

   “Oh yes, I recall how afraid I was of that big engine with its smoke and loud whistle. When it started up and began rolling on the track, I hid behind Mama’s skirt, but I saw you wave at us from the window. I thought you were so brave to move away like that with your family.”

   “It was quite the adventure.” And one he would never forget. He held no regret at all for leaving Boston all those years ago.

   He glanced up to see his sister headed their way. He didn’t often get to see her so dressed up with her dark hair piled on her head. He grinned when she squealed and grabbed Amelia, her brown eyes dancing with pleasure. “I’ve been looking all over for you. I should have known Ben would have you all to himself.”

   Amelia hugged the girl in return. “Mary Beth, I’m so glad to see you. I spotted you at the church when we went back up the aisle. Sit down and join us.”

   Benjamin shook his head and glared at Mary Beth, but she paid him no mind and plopped down in the chair on the other side of Amelia. “I’d be delighted. What has my big brother been telling you? I could reveal a few of his secrets if you’d like to hear about some of his antics.”

   “We were just talking about one on the night we had that party before you left.”

   “Oh, yes, that was some fun watching him get into trouble.” Mary Beth grabbed Amelia’s hands. “How I wish you could have come out to visit us, and I wish we could have come back to Boston more often. Ben almost didn’t come with us, but Pa persuaded him. I’m really sorry we haven’t kept in closer touch.”

Amelia glanced at him and grinned in a way he could only call wicked. “To think we might have missed reminiscing about old times if you’d stayed back with the cows. What a shame that would have been, Mr. Haynes.”

Again heat rose in his cheeks, but he would not let her teasing get to him. “Since we’re such old friends, call me Ben; everybody else does.”

“All right, Ben it is.” Then she turned back to his sister. “Now, tell me what it’s like living on a ranch with all those cattle and horses.”

Ben groaned. Once Mary Beth started, he’d never get a word into the conversation. He may as well just enjoy his food and listen to their prattle. At least he could sit back and show interest in what Amelia had to say without being obvious with his attraction to her.

Her chestnut hair sat piled on top of her head in an elaborate arrangement that must have taken hours to accomplish. Two  long  curls like those of long  ago hung down in the back from the curls amassed atop her head. His fingers itched to reach over and pull one of them as he had when she was five. Now seventeen, she had become a beautiful young lady with a sense of humor and a smile that could melt the heart of any man in her presence.

   He blinked his eyes and shook his head as Amelia squealed with delight and clapped her hands. He stared at his sister. “What was that you said about staying in Boston?”

“Ma and Grandmama talked with me last night, and

Pa agreed. I can stay here for the social season this fall.” “Isn’t it wonderful, Ben? Mary Beth and I can do so

many things together and have fun, and I’m sure there will be lots of parties.”

   Ben narrowed his eyes. “I’m sure there will be.” This was the first he’d heard of any desire from Mary Beth to come back here. She loved the ranch, or at least he’d thought so.

   “What will Ma and Aunt Clara do without you?” She’d been such a big help to them that he couldn’t imagine life without her around.

   “They’ll get along just fine. After all, there aren’t any more babies to care for. Gideon, Grace Ann, and Billy are old enough to care for themselves, so they don’t need me looking after them all the time.”

   That was true. With his youngest brother now eight years old and in school, no more children stayed at home needing care. Ma and Aunt Clara would manage just fine. Still, he had a difficult time believing his pa would let his oldest daughter live so far away.

Amelia and Mary Beth sat with heads close together discussing all the things they wanted to do in the coming months when Mary Beth would be presented to society just as her mother and grandmother had been before her. Then a bright side occurred to him. With Mary Beth here, that could mean Ma taking more trips to see her. Pa wouldn’t want to leave the ranch, so that would leave Ben to accompany Ma on such trips.

   More trips to Boston meant more opportunity to see Amelia Haynes. Of course, he’d have to gain permission from her parents, but that shouldn’t be a problem since their families were longtime friends. The future began to look brighter and brighter. This had been the best trip he’d taken in a long time, and he looked forward to many more like it—that is, if Amelia agreed to his calling on her.