Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic" & "Treasures from Grandma's Attic" Book 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 books:

Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic


Treasures from Grandma’s Attic

David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

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

I love, love, love these precious stories I read as a young girl and am thrilled that they have been packaged and re-released so I can share them with my girls now. My 11 year Chloe has been just taken with the stories of Mabel and Sarah Jane and I know my 7 year old Paige is not far behind her. To have such wonderful, fun and innocent (but mischevious) stories available is fantastic and the fact that they pull up such a feeling of nostalgia for me just makes it all the better. Boys can appreciate the fun antics of Mabel and her brothers too and these books will be read aloud enjoyment for our family this fall. You can't go wrong with these books, or their prices at $6.99 a piece. A true treasure!


The late Arleta Richardson grew up an only child in Chicago, living in a hotel on the shores of Lake Michigan. Under the care of her maternal grandmother, she listened for hours to stories from her grandmother’s childhood. With unusual recall, Arleta began to write these stories for an audience that now numbers over two million. “My grandmother would be amazed to know her stories have gone around the world,” Arleta said.


Grandma did what? You might be surprised. Back in the 1880’s, when she was a young girl named Mabel, trouble seemed to follow her everywhere. She and her best friend, Sarah Jane, had the best intentions at home and at school, but somehow clumsiness and mischief always seemed to intrude. Whether getting into a sticky mess with face cream, traveling to the big city, sneaking out to a birthday party or studying for the spelling bee, Mabel’s brilliant ideas only seemed to show how much she had to learn. And each of her mishaps turned into lessons in honesty, patience and responsibility.

Arleta Richardson’s beloved series, Grandma’s Attic, returns with Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic and Treasures from Grandma’s Attic, the third and fourth books in the refreshed classic collection for girls ages 8 to 12. These compilations of tales recount humorous and poignant memories from Grandma Mabel’s childhood on a Michigan farm in the late 1800’s. Combining the warmth and spirit of Little House on the Prairie with a Christian focus, these books transport readers back to a simpler time to learn lessons surprisingly relevant in today’s world.

Even though these stories took place over a hundred years ago, there are some things about being a girl that never change. Just like Mabel, girls still want to be prettier or more independent. It’s all part of growing up. But the amazing thing is—Grandma felt the same way! Sometimes your brother teases you or someone you thought was a friend turns out to be insincere. Sometimes you’re certain you know better than your parents, only to discover to your horror that they might have been right. It’s all part of growing up.

Richardson’s wholesome stories have reached more than two million readers worldwide. Parents appreciate the godly values and character they promote while children love the captivating storytelling that recounts childhood memories of mischief and joy. These books are ideal for homes, schools, libraries or gifts and are certain to be treasured. So return to Grandma’s attic, where true tales of yesteryear bring timeless lessons for today, combining the appeal of historical fiction for girls with the truth of God’s Word. Each captivating story promotes godly character and values with humor, understanding and warmth.

Product Details:

Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

List Price: $6.99

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403812

ISBN-13: 978-0781403818

Treasures from Grandma’s Attic:

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition (August 1, 2011)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0781403820

ISBN-13: 978-0781403825


Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

When Grandma Was a Little Girl

One hundred years! What a long, long time ago that is! Not very many people are still alive who can remember that far back. But through the magic of stories, we can be right there again.

When I was a little girl, I thought no one could tell a story like my grandma.

“Tell me about when you were a little girl,” I would say. Soon I would be back on the farm in northern Michigan with young Mabel—who became my grandmother—her mother and father, and her brothers, Reuben and Roy.

The old kitchen where I sat to hear many of Grandma’s stories didn’t look the same as when she was a little girl. Then there was no electricity nor running water. But my grandma still lived in the house she grew up in. I had no trouble imagining all the funny jams that Grandma and her best friend, Sarah Jane, got into. Or how it felt to wear long flannel stockings and high-buttoned shoes.

From the dusty old attic to the front parlor with its slippery furniture, Grandma’s old house was a storybook just waiting to be opened. I was fortunate to have a grandma who knew just how to open it. She loved to tell a story just as much as I loved to hear one.

Come with me now, back to the old kitchen in that Michigan farmhouse, and enjoy the laughter and tears of many years ago....


Face Cream from Godey’s Lady’s Book

Receiving mail always excited me. I never had to be told to get the mail for Grandma on my way home from school. But sometimes the mail became even more important. Like the time I was watching for something I had ordered from Woman’s Home Companion.

When the small package finally arrived, my face revealed how excited I was.

“What did you get a sample of this time?” Grandma asked as I came in proudly carrying the precious box.

“You’ll see. Just wait till I show you,” I said, promising Grandma the box held something special.

Quickly I tore the wrapping paper off the small box. Inside was a jar of skin cream for wrinkles.

Grandma laughed when she saw it. “You certainly don’t need that,” she said. “Now it might do me some good if those things ever really worked.”

“You aren’t wrinkled, Grandma,” I protested. “Your face is nice and smooth.”

“Perhaps so. But not because of what I’ve rubbed on it. More than likely I’ve inherited a smooth skin.”

She took the jar of cream and looked at the ingredients “This doesn’t look quite as dangerous as some stuff Sarah Jane and I mixed up one day. Did I ever tell you about that?”

“No, I’m sure you didn’t,” I replied. “Tell me now.”

Grandma picked up her crocheting, and I settled back to listen to a story about Grandma and her friend, Sarah Jane, when they were my age.


Sarah Jane had a cousin who lived in the city. This cousin often came to stay at Sarah Jane’s for a few days. She brought things with her that we were not accustomed to seeing.

One morning as Sarah Jane and I were walking to school together, Sarah Jane told me some very exciting news. “My cousin Laura will be here tomorrow. She’s going to stay all next week. Won’t that be fun?”

“Yes,” I agreed. “I’m glad she’s coming. What do you think she’ll bring this time?”

“Probably some pretty new dresses and hats,” Sarah Jane guessed. “She might even let us try them on.”

“Oh, I’m sure she wouldn’t want us to try on her dresses. But maybe she wouldn’t mind if we peeked at ourselves in the mirror to see how the hats looked.”

Laura arrived the next day with several new hats. She amiably agreed that we might try them on.

They were too big, and had a tendency to slide down over our noses. But to us, they were the latest fashion.

As we laid the hats back on the bed, Sarah Jane spied something else that interested her. It was a magazine for ladies. We had not seen more than half a dozen magazines in our lives, so this was exciting.

“Oh, Laura,” Sarah Jane cried, “may we look at your magazine? We’ll be very careful.”

“Why, yes. I’m not going to be reading it right away. Go ahead.”

Eagerly we snatched the magazine and ran out to the porch. The cover pictured a lady with a very fashionable dress and hat, carrying a frilly parasol. The name of the magazine was Godey’s Lady’s Book.

“Ooh! Look at the ruffles on her dress!” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “Wouldn’t you just love to have one dress with all those ribbons and things?”

“Yes, but there’s little chance I’ll ever have it,” I replied. “Ma wouldn’t iron that many ruffles for anything. Besides, we’re not grown up enough to have dresses like that. It looks like it might be organdy, doesn’t it?”

“Mmm-hum,” Sarah Jane agreed. “It looks like something soft, all right. And look at her hair. It must be long to make that big a roll around her head.”

We spread the magazine across our laps and studied each page carefully. Nothing escaped our notice. “I sure wish we were grown up,” Sarah Jane sighed. “Think how much prettier we’d be.”

“Yes, and how much more fun we could have. These ladies don’t spend all their time going to school and doing chores. They just get all dressed up and sit around looking pretty.”

We looked for a moment in silence; then Sarah Jane noticed something interesting. “Look here, Mabel. Here’s something you can make to get rid of wrinkles on your face.”

I looked where she was reading.

Guaranteed to remove wrinkles. Melt together a quantity of white wax and honey. When it becomes liquid, add the juice of several lemons. Spread the mixture liberally on your face and allow it to dry. In addition to smoothing out your wrinkles, this formula will leave your skin soft, smooth, and freckle free.

“But we don’t have any wrinkles,” I pointed out.

“That doesn’t matter,” Sarah Jane replied. “If it takes wrinkles away, it should keep us from getting them too. Besides,” she added critically, “it says it takes away freckles. And you have plenty of those.”

I rubbed my nose reflectively. “I sure do. Do you suppose that stuff really would take them off?”

“We can try it and see. I’ll put some on if you will. Where shall we mix it up?”

This would be a problem, since Sarah Jane’s mother was baking in her kitchen. It would be better to work where we wouldn’t have to answer questions about what we were doing.

“Let’s go to your house and see what your mother is doing,” Sarah Jane suggested.

We hurriedly returned the magazine to Laura’s bedroom and dashed back outdoors.

“Do you have all the things we need to put in it?” Sarah Jane asked.

“I know we have wax left over from Ma’s jelly glasses. And I’m sure we have lemons. But I don’t know how much honey is left.

“I know where we can get some, though.” I continued. “Remember that hollow tree in the woods? We found honey there last week.”

Soon we were on our way to collect it in a small pail.

“This is sure going to be messy and sticky to put on our faces,” I commented as we filled the pail.

“Probably the wax takes the sticky out,” Sarah Jane replied. “Anyway, if it takes away your freckles and makes our skin smooth, it won’t matter if it is a little gooey. I wonder how long we leave it on.”

“The directions said to let it dry,” I reminded her. “I suppose the longer you leave it there, the more good it does. We’ll have to take it off before we go in to supper, I guess.”

“I guess so,” Sarah Jane exclaimed. “I don’t know what your brothers would say. But I’m not going to give Caleb a chance to make fun of me.”

I knew what Reuben and Roy would say, too, and I was pretty sure I could predict what Ma would say. There seemed to be no reason to let them know about it.

Fortune was with us, for the kitchen was empty when we cautiously opened the back door. Ma heard us come in and called down from upstairs, “Do you need something, Mabel?”

“No, Ma’am,” I answered. “But we might like a cookie.”

“Help yourself,” Ma replied. “I’m too busy tearing rags to come down right now. You can pour yourselves some milk too.”

I assured her that we could. With a sigh of relief, we went to the pantry for a kettle in which to melt the wax and honey.

“This looks big enough,” Sarah Jane said. “You start that getting hot, and I’ll squeeze the lemons. Do you think two will be enough?”

“I guess two is ‘several.’ Maybe we can tell by the way it looks whether we need more or not.”

“I don’t see how,” Sarah Jane argued. “We never saw any of this stuff before. But we’ll start with two, anyway.”

I placed the pan containing the wax and honey on the hottest part of the stove and pulled up a chair to sit on. “Do you suppose I ought to stir it?” I inquired. “It doesn’t look as though it’s mixing very fast.”

“Give it time,” Sarah Jane advised. “Once the wax melts down, it will mix.”

After a short time, the mixture began to bubble.

“There, see?” she said, stirring it with a spoon. “You can’t tell which is wax and which is honey. I think it’s time to put in the lemon juice.” She picked up the juice, but I stopped her.

“You have to take the seeds out, first, silly. You don’t want knobs all over your face, do you?”

“I guess you’re right. That wouldn’t look too good, would it?”

She dug the seeds out, and we carefully stirred the lemon juice into the pan.

“Umm, it smells good,” I observed.

Sarah Jane agreed. “In fact, it smells a little like Ma’s cough syrup. Do you want to taste it?”

“Sure, I’ll take a little taste.” I licked some off the spoon and smacked my lips. “It’s fine,” I reported. “If it tastes that good, it will certainly be safe to use. Let’s take it to my room and try it.”

We carefully lifted the kettle from the stove. Together we carried the kettle upstairs and set it on my dresser.

“It will have to cool a little before we put it on,” I said.

“What if the wax gets hard again? We’ll have to take it downstairs and heat it all over.”

“It won’t,” I assured her. “The honey will keep it from getting too hard.” By the time the mixture was cool enough to use, it was thick and gooey—but still spreadable.

“Well, here goes,” Sarah Jane said. She dipped a big blob out and spread it on her face. I did the same. Soon our faces were covered with the sticky mess.

“Don’t get it in your hair,” I warned. “It looks like it would be awfully hard to get out. I wonder how long it will take to dry?”

“The magazine didn’t say that. It would probably dry faster outside in the sun. But someone is sure to see us out there. We’d better stay here.... I wish we had brought the magazine to look at.”

“We can look at the Sears catalog,” I suggested. “Let’s play like we’re ordering things for our own house.”

We sat down on the floor and spread the catalog out in front of us. After several minutes, Sarah Jane felt her face.

“I think it’s dry, Mabel,” she announced, hardly moving her lips. “It doesn’t bend or anything.”

I touched mine and discovered the same thing. The mask was solid and hard. It was impossible to move my mouth to speak, so my voice had a funny sound when I answered her.

“So’s mine. Maybe we’d better start taking it off now.”

We ran to the mirror and looked at ourselves.

“We sure look funny.” Sarah Jane laughed the best she could without moving her face. “How did the magazine say to get it off?”

Suddenly we looked at each other in dismay. The magazine hadn’t said anything about removing the mixture, only how to fix and spread it on.

“Well, we’ve done it again,” I said. “How come everything we try works until we’re ready to undo it? We’ll just have to figure some way to get rid of it.”

We certainly did try. We pushed the heavy masks that covered our faces. We pulled them, knocked on them, and tried to soak them off. They would not budge.

“I think we used too much wax and not enough honey,” Sarah Jane puffed as she flopped back down on the bed.

“That’s certainly a great thing to think of now,” I answered crossly. “The only way to move wax is to melt it. And we certainly can’t stick our faces in the fire!”

“Mine feels like it’s already on fire. I don’t think this stuff is good for your skin.”

“You’re going to have to think about more than that,” I told her. “Or this stuff will be your skin. There has to be some way to get it off.”

“We’ve tried everything we can think of. We’ll just have to go down and let your rna help us.”

That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do. But I could see no other alternative. Slowly we trudged down to the kitchen.

Ma was working at the stove, and she said cheerfully, “Are you girls hungry again? It won’t be long until suppertime, so you’d better not eat ....”

She turned around as she spoke. When she spotted us standing in the doorway, her eyes widened in disbelief.

“What on earth? ... What have you done to yourselves?”

I burst into tears. The sight of drops of tears running down that ridiculous mask must have been more than Ma could stand. Suddenly she began to laugh. She laughed until she had to sit down.

“It’s not funny, Ma. We can’t get it off! We’ll have to wear it the rest of our lives!”

Ma controlled herself long enough to come over and feel my face. “What did you put in it?” she asked. “That will help me know how to take it off.”

We told her.

“If you two ever live to grow up, it will only be the Lord’s good mercy. The only thing we can do is apply something hot enough to melt the wax,” Ma told us quickly.

“But we boiled the wax, Ma,” I cried. “You can’t boil our faces!”

“No, 1won’t try anything as drastic as that. I’ll just use hot towels until it gets soft enough to pull away.”

After several applications, we were finally able to start peeling the mixture off. As it came loose, our skin came with it.

“Ouch! That hurts,” I cried.

But Ma could not stop. By the time the last bits of wax and honey were removed, our faces were fiery red and raw.

“What did we do wrong?” Sarah Jane wailed. “We made it just like the magazine said.”

“You may have used the wrong quantities, or left it on too long,” Ma said. “At any rate, I don’t think you’ll try it again.”

“I know I won’t,” Sarah Jane moaned. “I’m going to tell Laura she should ignore that page in her magazine.” She looked at me. “The stuff did one thing they said it would, Mabel. I don’t see any freckles.”

“There’s no skin left, either,” I retorted. “I’d rather have freckles than a face like this.”

“Never mind.” Ma tried to soothe us. “Your faces will be all right in a couple of days.”

“A couple of days!” I howled. “We can’t go to school looking like this!”


“We did, though.” Grandma laughed as she finished the story. “After a while we were able to laugh with the others over our foolishness.”

I looked at the little jar of cream that had come in the mail.

“I don’t think I’ll use this, Grandma. I guess I’ll just let my face get wrinkled if it wants to!”


Treasures from Grandma's Attic

Cousin Agatha

My best friend, Sarah Jane, and I were walking home from school on a cold November afternoon.

“Do you realize, Mabel, that 1886 is almost over? Another year of nothing important ever happening is nearly gone.”

“Well, we still have a good bit of life ahead of us,” I replied.

“You don’t know that,” Sarah Jane said darkly, “We’re thirteen and a half. We may already have lived nearly a third of our allotted time.”

“The O’Dells live to be awfully old,” I told her. “So, unless I get run down by a horse and buggy, I’ll probably be around awhile.”

We walked along in silence. Then suddenly Sarah Jane pulled me to the side of the road.

“Here’s the horse and buggy that could keep you from becoming an old lady,” she kidded. We turned to see my pa coming down the road.

“Want to ride the rest of the way, girls?” he called. We clambered into the buggy, and Pa clucked to Nellie.

“What did you get in town?” I asked.

“Some things for the farm and a letter for your ma.” Around the next bend, Pa slowed Nellie to a halt. “Your stop, Sarah Jane.”

“Thanks, Mr. O’Dell.” Sarah Jane jumped down. “I’ll be over to study later, Mabel. ‘Bye.”

“Who’s the letter from?” I asked Pa.

“Can’t tell from the handwriting. We’ll have to wait for Ma to tell us.”

When Ma opened the letter, she looked puzzled. “This is from your cousin Agatha,” she said to Pa. “Why didn’t she address it to you, too?”

“If I know Aggie, she wants something,” Pa declared. “And she figured you’d be more likely to listen to her sad story.”

Ma read the letter and shook her head at Pa. “She just wants to come for Thanksgiving. Now aren’t you ashamed of talking that way?”

“No, I’m not. That’s what Aggie says she wants. You can be sure there’s more there than meets the eye. Are you going to tell her to come ahead?”

“Why, of course!” Ma exclaimed. “If I were a widowed lady up in years, I’d want to be with family on Thanksgiving. Why shouldn’t I tell her to come?”

Pa took his hat from the peg by the door and started for the barn, where my older brothers were already at work. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he remarked as he left.

“What did Pa warn you about?” I asked as soon as the door closed behind him. “What does Cousin Agatha want?”

“I don’t believe Pa was talking to you,” Ma replied. “You heard me say that she wants to come for Thanksgiving.”

“Yes, but Pa said—”

“That’s enough, Mabel. We won’t discuss it further.”

I watched silently as Ma sat down at the kitchen table and answered Cousin Agatha’s letter.

Snow began to fall two days before the holiday, and Pa had to hitch up the sleigh to go into town and meet the train.

“It will be just our misfortune to have a real blizzard and be snowed in with that woman for a week,” he grumbled.

“Having Aggie here a few days won’t hurt you,” Ma said. “The way you carry on, you’d think she was coming to stay forever!”

Pa’s look said he considered that a distinct possibility. As I helped Ma with the pies, I questioned her about Cousin Agatha.

“Has she been here before? I can’t remember seeing her.”

“I guess you were pretty small last time Agatha visited,” Ma replied. “I expect she gets lonely in that big house in the city.”

“What do you suppose she wants besides dinner?” I ventured.

“Friendly company,” Ma snapped. “And we’re going to give it to her.”

When the pies were in the oven, I hung around the window, watching for the sleigh. It was nearly dark when I heard the bells on Nellie’s harness ring out across the snow.

“They’re coming, Ma,” I called, and Ma hurried to the door with the lamp held high over her head. The boys and I crowded behind her. Pa jumped down from the sleigh and turned to help Cousin Agatha.

“I don’t need any assistance from you, James,” a firm voice spoke. “I’m perfectly capable of leaving any conveyance under my own power.”

“She talks like a book!” Roy whispered, and Reuben poked him. I watched in awe as a tall, unbending figure sailed into the kitchen.

“Well, Maryanne,” she said, “it’s good to see you.” She removed her big hat, jabbed a long hat pin into it, and handed the hat to me. “You must be Mabel.”

I nodded wordlessly.

“What’s the matter? Can’t you speak?” she boomed.

“Yes, ma’am,” I gulped nervously.

“Then don’t stand there bobbing your head like a monkey on a stick. People will think you have no sense. You can put that hat in my room.”

I stared openmouthed at this unusual person until a gentle push from Ma sent me in the direction of the guest room.

After dinner and prayers, Pa rose with the intention of going to the barn.

“James!” Cousin Agatha’s voice stopped him. “Surely you aren’t going to do the chores with these two great hulking fellows sitting here, are you?”

The two great hulking fellows leaped for the door with a speed I didn’t know they had.

“I should guess so,” Cousin Agatha exclaimed with satisfaction. “If there’s anything I can’t abide, it’s a lazy child.”

As she spoke, Cousin Agatha pulled Ma’s rocker to the stove and lowered herself into it. “This chair would be more comfortable if there were something to put my feet on,” she said, “but I suppose one can’t expect the amenities in a place like this.”

I looked at Ma for some clue as to what “amenities” might be. This was not a word we had encountered in our speller.

“Run into the parlor and get the footstool, Mabel,” Ma directed.

When Cousin Agatha was settled with her hands in her lap and her feet off the cold floor, I started the dishes.

“Maryanne, don’t you think Mabel’s dress is a mite too short?”

Startled, I looked down at my dress.

“No,” Ma’s calm voice replied. “She’s only thirteen, you know. I don’t want her to be grown up too soon.”

“There is such a thing as modesty, you know.” Cousin Agatha sniffed.

Pa and the boys returned just then, so Ma didn’t answer. I steered an uneasy path around Cousin Agatha all evening. For the first time I could remember, I was glad when bedtime came.

The next day was Thanksgiving, and the house was filled with the aroma of good things to eat. From her rocker, Cousin Agatha offered suggestions as Ma scurried about the kitchen.

“Isn’t it time to baste the turkey, Maryanne? I don’t care for dry fowl.”

“I see the boys running around out there with that mangy dog as though they had nothing to do. Shouldn’t they be chopping wood or something?”

“I should think Mabel could be helping you instead of reading a book. If there’s one thing I can’t abide . . . “

“Mabel will set the table when it’s time,” Ma put in. “Maybe you’d like to peel some potatoes?”

The horrified look on Cousin Agatha’s face said she wouldn’t consider it, so Ma withdrew her offer.

A bump on the door indicated that the “mangy dog” was tired of the cold. I laid down my book and let Pep in. He made straight for the stove and his rug.

“Mercy!” Cousin Agatha cried. “Do you let that—that animal in the kitchen?”

“Yes,” Ma replied. “He’s not a young dog any longer. He isn’t any bother, and he does enjoy the heat.”

“Humph.” Agatha pulled her skirts around her. “I wouldn’t allow any livestock in my kitchen. Can’t think what earthly good a dog can be.” She glared at Pep, who responded with a thump of his tail and a sigh of contentment.

“Dumb creature,” Cousin Agatha muttered.

“Pep isn’t dumb, Cousin Agatha,” I said. “He’s really the smartest dog I know.”

“I was not referring to his intellect or lack of it,” she told me, “‘Dumb’ indicates an inability to speak. You will have to concede that he is unable to carry on a conversation.”

I was ready to dispute that, too, but Ma shook her head. Cousin Agatha continued to give Pep disparaging glances.

“Didn’t you ever have any pets at your house, Cousin Agatha?” I asked.

“Pets? I should say not! Where in the Bible does it say that God made animals for man’s playthings? They’re meant to earn their keep, not sprawl out around the house absorbing heat.”

“Oh, Pep works,” I assured her. “He’s been taking the cows out and bringing them back for years now.”

Cousin Agatha was not impressed. She sat back in the rocker and eyed Pep with disfavor. “The one thing I can’t abide, next to a lazy child, is a useless animal—and in the house!”

I began to look nervously at Ma, thinking she might send Pep to the barn to keep the peace. But she went on about her work, serenely ignoring Cousin Agatha’s hints. I was glad when it was time to set the table.

After we had eaten, Pa took the Bible down from the cupboard and read our Thanksgiving chapter, Psalm 100. Then he prayed, thanking the Lord for Cousin Agatha and asking the Lord’s blessing on her just as he did on the rest of us. When he had finished, Cousin Agatha spoke up.

“I believe that I will stay here until Christmas, James. Then, if I find it to my liking, I could sell the house in the city and continue on with you. Maryanne could use some help in teaching these children how to be useful.”

In the stunned silence that followed, I looked at Pa and Ma to see how this news had affected them. Ma looked pale. Before Pa could open his mouth to answer, Cousin Agatha rose from the table. “I’ll just go to my room for a bit of rest,” she said. “We’ll discuss this later.”

When she had left, we gazed at each other helplessly.

“Is there anything in the Bible that tells you what to do now?” I asked Pa.

“Well, it says if we don’t love our brother whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can’t see? I think that probably applies to cousins as well.”

“I’d love her better if I couldn’t see her.” Reuben declared. “We don’t have to let her stay, do we, Pa?”

“No, we don’t have to,” Pa replied. “We could ask her to leave tomorrow as planned. But I’m not sure that would be right. What do you think, Ma?”

“I wouldn’t want to live alone in the city,” Ma said slowly. “I can see that she would prefer the company of a family. I suppose we should ask her to stay until Christmas.”

“I think she already asked herself,” Roy ventured. “But she did say if she found things to her liking. . . .”

We all looked at Roy. Pa said, “You’re not planning something that wouldn’t be to her liking, are you?”

“Oh, no, sir!” Roy quickly answered. “Not me.”

Pa signed. “I’m not sure I’d blame you. She’s not an easy person to live with. We’ll all have to be especially patient with her.”

There wasn’t much Thanksgiving atmosphere in the kitchen as we did the dishes.

“How can we possibly stand it for another whole month?” I moaned.

“The Lord only sends us one day at a time,” Ma informed me. “Don’t worry about more than that. When the other days arrive, you’ll probably find out you worried about all the wrong things.”

As soon as the work was finished, I put on my coat and walked over to Sarah Jane’s.

“What will you do if she stays on after Christmas?” she asked.

“I’ll just die.”

“I thought you were going to be a long-living O’Dell.”

“I changed my mind,” I retorted. “What would you do if you were in my place?”

“I’d probably make her life miserable so she’d want to leave.”

“You know I couldn’t get away with that. Pa believes that Christian love is the best solution.”

“All right, then,” Sarah Jane said with a shrug. “Love her to death.”

As though to fulfill Pa’s prediction, snow began to fall heavily that night. By morning we were snowed in.

“Snowed in?” Cousin Agatha repeated. “You mean unable to leave the house at all?”

“That’s right,” Pa replied. “This one is coming straight down from Canada.”

Cousin Agatha looked troubled. “I don’t like this. I don’t like it at all.”

“We’ll be all right,” Ma reassured her. “We have plenty of wood and all the food we need.”

But Cousin Agatha was not to be reassured. I watched her stare into the fire and twist her handkerchief around her fingers. Why, she’s frightened! I thought. This old lady had been directing things all her life, and here was something she couldn’t control. Suddenly I felt sorry for her.

“Cousin Agatha,” I said, “we have fun when we’re snowed in. We play games and pop corn and tell stories. You’ll enjoy it. I know you will!”

I ran over and put my arms around her shoulders and kissed her on the cheek. She looked at me in surprise.

“That’s the first time anyone has hugged me since I can remember,” she said. “Do you really like me, Mabel?”

Right then I knew that I did like Cousin Agatha a whole lot. Behind her stern front was another person who needed to be loved and wanted.

“Oh, yes, Cousin Agatha,” I replied. “I really do. You’ll see what a good time we’ll have together.”

The smile that lighted her face was bright enough to chase away any gloom that had settled over the kitchen. And deep down inside, I felt real good.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"The Colonel's Lady" Book Review

Can love survive the secrets kept buried within a tormented heart?

Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign.

Penniless and out of options, Roxanna is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort is abuzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is--and what he's done?

Immerse yourself in this powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness set in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

Available August 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Laura Frantz has definitely found a niche with her writings of Kentucky long ago. I love the world she has created with vibrant characters, detailed settings and story lines that twist and turn as romance heats up and cools down. There is so much back and forth between Roxanna and Cassius in this book that it really made me think of the saying about assuming things about people. Misunderstandings abound as they try to survive at Fort Endeavor surrounded by Redcoats and Indians. I just get drawn into the past everytime I pick up a book by Laura Frantz. Pure escape and enjoyment - every book by Laura takes a permanent place on my keeper shelf!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"A Most Unsuitable Match" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Most Unsuitable Match
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Stephanie Grace Whitson

I have read so many historical romances that I wonder sometimes if any authors can produce a truly fresh story anymore... yes, they can. I really enjoyed this book because it just had such a fresh spin on things. Fannie is a spoiled young lady (read as privileged, not a brat) that is having her world turned upsidedown and is having to discover a new path for herself. Her journey is punctuated by a varying assortment of colorful characters - good and bad - and I never knew who was safe and who wasn't and who was truly good and who wasn't. And then of course there is the love interest (or interests) and I really didn't know how that was going to turn out. I loved it. Stephanie has such a lovely writing style and every page was just truly enjoyable.


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.


An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...

She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. He is a preacher living under a sense of duty and obligation to love the unlovable people in the world. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to reach the rejects of society in the remote wilderness regions of Montana. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Reverend Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Most Unsuitable Match, go HERE.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

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:

Restless in Carolina

Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Ashley Boyer, Publicist, WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tamara Leigh began her writing career in 1994 and is the best-selling author of fourteen novels, including Splitting Harriet (ACFW Book of the Year winner and RITA Award finalist), Faking Grace (RITA Award Finalist), and Leaving Carolina. A former speech and language pathologist, Tamara enjoys time with her family, faux painting, and reading. She lives with her husband and sons in Tennessee.

Visit the author's website.


Tree-huggin’, animal-lovin’ Bridget Pickwick-Buchanan is on a mission. Well, two. First she has to come to terms with being a widow at thirty-three. After all, it’s been four years and even her five-year-old niece and nephew think it’s time she shed her widow’s weeds. Second, she needs to find a buyer for her family’s estate—a Biltmore-inspired mansion surrounded by hundreds of acres of unspoiled forestland. With family obligations forcing the sale, Bridget is determined to find an eco-friendly developer to buy the land, someone who won’t turn it into single-family homes or a cheesy theme park.

Enter J. C. Dirk, a high-energy developer from Atlanta whose green property developments have earned him national acclaim. When he doesn’t return her calls, Bridget decides a personal visit is in order. Unfortunately, J. C. Dirk is neither amused nor interested when she interrupts his meeting—until she mentions her family name. In short order, he finds himself in North Carolina, and Bridget has her white knight—in more ways than one. But there are things Bridget doesn’t know about J. C., and it could mean the end of everything she’s worked for…and break her heart.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601421680
ISBN-13: 978-1601421685


Deep breath. “…and they lived…”

I can do this. It’s not as if I didn’t sense it coming. After all, I can smell an H.E.A. (Happily Ever After) a mile away—or, in this case, twenty-four pages glued between cardboard covers that feature the requisite princess surrounded by cute woodland creatures. And there are the words, right where I knew the clichĂ© of an author would slap them, on the last page in the same font as those preceding them. Deceptively nondescript. Recklessly hopeful. Heartbreakingly false.

“Aunt Bridge,” Birdie chirps, “finish it.”

I look up from the once-upon-a-time crisp page that has been softened, creased, and stained by the obsessive readings in which hermother indulges her.

Eyes wide, cheeks flushed, my niece nods. “Say the magic words.” Magic?

More nodding, and is she quivering? Oh no, I refuse to be a party to this. I smile big, say, “The end,” and close the book. “So, how about another piece of weddin’ cake?”

“No!” She jumps off the footstool she earlier dubbed her “princess throne,” snatches the book from my hand, and opens it to the back. “Wight here!”

I almost correct her initial r-turned-w but according tomy sister, it’s developmental and the sound is coming in fine on its own, just as her other r’s did.

Birdie jabs the H, E, and A. “It’s not the end until you say the magic words.”

And I thought this the lesser of two evils—entertaining my niece and nephew as opposed to standing around at the reception as the bride and groom are toasted by all the happy couples, among them, cousin Piper, soon to be wed to my friend Axel, and cousin Maggie, maybe soon to be engaged to her sculptor man, what’s-his-name.

“Yeah,” Birdie’s twin,Miles, calls from where he’s once more hanging upside down on the rolling ladder I’ve pulled him off twice. “You gotta say the magic words.”

Outrageous! Even my dirt-between-the-toes, scab-ridden, snot-on-the-sleeve nephew is buying into the fantasy.

I spring from the armchair, cross the library, and unhook his ankles from the rung. “You keep doin’ that and you’ll bust your head wide open.” I set him on his feet. “And your mama will—

”No, Bonnie won’t.

“Well, she’ll be tempted to give you a whoopin’.”

Face bright with upside-down color, he glowers.

I’d glower back if I weren’t so grateful for the distraction he provided. “All right, then.” I slap at the ridiculously stiff skirt of the dress Maggie loaned me for my brother’s wedding. “Let’s rejoin the party—”

“You don’t wanna say it.”Miles sets his little legs wide apart. “Do ya?” So much for my distraction.

“You don’t like Birdie’s stories ’cause they have happy endings. And you don’t.”

I clench my toes in the painfully snug high heels on loan from Piper.

“Yep.”Miles punches his fists to his hips. “Even Mama says so.”

My own sister? I shake my head, causing the blond dreads Maggie pulled away from my face with a headband to sweep my back. “That’s not true.”

“Then say it wight now!” Birdie demands.

I peer over my shoulder at where she stands like an angry tin soldier, an arm outthrust, the book extended.

“Admit it,”Miles singsongs.

I snap around and catch my breath at the superior, knowing look on his five-year-old face. He’s his father’s son, all right, a miniature Professor Claude de Feuilles, child development expert.

“You’re not happy.” The professor in training, who looks anything but with his spiked hair, nods.

I know better than to bristle with two cranky, nap-deprived children, but that’s what I’m doing. Feeling as if I’m watching myself from the other side of the room, I cross my arms over my chest. “I’ll admit no such thing.”

“That’s ’cause you’re afraid. Mama said so.” Miles peers past me.

“Didn’t she, Birdie?”

Why is Bonnie discussing my personal life with her barely-out-of-diapers kids?

“Uh-huh. She said so.”

Miles’s smile is smug. “On the drive here, Mama told Daddy this day would be hard on you. That you wouldn’t be happy for Uncle Bart ’cause you’re not happy.”

Not true! Not that I’m thrilled with our brother’s choice of bride, but…come on! Trinity Templeton? Nice enough, but she isn’t operating on a full charge, which wouldn’t be so bad if Bart made up for the difference. Far from it, his past history with illegal stimulants having stripped him of a few billion brain cells.

“She said your heart is”—Miles scrunches his nose, as if assailed by a terrible odor—“constipated.”


“That you need an M&M, and I don’t think she meant the chocolate kind you eat. Probably one of those—”

“I am not constipated.” Pull back. Nice and easy. I try to heed my inner voice but find myself leaning down and saying, “I’m realistic.”

Birdie stomps the hardwood floor. “Say the magic words!”

“Nope.”Miles shakes his head. “Constipated.”

I shift my cramped jaw. “Re-al-is-tic.”


Pull back, I tell you! He’s five years old. “Just because I don’t believe in fooling a naive little girl into thinkin’ a prince is waiting for her at the other end of childhood and will save her from a fate worse than death and take her to his castle and they’ll live…” I flap a hand. “…you know, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me.”

Isn’t there? “It means I know better. There may be a prince, and he may have a castle, and they may be happy, but don’t count on it lasting. Oh no. He’ll get bored or caught up in work or start cheatin’—you know, decide to put that glass slipper on some other damsel’s foot or kiss another sleeping beauty—or he’ll just up and die like Easton—” No,
nothing at all wrong with you, Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, whose ugly widow’s weeds are showing.

“See!”Miles wags a finger.

Unfortunately, I do. And as I straighten, I hear sniffles.

“Now you done it!” Miles hustles past me. “Got Birdie upset.”

Sure enough, she’s staring at me with flooded eyes. “The prince dies? He dies and leaves the princess all alone?”The book falls from her hand, its meeting with the floor echoing around the library. Then she squeaks out a sob.

“No!” I spring forward, grimacing at the raspy sound the skirt makes as I attempt to reach Birdie before Miles.

He gets there first and puts an arm around her. A meltable moment, my mother would call it. After she gave me a dressing down. And I deserve one. My niece may be on the spoiled side and she may work my nerves, but I love her—even like her when that sweet streak of hers comes through. “It’s okay, Birdie,” Miles soothes. “The prince doesn’t die.”

Yes, he does, but what possessed me to say so? And what if I’ve scarred her for life?

Miles pats her head onto his shoulder. “Aunt Bridge is just”—he gives me the evil eye—“constipated.”

“Yes, Birdie.” I drop to my knees. “I am. My heart, that is. Constipated. I’m so sorry.”

She turns her head and, upper lip shiny with the stuff running out of her nose, says in a hiccupy voice, “The prince doesn’t die?” I grab the book from the floor and turn to the back. “Look. There they are, riding off into the sunset—er, to his castle. Happy. See, it says so.” I tap the H, E, and A.

She sniffs hard, causing that stuff to whoosh up her nose and my gag reflex to go on alert. “Weally happy, Aunt Bridge?”


“Nope.” Barely-there eyebrows bunching, she lifts her head from Miles’s shoulder. “Not unless you say it.”

Oh dear Go—No, He and I are not talking. Well, He may be talking, but I’m not listening.

“I think you’d better.” Miles punctuates his advice with a sharp nod.

“Okay.” I look down at the page. “…and they lived…” It’s just a fairy tale—highly inflated, overstated fiction for tykes. “…they lived happily…ever…after.”

Birdie blinks in slow motion. “Happily…ever…after. That’s a nice way to say it, like you wanna hold on to it for always.”

Or unstick it from the roof of your mouth. “The end.” I close the book, and it’s all I can do not to toss it over my shoulder. “Here you go.”

She clasps it to her chest. “Happily…ever…after.”

Peachy. But I’ll take her dreamy murmuring over tears any day. Goodness, I can’t believe I made her cry. I stand and pat the skirt back down into its stand-alone shape. “More cake?”

“Yay!” Miles charges past me.

Next time— No, there won’t be a next time. I’m done with Little Golden Books.

Excerpted from Restless in Carolina by Tamara Leigh Copyright © 2011 by Tamara Leigh. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

"Out of Control" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Out Of Control
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Mary Connealy

Ah, yes. Mary Connealy doing what she does best - historical westerns with a 2 punch combo of romance and humor. One of the few authors I've read that can keep me in stitches and she doesn't let me down when it comes to this book. I haven't gone wrong with one of Mary's books yet. For some people her books may be an acquired taste, for me they are an addiction!


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie's Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she's one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.


Julia Gilliland has always been interested in the natural world around her. She particularly enjoys her outings to the cavern near her father's homestead, where she explores for fossils and formations, and plans to write a book about her discoveries. The cave seems plenty safe--until the day a mysterious intruder steals the rope she uses to find her way out.

Rafe Kincaid has spent years keeping his family's cattle ranch going, all without help from his two younger brothers, who fled the ranch--and Rafe's controlling ways--as soon as they were able. He's haunted by one terrible day at the cave on a far-flung corner of the Kincaid property, a day that changed his life forever. Ready to put the past behind him, he plans to visit the cave one final time. He sure doesn't expect to find a young woman trapped in one of the tunnels--or to be forced to kiss her!

Rafe is more intrigued by Julia than any woman he's ever known, but how can he overlook her fascination with the cave he despises? And when his developing relationship with Julia threatens his chance at reconciliation with his brothers, will he be forced to choose between the family bonds that could restore his trust and the love that could heal his heart?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Out Of Control, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Wolfsbane" Book 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:

Wolfsbane, Discarded Heroes #3

Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (July 1, 2011)

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

Ah, yes. All is right with the world because Ronie Kendig has another book in her Discarded Heroes Series out! Her style of writing with strong characters, tight plots filled with suspense and danger and lots of drama from the past all rolled into one is so intense that I can hardly put her books down. Wolfsbane doesn't disappoint and all I could think the whole time I am reading it is - how much longer until the next one comes out!!! If you haven't read Ronie Kendig yet then you must dive in now, but start with the first book so you can enjoy the development of her characters as you go!

I'm going to add a comment regarding some of the controversy around one of the plot lines in this book. Christians aren't perfect. Most of us would like to think we are, but sadly we aren't and we wouldn't need God's grace if we were. This is shown clearly in this particular book and I loved that Ronie stuck her neck out and showed this so well. God's grace will cover a multitude of sins, consequences must still be dealt with but God forgives. I believe this particular storyline will allow some Christians dealing with condemnation to believe this and receive forgiveness for themselves. Kudos to Ronie for her bravery in that area as a writer!


Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat, married a veteran, and they now have four children. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Nightshade, Discarded Heroes #1, has earned recognition as a finalist in Christian Retailing's 2011 Retailer's Choice Awards as a finalist and with The Christian Manifesto's 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Fiction. Ronie lives in the Dallas/Ft Worth her family and their pets, Daisy, a Golden Retriever and Helo, the Maltese Menace.

Visit the author's website.


Embark upon a danger-laden mission within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s riveting Wolfsbane. Demolitions expert Danielle Roark thought escaping from a brutal Venezuelan general was a challenge. Now she’s charged with espionage and returned to the jungle where a new nightmare begins. Will Dani survive or become just another political pawn destined to be lost forever? Former Green Beret Canyon Metcalfe is disgusted with the suits on Capitol Hill. Still wrestling with the memories of a mission gone bad, he and Nightshade launch a mission to find Dani. Can Canyon rescue Dani, armed with nothing but raw courage?

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books; Discarded Heroes edition (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602607842
ISBN-13: 978-1602607842


The Invitation

Judicial Building, Virginia Beach

Blood dripped into his left eye.

No. Not blood. Sweat. Hands tight against his hips and fists balled, Captain Canyon Metcalfe blinked away the sting. Another salty drop slid down his temple. Eyes ahead, he focused on his reflection in the massive mirror. Between it and him sat an eight-foot table harboring a panel of three Army investigators from Criminal Investigation Command sent for his one-year evaluation. More like interrogation. And he knew they weren’t legit. Nobody got a review once they were out. This wasn’t about legitimacy. This was about them insuring he’d kept his mouth shut.

Canyon watched his reflection as a bead skidded over his forehead and nose. Felt warm and moderately sticky. So much like. . .

It’s not blood. Not blood.

“Captain, do you have anything to add?” Major Hartwicke lifted the inches-thick file in her manicured hands and stared at him.

“You understand, Captain, if you reveal anything about what has happened here, you will face a full court-martial and dishonorable discharge.”

The voice from twenty-one months ago forged his response. “No, sir.”

Behind the one-way mirror a ghost of a shape shifted. Or was that a shadow? No, he was pretty sure he’d seen the human outline. So, there were more eyes monitoring this so-called review. They’re testing me. No surprise. As a matter of fact, he’d expected them to drag him out of bed in the middle of the night, haul him into the woods, and try to beat a confession out of him.

Innocence didn’t matter. Justice didn’t matter.

Only one thing mattered: silence.

Hartwicke pushed her chair back from the table and stood. “Captain, I don’t understand.” She motioned to the two investigators with her. “We’ve told you the CID believes there is enough. . .ambiguity in the charges and proceedings from thirteen March of last year to question the guilty verdict.” She tilted her head. “In fact, this panel believes you may be innocent.”

“You are not innocent in this brutal crime, Captain Metcalfe. No matter your role, you are guilty. As the officer in charge, you bear that responsibility. Do you understand?”

The eyes of the government held no boundaries. They saw everything. Knew everything. One way or another. Always waiting to throw him away for good. Just as they’d done with the villagers.

Her shoes scritched against the cement floor as she stepped nearer. “Why are you doing this?” she whispered. “Why would you throw away your career?”

Throw away his career? Was she kidding? It’d been ripped from his bloodied hands in a colossal mistake twenty-four months ago. Canyon ground his teeth together. Do not look at her; do not respond. She didn’t deserve a response if she thought this was his choice.

A chair squawked, snapping his gaze to the second investigator who moved from behind the table, his gaze locked on Canyon. What did they want from him? He’d kept the dirty little secret. Lived with it. Relived it night after painful night. Living when she died.

Brown eyes cut off his visual escape. “Captain Metcalfe,” Major Rubart said in a low, controlled voice. “I don’t know what they”—he rolled his eyes to the side to indicate the one-way mirror—“told you or what they used against you as a threat in retaliation for talking, but I think you know something.”

Despite his every effort not to, Canyon looked at the mirror.

“You know the truth about that fateful night, don’t you?”

The words yanked his eyes to Rubart’s. Did this officer really want the truth? Or was this another test? What Canyon wouldn’t do to tell, to right the wrong, to relieve the burden. . . But that’s just what they wanted him to do—relieve his mind and prove they were right, that he could be coerced into talking. That he was weak.

He flicked his attention back to the glass and the shadow moving behind it.

“You disappoint me, Captain.” Air swirled cold and unfeeling as Rubart eased away. “Your sister says you’ve not been the same since you returned from that mission.”

“My sister puts her mouth before her brain.” And for that, Canyon would have a long talk with Willow.

“Do you understand what your silence means?” A bitter edge dug into Rubart’s words as he glared at Canyon, who stared through the man.

“What I understand is that you’ve abused a relationship with my impressionable sister to extract information for the military.”

Rubart’s lips tightened. “Your silence means the people of Tres Kruces receive no justice.”

The thick-bladed words sliced through Canyon’s heart.

Quiet tension tightened the air.

“Willow says you’ve wanted to be a Green Beret since you were twelve.”

“Ten.” Canyon bit his tongue on the automatic correction. He wouldn’t do this. Wouldn’t cave under the pressure. He’d endured far worse.

“How can you let them rip it from you? Everything you love and worked for with blood, sweat, and tears?” After several slow, calming breaths, Rubart gave a single nod. “Enough evidence exists to open a full investigation that could reinstate you with full honors, full rank. Just give us one word, one inclination that you’ll work with us, and it’ll be as if you never left.”

Everything in Canyon wanted that back. Wanted the career he’d felt called to, the adrenaline rush of battle, the humanitarian work of helping villages after a tragedy or an insurgency. . .

Screams howled through the fires. He glanced back. Where was she? How had they gotten separated? He spun, searching the debris and crackling embers.

A scream behind him.

He pivoted. Two feminine forms raced into a hut. “No,” he shouted. “Not in—”


His body lifted, flipped as he sailed through the taunting flames and grieving ashes.


Canyon blinked back to Major Rubart.

“Just give us some indication you’ll help. We’ll mete out the details later. Just don’t let it go at this. You know this is wrong. Don’t let them win.”

Irritation clawed its way up Canyon’s spine, burrowing into his resolve. He saw through the tactic. “Are we done, sir?”

Rubart’s cheek twitched. “You’re going to walk away?”

“In a three-to-one decision, you are hereby discharged. Your actions will be mentioned in limited detail in our final report to the congressional oversight committee. Should you speak openly about this again, you will find yourself in a federal prison for the rest of your life. Do you understand the ruling, Captain Metcalfe?”

“Yes, sir.”

“I cannot express this enough—this favor we are extending you will be revoked completely if you ever again speak of Tres Kruces.”


He met Rubart’s gaze evenly. “Decision’s been made.”

“You can’t mean that.” Hartwicke’s voice pitched. “Think—”

“Dismissed, Captain,” the third investigator barked from his chair at the table.

Canyon saluted, then pivoted and strode out. He punched open the door. As he stomped across the parking lot, he wrangled himself free of the dress jacket. He jerked open the door of his black Camaro and snatched off the beret. Flung it into the car. Slammed the door shut. Shuffled and kicked the wheel.

Voices behind pushed him into the car. Letting the roar of the engine echo the one in his head, he peeled away from the curb. Screaming tires fueled his fury. He accelerated. First gear. Second. He sped down the streets. Third. Raced out of Fort Story as fast as he could. He shifted into fourth.

They’d stolen everything from him. What did he have now? The last twelve months had been a futile attempt to plaster meaning to the disaster of a thing called life. Can’t serve. What was the point? They had him on an invisible leash. Shame trailed him like the dust on the roads.

As he rounded a corner, a light glinted—yellow. Speed up or slow down?

Slow down? I don’t think so.

Canyon slammed into fifth and pressed the accelerator. The Camaro lunged toward the intersection. A blur of red swept over his sunroof as he sailed through and cleared it.

Ahead, a sign beckoned him to First Landing State Park. The beach. Something inside him leapt.

Sirens wailed.

He glanced in the rearview mirror and growled. Banged the steering wheel. One more violation and he’d lose his license. Two seconds of fantasy had him on his bike screaming off into the sunset.

Yeah. Right. A high-speed chase. Wouldn’t his mother love that? She’d give him that disappointed look, and in it, he’d read the hidden message—“what would your father have said?”


His foot hit the brake. He eased the gears down and brought the car to a stop along the pylons that led to the beach. Less than a mile out, blue waters twinkled at him.

He eyed the mirror as a state trooper pulled in behind him. Lights awhirl, the car sat like a sand spider ready to strike.

Canyon roughed a hand over his face. This was it. Career gone. License gone. He gave his all for his country, and all of it had been systematically disassembled in the last two years.

Hands on the steering wheel, he let the call of the Gulf tease his senses. He should’ve taken a swim instead of unleashing his anger on the road. He was a medic. He knew better than to endanger lives. How stupid could he get?

What was taking so long?

He glanced back to the mirror, only. . .nothing.

Huh? Canyon looked over his shoulder. Where. . .?

An engine roared to the left. A Black Chrysler 300M slid past him with a white-haired old man inside.

But where was the cop? Again, he double-checked his six.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

With more care and attention this time, he pulled back onto the road and drove to the ocean. He parked and stared at the caress of the waters against the sand that lured him out of the Camaro and to the warm sand. Rolling up his sleeves, he made his way down the beach.

On a stone retaining wall he stood and watched a couple of surfers ride a wave. Canyon squatted. Hands fisted against his forehead he struggled through Rubart’s promise—they’d give him his career back if he ratted out the very people who’d made the nightmare go away.

He wanted to. Wanted to set the record straight. Knew they’d done wrong, but blowing this thing open meant they’d pin every drop of blood and blame on his shoulders. He’d go down in a blaze of disgrace. It was bad enough he’d had to tell his mom he was put out of the military for “medical” reasons. She didn’t buy it. She was smarter. But she didn’t press him.

Maybe. . .maybe he should let the panel dig into the tsunami-sized disaster and find the truth.

But he couldn’t. They’d promised to make his life a living hell.

That happened anyway. Everything that felt right and just died. Just like her.

Canyon closed his eyes against the pull of memories and allowed his mind to drift. To everything he felt for her. To all the things he’d done wrong, could’ve done better.

I’m sorry.

Lot of good that did. She died.

He hopped off the wall and strolled to where the waters stroked the sand. He let out a long breath and ran a hand over the back of his longer-than-normal hair. He’d tried to leave the tragedy behind. Move on. But who could move on after something like that? Even the government was scared of Tres Kruces. Nice PR disaster with the whole world as witnesses.

Canyon drew out the small vial. Shouldn’t do this. The back pain was gone. The heart pain permanent. He popped two pills into his mouth and swallowed.

His hand closed around the Emerson in his pocket. Canyon drew it out and eyed the gleaming metal. He’d used it to cut her tethers the first night his team had come up on the backwater village. Flipping the blade to the ground, he tamped down the fireball in his gut. He saved her that night only to end up killing her thirteen months later.

She was gone. His career was gone. The government had a shackle around his neck. What was there to live for?

He retrieved it and swiped the sand from the blade on his rolled cuffs. The silver glinted against his forearm. He pressed the metal against his flesh. Wouldn’t be the first attempt. Maybe he’d succeed this time. Drew it along his arm—

“Never did understand how they stand up on a piece of wood.”

Canyon jerked at the deep voice. He returned his Emerson to his pocket and eyed the old man a few feet away. Looked like the same man from the 300 earlier. What was he saying? Something about wood. . .?

Canyon followed the man’s gaze to the water, the surfers. Ah. Surfboards. “They’re not wood.”


“Polyurethane and fiberglass or cloth. Depends on the board.” He might be off-kilter, but he wasn’t stupid. The man had a military cut and bearing. “What’s your game?”

A slow smile quirked the face lined with age. White hair rustled under the tease of a salty breeze. “Recycling soldiers.”

Why wouldn’t they leave him alone? Believe he’d keep his trap shut when he said he’d keep his trap shut? “Sorry, I don’t have anything to say.”

“Yes, that was quite apparent.”

Hesitation stopped Canyon from trudging back to his car. This man had been at his evaluation? Where. . .? “You were behind the mirror.”

“While you said little, your actions said much more, Captain Metcalfe.”

A knot formed in his gut. “In case you missed the point, I’m no longer a captain. Go back to your leeches and tell them I’m done.”

“Is your career worth cutting your wrists, Captain?”

The knot tightened. “My career was everything,” he ground out. “It’s who I am.” He swallowed. “Was.”

“Yes.” The man smiled. “You wanted to finish what your father started.”

A blaze scorched his chest. “Who are you? What do you know about my father?” Who did this guy think he was?

“Major Owen Metcalfe lost his life trying to free his spec-ops team from a POW camp during Vietnam.”

Canyon jerked his attention back to the water. Focused on the undulating waves. The way they rolled in, rolled out. Just like breathing. In. . .out. . . “How. . .how do you know about my father?” The only reason Canyon knew was because the government tried to use it against him in his trial.

Slowly, the man turned toward him, his smile growing.

Only then did Canyon recognize him. “General Lambert.” He took a step back. “I didn’t. . . You’re out of uniform.”

“Yes, thank goodness. I’ve put on a few pounds since they issued the last uniform.” Lambert laughed and pointed. “Walk with me, Captain.”

What possessed Canyon to indulge him, he didn’t know. But he found himself walking the quiet beach, curious that the general would seek him out. Was it yet another trap?

“So that you will understand me, I have read the full file on Tres Kruces.”

Of course. He’d fallen right into the general’s trap, hadn’t he? “This conversation is over.” He pivoted and started back to his car.

“If my memory serves me correctly, the vote was three to one.”

Canyon hesitated. Cursed himself for hesitating. Just walk away. That’s what they’d done to him.

“What would you say the value of that single dissenter is worth?”

“Nothing. I still lost my career, everything.”

“What if that dissenter held the power to change everything? What would you say it was worth then?”

Eyeballing the man, Canyon tried to think past his drumming pulse. “My life.”

Lambert grinned. Nodded. “Good. . .good.”

Good? How could he say that? What use was a dissenter now anyway? But that unflappable grin and knowing eyes—this man knew something.

“You.” Canyon stumbled back as if hit by a squall. “It was you. You were the dissenter.” He slid a hand over his head and neck. “General, I— It has to stay buried. Or I go down hard and fast. I’m not playing with this fire.”

Hands in his pockets, Lambert smiled up at him. “I am not here in any official capacity related to the U.S. government.”

Dare he hope that this nightmare was over?

“How do you like working as a physical therapist?”

Canyon shrugged. “Not bad. It’s work. I help people.” He hated it.

“That’s what’s important to you, helping people, is it not?” When Canyon shrugged again, Lambert continued. “Thought so. I have a proposition for you, Captain. One that will get you back in your game.”

Wariness crowded out hope. “What game is that?”

“The one you do best. The one that allows you to serve your country, use the medic skills crucial to saving lives, and be part of a winning team.”

“They benched me, said I was done, no more or they’d—”

“What do you say?”

A wild, irregular cadence pounded in his chest. “I’m ready to get off the bench.”

"Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa
Summerside Press (June 1, 2011)
Melanie Dobson

I love the Amana Colonies and reading about how things were there way back when so this book was right up my alley. I loved the setting being the Amana Colonies as they were just getting started and it being in the middle of the Civil War but since it was in Iowa how did that affect a bunch of people opposed to war? This book answers that question. And what about if one man from Amana felt God leading him to enter the war even though it went against everything he had been raised to believe? This book answers that question too. I was kind of expecting some kind of mystery or suspense just because this book is written by Melanie Dobson and that wasn't to be found, but it was so enjoyable and I loved the characters. A very satisfying book.


Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of The Black Cloister; Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana; and Together for Good, and she has now authored nine contemporary and historical novels including Love Finds You in Nazareth, Pennsylvania which releases in November 2011.

Prior to launching Dobson Media Group in 1999, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family where she was responsible for the publicity of events, products, films, and TV specials. Melanie received her undergraduate degree in journalism from Liberty University and her master's degree in communication from Regent University. She has worked in the fields of publicity and journalism for fifteen years including two years as a publicist for The Family Channel.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, met in Colorado Springs in 1997 at Vanguard Church. Jon works in the field of computer animation. Since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. These days they are enjoying their new home in the Pacific Northwest.

Jon and Melanie have adopted their two daughters —Karly (6) and Kinzel (5). When Melanie isn't writing or entertaining their girls, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, traveling, hiking, line dancing, and reading inspirational fiction.


With a backdrop of the community of The Amana Colonies, the Civil War, and a great love story, Melanie Dobson’s new historical fiction title LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA both enlightening and entertaining.

The novel is set in the United States during the turmoil of the 1860s. As the rest of the nation is embroiled in the Civil War, the Amana Colonies have remained at peace with a strong faith in God and pursuit of community, intertwined with hard work, family life and the building of their colony.

Amalie Wiese is travelling to the newly built village of Amana in 1863. When she arrives in the colonies she finds that her fiancĂ©e, Friedrich has left to fight with the Union Army. Amalie fears for his safety as she also struggles with his decision to abandon the colony’s beliefs. Matthias, Frederick’s friend, stays back in Amana to work in the colonies. But there is something wrong with Matthias; he always seems angry at Amalie when there is no simple explanation for him to act that way.

The goods that colonies manufacture are much needed supplies for the war effort and Matthias decides to deliver the goods to the soldiers. When he leaves, Amalie realizes that her fear for Matthias’s safety is equally as strong. What will become of Friedrich, will Matthias return safely, and will Amalie marry Friedrich? LOVE FINDS YOU IN AMANA, IOWA is a richly told story of life in the Amana Society and the people who live and love there.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Finds You in Amana, Iowa, go HERE.