Monthly Archives: May 2009

Book review: A Passion Denied by Julie Lessman (Daughters of Boston Series)

A Passion Denied
(Daughters of Boston Series Book Three)
By Julie Lessman

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Back Cover:
Has she fallen in love with a man who cannot love her back? Elizabeth O’Connor has been like the little sister John Brady always wanted, sharing his love of literature and his thirst for God. But in the throes of the reckless Roaring Twenties, Lizzie has grown up. Suddenly she wants more from the man who has been her friend since she was a child. When this shy little bookworm blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving John, she discovers that his past won’t let him return that love. But Lizzie refuses to give up–until his shocking secrets push her away. Can true love survive the betrayal and deceitful of a painful past . . . or will it be shattered like the fairy-tale dreams of a girl in love? Brimming with romance, longing, and redemption, A Passion Denied, will quicken your pulse and gladden your heart with a riveting story of the true power of love. Julie Lessman is the author of A Passion Most Pure and A Passion Redeemed and is the recipient of ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her family.

My Review:
Where do I start? When I realized this was a series i had not read, when i thought i had, i checked out the first two from the library.  I ended up neglecting my work because I got so entangled in the lives of the O’Connor family.   I am thankful to be a fast reader as that meant it was not long.  I soon realized this was a different breed of romantic Christian fiction, it is for sure Christian, and it is romantic. But it’s characters do not make excuses, or hide their flaws.  I would say one thing, about the romance, I would recommend it for married women only, it is nothing in it that is wrong, but talks  openly about desire and passion in a marriage relationship!
Lizzie  was the little sister when we left her in the last book and has been great friends with John Brady, a young man who  works for her father. She has grown up and thinks that John simply does not notice that her feelings have changed and she is an adult now.  Her older sister encourages her to try different "games" to get his attention, which ends in a whole tangle of frustration on both Brady and Lizzie’s part!! Brady is struggling with things from his past, which he feels that a relationship with any woman would be opening a can of worms he does not even want think about! But it comes to face him sooner than he wants, when his brother appears on the scene and looks just like him, twisting Lizzie’s heart  in a different bent. <p>
I enjoyed how it did not marry off the couple in the previous book and leave them in the dust. I speaks about issues many couples deal with in marriage. Past relationships before marriage, mistrust of parenting ability, fear  and lack of communication. It does not skirt around the issues, nor does it skirt around the passion of a healthy marriage, although it is not in detail as to make one uncomfortable.
This series is in a class all by itself of Christian romantic fiction! It is for sure one that is going to stand out above the rest of the series I have read this year! I loved the realness of the characters and how you felt like you knew them and rejoiced with them as well as cried with them!

<p> It is available for purchase at local christian booksellers as well as Amazon and Christianbook.com
If you have not read this one yet, this series is one for your summer vacation!!

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Who made you a Princess?

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.shelleyadina.com/">Shelley Adina</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446179620">Who Made You A Princess? (All About Us Series, Book 4)</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">FaithWords (May 13, 2009) <br /></p><br /><br /><span style="font-size:130%;color:#663366;">Plus a <span style="font-family:georgia;"><em>Tiffany’s Bracelet Giveaway</em></span>! Go to </span><a href="http://camys-loft.blogspot.com/"><span style="font-size:130%;color:#3333ff;">Camy Tang’s Blog </span></a><span style="font-size:130%;color:#663366;">and leave a comment on her FIRST Wild Card Tour for <em>Be Strong and Curvaceous</em>, and you will be placed into a drawing for a bracelet that looks similar to the picture below. <br /><br /></span><div><span style="color:#993399;"></span> </div><div> </div><div><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5247552517988855442" style="DISPLAY: block; MARGIN: 0px auto 10px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SNMNNl7urpI/AAAAAAAABMQ/qNaucFx8qUw/s200/Tiffanys+bracelet.jpg&quot; border="0" /></div><br /><br /><br /><div align="left"><strong><font color="#333399" size="4"><font color="#cc0000">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</font> </font></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SMScZqMbDlI/AAAAAAAABLA/OP5uG4lYWqg/s1600-h/Shelly"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SMScZqMbDlI/AAAAAAAABLA/OP5uG4lYWqg/s200/Shelly&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5243487830803156562" /></a>Award-winning author Shelley Adina wrote her first teen novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages. Shelley is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She writes books about fun and faith—with a side of glamour. Between books, Shelley loves traveling, playing the piano and Celtic harp, watching movies, and making period costumes. <br /><br />Visit <a href="http://www.allaboutusbooks.net">her book site </a>and her <a href="http://www.shelleyadina.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br /><br /><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446177989">It’s All About Us</a> is Book One in the All About Us Series.  Book Two, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446177970">The Fruit of my Lipstick</a> came out in August 2008. Book Three, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446177997">Be Strong & Curvaceous</a>, came out January 2, 2009. And Book Four, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0446179620">Who Made You a Princess?</a>, came out May 13, 2009.<br /><br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $9.99<br />Reading level: Young Adult<br />Paperback: 240 pages <br />Publisher: FaithWords (May 13, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 0446179620 <br />ISBN-13: 978-0446179621 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Shwyxk9_VJI/AAAAAAAACyo/zsmMnayVYQg/s1600-h/Princess_cvr.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 129px; height: 200px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/Shwyxk9_VJI/AAAAAAAACyo/zsmMnayVYQg/s200/Princess_cvr.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5340199085473223826" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">NOTHING SAYS “ALONE” like a wide, sandy beach on the western edge of the continent, with the sun going down in a smear of red and orange. Girlfriends, I am the go-to girl for alone. Or at least, that’s what I used to think. Not anymore, though, because nothing says “alive” like a fire snapping and hissing at your feet, and half a dozen of your BFFs laughing and talking around you.<br /><br />      Like the T-shirt says, life is good.<br /><br />      My name’s Shani Amira Marjorie Hanna, and up until I started going to Spencer Academy in my freshman year, all I wanted to do was get in, scoop as many A’s as I could, and get out. College, yeah. Adulthood. Being the boss of me. Social life? Who cared? I’d treat it the way I’d done in middle school, making my own way and watching people brush by me, all disappearing into good-bye like they were flowing down a river. <br /><br />      Then when I was a junior, I met the girls, and things started to change whether I wanted them to or not. Or maybe it was just me. Doing the changing, I mean.<br /><br />      Now we were all seniors and I was beginning to see that all this “I am an island” stuff was just a bunch of smoke. ’Cuz I was not like the Channel Islands, sitting out there on the hazy horizon. I was so done with all that. <br /><br />      Lissa Mansfield sat on the other side of the fire from me while this adorable Jared Padalecki look-alike named Kaz Griffin sat next to her trying to act like the best friend she thought he was. Lissa needs a smack upside the head, you want my opinion. Either that or someone needs to make a serious play for Kaz to wake her up. But it’s not going to be me. I’ve got cuter fish to fry. Heh. More about that later.<br /><br />      “I can’t believe this is the last weekend of summer vacation,” Carly Aragon moaned for about the fifth time since Kaz lit the fire and we all got comfortable in the sand around it. “It’s gone so fast.”<br /><br />      “That’s because you’ve only been here a week.” I handed her the bag of tortilla chips. “What about me? I’ve been here for a month and I still can’t believe we have to go up to San Francisco on Tuesday.”<br /><br />      “I’m so jealous.” Carly bumped me with her shoulder. “A whole month at Casa Mansfield with your own private beach and everything.” She dipped a handful of chips in a big plastic container of salsa she’d made that morning with fresh tomatoes and cilantro and little bits of—get this—cantaloupe. She made one the other day with carrots in it. I don’t know how she comes up with this stuff, but it’s all good. We had a cooler full of food to munch on. No burnt weenies for this crowd. Uh-uh. What we can’t order delivered, Carly can make. <br /><br />      “And to think I could have gone back to Chicago and spent the whole summer throwing parties and trashing the McMansion.” I sighed with regret. “Instead, I had to put up with a month in the Hamptons with the Changs, and then a month out here fighting Lissa for her bathroom.”<br /><br />      “Hey, you could have used one of the other ones,” Lissa protested, trying to keep Kaz from snagging the rest of her turkey-avocado-and-alfalfa-sprouts sandwich.<br /><br />      I grinned at her. Who wanted to walk down the hot sandstone patio to one of the other bathrooms when she, Carly, and I had this beautiful Spanish terrazzo-looking wing of the house to ourselves? Carly and I were in Lissa’s sister’s old room, which looked out on this garden with a fountain and big ferns and grasses and flowering trees. And beyond that was the ocean. It was the kind of place you didn’t want to leave, even to go to the bathroom. <br /><br />      I contrasted it with the freezing wind off Lake Michigan in the winter and the long empty hallways of the seven-million-dollar McMansion on Lake Road, where I always felt like a guest. You know—like you’re welcome but the hosts don’t really know what to do with you. I mean, my mom has told me point-blank, with a kind of embarrassed little laugh, that she can’t imagine what happened. The Pill and her careful preventive measures couldn’t all have failed on the same night. <br /><br />      Organic waste happens. Whatever. The point is, I arrived seventeen years ago and they had to adjust. <br /><br />      I think they love me. My dad always reads my report cards, and he used to take me to blues clubs to listen to the musicians doing sound checks before the doors opened. That was before my mom found out. Then I had to wait until I was twelve, and we went to the early shows, which were never as good as the late ones I snuck into whenever my parents went on one of their trips.<br /><br />       They travel a lot. Dad owns this massive petroleum exploration company, and when she’s not chairing charity boards and organizing fund-raisers, Mom goes with him everywhere, from Alaska to New Zealand. I saw a lot of great shows with whichever member of the staff I could bribe to take me and swear I was sixteen. Keb’ Mo, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Roomful of Blues—I saw them all.<br /><br />      A G-minor chord rippled out over the crackle of the fire, and I smiled a slow smile. My second favorite sound in the world (right after the sound of M&Ms pouring into a dish). On my left, Danyel had pulled out his guitar and tuned it while I was lost in la-la land, listening to the waves come in. <br /><br />      Lissa says there are some things you just know. And somehow, I just knew that I was going to be more to Danyel Johnstone than merely a friend of his friend Kaz’s friend Lissa, if you hear what I’m saying. I was done with being alone, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t stand out from the crowd. <br /><br />      Don’t get me wrong, I really like this crowd. Carly especially—she’s like the sister I would have designed my own self. And Lissa, too, though sometimes I wonder if she can be real. I mean, how can you be blond and tall and rich and wear clothes the way she does, and still be so nice? There has to be a flaw in there somewhere, but if she’s got any, she keeps them under wraps. <br /><br />      Gillian, who we’d see in a couple of days, has really grown on me. I couldn’t stand her at first—she’s one of those people you can’t help but notice. I only hung around her because Carly liked her. But somewhere between her going out with this loser brain trust and then her hooking up with Jeremy Clay, who’s a friend of mine, I got to know her. And staying with her family last Christmas, which could have been massively awkward, was actually fun. The last month in the Hamptons with them was a total blast. The only good thing about leaving was knowing I was going to see the rest of the crew here in Santa Barbara.<br /><br />      The one person I still wasn’t sure about was Mac, aka Lady Lindsay MacPhail, who did an exchange term at school in the spring. Getting to know her is like besieging a castle—which is totally appropriate considering she lives in one. She and Carly are tight, and we all e-mailed and IM-ed like fiends all summer, but I’m still not sure. I mean, she has a lot to deal with right now, with her family and everything. And the likelihood of us seeing each other again is kind of low, so maybe I don’t have to make up my mind about her. Maybe I’ll just let her go the way I let the kids in middle school go.<br /><br />      Danyel began to get serious about bending his notes instead of fingerpicking, and I knew he was about to sing. Oh, man, could the night get any more perfect? Even though we’d probably burn the handmade marshmallows from Williams-Sonoma, tonight capped a summer that had been the best time I’d ever had.<br /><br />      The only thing that would make it perfect would be finding some way to be alone with that man. I hadn’t been here more than a day when Danyel and Kaz had come loping down the beach. I’d taken one look at those eyes and those cheekbones and, okay, a very cut set of abs, and decided here was someone I wanted to know a whole lot better. And I did, now, after a couple of weeks. But soon we’d go off to S. F., and he and Kaz would go back to Pacific High. When we pulled out in Gabe Mansfield’s SUV, I wanted there to be something more between us than an air kiss and a handshake, you know what I mean? <br /><br />      I wanted something to be settled. Neither of us had talked about it, but both of us knew it was there. Unspoken longing is all very well in poetry, but I’m the outspoken type. I like things out there where I can touch them.<br /><br />      In a manner of speaking.<br /><br />      Danyel sat between Kaz and me, cross-legged and bare-chested, looking as comfortable in his surf jams as if he lived in them. Come to think of it, he did live in them. His, Kaz’s, and Lissa’s boards were stuck in the sand behind us. They’d spent most of the afternoon out there on the waves. I tried to keep my eyes on the fire. Not that I didn’t appreciate the view next to me, because trust me, it was fine, but I know a man wants to be appreciated for his talents and his mind. <br /><br />      Danyel’s melody sounded familiar—something Gillian played while we waited for our prayer circles at school to start. Which reminded me . . . I nudged Carly. “You guys going to church tomorrow?”<br /><br />      She nodded and lifted her chin at Lissa to get her attention. “Girl wants to know if we’re going to church.”<br /><br />      “Wouldn’t miss it,” Lissa said. “Kaz and his family, too. Last chance of the summer to all go together.”<br /><br />      And where Kaz went, Danyel went. Happy thought. <br /><br />      “You’re not going to bail, are you?” Carly’s brows rose a little.<br /><br />      It’s not like I’m anti-religion or anything. I’m just in the beginning stages of learning about it. Without my friends to tell me stuff, I’d be bumbling around on my own, trying to figure it out. My parents don’t go to church, so I didn’t catch the habit from them. But when she was alive and I was a little girl, my grandma used to take me to the one in her neighborhood across town. I thought it was an adventure, riding the bus instead of being driven in the BMW. And the gospel choir was like nothing I’d ever seen, all waving their arms in the air and singing to raise the roof. I always thought they were trying to deafen God, if they could just get up enough volume. <br /><br />      So I like the music part. Always have. And I’m beginning to see the light on the God part, after what happened last spring. But seeing a glimmer and knowing what to do about it are two different things.<br /><br />      “Of course not.” I gave Carly a look. “We all go together. And we walk, in case no one told you, so plan your shoes carefully.”<br /><br />       “Oh, I will.” She sat back on her hands, an “I so see right through you” smile turning up the corners of her mouth. “And it’s all about the worship, I know.” That smile told me she knew exactly what my motivation was. Part of it, at least. Hey, can you blame me?<br /><br />      The music changed and Danyel’s voice lifted into a lonely blues melody, pouring over Carly’s words like cream. I just melted right there on the spot. Man, could that boy sing. <br /><br /><br />      Blue water, blue sky<br /><br />      Blue day, girl, do you think that I<br /><br />      Don’t see you, yeah I do.<br /><br />      Long sunset, long road,<br /><br />      Long life, girl, but I think you know<br /><br />      What I need, yeah, you do. <br /><br /><br />      I do a little singing my own self, so I know talent when I hear it. And I’d have bet you that month’s allowance that Danyel had composed that one. He segued into the chorus and then the bridge, its rhythms straight out of Mississippi but the tune something new, something that fit the sadness and the hope of the words.<br /><br />      Wait a minute.<br /><br />      Blue day? Long sunset? Long road? As in, a long road to San Francisco? <br /><br />      Whoa. Could Danyel be trying to tell someone something? “You think that I don’t see you”? Well, if that didn’t describe me, I didn’t know what would. Ohmigosh. <br /><br />      Could he be trying to tell me his feelings with a song? Musicians were like that. They couldn’t tell a person something to her face, or they were too shy, or it was just too hard to get out, so they poured it into their music. For them, maybe it was easier to perform something than to get personal with it.<br /><br />      Be cool, girl. Let him finish. Then find a way to tell him you understand—and you want it, too.<br /><br />      The last of the notes blew away on the breeze, and a big comber smashed itself on the sand, making a sound like a kettledrum to finish off the song. I clapped, and the others joined in.<br /><br />      “Did you write that yourself?” Lissa removed a marshmallow from her stick and passed it to him. “It was great.”<br /><br />      Danyel shrugged one shoulder. “Tune’s been bugging me for a while and the words just came to me. You know, like an IM or something.”<br /><br />      Carly laughed, and Kaz’s forehead wrinkled for a second in a frown before he did, too. <br /><br />      I love modesty in a man. With that kind of talent, you couldn’t blame Danyel for thinking he was all that. <br /><br />      Should I say something? The breath backed up in my chest. Say it. You’ll lose the moment. “So who’s it about?” I blurted, then felt myself blush. <br /><br />      “Can’t tell.” His head was bent as he picked a handful of notes and turned them into a little melody. “Some girl, probably.”<br /><br />      “Some girl who’s leaving?” I said, trying for a teasing tone. “Is that a good-bye?”<br /><br />      “Could be.” <br /><br />      I wished I had the guts to come out and ask if he’d written the song for me—for us—but I just couldn’t. Not with everyone sitting there. With one look at Carly, whose eyes held a distinct “What’s up with you?” expression, I lost my nerve and shut up. Which, as any of the girls could tell you, doesn’t happen very often.<br /><br />      Danyel launched into another song—some praise thing that everyone knew but me. And then another, and then a cheesy old John Denver number that at least I knew the words to, and then a bunch of goofy songs half of us had learned at camp when we were kids. And then it was nearly midnight, and Kaz got up and stretched.<br /><br />      He’s a tall guy. He stretches a long way. “I’m running the mixer for the early service tomorrow, so I’ve got to go.” <br /><br />      Danyel got up, and I just stopped my silly self from saying, “No, not yet.” Instead, I watched him sling the guitar over one shoulder and yank his board out of the sand. “Are you going to early service, too?” I asked him.<br /><br />      “Yeah,” he said, sounding a little surprised. “I’m in the band, remember?”<br /><br />      Argh! As if I didn’t know. As if I hadn’t sat there three Sundays in a row, watching his hands move on the frets and the light make shadows under his cheekbones. <br /><br />      “I just meant—I see you at the late one when we go. I didn’t know you went to both.” Stutter, bumble. Oh, just stop talking, girl. You’ve been perfectly comfortable talking to him so far. What’s the matter?<br /><br />      “I don’t, usually. But tomorrow they’re doing full band at early service, too. Last one before all the turistas go home. Next week we’ll be back to normal.” He smiled at me. “See you then.”<br /><br />      Was he looking forward to seeing me, or was he just being nice? “I hope so,” I managed. <br /><br />      “Kaz, you coming?”<br /><br />      Kaz bent to the fire and ran a stick through the coals, separating them. “Just let me put this out. Lissa, where’s the bucket?”<br /><br />      “Here.” While I’d been obsessing over Danyel, Lissa had run down to the waterline and filled a gallon pail. You could tell they’d done this about a million times. She poured the water on the fire and it blew a cloud of steam into the air. The orange coals gave it up with a hiss. <br /><br />      I looked up to say something to Danyel about it and saw that he was already fifty feet away, board under his arm like it weighed nothing, heading down the beach to the public lot where he usually parked his Jeep.<br /><br />      I stared down into the coals, wet and dying.<br /><br />      I couldn’t let the night go out like this.<br /><br />      “Danyel, wait!” The sand polished the soles of my bare feet better than the pumice bar at the salon as I ran to catch up with him. A fast glance behind me told me Lissa had stepped up and begun talking to Kaz, giving me a few seconds alone.<br /><br />      I owed her, big time.<br /><br />      “What’s up, ma?” He planted the board and set the guitar case down. “Forget something?”<br /><br />      “Yes,” I blurted. “I forgot to tell you that I think you’re amazing.”<br /><br />      He blinked. “Whoa.” The barest hint of a smile tickled the corners of his lips.<br /><br />      I might not get another chance as good as this one. I rushed on, the words crowding my mouth in their hurry to get out. “I know there’s something going on here and we’re all leaving on Tuesday and I need to know if you—if you feel the same way.”<br /><br />      “About . . . ?”<br /><br />      “About me. As I feel about you.”<br /><br />      He put both hands on his hips and gazed down at the sand. “Oh.”<br /><br />      Cold engulfed me, as if I’d just plunged face-first into the dark waves twenty feet away. “Oh,” I echoed. “Never mind. I guess I got it wrong.” I stepped back. “Forget about it. No harm done.”<br /><br />      “No, Shani, wait—”<br /><br />      But I didn’t want to hear the “we can still be friends” speech. I didn’t want to hear anything except the wind in my ears as I ran back to the safety of my friends.<br /> </div><br />
My Review: We are supposed to give honest reviews, but I have a hard time saying negative things about books.  This book was well written, engaging and I enjoyed that part of it.
Shani is a senior in high school at a elite boarding school. Her parents, she feels, never really wanted her in the first place, and she sort of feels like she lives her own life separate from them. Her friend’s houses are more welcoming than her own home. On her return  to school, she discovers that a Prince  is doing an exchange term at the Academy where she goes to school and that it is the same little prince she played with as a child in Greece. She discovers that her family and the Prince’s family go back for years and that there has been a plan in motion connecting the two of them, whether she likes it or not. But she really likes another young man, who is a Christian musician. Her parents do not seem to understand, what should she do?
Now, that was the recap, myself, I had a hard time with the IM chats in the book, but maybe because I do not IM much or text. i never seemed to know who was talking as they had odd names! I felt like the parents were unreasonable, but it should have been more portrayed  about honoring her parents. When you disagree with your parents, leaving and sneaking off to spend time with another young man would be totally out of the question in my opinion. But in many people’s it is not, so they would probably enjoy that part too! 
Overall, I found it a cute story, i am not rich though so I could not relate to that  style of life, but it was fun to read about.

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Menu for the Week

Tuesday: Leftover night with a friend (it was alot of fun too! It was kind of like a buffet!)
Wednesday: Hot dogs, potatoes, salad
Thursday: Tacos with guacamole (A friend gave me a bunch of avocados that needed to be used!)
Friday: Scalloped potatoes in crockpot, salad
Saturday: Tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, carrot sticks
Sunday: Rhubarb Crisp,  Boiled potatoes with butter and peas
Monday- Chicken enchiladas, salad
Tuesday: Shepherds pie
<p> The boys have been playing in the mud and dirt alot so washing the floor every night seems to be a normal thing lately.  I have been really praying about a few things, at the conference we were really encouraged and i decided to make a change that we needed in order to spend more time together. I put away our DVD player and TV for the summer for sure, maybe longer, we will see. So far, it has had it frustrations, but mostly has been really great! I have noticed though a big difference in myself the most.
So, far we are taking one day at a time. I just noticed that they could spend alot more time getting into trouble because of this one item in our house, so a summer without it will be great!
I found out our new windows for our bedroom are coming next week, I just have to make sure that I have the money for them and the labor to put them in! Yikes! <p> Something neat that happened, i have been really wanting to buy a couple of books by Bob Shultz who wrote books about raising boys and have not been able to. I found one today for $5 at the homeschool book sale, then I went to the library and they had the other one for $1! Isn’t that neat?

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Lucy’s Perfect Summer

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.nancyrue.com/">Nancy Rue</a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0310714524/">Lucy’s Perfect Summer (A Lucy Novel)</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShTGMW6HMiI/AAAAAAAACyQ/kPk5Y5iyIKc/s1600-h/nancy+rue"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 163px; height: 200px;" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShTGMW6HMiI/AAAAAAAACyQ/kPk5Y5iyIKc/s200/nancy+rue&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5338109373950931490" /></a><br /><br /><br />Nancy Rue has written over 100 books for girls, is the editor of the FaithGirlz Bible, and is a popular speaker and radio guest with her expertise in tween issues. She and husband Jim have raised a daughter of their own and now live in Tennessee.<br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.nancyrue.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $7.99<br />Reading level: Ages 9-12<br />Paperback: 192 pages <br />Publisher: Zonderkidz (May 1, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 0310714524 <br />ISBN-13: 978-0310714521<br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShTGI5FG-vI/AAAAAAAACyI/r-4WNYBz_U8/s1600-h/lucys+perfect+summer"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 200px; height: 200px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShTGI5FG-vI/AAAAAAAACyI/r-4WNYBz_U8/s200/lucys+perfect+summer&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5338109314404383474" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">Why My Life Is Just About Perfect<br /><br />School is out for the summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <br />      Lucy would have made more exclamation points, but Lollipop, her pot-bellied kitty, was watching from the windowsill above the bed, her black head bobbing with each stroke and dot. She’d be pouncing in a second. <br /><br />      Lucy protected the Book of Lists with her other arm and wrote…<br /><br />2.  Aunt Karen is taking her vacation to some island so she won’t be coming HERE for a while. YES!!<br /><br />3.  We have a soccer game in two weeks, thanks to Coach Auggy.  A for-REAL game, with a whole other team, not just our team split up, which is always lame since we only have 8 players to begin with. I cannot WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br /><br />      Lollipop twitched an ear. <br /><br />      “Forget about it,” Lucy said to her. She’d only just discovered the joy of making exclamation points from Veronica. Veronica was a girly-girl, but she did have her good points. Lucy snickered. “Good points, Lolli. Get it?”<br /><br />   Lollipop apparently did not, or else she didn’t care. She tucked her paws under her on the tile sill and blinked her eyes into a nap. Lucy slipped a few more exclamation marks in before she continued.<br /><br />I get to hang out with J.J. and Dusty and Veronica and Mora any time I want, not just at lunch or soccer practice or church. Okay, so I already got to hang out with them a lot before summer, but now it’s like ANY time, and that’s perfect. Except we’re still stuck with Januarie. If she weren’t J.J.’s little sister we could just ditch her, but she needs a good influence. We’re a good influence. Well, maybe not Mora so much. <br />      Lucy glanced at her bedroom door to make sure it was all the way shut. The Book of Lists was private and everybody else in the house—Dad and Inez the housekeeper nanny and her granddaughter Mora—knew to keep their noses out of it. Still, she always had to decide whether it was worth risking discovery to write down what she really, really thought.<br /><br />      “What do you say about it, Lolli?” she said.<br /><br />      There was an answering purr, though Lucy was pretty sure that was more about Lollipop dreaming of getting the other three cats’ food before they did than it was about agreeing with her. She went for it anyway.<br /><br />      Januarie still thinks Mora is the next best thing to Hannah Montana. Even though Mora got her in way a lot of trouble not that long ago she would probably give a whole bag of gummy bears just to have Mora paint her toenails. And that’s saying a lot. Januarie loves gummy bears. And Snickers bars. And those chocolate soccer balls Claudia sells down at the candy and flower shop. Which reminds me—<br /><br />5. We can go buy candy in the middle of the day, or have breakfast at Pasco’s café or take picnics to OUR soccer field, because, guess what? It’s SUMMER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br /><br />      Something black whipped across the page, and Lucy’s pen flew into space, landing with a smack against the blue-and-yellow toy chest. Knocking down the ruler Lucy always kept there to hold it open, in case Lollipop needed to jump in and hide, the lid slapped shut, and Lolli sprang into an upside down-U before she leaped after it and skidded across the top with her claws bared. She glared indignantly at Lucy. <br /><br />      “You did it, Simplehead,” Lucy said. “Wait! I’ll open it for you.” But before she could even scramble off the bed, Lolli dove under it. A squalling fight ensued with Artemis Hamm, who had obviously been sleeping beneath the mattress.<br /><br />      “Break it up, you two!” Lucy said. But she didn’t dare stick her hand under there. One of them would eventually come out with a mouth full of the other one’s fur and it would be over. <br /><br />      “What’s going on in there?” said a voice on the other side of the door.<br /><br />      Lucy stuck the Book of Lists under her pillow. It was Dad, who couldn’t see anyway, but she always felt better having her secrets well hidden when other people were in the room.<br /><br />      “Come on in—if you dare,” Lucy said.<br /><br />      She heard Dad’s sandpapery chuckle before he stuck his face in. She cocked her head at him, her ponytail sliding over her ear.  “What happened to your hair?” <br /><br />      He ran a hand over salt-and-pepper fuzz as he edged into the room. “I just got my summer ‘doo down at the Casa Bonita. Is it that bad?”<br /><br />      “No. It’s actually kinda cool.”<br /><br />      “What do I look like?”<br /><br />      “Like—did you ever see one of those movies about the Navy SEAL team? You know…before?”<br /><br />      “Yeah.”<br /><br />      “You look like one of those guys.”<br /><br />      “Is that good?”<br /><br />      “That’s way good.”<br /><br />      Dad smiled the smile that made a room fill up with sunlight. She could have told him he looked like a rock star and he wouldn’t have known whether she was telling the truth or not. But she liked for the smiles to be real, and she did think her dad was handsome. Even with eyes that sometimes darted around like they didn’t know where to land.<br /><br />      He made his way to the rocking chair and eased into it. It would be hard for anybody who didn’t know to tell he was blind when he moved around in their house, as long as Lucy kept things exactly where they were supposed to be. She leaned over and picked up her soccer ball, just escaping a black-and-brown paw that shot from the hem of the bedspread.<br /><br />      “Keep your fight to yourselves,” Lucy said.<br /><br />      “What’s that about?”<br /><br />      “Exclamation points! It’s a long story.”<br /><br />      “Do I want to hear it?”<br /><br />      “No,” Lucy said. Not only because she didn’t want to tell it, but because she could see in the sharp way Dad’s chin looked that he hadn’t come in just to chat about cat fights. She hugged her soccer ball.<br /><br />      “Okay, what?” she said. “Is something wrong? Something’s wrong, huh?”<br /><br />      “Did I say that?”<br /><br />      “Aunt Karen’s coming, isn’t she? Man! I thought she was going out in the ocean someplace and we were going to have a peaceful summer.”  She dumped the ball on the floor on the other side of the bed. <br /><br />      Dad’s smile flickered back in. “What makes you think I was going to talk about Aunt Karen?”<br /><br />      “Because she’s, like, almost always the reason you look all serious and heavy.”<br /><br />      “You get to be more like your mother every day, Champ. You read me like a book.”<br /><br />      “Then I’m right.” There went her perfect summer. She was going to have to redo that list.<br /><br />      “But you’re in the wrong chapter this time,” Dad said. “I’m serious, but it isn’t about Aunt Karen. Last I heard, she was headed for St. Thomas.”<br /><br />      “He’s going to need to be a saint to put up with her.”<br /><br />      Dad chuckled. “St. Thomas is an island, Luc’.”<br /><br />      “Oh.” She was doing better in school now that Coach Auggy was her teacher, but they hadn’t done that much geography this year.<br /><br />      “I just want to put this out there before Inez gets here.” <br /><br />      His voice was somber again, but Lucy relaxed against her pillows. If this wasn’t about Aunt Karen coming here wanting to take Lucy home with her for the summer, how bad could it be?<br /><br />      “So, you know Inez will be coming for all day, five days a week.”<br /><br />      “Right and that’s cool. We get along good now.” Lucy felt generous. “I don’t even mind Mora that much any more.”<br /><br />      “Good, because I’ve asked her if she’d be okay with Mr. Auggy also coming in to do a little home-schooling with you.”<br /><br />      Lucy shot up like one of her own freaked-out kitties. <br /><br />      “School?” she said. “In the summer?”<br /><br />      Dad winced like her voice was hurting his ears. “Just for a few hours a day, and not on Fridays.”<br /><br />      “Dad, hello! This is summer time. I have a TON of work to do to get ready for the soccer games if I want anybody from the Olympic Development Program to even look at me. School work?” She hit her forehead with the heel of her hand. “Why?”<br /><br />      “You’ve improved a hundred per cent since Mr. Auggy started teaching your class—”<br /><br />      “Yeah, so why are you punishing me by making me do more work? I don’t get it.”<br /><br />      She wished she could make exclamation points with her voice. <br /><br />      “You’ll get it if you let me finish.”<br /><br />       Dad’s voice had no punctuation marks at all, except a period, which meant, ‘Hush up before you get yourself in trouble.’ Lucy gnawed at her lower lip. She was glad for once that he couldn’t see the look on her face.<br /><br />      “You ended the school year in good shape, but Champ, you were behind before that. That means you’re still going to start middle school a few steps back.”<br /><br />      “I’ll catch up, Dad, I promise! I’ll study, like, ten hours a day when school starts again and I’ll do all my homework.”<br /><br />      Dad closed his eyes and got still. That meant he was waiting for her to be done so he could go on with what he was going to say as if she hadn’t said a word.  She was in pointless territory. It made her want to crawl under the bed and start up the cat fight again. It seemed to work for them when they were frustrated.<br /><br />      “Your middle school teachers are going to expect your skills to be seventh-grade level,” Dad said. “Right now, Mr. Auggy says they’re about mid-sixth, which is great considering what they were in January.”<br /><br />      If she had been Mora, she would have been rolling her eyes by now. What was the point in telling her how wonderful she was when she was going to have to do what she didn’t want to do anyway?<br /><br />      “So here’s the deal,” Dad said.<br /><br />      Lucy sighed. “It’s only a deal if both people agree to it, Dad.”<br /><br />      “You haven’t even heard it yet.”<br /><br />      She stifled a “whatever,” which was sure to get her grounded for a least a week of her already dwindling summer.<br /><br />      “You’ll work with Mr. Auggy until you get your reading up to seventh-grade level. That could take all summer, or it could take a couple of weeks. That’s up to you.”<br /><br />      Lucy looked at him sharply. “What if I get it there in three days?”<br /><br />      “Then you’re done. We’ll check it periodically, of course, to make sure it stays there.”<br /><br />      “It will,” Lucy said. But she hoped her outside voice sounded more sure than the one that was screaming inside her brain: You can’t do this! What are you thinking?<br /><br />      There weren’t enough exclamation points in the world to end that sentence.<br /></div><br />
My Review:
This was a really cute story! Lucy adores her dad, his blindness is something that does not bother her and the fact that she is motherless also, seems to roll off her back. She loves soccer! She has some great friends, but she struggles with reading and when her dad informs her she will have tutoring in the summer to improve her reading she is really dismayed! But the chances for  new places to go with soccer are looming!  There is exciting points when she gets stuck in the middle of flood as well as run in’s with a young girl who wants to ruin things for her.    I really enjoyed this book, even though it was for kids. Lucy was faced with the chances to give in to peer pressure and she chose to not give in, even though it meant it gave the  "bully" a chance to succeed in her plans. It showed respect for adults, as well as the questions that children run into with loyalty.  Her good friend also has trouble with a father who has done things that are wrong and it is hard to respect him, but yet he is still his father.
Overall, I felt like this was a great book for  girls or boys ages 9-12, check it out! -Martha

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Cravings

Do you ever think about something and taste it in your mouth?  i  find especially when you do not have it, this is the worst.  For some reason, I read somewhere something about the smells of cooking cheese. I thought "i wonder how you smell cheese cooking?" and suddenly there, I could almost taste a piece of good cheese in my mouth.  It is so weird how your brain works and connects  to your taste buds, your mouth starts watering and then you just want it so bad. It does not help I only have cheap grated cheese in the house!!
<p> What makes your mouth start watering? What are some cravings you have had that are hard to get rid of until you get the food?

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Track and Field Day

We had a day that started bright and early as we were at the field at 8:15 for Track and Field day. my husband had to take the care to get a part changed out so it had to start a bit earlier. We packed salami sandwiches, potato chips (which are a treat here), sweet peppers and brownie bites with a big jug of water.
This is the view from up on top of the bleachers! H. is down there in the crowd!
There he is hopping in the sack race….right to a second place ribbon!!!
i got a little closer! It was hard as they were all at different events at the same time!
I do not have alot of photo room, but there are a couple of other ones I got!
P. all set for the long jump!
Here we go!
Anyhow, they did several events, a dash, relay race, softball throw, sack race, three legged race and long jump! We left for home about 2:30 pm. it was a long full day!

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Haystacks

I was reading on Tammy’s Recipes (see link in sidebar) and her  shared recipe theme this week was Lettuce!  She featured a really yummy looking salad or two there, but i cannot take pictures like her, but thought I would try to share my recipe and picture of haystacks. i never quite make them the same way,  and everyone makes them a little differently.
I made a pot of chili  and it was repurposed into these haystacks…
Shredded lettuce
Grated cheese
Cooked rice
Cooked taco meat, beans, or chili or whatever, you can use just seasoned beans as well, black, pinto or whatever kind you like. Mine this time was cooked meat, cooked pinto beans that I had frozen and added with one bag of tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and a can of green chilies and 5-6 cloves of garlic.
Sliced sweet pepper (if you want)
sour cream
Salsa or taco sauce
Chopped tomatoes are nice too, I did not have any this time
Crushed saltines or crushed corn chips- did not have any of these and liked it still!
Last night I used some El Pato Jalapeno sauce for  taco sauce and tonight, I just dashed a little Tapitio over it. It was spicy!   It is really good and filling! I have seen people use riced potatoes on it as well or cheese sauce instead of grated cheese, you can pretty much  vary it any way you want!

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First Wild Card Tours: Ruby Unscripted

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s1600-h/wild+card.jpg"><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/"><img id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5190009307003588530" style="FLOAT: left; MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; CURSOR: hand; TEXT-ALIGN: center" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/SAad94Trj7I/AAAAAAAAArA/Yn05_E4V0fY/s200/wild+card.jpg&quot; border="0" /></a></a>It is time for a <span style="color:#990000;"><strong><a href="http://firstwildcardtours.blogspot.com/">FIRST Wild Card Tour</a></span></strong> 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!  <span style="color:#990000;"><strong>Enjoy your free peek into the book!</strong></span><br /><br /><font color="#cc0000"><em>You never know when I might play a wild card on you!</em></font><br /><br /><br /><div align="center"><strong>Today’s Wild Card author is: </strong><br /></div><br /><div align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.cindycoloma.com/">Cindy Martinusen </a></span></strong><br /></div><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><span style="font-size:100%;color:#cc0000;">and the book:</span> </span></strong><br /></p><br /><p align="center"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;color:#cc0000;"><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1595543562">Ruby Unscripted</a></span></strong><br /></p><p align="center">Thomas Nelson (May 5, 2009) <br /></p><br /><div align="left"><strong><span style="font-size:130%;color:#333399;"><span style="color:#cc0000;">ABOUT THE AUTHOR:</span> </span></strong></div><br /><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShQ7NRuwRcI/AAAAAAAACxg/PejRyIoQvN4/s1600-h/martinusen_sm.png"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 134px; height: 200px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShQ7NRuwRcI/AAAAAAAACxg/PejRyIoQvN4/s200/martinusen_sm.png&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5337956557624722882" /></a>Cindy began writing around 1988, working on story ideas and writing plays. Her first book was contracted in 1998. Since that time she’s written 8 novels, 1 nonfiction and over 100 articles, short stories, and curriculums. <br /><br />Her critically acclaimed novels have been nominated for the Christy Award and Reader’s Choice Award (Romantic Times), and chosen for the List of Best Books of 2004 by Library Journal.  <br /><br />Her first three novels have been translated into Dutch, German, and Norwegian. <br /><br />Her newest novel is now a bestseller! ORCHID HOUSE <br /><br />Cindy is the co-owner of METHOD 3AM WRITING & MEDIA SERVICES a newly created media service company (www.method3AM.com). She offers both aspiring and experience writers services in book doctoring, content editing, manuscript review and critique. <br /><br />For the past ten years, Cindy has been speaking and teaching in different locations nationally and internationally. Her roles include conference leader, featured speaker and workshop leader at numerous women’s gatherings, retreats and writers conferences most notably Litt-World 2004 in Tagaytay City, Philippines. <br /><br />Monthly, she co-leads and teaches a workshop at Quills of Faith Writers Group in Northern California.  <br /><br />Look for Cindy on Facebook and on Twitter!<br /><br /><br />Visit the author’s <a href="http://www.cindycoloma.com/">website</a&gt;.<br /><br />Product Details:<br /><br />List Price: $12.99<br />Reading level: Young Adult<br />Paperback: 256 pages <br />Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 5, 2009) <br />Language: English <br />ISBN-10: 1595543562 <br />ISBN-13: 978-1595543561 <br /><br /><span style="color:#cc0000;"><strong><span style="font-size:180%;">AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:</span> </strong><br /></span><br /><br /><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShQ7Tab8jcI/AAAAAAAACxo/B-kuPm9760Y/s1600-h/ruby+unscripted.jpg"><img style="float:left; margin:0 10px 10px 0;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 129px; height: 200px;" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_cESuxv-WNX8/ShQ7Tab8jcI/AAAAAAAACxo/B-kuPm9760Y/s200/ruby+unscripted.jpg&quot; border="0" alt=""id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5337956663040970178" /></a><div style="OVERFLOW: auto; HEIGHT: 307px">  “Now he likes me?” I say aloud as I drop my phone to my lap and my heart does a strange little tuck and roll within my chest. <br /><br />      My ten-year-old brother, Mac, gives me a strange look from the seat beside me. With the top down in my aunt’s convertible, he can’t hear my words that are cast into the air to dance with the wind.<br /><br />      The orange towers of the Golden Gate Bridge loom toward us, with the darkening blue of sky and water filling the spaces between. Aunt Jenna is driving, with Mom talking beside her.<br /><br />      So it’s finally true.<br /><br />      Nick likes me.<br /><br />      I think I’m happy. Everyone will expect me to be happy. It’s not been a secret that I’ve liked him for . . . well, ever. Or at least for a few months.<br /><br />      And yet I have a very good reason for being completely annoyed about this.<br /><br />      The text stating Nick’s indirect admission of love, or at least “like,” arrives as we’re leaving an afternoon in San Francisco behind. But we aren’t driving the four hours home to Cottonwood. We’re driving toward our new life in Marin County.<br /><br />      Everyone at school knew that Nick liked me for a long time. His friends and my friends knew it. I knew it. But Nick apparently didn’t know his own feelings. Why can’t guys just trust others on these things?<br /><br />      I pick up my phone and reply to Kate’s text. <br /><br /><br />      ME: Is Nick still standing there?<br /><br />      KATE: No. I think it freaked him out to wait for your response. The guys went to play Alien Hunter III before the movie starts. So what do you think? Patience paid off.<br /><br />      ME: I’m trying not to think that guys are really as dumb as most of us say they are.<br /><br />      KATE: Huh?<br /><br />      ME: Really now. I mean NOW. He says this on the day I move away?<br /><br />      KATE: Well you’ll be home most every weekend so it’s not that bad.<br /><br />      ME: But think about it. What made him decide today?<br /><br />      KATE: Who cares? He finally figured out he can’t live without you. <br /><br /><br />      The car cruises along the bridge, and I stare up at the massive orange beams over our heads. Then I catch sight of a sailboat as it dips and bows on the evening waters of San Francisco Bay.<br /><br />      My brother is shout-talking to my mom and aunt. And with one earbud pulled out, I catch bits of the discussion being tossed around the car as the wind twists my hair into knots. The topic is “If you had one wish, what would you wish for?”<br /><br />      What poetic irony. Five minutes ago I would’ve wished that Nick would like me . . . and like some psychic genie working even before I wished it, the text arrived from Kate: “Nick said . . .”<br /><br /> So Nick likes me after I move four hours and a world away. <br /><br />      He likes me the day after I say good-bye to him and all my friends in Cottonwood.<br /><br />      I scroll back through my saved texts to find what he sent me after we said good-bye.<br /><br />      NICK: I wish you weren’t moving.<br /><br />      NICK: Next time you’re up visiting your dad let’s hang out.<br /><br />      NICK: How often will you be back?<br /><br />      NICK: So you don’t have a date for prom?<br /><br />      Men. I mean seriously.<br /><br />      So it’s like this. I’m moving to one of the coolest areas of California—Marin County. I’m going to live in this cool, quirky cottage that my aunt Betty gave us after she headed off on an extended Mediterranean honeymoon with the man, now her husband, she found online.<br /><br />      Since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to live near San Francisco. Aunt Betty’s house was one of my favorite places. Kate and I plan to attend college down here. So now I get to live my dream sooner than expected.<br /><br />      Mac taps my arm, but I watch the little sailboat lean toward the open Pacific and wonder at its journey ahead, far or near, some California marina or faraway exotic isle.<br /><br />      My brother taps on my arm persistently. “Ruby-Ruby Red.”<br /><br />      I really dislike it when he calls me that. Then he reaches for my earbud, and I push his hand away.<br /><br />      “What?” I ask loudly, wiping strands of hair from my face. The sun falls easily into the cradle of the sea. It’s eventide—that time between sunset and darkness, a peaceful time of wind and bridges and dreams except for one annoying brother and an incoming text that could disrupt the excitement of a dream coming true.<br /><br />      “What do you wish for?” Mac asks earnestly.<br /><br />      My phone vibrates again, and I nearly say, “Don’t bug me, and don’t call me Ruby-Ruby Red,” but Mac’s sweet pink cheeks and expectant eyes stop me. I rub his hair and tickle him until he cries for mercy.<br /><br />      He laughs and twists away from my fingers, then asks me again what I wish for.<br /><br />      “Wait a minute,” I say, and he nods like he understands. <br /><br /><br />      KATE: He said he’s been miserable since he said good-bye last night.<br /><br />      ME: So why didn’t he like me before?<br /><br />      KATE: He says he always did, he just kept it to himself.<br /><br />      ME: Or he kept it FROM himself. <br /><br /><br />      Everyone said Nick said I was hot, that I was intelligent, that he’d never met a girl like me—which can be taken as good or bad. Everyone told him to ask me out, but he just didn’t. No explanation,<br /><br />no other girlfriend, just nothing. For months. Until today. <br /><br /><br />      KATE: He’s never had a girlfriend, give the guy a break. I always thought he’d be the bridge guy! Maybe he will be!<br /><br />      I rest the phone in my hands at that. Nick has been the main character in my bridge daydream—only Kate knows that secret dream of mine.<br /><br />      We’ve crossed the bridge into Marin County with signs for Sausalito, Corte Madera, San Rafael. The names of my new home, and yet I’m still between the old and the new.<br /><br />      “What are you smiling for?” my brother asks.<br /><br />      “Nothing,” I say and give him the mind-your-own-business look.<br /><br />      Mac stretches forward in his seat belt toward the front seat, and I’m tempted to tell him to sit down. But for once I don’t boss him around. He’s so happy about this wishing talk, with his wide dimpled smile and cheeks rosy from the wind. His cheeks remind me of when I loved kissing them—back when we were much younger.<br /><br />      “Remember, no infinity wishes. That’s cheating,” Mac shout says to Mom and Aunt Jenna, but he glances at me to see if I’m listening.<br /><br />      “This is really hard,” Aunt Jenna yells back. She points out the window to a line of cyclists riding along a narrow road parallel to the highway. “I bet those guys wish for a big gust of wind to come up behind them.”<br /><br />      Mac laughs, watching the cyclists strain up an incline.<br /><br />      Now they’ll probably start “creating wishes” for everyone they see.<br /><br />      I bet that car wishes it were as cool as that Corvette.<br /><br />      I think the people in that car wish they had a fire extinguisher for that cigarette . . .<br /><br />      Mom and her sister often make up stories about strangers while sitting outside Peet’s Coffee or, well, just about anywhere people watching is an option.<br /><br />      My phone vibrates in my hand, and then immediately again. <br /><br /><br />      KATE: Hello?? No comment on Nick being your mysterious bridge guy?<br /><br />      ME: Nope<br /><br />      JEFFERS: So beautiful, are you there yet?<br /><br />      ME TO KATE: I just got a text from Jeffers.<br /><br />      KATE: LOL He’s sitting beside me and saw me talking to you.<br /><br />      JEFFERS: When can we come party in Marin?<br /><br />      ME TO JEFFERS: Almost there. Ten minutes I think. Uh party?<br /><br />      JEFFERS: Yeah, party! How could you leave us, I mean what could be better than us? You’ll be too cool for gocarts and mini golf after a month w/ the rich and sophisticated.<br /><br />      ME: I hate mini golf.<br /><br />      JEFFERS: See? One day and already too good for mini golf.<br /><br />      KATE: You’re having us all down for a party?<br /><br />      ME: Uh, no<br /><br />      JEFFERS: Kate’s yelling at me. Thx a lot. But bye beautiful, previews are on with little cell phone on the screen saying to turn you off.<br /><br />      ME TO JEFFERS AND KATE: K have fun. TTYL.<br /><br />      KATE: Write you after. Bye!<br /><br />      It’s a significant moment, this.<br /><br />      One of the most significant in my fifteen years.<br /><br />      Not the “wish discussion” between Mac, Mom, and Aunt Jenna; not the text messaging back and forth; not the music playing in one of my ears; not even Nick liking me.<br /><br />      The significance comes in crossing bridges. Not the bridge in my dream, but the ones that take me into Marin. The many bridges that brought my family here with my dad still in Cottonwood, and my older brother, Carson, driving soon behind us. And though we can turn around and drive back to the small<br /><br />town I’ve always lived in, I wonder if, once you cross so many bridges, you can ever really go back.<br /><br />      The music in my one ear and the voices of my family in the other make a dramatic backdrop for this moment—one that will shape the rest of my life.<br /><br />      I feel a sense of wonder, but also of fear. It’s beautiful, this time of long evening shadows. The sky in the west where the sun has fallen turns from a subtle to defined sunset of red and orange.<br /><br />      The hills of Marin County rise to the nighttime with their myriad dots of light. The salty breeze is cool coming off the Pacific.<br /><br />      “What’s your wish?”<br /><br />      I jump as Mac shouts at me, leaning to get his face close to mine. I nearly throw my phone out the open rooftop.<br /><br />      “Mac! Mom!”<br /><br />      “Mac, leave your sister alone. She needs time to think,”<br /><br />      Mom calls back with a worried glance in my direction. She was more worried than I was about this move to Marin . . .well, until I said all the good-byes this week and especially now. I realize it’s the last remnant of what is, taking us from the past and what has been to the new place, the new life, and the what will be.<br /><br />      “Do you know what I wish?” Mac says in a loud whisper that only I can hear.<br /><br />The innocent expression on his face soothes my annoyance.<br /><br />      He motions for me to lean close.<br /><br />      “I wish I was six again.”<br /><br />      “Why?”<br /><br />      “Promise you won’t tell Mom or Austin or Dad and Tiffany, ’cause I don’t want to hurt their feelings . . .” He waits for me to agree. “I wish I was six ’cause Mom and Dad were married then. But then that would make Austin and Tiffany go away, and I don’t really want them to go away, but I sort of wish Mom and Dad were married still.”<br /><br />      I nod and glance up toward Mom, who is staring out toward the bay. “Yeah, I know, Mac. But it’ll be all right.”<br /><br />      “So what do you wish for?” he asks again.<br /><br />      We’re almost there now, and I still have no singular wish. How do you make such a choice when your whole life is upended—for the good and the bad? I wonder if San Francisco Bay is like one giant wishing well, and in the coming years I can toss as many pennies as I want into the blue waters and have all the wishes I need.<br /><br />      I hope so. And maybe wishing that the bay would become one giant well breaks Mac’s rule about infinity wishes. But regardless, this is what I wish my wish to be.<br /><br />      It was my choice to move to Marin with Mom. But now I wonder if these bridges are taking me where I should be going. Or if they’re taking me far, far away.<br /><br />      “I wish for infinity wishes!” I say and kiss Mac on the cheek before he protests. “No one can put rules on wishes.”<br /><br />      And this is what I truly want to believe.<br /> </div><br />

My Review:
This was a cute story of a modern young girl and the trials a girl who wants to live for Jesus  would have. Ruby  moves away from  the world she has always known, her friends and is going to a school, where she is the "poor girl" even though she does not think she is poor! She is introduced to film making, new friends with different beliefs and lifestyles. When a girl who she thinks is her friend takes her to a party  without her mom knowing and she ends up in trouble after making wrong decisions, she though realizes her mistakes and learns from them, in spite of having to live without her most prized possession, her cell phone! This book deals with alot of hard issues, but in an engaging, tactful sort of way! This is a great book for that  teen girl, going to high school and facing tough things in showing that a girl can stand up for what is right and still be a great person. It also shows what happens when you do not. It was a book I enjoyed as it was well written.
I would however say for conservative, homeschooled girls, they may not relate to it as much as it deals with different issues than they may have to face. – Martha

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What a week!

On Thursday night we went to a pre-conference sort of meeting with Lorrie Flem from TEACH magazine
and it was really good. I had to bake brownies, buy tea, plates, cups, napkins etc. for it,  as well as had my second son’s first reading tutoring lessons.  I am cleaning their house in trade for  lessons which is nice, but  time consuming. But I will clean once and  he will have two half- hour lessons. So, far so good…<p>
Friday and Saturday we were busy all day at the conference.  One of the Keynote speakers, Mark Hamby from Lamplighter books spoke that first morning. I was not really familiar with his speaking, only his books, but I was really pleasantly surprised. He was an incredible speaker, very humble and spoke directly to the heart to  parents and the tips were wonderful. If you get a chance, go on his website and listen to some of the things there. Also, he sells a CD of the one Raise them up, don’t crush them down. It was excellent! <p>
After, that we had a tea,  I had to help with setting up the plates and the food, which was fun, but left little time for shopping that day.  The tea was great, but lacked protein, which left a couple of us with some major headaches and  blood sugar issues, next time I will have to pack something so I do not get sick!
<p> Anyhow, overall, I came away feeling encouraged, but still not decided what to use for school next year for everything! I get sort of lost there, but for sure encouraged as far as raising children, although, it is so tough some days! I am praying for continued patience and perseverance.
<p>
Then On Sunday, I went to church with my husband and went over to friends house afterwards. While we were there, their grandfather/father passed away and  that was really difficult. Both emotionally and physically draining somehow…..Tonight there is a service and tomorrow morning, the burial service. it is alot harder on those they leave behind than the ones who go.
<p> We also  have a science club today, practice for track and field day tomorrow and Track and field day the following day. I hope it is a nice day!  We have had some beautiful ones, but today is cooler and rainy!
 

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Book Review: Nothing but Trouble by Susan Warren

The fun will Kick-off with a SUGAR BOMB on Friday May 15th. Susan is
encouraging everyone to purchase a copy (and maybe a few for friends) of
Nothing But Trouble anytime during the day on May 15th. Every one who
purchases a copy of the book will be entered into the contest to win a
http://www.susanmaywarren.com/contest.html Sugar Spa Basket. All you need
to do is purchase a book at
Amazon
or
Christian book Distributors
Come back here (contest page at
<http://www.susanmaywarren.
) and leave Susan a
message letting her know where you bought your book. Easy. And for every
additional copies you buy, you’ll gain an additional ten entries into the
contest. So just let her know how many copies you bought.

The party will continue all month with a blog tour and chances to win copies
of Nothing But Trouble from the blog tourists! Schedule posted below.

The Sugar party will conclude in a day of celebration on Friday June 19th
with a day long ONLINE Sugar Book Club Party. Susan will be giving away
prizes, answering questions, hosting a live chat, and generally getting
herself into some "Trouble".

Tell your friends…or better yet, host your own Sugar Party! Details to
follow.

 About the book: PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

 

After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the
trail of disaster that’s become her life, she needs a fresh start.

 

The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister’s
wedding is Boone—her former flame and the reason she left town.

 

Her best friend’s husband absolutely did not commit the first murder
Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade.

 

What PJ doesn’t know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she’ll
uncover much more than she bargained for—a deadly conspiracy, a knack for
investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she’s been longing
for.

 

It’s not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but
it feels that way when she returns to her hometown, looking for a fresh
start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend’s
husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective
investigating the murder–who also happens to be PJ’s former flame–is
convinced it’s an open-and-shut case, PJ’s not so sure. She begins digging
for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting
old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder
along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never
seems to get it right.

 

Read the first chapter:  
http://gotsugar.susanmaywarren.com/

 

About Susan: Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen
novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her
first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers
Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s
Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and
won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to
Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time
from her home in northern Minnesota.

 

A note from Susan May Warren

Sometimes, do you feel like you just don’t fit in?  You look around you and
if anyone knew how difficult it was just to put yourself together, to smile
when you feel completely overwhelmed, to even figure out what you were
making for supper, they’d know what a mess you were.   Maybe you totally
relate to those words in 1 Peter – God’s elect, strangers and aliens in the
world.   Do you feel like when you look in the rear view mirror, all you see
are your mistakes?

           

Maybe not.  But if so, then PJ is your gal.  I wanted to write a story about
the person in so many of us who just wants to get it right…but can’t seem to
stay out of trouble.  My friend and I have what we call the “stupid mouth”
club…and we report our weekly foibles (usually on Monday, after Sunday
church!).  PJ is our charter member.  She’s the girl that changes her mind,
always hopes for the best, is always discovering that she is just a little
different than everyone else.  PJ is us.

           

And that’s good news.  Because God loves PJ.  He loves her messiness, and
her impulsiveness, her heart bent toward others, the hope that fuels her
actions.  And He has a plan for PJ – one that includes her weaknesses as
well as her strengths.

           

Yep, I need to hear that – need to hear that I don’t have to be perfect for
God to love me, use me, sing over me.  Need to hear that although I don’t
fit in, well, I’m not supposed to…in fact, I’m supposed to be a
little…alien.

           

I wrote PJ for everyone who feels just a little messy, just a little like
they can’t quite get it right.  And who needs to hear that God loves them.
Period.  Full stop.  Hallelujah.

 

 

What is your favourite Bible verse and what does it mean to you?

My current favourite is: Hebrew 4:16, “Let us approach the throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in
our time of need.”  It means that even when I come crawling, my face to the
floor, He won’t reject me. I pull it out whenever I blow it, or feel
inadequate, or when someone hurts me, or…when I hurt someone else.
Basically whenever I feel like I’m Trouble, I remember that God won’t turn
away.  In fact, He may even do what I do to my children – turn me to face
Him, despite my puffy red face, wipe off my tears and pull me into His arms.

 

 

How did I come to be a writer?

I’ve always been amazed at the journey God has taken me on.  I always loved
to write, but being a missionary in Russia, I never dreamed about being an
author.  I just tried to do the best with what God had entrusted to me, and
for me that meant writing missionary newsletters.  I honed my skills through
my newsletter, and then, after a number of years, began to write devotionals
and magazine articles.  Although I tried my hand at writing novels (I wrote
4 before I ever had one published), I never thought I would get anything
published.   But I diligently studied craft and analyzed books, even though
I was hidden away in Siberia.   I’ll always be grateful that Tyndale took a
chance on me!  I’m still learning, and still trying to be a good steward of
the gift and task I’ve been given to write books that draw people closer to
God.

 

 

Where did the idea for PJ Sugar come from?

Every author dreams of a moment where someone says something, or they see
something on the news, or in a newspaper and it springs out at them, nearly
shouting – STORY IDEA!  This happened to me a number of years ago while
talking to friends about their daycare situation, and how one of the parents
ended up being a murder suspect!  Scary!  But an interesting idea.   About
that time, I was a mom who wore many hats – homeschooling mom, writing
teacher, speaker, children’s church leader, — and it occurred to me that a
mother really has to be a sort of PI.  Not only taking on different roles,
but sleuthing out daily household mysteries like, who ate the last of the
peanut butter (and put it back in the cupboard?) and whose socks are laying
in the middle of the floor, and finally…(in our house), who let the dog (and
her muddy feet!) in the house!  PJ is the alter-ego in every mom, that
super-hero inside of us that allows us to have esp (I know you’re not really
done with your homework!), or have “eyes in the back of our head,” (stop
poking your sister!) or even figure out how to whip together an
award-winning science project the night before the fair.  PJ just applies
all those skills to bad guys and figuring out the truth.

 

PJ Sugar is also a woman who wants to be all things to all people. She wants
to be her nephew’s champion and her sister’s best friend, and her mother’s
favorite daughter, and Boone’s special girl, and the  hero of her hometown.
That’s not too much to ask, is it?  Maybe…because God wants her to be His
girl, and satisfied in who He made her to be.  And that is a journey for all
of us PJ Sugars.

 

Blog tour schedule and link:

http://www.litfusegroup.com/latest/current-blog-tours/81-nothing-but-trouble
-blog-tour-schedule

Book Notes:
I just wanted to say that if you have a chance pick up one of  Susan’s books! She is one of my favorite authors and I love to curl up with her books. It is like  expecting a visit with a good friend, with lots of laughs and good food! – Martha

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