Monday, August 31, 2009

A More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz ~ YouTube Music Video

When I first heard this song, I was hugely affected. There have been some great songs that encourage girls to not be taken in by the world's view of "beauty". I am so thankful for that, especially when young men sing the songs. Thank you so much Jonny for this impactful song!

I have such a passion for girls to know they're beautiful exactly the way God made them. This video is from YouTube. Here are the lyrics of this wonderful song:

A More Beautiful You

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn't straight her body isn't fake
And she's always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body your hair
Are perfect just the way you are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you've already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you've got a man but he's got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead

Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true
And he'll treat you like the jewel that you are

So turn around you're not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It's not too late you can be saved

If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forgets
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who's strong can right your wrongs

Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with his light he will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Transformation Study Bible with General Editor Warren Wiersbe

The Transformation Study Bible
General Editor Warren Wiersbe
David C. Cook / 2009 / Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978143476527

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—As pastors seek to make the Word of God more understandable in an age that is unfamiliar with the Bible, and as growing disciples seek to discover the truth of Scripture in a skeptical culture, there is a great need for guidance in both the preaching and study of God’s Word. Whether you’re a pastor, a seminary student, or a truth-seeking disciple, an understanding of the Bible can be made clear to you with the help of one of the most influential, in-depth, and practical Bible scholars in modern history.

For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. According to Dr. Wiersbe, “It isn’t enough for us simply to read assigned portions of the Bible each day, as helpful as that is. A truly transforming experience involves meditating on what we read (Ps. 1:2), studying it carefully in the light of other verses, and then obeying what God tells us to do (Josh. 1:8).” Now available for the first time, The Transformation Study Bible offers the full text of the highly readable New Living Translation with accompanying notes and commentary from the 50 books in Dr. Wiersbe’s “Be” series.

The Transformation Study Bible will better enable readers to appreciate, appropriate, and apply the Word of God, which will result in ‘purity, joy, right values, hope, comfort, freedom, new life, peace, guidance, wisdom, integrity, encouragement, and effective prayer,’” states Wiersbe. In other words, if you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no finer tool to encourage that process than The Transformation Study Bible.

One of the most anticipated and comprehensive study Bibles of the year, The Transformation Study Bible has been a lifetime in the making by a man who is widely known as a prolific and trusted writer and theologian. The former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, an internationally known Bible teacher, and someone who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Wiersbe lends his vast experience and scholarly insight to the most beloved and revered book of all time. This effort is to encourage believers of all levels to know and love the Bible and to experience the same transformation that has radically changed his life. The result is a Bible that is clear, understandable, and applicable to the lives of its readers.

Dr. Wiersbe writes, “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” By providing a new set of tools for Bible students of all levels, David C Cook and Warren Wiersbe have partnered to provide an essential tool to help bring the “perspective” and “renewed strength” that comes from a life transforming study of God’s Word. This fantastic and long awaited resource will bring more clarity than ever before to the study of God’s Word.


I used this Bible today as I fasted and prayed about some events in my life. I have to say it was a great Bible to use. Here are the many facets I enjoyed about this Bible.

The forward of the Bible makes a profound statement that shouldn't be overlooked, "What Your Bible Will Do for You If You Will Let It". That's what it's all about, our relationship with God. We have to allow God access to our lives. It is then explained how to make this possible.

Next we are given the Introduction to the New Living Translation. One point that struck me and I've never considered is that the Bible was written to be read aloud! I did take some time to read to read part of Proverbs outloud and it was just as I thought it would be, powerful. I also appreciate that Dr. Wiersbe explained the difference between how Bible's have been translated and that they tried to find a balance between the two: "word-for-word" (formal-equivalence) and "thought-for-thought" (dynamic-equivalence).

At the introduction of each book is an outline. It breaks down the book so that you can turn right to a section you want to study or read about. As you dive into each wonderful book, you are given study notes at the bottom of the page, which I absolutely love!!

My favorite part of this Bible has been the Catalyst sections. They each cover a different topic that's being covered in the section of Bible you're reading. I wanted to share a few pieces from topics that are covered. In Proverbs, Personal Inventory is discussed. At the end is says, "Life is too short and too precious to be wasted on the temporary and the trivial." Profile of a Fool ends on this note, "Foolish tendencies in each of us are part of our sin nature. Recognizing them and depending on God's remedies for these flaws are the first steps toward wisdom, forgiveness, and eternal life."

For me, an important aspect in a Bible is the Dictionary/Concordance. Without that, I find it lacks an important elements to help readers. There are also beautifully illustrated maps at the back. I also appreciate that there is a large section left for personal notes.

This version of the Bible will probably become one of my favorites!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
by Kathleen Y'Barbo
Random House, Inc / 2009 / Paperback
Number of Pages: 352
ISBN-13: 9780307444745

Summary for The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

The future is clearly mapped out for New York socialite Eugenia “Gennie” Cooper, but she secretly longs to slip into the boots of her favorite dime-novel heroine and experience just one adventure before settling down. When the opportunity arises, Gennie jumps at the chance to experience the Wild West, but her plans go awry when she is drawn into the lives of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter and finds herself caring for them more than is prudent–especially as she’s supposed to go back to New York and marry another man.

As Gennie adapts to the rough-and-tumble world of 1880s Colorado, she must decide whether her future lies with the enigmatic Daniel Beck or back home with the life planned for her since birth. The question is whether Daniel’s past–and disgruntled miners bent on revenge–will take that choice away from her.

My Review

I'd like to thank Ashley at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House for hosting the Back-To-School Fiction blog tour and for providing me with the 3 books to review. If you'd like the opportunity to review books you can contact them at: Let them know Mimi from Woven by Words sent you. :)

This was a delightful story. I liked the cover of the book, although the girl on it looks like she's 14 instead of a young lady. Gennie was such a fun character to read in this book. She wants a Wild West adventure, but has no idea what she's doing. That alone sets her up for adventure.

Daniel is a loving father to Charlotte, who is more than a handful and Daniel has no idea the extent with which she has been naughty. Gennie's introduction to "Charlie" is less than stellar and sets them up for a rough start. Gennie sees that Daniel's lengthy absences has been a detriment to Charlotte and sends him a letter letting him know what she thinks.

When Daniel and Gennie finally meet, it's my favorite part of the book and I actually laughed out loud. The situations they continue to find themselves in are humorous and adventurous.

*SPOILER* A couple items that kind of stuck in my mind. I never understood why Daniel had his brother's daughter, Charlotte. Did I miss that part in the story? Why didn't Edwin keep her? Why did he send her to America? Why did Daniel steal his brother's girlfriend?

Then there was a phrase that kept being repeated, "By degrees..." I know it's totally trivial, but it started bugging me. Since it's not a way we talk in this day and age, for it to be used more than a few times was too much. An example in this story, "By degrees, she became aware of the fact that if Charlotte were here, likely so was her father."

The rest of the story was a delight. Those thoughts of mine didn't have much affect on my enjoyment of the book. If you'd like to check this book out, you can visit or click: The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper

About the Author

Kathleen Y’Barbo is the best-selling, award-winning author of more than thirty novels, novellas, and young adult books, with more than a half-million in print. A graduate of Texas A&M University, she is currently a publicist with Books & Such literary agency.

Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love ~ FIRST WildCard & Giveaway

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:

Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love

WaterBrook Press (June 2, 2009)


RITA Award–winning Beth Pattillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. An ordained minister in the Christian Church, Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program. Pattillo is the married mother of two children. She lives and laughs in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (June 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073952
ISBN-13: 978-1400073955



Every Tuesday at eleven o’clock in the morning, Eugenie Carson descended the steps of the Sweetgum Public Library and made her way to Tallulah’s Café on the town square. In the past, she would have eaten the diet plate—cottage cheese and a peach half—in solitary splendor. Then she would have returned to her job running the library, just as she’d done for the last forty years.

On this humid September morning, though, Eugenie was meeting someone for lunch—her new husband, Rev. Paul Carson, pastor of the Sweetgum Christian Church. Eugenie smiled at the thought of Paul waiting for her at the café. They might both be gray haired and near retirement, but happiness was happiness, no matter what age you found it.

Eugenie entered the square from the southeast corner. The Antebellum courthouse anchored the middle, while Kendall’s Department Store occupied the east side to her right. She walked along the south side of the square, past Callahan’s Hardware, the drugstore, and the movie theater, and crossed the street to the café. The good citizens of Sweetgum were already arriving at Tallulah’s for lunch. But Eugenie passed the café, heading up the western side of the square. She had a brief errand to do before she met her husband. Two doors down, she could see the sign for Munden’s Five-and-Dime. Her business there shouldn’t take long.

Before she reached Munden’s, a familiar figure emerged from one of the shops and blocked the sidewalk.

Hazel Emerson. President of the women’s auxiliary at the Sweetgum Christian Church and self-appointed judge and jury of her fellow parishioners.

“Eugenie.” Hazel smiled, but the expression, coupled with her rather prominent eyeteeth, gave her a wolfish look. Hazel was on the heavy side, a bit younger than Eugenie’s own sixty five years, and her hair was dyed an unbecoming shade of mink. Hazel smiled, but there was no pleasantness in it. “Just the person

I wanted to see.”

Eugenie knew better than to let her distaste for the woman show. “Good morning, Hazel,” she replied. “How are you?”

“Distressed, Eugenie. Thoroughly distressed.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Eugenie truly was dismayed, but not from worry over Hazel’s discomfort.

“Yes, well, you have the power to calm the waters, ”Hazel said with the same false smile. “In a manner of speaking, at least.”

Since Eugenie’s marriage to Paul only a few weeks before, she’d learned how demanding Hazel could be. The other woman called the parsonage at all hours and appeared in Paul’s office at least once a day. Although Eugenie had known Hazel casually for years, she’d never had to bother with her much. Eugenie couldn’t remember Hazel ever having entered the library.

“How can I help you?” Eugenie said in her best librarian’s voice. She had uttered the phrase countless times over the last forty years and had it down to an art form. Interested but not enmeshed. Solicitous but not overly involved.

“Well, Eugenie, you must know that many people in the church are distressed by your marriage to Paul.”

“Really?” Eugenie kept the pleasant smile on her face and continued to breathe evenly. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“Oh, not me, of course,” Hazel said and pressed a hand to her ample chest. “I’m perfectly delighted. But some people… Well, they have concerns.”

“What concerns would those be?” Eugenie asked with measured calm.

Hazel glanced to the right and to the left, then leaned forward to whisper in a conspiratorial fashion. “Some of them aren’t sure you’re a Christian,” she said. Then she straightened and resumed her normal tone of voice. “As I said, I’m not one of them, but I thought I should tell you. For your own good, but also for Rev. Carson’s.”

“I see.” And Eugenie certainly did, far more than Hazel would guess. Eugenie wasn’t new to small-town gossip. Heaven knew she’d heard her share, and even been the target of some, over the last forty years. She’d known that her marriage to Paul would cause some comments, but she hadn’t expected this blatant response.

“I’m mentioning it because I don’t think it would be difficult to put people’s fears to rest,” Hazel said. Her smug expression needled Eugenie. “I know you’ve been attending worship, and that’s a wonderful start.” Hazel quickly moved from interfering to patronizing. “The women’s auxiliary meets on Tuesday mornings. If you joined us—”

“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” Eugenie answered. She was determined to keep a civil tongue in her head if it killed her. “I have to work.”

“For something this important, I’m sure you could find someone to cover for you.”

Eugenie tightened her grip on her handbag. In an emergency, no doubt she could arrange something. But this wasn’t an emergency. It was manipulation.


“Particularly at this time,” Hazel said, barely stopping for breath. “With all the losses we’ve had in these last few months… Well, our community needs leadership. Our church needs leadership.” She gave Eugenie a meaningful look.

Eugenie paused to consider her words carefully. “It has been a difficult summer,” she began. “Tom Munden’s death was so unexpected, and then to lose Frank Jackson like that. And now, with Nancy St. Clair…”

“So you see why it’s more important than ever that you prove to church members that their pastor hasn’t made a grave mistake.”

“I hardly think that my attending a meeting of the women’s auxiliary will offer much comfort to the grieving.” Nor would it convince anyone of her status as a believer. Those sorts of people weren’t looking for proof. They were looking for Eugenie to grovel for acceptance.

Hazel sniffed. “Don’t be difficult, Eugenie. You’re being unrealistic if you expect people to accept you as a Christian after forty years of never darkening the door of any sanctuary in this town.”

“I’ve always felt that faith is a private matter.” That was the sum of any personal information Eugenie was willing to concede to Hazel. “I prefer to let my actions speak for me.”

“There are rumblings,” Hazel said darkly. “Budget rumblings.”

“What do you mean?”

“People need to have full confidence in their pastor, Eugenie. Otherwise they’re less motivated to support the church financially.”

Eugenie bit her tongue. She couldn’t believe Hazel Emerson was standing here, in the middle of the town square, practicing her own brand of extortion.

“Are you threatening me?” Eugenie asked, incredulous.

Hazel sniffed. “Of course not. Don’t be silly. I’m merely cautioning you. As a Christian and as a friend.”

Eugenie wanted to reply that Hazel didn’t appear to be filling either role very well, but she refrained.

“I’ll take your concerns under advisement,” she said to Hazel with forced pleasantness. “I’m sure you mean them in the kindest possible way.”

“Of course I do. How else would I mean them?”

“How else, indeed?” Eugenie muttered under her breath.

“Well, I won’t keep you.” Hazel nodded. “Have a nice day, Eugenie.”

“You too, Hazel.” The response was automatic and helped Eugenie to cover her true sentiments. She stood in place for a long moment as Hazel moved past her, on her way to stir up trouble in some other quarter, no doubt. Then, with a deep breath, Eugenie forced herself to start moving toward Munden’s Five-and-Dime.

She had known it would be difficult, stepping into this unfamiliar role as a pastor’s wife. Paul had assured her that he had no expectations, that she should do what she felt was right. But Eugenie wondered if he had any idea of the trouble Hazel Emerson was stirring up right under his nose.

True, she hadn’t attended church for forty years. After she and Paul had ended their young romance, she’d blamed God for separating them. If Paul hadn’t felt called to the ministry, if he hadn’t refused to take her with him when he went to seminary, if she hadn’t stubbornly insisted on going with him or ending their relationship…

Last year she and Paul had found each other again, all these decades later, and she’d thought the past behind them. But here it was once more in the person of Hazel Emerson, raising troubling questions. Threatening Paul. Forcing Eugenie to examine issues she’d rather leave unanswered.

As the head of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, Eugenie had taken on responsibility for the well-being of the little group several years before. Since Ruthie Allen, the church secretary, had left for Africa last spring to do volunteer work, the group had experienced a definite void. It was time for an infusion of new blood, and after careful consideration, Eugenie had determined that Maria Munden was just the person the Knit Lit Society needed. What’s more, Maria needed the group too. The recent loss of her father must be quite difficult for her, Eugenie was sure. And so despite having had her feathers ruffled by Hazel Emerson, Eugenie walked into Munden’s Five-and-Dime with a firm purpose.

“Good morning, Maria,” Eugenie called above the whine of the door. For years she’d been after Tom Munden to use a little WD-40 on the hinges, but he had insisted that the noise bothered him less than the idea of a customer entering without him knowing it.

“Eugenie! Hello.” Maria straightened from where she stood slumped over the counter. She had red marks on her forehead from resting her head in her hands, and her nondescript shoulder length brown hair hung on each side of her face in a clump. Eugenie had come at the right time. Maria was in her early thirties, but her father’s death seemed to have aged her ten years.

Maria came around the counter. “What can I help you with today?”

“Oh, I’m not here to buy anything,” Eugenie said, and then she was dismayed when disappointment showed in Maria’s eyes. With the superstores of the world creeping closer and closer to Sweetgum, mom-and-pop shops like Munden’s were living on borrowed time. Even if Tom Munden had lived, the inevitable day when the store closed couldn’t have been avoided.

“What did you need then?” Maria’s tone was polite but strained.

“I have an invitation for you.”

“An invitation?”

Eugenie stood a little straighter. “On behalf of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society, I’d like to extend an invitation to you to become a part of the group.”

Maria’s brown eyes were blank for a moment, and then they darkened. “The Knit Lit Society?”

“I can’t think of anyone who would be a better fit.” Eugenie paused. “If you don’t know how to knit, one of us can teach you. And I know you enjoy reading.” Maria was one of the most faithful and frequent patrons of the library. “I think you’d appreciate the discussion.”

Maria said nothing.

“If you’d like some time to think—”

“I’ll do it,” Maria said quickly, as if she didn’t want to give herself time to reconsider. “I know how to knit. You won’t have to teach me.”

“Excellent,” Eugenie said, relieved. “Our meeting is this Friday.”

“Do I have to read something by then?” Lines of doubt wrinkled Maria’s forehead beneath the strands of gray that streaked her hair.

Eugenie shook her head. “I haven’t passed out the reading list for this year. This first meeting will be to get us organized.”

Relief eased the tight lines on her face.

“We meet at the church, of course,” Eugenie continued. “Upstairs, in the Pairs and Spares Sunday school room. If you’d like, I can drop by here Friday evening and we can walk over together.”

Maria shook her head. “Thank you, but that won’t be necessary.” She paused, as if collecting her thoughts, then spoke. “I’m not sure why you asked me to join, Eugenie, but I appreciate it.”

“I’m delighted to have you. The others will be as well. ”Mission accomplished, Eugenie shifted her pocketbook to the other arm. “I’d better be going. I’m meeting Paul for lunch at the café.”

Like most of Sweetgum, with the possible exception of Hazel Emerson, Maria smiled at Eugenie’s mention of her new husband. “Tell the preacher I said hello.” Maria moved to open the door for Eugenie. “I’ll see you at the meeting.”

Eugenie lifted her shoulders and nodded with as much equanimity as she could. After years of being the town spinster, playing the newlywed was a novel experience. She hoped she’d become accustomed to it with time—if she didn’t drive away all of Paul’s parishioners first with her heathen ways.

“Have a nice afternoon,” Eugenie said and slipped out the door, glad that at least one thing that morning had gone as planned.

After Eugenie left, Maria Munden halfheartedly swiped her feather duster at the back-to-school display in the front window. Hot sunshine, amplified by the plate glass, made sweat bead on her forehead. What was the point of dusting the same old collection of binders, backpacks, and two-pocket folders? She’d barely seen a customer all day. She turned from the window and looked around at the neat rows of shelving. The five symmetrical aisles had stood in the same place as long as she could remember.

Aisle one, to the far left, held greeting cards, gift-wrap, stationery, office and school supplies. Aisle two, housewares and paper goods. Aisle three, decorative items. Aisle four, cleaning supplies and detergent. Aisle five had always been her favorite, with its games, puzzles, and coloring books. Across the back wall stretched the sewing notions, yarn, and craft supplies. Everything to outfit a household and its members in one small space. The only problem was, no one wanted small anymore. They wanted variety, bulk, and large economy size with a McDonald’s and a credit union. Not quaint and limited, like the old five-and- dime.

From the counter a few feet away, Maria’s cell phone buzzed, and she sighed. She knew without looking at the display who it would be.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Maria, you have to do something about this.” Her mother never acknowledged the greeting but plunged into a voluble litany of complaints that covered everything from the state of the weather to her older sister Daphne’s management of the farm.

“Mom?” Maria tried to interrupt her mother’s diatribe. “Mom? Look, I’m the only one in the store right now. I’ll have to call you back later.”

“Where’s Stephanie? She was supposed to be there at nine.”

“I don’t know where she is. ”Maria’s younger sister, the baby at twenty-five, was AWOL more often than not.

Maria heard the shop door open with a whine of its hinges, not too different from her mother’s tone of voice. She looked up, expecting to see her younger sister. Instead, a tall, dark-haired man entered the store. He took two steps inside, then stopped. His eyes traveled around the rows of shelves, and his lips twisted in an expression of disapproval. The hairs on Maria’s neck stood on end. The stranger saw her, nodded, and then disappeared down the far aisle, but he was so tall that Maria could track his progress as he moved. He came to a stop in front of the office supplies. Someone from out of town, obviously. Probably a traveling salesman who needed paper clips or legal pads. Maybe a couple of blank CDs or a flash drive. Maria had dealt with his type before.

“Bye, Mom,” she said into the phone before clicking it shut. From experience, she knew it would take her mother several moments before she realized Maria was no longer on the other end of the line. Such discoveries never seemed to faze her mother. She would simply look around the room at home and find Daphne so she could continue her rant. Maria tucked the cell phone under the counter and moved across the store toward the stranger. “May I help you?” Upon closer inspection, she could see that his suit was expensive. So were his haircut, his shoes, and his aftershave.

His head turned toward her, and she felt a little catch in her chest. His dark eyes stared down at her as if she were a lesser mortal approaching a demigod.

“I’m looking for a fountain pen,” he said. He turned back toward the shelves of office supplies and studied them as if attempting to decipher a secret code.

A fountain pen? In Sweetgum? He was definitely from out of town.

“I’m afraid we only have ballpoint or gel.” She waved a hand toward the appropriate shelf. “Would one of these do?”

He looked at her again, one eyebrow arched like the vault of a cathedral. “I need a fountain pen.”

Maria took a calming breath. A sale was a sale, and the customer was always right—her father’s two favorite dictums, drummed into her from the day she was tall enough to see over the counter.

“I’m sorry. Our selection is limited, I know. Which way are you headed? I can direct you to the nearest Wal-Mart. You might find one there.”

At her mention of the chain superstore, the man’s mouth turned down as if she’d just insulted him. “No, thank you. That won’t be necessary.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?” she said, practically gritting her teeth. She resisted the urge to grab his arm and hustle him out of the store. Today was not the day to try her patience. In two hours, assuming Stephanie showed up, Maria was going to cross the town square to the lawyer’s office and do the unthinkable. At the moment, she didn’t have time for this man and his supercilious attitude toward Sweetgum.

“I need directions,” he said, eyeing her dubiously, as if he thought she might not be up to the task.

“Well, if you’re looking for someplace nearby, I can tell you where you need to go,” she said without a hint of a smile.

He looked away, as if deliberating whether to accept her offer. Honestly, the man might be extraordinarily good-looking—and wealthy, no doubt—but she would be surprised if he had any friends. He had the social skills of a goat.

The hinges on the door whined again. Maria looked over her shoulder to see another man entering the shop.

“James!” The second man grinned when he caught sight of the stranger at Maria’s side. “You disappeared.” The newcomer was as fair as the first was dark. “We’re late.”

“Yes,” the stranger replied with a continued lack of charm.

“But I needed a pen. ”He snatched a two-pack of ballpoints from the shelf and extended them toward Maria. “I’ll take these.”

Maria bit the inside of her lip and took the package from his hand. “I’ll ring you up at the counter.” She whirled on one heel and walked, spine rigid, to the front of the store.

“Hi.” The second man greeted her with cheery casualness. “Great store. I haven’t seen anything like this in years.”

It was a polite way of saying that Munden’s Five-and-Dime was dated, but Maria appreciated his chivalry. Especially since his friend obviously didn’t have a courteous bone in his body.

“Thank you. ”Maria smiled at him and then stepped behind the counter to ring up the sale on the ancient register. She’d pushed her father for years to computerize their sales—not to mention the inventory—but he’d been perfectly happy with his tried-and-true methods. Unfortunately, while he’d been able to keep track of sales and stock in his head, Maria wasn’t quite so gifted.

The tall man appeared on the other side of the register. “Three dollars and thirty-two cents,” she said, not looking him in the eye.

He reached for his wallet and pulled out a hundred dollar bill. Maria refused to show her frustration. Great. Now he would wipe out all her change, and she’d have to figure out a way to run over to the bank without anyone to watch the store. She completed the transaction and slid the package of pens into a paper bag with the Munden’s logo emblazoned on it.

“Hey, can you recommend a place for lunch?” the blond man asked. He glanced at his watch. “We need a place to eat between meetings.”

“Tallulah’s Café down the block,” Maria said. Even the tall, arrogant stranger wouldn’t be able to find fault with Tallulah’s home cooking. People drove from miles around for her fried chicken, beef stew, and thick, juicy pork chops. “But you might want to go soon. The café gets busy at lunch.”

“Thanks.” His smile could only be described as sunny, and it made Maria feel better. She smiled in response.

“You’re welcome.”

The tall man watched the exchange impassively. Maria hoped he’d be gone from Sweetgum before the sun went down. Big-city folks who came into town dispensing condescension were one of her biggest pet peeves.

“C’mon, James,” the blond man said. “I have a lot of papers to go over.” He nodded toward his friend. “James here thinks I’m crazy to buy so much land in the middle of nowhere.”

Maria froze. It couldn’t be.

“Oh.” She couldn’t think what else to say.

“We’d better go,” the tall man said, glancing at his watch. “Thank you. ”He nodded curtly at Maria, letting her know she’d been dismissed as the inferior creature that she was.

“But I thought you wanted—” Before she could remind him about his request for directions, the two men disappeared out the door, and Maria’s suspicions—not to mention her fears— flooded through her.

She should have put two and two together the moment the first man had walked into the store. A stranger in an expensive suit. In town for a meeting. Looking for a fountain pen to sign things. Normally Maria was good at figuring things out. Like where her father had put the quarterly tax forms and how she and Stephanie could manage the store with just the two of them for employees.

What she hadn’t figured out, though, were the more complex questions. Like how she had come to be a small-town spinster when she hadn’t been aware of time passing. Or how she was going to keep the five-and-dime afloat even as the town’s economy continued to wither on the vine. And she certainly had no idea how she was going to tell her mother and sisters that she, as executrix of her father’s will, was about to sell their farm, and the only home they’d ever known, right out from under them.

“Welcome to Sweetgum,” she said to the empty aisles around her, and then she picked up the feather duster once more.

You can find my review and Giveaway here at this link:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rose House by Tina Ann Forkner & GIVEAWAY

Rose House
Random House, Inc / 2009 / Paperback
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN-13: 9781400073597

Book Summary

A vivid story of a private grief, a secret painting, and one woman’s search for hope.

Still mourning the loss of her family in a tragic accident, Lillian Diamon finds herself drawn back to the Rose House, a quiet cottage where four years earlier she had poured out her anguish among its fragrant blossoms.

She returns to the rolling hills and lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley in search of something she can’t quite name. But then Lillian stumbles onto an unexpected discovery: displayed in the La Rosaleda Gallery is a painting that captures every detail of her most private moment of misery, from the sorrow etched across her face to the sandals on her feet.

What kind of artist would dare to intrude on such a personal scene, and how did he happen to witness Lillian’s pain? As the mystery surrounding the portrait becomes entangled with the accident that claimed the lives of her husband and children, Lillian is forced to rethink her assumptions about what really happened that day.

A captivating novel rich with detail, Rose House explores how the brushstrokes of pain can illuminate the true beauty of life.

My Review

I'd like to take a moment to thank Ashley at Random House for sending me my copy of Tina's book. You can learn more about Multnomah Books, a division of Random House at To learn more about Rose House or to purchase the book click on the title.

Like Tina's first book, Ruby Among Us, I was drawn into the beauty of the landscape. We meet Lillian as she is at Rose House and is grieving the loss of her family. In the moment of her grief spilling out, someone is watching her as well as photographing her. She senses she's being watched and leaves quickly.

Forward four years and Lillian is still trying to work through her grief. She is at an art store and sees a painting of Rose House with a woman sitting next to it that looks strangely like herself. It sends her back to La Rosalida in search of the artist.

In the meantime, her ne'er-do-well sister, Geena is being threatened in a phone call and takes off to find her sister, whom she had betrayed. Will she be able to convince Lillian that someone is watching both of them again? Does she know more about the death of Lillian's family than she's letting on?

When Lillian visits La Rosalida she meets a wonderful group of ladies who are taken with her and with the fact someone painted her. They all try and figure out who could've painted her. I really liked that she was forced to open her life up to these women. I got the distinct feeling Lillian wasn't close to anyone and really had no friends. These ladies came alongside her and pulled her out of her grief.

Then we meet Truman. He's an artist who is beloved by the people in town. He has his own history of pain, but also an air of mystery. Tina created Tru to be mysterious enough for us to question his motives of getting to know Lillian. Does he have something to hide? As much as you want him to really care for her, you have this nagging feeling that he might not be on the up and up, regardless of all the ladies Lillian gets to know saying he's a wonderful man. Will she find out in time if he can be trusted?

About the Author

Tina Ann Forkner is the author of Ruby Among Us. Originally from Oklahoma, she now lives with her husband and three children in Wyoming, where she serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation’s board of directors.

To win Rose House, let me know if you've ever seen a vacation spot in a picture, in a commercial, or in some other advertisement and decided to visit. Was it like you expected from the ad?
I've never had the chance to do something like that. When I'm at doctor's offices I love looking at the travel magazines because that's about as close as I'll ever get to being at that specific destination. :)
As usual, leave me your email address so I can contact you if you win. No email means no entry, sorry. Contest open to US residents. Giveaway will run thru Sept 4.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo ~ FIRST Wildcard & Giveaway

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love

Number of Pages: 352
ISBN-13: 9781400073955
Random House, Inc / 2009 / Paperback

Summary for The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love

Once a month, the six women of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society gather to discuss books and share their knitting projects. Inspired by her recently-wedded bliss, group leader Eugenie chooses “Great Love Stories in Literature” as the theme for the year’s reading list–a risky selection for a group whose members span the spectrum of age and relationship status.

As the Knit Lit ladies read and discus classic romances like Romeo and Juliet, Wuthering Heights, and Pride and Prejudice, each member is confronted with her own perception about love. Camille’s unexpected reunion with an old crush forces her to confront conflicting desires. Newly widowed Esther finds her role in Sweetgum changing and is surprised by two unlikely friends. Hannah isn’t sure she’s ready for the trials of first love. Newcomer Maria finds her life turned upside-down by increasing family obligations and a handsome, arrogant lawyer, and Eugenie and Merry are both asked to make sacrifices for their husbands that challenge their principles.

Even in a sleepy, southern town like Sweetgum, Tennessee, love isn’t easy. The Knit Lit ladies learn they can find strength and guidance in the novels they read, the love of their family, their community–and especially in each other.

My Review

I'd like to thank Ashley at Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, for providing me with my copy of Beth Pattillo's book. To learn more about this book and other Random House books visit The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love.

This is the second installment of the Sweetgum series. I really enjoyed book 2. There are a lot of stories going on in this book, but they are extremely easy to keep track of. I guess the only time I had to re-read a part was when it changed from Eugenie to Esther. The two "E" names kept messing me up. :)

Eugenie has chosen the theme of "love" for this years reading genre. Of course, it makes most everyone groan at the thought. Camille, who's mother has passed away and is stuck in Sweetgum never having gotten to live her dream. Esther who has just lost her husband, Frank. Eugenie who has married a local pastor and is trying to figure out what role she plays. Maria, who's father died and left her family financially strapped and is a 30-something single woman with no real chances of meeting anyone in Sweetgum. Merry, the mom who seems to have it all with her husband and children. And finally, Hannah, the teenager who's only just now learning the love of an adult after being abandoned by her mom.

Each of their stories will touch the heart of the reader. Camille gets a chance at love again, but is trying to keep him at arms length. Maria, the newcomer to the group, is taking over the responsibilities of running the Five and Dime. She wonders how she's going to deal with the men who are buying her family farm. Eugenie is trying to be part of church activities, even though Paul has told her he has no expectations of her. She's also trying to keep an eye on her new charge Hannah, when she's never even been a mom. Esther is learning about love on a different playing field in the form of a dog, a dog she hit with her Jaguar. The new vet in town, Brady, who is at least 10 yrs her junior befriends her and shows her what a wonderful friendship can be like. Merry has a chance to help out at her husband's office, but that means putting her toddler into daycare. Will she end up being bitter and what will the other stay-at-home-moms think? Hannah knows no one at school could give a rip about her until a friend from middle school shows back up and shows some interest in her. Unfortunately, he's the star quarterback, and the pressure put on him doesn't help him make the best decisions.

This was a wonderfully quick read for me and I enjoyed getting into the lives of the characters again. The only thing that I would say is there's not a lot of biblical references, other than Eugenie being badgered by Hazel (who I wanted to slap!) to prove her faith. The characters never talk about their faith or relying on God. One of the men in the book prays during a meal, but that's about it. I realize that this isn't that big of an issue. I just like reading about the faith of people in stories. I typically find a way to relate to them on a spiritual level. I don't in this series. It seems to me that they all relied on themselves, never once seeking the Lord.

About the Author

RITA Award-winning Beth Patillo combines her love of knitting and books in her engaging Sweetgum series. Pattillo served churches in Missouri and Tennessee before founding Faith Leader, a spiritual leadership development program.
To Win the Book
Leave me a message letting me know if you ever tried to create a project in conjunction with a book you've read. I know I haven't. I'm lucky to get my books read in time for book club!
Remember to leave me your email address so that I can contact you if you win. Without the email address, you won't be able to enter. Open to US residents only. Contest will run through Sept 2.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dropped My Daughter Off At College

Taking Brie to college on Friday, and then leaving that night was probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my life. Do you remember taking your little boy/girl to camp for the first time? Do you remember how it felt to leave them there?

What questions did you ask yourself: Are we doing the right thing? Who will make sure they're eating right? What if they get hurt, will there be someone who will know how to take care of them and love on them like I would? What if they get homesick?
Well, that's what I thought and how I felt when we went down to the campus Friday morning. I called the radio station that's part of the campus and told them I was bringing her down and that I was having a hard time. The DJ's were awesome and played a song for her.

NWC is a Christian college and their move-in day is different than any campus I know of. As you turn into the campus, you see kids on both sides of the street waving and welcoming you. As you wind your way back to the check-in, there are kids throughout the drive waving. We got her checked in and headed to her dorm.
As soon as I parked the van next to the curb, kids swarmed our van to help us unload everything! They were so upbeat at 9am! The girls that were already on campus to help with Orientation week let us walk through their rooms to see how they're set up. All the kids were so amazingly nice!!!

Brie and I were the first ones to her room. I was glad in a way that she was able to pick where her desk was, which drawers she would use, etc. Then roomie #1 came and she was a sweet girl. Her dad was with her and was helping put together the futon. Roomie #2 came and she was so upbeat! She and Brie actually had most of the same movies and had the same blankets.

I have to admit, the girls' room looked great when we all finished unpacking. They did an awesome job of coordinating before hand so very few things were duplicated. They each pitched in so that only one person didn't bring the big items. Roomie #1 had the futon, Roomie #2 had an extra fridge, and Brie brought the flat screen tv she won at her grad party!

We had some worship time together after lunch. It was so beautiful. Our pastor's wife sat next to me, and that was a mistake. She has the canny ability to make me laugh when I shouldn't. Actually, she made me start laughing right when I was about to start bawling, which this time I was thankful for.

The moment that impacted me the most was when the Orientation helpers held hands up and down the aisles of the auditorium and sang, "May the Lord bless you and keep you, may His face shine down upon you, and give you peace and give you peace and give you peace forever." I felt like they breathed a blessing over our kids through that song. Yes, I was crying. It was so tender and loving. Then they had us join in for the last time they sang it. Yah, right! I couldn't say a word.

At the end of the night was the parent meeting with the faculty. They were so sweet to us parents. They knew that there were moms and dads who were ready to have their last kid off to college, but they also knew there were some of us that were having a hard time cutting the cord. They continued to reassure us that our kids are precious to them and they will take care of them.

A parent shared about her experiences with her 2 boys attending NWC, one of whom graduated in the Spring and the other in his senior year. She actually got choked up at one point and told us she understood how hard it was to let go. Then she told us she had tissue available!

The gentleman who ran the parent meeting handed out postcards to us and asked us to write a blessing to our children. OH, let me back up for a sec to the beginning of the meeting. We sang 2 worship songs. The first was "Blessed Be Your Name" by Tree63, my little Ryan's favorite song. That sealed my fate for this meeting. Cried like a stinkin' baby. I felt like the Lord was speaking to me though, like He was reminding me that He was with Brie. I thought to myself, "If they sing 'Awesome God' by Rich Mullins I will actually wail out loud!" That was Brie's favorite song as a little girl. They didn't sing it, but sang another song that both of the boys love!

Ok, back to the postcard. The guy wanted us to write something to our kid. I managed to write the word "Baby" and then started sobbing. Do you think there was a tissue anywhere? NO! All I had brought with me was my camera and a pen! Through the sobbing, I managed to tell Brie how precious she is to me and a memory of her singing when she was a little girl, arms raised high, praising the Lord to "Awesome God". After about 5 minutes, the guy gets back up and tells us that we should read it to our kid at some point over the weekend! Are you kidding me? I could barely write her nickname and you want me to read it to her?

So, as I was leaving that night, Brie followed me outside and I told her I was supposed to read it to her. I warned her that I'd cry and she sternly told me NOT to cry as she looked at all the people who kept walking by. I asked her if she wanted me to read it Saturday and she said no because I'd cry then, too. True. So, I looked down at the card to read it and broke out sobbing! She stood there patiently waiting for me to gather myself. I read it very choppily and then gave her the card. She gave me a hug...a REAL hug, and headed to her car to move it closer to her dorm.

Then I left. Left with the same feeling as when I left her at camp for the first time when she was a little girl. I felt like I'd left 1/4 of my heart on that college campus. I was so thankful that she hugged me when I left. It wasn't one of those, "Ugh, do you have to touch me?" kind of a hug. It was a hug like she liked me!!

On my way home I stopped at Wal Mart and picked up some groceries and other items I knew she was going to need. I was so emotionally exhausted I could barely see straight! I got home and put away the fridge stuff, then climbed into Brie's bed and fell right to sleep!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson ~ FIRST Wildcard

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:

North! Or Be Eaten

WaterBrook Press (August 18, 2009)


Andrew Peterson is the author of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats. He’s also the critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter and recording artist of ten albums, including Resurrection Letters II. He and his wife, Jamie, live with their two sons and one daughter in The Warren near Nashville, Tennessee.

Visit the author's website and website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: WaterBrook Press (August 18, 2009)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1400073871

ISBN-13: 978-1400073870


The Lone Fendril

TOOOOTHY COW!” bellowed Podo as he whacked a stick against the nearest glipwood tree. The old pirate’s eyes blazed, and he stood at the base of the tree like a ship’s captain at the mast. “Toothy cow! Quick! Into the tree house!”

Not far away, an arrow whizzed through some hanging moss and thudded into a plank of wood decorated with a charcoal drawing of a snarling Fang. The arrow protruded from the Fang’s mouth, the shaft still vibrating from the impact. Tink lowered his bow, squinted to see if he had hit the target, and completely ignored his grandfather.

“TOOOOOTHY—oy! That’s a fine shot, lad—COW!”

Podo whacked the tree as Nia hurried up the rope ladder that led to the trapdoor in the floor of Peet the Sock Man’s tree house. A sock-covered hand reached down and pulled Nia up through the opening.

“Thank you, Artham,” she said, still holding his hand. She looked him in the eye and raised her chin, waiting for him to answer.

Peet the Sock Man, whose real name was Artham P. Wingfeather, looked back at her and gulped. One of his eyes twitched. He looked like he wanted to flee, as he always did when she called him by his first name, but Nia didn’t let go of his hand.

“Y-y-you’re welcome…Nia.” Every word was an effort, especially her name, but he sounded less crazy than he used to be. Only a week earlier, the mention of the name

“Artham” sent him into a frenzy—he would scream, shimmy down the rope ladder, and disappear into the forest for hours. Nia released his hand and peered down through the opening in the floor at her father, who still banged on the tree and bellowed about the impending onslaught of toothy cows.

“Come on, Tink!” Janner said.

A quiver of arrows rattled under one arm as he ran toward Leeli, who sat astride her dog, Nugget. Nugget, whose horselike size made him as dangerous as any toothy cow in the forest, panted and wagged his tail. Tink reluctantly dropped his bow and followed, eying the forest for signs of toothy cows. The brothers helped a wide-eyed Leeli down from her dog, and the three of them rushed to the ladder.

“COWS, COWS, COWS!” Podo howled. Janner followed Tink and Leeli up the ladder. When they were all safely inside, Podo heaved himself through the opening and latched the trapdoor shut.

“Not bad,” Podo said, looking pleased with himself. “Janner, next time you’ll want to move yer brother and sister along a little faster. Had there been a real cow upon us, ye might not have had time to get ’em to the ladder before them slobbery teeth started tearin’ yer tender flesh—”

“Papa, really,” Nia said.

“—and rippin’ it from yer bones,” he continued. “If Tink’s too stubborn to drop what he’s doin’, Janner, it falls to you to find a way to persuade him, you hear?” Janner’s cheeks burned, and he fought the urge to defend himself. The toothy cow drills had been a daily occurrence since their arrival at Peet’s tree house, and the children had gradually stopped shrieking with panic whenever Podo’s hollers disturbed the otherwise quiet wood.

Since Janner had learned he was a Throne Warden, he had tried to take his responsibility to protect the king seriously. His mother’s stories about Peet’s dashing reputation as a Throne Warden in Anniera made Janner proud of the ancient tradition of which he was a part.1 The trouble was that he was supposed to protect his younger brother, Tink, who happened to be the High King. It wasn’t that Janner was jealous; he had no wish to rule anything. But sometimes it felt odd that his skinny, reckless brother was, of all things, a king, much less the king of the fabled Shining Isle of Anniera.

Janner stared out the window at the forest as Podo droned on, telling him about his responsibility to protect his brother, about the many dangers of Glipwood Forest, about what Janner should have done differently during this most recent cow drill. Janner missed his home. In the days after they fled the town of Glipwood and arrived at Peet’s castle, Janner’s sense of adventure was wide awake. He thrilled at the thought of the long journey to the Ice Prairies, so excited he could scarcely sleep.

1. In Anniera the second born, not the first, is heir to the throne. The eldest child is a Throne Warden, charged with the honor and responsibility of protecting the king above all others. Though this creates much confusion among ordinary children who one day discover that they are in fact the royal family living in exile (see On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness), for ages the Annierans found it to be a good system. The king was never without a protector, and the Throne Warden held a place of great honor in the kingdom.

When he did sleep, he dreamed of wide sweeps of snow under stars so sharp and

bright they would draw blood at a touch.

But weeks had passed—he didn’t know how many—and his sense of adventure was fast asleep. He missed the rhythm of life at the cottage. He missed the hot meals, the slow change of the land as the seasons turned, and the family of birds that nested in the crook above the door where he, Tink, and Leeli would inspect the tiny blue eggs each morning and each night, then the chicks, and then one day they would look in sad wonder at the empty nest and ask themselves where the birds had gone. But those days had passed away as sure as the summer, and whether he liked it or not, home was no longer the cottage. It wasn’t Peet’s tree house, either. He wasn’t sure he had a home anymore.

Podo kept talking, and Janner felt again that hot frustration in his chest when told things he already knew. But he held his tongue. Grownups couldn’t help it. Podo and his mother would hammer a lesson into his twelve-year-old head until he felt beaten silly, and there was no point fighting it. He sensed Podo’s rant coming to an end and forced himself to listen.

“…this is a dangerous place, this forest, and many a man has been gobbled up by some critter because he weren’t paying close enough attention.”

“Yes sir,” Janner said as respectfully as possible. Podo grinned at him and winked, and Janner smiled back in spite of himself. It occurred to him that Podo knew exactly what he’d been thinking.

Podo turned to Tink. “A truly fine shot, boy, and the drawing of the Fang on that board is fine work.”

“Thanks, Grandpa,” Tink said. His stomach growled. “When can we eat breakfast?”

“Listen, lad,” Podo said. He lowered his bushy eyebrows and leveled a formidable glare at Tink. “When yer brother tells ye to come, you drop what yer doin’ like it’s on fire.” Tink gulped. “You follow that boy over the cliffs and into the Dark Sea if he tells you to. Yer the High King, which means ye’ve got to start thinkin’ of more than yerself.”

Janner’s irritation drained away, as did the color in Tink’s face. He liked not being the only one in trouble, though he felt a little ashamed at the pleasure he took in watching Tink squirm.

“Yes sir,” Tink said. Podo stared at him so long that he repeated, “Yes sir.”

“You okay, lass?” Podo turned with a smile to Leeli. She nodded and pushed some of her wavy hair behind one ear. “Grandpa, when are we leaving?”

All eyes in the tree house looked at her with surprise. The family had spent weeks in relative peace in the forest, but that unspoken question had grown more and more difficult to avoid as the days passed. They knew they couldn’t stay forever. Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang still terrorized the land of Skree, and the shadow they cast covered more of Aerwiar with every passing day. It was only a matter of time before that shadow fell again on the Igibys.

“We need to leave soon,” Nia said, looking in the direction of Glipwood. “When the leaves fall, we’ll be exposed, won’t we, Artham?”

Peet jumped a little at his name and rubbed the back of his head with one hand for a moment before he spoke. “Cold winter comes, trees go bare, the bridges are easy to see, yes. We should grobably po—probably go.”

“To the Ice Prairies?” asked Janner.

“Yes,” said Nia. “The Fangs don’t like the cold weather. We’ve all seen how much slower they move in the winter, even here. Hopefully in a place as frozen as the Ice Prairies, the Fangs will be scarce.”

Podo grunted.

“I know what you think, and it’s not one of our options,” Nia said flatly.

“What does Grandpa think?” Tink asked.

“That’s between your grandfather and me.”

“What does he think?” Janner pressed, realizing he sounded more like a grownup than usual.

Nia looked at Janner, trying to decide if she should give him an answer. She had kept so many secrets from the children for so long that it was plain to Janner she still found it difficult to be open with them. But things were different now. Janner knew who he was, who his father was, and had a vague idea what was at stake. He had even noticed his input mattered to his mother and grandfather. Being a Throne Warden— or at least knowing he was a Throne Warden—had changed the way they regarded him.

“Well,” Nia said, still not sure how much to say.

Podo decided for her. “I think we need to do more than get to the Ice Prairies and lie low like a family of bumpy digtoads, waitin’ fer things to happen to us. If Oskar was right about there bein’ a whole colony of folks up north what don’t like livin’ under the boot of the Fangs, and if he’s right about them wantin’ to fight, then they don’t need us to gird up and send these Fangs back to Dang with their tails on fire. I say the jewels need to find a ship and go home.” He turned to his daughter. “Think of it, lass! You could sail back across the Dark Sea to Anniera—”

“What do you mean ‘you’?” Tink asked.

“Nothin’,” Podo said with a wave of his hand. “Nia, you could go home. Think of it!”

“There’s nothing left for us there,” Nia said.

“Fine! Forget Anniera. What about the Hollows? You ain’t seen the Green Hollows in ten years, and for all you know, the Fangs haven’t even set foot there! Yer ma’s family might still be there, thinkin’ you died with the rest of us.”

Nia closed her eyes and drew a deep breath. Peet and the children stared at the floor. Janner hadn’t thought about the fact that he might have distant family living in the hills of the Green Hollows across the sea. He agreed with his mother that it seemed foolish to try to make such a journey. First they had to get past the Fangs in Torrboro, then north, over the Stony Mountains to the Ice Prairies. Now Podo was talking about crossing the ocean? Janner wasn’t used to thinking of the world in such terms.

Nia opened her eyes and spoke. “Papa, there’s nothing for us to do now but find our way north. We don’t need to go across the sea. We don’t need to go back to Anniera. We don’t need to go to the Green Hollows. We need to go north, away from the Fangs. That’s all. Let’s get these children safely to the prairies, and we’ll finish this discussion then.”

Podo sighed. “Aye, lass. Gettin’ there will cause enough trouble of its own.” He fixed an eye on Peet, who stood on his head in the corner. “I suppose you’ll be comin’ with us, then?”

Peet gasped and tumbled to the floor, then leapt to his feet and saluted Podo. Leeli giggled.

“Aye sir,” he said, mimicking Podo’s raspy growl. “I’m ready to go when the Featherwigs are ready. Even know how to get to the Icy Prairies. Been there before, long time ago—not much to see but ice and prairies and ice all white and blinding and cold. It’s very cold there. Icy.” Peet took a deep, happy breath and clapped his socked hands together. “All right! We’re off !”

He flipped open the trapdoor and leapt through the opening before Podo or the Igibys could stop him. The children hurried to the trapdoor and watched him slide down the rope ladder and march away in a northward direction. From the crook in the giant root system of the tree where he usually slept, Nugget perked up his big, floppy ears without lifting his head from his paws and watched Peet disappear into the forest.

“He’ll come back when he realizes we aren’t with him,” Leeli said with a smile. She and Peet spent hours together either reading stories or with him dancing about with great swoops of his socked hands while she played her whistleharp. Leeli’s presence seemed to have a medicinal effect on Peet. When they were together, his jitters ceased, his eyes stopped shifting, and his voice took on a deeper, less strained quality.

The strong and pleasant sound of it helped Janner believe his mother’s stories about Artham P. Wingfeather’s exploits in Anniera before the Great War. The only negative aspect of Leeli and Peet’s friendship was that it made Podo jealous. Before Peet the Sock Man entered their lives, Podo and Leeli shared a special bond, partly because each of them had only one working leg and partly because of the ancient affection that exists between grandfathers and granddaughters. Nia once told Janner that it was also partly because Leeli looked a lot like her grandmother Wendolyn.

While the children watched Peet march away, a quick shadow passed over the tree house, followed by a high, pleasant sound, like the ting of a massive bell struck by a tiny hammer.

“The lone fendril,” 2 said Leeli. “Tomorrow is the first day of autumn.”

“Papa,” said Nia.

“Eh?” Podo glared out the window in the direction Peet had gone.

“I think it’s time we left,” Nia said.

Tink and Janner looked at each other and grinned. All homesickness vanished. After weeks of waiting, adventure was upon them.

2. In Aerwiar, the official last day of summer is heralded by the passing of the lone fendril, a giant golden bird whose wingspan casts entire towns into a thrilling flicker of shade as it circles the planet in a long, ascending spiral. When it reaches the northern pole of Aerwiar, it hibernates until spring, then reverses its journey.

This has been such a fantastical YA story!! I'm sorry to say I didn't read book 1, which would've eased me into the world of the Wingfeathers. There have been so many parts to this novel that I've enjoyed, reading it especially with my sons in mind.

I love the shortness of the chapters. Peterson packs a lot into each chapter. Reading this with my son will be extremely exciting. Jake can only read in short spurts and the length of these chapters is perfect for him. One chapter can be 2 pages long. Others as long as 6. Peterson knew what he was doing for his young readers when he wrote this book.

Next the artwork throughout the book is such a great addition. We would all have ideas of what the creatures would look like but the drawings help bring our minds into thier world. On top of the sketches, the footnotes throughout the story help make the reader feel like they know what the author is talking about. It's strange because I read the astriked information and come away thinking, "Ok, now I understand." Kind of funny. I also love that Peterson refers to publishers like we're supposed to recognize them. It's these little extras that make this book fascinating.

Peterson also introduces readers to a new world of words, words that aren't too far off what we can understand. Some examples: rockroach,

Throughout the story, Oskar K. Reteep quotes people we don't know and their quotes that are quite obscure. Many of the quotes are just every day phrases anyone might say so it would make me shake my head in wonder, but with amusement.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Blue Enchantress by MaryLu Tyndall ~ FIRST Wildcard & Giveaway

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:

M. L. Tyndall

and the book:

The Blue Enchantress
Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)


M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601577
ISBN-13: 978-1602601574


The Blue Enchantress by M.L. Tyndall
Chapter 1

St. Kitts, September 1718

“Gentlemen, what will ye offer for this rare treasure of a lady?” The words crashed over Hope Westcott like bilge water. “Why, she’ll make any of ye a fine wife, a cook, a housemaid”—the man gave a lascivious chuckle—“whate’er ye desire.”

“How ’bout someone to warm me bed at night,” one man bellowed, and a cacophony of chortles gurgled through the air.

Hope slammed her eyes shut against the mob of men who pressed on three sides of the tall wooden platform, shoving one another to get a better peek at her. Something crawled over her foot, and she pried her eyes open, keeping her face lowered. A black spider skittered away. Red scrapes and bruises marred her bare feet. When had she lost her satin shoes—the gold braided ones she’d worn to impress Lord Falkland? She couldn’t recall.

“What d’ye say? How much for this fine young lady?” The man grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her head back. Pain, like a dozen claws, pierced her skull. “She’s a handsome one, to be sure. And these golden locks.” He attempted to slide his fingers through her matted strands, but before becoming hopelessly entangled in them, he jerked his hand free, wrenching out a clump of her hair. Hope winced. “Have ye seen the likes of them?”

Ribald whistles and groans of agreement spewed over her.

“Two shillings,” one man yelled.

Hope dared to glance across the throng amassing before the auction block. A wild sea of lustful eyes sprayed over her. A band of men dressed in garments stained with dirt and sweat bunched toward the front, yelling out bids. Behind them, other men in velvet waistcoats leaned their heads together, no doubt to discuss the value of this recent offering, while studying her as if she were a breeding mare. Slaves knelt in the dirt along the outskirts of the mob, waiting for their masters. Beyond them, a row of wooden buildings stretched in either direction. Brazen women emerged from a tavern and draped themselves over the railings, watching Hope’s predicament with interest. On the street, ladies in modish gowns averted their eyes as they tugged the men on their arms from the sordid scene.

Hope lowered her head. This can’t be happening. I’m dreaming. I am still on the ship. Just a nightmare. Only a nightmare. Humiliation swept over her with an ever-rising dread as the reality of her situation blasted its way through her mind.

She swallowed hard and tried to drown out the grunts and salacious insults tossed her way by the bartering rabble. Perhaps if she couldn’t hear them, if she couldn’t see them, they would disappear and she would wake up back home, safe in Charles Towne, safe in her bedchamber, safe with her sisters, just like she was before she’d put her trust in a man who betrayed her.

“Egad, man. Two shillings, is it? For this beauty?” The auctioneer spit off to the side. The yellowish glob landed on Hope’s skirt. Her heart felt as though it had liquefied into an equally offensive blob and oozed down beside it.

How did I get here? In her terror, she could not remember. She raised her gaze to the auctioneer. Cold eyes, hard like marbles, met hers, and a sinister grin twisted his lips. He adjusted his tricorn to further shade his chubby face from the burning sun.

“She looks too feeble for any real work,” another man yelled.

The sounds of the crowd dimmed. The men’s fists forged into the air as if pushing through mud. Garbled laughter drained from their yellow-toothed mouths like molasses. Hope’s heart beat slower, and she wished for death.

The gentle lap of waves caressed her ears, their peaceful cadence drawing her away. Tearing her gaze from the nightmarish spectacle, she glanced over her shoulder, past the muscled henchmen who’d escorted her here. Two docks jutted out into a small bay brimming with sparkling turquoise water where several ships rocked back and forth as if shaking their heads at her in pity. Salt and papaya and sun combined in a pleasant aroma that lured her mind away from her present horror.

Her eyes locked upon the glimmering red and gold figurine of Ares at the bow of Lord Falkland’s ship. She blinked back the burning behind her eyes. When she’d boarded it nigh a week past—or was it two weeks—all her hopes and dreams had boarded with her. Somewhere along the way, they had been cast into the depths of the sea. She only wished she had joined them. Although the ship gleamed majestically in the bay, all she had seen of it for weeks had been the four walls of a small cabin below deck.

The roar of the crowd wrenched her mind back to the present and turned her face forward.

“Five shillings.”

“’Tis robbery, and ye know it,” the auctioneer barked. “Where are any of ye clods goin’ t’ find a real lady like this?”

A stream of perspiration raced down Hope’s back as if seeking escape. But there was no escape. She was about to be sold as a slave, a harlot to one of these cruel and prurient taskmasters. A fate worse than death. A fate her sister had fought hard to keep her from. A fate Hope had brought upon herself. Numbness crept over her even as her eyes filled with tears. Oh God. This can’t be happening.

She gazed upward at the blue sky dusted with thick clouds, hoping for some deliverance, some sign that God had not abandoned her.

The men continued to haggle, their voices booming louder and louder, grating over her like the howls of demons.

Her head felt like it had detached from her body and was floating up to join the clouds. Palm trees danced in the light breeze coming off the bay. Their tall trunks and fronds formed an oscillating blur of green and brown. The buildings, the mob, and the whole heinous scene joined the growing mass and began twirling around Hope. Her legs turned to jelly, and she toppled to the platform.

“Get up!” A sharp crack stung her cheek. Two hands like rough rope clamped over her arms and dragged her to her feet. Pain lanced through her right foot where a splinter had found a home. Holding a hand to her stinging face, Hope sobbed.

The henchman released her with a grunt of disgust.

“I told ye she won’t last a week,” one burly man shouted.

“She ain’t good for nothing but to look at.”

Planting a strained grin upon his lips, the auctioneer swatted her rear end. “Aye, but she’s much more stout than she appears, gentlemen.”

Horrified and no longer caring about the repercussions, Hope slapped the man’s face. He raised his fist, and she cowered. The crowd roared its mirth.

“One pound, then,” a tall man sporting a white wig called out. “I could use me a pretty wench.” Withdrawing a handkerchief, he dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead.

Wench. Slave. Hope shook her head, trying to force herself to accept what her mind kept trying to deny. A sudden surge of courage, based on naught but her instinct to survive, stiffened her spine. She thrust out her chin and faced the auctioneer. “I beg your pardon, sir. There’s been a mistake. I am no slave.”

“Indeed?” He cocked one brow and gave her a patronizing smirk.

Hope searched the horde for a sympathetic face—just one. “My name is Miss Hope Westcott,” she shouted. “My father is Admiral Henry Westcott. I live in Charles Towne with my two sisters.”

“And I’m King George,” a farmer howled, slapping his knee.

“My father will pay handsomely for my safe return.” Hope scanned the leering faces. Not one. Not one look of sympathy or belief or kindness. Fear crawled up her throat. She stomped her foot, sending a shard of pain up her leg. “You must believe me,” she sobbed. “I don’t belong here.”

Ignoring the laughter, Hope spotted a purple plume fluttering in the breeze atop a gold-trimmed hat in the distance. “Arthur!” She darted for the stairs but two hands grabbed her from behind and held her in place. “Don’t leave me! Lord Falkland!” She struggled in her captor’s grasp. His grip tightened, sending a throbbing ache across her back.

Swerving about, Lord Falkland tapped his cane into the dirt and tipped the brim of his hat up, but the distance between them forbade Hope a vision of his expression.

“Tell them who I am, Arthur. Please save me!”

He leaned toward the woman beside him and said something, then coughed into his hand. What is he doing? The man who once professed an undying love for Hope, the man who promised to marry her, to love her forever, the man who bore the responsibility for her being here in the first place. How could he stand there and do nothing while she met such a hideous fate?

The elegant lady beside him turned her nose up at Hope, then, threading her arm through Lord Falkland’s, she wheeled him around and pulled him down the road.

Hope watched him leave, and with each step of his cordovan boots, her heart and her very soul sank deeper into the wood of the auction block beneath her feet.

Nothing made any sense. Had the world gone completely mad?

“Two pounds,” a corpulent man in the back roared.

A memory flashed through Hope’s mind as she gazed across the band of men. A vision of African slaves, women and children, being auctioned off in Charles Towne. How many times had she passed by, ignoring them, uncaring, unconcerned by the proceedings?

Was this God’s way of repaying her for her selfishness, her lack of charity?

“Five pounds.”

Disappointed curses rumbled among the men at the front, who had obviously reached their limit of coin.

The auctioneer’s mouth spread wide, greed dripping from its corners. “Five pounds, gentlemen. Do I hear six for this lovely lady?”

A blast of hot air rolled over Hope, stealing her breath. Human sweat, fish, and horse manure filled her nose and saturated her skin. The unforgiving sun beat a hot hammer atop her head until she felt she would ignite into a burning torch at any moment. Indeed, she prayed she would. Better to be reduced to a pile of ashes than endure what the future held for her.

“Six pounds,” a short man with a round belly and stiff brown wig yelled from the back of the mob in a tone that indicated he knew what he was doing and had no intention of losing his prize. Decked in the a fine damask waistcoat, silk breeches, and a gold-chained pocket watch, which he kept snapping open and shut, he exuded wealth and power from his pores.

Hope’s stomach twisted into a vicious knot, and she clutched her throat to keep from heaving whatever shred of moisture remained in her empty stomach.

The auctioneer gaped at her, obviously shocked she could command such a price. Rumblings overtook the crowd as the short man pushed his way through to claim his prize. The closer he came, the faster Hope’s chest heaved and the lighter her head became. Blood pounded in her ears, drowning out the groans of the mob. No, God. No.

“Do I hear seven?” the auctioneer bellowed. “She’s young and will breed you some fine sons.”

“Just what I’ll be needing.” The man halted at the platform, glanced over the crowd for any possible competitors, then took the stairs to Hope’s right. He halted beside her too close for propriety’s sake and assailed her with the stench of lard and tobacco. A long purple scar crossed his bloated, red face as his eyes grazed over her like a stallion on a breeding mare. Hope shuddered and gasped for a breath of air. Her palms broke out in a sweat, and she rubbed them on her already moist gown.

The auctioneer threw a hand to his hip and gazed over the crowd.

The man squeezed her arms, and Hope snapped from his grasp and took a step back, abhorred at his audacity. He chuckled. “Not much muscle on her, but she’s got pluck.”

He belched, placed his watch back into the fob pocket of his breeches, and removed a leather pouch from his belt. “Six pounds it is.”

The silver tip of a sword hung at his side. If Hope were quick about it, perhaps she could grab it and, with some luck, fight her way out of here. She clenched her teeth. Who was she trying to fool? Where was her pirate sister when she needed her? Surely Faith would know exactly what to do. Yet what did it matter? Hope would rather die trying to escape than become this loathsome man’s slave.

As the man counted out the coins into the auctioneer’s greedy hands, Hope reached for the sword.

Simply put, this book was amazing. I would have to say that I wish everyone would get the press release that comes with the book for reviewers. It has a Q&A sheet with MaryLu that I thought was imperative to my understanding of the book. I'm sure I would've understood how Hope felt about herself in the story, but to have MaryLu explain why she wrote Hope's character the way she did gave it more depth.
Here are a couple sample questions I'd like to share with you:
1) In the story, Hope's greatest weakness is throwing herself at any man who would look her way. What do you think causes some women to act this way?
*We all have a deep-seated need to be loved, to be special, but this need can be twisted and perverted by any number of things: a lack of appropriate nurturing and love in childhood, some form of abuse, repeated rejection, betrayal. All these horrific things are only made worse by our present culture which puts romantic love as the end of all true happiness and fulfillment. It then becomes easy for young girls to mistake the attention they receive from men for true love. They are willing to substitute this shallow love for real love because deep down hey feel unworthy of being truly loved. Ultimately, regardless of the difficulties life throws our way, only God's love can truly satisfy, only God's love is pure and unselfish and unconditional. Otherwise, we are all left with an emptiness within.
2) It is difficult in this day and age for many women to understand that their worth does not lie in their outward appearances. What do you think causes this trend in our society, and what ideas do you have for combating it?
*I believe the media is the biggest culprit in propagating the deception that women are only valuable if they are beautiful. you have only to turn on the TV, watch a few shows or commercials, or check out your local magazine rack to verify this. Young girls are bombarded with the message that they must look a certain way to be accepted and loved. Who are the role models our young girls look up to? They are all beautiful, flaunting their bodies like trophies. Women are spending countless thousands of dollars getting plastic surgery to look a certain way. I know girls in their 20s who are already getting Botox injections and breast implants. How do we fight this? if you have young girls in your home, monitor everything they watch on TV, everything they read, everything they see. Be careful not to praise them only for their looks but give approval of their character an intelligence. Many girls who receive love and approval from their father, particularly in regard to who they are on the inside, never fall for the trap of false love the world offers. And most of all, raise them up knowing and loving their heavenly Father and understanding how much God values them.
I could add my own opinions to MaryLu's, but all I'd be doing is repeating her sentiments EXACTLY!! As a mom, who has issues with her own appearance, I've made sure never to discuss looks with my girls except when it comes to their natural beauty. What my were exposed to growing up was very limited in regards to movies and the books they read. What MaryLu is talking about is exactly how I thought when my girls were little. I am so glad that this was one thing I did right. I'm doing the same with my boys.
Now, for The Blue Enchantress review...
As usual, MaryLu takes us on a heart stopping adventure with Hope at the helm of activity. And who of all people shows up to champion for her? Nathaniel, the man she snubs in The Red Siren. We also have Major Payne who fulfils his name very well!!
Unfortunately for Nathaniel, it seems as though he will end up losing more than just the ship he built with his own 2 hands to help save Hope. Every time he tries to help Hope, she ends up hurting him, often physically, and drives him crazy. Thankfully, it seems, hope has a man that is more than happy to display his affection for this beautiful woman. Gavin is always available to let Hope know how much he enjoys her company.
One person I'm so glad that MaryLu wrote in this story is Abigail. She cares for Hope sincerely. Hope sees this and decides she wants to be just like this sweet, god fearing woman. A woman that seems perfect for a man like Nathaniel, unlike her blemished self. Hope never sees herself measuring up to Nathaniel's standard and no matter how hard she tries, being like Abigail seems too far out of reach.
This story really touched me personally. I have to admit that I cried in about 4 different places throughout the story because of seeing myself in Hope's character. I'm guessing many women will be able to see a piece of themselves in Hope.
Do you know a woman, possibly yourself who doesn't think she quite adds up to the other genteel, godly woman you know? Do you find your worth in the way men treat you or view you? Do you not understand that you are more beautiful than diamonds to our Maker? Read this book because you might just see yourself in Hope.
Would you like to win the 1st book in this series, The Red Siren? Leave me a message letting me know if you enjoy swash buckling adventure novels and what your favorite one is. Honestly, MaryLu, for me, has cornered the market. I can't pick just one of her books. I loved her Redemption series as well.
As usual, leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win. No email = no entry. Open to US residents at this time. Drawing will be held the night of Aug 24.

Creative Commons License
Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.