Monthly Archives: September 2011

Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze

Deadly Ties

By Vicki Hinze

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the book: (From back cover)

A horrific crime shatters Lisa Harper’s idyllic childhood. Her father is dead and her desperate mother, Annie, quickly marries Dutch Hauk, an abusive monster who soon reveals his hatred for Lisa.  To protect her, Annie defies her ruthless husband and forfeits custody to a trusted friend. Enraged, Dutch vows to keep Annie and Lisa apart—and he does. Years later, though keenly aware of Dutch’s evil intent, Lisa and her mother seize a chance to be a family, safe in a home where love dwells. But they fail to fathom how far Dutch will go to keep his vow.

Determined to control his women, Dutch proves resourceful. His associates in crime are feared at the highest levels across the globe—and for Lisa they plan a fate worse than death. Yet she too has formidable connections, including former Special Operations Officer Mark Taylor. Burdened by his own traumatic past, Mark has loved Lisa from afar. Now, for Lisa and her mother to survive, Mark must risk his life—and even more difficult for him, he must trust God. All as one question haunts them: Can Mark and Lisa untangle these deadly ties before it’s too late?

My Review:

Mark and Lisa both have grown up with bad experiences in their past. Lisa’s mother is still with the man who is both an abuser and sadist. Annie feels that she has no other choice but to stay with him. Ms. Hinze portrays an excellent picture of the cycle of abuse and helplessness that is shown to the victims. Mark dealing with his own past, loves Lisa, but from far away as he is scared to hurt her as well. But when Dutch steps into her life once again, determines to make her life as short as possible, can they put their pasts behind them and trust God  to help them through it.  I enjoyed this book, as I felt like it did not disregard the past, but also gave them hope that they would not have to live with the past forever. Excellent suspense!

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Patton: Pursuit of Destiny by Agostino

Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny

By Agostino Von Hassell

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

Gen. George Patton.  We have all heard stories of him, if we listened to our grandparents.  This book gives an inside look to the way he grew up, and from a christian perspective. This man was a complex blend of battle- tested strengths and nearly fatal personal flaws.

So, this book, talks about his struggle with being embarrassed of growing up in poverty. He loved guns, riding horses, and holding pretend battles with his friends.  However, his father had some  ideas that we would probably call “unschooling” now. He did not believe reading and writing were essential foundations, so while he was read to aloud, he did not learn how to read until he was 12 years old. Many writers have assumed he had dyslexia, as he always struggled with reading and never learned to spell, but loved math, and history.

After struggling though West point, he did have some things going for him. He had learned how to listen when being read to as a young child.  I wonder if that had something to do with his successes in battle.

While I still probably will admire him for his battle prowess in  the War, I think this helped me understand why he had some of those undesirable  qualities that bothered so many of his men.

He was for sure a very interesting man!

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Pursuit of Justice by Diann Mills

Pursuit of Justice
By DiAnn Mills

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

 

About the book:

Special Agent Bella Jordan is assigned to investigate a series of murders in West Texas that are linked to the Spider Rock Treasure. Since she spent the first fifteen years of her life in this area, FBI authorities believe she can get the job done. What they don’t know is that one of their prime suspects—a man who’s been on their wanted list for years—is deeply connected to Bella’s past.
The other prime suspect is Carr Sullivan, the man who owns the ranch where the murders occurred. Carr was once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Dallas and has a shady past a mile long. But it appears he’s turned his life around. Can Bella trust him, or is he just trying to cover his tracks?
As Bella probes deeper into the case, threats on her own life convince her the killer is someone she knows. But it soon becomes clear he’s not working alone, and she’ll need to face the past she’s tried so desperately to forget in order to solve the case and prevent more murders.

My Review:

This next book in this series set in TX. When Bella, a successful FBI agent is handed a case with three new victims, treasure hunters, but not just treasure hunters. They are linked to a man on a fugitive list. Carr Sullivan is the top of their suspect list, real estate developer, blond hair, blue eyes  and what Bella thinks….”not a lady killer.” She is skeptical of  him though, as he supposedly has changed from a drug user, to being a Christian who helps high risk boys. Their lives intersect  as the victim’s list grows and they wonder who will be next on the killer’s list!
This book is one of those happy, suspense reads, scary enough to make you want to keep reading, but not too scary to keep you up at night. The touch of romance will keep  your heart warm and fuzzy.

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A cry for Justice by Shelley Hundley

My Review:
When I got this book, I did not know how it would touch my heart and mind. This raw testimony of a daughter of an American missionary in Columbia, digs deeply into the pain of her past, the anger and hurt she associated with God. The abuse came from a man who was a minister of God’s word, and when Shelley recounts her anger, her hatred for Christianity, and how she became a bitter atheist, you will sort of understand. But when you read the story of her conversion to a intercessor and prayer warrior for Jesus, I don’t know about you, but I was brought to tears. You can read through her voice in the book, the horrific pain she suffered, the amazing forgiveness she found in her heart from the pain, but also how she learned that Jesus is the Righteous Judge.
I found myself in tears, and praying as I read this book. While I read this book, I found myself longing for the power of a friendship with Jesus once again and this book is one I would highly recommend. It shows in a simple story, of redemption of a strong atheist, how Jesus can take a hardened heart and change it, when Christians listen and obey about about interceding for those who are hardened against him.
This is not your typical reading, and some of you may think that it does not apply to you, you have not been abused, your life has not been that bad. But this book will touch you as well, it will speak to you about learning what a real relationship with the Lord is, beyond what you could have thought. I highly recommend this book!- Martha

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:

A Cry for Justice

Charisma House (September 6, 2011)

***Special thanks to Kim Jones | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Shelley Hundley is one of the original interns who helped launch the International House of Prayer under Mike Bickle’s leadership and has been on the senior leadership of IHOP-KC since its inception in 1999. She currently serves as vice president of training at International House of Prayer University in Kansas City, Missouri. Fluent in four languages, Shelley is passionate to see the nations of the earth prepared for the return of Christ and to see 24/7 prayers for justice combined with 24/7 works of justice.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Knowing Jesus as the Judge who will make all things right has been the greatest comfort of my life.”—Shelley Hundley

The daughter of American missionaries, Shelley Hundley was born in Colombia, and grew up on the campus of a seminary that trained leaders to serve in what was one of the most violent nations in the world. After suffering abuse at the hands of a minister in the community, she turns from God—angry and confused that He could allow this to happen.

In A Cry for Justice, Hundley uses her story as a backdrop to show how she found healing from the pain, guilt, and shame of the abuse she endured as a child and how she came to know Jesus in a new way—as a righteous judge who fights for His people and takes upon Himself the burden of our injustices and pain.

The story of Shelley Hundley’s journey from bitter atheist to wholehearted lover of God is unique. Yet what she learned on this journey is relevant to every person who has ever been hurt and has silently wondered, “Who will fight for me? Who can make the wrong things right?”

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Charisma House (September 6, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616382597
ISBN-13: 978-1616382599

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Why I Became an A theist

When I entered college at the age of seventeen, I was an avowed atheist, and I quickly distinguished

myself on campus as one of the most hostile and defiant people to the message of Jesus. This was no small thing because I attended a Christian college where the gospel was preached often, including at mandatory chapel services. I wasn’t always this way. The daughter of American missionaries, I was born in Medellín, Colombia, and reared on the campus of a seminary that trained leaders to serve in what was one of the most violent nations in the world. Murder and kidnapping were commonplace, and it was hardly unusual for my family to hear bomb blasts and gun fights on our street. In fact, I grew up thinking this was normal. I went to bed each night to the sound of attack dogs unleashed at 10:00 p.m. to prevent thieves or hired assassins from breaking into the seminary and killing or kidnapping one of the many missionary families who lived there. I knew of many believers who lost their lives when guerrillas burst into church services and sprayed bullets in the sanctuary. Even at a young age, I knew what it meant to suffer for Jesus. I saw people do it almost every day.

Although my childhood was anything but easy, I never resented living in Colombia. I thought Medellín was a beautiful place. It had perpetual springlike weather that made the brilliant landscape seem to be always bursting with life. From my perspective as a child, the Cordillera mountains seemed to wrap themselves around Colombia’s second largest city like a warm hug, protecting the fruit trees, wild orchids, and South American wildlife that thrive in its lush valley.

When I was a little girl, I often would slip out to the front porch in the evenings just to take in Medellín’s beauty. As sunlight fled and darkness took its watch, the city lights flickered across the sky like a magic show, climbing the sides of the mountains and then spreading out in every direction. The beauty and safety I felt as I looked at the mountains never meshed with the terror, violence, and death that shrouded the city and gripped its inhabitants with fear.

A Climate of Fear

Everyone seemed to have the same nagging yet unspoken question, “How long?” How long will the violence continue? How long until the next person disappears? How long before the guerrillas spill more innocent blood in the streets? No one said this out loud, but no one had to. It was in the eyes of every Colombian and anyone who had lived in the nation long enough to be infected by this contagious feeling of dread. Violence was as constant in Colombia as sunrise and sunset. With the advent of the drug years in the 1980s, Colombia fell into a downward spiral of political chaos and staggering suffering. A relentless underground cocaine industry and a vicious hierarchy of drug lords backed Marxist guerrillas. These rebels took over the Palace of Justice, which was the equivalent of the US Pentagon, as frightened Colombians watched the real-life drama unfold on their TV sets.

At the height of its “narco” (narcotics) years, Medellín was ruled by a drug lord named Pablo Escobar. He bred an environment of instability and unpredictability, and unspeakable bloodshed seemed to lurk around every corner. At any moment, a store or a restaurant might be blown up, massacring everyone in the vicinity, just because Pablo wanted to settle a score.
The danger was at such a height that my mom sat me down once before a visit to the dentist and reminded me not to give out any information about our family—what we did, where we lived, how many siblings I had. She told me, “Remember, Shelley, anyone could be a guerrilla, even people who seem nice. Nurses and dentists can be killers or kidnappers.” As a little girl, I struggled to understand what all of this meant. I pictured normal people taking off their masks and revealing their true identities as guerrillas, whatever those were. All I knew was that these guerrillas weren’t animals; they were men and women, sometimes even children, who had killed people we knew, kidnapping children and adults alike.

The other constant in Colombia was unspeakable poverty. Even as a child, I could never get over the despair and deprivation around me every day. I played soccer with neighborhood kids who had only one pair of shorts to their names and actually picked pockets to secure food and other essentials. This was so well known, the neighborhood children who came into the seminary were frisked on their way out to ensure they didn’t steal anything. This always seemed unfair to me at the time, but I understand it was necessary. Once, we missionary kids devised a scheme to turn the tables on the adults. We stole all the seminary professors’ wallets; then at the end of the day, when the neighborhood children were being frisked, we returned the wallets, grinning ear to ear.

As you may have guessed, I had an adventurous and sometimes mischievous personality. I caused a little trouble here and there for sneaking too much food to my friends or for refusing to wear new shoes or clothes because my playmates had none. But I also had fun despite my dangerous surroundings. I loved to play soccer with my big brothers, and I tried to keep up with all of their crazy stunts. The hills across this paradise were great for sliding, and bamboo groves made the best kids’ bows and arrows you could ever wish for. I especially liked to climb the mango trees. I’d carry my pocketknife in one hand and a little bag of lemon and salt in my pocket to dip my fresh mango slices in. Truth be told, I ruined my appetite for dinner many times with my mango eating, and it was a constant source of tension between my mom and me.

Medellín was like the times Charles Dickens described in A Tale of Two Cities: full of the best and the worst. It was a constant contradiction—good and bad, happy and sad, beauty and pain, paradise and poverty. I had the honor of being surrounded by missionaries who had left everything to serve the Lord and by radical Colombian believers who were ready to die for Christ. Many received the chance to do so. Some Colombian Christians were assassinated in the very churches where they worshiped because of their opposition to the Marxist guerrillas’ call for violent revolution.

Americans too were targeted for murder and kidnapping as retaliation for the arrests of Colombian drug lords who were extradited to the United States to be tried for their crimes. My brothers and I had the equivalent of “snow days” when the US Embassy would call to warn our parents that there were new death threats against Americans, so we couldn’t go outside or be near the windows.

Although violence hounded us, I considered Colombia my home. So when my parents decided to move to Indiana just before I entered eighth grade, I felt like the ground beneath me had been removed. My identity was deeply rooted in my cross-cultural experience in Medellín. I was a gringa-paisa, an American by blood but a Colombian by birth.

My family had lived in the United States for short periods of time, and the thought of leaving a nation and people I loved to move to a country whose rules I couldn’t seem to figure out pierced my twelve-year-old heart. I told my parents I wouldn’t leave and threatened to run away from home, but then reality began to sink in. The prospect of running away in a city where I would certainly be kidnapped didn’t seem to be a viable option either, so I begrudgingly surrendered to the move.

In Indiana, I trudged through middle and high school, dealing with major culture shock and struggling to make friends, though my gifts in music won me some friendships. Looking back I don’t think my experience in high school was much different from other American kids my age.
I visited my church’s youth group and attended their retreats. I even longed for intimacy with God at this young age, but I never sensed a breakthrough in my heart. I always felt like I was outside of God’s presence, incapable of even looking in. Real intimacy with Jesus always seemed just out of reach.

Buried Memories

In the midst of all my normal teenage challenges, I was grappling with feelings of self-hatred that I just couldn’t shake. On many nights I would sit huddled in my bedroom just sobbing in the darkness because I couldn’t make the shame and self-loathing go away. Terror would overwhelm me, and images of sexual abuse would flood my mind.

I didn’t know how to process these thoughts. I didn’t want to believe they represented actual experiences, but something was deeply wrong in my heart. I saw a girl huddled on the floor of an old Spanish-style home in Medellín. She had long wavy hair that seemed to be a mixture of light brown, blonde, and amber. And her soft blue eyes were filled with too much sadness for a child of only eight. Hugging her knees tightly to her chest, she buried her face and cried because someone bigger and stronger had forced himself on her, and I had the sense it wasn’t the first time this had happened.

The girl sat there wishing she had never been born and fearing when the abuse might happen again. She sputtered out jumbled phrases amid her tears and heavy breathing, “Why does this keep happening? When will it all stop?” Her breathing got heavier and heavier until she felt as though her lungs were filled with heavy iron. Each second made her feel more and more anchored to the cold tile floor.

When the tears finally stopped, she felt a numb, empty feeling wash over her. She felt this every time she suffered abuse. This man hadn’t been the first. He was the third person who had done this to her, but this time had been the worst ever.

Sitting there, cold and limp, she shuddered as she remembered how he had threatened her so she wouldn’t tell. But she was past the point of trying to figure out a way to tell someone, to stop the horror from happening again. She felt doomed to serve out a sentence she was beginning to think she must deserve. She thought that surely the torment must have been her fault somehow.

She looked so small and alone there on the floor as she recalled the man’s threats. “If you tell people, they will all know how perverse you really are and how you bring this on yourself. Do you want everyone to see what you really are?” His words seemed to burn into her brain, and she couldn’t make them go away. “God must hate me so much, but I just don’t know why,” she told herself. She thought she might explode because the pain was so great. “I can’t make it. I can’t make it another day!”

Another wave of weeping and heavy breathing poured out of the girl’s exhausted little heart. She remembered how disgusted she felt when she heard the man preach at a church service where the congregation responded so wholeheartedly to his message about holiness. Hearing him preach made her feel ill, but she wondered if that was just further proof that she was only receiving what she deserved. “I must be going to hell!” the little girl muttered. “I must be worthless and horrible and perverse.”
Somehow I knew the girl had accepted Jesus in Sunday school but couldn’t seem to find her Savior amid the confusion, guilt, and despair. “I must be everything he says I am,” she told herself. “I must deserve it all.” She pounded her body in anger thinking that if her injuries were even more severe, maybe then someone would notice and stop this torture. Once I saw that she succeeded in getting away. She ran as far as she could, only to realize as she fled that she was in as much or more danger running down the streets of Colombia as she was in the hands of the abuser. Terrified and feeling forlorn, she climbed a tree to the highest branch she could reach and sat there and cried.

No matter where she turned there was nothing but torment. When she was finally able to quiet herself down a little bit, she could hear some of her friends playing outside the house. But she couldn’t go out to play. Instead, she sank into a daydream, imagining a day when someone would finally make the pain and abuse stop.

Even when I didn’t want to believe that I was this little girl, the images of her and the pain she felt were always there in the background. And no matter what was happening in my mind, I couldn’t deny the depression, loneliness, and feelings of worthlessness that plagued my heart even when everything in my teenage life seemed fine.

The images kept coming, and with them an unexplainable repulsion toward one minister our family knew well on the mission field. His face seemed ingrained in all of the images, but still I hoped the scenes of the little girl weren’t real. Tormented by these persistent, invasive thoughts, and even more so by the fear that I could never escape them, I retreated even further behind a wall of shame. I did what I could to bury it all.

Facing the Past

I carried these feelings of pain and hopelessness silently for years. Then one month before I left home for college, I had a conversation with someone who had been on the mission field with my family. That meeting changed everything. Completely unaware of the abuse I had suffered, this friend told me that a minister we had known in Colombia was found to have sexually abused children when we were living in Medellín. He listed several children’s names, and some of them were my dear friends.

This individual had no idea what was happening in my heart as he told me this. All of a sudden I felt as though I was outside of myself listening to what was being said. I felt cold all over and couldn’t control the tremors that came over my body. It seemed as though some dark and tempestuous evil had reached up from the ground and grabbed me by both legs.

The person who spoke with me thought I would be shocked by what was said, but I barely even looked surprised. I knew now without a doubt that all the images that had filled my mind and the pain that kept me up nights crying in terror were real. I kept a cold expression on my face because I wasn’t ready to say anything about my own experience. I listened and took in all the information the person offered and asked as many questions as I could without giving away my own story.

When we ended the conversation and I walked away, I began a terrifying journey into the past. In those next moments, I felt as if I was being encircled by hell’s fire. I felt fenced in on every side, and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. The curtain that covered the thing I couldn’t name had suddenly been removed, and now I was forced to face the reality of those horrible images. My emotions were all over the place. On one hand I felt a sense of relief as I thought, “I am not the only one. It really was wrong what he did. It wasn’t my fault.” But on the other hand, a steely, silent sort of rage started rising up in me.

I felt anger that I had never before been able to feel for myself, and it began to rise up as I thought of all the others this man had abused. I was finally beginning to piece together what I had experienced, and I was 100 percent certain that this person had sexually abused me for several years when my family lived in Colombia. The excruciating pain I had locked away deep inside had suddenly been set free and was now moving throughout my being.

I was filled with a quiet but fierce indignation during the silent drive home. I looked out at the road, but all I saw were the events of my life replaying with a new, insidious, hellish fire illuminating the dark, sadistic series of events. This horror wasn’t imaginary; it was my real life and the reality of some of my dearest childhood friends. And not only had this man abused me, others had done so as well.
In the car, I felt a heaviness begin to overtake me. Then I had a thought. It seemed like a lofty and wise idea, an indisputable solution to a difficult equation. I felt as though I was rising above my situation and being caught up by a wiser, more definitive conclusion than any I had ever drawn. The evidence had presented itself. It all made sense now. None of what I had heard about Jesus was true. It was all a lie. There is no God. And I should kill myself.

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Homeschooling….for real

I think sometimes people have ideas about homeschooling, what it is and what it isn’t. There are also people who have ideals of what it should be. I have found in homeschooling four boys that nothing is ever ideal. There are always something that will come up in schooling to change your idea about what things should look like.

You may realize that  you, yourself, are not perfect. You struggle with patience, with teaching division, and you really, really hate art.

Everyone is different, in their talents and teaching abilities, but if you think about it, each of us is teaching our children from the moment they are born. We look at them and encourage them in crawling, walking, smiling, cooing. We teach them not to touch the plugs and how to persevere, when they fall down.

When suddenly we are faced with the facts that we have to help them learn their letter sounds, or maybe we have a child who is brilliant and learns on his own, we still find we have to teach him diligence with his chores.

I find myself repeating over and over again, similar lines.

“Sit still.” “Slide your chair up.” “No, you may not go to the bathroom again.” “That letter is supposed to be a lower case. Rewrite it.”

It becomes wearying to be repeat yourself. I often have a headache by the end of the day. But, things are also very rewarding for me. My children have different struggles than some children in their learning. I do have to have help with some of the basics. I learned as a homeschooling mother, I am my son’s resource guide. I have to look out for him and find the resources for him. I have to practice, drill, and look for the things he is struggling in. I am their librarian, teacher, and drill sergeant.  I am teaching them how to get up for a job in the morning, to resolve issues in the work place when we have sibling rivalry.

Every teacher out there, no matter where they teach, has my admiration. I know what a hard job it is, and all the extra basic things that you teach on a daily basis.

Homeschooling is hard work. Plain and simple. We work on a daily basis to do what is best for our children, we know them better than most people, and work hard, not just in the hours of 7-3, but all day and sometimes all night with them.

If you know a homeschooling mom, please be careful that you encourage them and don’t judge them. There are bad homeschool mom’s out there, but if you question whether someone is one of those bad ones, please volunteer to help before judging them and condemning them. You never know what is going on behind the scenes and there may be learning issues you don’t know about.

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Menu for the week

Wednesday: Harvest Salad with Chicken, Apple, and Cheddar

Thursday: Baked potatoes, Salad  with cheese

Friday: Baked potato soup,  bread

Saturday: Pizza, salad

Sunday: Leftovers

Monday: Chili in the crockpot, cornbread

Tuesday: Cheddar Cheese soup with zucchini, broccoli and carrots, bread

 

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Cherished by Kim Tate

My Review:
Funny story about this book…..I got about 3-4 chapters into it laying on a rock by the lake, but then my nephew ran his bike into a pole, the baby needed to be strolled around, chicken had to be cooked for dinner and somehow when I got home, I found out I grabbed my sister’s book and she took mine. I will post a full review, when I finish it finally!! – Martha

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:

Cherished

Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kim Cash Tate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Her mother, a manager with AT&T, and her father, an educator, divorced when she was young. Even after the divorce, one thing her parents agreed on was the importance of education. She attended both public and private Catholic schools, and college was a given. Tate chose the University of Maryland.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she distinguished herself as a law student at George Washington University. She was invited to join the Journal staff, and a summer job at a respected law firm in her beloved Washington, D.C. followed by a one-year clerkship with a federal judge in Madison.

Tate’s law career took off in Madison. Once the clerkship ended, she was hired on at a large firm. In spite of her success, she was plagued by constant feelings of discontentment and loneliness for the racially diverse environment she left behind in D.C. She began seeking faith, simply as a means of maintaining sanity. After she and Bill married, the couple began attending a local AME church, and they both felt Jesus calling.

When her children were young, Tate left her thriving law career to stay home. A passionate and persuasive communicator, she tried her hand at writing. More Christian than African-American shares her story of finding her identity in Christ rather than in her race, which had been a major focus for her. Her first novel was Heavenly Places, followed by Faithful and her newest release, Cherished. Tate was a speaker for Women of Faith in both 2010 and 2011.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Kim Cash Tate explores Psalm 103:12 as she takes her readers down the path to God’s forgiveness and reconciliation in her newest novel, Cherished. Readers will discover that God can still use them in spite of their worst choices. And He doesn’t just forgive them, but they are truly cherished!

Tate’s story will show her readers how God can bring beauty from ashes. She has a unique way of weaving her characters’ lives together, leading back to one great point—God’s tremendous mercy and grace. In the words of one of her characters, “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like it would take a while to work my way back into God’s good graces, but it was like…”—she flung wide her arms—“…He just embraced me.” We too can be embraced by the same great love when we learn that true forgiveness for ALL of our sins is right before us.

Growing up in Saint Louis, Kelli London dreamed of becoming a songwriter and glorifying God with her songs of praise. But after falling into sin, she walks away from her dreams. Heather Anderson’s life has spun out of control—first an affair with a married man and then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band. Broken and alone, she discovers the only one who can save her. Brian Howard grew up as a science geek. But after making the worst mistake of his life after high school, he finds forgiveness in Christ and is being led down a completely different path. Now he must choose whether to continue pursuing his PhD in biochemistry or to become a full time Christian rapper.

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548556
ISBN-13: 978-1595548559

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Kelli London took her place on the piano bench and waited for her cue, grateful that her jittery hands were hidden from the crowd. She shouldn’t have agreed to do this, but she loved her brother and had never seen him happier. How could she say no to singing at his wedding?

But it was the song Cedric had asked her to sing, one he’d heard only by chance. He had no idea what it meant to her. He didn’t know that singing it would unleash memories of the last person she ever wanted to think about.
Laughter rose from the pews, and Kelli looked up, wondering what she’d missed.
“. . . and I’m sure Cedric wants me to get to the vows ASAP,” Pastor Lyles was saying, “so they can get to that kiss they’ve been waiting for.”
Kelli had only met the pastor once before, at her brother Lindell’s wedding last fall, but it didn’t take long to love his spirit and his style. A black man in his late fifties, he’d started Living Word Community Church decades ago and watched it grow into a multi-ethnic megachurch. At least a couple hundred members were here today. Kelli guessed none of them thought twice about the various hues and accents that had gathered to see this black couple wed. She loved that spirit too.

Cedric was shaking his head with a shamefaced grin as the pastor called him out. Cyd was smiling up at him, gorgeous, beaming like the bright light she’d become in Cedric’s life.

Pastor Lyles continued. “But I don’t think he’ll mind one last song, and it’s a special one, written by his sister.”

Kelli drew a deep breath as Cedric and Cyd smiled over at her, Lindell and Stephanie too—the flip side of last fall. Then Stephanie and Lindell were the bride and groom, and Cyd and Cedric were maid of honor and best man, which was how they met. Kelli loved the story, how Cyd turned forty on her younger sister’s wedding day, thinking she’d never marry herself. Now here she was—a June bride. It was romantic that her brothers would now be married to sisters, but it somehow added to her melancholy, that each of them had found the love of his life.

Kelli gazed at the piano keys, and knowing they had to, her fingers tapped the first notes. She fought to stay in the moment, in the church. Her eyes swept Cyd and Cedric, imagined the lyrics were just for them . . .
I will love you till the stars don’t shine

And I will love you till the oceans run dry

I will love you till you know every why

I will, I will

Her eyes closed, and he was there. A shiver of remembrance danced down her arms. She could still see that distant look in his eyes, could even hear him, that tone of indifference that echoed forever in her head. Kelli opened her eyes to capture another image—any image—but he was everywhere now. And her heart allowed itself to be crushed all over again.
I will love you like an endless stream

A million miles won’t take your heart from me

I will love you every breath you breathe

I will, I will

Almost to the bridge, Kelli could feel her emotions cresting with the song. She closed her eyes again as they took over, filling her voice, magnifying her range, powering her through. She played the final chords with the salt of tears on her lips and bowed her head at the last note . . . and heard—applause? She looked out and saw the guests on their feet and Cedric and Cyd fully turned, facing her—Cyd wiping tears from her cheeks. With her own anxiety about singing it, Kelli hadn’t given thought to whether people might actually like the song.

She pulled a tissue from the box atop the piano, dabbed her cheeks, and blew her nose, then muscled a heart-heavy smile to acknowledge everyone’s kindness. When she moved back to the front pew beside her mother, only then did the guests stop clapping and sit.

“When did you write that?” her mother asked, patting her thigh. “That was beautiful.”
“Thanks, Mom. I wrote it . . . a long time ago.”

She turned her gaze to the ceremony, her heart beating a little faster still, puzzled by the response to the song. It coaxed a different memory to the surface, and as Cyd and Cedric exchanged vows, Kelli thought about her long-ago dream of writing music that God would somehow use. Then the better part of her brain kicked in,

reminding her that she’d left songwriting behind, that she knew better than to dream.
That all those dreams had turned to dust.

“Kelli! Girrrl . . .”
Kelli looked up—midpivot in the Electric Slide—and saw Stephanie threading her way through the line dancers in her champagne-colored dress. Soon as the song started, it seemed everybody left tables and mingled to claim a spot on the parquet floor. Kelli waved her sister-in-law over.

“I’ve been looking for you.” Stephanie scooted between Kelli and Devin, a nine-year-old cousin, as rows of people sidestepped to the right. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you . . . girl, you sang that song. I had no idea—hold up, am I doing this right?” She was headed a different direction from everyone else. “Why am I even

out here? I hate this stupid dance.”

Kelli laughed. “Back, Steph. We’re going back.”

“Oh.” Stephanie checked Devin to get in sync, then leaned her head Kelli’s way again, her voice elevated. “Anyway, I told Lindell I couldn’t believe he didn’t tell me about that song, ’cause I would’ve had you sing it at our wedding. And he said he’d never heard it . . . and then I couldn’t believe that.”
“I know. Crazy, right? This way, Steph. Pivot left.”

Stephanie was behind her now, and Kelli turned to make sure she was following, but Devin had it under control.

Like a traffic cop, he moved his hands left, then right to direct her which way to go next. “And pivot,” he announced, to the amusement of those around them.
Side by side with Stephanie again, Kelli continued. “Lindell and Cedric had already moved out of the house by the time I started writing songs in high school, so it was easy to kind of keep my music to myself.” She shrugged. “Cedric overheard it because I didn’t know he was there.”
“Hmph,” Stephanie said. “If I had that kind of talent, everybody would know about it. They’d have to tell me to be quiet.”

The music switched, and they could hear people near the center of the floor cheering, “Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric! Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric!”

Kelli and Stephanie craned their necks, moving toward the action.

“Oh, goodness,” Stephanie said, laughing. “Look at your brother. He’s at it again.”
Kelli laughed too, remembering Cedric and Cyd on the dance floor at Stephanie and Lindell’s reception. Now the two had cut a wide swath in the middle of the floor with a different line dance, this one a little livelier.

Kelli and Stephanie worked their way to a spot in the inner circle.

“Have you seen this version?” Stephanie asked.

Kelli nodded. “But you know Cedric’s gonna add his own twist.”

Instead of a simple sidestep, Cedric led Cyd in bouncy moves to the left, with a slide before going right. And instead of a normal pivot, they did some kind of kick, kick, turn—with Cedric twirling Cyd into a two-step before moving back to the line dance, all of it seamless. The crowd was fired up.
After a couple of rounds, Cedric spotted Kelli and pulled her to the center.
“I don’t know if you can hang with a twenty-five-year-old, big brother.” Although Cedric was a fit forty-two, Kelli didn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about his age. “I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your guests.”
“Oh, you got jokes? We’ll see about that, baby sis.”

Cyd led the cheers this time as Kelli whipped some different moves on him. Cedric paused, then mimicked every last one to let her know she couldn’t show him up. Lindell dragged Stephanie out there—literally—and Kelli was in stitches watching them try to copy what she and Cedric were doing. Soon everyone on the

floor had joined in again, and then the music switched to Motown, which got its own cheers.
Cedric draped one arm around Kelli and the other around Cyd and led them off the floor. They stopped at the bridal party table, which had emptied of all but Dana, one of Cyd’s bridesmaids.

“Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Cedric asked. “We need all the forty-and-over folk representing.”

Dana glared at him. “Let’s see how well you ‘represent’ with some heels on. My feet are killing me.” Then she nodded toward the dance floor. “My husband left me. He’s out there with the kids. And last I saw, Scott wasn’t representing too well either. He looked almost as bad as Stephanie with that Electric Slide.”

“I heard that, Dana,” Stephanie said, walking up with Lindell. “I could learn the dumb dance if I cared to. And since you’re trying to clown me, I might do it just to keep my black rhythm points. Can’t have a white guy showing me up.”

Dana got a kick out of that, laughing as auburn wisps fell about her face. “How about a white girl? Let’s tell the deejay to play it again and see who’s got it.”
Stephanie eased into a seat. “Uh, no thanks. I always told you, you’re one of those black white girls. You can go on the dance floor.”

Dana eyed the dancers out there. “Well, pray for Mackenzie. I think the poor thing takes after Scott. Look at them.”

Kelli’s heart was smiling. Because she lived out of state, she didn’t know these women well—not even her sisters-in-law—but from her brief interactions, including last night’s rehearsal dinner, she could tell she would like them.
Cyd pulled out a chair and sat, her beautiful gown, passed down from her mother, swishing over the sides. “Ahh . . . think I can get away with sitting like this for maybe five minutes?”

Cedric massaged her shoulders. “You’re good. The Jackson Five’s got everybody occupied.”
Dana touched Kelli’s arm. “The bridal table was talking about you earlier.”
“Me? Why?” Kelli took a seat.

“Are you kidding? That song. It was beautiful.”

Kelli blushed. “Thank you.”
“That’s my little sister.” Cedric beamed.

“Mine too!” Lindell said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “So proud of you, girl.” He looked at the others. “Just got her master’s too, from UT–Austin.”
“I heard,” Dana said. “Is your degree in music?”

Kelli shook her head. “One’s in communications and the other’s in public relations.”
“Wow, two?” Dana nodded. “That’s awesome.”

“Well . . . not really. Just means I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Kelli didn’t mind admitting it. “But I’m done being a professional student. I’m looking for a job now—”

“—in Texas.” Cedric’s tone made clear what he thought of that. “What part of Texas?” Stephanie asked. “Are you trying to stay in Austin?”

“I’ve been looking at possibilities in Austin and Houston . . .and Dallas.”
“Mostly Dallas, I’d bet,” Cedric said. “That’s where her boyfriend is.” He looked around playfully. “Where is he anyway? I wanted to meet him, see if he measures up. What’s his name? Miller?”

Kelli smirked at her big brother. “Miles. Miles Reed. He wanted to meet you all too, but he had a conflict.”

“I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity,” Cedric said, “if I can get you to move back to St. Louis.”

Cyd perked up. “Ooh, Kelli, I’d love that. Any chance?”

“I . . . doubt it.” Kelli hedged to be polite; her mind had said a fast no. She hadn’t lived in St. Louis since she left for college, and the distance had been good. Her mother had relocated to Little Rock to care for her mother, so Kelli had gone there on school breaks.

“How’s the job market in Texas?” Cedric asked. “Improved any?”

Cedric knew the answer perfectly well. He was a VP at a head-hunting firm. He’d made some calls for her, but nothing had materialized.

“Not exactly,” Kelli admitted. “I’ve been looking since early in the year, and, well . . . it’s nearing the end of June.”

Lindell rubbed his chin. “I’m thinking you can be unemployed in St. Louis just as well as in Austin.”

Cedric gave a big nod to his brother. “Better than in Austin. In St. Louis, you can be unemployed and hang out with your brothers.”
Cyd raised a hand. “And sisters. Don’t forget about us.”

“All of us,” Dana said. “We’d love to plug you into Daughters’ Fellowship.”

“What’s that?” Kelli asked.

“It started years ago with Dana, Phyllis, and me.” Cyd pointed toward the dance floor at her other bridesmaid. “Real informal. We’d do potluck and talk about—sometimes cry about—what God was doing in our lives. Stephanie crashed the party last year.” Cyd smiled at her younger sister. “It’s evolved into kind of a Bible study/gabfest.”

“Emphasis on gab,” Cedric said. “Amazing how two hours can turn into five—every single time. You’d think you’d run out of things to talk about.”
“Now, now, brother,” Lindell said, “don’t exaggerate. I think it was four and a half hours last time.”

Cedric and Lindell shared a laugh as the women pounced.

“We’re praying too, you know,” Dana said. “Getting that fuel we need to be the best we can be.”

“Lindell knows.” Stephanie gave him the eye. “I left the house with an attitude before that last meeting. Came back changed. Didn’t I?”

Lindell threw up his hands. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I might be the biggest DF fan at the table. Stephanie’s not the same woman I married.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Babe, that’s a good thing! I’m just sayin’.”

Kelli laughed as Lindell backpedaled. For years her brothers had been busy with their careers, living the bachelor life. Hadn’t occurred to them or her that they should live near one another, be a part of each other’s lives. But now they were both settled down, with wives Kelli would love to know better. She’d always wanted sisters. And it was strange that she, Cyd, and Stephanie kind of looked alike—all of them tall with honey brown skin and long brown hair.

And Daughters’ Fellowship sounded great. Her own relationship with God wasn’t where it should be. She’d known that for some time. Just wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right track. The thought of getting together with these women, talking and learning from them, felt like water to her parched soul.

If only it were in another city . . .

Kelli sighed as she looked around the table at the laughter, the ribbing, the love. Did she really want to stay in Austin, away from all of this?

And what about Miles? They’d been dating almost a year. Although he’d graduated from UT–Austin last December and moved back to Dallas, the distance didn’t seem so great with them both in Texas. Still, they were already several hours apart. Would a few more make a huge difference?

Kelli looked up as her mother stopped at their table.

“Hey, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Cedric said, placing an arm around her.
“No, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Lindell said, hugging her other side.

Francine London glowed with pride. “You boys are something else,” she said. “And I didn’t come to see y’all. I came to see how my daughters-in-law are doing.”
“Oh, it’s like that now?” Cedric asked. “I get married, and I get kicked to the curb?”
Francine laughed, keeping her arms around her sons’ waists. “I’m wondering what’s gonna happen when you all start having my grandchildren. I’m not gonna like being all the way in Little Rock.”

“You need to move back too,” Lindell said.

Francine dismissed it with a shake of the head. “Your grandmother’s not doing well, can’t get around, so we’re better off staying put.”
“Well, help us convince your daughter to move back,” Cedric said. “We’ve been working on her.”

Francine looked at Kelli, nodding. “I was thinking about that today, how nice it would be if you could be around your brothers and their wives. You know I’m big on family.”

“Yes, I know, Mom.” Kelli cut them off at the pass. “So . . . which one of you would be willing to let your little sister move in?”

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Canning on the run…

I should have gotten a picture! For some reason this year, life has been extremely busy. I am not sure how it is, but yesterday, I answered the door three time with a dripping peach in my hand. I finally got my peaches done! I was sad, I did not do as much with them as I should have, but I got jam, pie filling and some plain canned peaches. They were really yummy!

I am also drying plums, and planning to make some plum jam, perhaps!  I have to buy some more pectin. I also have applesauce to make.

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Heather Song by Michael Phillips

My Review: I have been hectically busy and put off posting hoping I would have a chance to read it, but ended up lacking time! I love Michael Phillip’s books and am looking forward to this one!- Martha

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:

Heather Song

FaithWords (September 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street | Hachette Book Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Newly married, Marie and Alaster Reidhaven’s life seems idyllic. But things start to fall apart when the Duke’s sister’s curses and spells start to plague them. Alaster dies and again Marie is widowed. Marie returns to Canada to visit her dying father. The reunion is tender and healing for them both.

Unexpectedly months later, Marie is astonished to learn that back in Scotland, her deceased husband Alaster never signed their pre-nup and had instead undertaken the legalities necessary to insure his estate would indeed go to Marie. Olivia is furious and full of threats and attempts to kill Marie and then disappears. Marie inherits and again assumes the title and role of duchess.

But now the other half of her former “love triangle” bubbles up from out of her past. Marie and Grahm begin seeing each other “as friends” awaiting God’s leading.

Olivia reappears and again tries to kill Marie. Olivia eventually dies of cancer, unrepentant. The Reidhaven family line is at an end, the legacy of their memory to be carried forward by Marie who loved, in the end, all of them.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (September 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446567728
ISBN-13: 978-0446567725

PRESS THE BROWSE INSIDE BUTTON TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER:

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Heiress Giveaway

Win an opulent Gilded Age Prize Pack fit for an Heiress from Susan May Warren!

Enter 9/22-10/5!

 

Susan May Warren is thrilled to announce the release of her latest historical book, Heiress!

Find out what the reviewers are saying here!

Heiress, a richly complex historical romance, is the first in Susan’s three book Daughters of Fortune series. In honor of Heiress’ debut, Susan is hosting a FABULOUS Gilded Age Giveaway and giving away an opulent prize pack fit for an heiress!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:

 

  • A $100 gift certificate to ModCloth.com
  • A sleek silver iPod™ Shuffle
  • A beautiful strand of Pearls
  • Titanic DVD
  • Speakeasy Compilation Music CD from Starbucks™
  • Heiress by Susan May Warren

Click one of the icons below to enter. But do so soon – this giveaway ends 10/5/11. The winner will be announced Thursday, October 6 on Susan’s blog.

 

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