Monthly Archives: January 2012

Breaking Night by Liz Murray

I borrowed this book from the library, my first Kindle loan from the library. I found myself engrossed in the story of a young girl who was overlooked in a society where people tend to put themselves so many times in other people’s business. This little girl had very few people who really looked after her and cared. Born into a family where her father was in jail for drug use, a legally blind mother, whom had a drug habit as well. As long as her father was in jail, her mother seemed to do better, but then fell back into the habit, which left Liz and her sister Lisa often scrounging for food, eating toothpaste and cherry chapstick or mayonnaise sandwiches. Her sister seemed to move on and past her, never seeming to really care about the predicament her little sister was in. The things she seemed to try to do to help care of her, were really pranks, but in the end, her sister became one of her greatest supporters. Lice, filth, and rejection were the life of this young woman whom found at age 17, she was going to change things. Liz worked hard to get herself into school and discovered she enjoyed it…she faced much adversity to go there. It was not easy being homeless and going to school! “From Homeless to Harvard” is the rest of the title, and I found it so incredible. She mentions the program Backpacks for Kids that is through local food pantries at the end, encouraging people to support it as she said if there was a program like that when she was younger, she may not have gone hungry as much.

I was inspired by this story. I had just read a book called “Stealing Jake” by Pam Hillman and this story of Breaking Night reminded me of a more modern day version of the street children. My heart just broke when she was sent at 13 to a group home, and was just delighted to have books to read and showers to take everyday.
This book does have some adult content and language in it, but I felt it was worth reading for the inspiring story and what it could teach us. She is only a year older than my sister right below me. I loved how even though her parents did horrible things and made awful decisions, she says that she was going to keep going, one foot in front of the other, no matter what got thrown her way.

Breaking Night by Liz Murray is available to buy from Amazon or like I said, I borrowed my copy from my local library.

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Threads of Hope by Andrea Boeshaar

I did not get this book for review, but I love this author!

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

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

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (January 3, 2012)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers’ conferences, workshops, and women’s groups; and the author of numerous published books, including the Seasons of Redemption series: Unwilling Warrior, Uncertain Heart, Unexpected Love, and Undaunted Faith.

Visit the author’s website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Kristin Eikaas has her hopes set on a new life in America.

The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people…

Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel.

In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?

Product Details:

  • List Price: $13.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616384972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616384975

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:


September 1848
It looks like Norway.
The thought flittered across nineteen-year-old Kristin Eikaas’s mind as Uncle Lars’s wagon bumped along the dirt road. The docks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were behind them, and now they rode through a wooded area that looked just as enchanting as the forests she’d left in Norway. Tall pine trees and giant firs caused the sunshine to dapple on the road. Kristin breathed in the sweet, fresh air. How refreshing it felt in her lungs after being at sea for nearly three months and breathing in only salty sea air or the stale air in her dark, crowded cabin.
A clearing suddenly came into view, and a minute or so later, Kristin eyed the farm fields stretched before her. The sight caused an ache of homesickness. Her poppa had farmed . . .
“Your trip to America was good, ja?” Uncle Lars asked in Norwegian, giving Kristin a sideways glance.
He resembled her father so much that her heart twisted painfully with renewed grief. Except she’d heard about Onkel—about his temper—how he had to leave Norway when he was barely of age, because, Poppa had said, trouble followed him.
But surely he’d grown past all of that. His letters held words of promise, and there was little doubt that her uncle had made a new life for himself here in America.
Just as she would.
Visions of a storefront scampered across her mind’s eye—a shop in which she could sell her finely crocheted and knitted items. A shop in which she could work the spinning wheel, just as Mor had . . .
Uncle Lars arched a brow. “You are tired, liten niese?”
Ja. It was a long journey.” Kristin sent him a sideways glance.
“I am grateful I did not come alone. The Olstads made good traveling companions.”
Her uncle cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “But you have brought my inheritance, ja?” He arched a brow.
Ja.” Kristin thought of the priceless possession she’d brought from Norway.
“And you would not hold out on your onkel, would you?”
Prickles of unease caused Kristin to shift in her seat. She resisted the urge to touch the tiny gold and silver cross pendent suspended from a dainty chain that hung around her neck. Her dress concealed it. She couldn’t give it up, even though it wasn’t legal for a woman to inherit anything in Norway. But the necklace had been her last gift from Mor. A gift from one’s mother wasn’t an inheritance . . . was it? “No, Onkel.”
She turned and peered down from her perch into the back of the wooden wagon bed. Peder Olstad smiled at her, and Kristin relaxed some. Just a year older, he was the brother of Kristin’s very best friend who had remained in Norway with their mother. She and Peder had grown up together, and while he could be annoying and bad tempered at times, he was the closest thing to a brother that she had. And Sylvia—Sylvia was closer than a sister ever could be. It wouldn’t be long, and she and Mrs. Olstad would come to America too. That would be a
happy day!
“You were right,” John Olstad called to Uncle Lars in their native tongue. “Lots of fertile land in this part of the country. I hope to purchase some acres soon.”
“And after you are a landowner for five years, you can be a citizen of America and you can vote.” The Olstad men smiled broadly and replied in unison. “Oh, jaja . . . ”
Uncle Lars grinned, causing dozens of wrinkles to appear around his blue eyes. His face was tanned from farming beneath the hot sun, and his tattered leather hat barely concealed the abundance of platinum curls growing out of his large head. “Oh, ja, this is very good land. I am glad I persuaded Esther to leave the Muskego settlement and move northeast. But, as you will soon see, we are still getting settled.”
Ja, how’s that, Lars?”
Kristin heard the note of curiosity in Mr. Olstad’s voice.
“I purchased the land and built a barn and a cabin.” He paused and gave a derisive snort. “Well, a fine home takes time and money.”
“Oh, ja, that way.” Mr. Olstad seemed to understand.
And Kristin did too. One couldn’t expect enormous comforts out in the Wisconsin wilderness.
Just then they passed a stately home situated on the Fox River. Two quaint dormers peered from the angled roof, which appeared to be supported by a pair of white pillars.
“That is Mr. Morgan Martin’s home. He is a lawyer in town.”
Uncle Lars delivered the rest of his explanation with a sneer. “And an Indian agent.”
“Indians?” Kristin’s hand flew to her throat.
“Do not fret. The soldiers across the river at Fort Howard protect the area.”
Kristin forced her taut muscles to relax.
“Out here the deer are plentiful and fishing is good. Fine lumber up here too. But the Norwegian population is small. Nevertheless, we have our own church, and the reverend speaks our language.”
“A good thing,” Mr. Olstad remarked.
“I cannot wait for the day when Far owns land,” Peder said, glancing at Mr. Olstad. “Lots of land.” The warm wind blew his auburn hair outward from his narrow face, and his hazel eyes sparked with enthusiasm, giving the young man a somewhat wild appearance. “But no farming for me. I want to be rich someday.”
“As do we all!” exclaimed Mr. Olstad, whose appearance was an older, worn-out version of his son’s.
Kristin’s mind had parked on land ownership. “And once you are settled, Sylvia will come to America. I cannot wait. I miss her so much.”
She grappled with a fresh onset of tears. Not only was Sylvia her best friend, but she and the entire Olstad clan had also become like family to her ever since a smallpox epidemic ravaged their little village two years ago, claiming the lives of Kristin’s parents and two younger brothers. When Uncle Lars had learned of the tragic news, he offered her a place to stay in his home if she came to America. Onkel wrote that she should be with her family, so Kristin had agreed to make the voyage. Her plans to leave Norway had encouraged the Olstads to do
the same. But raising the funds to travel took time and much hard work. While the Olstads scrimped and saved up their crop earnings, Kristin did spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing for those with money to spare. By God’s grace, they were finally here.
Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to her right.
Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past, with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t wait to own his own farm!
Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers, and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field. Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.
“Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam Sundberg or any members of his family.”
Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her gaze.
Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is so bad about that family?”
“They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the good people of this community.”
“Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.
Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”
“Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.
Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”
Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”
Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg. She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described. Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.
“Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.
“I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never seen an Indian.”
“Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”
“Half-breed, eh?”
Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his chin.
“Interesting,” he added.
“How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin Territory?”
Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”
“And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.
Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster. “Now the government will get rid of those savages once and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese, will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself scalped.”
Ja, Onkel.”
With a measure of alarm, Kristin touched her braided hair and chanced a look at Peder and Mr. Olstad. Both pairs of wide eyes seemed to warn her to heed Uncle Lars’s instructions. She would, of course. But somehow she couldn’t imagine the man they’d just passed doing her any harm. Would he?

Sam Sundberg wiped the beads of perspiration off his brow before dropping his hat back on his head. Who was the little blonde riding next to Lars Eikaas? Sam hadn’t seen her before. And the men in the wagon bed . . . he’d never seen them either.
After a moment’s deliberation he concluded they were the expected arrivals from the “Old Country.”  Months ago Sam recalled hearing talk in town about Lars’s orphaned niece sailing to America with friends of the family, so he assumed the two red-haired men and the young lady were the topics of that particular conversation. But wouldn’t it just serve Mr. Eikaas right if that blonde angel turned his household upside down—or, maybe, right-side up?
He smirked at the very idea. Sam didn’t have to meet that young lady to guess Mr. Eikaas would likely have his hands full. Her second backward glance said all Sam needed to know.
The word plucky sprang into his mind. He chuckled. Plucky she
seemed, indeed.
But was she wise enough not to believe everything her uncle said?
Sam thought it a real shame. Years ago Pa and Lars Eikaas had been friends. But then Pa’s silver went missing, insults were traded, and the Eikaases’ prejudice against Ma, Jackson, and Mary kept the feud alive.
The Eikaas wagon rolled out of sight, leaving brown clouds of dust in its wake. A grin threatened as Sam thought again of that plucky blonde’s curious expression. Maybe she did have a mind of her own. Now wouldn’t that be something? Sam thanked God that not everyone around here was as intolerant of Wisconsin Natives as the Eikaas family. There were those who actually befriended the Indians and stood up to government officials in their stead. Like Pa, for instance. Like Sam himself.
The blistering sun beat down on him. Removing his hat once more, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He started pondering the latest government proposal to remove the Indians from their land. First the Oneida tribe had been forced out, and soon the Menominee band would be “removed” and “civilized.” As bad as that was, it irked Sam more to think about how the government figured it knew best for the Indians. Government plans hadn’t succeeded in the past, so why would they now? Something else had to be done. Relocating the Menominee would cause those people nothing but misery. They’d stated as much themselves. Furthermore, the Indians, led by Chief Oshkosh, were determined not to give up their last tract of land. Sam predicted this current government proposal would only serve to stir up more violence between Indians and whites.
But not if he and Pa could help it.
In the distance he heard the clang of the dinner bell. Ma didn’t like him to tarry when food was on the table. Across the beet field, Sam saw his younger brother run on ahead of him. He wagged his head at the twelve-year-old and his voracious appetite.
With one calloused hand gripping the hoe and the other holding the bushel basket, Sam trudged toward their white clapboard home. Its two dormers protruded proudly from the second floor.
Entering the mudroom, he fetched cold water from the inside well, peeled off his hat, and quickly washed up. Next he donned a fresh shirt. Ma insisted upon cleanliness at the supper table. Finally presentable, he made his way into the basement where the summer kitchen and a small eating area were located. The cool air met his sun-stoked skin and Sam sighed, appreciating the noonday respite.
Next he noticed a cake in the middle of the table.
“That looks good enough to eat,” he teased, resisting the urge to steal a finger-full of white frosting.
Ma gave him a smile, and her nut-brown eyes darkened as she set the wooden tureen of turkey and wild rice onto the table. “Since it’s Rachel’s last day with us, I thought I would prepare an extra special dessert.”
Sam glanced across the table at the glowing bride-to-be. In less than twenty-four hours Rachel Decker would become Mrs. Luke Smith. But for the remainder of today she’d fulfill her duties as Ma’s hired house girl who helped with the cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, and ironing whenever Ma came down with one of her episodes, which were sometimes so intensely painful that Ma couldn’t get out of bed without help. Rachel had been both a comfort and an efficient assistant to Ma.
“I helped bake the cake, Sam.”
He grinned at his ten-year-old sister, Mary. “Good job.”
They all sat down, Mary taking her seat beside Rachel. Sam helped his mother into her place at the head of the table then lowered himself into his chair next to Jackson, who’d been named after Major General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of this great country.
“Sam, since your father is away,” Ma began, “will you please ask God’s blessing on our food?”
“Be glad to.” He bowed his head. “Dearest Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provisions. Strengthen and nourish us with this meal so we may glorify Thee with our labors. In Jesus’s name, amen.”
Action ensued all around the table. The women served themselves and then between Sam and Jack, they scraped the bowl clean.
“Good thing Pa’s not home from his meetings in town,” Jack muttered with a crooked grin.
“If your father were home,” Ma retorted, “I would have made more food.”
“Should have made more anyhow.” Jack gave her a teasing grin. “No seconds.” He clanged the bowl and spoon together as if to prove his point.
“You have seconds on your plate already,” Ma said. “Why, I have never seen anyone consume as much food as you do, Jackson.”
His smile broadened. “I’m growing. Soon I’ll be taller than Sam.”
“Brotherly competition.” Sam had to chuckle. But in the next moment, he wondered if his family behaved oddly. Didn’t all families enjoy meals together? Tease and laugh together? Tell stories once the sun went down? According to Rachel, they didn’t. The ebony-haired, dark-eyed young woman had grown up without a mother and had a drunkard for a father . . . until Ma got wind of the situation and took her in. She invited Rachel to stay in the small room adjacent to the kitchen and offered her a job. Rachel had accepted. And now, years later, Rachel would soon marry a fine man, Luke Smith, a friend of Sam’s. 
Taking a bite of his meal, he chewed and looked across the table at Mary. Both she and Jack resembled their mother, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and graceful, willowy frames, while Sam took after his father, blue eyes and stocky build, measuring just under six feet. Yet, in spite of the outward dissimilarities, the five Sundbergs were a closely knit family, and Sam felt grateful that he’d known nothing but happiness throughout
his childhood. He had no recollection whatsoever of his biological mother who had taken ill and died during the voyage from Norway to America.
Sam had been but a toddler when she went home to be with the Lord, and soon after disembarking in New York, his father met another Norwegian couple. They helped care for Sam and eventually persuaded Pa to take his young son and move with them to Wisconsin, known back then as part of the “Michigan Territory.” Pa seized the opportunity, believing the promises that westward expansion touted, and he was not disappointed.
He learned to plant, trap, and trade with the Indians, and he became a successful businessman. In time, he saved enough funds to make his dreams of owning land and farming a reality.
Then, when Sam was a boy of eight years, his father met and married Mariah, an Oneida. Like her, many Oneida were Christians and fairly well educated due to the missionaries who had lived among them. In time Sam took to his new mother, and she to him. Through the years Ma cherished and admonished him as though he were her own son. She learned the Norwegian language and could speak it fluently. As far as Sam was concerned, he was her own son—and Mariah, his own mother.
They were a family.
“Was that the Eikaas wagon driving by not long ago?” Mary asked.
Sam snapped from his musing. “Sure was. It appears they have relatives in town.”
“Mr. Eikaas didn’t stop and visit, did he?” Mary’s eyes were as round as gingersnaps.
Sam chuckled. “No, of course not. I can’t recall the last time Lars Eikaas spoke to me . . . or any of the Sundbergs, for that matter.”
“Erik is nice to me at school.” Mary took a bite of her meal.
“Glad to hear it.”
“I can’t wait to begin school next week.”
Sam grinned at his sister’s enthusiasm. He’d felt the same way as a boy.
“Sam, what made you assume Mr. Eikaas transported relatives in his wagon today?”
He glanced at Ma. “A while back I’d heard that Lars’s niece was coming to America, accompanied by friends, and since I didn’t recognize the three passengers in the wagon this morning, I drew my own conclusions.”
“Is she pretty?” Jackson’s cheeks bulged with food.
“Is who pretty?”
“Mr. Eikaas’s niece . . . is she pretty?”
Sam recalled the plucky blonde whose large, cornflower-blue eyes looked back at him with interest from beneath her bonnet. And pretty? As much as Sam hated to admit it, she was about the prettiest young lady he’d ever set eyes on.
Jackson elbowed him. “Hey, I asked you a question.”
Sam gave his younger brother an annoyed look. “Yeah, I s’pose she’s pretty. But don’t go getting any big ideas about me courting her. She’s an Eikaas.”
“You’re awful old to not be married yet.” Jack rolled his dark eyes.
“What do you know about it? I’m only twenty-one.” Sam grinned. “Hush up and eat.” It’s what the boy did best. “So . . . did everyone have a pleasant morning?” He forked another bite of food into his mouth, wondering why he tried so hard to shift the subject off of Lars Eikaas’s niece.

Kristin looked around the one-room shanty with its unhewn walls and narrow, bowed loft. Cotton squares of material covered the windows, making the heat inside nearly unbearable. 
Disappointment riddled her being like buckshot. Although she knew she should feel grateful for journeying safely this far, and now to have a roof over her head, she couldn’t seem to shake her displeasure at seeing her relatives’ living quarters. It looked nothing like her uncle had described in his letters nor the homes she’d glimpsed on the way.
“Here is your trunk of belongings,” Uncle Lars said, carrying the wooden chest in on one of his broad shoulders. With a grunt, he set it down in the far corner of the cabin. “Where is my inheritance? Let me have a look at it.”
“Right now, Onkel?”
Ja, ja . . .” Impatience filled his tone.
Pulling open the drawstring of her leather purse, she reached inside and extracted the key. She unlocked the trunk and opened its curved lid. Getting onto her knees, Kristin moved aside her clothes and extra shoes until she found what she searched for. Poppa’s gold watch. She held the black velvet-covered box reverently in her hands for one last, long moment before she stood and presented it to her uncle.
“This belonged to my poppa.”
“Ah . . .” Uncle Lars’s face lit up with delight as he opened the box. Looking to Aunt Esther, he nodded. “This will bring a fair price, do you think?”
Disbelief poured over her. “But . . . you would not sell Poppa’s watch, would you?”
“None of your business!”
Kristin jumped back at the biting reply. Her opinion of her uncle dropped like a rock into a cavern.
“Anything more?” Her uncle bent over the wooden chest and quickly rummaged through it, spilling clothes onto the unswept floor.
Onkel, please, stop. My garments . . .”
“Does not seem to be anything else.” Uncle Lars narrowed his gaze. “Is there?”
“No.” The necklace Mor had given her burned against her already perspiring skin. Still, Kristin refused to part with the gift. “Nothing more. As you know, Poppa was a farmer. He supplemented his income by working at the post office, but no money was ever saved. After my parents died, I sold everything to help pay for a portion of my passage to America. I earned the rest myself.”
“Any money left?”
Kristin shook her head as she picked up the last of her belongings, careful not to meet her uncle’s stare. A little money remained in the special pocket she’d sewn into her petticoat. For safety, she’d kept her funds on her person throughout the entire voyage. The last of her coinage would purchase muchneeded undergarments. She’d managed to save it throughout the journey for the specific purpose of buying new foundations when she reached America. It wasn’t inherited. She’d worked hard for it.
With a grunt Uncle Lars turned and sauntered out of the cabin.
“You will sleep in the loft with your cousins.” Aunt Esther’s tone left no room for questions or argument. Wearing a plain, brown dress with a tan apron pinned to its front, and with her dark brown hair tightly pinned into a bun, the older woman looked as drab as her surroundings. “Your uncle and I sleep on a pallet by the hearth.”
“Yes, Tante. I am sure I will be very comfortable.” Another lie.
“Come, let us eat.” Aunt Esther walked toward the hearth where a heavy black kettle sat on top of a low-burning fire. “There is venison stew for our meal.”
“It sounds delicious.” Kristin’s stomach growled in anticipation. She’d eaten very little on the ship this morning. Excitement plus the waves on Lake Michigan made eating impossible. But after disembarking in Green Bay, her stomach began to settle, and now she was famished.
Aunt Esther called everyone to the table, which occupied an entire corner of the cabin. Her three children, two girls and one boy, ranging in ages from seven to sixteen, came in from outside, as did the Olstads. After a wooden bowl filled with stew was set before each person, the family clasped hands and recited a standard Norwegian prayer . . .
I Jesu navn gar vi til bords,—We sit down in the name of Jesus,
Spise drikke pa ditt ord,—To eat and drink according to Your
Word,
Deg Gud til are, oss til gavn,—To Your honor, Oh Lord, and
for our benefit,
Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn.—We receive food in the name of
Jesus.
Amen.
Having said grace, hands were released, and everyone picked up a spoon and began to eat. Kristin noticed her cousins, Inga and Anna, eyeing her with interest. They resembled their father, blonde curls and blue eyes.
“What do you like to do on sunny afternoons such as this one?” she asked cheerfully, hoping to start conversation. After all, Inga’s age was close to hers. Perhaps her cousin would help her meet friends.
“We do not talk at the table,” Aunt Esther informed her. “We eat, not talk.”
“Yes, Tante.” Kristin glanced at Peder and Mr. Olstad who replied with noncommittal shrugs and kept eating.
Silently, Kristin did the same. The Olstads always had lively discussions around their table.
When the meal ended, the girls cleared the table and the men took young Erik and ambled outside.
“May I help with cleaning up?” Kristin asked her aunt.
“No. You rest today and regain your strength. Tomorrow we are invited to a wedding, the day after is the Sabbath. Then beginning on Monday, you will labor from sunup to sunset like everyone else in this place.”
“Except for one,” Inga quipped. No one but Kristin heard.
“Who?” Her lips moved, although she didn’t utter a sound.
Far, that is who.” Disrespect seeped from Inga’s tone, which was loud and clear.
Hadn’t Aunt Esther overheard it?
Tante suddenly whirled around and glared at Kristin. “Do something with yourself. We are working here.”
With a frown, Kristin backed away. Her aunt’s brusque manner caused her to feel weary and more homesick than
ever. She missed her parents and her little brothers. Why did God take them, leaving her to live life without them? And Sylvia . . . how she longed for her best friend!
Kristin knelt by the trunk and carefully lifted out a soft, knitted shawl that had once belonged to her mother, Lydia Eikaas. Mor had been an excellent seamstress, expert in spinning wool into yarn and thread, as well as in weaving and sewing garments. She’d taught Kristin everything she knew about the craft. Surely Kristin could now put her skills to good use in this new country, this land of opportunity.
She sighed and glanced over to where her aunt and two cousins continued straightening up after the meal. Inga and Anna barely smiled, and her aunt’s expression seemed permanently frozen into a frown. Is that what this country really afforded . . . misery?
Allowing her gaze to wander around the dismal cabin once more, Kristin began to wish she had not come to America.

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Filed under Book Reviews

Books I have been reading:

I finished some of the ones from the list before and a bunch extra.
I didn’t write them all down!
These are some I am still in the middle of or working through!

Girl from the Gulches- The story of Mary Ronan as told to Margaret Ronan


Meetings with Mrs. Collins- Sketches of life and events on Montana’s open range by Colleen Carter This book was amazing! I love the history! These women were strong, confident and they worked so hard! The sorrow in their lives, yet they worked hard to have hobbies, journal and we use these things to learn so much about their lives, what they ate, how their lives functioned. One thing that surprised me was how late she went to bed, even when she got up before 5 am. Yikes! There were sad stories of babies that died of 24 hour cholera and another one of a set of twins…the other I guess survived, was 2 lb. Also, dealing with the “blues” by drinking as medicine.

Vigilante Days and Ways by N. P Langford

Hannah’s Journey by Anna Schmidt- Yes, I know…an Amish book! But this one was back in the 1920’s and I liked it. It was pretty good! I will be reading the sequel!

Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers- re-read for Book club

Shadow in Serenity by Terri Blackstock – This was a story of a con artist who repents and changes his ways through the help of a daughter of con artists. It was interesting reading!

The Betrayal by Jerry Jenkins– sequel to another police story written by Mr. Jenkins. It was a rat race of dirty cops, jail time and other fun things.

Montana women homesteaders : a field of one’s own / Carter, Sarah.– So interesting! This book is full of letters from women homesteaders! It was not that long ago!

Mattie : a woman’s journey West / Weber, Nan.– A grave of a women leads this author on a journey following her relatives and figuring out what really happened to her. I am amazed at how many people died so young not long ago! This is a great book with history of cotton milling in the US and some in England.

The witch of Blackbird Pond / Speare, Elizabeth George– This one I was mostly finishing from having listened to most of it on audio CD with the boys. My!! Superstition went really far!

Love in a time of homeschooling : a mother and daughter’s uncommon year / Brodie, Laura Fairchild– I want to do a full review on this book! This was a very interesting story of a mother and daughter’s struggles with school, her journey with a year of homeschooling, and what they both learned from it.

Where the heart is : a novel / Letts, Billie– I watched the movie based on this book and the book was similar, but had a few different twists. It showed me how sometimes simple things can change a life.

I tried to read The Chasm by Randy Alcorn, but it was too much fantasy for me and The House in riverton…I didn’t like the tense of the words.

A couple of future reads are:

Six ways to keep the “good” in your boy by Dannah Gresh
There is also a crockpot cookbook and some fiction reads by Martha Rogers.

I know these are not complete reviews, but I think they count somewhat to my goal!

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Homeschooling a Struggling Learner by Kathy Kuhl

Homeschooling your struggling Learner
By Kathy Kuhl

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

About the Author (From back cover)
Kathy Kuhl did not set out to homeschool her son. Getting him and his homework out the door on school mornings was hard enough. Despite his intelligence and his excellent school, however, he struggled with learning and attention problems. She began homeschooling him in fourth grade, and continued through twelfth grade. He worked hard, made great strides in reading and math, developed interests in writing and backpacking, and became an Eagle Scout. Since his graduation, Kathy began working on this book, a comprehensive introduction to homeschooling struggling learners. To prepare for this book, she interviewed 64 homeschooling parents with children with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and other difficulties. Kathy now writes, consults, and speaks, helping parents teach their children at home. She speaks to homeschool conventions, patient advocacy organizations (including national conferences of CHADD, LDA, and ASA) and other groups. Still active in her local homeschool community, she also teaches math and English to homeschooled teens and leads a support group for homeschoolers with children with special needs. Kathy began working with exceptional children when she was fourteen. A graduate of William and Mary, she earned teaching certificates in English and mathematics and taught in public junior high school. She has also enjoyed teaching preschoolers and adults. She lives in Northern Virginia with her family and enjoys hiking and reading. You may contact her though info@LearnDifferently.com Her website is
http://www.learndifferently.com/

This book was such an encouragement to me as a homeschool mom, but I saw even if you were not a homeschool mom, this book would be an encouragement to you. It details out many different learning issues a child might have, even extremely bright children may have struggles, so it is really a guidebook to help you discover how your child learns and the best way to help them learn. She spoke on why you might be homeschooling and has gentle, easy to understand way of approaching your struggles, you feel comforted while reading.
We all have different struggles, it may be the child who is not reading, the child who has ADD and we wonder if medication is the right choice, the child is made fun of in school because he is mentally challenged. This book will help you address your concerns, let you know what it might be like homeschooling them and give you guidance and info on the journey.

This book is 402 pages and you can purchase it from many different venues. It retails for $14.95. (The local library does have this book!)

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Mother of the Year?

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Earlier this winter (Nov. 2012)

I hear the saying “I am not trying to win the Mother of the year award.” I don’t really want to win an award, I would just be satisfied sometimes with a pat on the back. There are so many decisions to be made. I would love for someone to just tell me “This is the right one. Do this one. If you do, your kids will love you forever.”

What about the child who hates to change his clothes? He doesn’t want to wear pajamas and you find him putting on the same clothes after his shower. Never mind that they can stand on their own, those are his favorites!!

Then you have the child who thinks that anything green is going to cause him harm. You start to avoid putting them in food because you want him to eat, and then find yourself feeling stubborn because you miss your vegetables!!

There are the harder things like whether or not your child is behind in school and what reason is he behind? What is the right choice for your child? If you are a die-hard home educator, what type are you going to pursue? Un-schooling? School at home? A Mixture? Charlotte Mason? When your child grows up and says words that hurt you about your choices, will he realize the agony you put into in choosing what you thought was best for him/her?

What about the health care choices? Dental care seems like a no brainer….but then we have to decide – Fluoride treatments or none? Sealants or none?
We go to the doctors visits and try to decide if I should go to well child visits or not? Should I get a vaccine or not? Am I endangering my child’s life if refuse or might I be endangering his life if I get them?

I lay awake staring at the ceiling and find that with all the choices swirling in my brain. The choices are endless, the opinions are endless and it seems that everywhere I turn there is always a list of ways you can and will mess up.
I look to my heavenly Father above and ask Him help me as I parent these children, which He gave me. I ask Him to give me wisdom to make the choices I face each day. But most of all I ask Him to give the children the strength to forgive me for the errors I know I will make.
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Raking in November 2012

I may not deserve a Mother of the year award, and I highly doubt I will win a most patient mother star. But I really hope that when it is done, my children will grant me grace to know that I did what I thought was best for them, in my feeble attempts just to be their mom.

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Grocery Shopping and Menu for the week

It has been a busy week! I worked school so that I doubled up two days and we went to see Mom, go to the dentist, and help with a class mom was teaching on PPD.
I came home and today went grocery shopping and took the boys ice skating. They also had some classes today!

So, here was my groceries for this week. I was disorganized and now have to plan meals from what I bought, instead of the other way around, but I think I can!

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Here is some pictures of what I bought…

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I spent $51. There is a big pack of toilet paper also that is not pictured.

8 boxes of organic MOMS cereal
1 box of Uncle’s Ben’s Wild rice mix (I want to make some soup with it)
1 package tortillas
1 dozen eggs (cannot believe how expensive they are now)
Family pack beef boneless ribs (2.5 lbs)
Lunch meat: 1/2 lb Roasted turkey, 1/2 lb salami, 1/2 lb ham
Cheese for sandwiches 1 lb sliced pepper jack cheese
Potsticker dough wraps
2 large trays chicken drumsticks (probably 12-15 in each)
1 tray chicken breasts with bone like 4-5 breasts
2 Roma tomatoes
Bag of 12 oz. sliced mushrooms
Big Bag of romaine lettuce
12 oz. broccoli florets
1 lb coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage)
1 pkg. whole grain goldfish (for a treat)
1 package fresh maple link sausage

My menu for the week:
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Breakfast for dinner, whole grain pancakes and sausage with peaches- salad
Friday: Chicken Wild rice Hotdish (The Minnesota way of saying casserole) salad
Saturday: Chicken potato soup, Rolls
Sunday: Leftovers, Quick bread, popcorn
Monday- Easy 20 minutes Pizza, Salad
Tuesday: Pot Stickers, broccoli, and rice…

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Whither Thou Goest by Naomi Dathan

My Review: I am still new to eBooks and I could not figure out how to get this one to download! It looks really good though! They are having a deal right now where you can buy it for only .99…so if you are interested in reading a copy, rush over!

Buy the ebook Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go from Vyrso for $.99. Use the coupon code WILDCARD at checkout or simply click here.
Offer ends this Friday.

Whither is also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Books.

About Vyrso
Vyrso is a new Christian ebookstore and reader app from Logos Bible Software. You can read Vyrso ebooks on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone, and online at Biblia.com.

Here is the link: BUY THE 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:

Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)

***Special thanks to Ryan Rotz, Publicist, Kirkdale Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Naomi Dathan has been fascinated with prairie life since her third grade teacher read Little House in the Big Woods to the class. She finally indulged this fascination with her fourth novel, Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go. She lives in Ohio with her two daughters and two undersized beagles with oversized egos.

Check out her witty blog http://naomidathan.com 



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

For everything there is a season.  A season for joy.  A season for sorrow.  A season for testing.

Jem Perkins has it all – money, a fine house, a handsome husband, and a new baby boy. But when her family fortunes turn, Jem’s husband Seth leads her to a new home: a sod house on a Nebraska homestead.

It is a season of growth for Jem as she reluctantly confronts her new realities: back-breaking labor, dangerous illness, and mind-numbing isolation. She learns to embrace her new role as a capable woman and marriage partner and discovers an awareness of God’s hand in her life.

Then, on January 12, 1888, the history-making Children’s Blizzard sweeps across the land, ushering in a season of hardship she never expected. Can Jem’s confidence, marriage, and new-found faith weather the storm?

$.99 Sale! 

Buy the ebook Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go from Vyrso for $.99. Use the coupon code WILDCARD at checkout or simply click HERE.
Offer ends this Friday.

Whither is also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Books.

About Vyrso
Vyrso is a new Christian ebookstore and reader app from Logos Bible Software. You can read Vyrso ebooks on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone, and online at Biblia.com.

Product Details:

  • Kindle Price: $6.15
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 382 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Publisher: Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006FK72QE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:


January 12, 1888


      At midnight, Charley woke shivering in his trundle bed. “Ma?”
      He rose, but couldn’t see his mother’s form in the faltering lamplight. “Ma? Mom-mom?”
      Still no answer. The cast iron stove was dark and silent. The wind outside howled like a wolf, and caught at the door of the sod house, swinging it open and shut.
      Where was Ma? Why wasn’t she making the stove hot or snuggling him warm under the covers? Was she outside with the wind-wolf?
      Charley went toward the door. Ice blew into his eyes, making them water. But he wasn’t crying. Not yet. Warmth brushed his legs, a wetness caressed his cheek. The big dog, Zeke, curled his shaggy body against Charley, pushing him backward—away from the open door.
      Charley pushed back and shook his finger at him. “No! Bad.”
      Zeke whined and pressed harder. Charley fell, landing on something warm and solid. It didn’t hurt, but he set to wailing anyway, protesting his alone state, his empty belly, and the bitter cold that bit at his eyes and ears and nostrils like fierce ants.
      No one came to comfort him, so his cries soon dried up. He scuttled across the still form on the floor, pausing at a tinkling sound. “Ging,” he said, remembering. “Ging, ging, ging.”
      The bell. Pa had rung the bell today. Ding, ding, ding. He’d stoked the fire high and hot, gave Charley cold mash to eat, and clung to the doorframe, ringing and ringing the bell. Once, Pa had fallen to the dirt floor, but after a long while, he pushed himself upright, clutched the doorframe, and rang the bell again.
      Now Pa was on the floor again, unmoving.
      Charley stepped on Pa’s head as he went to look outside “ Ma!” The storm sucked his voice away so fast that he didn’t even hear himself. The winds answered in high voices, scared and scary at the same time. Was Ma out there in the black with the wind voices?
      At last, Charley made up his mind. With Zeke making little worried sounds close beside him, Charley stepped out into the blizzard to find Ma.

***

August 14, 1886 (Seventeen months before)
      The Reynolds’s tea was well attended, but the August heat oppressed the guests, subduing the conversation to a languid pace. Servants discreetly watered—and even fanned—the profusion of roses arranged in vases through the room. Ladies and gentlemen sipped English tea and nibbled at scones and trifles to be polite, waiting for the blessed moment when they could return home, untie their cravats and corsets, and have a cool bath.
      Jem Perkins had nothing but sympathy for the wilting flowers. She sank onto a thickly upholstered chair next to her sister and fanned herself.
      “Can we go home now?” she whispered.
      “Hush!” Sally hissed, shooting a worried glance toward their hosts. “Mrs. Reynolds has been planning this tea for weeks. And we haven’t even greeted the guest of honor yet.”
      Hiding behind her fan, Jem peeked at Mrs. Ashley Grayson, seated near the window. She couldn’t hear what Mrs. Grayson said, but it drew appreciative laughter from the surrounding crowd. Jem smiled at her sister with her eyes. “She does feed off the adoration, doesn’t she?”
      Sally frowned. “Oh, Jem, I’m sure that’s not fair. Mrs. Grayson deserves credit for starting the Children’s Board.”
      “Of course she does! But don’t you think she has a bit of the look a cat gets when he’s found a sunny spot on the windowsill?”
      Sally pursed her lips. “You could have worked with her, Jem. I know she asked you to. Then you’d be right up there beside her.”
      Wasn’t that just like Sally, to make out that Jem was jealous. What had she to be jealous of?
      Jem fanned herself again, waiting until her irritation ebbed before answering. After all, it wouldn’t do for Jem—the married woman—to engage in sibling squabbling with her poor spinster sister. Once satisfied that there would be only kindness in her voice, she answered. “I was hardly in a position to take on an outside project right then, was I? A woman’s first responsibility is to her family. Perhaps you’ll understand … one day.”
      Sally’s cheeks went pink as the arrow found its mark. She was Jem’s elder by three years, poor thing, and she didn’t even have a serious beau. She sniffed. “I’m sure that was it. I’m sure it wasn’t because you discovered that setting up a charitable foundation actually requires a great deal of work.”
      That stung. Jem lowered her fan. “Now you’re just being cruel. You know I work very hard, Sally. Look at how many hours I put into the flower garden last year.”
      “And then you lost interest and Rogers had to take it over.”
      “And think of all the poetry I’ve written. You’ve never written a poem in your life!”
      “And I’m better off for it.”
      “At least I’m trying things. Maybe I haven’t found my true calling yet, but you shouldn’t fault me for trying.” 
      Sally opened her mouth, but then shut it again, holding up a restraining palm. “Oh, we’re quarreling like children.” She sighed. “I apologize. I’m sure you have found your true calling, Jem. I’m sure your true calling is motherhood. You’re wonderful with Charley, and what’s more important than raising a happy, healthy child?”
      Jem settled back in her seat, buying herself a minute by sipping her iced tea. Sally would never have apologized a year ago, would certainly have never offered a compliment. It was disconcerting, really. “It is hot,”  she offered.
      Seeing Sally relax, she did too, leaning forward to whisper to her. “And boring. I know Mrs. Grayson deserves all of our admiration. I do, truly. But I’m so tired of seeing all the same people and having all the same conversations, day after day. This city is chockfull of people, but you couldn’t tell by us.”
      “There’s the doorbell,” Sally said. “I’m sure it will be someone fascinating.”
      “Like Mark Twain?”
      “That’s right. Or Buffalo Bill.”
      Jem giggled. “How about Jesse James?”
      “I think he’s dead. Wasn’t he killed? Oh—” Her tone changed abruptly. “Look. It is someone new.”
      Jem looked. Her fan froze. The tall man stood in the entry to the parlor, his bearing military even out of uniform. He bowed slightly to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, shook Mr. Reynolds’s hand, and exchanged greetings with surrounding guests. Feminine eyes followed his progress as he strode in, but he didn’t seem to notice. His pewter gray eyes scanned the crowd, and landed on Jem.
      She returned his gaze, then lowered her attention to her skirts. “Well, now. The new guest is dashing, wouldn’t you say, Sally?”
      Sally made a haughty harrumph. “Oh, Sister, he looks to be a bit of a ruffian to me. Like someone who spends time in the Wild West. You’d do well to stay away from him, I think.”
      Jem murmured her agreement and peeked at the man over her fan again. His eyes were still on her. “I believe I’ll have some refreshment.” 
      She approached the buffet table, turning her back on the man. Her sister was at her elbows, but when she felt Sally withdraw, she knew the man was approaching. She peeked at him over her shoulder while she ladled pink punch into a glass. He removed his derby and offered a slight bow.
      “Ma’am.”
      “Lieutenant.”
      His lips twitched at her return address, or perhaps at the Virginia drawl that had crept into the single word. “I wonder if I might join you for a beverage.”
      “Why, sir, as a guest of this tea party, you are as welcome as anyone to partake, I daresay.” Yes, the drawl of her childhood was definitely back, sliding through her words like sugarcane molasses.
      “Indeed,” the man said. He poured himself punch and downed it in a single motion. The glass looked ridiculous in his large hand, like a child’s play teacup. “I have to say, ma’am, that the scenery in St. Paul has certainly improved since my departure to Washington. I don’t remember such fine, dainty creatures as yourself frequenting the Reynolds’s teas in the past.”
      Jem smiled at that, but flushed a little, too. “Perhaps, sir, you are mistaking me for one of the young ladies playing Botticelli in the next room. I’m afraid I don’t particularly”—she took her time with the word, savoring each syllable as she hadn’t in years—“qualify as dainty anymore.”
      He imitated her accent, exaggerated it into a parody of a Virginia gentleman. “Why, ma’am, you are very mistaken, I’m sure. Why, you are the … the epitome of feminine beauty and delicacy. Your eyes are as blue as cornflowers. Your lips, well, they’re two precious little, uh, roses. In fact, I wonder if we could step out into the gardens and take a stroll together? Just the two of us?”
      “Why, sir! Surely you don’t expect me to leave this tea with you, unchaparoned. Think of the scandal.”
      He pressed his hand to his chest, gave her moon eyes. “Nothing of the sort, ma’am. I cherish your reputation as I would cherish, well, the soundness of my horse’s legs. I would die before compromising your honor. In fact, in order to protect your good name, I am willing to go this far: I will tell these people that we are married.”
      Jem started to giggle, then; she couldn’t help it. He grinned back at her, and the game was up. She threw her arms around his neck, in spite of all the company around. “Oh, Seth. I’m so glad you’re home. I thought you wouldn’t be back for two more weeks.”
      “Jem.” He put his arms around her waist and let out a long breath, letting his rigid stance relax. “This was long enough. I missed you. Can we break away from this tea? How is the baby?”
      “Oh, I hated to leave him. I think he might be getting diphtheria.”
      “Diphtheria?” He didn’t sound worried. In fact, he sounded a little amused. She backed out of his arms a little to frown at him.
      “Diphtheria is very serious.”
      “You’ve had the doctor by, I take it?”
      “Of course. Twice now.”
      “And he said?”
      “Oh, you know how Dr. Hollister is. You’d have to lay an egg for him to agree you have chicken pox.”
      Seth took her elbow lightly and led her through the parlor, nodding to the ladies, offering greetings to a few of the men. “Jemima, I’m sure Dr. Hollister would know if Charley had diphtheria. It’s very distinct.”
      “You know I worry. He coughs continually—all night long. And his nose is running.”
      “Darling, it sounds like he has a cold.” He led her to the front door, where they made their apologies to the Reynolds. “Come,” he said, as he led her to the carriage. “I’ll have a look. I certainly know what diphtheria looks like.”
      Before they’d stepped through the French doors of their home, they could hear Charley’s outraged screams ringing through the house. Jem dropped Seth’s arm and ran up the long, curving staircase, allowing him to follow when he would. “Charley! Oh, dear, what’s happened?”
      She stopped when she entered the nursery. Her boy was upright, clutching the bars of his crib with chubby fingers, red-faced and tearful, but otherwise apparently fine. “Oh, dear.” She hurried to lift him and snuggled him against her bosom. “What’s the matter, you poor little boy? Are you hurt?”
       Charley’s cries subsided. He rested his nearly bald head against her, hiccoughing.
      “Poor boy,” Jem crooned. “Mama’s here, now. Where’s Nursie, hmm? Didn’t she hear you cry?”
      “He has grown.” Seth’s voice came from the doorway. “Was he standing? When did he start that?”
      “Last week.” She smiled up at him, keeping her cheek pressed against the peach fuzz of Charley’s warm head. “I wrote to you about it, but I suppose you didn’t get the letter.”
      “No, but I haven’t stayed in one place for more than a night.” He sighed, came and wrapped his arms around Jem, enveloping her and the baby in a hug. “My family.”
      “Oh, no, ma’am!” Sophie’s voice was sharp. “He’s supposed to be napping.”
      Jem and Seth turned to look at the nurse. Her hands were closed into tight fists, pressed against her stout body as if she were restraining herself from snatching the child and putting him back in his crib.
      “Oh, but he was crying so hard. Poor boy.”
      “Good afternoon, Lieutenant. Welcome home,” Sophie said, then firmed her voice to Jem. “No, ma’am. Colonel Wilkinson was clear on that. The boy must stay in his crib for his nap. The colonel don’t want him spoiled.”
      Seth’s voice was pleasant. “Sophie, I believe you work for me, not Colonel Wilkinson.”
      “No, no.” Jem hurried to the crib. “It’s fine, Seth. Really. My father is right—you know I’ll spoil him.”
      She peeled Charley off her chest and set him in the crib. His screams renewed, broken by sobs. He rolled and pulled himself back up to his feet. Seth picked him up. Charley reached for his mother, but Seth didn’t hand him over.
      “Oh, Seth, really. My father is right.”
      “I haven’t seen my son in two months. I believe he and I will take a walk around the nursery.”
      Sophie gave Seth a long, tight-lipped look, and retreated from the room.
      “Oh, my,” Jem said. “She’ll let my father know. She always does.”
      “Darling, this isn’t your father’s child. It’s ours. Why does he have anything to say about when we hold him?”
      “You know how he worries. He wants the best for his only grandson.”
      Charley stopped reaching for his mother and stared up into Seth’s face.
      “Look, he remembers you.” 
      Seth made a scoffing sound, but Jem saw he looked pleased. “He’s far too young. I’m glad he’s letting me hold him, though. So, other than this dire illness that has him at death’s door, he appears to be thriving.”
      Jem sighed. “You shouldn’t tease me, Seth. Ima Caldwell—do you remember her? She said her sister’s husband’s niece lost both of her little boys last winter—one to diphtheria, and the other to pneumonia. And Amy Wiley’s whole family is ill.”
      Seth sobered and kissed Charley’s head, holding him a little closer. “It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what they’ve suffered. But Charley is healthy. God has blessed us. Let’s thank Him for it, instead of borrowing trouble.”
      “Y—yes. I do, of course.”
      She shook her head. It was the sort of comment Sally had been prone to make lately. Seth had been no believer when they met; he’d gone to church only to please Jem and her family. But something had changed over the last year. Seth had changed.
      When he was home, he attended church on Sundays as well as a Bible study on Wednesday. He led prayer at mealtimes, even if it was only the two of them sitting at the long polished dining table. She tried to act like it was normal behavior—after all, she was the one who’d been brought up in the faith—but it was really rather embarrassing.
      “There, you see, Jem? He just needed a little walk.” Charley was settled against his father’s chest. His face had relaxed, his eyes closed in sleep.
      Jem plucked a cloth from the chest of drawers and swiped at the path of drool running down the baby’s chin. “You do remember about this part, don’t you?”
      Seth gave her a wry smile. “I tried to forget. I go through fewer shirts riding on top of the stage coach. Well, I suppose I should put him down.”
      Jem arranged the soft blankets in the crib. After Seth laid Charley on them, they stood side by side, admiring their little boy. “Isn’t he beautiful? I think he’s the prettiest baby in St. Paul.”
      Seth slid his arm around her waist. “By far the handsomest, anyway.” He sighed then. “Is your father at home today? I need to discuss some things with him. I didn’t see him at the Reynolds’s tea.”
      “He said he had business to attend to today. I’m not sure whether he’s at home or at the office. But, Seth, can’t it wait? You’ve just gotten home. Can’t we spend the rest of the afternoon together?”
      She looked up at him as she finished the question, and was surprised to see the grim expression on his face.
      “I’m afraid not, Jem,” he said. “I’m sorry; I know I just got home. But I have to handle some business.”
       She gave him a quick pout, making sure to smile with her eyes so he knew she was teasing. “It’s a shame, when a man would rather spend his homecoming with his father-in-law than with his wife.”
      Seth didn’t smile back, but he kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be home in a couple of hours. We’ll have dinner together—just the two of us, all right?
      Jem wrapped her arms around his waist and accepted his embrace. “Hurry back. I’m sure my father will be glad to see you, anyway.”

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FireThorn by Ronie Kendig

My Review: This will be added later tonight! I wanted to read the whole series before I read this one and I finished the third book last week, which was excellent. I am enjoying every one of these books! I highly recommend them! Anyhow, I will add a review later for this one after I read it tonight! – 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:

Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (2012)

***Special thanks to Ronie Kendig for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
An Army brat, Ronie Kendig grew up in the classic military family, with her father often TDY and her mother holding down the proverbial fort. Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade. Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.
It was no surprise when she married a military veteran—her real-life hero—in June 1990.  Married more than twenty years, Ronie and her husband, Brian, homeschool their four children, the first of whom graduated in 2011. Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family and their three dogs in Dallas, TX.
Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has volunteered extensively, serving in a variety of capacities from coordinator of a national contest to appointment assistant at the national annual conference.
Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained critical acclaim and national attention, including:
    • Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards (Nightshade)
    • RWA’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade)
    • Named one of the Top 25 Christian Fiction Suspense, Mystery, and Thriller Writers by FamilyFiction (Sept 2011)
    • 2011 FamilyFiction Readers’ Choice Awards – 3rd place as New Favorite Author, 8th place with Nightshade for Novel of the Year.
    • INSPY Award Shortlist final in Mystery/Thriller (Dead Reckoning)
    • The Christian Manifesto’s 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Nightshade)

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Blown and dismantled, Nightshade is ready to repay the favor.

Former Marine and current Nightshade team member Griffin “Legend” Riddell is comfortable. So comfortable he never sees the set up that lands him in a maximum security prison, charged with murder. How can he prove his innocence behind bars?

Covert operative Kazi Faron is tasked with reassembling Nightshade—the black ops team someone dissected. Breaking Griffin out of a federal penitentiary amid explosive confusion may turn out to be her last assignment. What will it take to convince the fugitive that whoever set him up has also dissected the Nightshade team? As Kazi and Griffin race to rescue the others and discover the traitor,
love begins to awaken in their hearts.

Can a covert operative and the felon she’s freed overcome their mutual distrust long enough to save Nightshade? Will anything prepare them for who—or what is coming?

Product Details:

  • List Price: $12.99
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1602607850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1602607859

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

       To all American military heroes

      At home and abroad,

      Those who have gone before

      and those serving today—

      THANK YOU!

      Because of you, we are FREE!

RECON CREED

Realizing it is my choice and my choice alone to be a Reconnaissance Marine, I accept all challenges involved with this profession. Forever shall I strive to maintain the tremendous reputation of those who went before me.
Exceeding beyond the limitations set down by others shall be my goal. Sacrificing personal comforts and dedicating myself to the completion of the reconnaissance mission shall be my life. Physical fitness, mental attitude, and high ethics—The title of Recon Marine is my honor.
Conquering all obstacles, both large and small, I shall never quit. To quit, to surrender, to give up is to fail. To be a Recon Marine is to surpass failure; To overcome, to adapt and to do whatever it takes to complete the mission.
On the battlefield, as in all areas of life, I shall stand tall above the competition. Through professional pride, integrity, and teamwork, I shall be the example for all Marines to emulate.
Never shall I forget the principles I accepted to become a Recon Marine. Honor, Perseverance, Spirit, and Heart.
A Recon Marine can speak without saying a word and achieve what others can only imagine.

Swift, Silent, Deadly 
Chapter 1

The Shack
      “It’s sad, really.” Marshall “The Kid” Vaughn trudged away from the thumping rotors of the helo that had deposited them back at the Shack, his pack almost dragging the ground. “Ya don’t realize how much a person adds until he’s gone.”
      “Legend’s not gone.” Max “Frogman” Jacobs hoisted his rucksack into a better group, his mind locked on Sydney and their two sons waiting for him at home. Poor woman had to be going out of her mind with two of his Mini-Me’s running around.
      “Yeah.” John “Squirt” Dighton hit the light breaker, then waited for the six-man team to clear the door. “He’s just temporarily detained.”
      Lights sizzled and popped to life. Groaning bounced off the grimy windows as he hauled the door closed, locked it, then started toward the showers.
      The Kid grunted. “Forty-years-to-life temporary.”
      In the locker room, a depressive gloom hung over the team. They’d been on countless missions, hit just about every terrain and environment imaginable, but none had taken the toll the last couple had. And there was one reason—they were down a man. Griffin “Legend” Riddell. If Max could write the playbook, they wouldn’t do another mission without the guy. But with the man in federal prison for murdering a congressman, it’d be a long wait.
      It was quiet. Too quiet. Max looked around the Spartan room. Walls of lockers, most unused. A few benches. A giant once-white bin for dirty duds. And the team. Six men, now. All very skilled. Good men. Even the one missing. Every man here knew Legend had been set up—he didn’t murder that congressman. But nobody could prove it. The evidence was damning. Justice—injustice was more like it—came swiftly. Lambert, ever the puppeteer, couldn’t pull the right strings to get Legend off.
      “I’m heading up to visit him tomorrow. Anyone game?” Colton “Cowboy” Neeley slumped on a bench and ran a hand over his short, dark hair. His blue eyes probed the group.
      “Nah, man. I’ve got a date,” the Kid said.
      Squirt beaned him with a towel. “What girl would go out with you, mate?”
      The Kid snapped the terry cloth back at the former Navy SEAL. “Your sister.”
      Squirt froze. His jaw went slack. Then his eyes darkened.
      Laughing, Canyon “Midas” Metcalfe rose to his feet from the corner. “You just proved his point by thinking your sister would actually go out with him.”
      Squirt swallowed, his face drained of color. “I introduced them at a New Year’s party.”
      Midas laughed harder. “Your mistake, mate.
      Shuffling closer, Squirt pointed a finger at the Kid. “I swear, you touch her, I’ll shove a fist full of witchety grubs down your gullet.”
      “Give me credit, dude.” The Kid raised his hands. “I’m a gentleman.”
      Max grunted. “Right.” As he strode around the lockers to the shower well, he heard more threats and much more laughter from the Kid. Max shook his head. Would the Kid ever grow up, learn when to leave things alone?
      As he tossed his oily, grimy duds on the bench, Max paused, thinking maybe he should send his report to Lambert now so he wouldn’t have to mess with it tomorrow. The mission had been simple enough, a snatch-n-grab of an Iranian doctor. It’d been nice and clean, in and out. The report wouldn’t take long. Then he could shower, bug out, and know he had the whole weekend with Syd and the boys.
      Max jogged up the iron stairs, which creaked and groaned beneath his weight. Down the hall to the right. He punched in the code and entered the secure hub, the door hissing shut behind him. The most high-tech part of this dump-of-a-warehouse.
      Shouts drew his attention to the blinds. He jabbed two fingers between a couple and spread them to peeked down into the main area. Squirt and the Kid raced into the bay and back the way they came. Squirt looked ready to kill. The Kid’s face revealed his fear. Max shook his head again. Man, he wanted Griffin back. The guy seemed to bring balance to the team. Badly needed balance.
      Max powered up the computer. Hand propped on the warped wood, he waited for the system to boot.
      More shouts. Loud thuds.
      He pinched the bridge of his nose. Would they never—?
      Tat-a-tat! Tat-tat-a-tat!
      Instinct drove Max to his knee at the sound of gunfire. He scrambled to the window. Through the slanted blinds, he peered down into the slab of cement. His brain wouldn’t assemble what he saw. Gunmen. A dozen or more. Rushing into the Shack from the parking bay. Moving swiftly, as if. . .
      They know the layout.
      Max darted to the door and jerked it open. He sprinted down the hall toward the stairs. As his boot hit steel, he froze. A shadow emerged. Floated into the hall.
      Too late.
      Max jerked back. Pressed his spine against the wall.
      By the showers, the Kid looked up. Max signaled to him. Then made his best and loudest Nightshade whistle, hoping it would penetrate the building, give the men warning to take cover.
      The Kid threw himself back into the locker room.
      Men swarmed the corner. One looked to his left, one right. His weapon slowly rose as he traced the stairs with his M16.
      Max leapt backward into the darkness and into office. He closed the door. As the lock clicked, darkness dropped like an anchor over the entire building. Behind him, a glow screamed his location. The monitor!
      Max spun. Lunged across the desk. Stabbed the power button. And paused with his hand still near the monitor. If someone was coming after them. . .accessing this computer. . .
      On his knees, Max yanked the cords free. With the box, he moved to the window and reassessed the parking bay. Another van with a half-dozen men with AK-47s. They streamed into the warehouse.
      Max’s gut wound into a dozen knots. They were screwed.
      Think! Hand on the door, he considered going back downstairs. But that would get him captured. Killed. Yet he’d rather be with his guys than running like a chicken.
      No, not running. Considering options, gaining the advantage. Planning. The invasion force was armed to the teeth. They knew who they were coming after. They’d brought weapons. And those guys moved with precision. Swift, deadly precision.
      Though Nightshade had a stellar ops record, perhaps they had finally met their match. Still. . .two to one? Nightshade had faced worse.
      A large black Suburban screeched to a halt in the middle of the parking bay. Two men emerged, both wearing trench coats.
      Max cursed his luck to be up here, away from his gear, his weapons. Up here, without firepower. Thus, powerless.
      Okay, enough. He was going down there. He eased the door open and slid across the hall. Bathed in darkness, he crouched at edge of the landing, using the wall for cover. A dozen men so far, rushing here and there. Quick, quiet chatter between the men.
      A smirk slid into Max’s face. His team had taken cover and these goons couldn’t find them. If he could just get a weapon. . .
      “Can’t find them.”
      “They’re here. I saw them go in,” the man nearest the SUV shouted. “Find them! Lights!”
      Light rushed through the building as headlamps from the vehicles stabbed the dusty, damp building. Max yanked back, out of sight. He needed to get down there, defend his men. His boot hit the landing.
      Shouts erupted. A shot bounced off the steel rafters, taunting as it echoed through the Shack. Stilled, Max waited. More shouts. The sound of a scuffle. The half-dozen men waiting by the SUV lifted their weapons to the ready.
      The locker room door swung open. A man walked backward, his AK-47 aimed at a large form filling the doorway. Cowboy. Arms raised, dressed only in his jeans, he stalked forward. Someone shoved him from behind, which barely moved the big lug.
      Spine pressed against the wood, Max peered down into the bay.
      “You move one wrong muscle,” the one in front of Cowboy growled, “and so help me God, I’ll kill you.”
      “No you won’t.” Cowboy lowered his hands. “If you wanted me dead, I wouldn’t be out here.”
      Ride ’em, Cowboy.
      From the side entrance to the showers, three men dragged a shouting, cursing Kid into the bay. Max smirked that it took three tangos to wrangle the Kid.
      Hand clenched, Max’s mind went into overdrive. What could he do? God. . .I need. . .something. What could he pray for? Intercepting the team was impossible. Twelve, fifteen armed tangos against one unarmed man?
      He latched on to the hope that they’d only found Cowboy and the Kid. No Midas, Squirt, or Aladdin. Good. Maybe they could regroup and—
      A man flew through the bay door from the showers and landed with a thud a yard from the others. Midas flipped over, scissored his legs, and swept the thug off his feet. The Kid seized the confusion to attack the men guarding him. And impressively. With a hard right, he dropped the first and used that weapon to disable the second.
      Cowboy took a step back and rammed his elbow into the gut of the nearest guard. The gunman bent forward—straight into Cowboy’s meaty fist. The big guy pivoted, slapped the interior of the gunman’s wrist, effectively seizing the weapon and flipping the muzzle around. He fired at the guy.
      Crack!
      In the split second it took for Max to realize the sonic boom that rent the air wasn’t the report of Cowboy’s .45 MEU but of a rifle, Max saw the man in the black trench coat drop to the ground. A circle spread out like a dark halo.
      “Sniper!” someone shouted.
      The dead guy had fallen backward. Most likely shot from the front. Which meant. . . Max’s gaze rose to the rafters. With no light, it’d be the perfect hiding spot. But. . .who? Squirt? Aladdin?
      Crack!
      The man guarding Colton stumbled forward, then went to his knees before hitting the cement.
      The man in the black trench coat nearest the SUV dropped. A pool of blood spilled out.
      “There!” One guard swung and fired his fully automatic at the ceiling. Four others followed suit, firing at the bank of grimy windows on the southeast wall of the building.
      Max followed their direction and watched. Waited, his breath caught at the back of his throat. Cracks and shattering glass blended with the staccato punches of the guns to create a wild cacophony of noise. Max tuned it out, praying whoever—Aladdin or Squirt—wouldn’t be hit.
      But then he saw it. A shift of a shadow. Like someone rolling. . .
      The gunfire petered out as a body plummeted the eight feet to the ground.
      The thud seemed to have supernatural powers as it pounded Max’s chest and pushed him back. Away from the window but not far enough that he lost line of sight.
      Silence dropped on the Shack.
      “Where’s Max Jacobs?”
      As the question streaked through the warehouse, Max registered a red glow in the far corner. Even as he noticed it, he heard a beep. Another. His gaze darted to the source of the noise. Two men were walking the perimeter, their M16s dangling as they raised their arms and pressed something against the supports. Arms lowered and the men stepped back revealing gray bricks with wires.
      Explosives.
      Gotta stop this. Do something. His gaze collided with Cowboy’s. The big lug gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head.
      Max’s nostrils flared as he wrestled with what to do.
      “Where’s Dighton?”
      How do they know our names?
      “Dead,” someone answered.
      Pulled back into the shadows, Max clenched his eyes and bit down on his tongue. Dighton was dead. What about Aladdin—had he survived the fall?
      Sirens wailed in the distance.
      “Load ’em up.”
      “What about Jacobs?”
      “Outta time.” The leader left as the gunmen dragged the team out of the building.
      Stealthily, Max held on to the box and sprinted the length of the hall to the side of the Shack. In the conference room, he plunged toward the window. Craned his neck to peek out. Three vehicles—twin white vans and a black town car.
      The guys were loaded into the van and one into the car.
      The leader shifted, held something out, then it wavered.
      Detonator.
      Max spun around, searching for an out. Doors. Only one way down—the stairs. But they led to the bay, which would be engulfed.
      Windows. Overlooked the dock. The canal. It was January. The water would be brutal cold. His split-second assessment told him no matter what route he took, it’d be deadly. Despite his training, if he didn’t find shelter out of the water once he broke surface, he’d die an ice cube. If he stayed, he’d die a fireball.
      Good thing SEALs are insulated against cold water.
      Max vaulted toward the window, hurtling the computer through the window. The glass shattered as a violent force blasted through the air. It lifted him. Up. . .up. . . Flipped him. Searing pain sliced through his arm. Heat stroked his back and legs. Fire chased him out of the building. Into the night.
      Boom!
      Another wave slammed into him. Threw him backward. Toward the water.
      Something punched his gut. Knocked the breath from his lungs.
      Bright white lit the night. Blinded him. Then—almost instantaneously—black. Pure black. And he was falling. . .down. . .down. . .


Ro n i e K e n d i g
 
Firethorn
Discarded Heroes # 4

      OTHER BOOKS BY RONIE KENDIG

      Nightshade (Discarded Heroes #1)

      Digitalis (Discarded Heroes #2)

      Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes #3)

© 2011 by Ronie Kendig

ISBN 978-1-60260-0785-9
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission of the publisher.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual people, organizations, and/or events is purely coincidental.

For more information about Ronie Kendig, please access the author’s Web site at the following Internet address: www.roniekendig.com

Published by Barbour Publishing, Inc., P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683,

www.barbourbooks.com

Our mission is to publish and distribute inspirational products offering exceptional value and biblical encouragement to the masses.


Printed in the United States of America.

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Filed under Book Reviews

Christmas

Our Christmas was simple, like it always is, but we had chosen to make homemade gifts this year for our family, and if we bought something, we worked hard to buy from small local stores. I found that some of the local stores had great customer service and a couple….not so much.
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Everyone got involved! The house was bustling after catching up after basketball with making gifts after we finally got ideas for them!

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I made a set of laundry drawers for my mom…
Photobucket with locally made chocolate bars, chocolate covered almonds and a book from the local used bookstore owned by a neighbor.

I baked a lot of goodies to share for tea parties, get togethers and as part of gifts.
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The ginger cookies turned out so good!Photobucket

T. made a homemade game for part of his gift.
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It was laminated, which took a bit of work and the lady at the copy shop worked and worked and worked on it. I bought little train markers and dice at the local Imagination Station store, and made up the game on a board I downloaded.

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Working on making a doll blanket to go with our homemade cloth doll for my niece.

Christmas Eve we spent time with my BIL’s family, having a fun White elephant gift exchange. It was bittersweet as it was the first year without his mother.
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The boys did not wake up too early, but I was up making breakfast, and woke them up for gifts!
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Despite being sleepy, they enjoyed their gifts
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Our Breakfast casserole vanished quickly…
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Two pans of it!!

Then the gift exchange began!!
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The floor, the couches and everywhere was covered in people!
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We read the Christmas story and all participated with sound effects, which was very fun!

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The children enjoyed seeing how everyone liked their gifts and all the creative people we have!

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That beautiful wall hanging was one of my gifts that my sister made me!

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Happy smiles all around!

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What is it???

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Oh my!!

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We enjoyed having my sister with us, she doesn’t always get to be with us…and we love it when she is there.

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L. enjoyed making E. a cloth doll and blanket…and she was thrilled too!
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Thankfully my mom could be there for gifts, but had to leave quickly to go and deliver a very special little baby. It was a very fast paced and enjoyable Christmas. We missed a lot of family members who could not be here, but the homemade raviolis were amazing!

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Filed under Daily Happenings

Love Blooms in the Winter by Lori Copeland

My Review:
When Mae’s neighbor seems to be having a mental breakdown from old age, she goes on a quest to find a relative to care for her. Pauline, the neighbor, also collects a variety of animals, which have sort of taken over her house! Mae has her hand’s full with her job at the post office and caring for her little brother who is mentally disabled, she doesn’t have the time for Pauline and all her animals, much as she would love to!
When Tom gets the letter from Mae, he thinks it is a joke! He doesn’t remember an Aunt Pauline, but the town looks familiar. When he ends up trapped there, and keeps getting promoted on his railroad job, but will the accident that kept him there, maybe spark a romance between these two?

This was a cute books, a little unrealistic, but it was a fun little read! I liked the exotic animals that were thrown in there, and Pauline’s quirkiness! It was fun! -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:

  • Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to 
Karri | Marketing Assistant |Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books’ Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This new romance from bestselling author Lori Copeland portrays God’s miraculous provision when none seems possible. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more adventure than Tom Curtis is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter with God in charge.

 1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

 Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.

Product Details:

    • List Price: $13.99
    • Paperback: 304 pages
    • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0736930191
    • ISBN-13: 978-0736930192

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Dwadlo, North Dakota, 1892 
  The winter of ’92 is gonna go down as one of the worst Dwadlo’s ever seen,” Hal Murphy grumbled as he dumped the sack of flour he got for his wife on the store counter. “Mark my words.” He turned toward Mae Wilkey, the petite postmistress, who was stuffing mail in wooden slots.
  “Spring can’t come soon enough for me.” She stepped back, straightening the row of letters and flyers. She didn’t have to record Hal’s prediction; it was the same every year. “I’d rather plant flowers than shovel snow any day of the week.”
  “Yes, ma’am.” Hal nodded to the store owner, Dale Smith, who stood five foot seven inches with a rounded belly and salt-and-pepper hair swept to a wide front bang. “Add a couple of those dill pickles, will you?” Hal watched as Dale went over to the barrel and fished around inside, coming up with two fat pickles.
  “That’ll fix me up.” Hal turned his attention back to the mail cage, his eyes fixed on the lovely sight. “Can’t understand why you’re still single, Mae. You’re as pretty as a raindrop on a lily pad.” He sniffed the air. “And you smell as good.”
  Smiling, Mae moved from the letter boxes to the cash box. Icy weather may have delayed the train this morning, but she still had to count money and record the day’s inventory. “Now, Hal, you know I’d marry you in a wink if you weren’t already taken.” Hal and Clara had been married forty-two years, but Mae’s usual comeback never failed to put a sparkle in the farmer’s eye. Truth be, she put a smile on every man’s face, but she wasn’t often aware of the flattering looks she received. Her heart belonged to Jake Mallory, Dwadlo’s up-and-coming attorney.
  Hal nodded. “I know. All the good ones are taken, aren’t they?”
  She nodded. “Every single one. Especially in Dwadlo.”
  The little prairie town was formed when the Chicago & North Western Railroad came through five years ago. Where abundant grass, wild flowers, and waterfalls had once flourished, hundreds of miles of steel rail crisscrossed the land, making way for big, black steam engines that hauled folks and supplies. Before the railroad came through, only three homesteads had dotted the rugged Dakota Territory: Mae’s family’s, Hal and Clara’s, and Pauline Wilson’s.
  But in ’87 life changed, and formerly platted sites became bustling towns. Pine Grove and Branch Springs followed, and Dwadlo suddenly thrived with immigrants, opportunists, and adventure-seeking folks staking claims out West. A new world opened when the Dakota Boom started.
  Hal’s gaze focused on Mae’s left hand. “Jake still hasn’t popped the question?”
  Mae sighed. Hal was a pleasant sort, but she really wished the townspeople would occupy their thoughts with something other than her and Jake’s pending engagement. True, they had been courting for six years and Jake still hadn’t proposed, but she was confident he would. He’d said so, and he was a man of his word—though every holiday, when a ring would have been an appropriate gift, that special token of his intentions failed to materialize. Mae had more lockets than any one woman could wear, but Jake apparently thought that she could always use another one. What she could really use was his hand in marriage. The bloom was swiftly fading from her youth, and it would be nice if her younger brother, Jeremy, had a man’s presence in his life.
  “Be patient, Hal. He’s busy trying to establish a business.”
  “Good lands. How long does it take a man to open a law office?”
  “Apparently six years and counting.” She didn’t like the uncertainty but she understood it, even if the town’s population didn’t. She had a good life, what with work, church, and the occasional social. Jake accompanied her to all public events, came over two or three times a week, and never failed to extend a hand when she needed something. It was almost as though they were already married.
  “The man’s a fool,” Hal declared. “He’d better slap a ring on that finger before someone else comes along and does it for him.”
  “Not likely in Dwadlo,” Mae mused. The town itself was made up of less than a hundred residents, but other folks lived in the surrounding areas and did their banking and shopping here. Main Street consisted of the General Store, Smith’s Grain and Feed, the livery, the mortuary, the town hall and jail (which was almost always empty), Doc Swede’s office, Rosie’s Café, and an empty building that had once housed the saloon. Mae hadn’t spotted a sign on any business yet advertising “Husbands,” but she was certain her patience would eventually win out.
  With a final smile Hal moved off to pay for his goods. Mae hummed a little as she put the money box in the safe. Looking out the window, she noticed a stiff November wind snapping the red canvas awning that sheltered the store’s porch. Across the square, a large gazebo absorbed the battering wind. The usually active gathering place was now empty under a gray sky. On summer nights music played, and the smell of popcorn and roasted peanuts filled the air. Today the structure looked as though it were bracing for another winter storm. Sighing, Mae realized she already longed for green grass, blooming flowers, and warm breezes.
  After Hal left Mae finished up the last of the chores and then reached for her warm wool cape. She usually enjoyed the short walk home from work, but today she was tired—and her feet hurt because of the new boots she’d purchased from the Montgomery Ward catalog. On the page they had looked comfortable with their high tops and polished leather, but on her feet they felt like a vise.
  Slipping the cape’s hood over her hair, she said goodbye to Dale and then paused when her hand touched the doorknob. “Oh, dear. I really do need to check on Pauline again.”
  “How’s she doing?” The store owner paused and leaned on his broom. “I noticed she hasn’t been in church recently.”
  Dale always reminded Mae of an owl perching on a tree limb, his big, dark blue eyes swiveling here and there. He might not talk a body’s leg off, but he kept up on town issues. She admired the quiet little man for what he did for the community and respected the way he preached to the congregation on Sundays.
  How was Pauline doing? Mae worried the question over in her mind. Pauline lived alone, and she shouldn’t. The elderly woman was Mae’s neighbor, and she checked on her daily, but Pauline was steadily losing ground.
  “She’s getting more and more fragile, I’m afraid. Dale, have you ever heard Pauline speak of kin?”
  The small man didn’t take even a moment to ponder the question. “Never heard her mention a single word about family of any kind.”
  “Hmm…me neither. But surely she must have some.” Someone who should be here, in Dwadlo, looking after the frail soul. Mae didn’t resent the extra work, but the post office and her brother kept her busy, and she really didn’t have the right to make important decisions regarding the elderly woman’s rapidly failing health.
  Striding back to the bread rack, she picked up a fresh loaf. Dale had private rooms at the back of the store where he made his home, and he was often up before dawn baking bread, pies, and cakes for the community. Most folks in town baked their own goods, but there were a few, widowers and such, who depended on Dale’s culinary skills. By this hour of the day the goods were usually gone, but a few remained. Placing a cherry pie in her basket as well, she called, “Add these things to my account, please, Dale. And pray for Pauline too.”
  Nodding, he continued sweeping, methodically running the stiff broomcorn bristles across the warped wood floor.
  The numbing wind hit Mae full force when she stepped off the porch. Her hood flew off her head and an icy gust of air snatched away her breath. Putting down her basket, she retied the hood before setting off for the brief walk home. Dwadlo was laid out in a rather strange pattern, a point everyone agreed on. Businesses and homes were built close together, partly as shelter from the howling prairie winds and partly because there wasn’t much forethought given to town planning. Residents’ homes sat not a hundred feet from the store. The whole community encompassed less than five acres.
  Halfway to her house, snowflakes began swirling in the air. Huddling deeper into her wrap, Mae concentrated on the path as the flakes grew bigger.
  She quickly covered the short distance to Pauline’s. The dwelling was little more than a front room, tiny kitchen, and bedroom, but she was a small woman. Pauline pinned her yellow-white hair in a tight knot at the base of her skull, and she didn’t have a tooth in her head. She chewed snuff, which she freely admitted was an awful habit, but Mae had never heard her speak of giving it up.
  Her faded blue eyes were as round as buttons, and no matter what kind of day she was having, it was always a new one to her, filled with wonders. Her mind wasn’t what it used to be. She had good and bad days, but mostly days when her moods changed as swift as summer lightning. She could be talking about tomatoes in the garden patch when suddenly she would be discussing how to spin wool.
  Mae noted a soft wisp of smoke curling up from the chimney and smiled. Pauline had remembered to feed the fire this afternoon, so this was a good day.
  Unlatching the gate, she followed the path to the front porch. In summertime the white railings hung heavy with red roses, and the scent of honeysuckle filled the air. This afternoon the wind howled across the barren flower beds Pauline carefully nurtured during warmer weather. Often she planted okra where petunias should be, but she enjoyed puttering in the soil and the earth loved her. She brought fresh tomatoes, corn, and beans to the store during spring and summer, and pumpkins and squash lined the railings in the fall.
  In earlier days Pauline’s quilts were known throughout the area. She and her quilting group had made quite a name for themselves when Dwadlo first became a town. Four women excelled in the craft. One had lived in Pine Grove, and two others came from as far away as Branch Springs once a month to break bread together and stitch quilts. But one by one the women had died off, leaving Pauline to sew alone in her narrowing world.
  Stomping her boots on the porch, Mae said under her breath, “I don’t mind winter, Lord, but could we perhaps have a little less of it?” The only answer was the wind whipping her garments. Tapping lightly on the door, she called, “Pauline?”
  Mae stepped back and waited to hear the shuffle of feet. Pauline used to answer the door in less than twenty seconds. It took longer now. Mae made a fist with her gloved hand and banged a little harder. The wind howled around the cottage eaves. She closed her eyes and prayed that Jeremy had remembered to stack sufficient firewood beside the kitchen door. The boy was generally responsible, and she thanked God every day that she had him to lean on. He had been injured by forceps during birth, which left him with special needs. He was a very happy fourteen-year-old with the reasoning power of a child of nine.
  A full minute passed. Mae frowned and tried the doorknob. Pauline couldn’t hear herself yell in a churn, but she might also be asleep. The door opened easily, and Mae peeked inside the small living quarters. She saw that a fire burned low in the woodstove, and Pauline’s rocking chair sat empty.
  Stepping inside, she closed the door and called again. “Pauline? It’s Mae!”
  The ticking of the mantle clock was the only sound that met her ears.
  “Pauline?” She lowered her hood and walked through the living room. She paused in the kitchen doorway.
  “Oh, Pauline!”

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