What’s in Grandma’s Attic?

I just finished reading two of the sweetest books. They would make great read aloud stories for early primary school children, or even starter devotional type reading material for an upper elementary aged child.  Arleta Richardson teaches Biblical lessons and precepts as she brings the past alive with her wonderful storytelling skills.  I was totally charmed by both, In Grandma’s Attic, and, More Stories from Grandma’s Attic.

~*~

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:

 

In Grandma’s Attic
AND
More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”

***************************************

More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

 

Words

I am a writer.  I love words.  Words are my friend.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Words are not little Kaylee’s friends.  The words she knows are ugly, hateful destructive things.  That’s why she has chosen not to speak.   Sierra, on the other hand, uses words as her shield.  If she throws up enough words she can mask her pain and keep the memories of her daughter’s death at bay.  Sierra and Kaylee both long for solace and healing, but neither of therm find it until they come together seeking solace from The Word.

Words, a Novel, by Ginny L. Yttrup is a story of healing and redemption.   Although dealing with dark and vile subject matter, this story is infused with light and hope.    I soaked my shirt sleeve and a dozen or so tissues while reading it, but every tear was healing and uplifting.

Ginny L. Yttrup, herself a victim of abuse, eloquently tells Kaylee’s story in the words she doesn’t use.  The readers are not dragged through graphic and horrific scenes, yet we understand that they occurred.  From the first word in this book to the last, I read every one and couldn’t stop, and through them all I was very much aware of  The Word, and the promise of a peace that passes all understanding.   I recommend putting this book on your must read list.  I am putting it in my permanent collection.

~*~

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:

Words

B&H Books (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn, Trade Book Marketing, B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ginny L. Yttrup is an accomplished freelance writer, speaker, and life coach who also ministers to women wounded by sexual trauma. Her blogs include Fiction Creator, My Daily Light, and Crossings Life Coaching. She has two grown sons and lives in California. Words is her first novel.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“I collect words. I keep them in a box in my mind. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box. But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.”
Ten-year old Kaylee Wren doesn’t speak. Not since her drug-addled mother walked away, leaving her in a remote cabin nestled in the towering redwoods-in the care of a man who is as dangerous as he is evil. With silence her only refuge, Kaylee collects words she might never speak from the only memento her mother left behind: a dictionary.

Sierra Dawn is thirty-four, an artist, and alone. She has allowed the shame of her past to silence her present hopes and chooses to bury her pain by trying to control her circumstances. But on the twelfth anniversary of her daughter’s death, Sierra’s control begins to crumble as the God of her childhood woos her back to Himself.

Brought together by Divine design, Kaylee and Sierra will discover together the healing mercy of the Word—Jesus Christ.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433671700
ISBN-13: 978-1433671708

AND NOW…THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS:

“In the beginning was the Word.”

John 1:1

“All those things for which we have no words are lost. The mind—the culture—has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world’s work. With these we try to save our very lives.”

Annie Dillard

Chapter One

Kaylee

I collect words.

I keep them in a box in my mind. I’d like to keep them in a real box, something pretty, maybe a shoe box covered with flowered wrapping paper. I’d write my words on scraps of paper and then put them in the box. Whenever I wanted, I’d open the box and pick up the papers, reading and feeling the words all at once. Then I could hide the box.

But the words are safer in my mind. There, he can’t take them.

The dictionary is heavy on my lap. I’m on page 1,908. I’m reading through the Ss. When I finish the Zs, I’ll start all over again.

Su-per-flu-ous.

I like that word. It means something extra, something special, something you don’t need. It’s super. But you don’t need super. You just need good enough.

How does it sound when someone says it?

I didn’t really think about how words sound until I stopped talking. I didn’t mean to stop talking, it just sort of happened.

My mom left.

I got scared.

And the words got stuck.

Now I just read the words and then listen for them on the little radio in the kitchen, the only superfluous thing we have.

As I read, my hair falls across my eyes. I push it out of the way, but it falls back. I push it out of the way again, but this time my fingers catch in a tangle. I work for a minute trying to separate the hairs and smooth them down.

When my mom was here, she combed my hair most mornings. Our hair is the same. “Stick straight and dark as soot.” That’s what she used to say.

It hurt when she pulled the comb through my hair. “Kaylee, stop squirming,” she’d tell me. “It’ll pull more if you move.”

Sometimes I’d cry when the comb caught in a knot and she’d get impatient and tell me to stop whining.

Maybe that’s why she left. Maybe she got tired of my whining.

That’s what he says. He tells me she didn’t love me anymore—that she wanted out. But I don’t believe him. I think something happened to her, an accident or something.

She probably has amnesia. I read that word in the dictionary.

That’s when you hit your head so hard on something that you pass out and have to go to the hospital and when you wake up, you don’t remember anything. Not even your name.

Not even that you have a daughter.

I think that’s what happened to my mom. When she remembers, she’ll come back and get me.

So I just wait. I won’t leave. If I leave, she won’t know where to find me.

And when she comes back, I’ll be good. I won’t whine anymore.

I was nine when she left. Now, I’m ten. I’ll be eleven the day after Christmas. I always know it’s near my birthday when they start playing all the bell songs on the radio. I like Silver Bells. I like to think about the city sidewalks and all the people dressed in holiday style. But Jingle Bells is my favorite. Dashing through the snow on a one-horse open sleigh sounds fun.

It’s not near my birthday yet. It’s still warm outside.

As the sun sets, the cabin gets dark inside, too dark to read. He didn’t pay the electric bill, again. I hope he pays it before Christmas or I won’t hear the songs on the radio.

Before I put the dictionary away, I turn to the front page and run my fingers across the writing scribbled there. “Lee and Katherine Wren. Congratulations.

Lee and Katherine are my parents. Were my parents. Are my parents. I’m not sure.

My mom told me that the dictionary was a gift from her Aunt Adele. Mom thought it was kind of a funny wedding gift, but she liked it and kept it even after Lee left. We used it a lot. Sometimes when I’d ask her a question about what something was or what something meant, she’d say, “Go get the dictionary Kaylee, we’ll look it up.” Then she’d show me how to find the word, and we’d read the definition. Most of the time she’d make me sound out the words and read them to her. Only sometimes did she read them to me. But most of the time when I asked her a question, she told me to be quiet. She liked it best when I was quiet.

I miss my mom. But the dictionary makes me feel like part of her is still here. While she’s gone, the dictionary is mine. I have to take care of it. So just like I always do before I put the book away, I ask a silent favor: Please don’t let him notice it. Please don’t let him take it.

I put the dictionary back under the board that makes up a crooked shelf. The splintered wood pricks the tip of one finger as I lift the board and shove the dictionary under. The shelf is supported on one end by two cinderblocks and by one cinderblock and three books on the other end.

I remember the day she set up the shelf. I followed her out the front door and down the steps, and then watched her kneel in the dirt and pull out three concrete blocks she’d found under the steps. She dusted dirt and cobwebs from the cracks and then carried each block inside. She stacked two blocks one on top of the other at one end of the room and then spaced the last block at the other end of the room, under the window.

“Kaylee, hand me a few books from that box. Get big ones.”

I reached into the box and pulled out the biggest book—the dictionary. Then I handed her the other two books. She stacked them on top of the block and then laid a board across the books and blocks.

Even at seven, I knew what she was doing. We’d move in with a boyfriend and Mom would get us “settled” which meant she’d move in our things—our clothes, books, and a few toys for me. She’d rearrange the apartment, or house—or this time, the cabin—and make it “homey.”

After she made the shelf, she lined up our books. Then she placed a vase of wildflowers we’d collected that morning on the end of the shelf. She stood back and looked at what she’d done. Her smile told me she liked it.

The cabin was small, but of all the places we’d lived, I could tell this was her favorite. And this boyfriend seemed nice enough at first, so I hoped maybe we’d stay this time.

We did stay. Or at least I stayed. So now I’m the one arranging the shelf and I’m careful to put it back just as it was. Our books are gone. In their place I return two beer bottles, one with a sharp edge of broken glass, to their dust-free circles on the shelf. I pick up the long-empty bag of Frito Lay corn chips and, before leaning the bag against the broken bottle, I hold it open close to my face and breathe in. The smell of corn and salt make my stomach growl.

Once I’m sure everything looks just as it was on the shelf, I crawl to my mattress in the corner of the room and sit, Indian-style, with my back against the wall and watch the shadows. Light shines between the boards across the broken front window; shadows of leaves and branches move across the walls, ceiling, and door. Above my head I hear a rat or squirrel on the roof. Its movement scatters pine needles and something—a pinecone, I imagine—rolls from the top of the roof, over my head, and then drops into the bed of fallen needles around the front steps.

This is the longest part of the day—when it’s too dark to read.

When I read…

I forget.

That’s how it works.

Once the sun goes down, I don’t leave the cabin. I’m afraid he’ll come back after work and find me gone. He’s told me not to leave because he’d find me and I’d be sorry.

I believe him. believe –verb 1. to take as true, real, etc. 2. to have confidence in a statement or promise of (another person).

My legs go numb under my body and my eyes feel heavy, but I don’t sleep. Sleep isn’t safe. Instead, I close my eyes for just a minute and see flames against the backs of my eyelids. They burn everything my mom and I brought to the cabin.

I remember the hissing and popping as the nighttime drizzle hit the bonfire. And I remember his laughter.

“She’s gone for good, Kaylee. She ain’t comin back.” He cackled like an old witch as he threw more gasoline on the flames.

The smoke filled my nose and stung my lungs as I watched Lamby, the stuffed animal I’d slept with since I was a baby, burn along with most of our clothes and books.

The only exceptions were the three books he hadn’t noticed holding up the shelf. My tears couldn’t put out the fire, and I finally stopped crying. I wiped my nose on my sleeve and stepped away from the blaze. I squared my shoulders and stood as tall as I could. Something changed in me that night. I couldn’t be little anymore. I had to be grown up.

I open my eyes and reach my hand under the corner of the mattress. My fingers dig into the hole in the canvas, feeling for the music box that had been inside Lamby. I’d found it in the ashes the morning after the fire. I tug it free, then wind the key and hold it up to my ear. As the music plays, I remember the words of the song that Grammy taught me just before she died. Jesus loves me, this I know…

The song makes me feel sad.

I don’t think Jesus loves me anymore.

Eventually, I must fall asleep, because I wake up startled—mouth dry, palms damp, and my heart pounding.

I hear the noise that woke me, the crunching of leaves and pine needles. I listen. Are his steps steady, even? No. Two steps. Pause. A dragging sound. Pause. A thud as he stumbles. Pause. Will he get up? Or has he passed out? Please let him be out. A metal taste fills my mouth as I hear him struggle to get back on his feet.

“Kay—leeee?” He slurs. “You up? Lemme in.”

He bangs his fist on the front door, which hasn’t locked or even shut tight since the night he aimed his .22 at the doorknob and blew it to pieces.

The door gives way under the pressure of his fist. As it swings open, he pounds again but misses and falls into the cabin. He goes straight down and hits the floor, head first. A gurgling sound comes from his throat, and I smell the vomit before I see it pooled around his face.

I hope he’ll drown in it.

But he won’t die tonight.

Instead, he heaves himself onto his back and reaches for the split on his forehead where, even in the dark, I can see the blood trickling into his left eye. Then his hand slides down past his ear and drops to the floor. At the sound of his snoring, I exhale. I realize I’ve been holding my breath. Waiting…waiting…waiting.

Chapter Two

Sierra

Cocooned in crocheted warmth, I slip my hands from beneath the afghan and reach for my journal—a notebook filled with snippets of feelings and phrases. I jot a line: Like shards of glass slivering my soul. I set pen and journal aside and warm my hands around my ritual mug of Earl Gray, considering the phrase. I like the cadence of the alliteration. I see shining slivers piercing an ambiguous soul. I see a canvas layered in hues of red, russet, and black.

A memory calls my name, but I turn away. There will be time for memories later.

I close my eyes against the flame of color igniting the morning sky and allow my body the luxury of relaxing. I breathe deep intentional breaths, exhaling slowly, allowing mind and body to find a like rhythm. With each breath I let go, one by one, the anxieties of the past week.

Prints—signed and numbered. Five hundred in all.

Contract negotiations with two new galleries. Done.

Showing in Carmel last night. Successful.

Mortgage paid. On time for once.

Van Gogh neutered. What did the vet say? “He’s lost his manhood—be gentle with him. He’ll need a few days to recoup.” Good grief.

A whimper interrupts my reverie. The afghan unfurls as I get up and pad across the deck back into the bungalow. Van presses his nose through the cross-hatch door of his crate—his woeful expression speaking volumes. I open the cage and the spry mutt I met at the shelter a few days before staggers toward the deck, tail between his legs. I translate his body language as utter humiliation and feel guilty for my responsible choice.

“Sorry pal, it’s the only way I could spring you from the shelter. They made me do it.” His ears perk and then droop. His salt and pepper coat bristles against my hand, while his ears are cashmere soft. He sighs and drifts back to sleep while I wonder at the wisdom of adopting an animal that’s already getting under my skin. I consider packing him up and taking him back before it’s too late. Instead, I brace myself and concede “Okay, I’ll love you—but just a little.” He twitches in response.

The distant throttle of fishing boats leaving the harbor and the bickering of gulls overhead break the morning silence followed by the ringing of the phone. I smile and reach for the phone lying under my journal.

“Hi, Margaret.” No need to answer with a questioning “Hello?” There’s only one person I know who dares calling at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday.

Laughter sings through the phone line. “Shannon, when are you going to stop calling me Margaret?”

I dubbed her that after the indomitable Margaret Thatcher, prime minister of her homeland. Her unwavering British accent, even after nearly half a century in the United States, and her strength under pressure inspired the nickname. It fits.

“Well, as I’ve told you, I’ll stop calling you Margaret when you stop calling me Shannon. Need I remind you that I haven’t been Shannon in over a decade?”

“Oh, right. Let’s see, what is your name now? Sahara Dust? Sequoia Dew?”

I play along. “Does Sierra Dawn ring a bell?”

“Right, Sierra Dawn, beautiful name. But you’ll always be Shannon Diane to me.”

The smile in her voice chases the shadows from my heart. “Okay, Mother. I mean Margaret.” I pull my knees to my chest and reach for the afghan as I settle back in the weathered Adirondack for our conversation.

“Sierra, I didn’t wake you, did I?”

“Of course not. What is it you say, ‘You can take the girl out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.’”

“That’s my girl. Your daddy’s been out in the fields since 6:00 but he let me sleep. I just got up and thought I’d share a cup of tea with you.”

I do a quick pacific/central time conversion and realize with some alarm that it’s 9:00 a.m. in Texas.

“You slept until 9:00? You never sleep that late. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, darling, I’m simply getting old. I had to get up three times during the night and by this morning I just wanted to sleep. So I indulged.”

“Well, good for you. I’m glad you called. You know my favorite Saturday mornings are spent with you and Earl.”

“I’m not drinking Earl.”

A startling confession. “You’re not? What are you drinking?”

“Sierra, I’m drinking Lemon Zinger!” Her declaration is followed by a giggle that sounds anything but old.

I stretch my long legs and cross them at the ankles and lean my head against the back of the chair. I feel as though my mother, with gentle skill, has distracted me while she’s worked to remove a few of those slivers imbedded in my soul. But unless I stop brushing up against my splintered history, the slivers will return—or so she tells me.

Just before we hang up, she says, “Shannon—” there’s such tenderness in her voice that I let the slip pass— “are you going to the cemetery today?”

Her question tears open the wound, exposing the underlying infection. I imagine her practicality won’t allow her to leave the wound festering any longer; instead she lances my heart.

I lean forward. “Yes, Mother. You know I will.” My tone is tight, closed. But I can’t seem to help it.

“Darling, it’s time to let go—it’s been twelve years. It’s time to grasp grace and move on.”

The fringe of the afghan I’ve played with as we’ve talked is now twisted tight around my index finger, cutting off the circulation. “What are you saying? That I should just forget—just let go and walk away— never think about it again? You know I can’t do that.”

“Not forget, Sierra— forgive. It’s time.”

“Mother, you know I don’t want to talk about this.”

“Yes, I know. But you need to at least think about it. Think about the truth. Ask yourself what’s true.”

I sigh at my mother’s oft repeated words and grunt my consent before I hang up— or “ring off” as she would say.

I left Texas at eighteen and headed to California, sure that was where I’d “find myself.” On the day I left, my daddy stood at the driver’s door of my overstuffed used station wagon gazing at the hundreds of acres of soil he’d readied for planting in the fall and gave me what I think of now as my own “Great Commission.” In the vernacular of the Bible Belt, my daddy, a farmer with the soul of a poet, sent me out into the world with a purpose.

“Honey, do you know why I farm?”

At eighteen I’d never considered the “why” of what my parents did. “No, Daddy. Why?”

“Farming’s not something that can be done alone. I till the ground, plant the seeds, and irrigate. But it’s the rising and setting of the sun and the changing of the seasons that cause the grain to grow. Farming is a partnership with the Creator. Each year when I reap the harvest, I marvel at a Creator who allows me the honor of co-creating with him.”

He’d stopped staring at the fields and instead looked straight at me. “Look for what the Creator wants you to do, Shannon. He wants to share his creativity with you. He wants to partner with you. You find what he wants you to do.”

With that, he planted a kiss on my forehead and shut the door of my car. With my daddy’s commission tucked in my heart, I left in search of my life. My older brother, Jeff, was already in California completing his final year in the agricultural school at Cal-Poly in San Luis Obispo. Tired of dorm life, Jeff and two friends rented a house in town and told me I could rent a room from them for the year. I was thrilled.

Our neighbors and Mother and Daddy’s friends couldn’t understand why they’d let me “run off” to California. In their minds, California was a dark place where drugs and sex ruled. But Daddy assured them California was not the Sodom and Gomorrah they imagined. He should know. His roots were in California. He was born and raised there. Jeff and I grew up hearing about the Golden State and were determined we’d see it for ourselves one day. College in California seemed a logical choice to both of us.

As I headed west, I thought of my parents and what I’d learned from each of them through the years. Daddy taught me to see. Where others in our community saw grain, Daddy saw God. He always encouraged me in his quiet and simple way to look beyond the obvious. “Look beyond a person’s actions and see their heart. Look for what’s causing them to act the way they act, then you’ll understand them better.”

When I was about twelve, Mother and Daddy took us with them down to Galveston for a week. Daddy was there for an American Farm Bureau meeting. After the meeting, we stayed for a few rare days of vacation. I remember standing on the beach and looking out at the flat sea, Daddy pulled me close and pointed at the surf and asked, “What do you see?”

“The ocean?” I asked it more than stated.

“Yes, but there’s more. You’re seeing God’s power.”

I must have seemed unimpressed because Daddy laughed. “It’s there Shan, someday you’ll see it. But, I’ll admit it’s easier to see it in the crashing surf and jagged cliffs of the California coastline.”

I didn’t understand what he meant then—and I’m still not sure I fully understand—but back then my daddy’s description of the California coastline followed me as I was off to see it for myself.

My mother taught me to look for something else. “What’s the truth, Shannon?” she’d ask over and over, challenging me to choose what was right. She taught me to analyze a situation and then make a decision that represented the truth foundational to our family.

Most often the truth she spoke of was found in the big family Bible she’d brought with her from England. She’d lay the book out on the kitchen table and open it to the book of John in the New Testament and she’d read from the King James version: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

“There’s freedom in the truth, Shannon. You remember that,” she’d say.

Again, I’m only now beginning to understand what she meant. But these were the lessons from home that I carried with me to California.

So why hadn’t I applied those lessons? Why I had I wandered so far from my parents’ truth?

Those are questions I’d ask myself many times over. I’d yet to find the answers.

Angel Harp

I’ve read a lot of good reviews on this book, but mine isn’t going to be one. I didn’t hate the book. It wasn’t badly written. It just didn’t appeal to me. To be honest, I felt too much like I was caught up in gossip, and since I don’t like gossip I probably didn’t give the book a fair read. Don’t write this book off just because it struck a wrong chord with me. Check out the first chapter (below) and if the narrator’s voice doesn’t bother you, go for it.

~*~

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:

Angel Harp

FaithWords (January 26, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist, Hachette Book Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DISCRIPTION:

Widowed at 34, amateur harpist Marie “Angel” Buchan realizes at 40 that her life and dreams are slowly slipping away. A summer in Scotland turns out to offer far more than she ever imagined! Not only does the music of her harp capture the fancy of the small coastal village she visits, she is unexpectedly drawn into a love triangle involving the local curate and the local duke.

The boyhood friends have been estranged as adults because of their mutual love of another woman (now dead) some years before. History seems destined to repeat itself, with Marie in the thick of it. Her involvement in the lives of the two men, as well as in the community, leads to a range of exciting relationships and lands Marie in the center of the mystery of a long-unsolved local murder. Eventually she must make her decision: with whom will she cast the lot of her future?

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (January 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 044656771X
ISBN-13: 978-0446567718

TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER, PRESS THE ‘BROWSE INSIDE THIS BOOK’ BUTTON:

Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall

My Thoughts:
Fantastic! This was a spellbinding page turner. That’s why you didn’t see me online today. This book took me away! I was caught up in life of Marianne, an ordinary woman who found herself in very extraordinary circumstances. I kept turning the pages as she struggled with herself and with God. She wasn’t hero material, but in order to save her friends and the man she loved, she knew she had to try …

What I really loved about this story was the authentic human weaknesses and doubts that assailed the characters. Impressed into the Royal British navy against their will — even Marianne — they struggle to survive, and they struggle with God. Only Daniel, the youngest among them, holds unwavering faith in God but since he is a mere child, his convictions are dismissed. If you’re looking for a good high seas adventure, this is it!

~*~

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:

Surrender the Heart

Barbour Books (August 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to MaryLu Tyndall and Camy Tang for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats. Her passion is to write page-turning, romantic adventures that not only entertain but expose Christians to their full potential in Christ. For more information on MaryLu and her upcoming releases, please visit her website or her blog.

Visit the author’s website.
Visit the author’s blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601658
ISBN-13: 978-1602601659

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

June 18, 1812, Baltimore, Maryland

“I would rather boil in oil than marry Noah Brenin.” Marianne tossed the silver brooch onto her vanity.

“Hold your breath and stay still.” Rose said from behind her. “Besides, it is only an engagement party, not a wedding.”

“But it is one more step to that horrid destination.” Marianne sucked in her breath as Rose threaded the laces through the eyelets on her stays. “Why must women wear these contraptions?”

“To look our best for the gentlemen in our lives.” Cassandra appeared on Marianne’s left, a lacy petticoat flung over one arm. With shimmering auburn hair and eyes the color of emeralds, Cassandra had no trouble looking her best for anyone.

Marianne huffed. “I have no care what any gentleman thinks of my appearance.”

“Which is why you are still unmarried at five and twenty.”

“Then what is your excuse at three and twenty?” Marianne arched a brow, to which Cassandra responded with a shrug. “I have not yet met a man worthy of me.” She grinned.

“Where on earth is your chambermaid?” Rose grunted as she squeezed Marianne’s rounded figure into the stays and tied the final lace tight. “Shouldn’t she be doing this?”

“I dismissed her.” Marianne waved a hand through the air. “I prefer to dress myself.” She hoped they didn’t hear the slight quaver in her voice. If only they knew that her mother had been forced to let the entire staff go and the ones here today were hired just for her betrothal party.

“There.” Rose finished her work and stepped back as Marianne took the petticoat from Cassandra and slipped it over her head.

“Truth is, I do not wish to marry—ever.” Marianne squared her shoulders as Cassandra slid behind her and latched the petticoat hooks.

Rose put her hands on her waist. “Noah Brenin is a fine man and a good catch.”

Marianne gazed at her friend and couldn’t help but smile at the motherly reprimand burning in her crystal blue eyes. Tall and slender, with honey blond hair, Rose turned many a head in Baltimore. Just like Cassandra.

But not like Marianne.

“He is a boor.”

“Why so low an opinion of him? Haven’t you and he been friends since childhood?” Rose cocked her head and gave Marianne a look of censure.

“I wouldn’t call it friendship, more like forced acquaintance. And my knowledge of him is precisely why I know him for the churlish clod he is.”

Gathering a cream-colored silk-embroidered gown from Marianne’s bed, Rose and Cassandra tossed it over her head and assisted her as she wiggled into it. She adjusted the ruffled lace bordering her neckline and circling her puffy sleeves. Cassandra handed her a jeweled belt which Marianne strapped around her high waist and buckled in front. She pressed down the folds of her gown, admiring the pink lace trailing down the front and trimming the hemline. After slipping on her white satin slippers, Marianne moved to the full length looking glass and paused to eye her reflection.

Plain. Despite the shimmering, glamorous dress, plain was the first word that came to her mind. Perhaps because that was how she had always been described. Brown hair, brown eyes, average height, a bit plump. Nothing remarkable, nothing to catch an eye.

Simply plain.

Which was precisely why, when the other girls her age were being courted, Marianne had preferred to spend her time caring for her ailing mother and younger sister, particularly after their father died. No whirlwind romances, no soirees, no grand adventures lit up the horizon for her. She had resigned herself to lead an ordinary life. An ordinary life for an ordinary girl.

“Come now, it won’t be so bad.” Rose brushed a lock of hair from Marianne’s forehead and then straightened one of the curls dangling about her neck. “You look as though you were attending your own funeral.”

“I dare say I feel as though I am.” Tired of staring into the mirror with the hope her reflection would transform into that of a beautiful woman, Marianne turned aside, picked up her silk gloves from the vanity and sauntered toward the window.

“I, for one, cannot wait to get married,” Rose said. “To the right man of course. He must be a good, honest, god-fearing man. A man who stays home, not a seaman. And he must be agreeable in all respects.”

“What about handsome?” Cassandra asked, and Marianne turned to see a blush creep up Rose’s neck.

“Well, yes, I suppose I would not be opposed to that.” Her blue eyes twinkled.

Facing the window, Marianne slid the white gloves onto her hands and tugged them up her arms. Shouts echoed from the street below, accompanied by the clip clop of horse hooves and the grating of carriage wheels. She brushed aside the curtain to see people running to and fro darting between carriages. A warm breeze, heavy with moisture and the smells of the sea, stirred the curtains. A bell rang in the distance, drawing Marianne’s attention to the maze of ship’s masts thrusting into the blue sky like iron bars of a prison. A prison that could not constrain the ravenous blue waters from feeding upon the innocent—an innocent like her father.

Rose and Cassandra joined her at the window as more shouts blasted in with the wind. “What is all the commotion about?” Cassandra pushed back the other side of the curtains.

“There have been rumors that President Madison will soon declare war on Britain,” Marianne said.

“I hope it doesn’t come to that.” Rose peered over Marianne’s shoulder. “War is such horrid business.”

“But necessary if the British insist on stealing our men from land and sea and impressing them into their Navy.” Marianne felt her ire rising. “Not to mention how they rouse the Indians to attack us on the frontier.”

“They want their colonies back, I suppose.” Afternoon sunlight set Cassandra’s red hair aflame in ribbons of liquid fire. “England never was good at losing.”

“Well they can’t have them.” Marianne’s voice rose with a determination she felt building within. Though she’d been born after the Revolution, she had heard the stories of oppression and tyranny enforced upon them by a nation across the seas whose king thought he had the right to dictate laws and taxes without giving the people a voice. But no more. “We won our freedom from them. We are a nation now. A new nation that represents liberty to the entire world.”

“I couldn’t agree more.” Cassandra nodded with a smile. “Perhaps you should run for mayor?”

“A woman in public office?” Marianne chuckled. “That will never happen.”

The door creaked open, and Marianne turned to see her mother and younger sister slip inside.

Lizzie’s eyes widened and she rushed toward Marianne. “You look so beautiful, Marianne!”

Kneeling, Marianne embraced her sister. She held her tight and took a big whiff of the lavender soap with which their mother always scrubbed the little girl. “Thank you, Lizzie. I can always count on you for a compliment.”

“Now, Lizzie, don’t wrinkle your sister’s dress.” Marianne’s mother sank into one of the chairs by the fireplace and winced. The slight reminder of her mother’s pain caused Marianne’s heart to shrink. She squeezed her little sister again—the one beacon of joy in their house these past three years since Father died—and kissed her on the cheek. “You look very beautiful too.”

The little girl clutched her skirt and twirled around. “Do you really think so?” She drew her lips into a pout. “But when can I wear a dress like yours?”

“Come now, Lizzie,” Mother said. “You are only six. When you are a grown woman like Marianne, you may wear more elaborate gowns.” She gestured toward Rose and Cassandra. “Ladies, would you take Lizzie downstairs for a moment? I need a word with Marianne.”

“Of course, Mrs. Denton.” Rose took Lizzie’s hand. “Come along little one.”

Cassandra followed after them and closed the door.

Marianne sat in the chair beside her mother and gently grasped her hands. She flinched at how cold and moist they were. “How are you feeling, Mama?”

“Very well today, dear.” She looked down as if hiding something..

But Marianne didn’t need to look in her mother’s eyes to know she was lying. The sprinkles of perspiration on her forehead, the paleness of her skin, and the tightening of her lips when the pains hit spoke more clearly than any words.

Marianne squeezed her mother’s hands. “The medicaments are not working?”

“They will work. It takes time.” Her mother attempted a smile. “But let us not talk of that now. I have something more important to discuss with you.” She released a heavy sigh then lifted her gaze to Marianne’s. Though illness had stolen the glimmer from her eyes, it could not hide the sweet kindness of her soul. “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

The truth of her words sliced through Marianne. She stared at the floral pattern woven into the carpet. “You know I do.”

“It isn’t fair of me to ask this of you.” Her mother’s voice rang with conviction and deep sorrow.

“You didn’t ask, Mama. I want to do this.” A truth followed by a lie. Marianne hoped the good canceled out the bad.

“Come now. You cannot fool me.” Mama said. “I know this is not the match you would choose.”

Releasing her mother’s hands, Marianne rose from the chair and sauntered toward the window. The rustle of her gown crackled through the air with conviction. “In truth, I would choose no match.” She turned and forced a smile. “So if I must marry, why not this man?”

Her mother gazed at her with such love and sorrow that Marianne felt her heart would burst. Once considered the most beautiful woman in Baltimore, Jane Denton, now withered away with the sickness that robbed her of her glow and luster and stole the fat from her bones, leaving her but a frail skeleton of what she once had been. The physicians had no idea what ailed her save that without the medicaments they administered, she would die a quicker and more painful death.

Tearing her gaze from the tragic vision, Marianne glanced out the window where it seemed as though the approaching evening only heightened the citizens’ agitation. “Marrying Noah Brenin will save us. It will save you.”

“But what of saving you?” Her mother’s sweet plea caressed Marianne’s ears, but she forced down the spark of hope that dared to rise at her mother’s question. There was no room for hope now, only necessity.

“You know if we continue as is, all that is left of our fortune will be spent in one year on your medicaments. Then what will we do? Without my dowry, no man will look my way, since that and our good name is all that has caught this particular fish upon the hook.” And without a husband to unlock her inheritance, her father had ensured that the seven thousand dollars would remain as far from her reach as if she did not own it at all.

“Perhaps you will meet another man—someone you love?” Her mother said.

“Mama, I am five and twenty.” Marianne turned and waved her hands over herself. “And plain to look at.” She gave a bitter laugh. “Do you see suitors lining up at our door?”

“You are too beautiful for words, dearest.” Her mother’s eyes beamed in adoration. “You just don’t know it yet.”

Shrugging off her mother’s compliment as the obligation of a parent, Marianne stiffened her back before she attempted to rekindle an argument long since put to death. “We could take what’s left of our money and fund a privateer, Mama.” Marianne glanced out the window at a mob that had formed down the street. “War is certain and our fledgling navy will need all the help it can get.”

Her mother’s nervous huff drew Marianne’s gaze. “It is far too much of a gamble. And gambling destroys lives”—a glaze covered her mother’s eyes as she stared into the room—“and families.”

Marianne grimaced. “I am not like Papa. I have heard these privateers can make a fortune while helping to defend our country.”

A breeze stirred a curled wisp of her mother’s hair as she gazed at Marianne with concern.

Marianne twisted the ring on her finger. “Down at the docks, merchantmen are already outfitted their ships as privateers. The call for investors goes out daily.” If only she could convince her mother, not only would Marianne not have to marry that clod, Noah, but she could do something to help this great nation of hers.

Her mother’s boney hands perched in her lap began to tremble. “We could lose everything. And what of Lizzie? I could not bare it.”

Shame drummed upon Marianne’s hopes. She had upset her mother when the doctor strictly instructed her to keep her calm.

“Perhaps a trade of some sort?” Mama offered. “I hear that Mrs. Pickersgill makes a decent living sewing ensigns.”

A blast of warm wind stirred the gauzy curtains and cooled the perspiration forming on Marianne’s neck. “Mama you know I have no skills. I’m not like other ladies. The last gown I attempted to sew fell apart. My cooking would drive the hardiest frontiersman back to the woods, and the pianoforte runs when it sees me coming.”

Mother chuckled. “You exaggerate, dearest.”

But Marianne could tell by the look in her mother’s eyes that despite the humorous delivery, her words rang true. Though a governess in her younger years and her mother in her later years had strived to teach Marianne the skills every proper lady should acquire, she had found them nothing but tedious. She possessed no useful skills, no talents. As her father had so often declared before his death. In essence, Marianne had nothing to offer. If her mother would not agree to fund a privateer, Marianne would have to accept her fate in marriage.

“I’m an old woman and will die soon anyway,” Mama said with a sigh. “But I must ensure you and Lizzie are cared for.”

Gathering her skirts, Marianne dashed toward her mother and knelt at her feet. “You must never say such a thing.”

“Do not soil your beautiful gown.” Her mother smiled and wiped a tear from Marianne’s cheek. “Perhaps we should simply trust God with my health and let His will prevail.”

Marianne laid her head on her mother’s lap like she used to do as a child. She had trusted her father, she had trusted God.

And they had both let her down—her and her mother.

Trust no longer came so easily. “I will not let you die, Mother. I cannot.” Her eyes burned with tears. “As long as I have my inheritance and a man who is willing to marry me, I promise you will be well cared for. And Lizzie too. That is all that matters, now.” Marianne lifted her gaze to her mother’s, feeling strength surge through her.

“And mark my words, Mama. Nothing will stand in my way. Especially not Noah Brenin.”

Katy’s Debate, by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Giveaway!

My Thoughts:
First off, I want to offerKim Vogel Sawyer, Krista Ocier and all the Zondervan folks, and the First Wild Card bloggers an apology for my negligence in posting this review.  I should not have scheduled any book reviews for the time before, during or after my vacation trip.

I did read Katy’s Debate and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I enjoyed, Katy’s New World, the first book in the Katy Lambright series (my review here).  Katy is every bit a typical teen, but she lives in a community very atypical to most of us.  Katy is a Mennonite and her fellowship follows the old ways very closely.  Katy has been given special permission to continue her education in a public high school, but her father and the elders are monitoring her very closely.

Katy is trying to remain a dutiful daughter, follow God’s will and live out her own dreams, but her father seems to be intent on screwing things up.  He is courting the Widow Graber and if he marries her their lives will change much more substantially then they changed when Katy went off to school.  Katy sets out to show her father — and Mrs. Graber — that she doesn’t need a mother.  In typical teen fashion, Katy focuses on her own wants and needs, putting her father in the position for choosing betweeen Katy and Mrs. Graber.  If Katy wins, will it really be a victory?

To win a copy of this book, leave a comment on this post.  Winner will be chosen (for really this time) at midnight Pacific time, Thursday August 5th, 2010.

~*~

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:

Katy’s Debate (Katy Lambright Series, The)

Zondervan (May 7, 2010)

***Special thanks to Krista Ocier of Zondervan for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling, award-winning author Kim Vogel Sawyer has many titles besides “writer.” As a wife, mother of three, grandmother of six, Sunday school teacher, and speaker, her life is full and happily busy. In her spare time she enjoys drama, quilting, and calligraphy. Kim and her husband make their home in Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s novels.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 7, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310719232
ISBN-13: 978-0310719236

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER: