Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Wildcard: New York Debut

Click here for my review

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:

New York Debut (Carter House Girls)

Zondervan (May 1, 2009)


Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.

Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934


“Where is Taylor?” asked Grandmother as she drove DJ home from the airport.
”Is she coming on a later flight?”

DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.

“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.

“Visiting her father?”


“Touring with Eva?”

“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”

“She’s in rehab.”

“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”

“For alcohol treatment.”

Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.

Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”


“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”

“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”

“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”

“I told you otherwise.”

“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”

“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”

“Isn’t that true with everything?”

“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”

“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”

“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”

“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”

“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”

DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.

“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”

“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”

Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.

“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.

“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.

And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.

“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”

“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”

Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”

“It’s the old you—only better.”

“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”

“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”

DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”

Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”

DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”

“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”

Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.

“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”

“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”

“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”

“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”

“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”

“Maybe she was missing her family.”

“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”

“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”

“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”

“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”

“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”

“It’s that California sun.”

“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.

“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”

“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”

“And cool,” said DJ.

“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”

“Maybe I will someday.”

“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”

“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”

“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”

“Well, I told him you’d call.”

Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”

“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.

“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.

“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.

“No, why would I?”

“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”

“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”

“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”

Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”

“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”

“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”

“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.

“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”

“What’d you say?”

“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”

“But nothing else?”

“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”

“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?

Click here for my review

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

First Wildcard: Stop the Traffik

Click here for my review

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:

Stop the Traffik: People Shouldn't Be Bought & Sold

Lion UK (April 1, 2009)


Cherie Blair is a human rights lawyer and campaigner on women's rights and empowerment, wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and author of Speaking for Myself. Steve Chalke is UN.GIFT special advisor on human trafficking, and founder of Stop the Traffik. He is the author of several books, including Change Agents, Intelligent Church, The Lost Message of Jesus, and Trust.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.95
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Lion UK (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0745953603
ISBN-13: 978-0745953601


Wihini, aged nine, and her brother Sunni, aged seven, loved on Thane train station in Mumbai, India with their parents—both alcoholics. Wihini and Sunni went to a day centre where they learned to read and write and were given the chance to play.

One day Sunni and Wihini simply didn’t turn up. Street children often tend to disappear for days, as they try to scrape a living sweeping long-distance trains, but they had been attending the center daily for three months, so when a week or so went by the project staff became worried, and went in search of their parents. The workers found the father lying drunk on the station platform. When they roused him and asked about the children, he admitted that a man had come to him one morning offering money for them. He needed money for alcohol, so he agreed. The trafficker had taken Sunni and Wihini away for the equivalent of just 20 British pounds (currently equivalent to $30 US dollars). The father was angry because he had never received his money. Their mother wouldn’t speak about it. The children were never seen again.

What happened to Sunni and Wihini? Nobody knows. In that area of Mumbai, children often disappeared. They are kidnapped or sold into prostitution, forced labor, adoption, or even child sacrifice. The workers at the Asha Seep center had seen this before. But this was once too often.

Wihini and Sunni’s story proved to be a catalyst. The story was picked up and passed on and as evidence gathered we realized this is happening on a huge scale, around the world—and even on our own doorsteps. Not 200 years ago. Not even fifty years ago. It was—and is—happening today. And so STOP THE TRAFFIK was born.

Human Tafficking—A Definition

Human trafficking is the dislocation of someone by deception or coercion for exploitation, through forced prostitution, forced labor, or other forms of slavery.

-800,000 people are trafficked across borders each year (US State Department)

-It is estimated that two children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation. This amounts to an estimated 1.2 million children trafficked every year (UNICEF)

-In 2004, between 14,500 and 17,500 people were trafficked into the United States (US State Department)

-Human trafficking generates between 10 and 12 billion dollars a year (UNICEF)

-Total profit from human trafficking is second only to the trafficking of drugs (The European Police Office; Eurpol)

The numbers tell you the huge scale of this problem. But behind each number is a sea of faces. Behind the statistics are mothers and father, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, torn apart by trafficking; these are innocent lives ruined by abuse. These are human rights violations on a grotesque scale. And the problem is getting worse.

Click here for my review

Monday, April 27, 2009

Do You Need a Father's Day Gift?

If you are reading this, then you probably like books. You are also, judging by the pictures of my followers, probably a woman. This book isn't for you, but it would make a great Father's Day gift for the man in your life. The giveaway is subject to the usual Hatchette conditions--US or Canada mailing address, no PO boxes. If you win elsewhere, please allow someone else to win this one. To win, please leave a comment, with your email address. For an additional entry, blog about this contest, and leave me a comment linking to your entry. For another entry, leave another comment giving the name of a book I have reviewed here that you think your guy would like. I'll draw 5 winners on May 20, so hopefully you'll have the book for Father's Day.

Here is the product description:

Being modern and manly in today's world isn't always easy. Do you know how to tie a bow-tie, mix a martini, or make a potato gun?Do you know when to get married and how to break up, or the difference between a bock beer and a bitter?Do you know which urinal to choose or how to start a fire with a Coke can?The answers to every man's burning questions are within these pages, from the morning wet shave to the whiskey night-cap, from hunting deer with a .30-06 to wooing women like 007. At a time when the sexes are muddled and masculinity is marginalized, THE MAN'S BOOK unabashedlycelebrates maleness. Organized by subject in a man-logical way, it's the go-to guide for anyone with a Y chromosome. About the AuthorThomas Fink grew up in New York and Texas. He is a theoretical physicist and writer and lives in London. He designed THE MAN'S BOOK himself. He is a man.

Product Details
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316033642
ISBN-13: 978-0316033640

My Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Thanks to Thomas Nelson publishers for the opportunity to review this book which is described as "a unique narrative is a blend of fiction, allegory, and inspiration".

The Noticer is about a mysterious man who the author meets when he is a young man down on his luck, living under a pier. Jones gives him some advice, along with the biographies of some famous people. Using Jones' advice and the lessons learned from those biographies, Andy manages to turn his life around. The title of the book comes from what Jones says about himself; he says he is a noticer, he notices what many people don't.

The advice Jones gives is pretty generic. For example, he says that people who are most successful are generally those who other people want to be around. Therefore, if you are not successful, he suggests making a list of ten things about yourself that other people would change if they could; and then to set about changing them.

The book is easy to read and while the advice Jones gives isn’t anything new, the presentation is enjoyable to read, and most of us could use at least reminding of the things he says.

See the author's website:

Thomas Nelson Product Page.

Mailbox Monday

Thanks to Marica at the printed page for hosting Mailbox Mondays
"Too Much Stuff, too much stuff, all my kids have too much stuff" is a song I sing at clean-up time, to suggest that if the kids don't want to pick it up, we can certainly get rid of it. This week, I think I need to sing "Too many books!" Ok, there is no thing as too many books, but I'm getting close right now. Thanks to Christian Review of Books, I have The Reluctant Cowgirl, Silver Birches, The Someday List, Daisy Chain, and Wind of the Spirit. For First Wildcard tours, I got Veiled Freedom and New York Debut. The nice folks at Hatchette sent me the Man's book (which I gave to my husband, and if you want to give it to yours, I'm going to have a giveaway.) They also sent me How Not to Look Old and Bobbi Brown's Living Beauty. You can enter my giveaway and get copies for yourself. The Smartest Way to Save came from the author via Bostik. Also via Bostik I got Enemies and Allies, which my reluctant reader son has been reading. A friend sent me God Only Knows and Saturday, I got Along Came You from Shelby at Phenix and Phenix. (Click on the books that are linked, and it will take you to my review). I also got The Haunted Rectory via Bookmooch.

A Gift of Grace

Thanks to Blogtourspot, I had the opportunity to read and review A Gift of Grace.

From the back cover: First time author, Amy Clipston shares her gift of storytelling with the newest edition to the popular Amish fiction genre, A Gift of Grace (Zondervan, May 2009). This tender story tugs at readers heartstrings with issues of difference, belonging, beliefs, culture and values all pulled together to create one mountain of confusion and chaos in this peaceful community.

When Rebecca Kauffman's older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca's life is transformed and she is suddenly left custody of her two teenage nieces. Will she be able to reconcile the two worlds in her home - or will the clash of cultures tear her world, including her marriage, apart?

Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and heartache at the same time. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife.

Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica's rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.

My review:

I enjoyed the book, and thought the concept--what would happen if two normal American teens were forced to live as the Amish do--was interesting. I liked the way Amy Clipston had each of the teens handle things differently. I also liked some of the details she brought in dealing with how the Amish manage to live in the 21st century without many of our conveniences. The Amish in this book didn't commute to work in a buggy, they rode in a van driven by a non-Amish person. There were power tools in the shop; they just weren't powered by the electric company.

As noted above, this is Clipston's first novel. While not poorly done, she does have a lot of room to improve as far as writing style goes. As I've said in other reviews, I don't quite know how to describe what is wrong; only to say that it lacks a certain professional polish. I enjoyed the book and if you like the Amish books of Beverly Lewis and Wanda Brunstetter, I think you'll like this one too. If you don't like those books, I'd suggest passing on this one.

A Gift of Grace
By Amy Clipston
ISBN - 9780310289838
336 Pages, $10.99
PUB DATE: May 2009

Check out Amy Clipston's Blog

See what other bloggers have to say about this book:
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Bound to His Heart
Camy’s Loft
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
J’s Spot
Kells Creative Musings
Kindred Heart Writers
Lighthouse Academy
My Christian Fiction Blog
Prayerfully Penned
Scraps and Snippets
The Friendly Book Nook
The Gospel Writer
The Journey of Writer Danica Favorite
This That and The Other
wandering, wonderings of a whacked-out woman
Writer for a Reader

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Review: The Someday List

What do you want to accomplish in life? What are your goals? These questions, asked by a childhood friend who is now dying of cancer, along with other things going on in her life, cause Rachelle, the beautiful wife of a wealthy cardiac surgeon and mother of two beautiful children, to take a hard look at her life. She doesn't like what she sees. Her husband, though a good provider materially, isn't meeting her emotional needs. Her life is a round of tennis games, manicures, workouts, parties and volunteering at the "right" jobs. When her husband is in Uganda on a mission trip with is partner and her children are at her parents', she visits her aunt and uncle in her college town, and runs into an old flame, who was more than just a flame. Does she return to her past, or stick with the present? You'll have to read the book to know.

Both Rachelle and her husband appear to have everything; yet both are empty inside. Other people suggest to them that finding Jesus will solve their problems, putting this book squarely in the "find Jesus and solve your problems" type of Christian literature Both have religious discussions with other people and both wonder if they can accept Christianity.

I enjoyed the book, but there is nothing subtle about the religious messages in it.

Click here to read the first chapter, and for links to other reviews.

Great Adventures Kids Pack: My Review

I'd like to thank the Catholic Company for allowing me to review Great Adventures Kids Pack. Materials included in the pack are a large 48 page coloring book in which each page illustrates one Bible story and has a summary of that story on the bottom, along with a Bible verse from it; a deck of cards, some color coded prayer (pony) beads, a Bible timeline chart, and a bookmark. All the parts fit together as part of a system to teach Biblical history, using colors and symbols. In other words, the symbol on the coloring book page will match the symbol on the timeline chart, cards, and bookmark. They are also color coded.

The materials are attractive and I like the timeline approach. The copyright notice allows reproduction for home use only, so while a homeschooling family would only have to buy one set; a parish catechist would need one for every child. The middle school religion teacher in my daughter's school had a larger version of the timeline chart hung in her classroom when I used to use it for CCD, and I used it a few times to point out the sequence of events. The chart in this package is for personal use though, it isn't big enough to be seen across the room. The cards have illustrations from Bible stories, along with the symbols and colors common to the program and include directions on how to use the cards to play such traditional games as "go fish", "spoons" and "memory".

I was hoping for something I could use with my CCD class or give to my four year old. In that sense, I was disappointed in this pack. None of it was appropriate for classroom use; the home market is the obvious target. The coloring book is too elaborate for my four year old,who likes to color. I think by the time most kids are able to do a nice job coloring such an elaborate picture; those who aren't fond of coloring have quit. My daughter does enjoy the card games, and while I suppose the pictures will give her some familiarity with the scenes, they'll be scattered and lost long before she remembers all the stories. Perhaps a homeschooling mom with kids of many ages would find this program more useful that I have.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

My Review: Along Came You

All parents know life changes when you have children; Along Came You by Karona Drummond is an effort to teach that truth to children. It is a charming book featuring a mother and her pre-school daughter. Each two-page spread makes up one picture and each picture is captioned with Before you.... , After you..... An example is a picture of Mom reading the daughter a bedtime story. The caption is "Before you, I read books with a thousand pages. After you, I red your favorite book a thousand times."

The colors are bright, and most of the pictures have daisies in them somewhere; something my four year old noticed. Speaking of my four year old, we read the book tonite and she liked it. Since it is aimed at her age group, I'd say that her opinon is at least as important as mine. I'm not sure she really understands that I had a pre-kid life, but hey, I barely remember that time.

Information about the book:
Page Count: 32
Paper Edge Description: Plain
Size: 9.3 wide x 11.1 high x 0.4 deep in. | 236 wide x 282 high x deep 10 mm
Weight: 0.9 lb | 407 gms
Available: April 2009
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Product Page:

Thanks to Shelby at Phenix & Phenix for the opportunity to reviwe this book.

My Review: The Smartest Way to Save

I've made an amazing discovery! I have this great secret to share with all of you! I learned it reading The Smartest Way to Save. Here is the secret: In order to get ahead financially you have to spend less than you make! I know, that's kind of like picking up a book on how to lose weight and finding out that you have to eat less and exercise more; unfortunately, both "secrets" are equally valid.

Actually, The Smartest Way to Save could be very helpful if your finances are out of control and you are willing to do what is necessary to reign them in. It is an easy read and covers getting out of debt, developing a new relationship with money and tips for getting more for your money. It also covers investing and avoiding scams and ends with Sam's Principals of Financial Independence. However, if you are looking for some magic cure that will allow you to spend whatever you want whenever you want and still increase your net worth, well, the book that tells you how to do that is on the shelf next to the one that tells how you can be a sweet-eating couch potato and still lose weight. Unfortunately no one has offered me a review copy of either of those books so I can't link you to them.

The authors, real estate developer, attorney, banker and professor Sam Freshman and journalist Heidi Clingen have a website where you can get freebies including an excerpt from this book. Check it out at

As I said, there isn't anything new or terribly earth-shattering in this book, but it is a good, easy-to-read beginning book on putting your financial house in order.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Hi folks and welcome to Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. This meme, which is a replacement for the Catholic Carnival run by Jay at Living Catholicism for many years, is a place for Catholic bloggers to direct others to their posts and a place for us to meet other Catholic bloggers. Some partipants blog exclusively, or almost totally about Catholic topics; others, like me, periodically have such posts. Both are welcome here. To participate, go your blog and create a post titled "Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival". In it, summarize and link to at least on of your posts from the last week, which post should have a least a little to do with Catholicism (even if it is just showing off the cute Catholic kid). In your post, link to this post. Then, come back here and add your name to Mr. Linky. You may also leave a comment. Visit the other blogs on the list and enjoy.

This week, I'd like to share a book with you. So Long Status Quo is a collection of biographies of women the author believes have changed the world, and they include Mother Theresa, St. Mary Magdelene and St. Perpetua. As noted in my review, the book isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it.

If you would like a weekly reminder to participate in Sunday Snippets-A Catholic Carnival, click here to subscribe.

1. Bob Kenward
2. Elena@My Domestic Church
3. Karin@Daughter of the King
4. Moonshadow
5. Evann @ Homeschool Goodies

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Friday, April 24, 2009

My Review: The Reluctant Cowgirl by Christine Lynxwiler

Thanks to Roseanna White at Christian Review of Books I had the opportunity to read and review another of Christine Lynxwiler's books. Books of hers I have previously reviewed include Along Came a Cowboy, and Promise Me Always and this is similar to them in that it is a romance set in a small town in Arkansas. The main characters are Crystal, a girl with many siblings, most of whom are adopted who lost her twin sister, and with her sister, her faith; and Jeremy, a new rancher whose daughter was recently kidnapped by his ex-wife. His faith helps him through the days.

Crystal is an actress who lives in New York; Jeremy lives next to her parents. She comes home to lick her wounds after her play is cancelled and she finds her boyfriend and roommate in bed together. While there, she allows herself to be talked into taking over the ranch for a few weeks while her parents are on a mission trip and second honeymoon. Her brother arranges for Jeremy to help her.

While not exactly preachy, the Christian content of this book is obvious. The need to forgive and love our enemies is brought forth through Jeremy. Crystal's faith is renewed and she learns to follow the vocation God has for her. The church family is important to Jeremy and Crystal remembers they care for her too. Anytime people are sharing a meal, a blessing is said.

I enjoyed the book and if you are looking for a clean romance and either want or don't mind an overtly Christian message, I think you'll like this one. It is book one in a series about the McCord sisters so I suspect we'll see Crystal and Jeremy again.

New York Debut: My Review

New York Debut is the latest book in Melody Carson's Carter House Girls series. Like Lost in Las Vegas, which I reviewed a few months ago, it features girls who live together under the supervision of a former fashion model. DJ, the main character, is the granddaugher of Mrs. Carter. She is a Christian and a leader among the girls.

The book is clearly one of a series. There are references to previous books and some characters make appearances which seem only to serve the purpose of updating readers on their status--they have nothing to do with the plot of this book. As in Lost in Las Vegas, teen drinking is addressed in this book. The other big issue, which is very topical right now because of American Idol, is our society's fixation on appearance. Evidently in an earlier book, the girls were asked to model for a new designer during "the" week in New York. In preparation, Mrs. Carter runs modeling classes on Saturday morning, and opens them up to other girls, some of whom will be invited to model too. One of the girls has a brush with anorexia and while some of the root causes are discussed (basically poor self-image, reinforeced by society) I'm almost afraid this was too easily cured in the book.

New York Debut is fun teen chick lit, despite the serious topics addressed. There is the bitchy girl, the girl who is afraid of her own shadow, the girl with her act together, the girl who doesn't quite fit.... It is Christian fiction. One of the girls comes to Christ in the book and we see her life improve because of it; the Christians are the good girls; the girls who are on a path of self-destruction aren't Christian. Even given that, it isn't really preachy, however it is definitely faith-based fiction. I hope my daughter likes it.

First Wildcard: So Long Status Quo

Click here to read my review

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:

So Long, Status Quo: What I Learned From Women Who Changed the World

Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (February 15, 2009)


SUSY FLORY grew up on the back of a quarter horse in an outdoorsy family in Northern California and she's not afraid to dive into the trenches to experience firsthand whatever she's writing about. If that means smuggling medical supplies into Cuba on a humanitarian trip or sitting down to coffee to talk about faith with a practicing witch, she's there with a listening ear and notebook in hand.

Susy's creative nonfiction features a first person journalistic style with a backbone of strong research and a dash of dry wit. She attended Biola University and UCLA, where she received degrees in English and psychology. She has a background in journalism, education, and communications. Her first book, Fear Not Da Vinci, released in 2006.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City (February 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0834124386
ISBN-13: 978-0834124387


Addicted to comfort

“I could not, at any age, be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside

and simply look on. Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive …

One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt, on her 77th birthday

I love my couch. It’s covered in a squishy soft velvety material the color of oatmeal laced with honey and the cushions are fat. Three big loose pillows rest against the back, the material woven into an exotic, vaguely Eastern pattern of impressionistic flowers and trees in tawny gold and lapis blue. My favorite spot in the entire house is the far end of this couch, with two smaller pillows behind my back and my legs stretched out long ways. I do this every day.

For a while we had an uptight couch. Bright Colonial red with little blue and yellow flowers, it reminded me of the calico dresses Melissa Gilbert used to wear on Little House on the Prairie. The fabric was quilted in the shape of puzzle pieces and the back rose straight up, pierced by a row of buttons. A boxy pleated strip of fabric ran along the bottom. It was really uncomfortable and almost impossible to take a nap in. That couch didn’t want you sitting there very long; it was a little Puritanical, wanting you up and around, taking care of business. We sold it at a garage sale for $20. Good riddance.

But the comfy oatmeal couch—it loves you. It calls you to sink down into comfort, and to stay awhile. A long while.

From the couch I can see the kitchen where my kids are grating cheese for quesadillas or searching the fridge for leftover pizza. I can look out the back window, at the drooping branches of the monstrous eucalyptus tree overhanging the back yard. Or, I can stare at the ceiling fan, slowly circling overhead. But, really, I hardly ever look at anything but words. Books, newspapers, catalogs, magazines, letters from friends—those are the things I look at when I’m stretched out on the couch.

Sundays are my absolutely favorite. After church, we eat lunch at the taqueria, then head home. The newspapers await; I don’t want to waste time changing my clothes so I head straight for the couch. News comes first, then business, travel, entertainment, and the Sunday magazine. Last are the sale papers: Target, Best Buy, Macy’s.

By this time I’m sleepy, melting a bit around the edges. My head grows heavy and I turn, curl up, and snuggle into the cushions. I fall asleep, papers crinkly around me.

A while ago my teenage son, just to aggravate me, staked a claim on the oatmeal couch. He’d race home after church in his little pick-up truck and head in the door, kicking off his shoes and diving into my favorite comfy spot in one gangly flop. He made it his goal to be asleep, limbs a sprawl, before I even made it inside the house. A few times I tried to extricate him but it was useless, like trying to wrestle a wire hanger out of a tangled pile.

I decided to wait him out and so after he slept on the couch a few Sundays, he gave it up. He had better things to do, usually involving his computer.

Things returned to normal, the oatmeal couch remembered the shape of my behind, and I took to snuggling into the tawny-lapis pillows once again.

It was safe, my velvety couch cave.

Just like my life.

In one of my favorite books, A Girl Named Zippy, Haven Kimmel writes about her mother, always on the couch with a cardboard box of books by her side. There she was, forever reading a book and waving at her children as they went back and forth, in and out of the house, busily doing whatever kids in a small Indiana town did. She stayed there, curled up on the couch, peacefully reading her books as her husband ran around who-knows-where, maybe coon hunting, gambling away his paycheck, or sleeping with the divorced woman across town. She was comfortable there. Zippy unexpectedly became a bestseller and Kimmel traveled around giving talks and signing books. The one question everyone asked her was, “Did your mother ever get up off the couch?”

I don’t live in Indiana; I live in a suburb of San Francisco. My kids don’t run in and out of the house; they pretty much stay put. My husband is a hard working, non-gambling, faithful guy who pays the bills. And my life is pretty good. But I have lived most of it lodged safely in the corner of my couch.

My secure couch cocoon was really a picture of what I had let my life become. Lethargic, sleepy, with a love for security and for comfort, I lived for self. I avoided suffering at all costs. I didn’t want to ever do anything uncomfortable. I think I was addicted to comfort.

My journey out of my couch-life started years ago when I was a college student on vacation, idly looking around a gift shop. Flicking through a box full of enameled metal signs, I came across one that read “We Can Do It!” Underneath was a portrait of a woman, looking sort of like Lucille Ball in her cleaning garb, hair up in a red bandanna. Glossy lips, a little pouty, with arched eyebrows and thick eyelashes. She wore a blue collared shirt, sleeve rolled up over a flexed bicep, toned and powerful. Her eyes were wide open, focused, determined. Who was she? I hadn’t a clue, but I bought the sign and installed it in a place of honor by my desk.

Later, when I was married, the mother of two small children and too busy changing diapers to sit much on the couch yet, I learned she was called Rosie the Riveter. She, and six million other women who toiled in factories while their men were off fighting in World War II, changed the world. Even now, as I look at the old enamel sign next to my desk, I’m haunted by the determination in the line of her jaw and the resolve in the curl of her fist. I wanted to be like her.

But the couch called. I forgot the sign; it migrated to the back of my bookcase and I took a part time job teaching English at a private high school. My kids were in school, my husband was fighting up the corporate ladder, and with the days sometimes a blur of homework, basketball practice, and ballet class, I hoarded my couch time.

Funny, though. It wasn’t satisfying. I just couldn’t ever seem to get enough.

And then, one day, stretched out reading the Sunday paper, I saw Rosie again. It was a full-page department store ad. Across the top ran a banner: “Help end hunger.” Something had changed. Rosie looked a little more glamorous than I remembered. The “can” in the “We CAN Do It!” was underlined and capitalized to emphasize the can of food in her fist. I unfolded the page and examined it; it was an advertisement for National Hunger Awareness day. If you made a $5 donation to the department store, they would in return give you a 15% coupon for regular, sale and clearance-priced merchandise. It’s our thanks to you for helping to relieve hunger in our communities.

I pondered the page; something didn’t quite make sense. Somehow, by partnering with Rosie to spend money at the department store, you would help to relieve hunger. Rosie and her factory worker sisters had changed the world by serving for low pay and little recognition on factory lines during a war. They had sacrificed personal comfort and convenience for a cause greater than themselves, a cause they believed in and sweated and grew calluses for. Now the department store was asking me to be like Rosie, tie up my hair, bare my biceps and leave my couch, so I could … shop? You’ve got to be kidding.

But my irritation that day over the hijacking of the Rosie the Riveter image piqued my curiosity. Who was Rosie? Was she a real person? Was she still alive? What would she think about the ways her image, once meant to encourage and inspire the Nazi-fighting women of World War II, had been used for merchandising? I was intrigued by her determination and I decided to roll up my sleeves and get to the bottom of her story. So I did. And after Rosie I found eight other women, amazing women, who changed the world. I found women who, with grit and guts, made their lives add up to something much more than just a satisfying Sunday nap. And somehow, in the finding, the oatmeal couch lost its allure.

I wanted to feel alive, to experience something more deep and dangerous than my middle class life. I wanted more than a Ford Expedition SUV with leather seats or a 401K groaning with employer contributions. I craved something beyond Ralph Lauren Suede paint or a giant glossy red Kitchen Aid mixer. I was ready to wake up from a very long nap and do something meaningful.

So this is the story of how, slowly, I began to get up off the couch of my boring, safe, sheltered, vanilla existence to something more real, sharper, in focus. Rosie led the way. Along came Eleanor, and Jane. Then Harriet, Elizabeth, and more. These women became mentors calling me to a different kind of life. Passionate for change, each woman sacrificed money, love, comfort, time, and, ultimately, self, to make a difference to thousands, maybe millions of people.

Living like the women who changed the world is not easy, but it’s good. It feels right. It is satisfying.

This is how I got up off the couch and tried, with much fear and trembling, to make a difference in my world. And I’ll never go back.

Click here to read my review

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Giveaway--For Baby Boomers!

Yup, I'm one of them, one of the many, one of those who was born during the Baby Boom. Like all the other Boomers, I've realized I'm not getting any younger--but in some ways I feel younger than what I am, I think because my kids are young. My high school class is on Facebook and people have been talking about grandkids. Well, I have no grandkids, and I do have an almost five year old. Anyway, if you are one of those Boomers who is fighting aging tooth and nail you will want to register for this giveaway. I have two books so what I'm going to do is ask you to leave a comment saying which book you want to win. If you want to win either one, then leave two comments. Hatchette has said they'd give away five copies of each book, so I'll draw at least ten names. What are these books?

How Not to Look Old

Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better
By Charla Krupp
How Not to Look Old the 15-week New York Times bestseller is now in paperback updated with over 150 new Brilliant Buys!Charla Krupp knows that aging sucks! So she's here to help. It's every woman's dream: looking hip, sexy, fresh, and pretty--whether you're in your 30's, 40's, 50's, or 60's. Now it's every woman's necessity: looking younger will help you hold onto your job and your partner--particularly when everyone around you seems half your age. It's about making the ultimate "to-do" list of LITTLE beauty and fashion changes that pay off BIG TIME. Charla Krupp, beauty editor and expert, known for her real woman's approach to looking fabulous, offers brutally frank and foolproof advice on how not to look old.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Springboard Press; 1 edition (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446699977
ISBN-13: 978-0446699976

By Bobbi Brown with Marie Clare Katigbak

Bobbi Brown began the trend toward natural-looking cosmetics with a simple philosophy: Women want to look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident. Today, top editors at elite fashion magazines--including In Style, Vogue, Allure, and Harpers Bazaar--revere her, and celebrities and millions of regular women throughout the world swear by her beauty advice. Now Bobbi Brown has written THE book redefining beauty for women over 40, BOBBI BROWN LIVING BEAUTY. In this refreshing look at beauty and aging, Bobbi offers specific makeup tricks for a stunning face--showing how makeup can solve most of the flaws that many women go under the knife to fix. In fact, the right makeup can create an even skin tone, lift the cheeks, plump a smile...even take years off any woman's face. The key is to use makeup to enhance each woman's best features and showcase her natural beauty. With step-by-step makeup instructions and quotes from beautiful women like Marcia Gay Harden, Vera Wang, Susan Sarandon, and Lorraine Bracco, Bobbi Browns natural, celebratory approach to aging will enlighten and inspire women everywhere.
Click here to read an excerpt.
Hardcover: 224 pages (the edition being given away is a paperback, so this information will be different)
Publisher: Springboard Press; 1 edition (February 15, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0821258346
ISBN-13: 978-0821258347

As usual for a Hatchette giveaway, you have to have a US or Canada mailing address, no PO Boxes. Also, if you win on another blog and here, please allow someone else to win one of the copies.

Rules: Each entry must have an anti-aging or beauty tip and must name the book you want to win. You may enter once for each book. Contest ends May 16. Good Luck!

Lucky Child Winners

Congratulations to the winners of A Lucky Child. They are Cheryl S., Momforeverandever, Principessa, Tatertot374 and BusyBee. Please contact me within 24 hours with your name and address. Also, if you have won on another blog, it would be gracious to allow someone else to win this one. Thanks.

Note: Tatertot374 never responded. Therefore my husband picked a new number and Lynne Schneider is the winner.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First Wildcard: The Blood of Lambs--With a Review

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:

The Blood of Lambs

Howard Books (April 7, 2009)


Kamal Saleem was born under another name into a large Sunni Muslim family in Lebanon. At age seven, he was recruited by the Muslim Brotherhood and immediately entered a Palestinian Liberation Organization terror training camp in Lebanon. After being involved in terror campaigns in Israel, Europe, Afghanistan, and Africa, and finally making radical Islam converts in the United States, Saleem renounced jihad and became an American citizen. He has appeared on CNN, CBS News, and Fox News programs, and has spoken on terrorism and radical Islam at Stanford University, the University of California, the Air Force Academy, and other institutions nationwide.

Collaborator Writer, Lynn Vincent: Lynn Vincent, a U.S. Navy veteran, is features editor at WORLD Magazine, a national news biweekly. She is the author or co-author of six books, including the New York Times bestseller, Same of Kind of Different as Me.

This true story of an ex-terrorist reveals the life and mindset of radical Muslims. Now a US citizen, Kamal heralds a wake-up call to America.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (April 7, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416577807
ISBN-13: 978-1416577805


Beirut, Lebanon


It was at my mother's kitchen table, surrounded by the smells of herbed olive oils and pomegranates, that I first learned of jihad. Every day, my brothers and I gathered around the low table for madrassa, our lessons in Islam. I always tried to sit facing east, toward the window above the long marble sink where a huge tree with sweet white berries brushed against the window panes. Made of a warm, reddish wood, our table sat in the middle of the kitchen and was surrounded by tesats, small rugs that kept us off the cool tile. Mother sat at the head of the table and read to us from the Koran and also from the hadith, which records the wisdom and instruction of Allah's prophet, Muhammad.

Mother's Koran had a hard black cover etched ornately in gold and scarlet. Her grandfather had given the Book to her father, who had given it her. Even as a small boy I knew my mother and father were devout Sunni Muslims. So devout, in fact, that other Sunnis held themselves a little straighter in our family's presence. My mother never went out without her hijab, only her coffee-colored eyes peering above the cloth that shielded her face, which no man outside our family had ever seen. My father, respected in our mosque, earned an honest living as a blacksmith. He had learned the trade from my grandfather, a slim Turk who wore a red fez, walked with a limp, and cherished thick, cinnamon-laced coffee.

Each day at madrassa, Mother pulled her treasured Koran from a soft bag made of ivory cloth and when she opened it, the breath of its frail, aging pages floated down the table. Mother would read to us about the glory of Islam, about the good Muslims, and about what the Jews did to us. As a four-year-old boy, my favorite parts were the stories of war.

I vividly remember the day in madrassa when we heard the story of a merciless bandit who went about robbing caravans and killing innocent travelers. "This bandit was an evil, evil man," Mother said, spinning the tale as she sketched pictures of swords for us to color.

An evil bandit? She had my attention.

"One day, there was a great battle between the Jews and the sons of Islam," she went on. "The bandit decided to join the fight for the cause of Allah. He charged in on a great, black horse, sweeping his heavy sword left and right, cutting down the infidel warriors."

My eyes grew wider. I held my breath so as not to miss a word.

"The bandit fought bravely for Allah, killing several of the enemy until the sword of an infidel pierced the bandit's heart. He tumbled from his horse and died on the battlefield."

Disappointment deflated my chest. What good is a story like that?

I could hear children outside, shouting and playing. A breeze from the Mediterranean shimmered in the berry tree. Mother's yaknah simmered on the stove — green beans snapped fresh, cooked with olive oil, tomato, onion, and garlic. She would serve it cool that evening with pita bread, fresh mint, and cucumbers. My stomach rumbled.

"After the bandit died," Mother was saying in her storytelling voice, "his mother had a dream. In this dream, she saw her son sitting on the shore of an endless crystal river, surrounded by a multitude of women who were feeding him and tending to him."

I turned back toward Mother. Maybe this story was not so bad after all.

"The bandit's mother was an observant woman, obedient to her husband and to Allah and Muhammad," my mother said. "This woman knew her son was a robber and a murderer. 'How dare you be sitting here in paradise?' she scolded him. 'You don't belong here. You belong in hell!' But her son answered, 'I died for the glory of Allah and when I woke up, He welcomed me into jannah.' "


My mother swept her eyes around the kitchen table. "So you see, my sons, even the most sinful man is able to redeem himself with one drop of an infidel's blood."

The Blood of Lambs © 2009 Arise Enterprises, LLC

My Review:
I found this book to be a fascinating look at what makes a terrorist tick. The author, who was recruited into terrorism as a child was a devout child looking for love, protection and attention; none of which he was getting from his father. He was convinced he was doing the will of Allah and remained convinced of that until one day he was in a car accident. Following the accident, which happened in the US, he was taken in and cared for by a Christian family. After seeing them up-close for months, he converts and beings a new life.

I have mixed feelings about his message, which is basically that about 10% of the Muslims in the US want to destroy the US as we know it and establish Islamic law. I don't doubt his message; I just wonder what the best way to win the battle is. Kamal wasn't won over by the sword or politics, it was seeing Christianity in action that convinced him of its truth. There is a mosque a few blocks from my home. My kids go to school with Muslim kids. There are Muslims in my neighborhood. Do I distrust them all? Do I treat them as a threat? At this point these are hypothetical questions because I don't personally know any Muslims, but will one occupy the office next to mine one day, or move in next door? Will a girl in a headscarf show up at my daughter's next party? All are in the realm of possibility. Do I view these people as threats? Do I treat them as I would any other new acquaintance?

If you are looking for a very readable book about how terrorists are recruited and trained, how they think and act, I think you'll enjoy this one. If your eyes rolled when you read that he converted to Christianity, that didn't happen until page 260/309. It is given as the explaination as to why he isn't a terrorist any more, but it isn't a major focus of the story.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Wildcard: So Not Happening

Click here for my review.

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:

So Not Happening (The Charmed Life)

Thomas Nelson (May 5, 2009)


Jenny B. Jones writes adult and YA Christian Fiction with equal parts wit, sass, and untamed hilarity. When she's not writing, she's living it up as a high school speech teacher in Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595545417
ISBN-13: 978-1595545411


One year ago my mom got traded in for a newer model.

And that’s when my life fell apart.

“Do you, Jillian Leigh Kirkwood . . .”

Standing by my mother’s side as she marries the man who is so not my dad, I suppress a sigh and try to wiggle my toes in these hideous shoes. The hideous shoes that match my hideous maid-of honor dress. I like to look at things on the bright side, but the only

positive thing about this frock is that I’ll never have to wear it again.

“. . . take Jacob Ralph Finley . . .”

Ralph? My new stepdad’s middle name is Ralph? Okay, do we need one more red flag here? My mom is marrying this guy, and I didn’t even know his middle name. Did she? I check her face for signs of revulsion, signs of doubt. Signs of “Hey, what am I thinking? I don’t want Jacob Ralph Finley to be my daughter’s new stepdad.”

I see none of these things twinkling in my mom’s crystal blue eyes. Only joy. Disgusting, unstoppable joy.

“Does anyone have an objection?” The pastor smiles and scans the small crowd in the Tulsa Fellowship Church. “Let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

Oh my gosh. I totally object! I look to my right and lock eyes with Logan, the older of my two soon-to-be stepbrothers. In the six hours that I have been in Oklahoma preparing for this “blessed” event, Logan and I have not said five words to one another. Like we’ve mutually agreed to be enemies.

I stare him down.

His eyes laser into mine.

Do we dare?

He gives a slight nod, and my heart triples in beat.

“Then by the powers vested in me before God and the family and friends of—”


The church gasps.

I throw my hands over my mouth, wishing the floor would swallow me.

I, Bella Kirkwood, just stopped my own mother’s wedding.

And I have no idea where to go from here. It’s not like I do this every day, okay? Can’t say I’ve stopped a lot of weddings in my sixteen years.

My mom swivels around, her big white dress making crunchy noises. She takes a step closer to me, still flashing her pearly veneers at the small crowd.

“What,” she hisses near my ear, “are you doing?”

I glance at Logan, whose red locks hang like a shade over his eyes. He nods again.

“Um . . . um . . . Mom, I haven’t had a chance to talk to you at all this week . . .” My voice is a tiny whisper. Sweat beads on my forehead.

“Honey, now is not exactly the best time to share our feelings and catch up.”

My eyes dart across the sanctuary, where one hundred and fifty people are perched on the edge of their seats. And it’s not because they’re anxious for the chicken platters coming their way after the ceremony.

“Mom, the dude’s middle name is Ralph.”

She leans in, and we’re nose to nose. “You just stopped my wedding and that’s what you wanted to tell me?”

Faint—that’s what I’ll do next time I need to halt a wedding.

“How well do you know Jake? You only met six months ago.”

Some of the heat leaves her expression. “I’ve known him long enough to know that I love him, Bella. I knew it immediately.”

“But what if you’re wrong?” I rush on, “I mean, I’ve only been around him a few times, and I’m not so sure. He could be a serial killer for all we know.” I can count on one hand the times I’ve been around Jake. My mom usually visited him when I was at my dad’s.

Her voice is low and hurried. “I understand this isn’t easy for you. But our lives have changed. It’s going to be an adventure, Bel.”

Adventure? You call meeting a man on the Internet and forcing me to move across the country to live with his family an adventure? An adventure is swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean. An adventure is touring the pyramids in Egypt. Or shopping at the Saks after-Thanksgiving sale with Dad’s credit card. This, I do believe, qualifies as a nightmare!

“You know I’ve prayed about this. Jake and I both have. We know this is God’s will for us. I need you to trust me, because I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life.”

A single tear glides down Mom’s cheek, and I feel my heart constrict. This time last year my life was so normal. So happy. Can I just hit the reverse button and go back?

Slowly I nod. “Okay, Mom.” It’s kind of hard to argue with “God says this is right.” (Though I happen to think He’s wrong.)

The preacher clears his throat and lifts a bushy black brow.

“You can continue,” I say, knowing I’ve lost the battle. “She had something in her teeth.” Yes, that’s the best I've got.

I. Am. An. Idiot.

“And now, by the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Finley. You may kiss your bride.”

Nope. Can’t watch.

I turn my head as the “Wedding March” starts. Logan walks to my side, and I link my arm in his. Though we’re both going to be juniors, he’s a head taller than me. It’s like we’re steptwins. He grabs his six-year-old brother, Robbie, with his other hand, and off we go

in time to the music. Robbie throws rose petals all around us, giggling with glee, oblivious to the fact that we just witnessed a ceremony marking the end of life as we know it.

“Good job stopping the wedding.” Logan smirks. “Very successful.”

I jab my elbow into his side. “At least I tried! You did nothing!”

“I just wanted to see if you had it in you. And you don’t.”

I snarl in his direction as the camera flashes, capturing this day for all eternity.

Last week I was living in Manhattan in a two-story apartment between Sarah Jessica Parker and Katie Couric. I could hop a train to Macy’s and Bloomie’s. My friends and I could eat dinner at Tao and see who could count the most celebs. I had Broadway in my backyard

and Daddy’s MasterCard in my wallet.

Then my mom got married.

And I got a new life.

I should’ve paid that six-year-old to pull the fire alarm.

Click here to read my review.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Thanks to Marcia at the Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday

Well, I'll squeeze this post in under the deadline. Its tough being a one-computer family when you are used to having two (one is in the shop). Luckily I don't have to write a long post as my mailbox wasn't very full this week. I got The Note II which I have already reviewed. It was a sweet quick read, but I didn't like it as much as the original, which I also read and reviewed this week. So Not Happening is a YA novel about a rich New York teen whose recently divorced mom marries a blue-collar guy from Oklahoma and moves her out there--and makes her live that lifestyle. Read my review for more about it. Finally, I got The House on Grosvenor Square, which is the sequel to Before the Season Ends. They are classified as Regency inspirational romances. I haven't gotten to it yet, but I reviewed Before the Season Ends a few months ago. All these are First Wilcard books, so stay tuned to read the first chapter. As a matter of fact, So Not Happening is being toured tomorrow (Tuesday).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So Not Happening--My Review

I'm not quite sure what to say about So Not Happening by Jenny B. Jones. I enjoyed it when I read it. I liked the main character, a high school student named Bella whose parents have recently divorced. Her mother met a man on the internet and now they have left Manhattan and the life of private schools, designer clothes and high-limit credit cards for life in small town Truman Oklahoma. She goes from being an only child to having (and sharing a bathroom with) three stepbrothers. She isn't happy--and I can't say that I blame her. Her mother decided that they were moving to OK, then decided that her credit cards would be cut off (and didn't tell her). I actually liked the stepfather. He seemed to be trying to help her adjust and acted like he cared. Her mom on the other hand, seemed to have this "This is the life I've chosen, and I think it is better than what you had before so you just have to deal with it" attitude. Her dad is too into himself and his latest squeezes to make time for her. When she visits, he greets her, hands her a credit card, and tells her why he doesn't have time for her. Her friends from New York are presented as shallow and vain rich kids; all the good people are in OK (but there are some bad ones there too).

At school Bella gets involved in the newspaper and discovers a big secret. The book follows her as she follows the story. I found that aspect of the book interesting, but in the end, unrealistic--but telling how would be a spoiler.

This is a YA book, and Christian fiction. Bella goes to church a couple of times, and says a prayer or two, and joins the FCA, but it really isn't a religious book and her faith isn't what saves the day.

First Wilcard will tour this book next week. Check back to read the first chapter.

My Review: Nell's Cowboy

What happens when a handsome writer of her son's favorite books is the first guest in a widow's dude ranch? Well, for one thing, they solve the mystery of the local ghost town. For the other...well, the book is a Harelquin, so you tell me. It was a fun quick read. Plenty of electricity but no sex. It isn't marketed as Christian fiction but there was a little religion in it.

Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

Jay at Living Catholicism ran the Catholic Carnival for years, but recently had to stop. While I read posts on several blogs lamenting the loss of the Carnival, I didn't see anyone volunteering to take it over. I decided to try--but realized that a carnival is a lot of work. Jay sent out weekly messages asking for contributions, got people to host and sent out message indicating when the carnival was posted. Hosts had to gather and compile the postings for the week.

Book Bloggers are fond of memes. Check my blog or the book blogs on my sidebar and you'll see Mailbox Mondays, Teaser Tuesdays and Thinger Tuesdays, Wordless Wednesdays, and more. These memes encourage us to visit each others blogs and give us handy links to do so. I decided that I'd try reviving the Catholic Carnival as a meme, so please, join in.

Who can play? Anyone posting about things Catholic. Some blogs are focused on Catholicism; others, like mine, mention it periodically. Both are welcome here. While I am not going to stay on the computer all day to monitor posts, nor am I going to moderate them, I will remove links to blatant spam or obvious anti-Catholic posts.

How do you participate? Go to your blog. Write a post titled Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival. In it summarize and link to any posts you want to bring to our attention. You can highlight one post or a dozen. You can pontificate on the subject of your choice, share links or ask for prayers. In your post, link to this master Sunday Snippets post. Also, include the following:
  • Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival is a weekly opportunity to share our best posts with the wider Catholic blogging community. To participate, create a post highlighting posts that would be of interest to Catholics and link to the host blog at Go to the host blog and leave a comment giving a link to your post.

Once you have published your post, come back here and leave a comment that includes a link to it. Then go visit some of the other contributors.

How can I remember to participate next week? Go to the Sunday Snippets Yahoogroup and subscribe. A reminder will be sent weekly.

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