Monthly Archives: April 2012

I have come to think…

that I really like reading new author’s first book! They do such a good job, the research, the dialogue and everything else is just exceptional it seems like.
But as a new author wanting to break into the business, it is overwhelming at the number of things and how hard it is sometimes!!!

I think the debut novels I have read recently and man…some of them were so good.
I have been blessed to read some really good books lately. I read Saving Hope by Margaret Daley recently. That was an exceptional book. I know that human trafficking is a hot topic now, but it is something I think we are blind to!
I read Yahshua’s Bridge by Sandi Rog the second in the series and it reminded me of Francine River’s Voice in the Wind series. It is not as graphic as that one could be at times, but for sure talked about some the major issues the first Christians faced.

My reading has been limited by major time crunches, extreme tiredness and trying to finish up school. We are reading a ton of books in school too!

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To See the Sun by Peggy Blann Phifer

To See the Sun
By Peggy Blann Phifer
Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Erin Macintyre, no matter how well she prepared, could have never been prepared for the police knocking on her door to bring her bad news. It seemed bad news just followed her. The thoughts of raising her child on her own in a high rise apartment seemed less than ideal, but on the days she chooses to make a change…an old friend of sorts appears back into her life. He is less than welcome too! Clay Buchanan is now a P.I and when he seemingly stumbles back into Erin’s life, the old memories and feelings flood them both…bringing their own conclusions.

This suspense murder mystery is filled with bad guys around every bend! I stayed up late reading it, just wanting to solve the mystery and pray that Erin ended up okay. The light romantic tone of the book, in spite of the recent death of her husband is felt, but overall, it is mostly business with solving a crime and finding out who did it, and who is out there to get Erin and anyone around her. More bodies are showing up, mysterious notes, creepy phone calls and stalkers…. when Erin starts to wonder how to move on.

This book will likely keep you up and reading too, with the first fiction book written by this author! – 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:

CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)

***Special thanks to 
Peggy Blann Phifer  for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Peggy Blann Phifer is an author and columnist, whose work has appeared on various Web sites and writer periodicals both in print and online. She is also an avid reader and loves to escape between the covers of a good book. A retired executive assistant, Peg now makes her home in southern Nevada with husband Jim.

To See the Sun is Peg’s debut novel, released January 2012

Visit her blog, Whispers in Purple.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Pregnant and widowed hadn’t been part of her “happily ever after” dream. And now, someone was trying to kill her . . .

Erin Macintyre never expected to be a widow and a new mother in the same year, anymore than she expected mysterious notes, threatening phone calls, and a strange homeless man who seems to know all about her. The thought of raising a child without a father is daunting enough—worse when you have no idea who might want to harm you. Put an old flame into the mix, and her life begins a tailspin into a world she never knew existed.

When P.I. Clay Buchanan, stumbles upon Erin at her husband’s gravesite, he’s totally unprepared for her advanced pregnancy. Her venomous reaction at seeing him, however, was predictable. But Clay can’t let her distrust, or his guilt, get in the way—not when he has evidence that proves Erin’s life is in danger.

With few options left, Erin begrudgingly accepts Clay’s help . . . and it just might be her undoing.

Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 356 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (January 6, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1468121081
ISBN-13: 978-1468121087

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Friday, March 26, late afternoon
What a fantastic day. A bid won. A contract signed. The job of a lifetime that would put Stuart and Macintyre at the top of the construction heap, not just in Las Vegas, but all of southern Nevada.
Whistling, Justin Macintyre pressed the keyless remote of his Cadillac Escalade, tossed his briefcase across the console to the passenger seat and slid behind the wheel.
To top it all off, after seven long years, he and his wife, Erin, were going to have a baby. A baby! He laughed aloud at the overwhelming joy of it.
“Hey, world, I’m going to be a daddy!”
He shifted the SUV into gear and pulled out of the Mt. Charleston Lodge area onto Kyle Canyon Road and headed down the mountain to the Las Vegas Valley below. Despite the successful day, Justin couldn’t banish his worry over a recent discovery of some irregularities in the company’s finances. Nothing concrete, and his Uncle Sebastian, S&M’s CFO, assured him everything was fine. Nevertheless, Justin’s uneasiness had prompted him to send what little proof he had to his long-time friend, Clay Buchanan, a private investigator in Texas.
Preoccupied with his thoughts, he vaguely registered the yellow and black blind curve warning sign. Too late he saw the stalled car across the center line. No time to stop! He spun the  wheel to the right.
I’m going too fast! God, help me . . .!
###
Seconds passed and silence settled once more over the mountainside. A shadow emerged from behind a Joshua tree and stepped to the edge of the ravine. After a moment, the form walked to the car in the road and drove away.
###
Erin Macintyre stretched her arms along the balcony’s balustrade of her twenty-seventh-floor condo above the streets of Las Vegas. Beyond that, the lower edge of the setting sun kissed the still snowy peaks of the Spring Mountain Range and Mt. Charleston.
Justin would be home soon.
“Erin, where’s the zester?”
Erin returned to the kitchen. “In the utility drawer.”
“Which is the utility drawer?” Magie Gifford, Erin’s dearest friend, pulled out drawer after drawer.
Erin giggled and reached across Magie’s arm and slid out the utility drawer.
“You changed it.” Magie snatched the zester and bumped the drawer shut with her hip. “That’s not where it was last time.”
Erin wrapped her arms around her friend and hugged. “No, Mags, I didn’t change anything.” She waited a beat. “Can I interest you in a memory enhancement program?”
“Very funny.” Magie pushed Erin aside and proceeded to rub a lemon across the gadget and then whisked the zest into a frothy mixture of olive oil, Italian herbs, and balsamic vinegar. “Okay, just drizzle this over the salad and stick it in the fridge.”
That done, Erin checked on the lasagna in the oven. The garlic toast waited on the foil-lined cookie sheet ready to pop under the broiler. Everything was ready.
Erin glanced at the kitchen clock. “He’s late.”
“Posh. You should know by now how those meetings can drag on.”
“Yeah, I know. It’s just—”
“Get over here, Erin. He’ll be here when he gets here.”
Erin joined her friend in the breakfast nook off the kitchen and adjacent to the balcony. She scooped up a dozing Siamese cat from her chair and sat, settling him back on her lap.
“You spoil that critter.” Magie brushed off the chair cushion before sitting.
“Yeah, I do. But you love him, too. I saw you sneaking him some treats earlier.” Erin smiled. “Not to mention the romp you had with him in the living room when you got here.”
“Busted. But he’s so much fun, aren’t you, Kazimir?”
At the sound of his name, the cat uncoiled, left Erin’s lap and jumped onto Magie’s. She snorted. “So much for protecting my black slacks.”
“Thanks for coming over to help with this meal. I wanted it to be special and I never know when the nausea will hit.” She raised an eyebrow. “But you will leave as soon as Justin gets here.”
“You think he’ll get that bid?”
Erin tapped her heart and nodded. “I know he will.”
The first five descending notes of Welcome to My World sang out in the condo’s foyer. Justin! No, he wouldn’t ring the doorbell. Puzzled, she stepped across the tiled floor and rose on tiptoes to peer through the peephole. She gasped and jumped back.
The doorbell chimed again.
Fingers trembling, Erin released the security lock and opened the door to two uniformed police officers.
“Mrs. Macintyre?”
Erin nodded as Magie moved to her side.
“What is it, officers?”
“I’m afraid there’s been an accident, Mrs. Macintyre. Your husband . . .”

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Menu for the week

Wednesday: Chicken tortilla soup
Thursday: Pulled chicken and slaw sliders These were so good…I want to make again!
Friday: Taco salad
Saturday: Pasta, sauce, salad
Sunday: Leftovers
Monday: Chicken pasta salad
Tuesday: City Chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, green beans

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Filed under Bargain Dinners, Daily Happenings, Recipes

Need you Now by Beth Wiseman

My Review:
To begin, I will just say, I love that Beth Wiseman has written something other than Amish fiction. She is a great writer, but I am not a fan of Amish fiction, even though, I have read some of her other books, because I am a fan of her writing.
This story is about a family, with three teenagers, busy father and mother who believes her children have moved on and do not need her anymore. It can show you that often times, we can misjudge people’s outside appearance…..whether that be Amish clothing, simple clothing, goth clothing or the like…and also those who look like they have it all together.
This book addresses the topic of cutting and adultery. It speaks of how these things can effect anyone, even those who have a strong faith in God.
I highly recommend this story! – 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:

Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 When a personal crisis tested and strengthened her faith, award-winning journalist Beth Wiseman was advised by her agent to consider writing a Christian novel, particularly an Amish one. Encouraged by her agent’s urging, she began exploring the Amish lifestyle and soon developed a great appreciation for the more peaceful way of life. In 2008 Wiseman wrote her debut novel, Plain Perfect, featuring the Amish lifestyle within the context of a fictional love story. It was a bestseller, as have been all of the full-length novels and novellas she has written since.

While Need You Now is Wiseman’s first non-Amish novel, she is confident it will not be the last. She is already making plans to write a second contemporary novel in the near future. Like Need You Now, it will also be set in small-town Texas, a familiar background she thoroughly loves exploring and writing about.

Wiseman’s previous releases have held spots on the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) and the ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) bestseller lists. In 2010, she received the INSPY Award for Amish Fiction (chosen by blog reviewers). In 2011, she received the Carol Award and was the Inspirational Readers Choice winner for her book Plain Paradise. Her novel Seek Me with All Your Heart was the 2011 Women of Faith Book of the Year. In addition, Wiseman has been a Retailers Choice Finalist, a Booksellers Best Finalist and a National Readers Choice Finalist. Prior to becoming a novelist she received many honors for her work as a journalist, including a prestigious First Place News Writing Award from the Texas Press Association.

Today, she and her husband are empty nest parents of two grown sons, enjoying the country lifestyle and living happily with two dogs, two cats, two pot-bellied pigs, two chickens and a single pygmy goat in a small community in South Central Texas. Along with writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, traveling and watching good movies. Her favorite pastime, however, is spending time with friends and family.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

We all count on the support of those around us when times are tough, but what do we do when those we depend on the most are suddenly gone? How do we cope when life has pulled the rug out from under us and left us with nothing and no one to hold on to? To whom can we turn when it seems no one, not even God, is there? These are the questions best-selling author Beth Wiseman addresses in her first contemporary novel, Need You Now (Thomas Nelson).

After the safety of one of their children is threatened, Need You Now’s main character, Darlene Henderson, and her husband Brad choose to move their family from Houston to the dot-in-the-road town of Round Top, Texas; moving into the old fixer-upper farm left to Darlene by her grandparents. Adjusting to the change is more difficult than any of them imagined, especially for the middle child, 15-year-old Grace, who becomes a cutter, using a dangerous and particularly self-damaging way of coping with stress.

The move also begins to take a toll on the couple’s marriage when Darlene decides to take a job outside the home in an effort to make new friends in the community. As the domestic tension rises, both begin to wonder if the same shared faith that has carried them through difficult times in the past will be strong enough to help them now.

To make matters worse, Darlene begins receiving inappropriate attention from the widowed father of the autistic young girl she is assigned to work with at the school for special needs children where she is employed. Unfortunately, this new attention comes just when she is most vulnerable. If there has ever been a time in her life when she needed God, it is now. But will she allow arising feelings of unworthiness to keep her from seeking Him?

In her first novel not set in an Amish community, Wiseman spins her well-honed characters and setting into a thought-provoking message that not only makes the reader ponder his or her own relationship with God, but also sheds light on the little-known disorders of using self-injury as a way of seeking relief and high-functioning autism. Need You Now is the perfect read for anyone who has ever questioned life and God’s will.

Product Details:
List Price: $ 15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1 edition (April 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595548874
ISBN-13: 978-1595548870

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Darlene’s chest tightened, and for a few seconds she couldn’t move. If ever there was a time to flee, it was now. She put a hand to her chest, held her breath, and eased backward, sliding one socked foot at a time across the wooden floor of her bed- room. She eyed the intruder, wondering why he wasn’t moving. Maybe he was dead.
Nearing the door, she stretched   her arm behind   her, searching for the knob. She turned it quickly, and at the click of the latch, her trespasser rushed toward her. In one movement, she jumped backward, across the threshold and into the den, slamming the door so hard the picture of the kids fell off the wall. She looked down at Chad, Ansley, and Grace staring up through broken glass, then hurried through the den to the kitchen. Her hand trembled as she unplugged her cell phone and pressed the button to call Brad. Please answer.
It was tax time, so every CPA at her husband’s office was working long hours, and for these last weeks before the April deadline, Brad was hard to reach. She knew she wouldn’t hear from him until after eight o’clock tonight.  And she couldn’t go back in her bedroom. What would she have to live without until then? She looked down. For starters, a shirt. She was later than usual getting dressed this morning and had just pulled on her jeans when she’d noticed she wasn’t alone.
She let out a heavy sigh and rubbed her forehead. Brad answered on the sixth ring.
“Bradley . . .” She only called him by his full name when she needed his full attention.
“What is it, babe?”
She took a deep breath. “There is a snake in our bedroom. A big, black snake.” She paused as she put a hand to her chest. “In our bedroom.”
“How big?”
She’d expected a larger reaction. Maybe her husband didn’t hear her. “Big! Very big. Huge, Brad.”
He chuckled. “Honey, remember that little snake that got in your greenhouse when we lived on Charter Road in Houston? You said that snake was big too.” He chuckled again, and Darlene wanted to smack him through the phone.  “It was a tiny little grass snake.”
“Brad, you’re going to have to trust me. This snake is huge, like five or six feet long.” A shiver ran down her spine. “Are you coming home or should I call 9-1-1?”
“What? You can’t call 9-1-1 about a snake.” His tone changed. “Darlene, don’t do that. Round Top is a small town, and we’ll be known as the city slickers who called in about a snake.”
“Then you need to come home and take care of this.” She lifted her chin and fought the tremble in her voice.
Deep breath on the other end of the line. “You know how crazy it is here.  I can’t leave right now. It’s probably just a chicken snake, and they’re not poisonous.”
“Well, there are no chickens in our bedroom, so it doesn’t have any business in there.”
“Chad can probably get it out when he gets home from school. Maybe with a shovel or something, but tell him to be careful. Even though they’re not venomous, it’d probably still hurt to get bit.”
Darlene sighed. “Our girls are going to freak if they come home to find a snake in the house.”
“Maybe—” Darlene turned toward a sound in the entryway. “I’ll call you back. There’s someone at the door, and I’m standing here in my bra. I’ll call you back. Love you.” She clicked the phone off, then yelled toward the door. “Just a minute!”
After finding a T-shirt in Ansley’s room, she pulled it over her head as she crossed back through the den toward the front door. This was the first visitor she’d had in the two months since they’d moved from Houston.  She peeked around the curtain before she opened the door, realizing that her old city habit would probably linger for a while. Out here in the country, there probably wasn’t much to worry about, but she was relieved to see it was a woman. A tall woman in a cowgirl hat. She pulled the door open.
“Your Longhorns are in my pasture.” The woman twisted her mouth to one side and folded her arms across her chest. “This is the second time they’ve busted the fence and wandered onto my property.”
Darlene thought this cowgirl could have walked straight off the set of any western movie. She was dressed in a long- sleeved denim shirt with her blue jeans tucked into brown boots. She was older than Darlene, possibly mid-forties, but she was gorgeous with huge brown eyes and blonde hair that hung in a ponytail to her waist.
“I’m so sorry.” Darlene shook her head. Brad should have never gotten those Longhorns.  Neither she nor Brad knew a thing about cows, but Brad had said a move to the country should include some Longhorns. Although it didn’t make a lick of sense to her. She pushed the door wide. “I’m Darlene.”
The woman shifted her weight, but didn’t offer a greeting in return. Instead, she stared at Darlene’s chest. Darlene waited for the woman to lock eyes with her, and when she didn’t, Darlene finally looked down. Her cheeks warmed as she sighed. “Oh, this is my daughter’s shirt.” Don’t Bug Me! was scrolled across the white T-shirt in red, and beneath the writing was a hideous picture of a giant roach.  Darlene couldn’t stand the shirt, but twelve-year-old Ansley loved it. “Do you want to come in?” She stepped back.
“No. I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to round up your Longhorns and head them back to your pasture. I’ll temporarily repair the fence.” The woman turned to leave, and it was then that Darlene saw a horse tethered to the fence that divided their property. She stifled a smile. This woman really was a cowgirl.
“Know anything about snakes?” Darlene eased onto the front porch, sidestepping a board she knew was loose. The porch was next on their list of things to repair on her grand- parents’ old homestead.
“What?” The woman turned around as she held a hand underneath the rim of her hat, blocking the afternoon sun.
“I have a snake in my bedroom.” Darlene shrugged. “Just wondering if you had any—any experience with something like that?” She padded down two porch steps in her socks. “I’m not sure I got your name?”
“Layla.” She gave a quick wave before she turned to leave again. Darlene sighed. Clearly the woman wasn’t interested in being friends. Or helping with the snake. Darlene watched her walk to her horse and put a foot in the stirrup. Then she paused and twisted her body to face Darlene. “What kind of snake?”
Hopeful, Darlene edged down another step. “A big, black one.”
Layla put her foot back on the ground and walked across the grass toward the porch. Darlene couldn’t believe how graceful the tall blonde was, how out of sync her beauty was in comparison to what she was wearing.
“Only thing you really have to worry about around here are copperheads.” She tipped back the rim of her hat. “Was it a copperhead?”
At five foot two, Darlene felt instantly inferior to this tall, gorgeous, horse-riding, snake-slaying blonde. She wasn’t about to say that she couldn’t tell one snake from the other. “I don’t think so.”
“All I’ve got is a .22 with me.” Layla pointed back to her horse, and Darlene saw a long gun in a holster. “But a .22 will blow a hole through your floor,” Layla added. A surreal feeling washed over Darlene. She thought about their previous home in a Houston subdivision, and a woman with a gun on a horse wasn’t a sight they would’ve seen.
“Do you have a pellet gun?” She stopped in front of Darlene on the steps. Darlene was pretty sure that was all they had— Chad’s BB gun.
“Yeah, I think so.”
Five minutes later, Darlene pushed open the door to her bedroom and watched Layla enter the scene of the invasion. The bed was piled with clean clothes, but at least it was made up. The vacuum was in the middle of the room instead of in the closet under the stairs. It wasn’t the way she wanted a stranger to see her bedroom, but it could have been worse.
Layla got down on her knees and looked under the bed. From the threshold, Darlene did a mental scan of what was under there. Boxes of photos, a flowery hatbox that had belonged to her grandmother, an old, red suitcase stuffed with baby keepsakes from when the kids were young—and a lot of dust. “There he is.” Layla leaned her chest to the floor and positioned Chad’s BB gun. Darlene braced herself, then squeezed her eyes closed as two pops echoed underneath the bed. A minute later, Layla drug the snake out with the tip of the gun. “Just a chicken snake.”
Darlene stepped out of the room, giving Layla plenty of room to haul the snake out. Big, black, ugly. And now dead. Blood dripped all the way to the front door.  Layla carried the snake to the fence and laid it across the timber, its yellow underside up.
“Belly up should bring rain.” Layla was quickly up on her horse. “Maybe tell your husband that I’m patching the fence up, but he really needs some new cross planks.”
“I will. And thank you so much for killing that snake. Do you and your husband want to come for dinner tonight? I’d like to do something for you.”
“I’m not married. And I can’t come to dinner tonight. Thanks, though.” She gave the horse a little kick in the flank, then eased through a gate that divided her acreage from Brad and Darlene’s. She closed it behind her from atop her horse and headed toward the large house on top of the sloping hillside. Coming from town, the spacious estate was fully visible from the road and her youngest daughter called it the “mansion on the hill.” The rest of the family took to calling it that too.
In comparison to their rundown farmhouse, Darlene sup- posed it was a mansion. Both homes were probably built in the late 1800s, but Layla’s was completely restored, at least on the outside, with fresh, yellow paint and white trim.  A split-rail, cedar fence also surrounded the yard, and toward the back of the property, a bright red barn lit up the hayfield not far from a good-sized pond. A massive iron gate—that stayed closed most of the time—welcomed  visitors down a long, winding drive- way. And there were lots of livestock—mostly Longhorns and horses. If the wind was blowing just right, sometimes Darlene could hear faint music coming from the house.
She was hoping maybe she could be friends with Layla, even though she wasn’t sure she had anything in common with her. Just the same, Darlene was going to pay her a visit. Maybe take her a basket of baked goodies, a thank-you for killing that snake.
Brad adjusted the phone against his ear and listened to Darlene’s details about her snake ordeal, then she ended the conversation the way she always did. “Who do you love?”
“You, baby.”
It was their thing. Nearly twenty years ago, at a bistro in Houston,  Brad wanted  to tell Darlene that  he loved her—for the first time—and he was a nervous wreck, wondering if she felt the same way. He’d kept fumbling around, and the words just wouldn’t come. Maybe she’d seen it in his eyes, but she’d reached over, touched his hand, and smiled. Then in a soft whisper, she’d asked, “Who do you love?” His answer had rolled off his tongue with ease. “You, baby.” Then she’d told him that she loved him too, and the who-do-you-love question stuck. Darlene asked him all the time. He knew it wasn’t because she was insecure; it was just a fond recollection for both of them. That night at the bistro, Brad had known he was going to marry Darlene.
He flipped his phone shut and maneuvered through the Houston traffic toward home.  He was glad that he wouldn’t have to deal with a snake when he got there, but he was amused at Darlene’s description of the tall, blonde cowgirl who shot it with Chad’s BB gun.
He had four tax returns to work on tonight after dinner. All these extra billable hours were bound to pay off. He needed the extra income if he was going to make all the renovations to the farm that he and Darlene had discussed. Brad wanted to give her the financial freedom to make their home everything she dreamed it could be. Cliff Hodges had been dangling the word partner in front of him for almost two years, and Brad was sure he was getting close to having his name on the door.
If they hadn’t been in such a rush to move from Houston, Brad was sure they could have held out and gotten more for their house. As it turned out, they’d barely broken even, and just getting the farmhouse in semi-livable shape had taken a chunk of their savings. Buying out Darlene’s brother for his share of the homestead had put a strain on their finances too, but it was worth it if Darlene was happy. She’d talked about restoring her grandparents’ farm for years. The original plan had been to fix the place up over time so they could use it as weekend getaway. But then they’d decided to make the move as soon as they could, even if the house wasn’t in tip top shape.
Forty-five minutes from his office, he’d cleared the bustle of the city, and the six lane freeway narrowed to two lanes on either side of a median filled with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes. Nothing like spring in Texas to calm his mind after crunching numbers all day long, but leaving the office so late to head west put the setting sun directly in his face. He flipped his visor down, glad that the exit for Highway 36 was only a few miles. Once he turned, he’d get a break from the blinding rays. Then he’d pass through the little towns of Sealy and Bellville before winding down one-lane roads to the peaceful countryside of Round Top. It was a long commute, almost an hour and a half each way, but it was worth it when he pulled into his driveway. Small-town living was better for all of them. Especially Chad.
Brad could still recall the night Chad came stumbling into the house—drunk.  His seventeen year old son had been running around with a rebellious group of friends in Houston. And sometimes Chad’s glassy eyes had suggested more than just alcohol abuse. He shook his head to clear the recollections, knowing he would continue to pray that his son would make better choices now that he had some distance from his old buddies.
Brad felt like a blessed man. He’d been married to his high school sweetheart for nearly twenty years, and he had three amazing children. He wanted to spend his life being the best husband and father he could be. There wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t thank the Lord for the life he’d been given, and it was Brad’s job to take care of his family.
Darlene finished setting the table. She regretted that her mother couldn’t see her enjoying her grandmother’s dining room set. Darlene had been surprised to find the oak table and chairs still in the house when they’d moved in. The antiques had been dusty and in dire need of cleaning, but they were just as sturdy as ever. She could remember many meals with her parents and grandparents in this house, at this table.
She still missed her grandparents—and her parents.  Dad had been gone almost six years, and two years had passed since her mother’s death. Her parents had started their family late in life, both of them in their late thirties when she was born, and
Dale was born two years after Darlene. She was glad her brother hadn’t wanted the farm. It had been a struggle to buy him out, but no regrets. Someday, they too would have a “mansion on the hill,” like Layla’s. She cast her eyes downward, frowning at the worn out wooden floors. She’d be glad when they could afford to cover the original planking with new hardwood.
Thinking of Layla brought a smile to her face as she mashed steaming potatoes in a pot on the stove. She couldn’t help but wonder what the tall blonde was doing all alone on that estate. Darlene had never even been on a horse or owned a pair of cowgirl boots. Several of her friends back in Houston sported a pair of high-dollar, pointy-toed boots, but they didn’t particularly appeal to Darlene. Her friend, Gina, had told her it was un-Texan not to own a pair of boots.
She missed Gina. They’d been friends since their daughters had started Girl Scouts together, but after Gina’s divorce, they’d drifted apart.  Gina’s interests had changed from Girl Scout and PTO meetings to going out with new single friends.
She left the dining room and went back to the kitchen, glad that the aroma of dinner covered up the dingy old-house smell that lingered, despite her best efforts to conceal it with air fresheners.
“Mom! Mom!” Ansley burst into the kitchen with the kind of enthusiasm that could mean either celebration or disaster; with Ansley you never knew. At twelve, she was the youngest and the most dramatic in the family.
Darlene gave the potatoes a final stir before she turned to face her. “What is it, Ansley?”
“Guess what?” Ansley rocked back and forth from heel to toe, and Darlene could tell by the grin on her daughter’s face that the news was good. “I did it. Straight C’s and above!”
Darlene brought her hands to her chest and held her breath for a moment, smiling. When Ansley was in grade school, early testing indicated she was going to struggle, and Darlene and Brad knew she was a bit slower than other kids her age.
Not so thrilling was what Brad had promised Ansley if she received a report card without any failing grades.  “Sweetie, that’s great. I’m so proud of you.” She hugged her daughter, knowing it was highly unlikely Ansley wouldn’t remember her father’s promise. Ansley eased out of the hug.
“I know they scare you, Mom, but having some chickens and roosters will be so much fun! We’ll be like real farmers, and every day after school, I’ll go get the eggs.” Ansley’s dark hair brushed against her straightened shoulders, and her big brown eyes twinkled. “Think how much money you’ll save on eggs!”
Darlene bit her bottom lip as she recalled the chickens her grandparents used to keep on this very same farm. And one very mean rooster. Eight dollars in savings per month was hardly going to be worth it, but a promise was a promise. She’d told Brad before they’d left Houston not to offer such a reward, but Darlene had put it out of her mind. At the time, it seemed a stretch for Ansley to hit the goal and make all C’s.
“Maybe just have laying chickens. You don’t need a rooster.”  Darlene walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a tub of butter.
“Mom . . .”
Darlene set the butter on the table and raised a brow in time to see Ansley rolling her eyes.
“Even I know we can’t have baby chicks without a rooster.” Ansley folded her arms across her chest.
Darlene grinned. “I know you know that, but how many chickens are you hoping to have?” She recalled that on some of her visits to her grandparents’ house, if the wind blew just right, she could smell the chicken coop from the front yard, even though the pens were well over fifty yards away, back next to the barn. When they’d first moved in, Brad had fixed up the old coops as an incentive for Ansley to pull her grades up. Sitting on the porch swing with Brad late in the evenings had become a regular thing, and smelly chickens would be an unwelcome distraction.
“Not too many,” Ansley said as she pulled a glass from the cabinet and filled it with water.
One was too many in Darlene’s opinion, but it was a well- deserved reward. Darlene gave a lot of the credit to the school here. Much to her children’s horror, there were only 240 students in grades kindergarten through twelve in the Round Top/ Carmine School District, but Darlene felt like they were getting a better education and more one-on-one attention.  Darlene had been on the verge of homeschooling Ansley before they left Houston, but Ansley threw such a fit that Darlene had dis- carded the idea.
Ansley chugged the water, then put the glass in the sink. “I can’t wait ’til Daddy gets home.”
Darlene smiled. Her youngest was always a breath of fresh air, full of energy, and the tomboy in the family.
She thought about the snake and realized Ansley probably wouldn’t have freaked out after all. She heard Brad’s car rolling up the gravel driveway, and moments later, the front screen door slammed and Ansley yelled, “Daddy! Guess what!”
An hour later, everyone was gathered at the dinner table, except Chad. After about ten minutes, he finally sauntered into the room, slid into his chair, and folded his hands for prayer.
“It’s your turn to offer the blessing, Chad.” Darlene bowed her head.
“Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings you’ve given us, for this food, the roof over our head, and Your love. And God . . .” Chad paused with a sigh. Darlene opened one eye and held her breath. More often than not, Chad’s prayers included appeals for something outside the realm of what should be requested at the dinner table. Like the time he’d asked for God to help his parents see their way to buying him a better car. Darlene closed her eye, let out her breath, and listened.
“Could you heal Mr.  Blackstone’s cancer and bring him back to school? He’s a good guy.” Darlene’s insides warmed, but then Chad continued.  “Our substitute stinks. Amen.”
“Chad!” Darlene sat taller, then cut her eyes at Brad, who shouldn’t be smiling.
“No, Mom. I mean, really. He stinks. He doesn’t smell good.” Chad scooped out a large spoonful of potatoes. “And he’s like a hundred or something.”
“Even more reason you shouldn’t speak badly about him. Respect your elders, remember?” Darlene passed the meatloaf to Chad, who was shoveling potatoes like he hadn’t eaten in a month of Sundays.
“Grace, how was your day?” Brad passed their older daughter a plate of rolls.
“It was okay.”
Grace rarely complained, but Darlene knew she wasn’t happy about the move from Houston.  Mostly because of the boy she’d left behind.
Ansley turned her head to Darlene, grunted, then frowned. “Mom, why are you wearing my shirt?”
Darlene looked down at the big roach. “Oh, I had to borrow it earlier. I sort of couldn’t go in my room for a while.”
Darlene told the full-length version of the snake story that she’d shortened for Brad on the phone.
“I’ve seen that woman,” Chad said. “And she’s hot.”
“She’s old like Mom, Chad! That’s gross.” Ansley squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, then shook her head.
Darlene took a bite of roll. At thirty-eight, when had she become old in her children’s eyes? “I believe Layla is several years older than me, Chad.”
Her son shrugged. “Whatever. She’s still—”
“Chad, that’s enough.” Brad looked in Chad’s direction, and Darlene was glad to see him step in since it seemed like she was the one who always disciplined the children. Brad, on the other hand—well, he promised chickens.
They were all quiet for a few moments before Chad spoke up again.
“Did you know Layla drives a tractor? I’ve seen her out in the pasture on the way to school.” He shook his head. “Seems weird for a woman.” He laughed as he looked to his left at Ansley. “Can you picture Mom out on a tractor plowing the fields?”
Ansley laughed. “No, I can’t.”
“Don’t underestimate your mom.  You never know what she might do.” Brad reached for another roll as he winked at Darlene.
Darlene smiled. She found herself thinking, yet again, that this was a good move for them. They all needed this fresh start. None of the kids had been particularly happy at first, but they were coming around.
“Can I be excused?” Grace put her napkin in her lap and scooted her chair back.
Darlene knew meatloaf wasn’t Grace’s favorite. “Whose night is it to help with dishes?”
Grace and Ansley both pointed at Chad.
“Okay,” Darlene said to Grace. “You can be excused.”
Darlene watched Grace leave the table. Her middle child was tiny like Darlene, and she was the only one in the family who inherited Darlene’s blonde hair and blue eyes. And her features were as perfect as a porcelain doll’s, complete with a flawless ivory complexion.  She looked like a little princess. Chad and Ansley had their father’s dark hair and eyes—and his height. Darlene loved her children  equally, proud  of them  all, but sometimes  it was hard not to favor Grace just a little bit, especially since they’d come so close to losing her as an infant. Grace had come into the world nine weeks’ premature, a surprise  to  everyone, including  Darlene’s  doctor,  since  Darlene had  delivered  Chad  at  full-term  with  no  complications  just two years earlier. Grace struggled those first few weeks with undeveloped lungs and severe jaundice, and twice they were told to prepare themselves for the worst. But their Grace was a fighter, and as her sixteenth birthday approached, Darlene silently thanked God for the millionth time for His grace.
There’d been issues and struggles with both Chad and Ansley from time to time—mostly with Chad. But Grace had never given them one bit of trouble.

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Stories

I feel like I have stories that are pounding on the inside of my head lately trying to get out. Some of them have been around awhile, but a new one has planted there and wants to go down on paper. I am struggling with feeling so inadequate, but lectured myself today that if I am not a good enough writer, I am going to have to learn how to be better as this is not going to leave me alone. = )

I have always had stories, I just didn’t realize their purpose before. I want to write and write stories, whether other people enjoy them or not, I guess that would be a perk!! I really want to just write them!!

A couple of the local midwives had a birth center they just opened with a grand opening. It is really beautiful! They have a lovely large birth room and a grand floor plan of opportunity. I got excited about some ideas I had to work on my doula business more locally, but feel sometimes like I am lacking when it comes to time. One step at a time!

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Filed under Daily Happenings

Life has been a blur..

and I am so ready for a vacation. I have been trying to still teach school in a fog of sleepiness, in spite of some good nights sleep. I am fighting off a cold, that seems to come and go, but yet, hang around. I have stacks of books to read, school books to finish, lessons to teach, and yet all I want to do is curl up with a book or movie and veg out!

This morning, the boys watched a WW2 movie, did reading, math games on the computer and we have sadly ignored our other subjects. I am not happy with myself!

Here is our menu plan for the week:
Yesterday I made roasted vegetables with tortellini that was really yummy! It has yellow summer squash, peppers and tomatoes roasted in the oven with some oil, garlic and salt and mixed in the pasta with pesto.

Wednesday: Meat and potato hash, carrot chips
Thursday: Sweet and sour chicken legs, rice, Asian coleslaw
Friday: Italian pasta toss, salad
Saturday: Beef stroganoff, green beans, noodles
Sunday: Leftovers, cookies, popcorn
Monday: Meatball subs
Tuesday: Shredded chicken tacos

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Filed under Bargain Dinners, Daily Happenings, Recipes

The Dublin Destiny by Jill Twigg

My Review:
Rylee can feel the danger on the back of her neck. The danger is so great, in induces her to leave her homeland, even though she fears new people, the fear is greater. She leaves Ireland to go and live with an old pen-pal of her mothers, and be married in name only to her son, in order to prevent someone from finding her.
Patrick is taken aback by Rylee’s appearance when she shows up, not only does she look more like 17, then her true age, her looks are not the most beautiful. He is an honorable man though, and keeps his side of the bargain, including treating her with dignity and honor.

This story was a beautiful story of a young man whom did something very self sacrificing to help a young woman in trouble, even though he did not know her. Rylee, in turn felt that she needed to take care of herself to make a difference in her appearance so as not to shame him while the “marriage” was intact. Patrick goes away on a mission trip the majority of the time and gives her time to learn how to be social, exercise and use her abilities as a therapist.

I would be interested to know if this story was based on a true story at all, or where the author got the ideas! I love to know stories behind the stories. The twists and turns of the story kept me reading to find out the secret behind why she was running and finished with a sweet romance. -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:

Tate Publishing (January 10, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jill Twigg for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

With the encouragement of family and friends, Jill Twigg pursued her lifelong dream of becoming a Christian author into reality.  She is the mother of four daughters and nina to five grandchildren.  She resides in Houma, Louisiana with her husband.

Visit the author’s website.



SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

An ugly duckling story beginning with Rylee running for her life from Ireland to America.  She marries a family friend Patrick, to stay hidden and while she is waiting for a chance to return to her homeland, she becomes a beautiful swan.  A charming romance filled with intrigue, humor and fun weaved with a message of faith, trust and divine love that is sure to leave you yearning for more.

Product Details:
List Price: $17.99

Perfect Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing (January 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613465610
ISBN-13: 978-1613465615

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue
The panting sounds she heard were getting stronger. Rylee looked behind her to see who was coming. There was no one. She quickly continued her quest to get home. Only a hundred more yards, she could make it. Still hearing panting sounds, she stopped and leaned against the building to confirm no one was coming. She didn’t understand. The sounds were so loud and persistent. She held her breath a second longer to take notice then sighed, realizing the sounds were coming from her own mouth. Rylee breathed a little easier knowing that possibly she wasn’t being followed just yet. In hurrying to get home to see her mother, Rylee knew one thing for sure: the need for calling bluffs had to stop. One day it wasn’t going to work. And she was thinking that it was the day. She was utterly unsure of her future now.
The flight plans were set, and she was to leave to catch the bus in a little less than an hour. That bus would take her to the airport in Dublin, which was at least an hour from her house. Rylee would then catch a plane and a connecting flight to her destination in America—Georgia, to be exact. Where that was? Rylee had no clue. She wasn’t sure of anything anymore. How can someone threaten the life of someone else and get away with it? Never mind that, how can one take the life of another and get away with it? Why was this happening to her? She hadn’t hurt anyone to deserve this warning.
Rylee certainly had her reasons for threatening to cause problems. So now she had to leave her home and her country. Where was the justice in that? With the deadline for her departure almost expired, she wasn’t wasting any time. Prolonging the inevitable only made the impending

matter worse. She knew she had to go. There was more at stake than just her life, and she wasn’t going to put her mother at risk because of her momentary inclination to stir up trouble.
Her mother was waiting with the luggage just inside the front door. A large tote bag consisting of a few changes of clothes, a toothbrush, and a license were all Rylee had to take on her journey. She was not sure why she bothered. That wasn’t much to start a new life, but she knew she’d get by with what she had. She received from her mother a quick kiss and one hundred dollars. They tried to stay strong, neither one wanting to show too much emotion, for fear they would not follow through with their plan. However, when the time drew near, their watering eyes displayed the melancholy they were both trying to avoid. They each had no indication as to when they would see each other again. Sometimes life was just so unfair. Hurrying back out the door, Rylee headed around the building to the bus stop and her uncertain
future.  There was no bluffing her way out of this one.

Chapter One
Rylee Shannon was embarking on a new and scary adventure. A journey, if you wanted to call it that. Or vice versa. And as far as she knew, it could have been a journey right to hell. But anywhere was better than where she’d been. Scary or not, she had to trust that her mother was doing the right thing. Those demons would eventually need conquering, even if it took her last dying breath to do so. But for now, she would suffer in silence until she figured how the next part of her life was going to play out in the scheme of things. The midnight flight from Dublin, Ireland, was scary enough considering the fact she had never been on a plane. Except for her therapy training and the occasional visits to the Wicklow Mountains, Rylee didn’t venture too far from her town of Glendalough.
The flight attendant was not looking very cordial this evening as she monitored the seatbelts down the aisles. Her making sure everyone buckled his or her seatbelts before takeoff brought no comfort to Rylee at this point. She assumed the flight attendant had picked the short end of the stick and received the late night flight as punishment. Rylee also noticed the deep set of dark circles under the attendant’s eyes. She had probably had a long and hard day. Haven’t we all?  Rylee added to her thought process.
 With eyes wandering about, Rylee noticed there were thirty-five rows of two seats on each side of a middle aisle, A and C on one side and D and F on the other.
What happened to B and E? she wondered. She needed to stop thinking so much. She was getting very anxious for the flight to be over, and the plane hadn’t even gotten into the air yet. The Fasten Your Seatbelt sign came on, and the flight attendant made her announcements. She proceeded to show the routine demonstrations of putting on the seatbelt as the airplane taxied to the runway.
The safety demonstration is a joke, Rylee thought.
Flotation device—were they serious? Did they really expect her to believe that if this big bus in the sky was to have a water landing, she would actually be able to utilize the flotation device? Would she even be able to get over the panic to grab her seat cushion? Nonetheless, when she stood, she would almost certainly knock herself out because the ceiling was so low. And flipping the seat over to attach the straps around her shoulders? Just give me a gun! She laughed at herself.
The realization that a tranquilizer would have been appropriate for this trip approached her thought process as well. All that thinking was going to make her insane. She just needed to relax. Right!
Rylee could hear her mother beyond her doom-and-gloom thoughts.
Always the pessimist, Rylee girl. Someday, you are going to have to learn to trust the Lord. Negative thoughts will bring you negative actions! You mind my words. Nothing good will come of it, ever.
Rylee’s mother, Bonnie, was always the optimist. Rylee couldn’t fathom anything positive coming from this journey to the unknown. Her life at home was bleak at best, according to her, but at least she knew it. How was it to become any better, running for her life, basically to an unknown country?
The plan was for her to stay with a childhood pen pal of her mother’s. A pen pal, for Pete’s sake! Not even a friend her mother had actually met.
How could her mother do this to her? She could be sending her to a place worse than which she came from. How could Bonnie be that trusting? However, Rylee had no place else to go. She was as desperate as desperate could get. Again, always the pessimist, she thought.
She needed sleep. If the ride was as traumatic as the takeoff, she didn’t know how she was going to get through it. Not only that, but she was scheduled to change planes in New York, so she would get to do it all over again. It was a good thing she brought her inhaler, because even though the passenger in the next seat explained the bumps from the plane were just “air pockets in the clouds,” she wanted off, and she wanted off now. The stress that manifested her wheezing finally subsided after several minutes, and she was able to breathe normally. However, it wasn’t long until the next bout of bumpy clouds came again. It was amazing to her how a bunch of fluff could make an enormous airplane dip like a roller coaster. The feeling of her heart leaving her chest and moving into her throat was not making a good first impression for this airline. She was quite sure she never wanted to go through the experience of an airplane ride ever again. Next time she would think about traveling by boat. But, then again, she couldn’t swim. She was in a pickle. Either way, she was in a predicament in which she needed to trust, and that was difficult for her.
The last couple of days had been hectic, to say the least—scrambling for a plan of escape, then putting it into action. She was literally running a race of her life. Her mother, bless her heart, had really stepped up to the plate for her. Rylee always told her mother that God had a special place waiting for her, and that was never truer than now. Bonnie managed to pawn some family relics to add to her measly savings to purchase Rylee a bus ticket. It also funded part of the plane ticket from Dublin to Georgia. Her mother’s pen pal fronted the rest with no questions asked, knowing she would not be able to pay it back anytime in the near future. She had to give the McLellans credit for coming to the aid, an expensive aid at that, especially for someone whom they had never met.
She wondered what she would have to do to compensate.
The roller coaster ride through the clouds was not helping Rylee’s nerves or the queasiness of her stomach. It was either due to the stress of the trip or the constant altitude changes; she didn’t know which. Probably both. At this point, she really needed the plane to stop. Rylee figured the pilot drew the short end of the stick as well. Between him and the stewardess, or the flight attendant or whatever they are calling them these days, Rylee didn’t have a chance on this flight.
“Oh my!” She exclaimed aloud, her thought process interrupted by another cloud dip. Luckily, she hadn’t eaten anything in a while, because that last dip would have caused her to lose it all. And it would not have been pretty. If Rylee wasn’t so shy, she’d go ask the pilot if he needed help driving the plane. She assumed he was a novice. She could at least alert him when the clouds were coming.
The woman seated next to her could see her distress and patted her clenched hand on the armrest.
“It’s okay. The plane is built to manage these clouds.”
“I’m not handling this very well, am I?” Rylee stated back to her.
“Don’t you know about the reconnaissance planes that fly into hurricanes to see how strong they are?” she asked. “This is nothing.”
She couldn’t fathom why anyone would want that job. She nodded, appreciating the woman’s attempt to comfort.
The pilot came on the loudspeaker to announce that the turbulence should be over and the rest of the flight would be smooth sailing. He even tried to downplay it and make light of the situation by asking the children to refrain from bouncing in their seats, while the passengers laughed. However, Rylee’s nerves did not dissipate. The woman patted Rylee’s hand again. Rylee smiled at her and then closed her eyes, silently praying that the pilot was true to his word. Her thoughts meandered to a picture of Rylee kissing the ground if she ever got to it.
The Hartfield-Jackson International airport in Atlanta was starting to come alive with the hustle and bustle of family, friends, and patrons waiting to board their flight. The vendors were opening up their gates for business as the early scheduled flights brought patrons yearning for nourishment or reading material before they headed to their destinations.
One of these patrons, Lucy McLellan, was there on a mission. In all her fifty-three years, she had never turned down someone needing help, and she wasn’t going to start now. About a week ago, she had received a disturbing phone call from her childhood pen pal in Ireland asking—more like begging—for her to accept her daughter for a visit. She added that Rylee was in need of protection. Lucy, never one to leave someone in a bind, agreed, knowing that her trusted friend would not have come to her in desperation without probable cause.
“Okay, here’s gate C33,” Lucy said, as she looked back and waved for her son to come over to where she was. Her pen pal’s daughter, Rylee, had gotten herself into some trouble. She was able to get a temporary visa to visit. How she got it in a week’s time was only by the grace of God, for she needed to be out of Ireland—and fast. Bonnie assured her there were no drugs involved; for that reason, she did not have to worry about the headache of not being able to trust someone in her own home. She didn’t want to go through the trouble of having to hide anything that could be pawned for drugs or what not.
Patrick, Lucy’s only child and driver to the airport for this meeting, lagged behind with much trepidation, verifying the gate from the monitor. After much pleading, Patrick agreed to the offering of himself in marriage for Rylee’s protection, at least until he got back from a mission abroad. The offer was made sight unseen and without revealing the motive for the visit. Then when he returned, he could annul the marriage. By that time, things would have settled down at the home front, and Rylee could return to her mother in Ireland.
Patrick agreed with much protest but knew his mother would not have asked without a great deal of praying. She had enough faith for the both of them; however, neither was lacking in that area.
“An arranged marriage? Mom, this is the twenty-first century,” he argued. With her arguing back that the Bible did not stop teaching and providing nourishment just because it was past the death of Christ, he smiled at her, knowing that any argument with his mom was never a winning situation on his part, and she knew he was teasing. And knowing Lucy, there would be more to it than a simple marriage of convenience.
However, Patrick had other concerns. He had to get ready for his trip abroad, which was in ten days. Patrick was a physician working at the county hospital’s emergency room clinic when he was home. On this assignment, he was heading to Guatemala for his church mission field project. He made the trip every two years to help with whatever medical issues were going on at the time. There was usually quite a load. He enjoyed his job immensely, believing the Lord gave him this job for a good reason. He didn’t believe it was for the money, nor the prestige, but for the gratification he got when he could truly help those that couldn’t help themselves—more specifically, the little children who needed medical attention and vaccinations. That brought him more joy than his paycheck from the hospital.
The loudspeaker announced the arrival of Rylee’s flight. Although there were many years of correspondence, Lucy had not received a recent enough photo of Rylee. So consequently, she did not know exactly what she looked like. In that case, they would just have to wait for someone to look lost. Lucy didn’t think to bring a sign to hold up; however, she didn’t want to cause any unwanted attention to her either. Lucy wasn’t quite aware of all the actual circumstances Rylee was really in but enough to elude unnecessary interest.
After witnessing the hugs, screams, and kisses of the patrons coming in contact with their loved ones, out moseyed a pitiful-looking thing with a mess of curly hair, big-rimmed glasses and a “boy, was-she- lost” look.  This girl’s weight was by far over the insurance limit for her
height. Patrick watched as she bumped against a chair, thinking she would miss it.
“Ouch.” He winced. “That’s gonna leave a nice bruise,” he said, commenting under his breath.
He continued to watch the opening where the passengers were coming through the Jetway. However, his eyes kept taking him back to the tousled-haired girl.
He wondered who was meeting her. Patrick watched her as she looked through the crowd as if trying to spot someone in particular and caught Patrick’s eye. He smiled a hello, which caused the girl’s eyes immediately to avert to the ground. The compassion he was feeling for this stranger was overwhelming. He continued to watch her as she tugged at the bottom of her too-short top, then crossed her arms in front of her exposed skin. His thoughts took him to a paper Patrick had written for college on the benefits of smiling. He remembered the studies of smiling being contagious and making one feel better even when it seemed impossible, but this girl wasn’t having it. She didn’t look as if she had smiled in a while. Patrick wondered what made her so downtrodden and what her story might be. She might just be feeling alone and didn’t need some stranger smiling at her. He chuckled to himself. The scruffiness of her attire foretold her class, unless it was a disguise, which he sincerely doubted, for that would have only brought more attention to her situation. In addition, Patrick could not figure out if she looked that bad on purpose to make a statement or if she truly did not know how to present herself in public. Either way, he would pray for her. They needed to get on with the task at hand, which was to find Rylee and get going. He and Lucy continued to watch people exiting the plane until there was no one left but the crew coming from the Jetway. The only patron left in the wait area was the lost looking girl who had decided to sit and wait for her party.
“Mom, are you sure she was even on this flight?” Patrick asked, feeling apprehensive, since Lucy was not very forthcoming in giving him information about the situation. Not that he minded being out of the loop, but he was cautious for his mother’s sake. His mother looked at him smiling and then headed toward the seated girl. Patrick stared after her in disbelief, thinking he may be able to help that girl after all. Lord, I don’t suppose Rylee missed her plane, and this girl was sent to us for help instead?
Patrick was wishing he had done a little investigational work himself before Lucy took on this charitable feat. He was beginning to feel a little leery of leaving his mother alone while on his mission, not knowing what the circumstances might promote. The information given about Rylee was not sufficient enough to satisfy his curiosity. Patrick wasn’t sure if it was for his own sake or for Lucy’s. Either way, he wasn’t going to leave his mother in a situation she may not be able to get out of until he saw Rylee and felt it was safe enough to leave. That would be seven months of alone time with each other. A lot could happen in seven months, and sometimes his mother’s charitableness scared him. However, Lucy always prayed before jumping into things; therefore, she would have said no if she thought it wasn’t in the Lord’s plan. He would just have to trust that fact.
“Rylee?” Lucy asked.
The young girl looked up from the floor into Lucy’s eyes. Nodding her head, she stood.
Lucy grabbed Rylee’s arms and then threw her own around her.
“God love ya, girl! Welcome to America!” Lucy exclaimed.
Rylee was startled at the sight of the woman coming at her. Lucy could come on a bit strong at first, and Patrick wanted to warn her, but he was too late.
“How was the flight?” Patrick asked.
Rylee just nodded. He held out his hand for her to shake.
“Hi, I’m Patrick.” 
Nodding again, she took his hand without making eye contact. With her free hand, Rylee pushed her glasses toward the bridge of her nose, for fear they would fall. Her glasses had seen better days, but they were her only pair. And until she had other resources, they would make do. Rylee felt that as long as she was able to see the two people before her, she did not need to worry about a new pair just yet.
“We’ve kind of followed you throughout the years but never actually met. It’s nice to finally meet you,” he continued. Patrick, getting a little lost himself, not really knowing how to handle the shyness, just shrugged. He wasn’t used to that. He didn’t feel it was snobbery by her actions, but time would tell, and then they would deal with it.
Oh, Lord, what did we get ourselves into?
Patrick shrugged his shoulders at his mother.
Lucy rubbed Rylee’s arms.
“That’s okay, baby. You’re gonna feel right at home in no time. Let’s get your bags and we’ll scoot on,” Lucy said sweetly.
Rylee shook her head, and then stated, “No bags.”
Patrick pointed to her tote bag hanging off her shoulder.
“Is this it?” he asked, reaching to take it from her so that he could carry it for her. Rylee looked up at him, but she held tight to the bag so that he was unable to take it. He shrugged.
“Okay, let’s go.”
This is going to be a challenge, he thought. Either there’s something in the bag she doesn’t want anyone to see, or maybe she just needs something to hold on to for comfort. For all he knew, her whole life could be in that bag. Patrick started toward the exit with Lucy trying to keep up and Rylee treading several yards.
“Patrick!” Lucy shouted, before he reached the escalator that led to the parking garage. She was a little out of breath. “I know you’re in a hurry, baby. But I’m getting an aerobic workout here trying to keep up with you, and we’re going to lose Rylee in the crowd.”
He looked back to see Rylee lollygagging along without a care in the world. She had her hands in her hoodie pocket and her head down, as if she were counting the cracks in the floor.
Her tennis shoes, which he suspected were once white, bled gray and nearly tripped Rylee as she sauntered toward him without picking up her feet. Her appearance belied her age, given that he knew she had graduated from college but appeared to be only about seventeen, maybe. I can’t believe I let my mother talk me into this debacle, he thought, as he watched Rylee before taking action.

“I’m sorry,” Patrick said. He walked back several yards and waited for Rylee to catch up to them. When she finally looked his way, he pointed to the escalator and then gestured for her to lead. She quickly left her daydream state, pushed her glasses back toward her nose again, and picked up speed to accommodate Patrick’s direction to her. The hour-long ride home was going to be interesting.

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Echoes of the Titanic by Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark

My Review: I got behind because of a birth this week, but I am really looking forward to reading this book tonight and reviewing it!! On this anniversary, I post this book!! What a sad anniversary. I wonder how many more people could have been saved sometimes if things would have been a bit different!

Kelsey Tate is preforming in a ceremony to honor her grandmother, who survived the Titanic sinking, almost 100 years before, when a mysterious man interrupts with outrageous accusations. This sends her into a search for the truth, one that takes her to a search into crooks in the present and crooks in the past.
This story of the Titanic is different than others, without focusing on the sinking itself, but a mystery to be solved as you read.
Ms. Clark, as in her other books fills this book with mystery and nail biting intrigue as you read along! It is full of danger as it goes back and forth from present day to 100 years ago with the fated ship sank!

– 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 authors are:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James Harvest House Publishers of  for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books (more than 450,000 copies sold), which include A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, Shadows of Lancaster County, Whispers of the Bayou, and The Amish Midwife. In addition, Mindy is a popular inspirational speaker and playwright.

John Campbell Clark is an attorney and CPA who works in the Christian nonprofit field. Married to Mindy Starns Clark, he has served as her brainstorming partner, research facilitator, and first reader for many years. A lifelong Titanic buff, he is pleased to be coauthoring with her now. John and Mindy live with their two daughters near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Visit the authors’ website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Kelsey Tate comes from sturdy stock. Her great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Generations later, Kelsey works for the firm Adele founded nearly 100 years ago.

Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm’s origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele’s actions on the night Titanic sank. Kelsey tries to defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when Kelsey’s boss is murdered and her own life threatened. Forced to seek help from Cole Thornton, a man Kelsey once loved—and lost, thanks to her success-at-all-costs mentality—she pursues mysteries both past and present. Aided by Cole and strengthened by the faith she’d all but forgotten in her climb up the corporate ladder, Kelsey races the clock to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929460
ISBN-13: 978-0736929462

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Lower Manhattan, New York
April 3, 2012
Kelsey Tate glanced at the clock and then at the stack of files on her desk. It was three p.m., which meant she had thirty minutes before she’d need to start getting ready for the ceremony. She knew she should use that time to work on risk assessments, but something told her she’d be better off getting some fresh air and clearing her head. The assessments she could do later that evening, once the big event was over. For now, she wanted to run through her speech and somehow find focus. Today had been a busy day at the office, and at the moment all she felt was scattered.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she made the decision. Air. Ceremony. Work. In that order.
She locked the files away, straightened her desk, and grabbed her Bluetooth headset for cover. The only way she’d get out of here without being pulled into half a dozen conversations en route to the elevator was to clip the device over her ear and pretend she was on an important call as she went. She loved her front office and the view it afforded her of the busy Manhattan streets below, but sometimes it was a pain having to run the gauntlet of a conference room, an administrative assistant area, and three other executive offices just to get away.
“Is there something proprietary about this?” she asked aloud as she stepped into the hall and pulled the door shut behind her. “Because otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a little too early to buy in. At this point, there’s simply not enough data.”
Pausing at the desk of Sharon, her executive assistant—or “EA,” as she liked to be called—Kelsey told the nonexistent person on the other end of the line to hold on and then said in a low voice, “I’m running out for a few, but I’ll be back by three thirty if anybody needs me.”
“Got it, Chief,” Sharon replied with a brisk nod, her auburn, precision-cut bob swinging loosely around her face.
So far, so good. Continuing on toward the elevator, Kelsey spotted one of her more talkative coworkers coming up the hall, so before he could speak, she gave him a quick smile and continued with her faux telephone conversation.
“Look, we can’t justify a buy-in of that size. You know as well as I do that you’re estimating the value too high. A million and a half for ten percent is ridiculous.”
The coworker smiled in return and continued past her in the hall.
She finally made it to the elevator, pushed the down button, and punctuated her wait with several well-timed brief utterances. “Really?…With that price earnings ratio?…I don’t know, I’m not sure about that…How much?”
Finally, the bell dinged and the doors opened to reveal an empty elevator. She stepped inside with relief and removed the device from her ear as soon as the doors whisked shut again. She hated to admit it, but her nerves were more rattled today than she had anticipated, though she wasn’t sure why. The announcement she’d be making at the ceremony was an important one, yes, and something she’d been working toward for a long time. But she was no stranger to the podium. She had no fear of public speaking.
It was a more general, vague apprehension she was feeling, almost a foreboding about today’s impending event, though she couldn’t imagine why. Regardless, Kelsey had these thirty minutes to pull herself together somehow. Then she would return, get ready to go on, do her part, and be done with it.
If only the new public relations consultants hadn’t insisted on combining the two separate announcements into one big celebration, she thought as she reached the lobby and walked briskly toward the front door. Though she usually stopped to chat with her friend Ephraim, the building’s head of security, she moved on past with just a glance and a wave toward the front desk. Once she was outside, she exhaled slowly, grateful for the warm spring sunshine. Weather in April in New York City could go either way, but today was warm and dry, thankfully, with just a hint of a breeze.
Turning right, Kelsey merged into the foot traffic moving down the wide sidewalk toward Battery Park. On the way, she thought about the important part of today’s ceremony, the announcement of a brand-new scholarship program to be funded by her late great-grandmother’s foundation. Adele Tate had survivedTitanic and gone on to become a successful businesswoman in an era when women in business were practically unheard of. In her later years, she had created the foundation with the express purpose of empowering other women in business. This new program Kelsey would be announcing today was a perfect fit and would provide up to ten scholarships per year to outstanding young females majoring in business-related fields of study.
Kelsey had been pushing for this for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently, when her family’s firm, Brennan & Tate, had begun taking steps to improve their public relations, that the board was even willing to consider it. The fact that, in the end, the scholarship decision had come down to a PR move rather than any actual altruism didn’t bother her. She figured as long as the money was given out to deserving recipients, the end result was the same, regardless of motive.
Kelsey ran through her speech as she continued down the sidewalk and was pleased to get through the entire thing without once having to refer to the notes in her pocket that listed her key points. When she finally reached the corner at Number One Broadway, she looked ahead longingly at Battery Park, a fixture of the city for several hundred years and the perfect greenery-filled end cap to the island of Manhattan. More than anything, she wanted to make her way across the street and into the park to seek out one of her favorite spots in all of New York: the old family memorial stone that honored her two relatives who had perished on Titanic. Kelsey loved to visit the memorial, as it always left her feeling connected somehow to her many family members, both living and dead.
But there was no time for that now. Instead, she turned left, and once the light changed she moved with the crowd across Broadway to the triangular-shaped area on the other side known as Bowling Green. At the foot of the triangle was a sprinkling of vendors, and she took a moment to buy a bottle of water from a pretzel cart. Continuing onward, she tried some deep breathing exercises as she angled across the wide base of the triangle to tiny Bowling Green Park, another of her favorite places to go when she needed a quick breather during the workday. She loved the symmetry of the place and convergence of shapes: a circular fountain inside an oval park on a triangular piece of land. This was a little oasis of greenery in a landscape of cement, its current focal point a ring of vivid red tulips surrounding the fountain.
Kelsey wanted to sit for a while on one of the benches that lined the walkway and take it all in, but she knew she needed to keep moving. At the very least, she slowed her pace and sipped her water and forced herself to get down to what was really bothering her: the other purpose of today’s event, the part she wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about.
To be sure, she appreciated the honor that was about to be bestowed upon her, and she was proud of having reached this new level of achievement in her career. The problem wasn’t the award itself but the big public fuss that was being made over it. Others had earned membership in Brennan & Tate’s “Quarter Club” in the past, and the most they had received was a handshake and a little plaque.
She, on the other hand, was about to be trooped out front and center in what the PR firm was practically turning into a circus. Between the handwritten invitations and the catered munchies, they were going all out to promote something that should have happened far more quietly. The best Kelsey could do, she supposed, was to grin and bear it––and try as hard as she could to keep the focus on Adele and the foundation and the new scholarship program. The more publicity for that, the better.
Kelsey let out a deep sigh as she continued through the park. This was the price she paid for being not just an account associate in the company’s corporate finance division but an account associate in the corporate finance division who also just happened to be the great-great-granddaughter of the company’s founder and the daughter of its reigning president. If there was such a thing as reverse nepotism, she thought, she was living it now. She’d never expected her professional path to be made easier because of family connections, but she also hadn’t realized how much harder she’d have to work because of them.
At least she had her mentor and business-savvy friend Gloria to guide her through this current maze of public relations troubleshooting. But she’d be glad when this flurry of promotions was finally over and she could get back to business as usual. She loved what she did—and she was very good at it—but lately she’d spent more time authorizing interviews than she had authorizing investments.
Looking upward, Kelsey watched as a copter lifted off from the heliport at the water’s edge, probably taking some important executive to a business meeting. She picked up the pace, exiting the park at the northern end and making her way around a group of chattering tourists who were taking turns posing for photos beside the bronze bull, a statue that had become synonymous with Wall Street and the stock market. Crossing back to her side of the road, she retraced her steps to the office building, allowing herself to take in the sights and sounds and smells of the city that was always so utterly alive and invigorating: car horns blaring the ever-present soundtrack of New York, the doughy smell of pretzels warming in a vendor’s cart, businesswomen on their way to appointments in thousand-dollar suits and Uggs, their designer heels tucked inside briefcases for when they reached their destinations.
About twenty feet from her building, Kelsey spied a catering truck idling out in front and stopped short. From what she could see, Ephraim was holding open the door as a trio of uniformed workers dashed in carrying trays of food. Feeling a vague stir of nausea at the spectacle to come, she ducked into an alley on her left and made her way around to the back side of the building.
At the rear entrance, a solid metal door with a keypad above the knob, Kelsey typed in her security code, listened for the click, and stepped inside. Coming in this way, she’d have to take the stairs rather than the elevator, but she didn’t care. Right now she just couldn’t face the lobby and the excited chaos of the event that was being pulled together in her honor.
Kelsey’s office was on the fourth floor, but she continued up the back stairs to the fifth without stopping. Once there, she again had to type in her security code, and then that interior door unlocked with a soft click. The fifth floor back entrance opened into the executive conference room, but it didn’t occur to Kelsey until she was swinging the door wide that she might be interrupting some sort of meeting. Fortunately, however, she wasn’t. The room was empty.
Stepping inside as the door to the stairwell fell shut behind her, Kelsey paused, relishing in the peace and quiet of the empty space. The fresh air had done her good, but the busyness of the streets had managed to stir up the busyness in her soul. She still felt disquieted, unsettled.
Apprehensive.
Ignoring those feelings, Kelsey glanced around, trying to remember if there was a phone in here as there was in the conference room on the fourth floor. Sure enough, she spotted it on the back wall, mounted between the audio/video cabinet and the broad space where the projection screen hung when it was in use. Lifting the receiver, Kelsey dialed the extension for her EA and told her she was back in the building but would be upstairs with Gloria until it was time for the big event. Sharon read off several messages that had come in while she was gone, none of them urgent, and then said there was one more thing.
“Yes?” Kelsey looked around the room for a clock, hoping her assistant wouldn’t take much longer.
“Next time you fake a phone call as you’re leaving,” Sharon said with a chuckle, “make sure you actually bring your cell phone with you.”
Quickly, Kelsey patted her pockets, her face burning with heat when all she came up with was the headset.
“Busted,” was the best she could say, and then they both laughed. “So who else knows?”
“Just me. I was putting some files on your desk when I heard a ringtone coming from a drawer. I found your phone in your purse and put it on mute. Hope that was okay.”
“Of course. I appreciate it,” Kelsey said, grateful for the quick thinking—and discretion—of her faithful assistant. “Would you do me another favor and lock up my office before you head down to the ceremony?”
“No problem, Chief.”
They ended the call, and Kelsey decided that before she went to talk to Gloria she would take a few minutes to fix herself up for the ceremony. Hoping to avoid having to go downstairs to her office, she decided to pay a visit to the executive washroom instead, where she knew all sorts of necessities could be found.
Slipping from the conference room into the main hall, Kelsey walked toward the front of the building. Though she had to go past a reception area and several offices along the way, she made it to the primary executive suite without having to pause and chat with anyone. Fortunately, the door to the CEO’s office on her left was closed, and the EA that worked for the upper echelon, the exotically lovely Yanni, was busy talking on the phone and simply waved Kelsey on through to the right. With a smile and a nod, she turned and continued down the hallway, past the closed door of Gloria’s office, to the executive washroom.
As expected, inside were baskets of toiletries on the wide marble counter. She washed her hands and then helped herself to an individually wrapped toothbrush and a tiny, disposable packet of toothpaste. After brushing her teeth, she unwrapped a fresh comb and ran it through her hair, trying to neaten up the windblown look she’d earned from her walk outside. She followed that with a shot of hairspray, a little dab of face powder, and some lip gloss for the cameras’ sake, and then she stepped back, smoothed out her clothes, and studied the full effect in the mirror.
Whenever Kelsey looked at herself, the word that came to mind was “Irish”—not the red-headed, pale-skinned, green-eyed variety that most folks thought were the norm. Instead, she and her family sported a look far more common among the Irish: dark hair, even-toned skin, blue eyes.
Taking a cue from her mentor Gloria—and from her great-grandmother Adele, for that matter—Kelsey always bought the nicest clothes she could afford, knowing they were a business investment of sorts. Today she was sporting a new Hugo Boss suit in a soft gray pinstripe, accented with a red silk blouse and a pair of red Gaetano Perrone shoes. On her lapel was her favorite piece of jewelry, a hat pin she’d inherited from her great-grandmother and often wore as a stickpin instead. Purchased in London the day before Adele and her cousin and uncle set sail for America on Titanic, the top of the hat pin was in the shape of a tiny Irish harp, a lovely reminder of their homeland.
The overall look Kelsey always strived for was class, competence, and understated elegance. Examining her image in the mirror now, she felt that today’s outfit had really hit the mark. Her layered, shoulder-length brown hair nicely framed her face, and the touch of makeup emphasized her lips and gave a smooth, matte finish to her skin.
Now all she had to do, she decided, was to get through the big event. In the end, though she wasn’t looking forward to it at all, at least the new scholarship program made this trouble worthwhile.
Gloria’s door was still closed, so Kelsey knocked first and then cracked it open, peeking through to see if her friend was in there by herself or if she had company. Fortunately, she was alone, and though she looked quite startled for a moment, she invited Kelsey in.
“Well, if it isn’t the woman of the hour,” Gloria said. Papers were spread across her desk, but she quickly shoved them into a single file folder and slipped it in a drawer. “You look gorgeous. Is that a new suit?”
Grinning, Kelsey slowly turned in a full circle. “Gotta look good in the photos. It’s all about playing the game, right?”
“I’ve taught you well, my dear.”
Kelsey took her usual seat in one of the two leather chairs facing the desk—a move she’d done countless times before. Yet as she settled in, she detected an odd expression on the older woman’s face, as if she were more nervous and apprehensive than Kelsey herself. Worse, in fact. Though Gloria could usually be found looking perfectly polished, at the moment she was anything but, with dark circles under her eyes, rumpled clothing, and not a speck of makeup on.
“Are you okay?” Kelsey asked. She didn’t want to be rude, but clearly something was wrong. “You’re not sick, are you?”
“Just tired. I worked later than I should have last night. You know how it is.”
Gloria obviously didn’t want to talk about it, so Kelsey simply nodded and changed the subject, asking about the order of events for the ceremony. Gloria spelled things out, describing what sounded like a two-person show featuring Kelsey and the company’s CEO, Walter Hallerman.
Kelsey scrunched up her face in dismay. “What about a board member or two? And don’t we want to include somebody from the foundation?”
“Stop trying to deflect, Kels. You know as well as I do that this is all about you. That’s the whole point.”
Miserably, Kelsey slumped in her chair. “This is getting so old.”
Gloria pulled off her glasses and nervously cleaned them with the corner of her blouse. “Hopefully, it won’t be for much longer.”
Both women knew Kelsey really had no choice—both for her family’s sake and for the sake of the corporation. According to management, after Nolan Tate, Kelsey’s father and the firm’s leader, suffered a stroke last year, the company’s value had taken a serious nosedive and now they needed to show that someone else would be carrying on the Tate name, someone who possessed the same sharp gut instincts and business acumen for which the Tates had long been known. As Kelsey was the only other family member who currently worked here, she’d become the logical choice by default.
It was a heavy weight to bear, one that was feeling heavier all the time. She was happy to carry on the family legacy and didn’t mind doing her part to bolster the company’s image, but she was getting awfully tired of being the center of attention. Last week had been a feature article in the New York Times magazine section about the “up-and-comer with the Midas touch.” Prior to that, her name and face had been splashed across countless other newspapers and magazines, and she’d even appeared on a few local television and radio interview shows. Now she was about to go through this ridiculous ceremony, all for the sake of reassuring the public that even though Nolan Tate might be sidelined for now, another, just-as-capable Tate was ready to step up and prove that the family gift for investing was alive and well.
“I hope you’re right,” she said tiredly. “I don’t think I can stand much more.”
An odd look appeared on Gloria’s face, and Kelsey thought she was about to say something important. But then, after a moment, she simply cleared her throat and asked if Kelsey needed any last-minute help polishing her speech.
“No, thanks. It’s fine. But what were you thinking, just now? I can tell there’s something on your mind today.”
The older woman’s cheeks flushed. “It’s not important. I was…I was going to tell you not to worry, that the end is in sight. Maybe sooner than you think.”
“What do you mean?”
Gloria shrugged and looked away, her fingers nervously taking off her glasses, cleaning them again, and putting them back on. Before she replied, the phone on the desk buzzed, startling her so much she practically fell out of her chair.
Face flushing, Gloria resettled herself in her seat and pushed the button for the speaker. Out came the voice of Walter, their CEO.
“I just got downstairs and don’t see Kelsey. Have you talked to her?”
“She’s here with me now.”
“Good. Tell her to hurry up and get down here. We’ll be starting in ten minutes.”
“No problem.”
“Have her take the stairs and use the side door to go backstage. She can wait there until I finish my introduction.”
“Will do.”
With a click he was gone.
“You heard the man,” Gloria said, suddenly using her brightest pep talk voice, though it sounded strained and on edge. She rose, walked to the door, and stood there holding it open. “It’s showtime, kid. You’d better get downstairs. Break a leg, or whatever it is they say.”
Kelsey stood, feeling oddly dismissed. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“I…uh…I’ll slip in the back later.”
“But I thought we could go down together.”
“I don’t think so,” Gloria responded without further explanation.
“Listen, are you sure you’re all right?” Kelsey pressed, moving closer.
The woman wouldn’t meet her gaze, though after a moment, much to Kelsey’s surprise, her eyes filled with tears. Cooing sympathetically, Kelsey pulled a clean tissue from her pocket and handed it over, asking again what was wrong, if Gloria wanted to talk about it.
“Is it something with work?”
Gloria didn’t reply.
“Maybe something personal? A problem with you and Vern, perhaps?”
Even though Gloria’s marriage wasn’t exactly known to be warm and fuzzy, she seemed surprised at the thought. Shaking her head, she blew her nose and said, “It’s…I…” Her voice trailed off as she dabbed at her tears. Then she took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking down at the floor and speaking in a soft voice. “Have you ever done something bad out of good intentions?”
Kelsey was surprised. What an odd question for an ethical, no-nonsense woman like Gloria to ask.
“You mean, the ‘end justifies the means’?”
Gloria nodded. “Exactly.”
“Probably,” Kelsey replied, studying her friend’s face. “One time when I was a kid, my mother wouldn’t buy me the mini marshmallows I wanted from the grocery store, so while she was busy at the checkout, I went back and got a bag off the shelf, tore it open, and started eating them anyway. I figured that once they were open she’d have no choice but to buy them. Of course, I didn’t count on her making me pay her back out of my allowance—and then she didn’t even let me have the rest of the marshmallows.”
Both women smiled, but fresh tears filled Gloria’s eyes. “If only this were that simple.” She blinked, sending twin tracks of wetness down her cheeks.
Kelsey felt terrible for the poor thing, but she still didn’t have a clue as to what any of this was about. Of all the people in this office, Gloria was the very last person she’d ever expect to talk this way, much less to stand in an open doorway and cry.
Suddenly, before Kelsey could even think of how to reply, Gloria gripped her by both arms and spoke in an urgent whisper.
“You don’t have to go down there, you know,” she hissed. “You don’t have to do this at all. You could walk right out the back door and go home, and I could tell Walter you weren’t feeling well and had to leave.”
Kelsey was dumbfounded. What on earth was Gloria talking about?
“Why would I do that? It’s just a stupid ceremony. I’ll get through it, no big deal.”
Just as suddenly, Gloria let go of her arms, stepped back, and placed both hands over her eyes. “What am I saying? Don’t listen to me. I’m not myself today at all.”
Kelsey stood there amidst her friend’s meltdown, thinking, You can say that again. She wondered if perhaps Gloria had been drinking or something. She didn’t smell alcohol on her breath, but she certainly was acting strange—stranger than Kelsey could ever have imagined.
“Enough of this,” Gloria said finally, taking her hands from her face and giving Kelsey a broad, forced smile. “Are you ready to go? Because your time’s up. Come on, Tater Tot. Forget what I said earlier. I’ll walk you down myself.”

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Trauma Plan by Candace Calvert

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Riley Hale is an hospital chaplain now since a severe trauma sidelined her from being a nurse. She struggles with the fact that not only the physical injuries are keeping her back, but the mental trauma with fear that grips her. She so much wants to overcome her fears and disabilities, but time and time again, she has to admit she is not fit for a nursing job again.
When she comes face to face with Dr. Jack Travis, she thinks him a maverick or a drug user, she is not sure what to think, actually. He is caught in a war between the posh homeowners of the area and the poor of the area who need his free clinic. When mysterious accidents continue to happen, old news is brought to light. Is Jack Travis really who he says he is or does he have a darker past?

This is another well written medical mystery and romantic story from Candace Calvert. Ms. Calvert draws from her own experience as a nurse and suffering an injury to write this one and you can tell. It is very well written, and will keep you going back to it until the last page.
I liked the real life type experiences that did not just glaze over the PTSD issues that victims face and some of the hardships that happen when a crime is committed.

This book was supplied by Tyndale media, but the review is my own and I was not paid for publishing this review.

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The books are piling up…

and I have been going to bed early! I have a doula client who is due soon and so I am training myself to go to bed early. It is nice, but I am so tired of not reading!

Last week, we had testing, birthday and my 15 year anniversary. We had soccer as well..and I missed a lot of them! I was here for my son’s birthday though!

L. turned 10…I cannot believe it has been ten years. He came and surprised me with coming a little early and very rapidly.
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L. with his breakfast….pancakes, eggs and bacon

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H. breakfast

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We had a couple of very long haired boys who were long overdue for haircuts.

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We had fun with it!!

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Party snacks

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Opening gifts

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It was a hit!!
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L. with his lemon cake! It was really yummy!

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Everyone singing happy birthday!! Moriah ended it on a opera note!

Everyone looked much better with haircuts, some spring cleaning was done as well!! I have almost walked 30 miles so far this year…which is pretty fair considering the weather!

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