Thursday, September 29, 2011

Catt Chasin' by Shana Burton

Catt Chasin'Head research and development chemist Jamal Ford has narrowed his love-life down to a science through the creation of his 30-Day Dating Plan, a guide intended to weed out the drama queens, gold-diggers, and baby mamas from his ideal: a part goddess, part sex kitten, and part Stepford Wife mate. The shallow, fun-loving 33-year-old knows he's one of Charlotte, North Carolina's most eligible bachelors, and he won't settle for anything less than the trophy wife of his dreams.

Catherine "Catt" Cason has never let scheming co-workers, her loving (but overbearing) father, or her full figure slow her down. The brilliant formulating chemist takes being labeled "the cute fat girl" in stride as she fast-tracks her way to a top position with her cosmetic company, Telegenic. While she would enjoy the love of a good man, Catt refuses to risk her career or her heart being broken again just to have a warm body at her side. Besides, why settle for the love of an earthly man when she is the fiancée of Christ?

When Jamal is paired with Catt to launch a new product for work, it's loathe at first sight. She thinks he's arrogant and incompetent. He thinks she's a sanctimonious kill-joy. What each believes they want may not be what God knows they need. In this game of love, rules don't exist, and no heart is safe. The Lord is speaking, but will they all be too caught up in their own agendas to listen?

I Give This Book: 1 Star

My Thoughts:
I got this book because it was labeled Christian fiction. But now after reading it, I don't think that was a proper label to give this book. I found many things in this book very offensive and thought that a novel labeled as Christian shouldn't condone such behavior.

I was willing to overlook Jamal's actions because he wasn't a Christian, but the way that Catt behaved I found to be completely the opposite of someone who claims to be a Christian. Yes, people may be tempted to sin, and may even give into that temptation, but we shouldn't go putting ourselves into situations that we know are likely to cause that to happen. I am not of the belief that it is alright to fornicate as long as you pray for forgiveness afterwards. I believe that you shouldn't even let it happen and if it ever happened ONCE, you should know never to put yourself into a situation like that again and again. You would especially think that a pastor's daughter would know that.

Now you might think that there has to be more to the story besides this - think again! There didn't seem to be a point to the story, except for the carnal desires of the main characters (even if they didn't act on it, they talked about it enough - and being consumed by lust, almost gave in on several occasions).

Catt is overweight, but she is confident in her body - so no story there. Jamal is a womanizer, but he never really changes (even after becoming a Christian) - so no message there. The whole story just seems to be centered around Catt and Jamal's sexual tension and Catt's supposed "good morals" - which I don't think exist.

I was very disappointed in this book. I thought the story was going to be one of reforming a bad boy, but it seemed more like the bad boy was confirming the bad in Catt. As I am sure you can guess, I don't recommend this book.

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from Dee Gospel to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done***

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Passion to Action: How One Family Stepped Out on Faith, Hit the Road, and Discovered the Keys to Courage and Purpose by Jay and Beth Loecken

Passion to Action: How One Family Stepped Out on Faith, Hit the Road, and Discovered the Keys to Courage and PurposeOne family makes a daring decision, discovers the power of purpose, and encounters a God-sized passion for living. Something kept pulling at Jay and Beth Loecken, telling them there’s more to life than the pursuit of a large home, nice cars, and all the trinkets and trappings for a suburban family of six. They felt something stirring, a feeling that God had a different purpose for them, and they knew they had to do something—something big—to get started. Passion to Action is one ordinary family’s tale of pursuing an extraordinary dream. It’s a story about asking big questions, seeking answers every day, and along the way discovering a big faith. What happens if you make a dramatic change? How does God sustain you in your new life? What will the people around you say? Find out for yourself what happens while listening to the journey of Jay and Beth Loecken. See just how far God takes them in their desire simply to serve - as a family - in soup kitchens, community projects, and churches across America. In this audio you’ll hear about Beth’s personal struggle with a troubling past, Jay’s battles with ambition, and the amazing solution they discover as they inspire others to take ten real steps to finding meaning and purpose. Through the story of the Loeckens, see how God leads us to places we’d never imagine, be inspired to better live from your life’s passion, and find the courage to turn it to action.

I Give This Book: 2 Stars

My Thoughts:
I think that this family's desire to serve and to inspire others to serve is commendable, but I don't think that they need to travel around the country to do it. Throughout the book, they say you don't have to do what they did to serve - that you can just help out locally. I wonder whether or not this would have come to mind if they had not had a deep desire to go RVing full-time. Because in some ways, it seems to me that by the time they get settled in to a new place and know where to help, it is time to leave again (two month is not a long time).

Throughout the book, I read how tight money was and how they couldn't afford to buy certain things that they needed. Then how miraculously someone would give them what they needed or they would get it at a very reduced price. Example: Ben, their eldest son, needed a microscope for his studies, but they didn't have the funds to purchase one for him. Then the next place they go, someone gives them a used one and also a few other school supplies that they will need. Yet, they can spend money to travel back and forth to meet with people to discuss a reality show or a book deal (can you guess which one they picked). But, the most annoying thing to me was their acknowledgements at the end of the book. Right after thanking their financial donors, they leave the link to their website, which to me is a not so subtle hint for you to give money. I just don't like when people do that.

They say in the book how you can help your LOCAL homeless shelter, LOCAL nursing home, LOCAL shut-ins, etc., yet that is not what they did. They sold their house, their extra cars, a lot of their possesions (they rented three storage units for some of their stuff) and bought an R.V. to travel the country to do their charitable work. That seems very contradictory to me. They talk about how hard this life-style is and how everytime they ask the kids if they should stop, the kids say NO! I wonder why? Yes they serve others, but they get to experience so much. Traveling around the country, meeting new people, and people have given them free things (i.e. ski lessons, free day(s) at Disney World, a hot air balloon ride, and the list goes on and on). And when they get tired of being in the RV? Well, people have offered them houses to stay in or invited them to share a house that they had rented and let them stay for free and many times they have a place for them where they can park their RV. for free too. So no wonder they want to continue to do this, they get to have their dream (traveling in a RV), when it gets too tiring, they get to stay in a house and they have perks of free vacations and free things. They have the best of both worlds. It means a lot more to me when you don't do things for the recognition, and I know that they would say they aren't but...

I felt that the whole message of this book could have been said in one chapter and that the rest of the book was filled with their doubts, worrys and perks. I found reading this book to be a chore. While I do admire their desire to serve, I would not recommend this book.

*** I recieved a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers through FIRST Wild Card Tours. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done. ***

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FIRST Wild Card Tour: Cherished by Kim Cash Tate

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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kim Cash Tate was born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area. Her mother, a manager with AT&T, and her father, an educator, divorced when she was young. Even after the divorce, one thing her parents agreed on was the importance of education. She attended both public and private Catholic schools, and college was a given. Tate chose the University of Maryland.

After completing her undergraduate degree, she distinguished herself as a law student at George Washington University. She was invited to join the Journal staff, and a summer job at a respected law firm in her beloved Washington, D.C. followed by a one-year clerkship with a federal judge in Madison.

Tate’s law career took off in Madison. Once the clerkship ended, she was hired on at a large firm. In spite of her success, she was plagued by constant feelings of discontentment and loneliness for the racially diverse environment she left behind in D.C. She began seeking faith, simply as a means of maintaining sanity. After she and Bill married, the couple began attending a local AME church, and they both felt Jesus calling.

When her children were young, Tate left her thriving law career to stay home. A passionate and persuasive communicator, she tried her hand at writing. More Christian than African-American shares her story of finding her identity in Christ rather than in her race, which had been a major focus for her. Her first novel was Heavenly Places, followed by Faithful and her newest release, Cherished. Tate was a speaker for Women of Faith in both 2010 and 2011.

Visit the author's website.


As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Kim Cash Tate explores Psalm 103:12 as she takes her readers down the path to God’s forgiveness and reconciliation in her newest novel, Cherished. Readers will discover that God can still use them in spite of their worst choices. And He doesn’t just forgive them, but they are truly cherished!

Tate’s story will show her readers how God can bring beauty from ashes. She has a unique way of weaving her characters’ lives together, leading back to one great point—God’s tremendous mercy and grace. In the words of one of her characters, “I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt like it would take a while to work my way back into God’s good graces, but it was like…”—she flung wide her arms—“…He just embraced me.” We too can be embraced by the same great love when we learn that true forgiveness for ALL of our sins is right before us.

Growing up in Saint Louis, Kelli London dreamed of becoming a songwriter and glorifying God with her songs of praise. But after falling into sin, she walks away from her dreams. Heather Anderson’s life has spun out of control—first an affair with a married man and then a one-night stand with the drummer of a popular Christian band. Broken and alone, she discovers the only one who can save her. Brian Howard grew up as a science geek. But after making the worst mistake of his life after high school, he finds forgiveness in Christ and is being led down a completely different path. Now he must choose whether to continue pursuing his PhD in biochemistry or to become a full time Christian rapper.

Product Details:

  • List Price: $15.99
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595548556
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548559


Kelli London took her place on the piano bench and waited for her cue, grateful that her jittery hands were hidden from the crowd. She shouldn’t have agreed to do this, but she loved her brother and had never seen him happier. How could she say no to singing at his wedding?

But it was the song Cedric had asked her to sing, one he’d heard only by chance. He had no idea what it meant to her. He didn’t know that singing it would unleash memories of the last person she ever wanted to think about.
Laughter rose from the pews, and Kelli looked up, wondering what she’d missed.
“. . . and I’m sure Cedric wants me to get to the vows ASAP,” Pastor Lyles was saying, “so they can get to that kiss they’ve been waiting for.”
Kelli had only met the pastor once before, at her brother Lindell’s wedding last fall, but it didn’t take long to love his spirit and his style. A black man in his late fifties, he’d started Living Word Community Church decades ago and watched it grow into a multi-ethnic megachurch. At least a couple hundred members were here today. Kelli guessed none of them thought twice about the various hues and accents that had gathered to see this black couple wed. She loved that spirit too.

Cedric was shaking his head with a shamefaced grin as the pastor called him out. Cyd was smiling up at him, gorgeous, beaming like the bright light she’d become in Cedric’s life.

Pastor Lyles continued. “But I don’t think he’ll mind one last song, and it’s a special one, written by his sister.”

Kelli drew a deep breath as Cedric and Cyd smiled over at her, Lindell and Stephanie too—the flip side of last fall. Then Stephanie and Lindell were the bride and groom, and Cyd and Cedric were maid of honor and best man, which was how they met. Kelli loved the story, how Cyd turned forty on her younger sister’s wedding day, thinking she’d never marry herself. Now here she was—a June bride. It was romantic that her brothers would now be married to sisters, but it somehow added to her melancholy, that each of them had found the love of his life.

Kelli gazed at the piano keys, and knowing they had to, her fingers tapped the first notes. She fought to stay in the moment, in the church. Her eyes swept Cyd and Cedric, imagined the lyrics were just for them . . .
I will love you till the stars don’t shine

And I will love you till the oceans run dry

I will love you till you know every why

I will, I will

Her eyes closed, and he was there. A shiver of remembrance danced down her arms. She could still see that distant look in his eyes, could even hear him, that tone of indifference that echoed forever in her head. Kelli opened her eyes to capture another image—any image—but he was everywhere now. And her heart allowed itself to be crushed all over again.
I will love you like an endless stream

A million miles won’t take your heart from me

I will love you every breath you breathe

I will, I will

Almost to the bridge, Kelli could feel her emotions cresting with the song. She closed her eyes again as they took over, filling her voice, magnifying her range, powering her through. She played the final chords with the salt of tears on her lips and bowed her head at the last note . . . and heard—applause? She looked out and saw the guests on their feet and Cedric and Cyd fully turned, facing her—Cyd wiping tears from her cheeks. With her own anxiety about singing it, Kelli hadn’t given thought to whether people might actually like the song.

She pulled a tissue from the box atop the piano, dabbed her cheeks, and blew her nose, then muscled a heart-heavy smile to acknowledge everyone’s kindness. When she moved back to the front pew beside her mother, only then did the guests stop clapping and sit.

“When did you write that?” her mother asked, patting her thigh. “That was beautiful.”
“Thanks, Mom. I wrote it . . . a long time ago.”

She turned her gaze to the ceremony, her heart beating a little faster still, puzzled by the response to the song. It coaxed a different memory to the surface, and as Cyd and Cedric exchanged vows, Kelli thought about her long-ago dream of writing music that God would somehow use. Then the better part of her brain kicked in,

reminding her that she’d left songwriting behind, that she knew better than to dream.
That all those dreams had turned to dust.

“Kelli! Girrrl . . .”
Kelli looked up—midpivot in the Electric Slide—and saw Stephanie threading her way through the line dancers in her champagne-colored dress. Soon as the song started, it seemed everybody left tables and mingled to claim a spot on the parquet floor. Kelli waved her sister-in-law over.

“I’ve been looking for you.” Stephanie scooted between Kelli and Devin, a nine-year-old cousin, as rows of people sidestepped to the right. “I haven’t had a chance to tell you . . . girl, you sang that song. I had no idea—hold up, am I doing this right?” She was headed a different direction from everyone else. “Why am I even

out here? I hate this stupid dance.”

Kelli laughed. “Back, Steph. We’re going back.”

“Oh.” Stephanie checked Devin to get in sync, then leaned her head Kelli’s way again, her voice elevated. “Anyway, I told Lindell I couldn’t believe he didn’t tell me about that song, ’cause I would’ve had you sing it at our wedding. And he said he’d never heard it . . . and then I couldn’t believe that.”
“I know. Crazy, right? This way, Steph. Pivot left.”

Stephanie was behind her now, and Kelli turned to make sure she was following, but Devin had it under control.

Like a traffic cop, he moved his hands left, then right to direct her which way to go next. “And pivot,” he announced, to the amusement of those around them.
Side by side with Stephanie again, Kelli continued. “Lindell and Cedric had already moved out of the house by the time I started writing songs in high school, so it was easy to kind of keep my music to myself.” She shrugged. “Cedric overheard it because I didn’t know he was there.”
“Hmph,” Stephanie said. “If I had that kind of talent, everybody would know about it. They’d have to tell me to be quiet.”

The music switched, and they could hear people near the center of the floor cheering, “Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric! Go, Cyd! Go, Cedric!”

Kelli and Stephanie craned their necks, moving toward the action.

“Oh, goodness,” Stephanie said, laughing. “Look at your brother. He’s at it again.”
Kelli laughed too, remembering Cedric and Cyd on the dance floor at Stephanie and Lindell’s reception. Now the two had cut a wide swath in the middle of the floor with a different line dance, this one a little livelier.

Kelli and Stephanie worked their way to a spot in the inner circle.

“Have you seen this version?” Stephanie asked.

Kelli nodded. “But you know Cedric’s gonna add his own twist.”

Instead of a simple sidestep, Cedric led Cyd in bouncy moves to the left, with a slide before going right. And instead of a normal pivot, they did some kind of kick, kick, turn—with Cedric twirling Cyd into a two-step before moving back to the line dance, all of it seamless. The crowd was fired up.
After a couple of rounds, Cedric spotted Kelli and pulled her to the center.
“I don’t know if you can hang with a twenty-five-year-old, big brother.” Although Cedric was a fit forty-two, Kelli didn’t miss an opportunity to tease him about his age. “I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your guests.”
“Oh, you got jokes? We’ll see about that, baby sis.”

Cyd led the cheers this time as Kelli whipped some different moves on him. Cedric paused, then mimicked every last one to let her know she couldn’t show him up. Lindell dragged Stephanie out there—literally—and Kelli was in stitches watching them try to copy what she and Cedric were doing. Soon everyone on the

floor had joined in again, and then the music switched to Motown, which got its own cheers.
Cedric draped one arm around Kelli and the other around Cyd and led them off the floor. They stopped at the bridal party table, which had emptied of all but Dana, one of Cyd’s bridesmaids.

“Why aren’t you on the dance floor?” Cedric asked. “We need all the forty-and-over folk representing.”

Dana glared at him. “Let’s see how well you ‘represent’ with some heels on. My feet are killing me.” Then she nodded toward the dance floor. “My husband left me. He’s out there with the kids. And last I saw, Scott wasn’t representing too well either. He looked almost as bad as Stephanie with that Electric Slide.”

“I heard that, Dana,” Stephanie said, walking up with Lindell. “I could learn the dumb dance if I cared to. And since you’re trying to clown me, I might do it just to keep my black rhythm points. Can’t have a white guy showing me up.”

Dana got a kick out of that, laughing as auburn wisps fell about her face. “How about a white girl? Let’s tell the deejay to play it again and see who’s got it.”
Stephanie eased into a seat. “Uh, no thanks. I always told you, you’re one of those black white girls. You can go on the dance floor.”

Dana eyed the dancers out there. “Well, pray for Mackenzie. I think the poor thing takes after Scott. Look at them.”

Kelli’s heart was smiling. Because she lived out of state, she didn’t know these women well—not even her sisters-in-law—but from her brief interactions, including last night’s rehearsal dinner, she could tell she would like them.
Cyd pulled out a chair and sat, her beautiful gown, passed down from her mother, swishing over the sides. “Ahh . . . think I can get away with sitting like this for maybe five minutes?”

Cedric massaged her shoulders. “You’re good. The Jackson Five’s got everybody occupied.”
Dana touched Kelli’s arm. “The bridal table was talking about you earlier.”
“Me? Why?” Kelli took a seat.

“Are you kidding? That song. It was beautiful.”

Kelli blushed. “Thank you.”
“That’s my little sister.” Cedric beamed.

“Mine too!” Lindell said, giving her shoulder a squeeze. “So proud of you, girl.” He looked at the others. “Just got her master’s too, from UT–Austin.”
“I heard,” Dana said. “Is your degree in music?”

Kelli shook her head. “One’s in communications and the other’s in public relations.”
“Wow, two?” Dana nodded. “That’s awesome.”

“Well . . . not really. Just means I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Kelli didn’t mind admitting it. “But I’m done being a professional student. I’m looking for a job now—”

“—in Texas.” Cedric’s tone made clear what he thought of that. “What part of Texas?” Stephanie asked. “Are you trying to stay in Austin?”

“I’ve been looking at possibilities in Austin and Houston . . .and Dallas.”
“Mostly Dallas, I’d bet,” Cedric said. “That’s where her boyfriend is.” He looked around playfully. “Where is he anyway? I wanted to meet him, see if he measures up. What’s his name? Miller?”

Kelli smirked at her big brother. “Miles. Miles Reed. He wanted to meet you all too, but he had a conflict.”

“I’m sure we’ll get another opportunity,” Cedric said, “if I can get you to move back to St. Louis.”

Cyd perked up. “Ooh, Kelli, I’d love that. Any chance?”

“I . . . doubt it.” Kelli hedged to be polite; her mind had said a fast no. She hadn’t lived in St. Louis since she left for college, and the distance had been good. Her mother had relocated to Little Rock to care for her mother, so Kelli had gone there on school breaks.

“How’s the job market in Texas?” Cedric asked. “Improved any?”

Cedric knew the answer perfectly well. He was a VP at a head-hunting firm. He’d made some calls for her, but nothing had materialized.

“Not exactly,” Kelli admitted. “I’ve been looking since early in the year, and, well . . . it’s nearing the end of June.”

Lindell rubbed his chin. “I’m thinking you can be unemployed in St. Louis just as well as in Austin.”

Cedric gave a big nod to his brother. “Better than in Austin. In St. Louis, you can be unemployed and hang out with your brothers.”
Cyd raised a hand. “And sisters. Don’t forget about us.”

“All of us,” Dana said. “We’d love to plug you into Daughters’ Fellowship.”

“What’s that?” Kelli asked.

“It started years ago with Dana, Phyllis, and me.” Cyd pointed toward the dance floor at her other bridesmaid. “Real informal. We’d do potluck and talk about—sometimes cry about—what God was doing in our lives. Stephanie crashed the party last year.” Cyd smiled at her younger sister. “It’s evolved into kind of a Bible study/gabfest.”

“Emphasis on gab,” Cedric said. “Amazing how two hours can turn into five—every single time. You’d think you’d run out of things to talk about.”
“Now, now, brother,” Lindell said, “don’t exaggerate. I think it was four and a half hours last time.”

Cedric and Lindell shared a laugh as the women pounced.

“We’re praying too, you know,” Dana said. “Getting that fuel we need to be the best we can be.”

“Lindell knows.” Stephanie gave him the eye. “I left the house with an attitude before that last meeting. Came back changed. Didn’t I?”

Lindell threw up his hands. “Hey, I’m not complaining. I might be the biggest DF fan at the table. Stephanie’s not the same woman I married.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Babe, that’s a good thing! I’m just sayin’.”

Kelli laughed as Lindell backpedaled. For years her brothers had been busy with their careers, living the bachelor life. Hadn’t occurred to them or her that they should live near one another, be a part of each other's lives. But now they were both settled down, with wives Kelli would love to know better. She’d always wanted sisters. And it was strange that she, Cyd, and Stephanie kind of looked alike—all of them tall with honey brown skin and long brown hair.

And Daughters’ Fellowship sounded great. Her own relationship with God wasn’t where it should be. She’d known that for some time. Just wasn’t sure how to get it back on the right track. The thought of getting together with these women, talking and learning from them, felt like water to her parched soul.

If only it were in another city . . .

Kelli sighed as she looked around the table at the laughter, the ribbing, the love. Did she really want to stay in Austin, away from all of this?

And what about Miles? They’d been dating almost a year. Although he’d graduated from UT–Austin last December and moved back to Dallas, the distance didn’t seem so great with them both in Texas. Still, they were already several hours apart. Would a few more make a huge difference?

Kelli looked up as her mother stopped at their table.

“Hey, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Cedric said, placing an arm around her.
“No, it’s my gorgeous mother,” Lindell said, hugging her other side.

Francine London glowed with pride. “You boys are something else,” she said. “And I didn’t come to see y’all. I came to see how my daughters-in-law are doing.”
“Oh, it’s like that now?” Cedric asked. “I get married, and I get kicked to the curb?”
Francine laughed, keeping her arms around her sons’ waists. “I’m wondering what’s gonna happen when you all start having my grandchildren. I’m not gonna like being all the way in Little Rock.”

“You need to move back too,” Lindell said.

Francine dismissed it with a shake of the head. “Your grandmother’s not doing well, can’t get around, so we’re better off staying put.”
“Well, help us convince your daughter to move back,” Cedric said. “We’ve been working on her.”

Francine looked at Kelli, nodding. “I was thinking about that today, how nice it would be if you could be around your brothers and their wives. You know I’m big on family.”

“Yes, I know, Mom.” Kelli cut them off at the pass. “So . . . which one of you would be willing to let your little sister move in?”

Blogaholic Designs”=

Friday, September 23, 2011

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeh Eulberg

Prom and PrejudiceAfter winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

I Give This Book: 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
'Prom & Prejudice' was a sweet variation of a classic story. I thought that the whole idea of putting all the characters into high school was a neat idea. I liked how the book even had Colonel Fitzwilliam, Mary and Kitty in it - though they played a very minor role.

Lizzie Bennet is an only child of middle class parents. She has a music scholarship at Longbourn Academy. Longbourn is a girl bording school, where the elite send their daughters. Because Lizzie is a scholarship student, she is relentlessly bullied and has very few friends. Her only friends at school are Jane and Charlotte (the only other scholarship student in her class). Her music teacher, Mrs. Gardner, is the only other person, besides her friends, that she feels close to at school.

The highlight of the year is prom, usually the girls from Longbourn go with the boys from Pemberley (the school where the elite send their boys). Jane is hopeful that Charles Bingley will ask her to prom, but there are many setbacks, one being her sister Lydia. Lydia makes a fool of herself in front of everyone at a party and the video quickly goes online. Lydia is very vain, doesn't see what she did as embarassing and is in fact very pleased with all the attention she is getting.

Jane and Charles behave in almost the same way as they did in the original story, always thinking the best of everybody and only seeing the good in them. Lydia of course acts the same, if not even more reckless, than the character in Pride & Prejudice and Wick (George Wickham) seemed even more horrendous in this story.

The book also has the characters of Colin (Mr. Collins), Cat (Lady Catherine de Bourgh) and Georgiana Darcy. I thought that the spitefulness of Cat did a great job of channeling what Lady Catherine de Bourgh as a teenager would have been like. And Colin was such a bore, just as I would have pictured Mr. Collins as a teenager. Georgiana was as sweet in this story as she was in the original, but I thought that this book made her seem sickly at times - when I had always pictured her as just shy.

Of course no story based on Pride & Prejudice would be complete without Darcy, and in this book I thought that his character was the best written. Will Darcy has had his trust broken by Wick and because of it is very leary of new people. So when he meets Lizzy for the first time, he makes a horrible first impression and she thinks that he thinks that he is better than everybody else. But just like the original story, you will adore Darcy.

I really enjoyed reading 'Prom and Prejudice'! I hated to put this book down, but everytime I had to do so, as soon as I could, I picked it up to continue reading. If you, like me, can't get enough P&P fan fiction books, you should enjoy this book too. Or, if you are looking for a book that a teenager will love, I think this would be perfect. I totally recommend this book.

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Here are some of the places where you can purchase 'Prom & Prejudice': Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository.

Product Details:
  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Point; 1 edition (January 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0545240778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0545240772
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day Three: The Monster in the Hollows by Andrew Peterson

When I signed up to do the CSFF Blog Tour for the third book in this series 'The Monster in the Hollows', I got the first two books from the library so that I could read them in order and to get the most out of the third book. Here is the third book in the Wingfeather Saga:

The Monster in the HollowsJanner Wingfeather's father was the High King of Anniera. But his father is gone. The kingdom has fallen. The royal family is on the run, and the Fang armies of Gnag the Nameless are close behind.

Janner and his family hope to find refuge in the last safe place in the world: the Green Hollows--a land of warriors feared even by Fangs of Dang. But there's a big problem. Janner's little brother-heir to the throne of Anniera-has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows he looks like a monster.

But Janner knows better. His brother isn't as scary as he looks. He's perfectly harmless.

Or is he?

Join the Wingfeathers on an adventure filled with mystery, betrayal, and sneakery in a land of tasty fruits. There's a monster on the loose and the truth lurks in the shadows.

I Give This Book: 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
'The Monster in the Hollows' is the third book in the "Wingfeather Saga" series, and it is great! I am really surprised by how much I like reading these books, because they are geared for a younger audience. In this book the Wingfeather family has escaped from the clutches of Gnag the Nameless's army and have made it to the Green Hollows, the land where their mother grew-up.

While in the first two books they had action and adventure, 'The Monster in the Hollows' has something that they haven't had in a while - hope. A hope that they are finally free from the danger of the Fangs of Dang. But upon arrival, the town takes Kalmar into custody and it is only after a high price is paid that he is allowed to leave.

Janner and Leeli are thriving here, but Kalmar is not. Because of the Hollish people's great fear of Fangs, Kalmar is treated with contempt and people are afraid of him. This fear causes them to take drastic measures and puts the Wingfeather Family to their greatest test yet.

Janner, in particular, has the hardest challenge yet. He is tired of being Throne Warden and having to look out for Kalmar, his younger brother and the High King of Anniera. He thinks that when they arrive in the Hollows, things will be different and he won't have to guard Kalmar every second, but when Kalmar chooses the most dangerous guild, their mother wants him to join Kalmar, so that he can protect him. This means giving up the guild that he wanted to join, Bookbindery, but he reluctantly agrees.

When a monster is suddenly on the loose and with the town's fears running rampant, Janner realizes he may have to guard Kalmar more than ever.

'The Monster in the Hollows' has some action in it, because in the school that they attend, the boys are in the Durgan Guild - where they learn to fight, sneak, spy and all the other things that a warrior must know. But on top of their official school learning, their mother still is teaching them T.H.A.G.S. (Three Honored and Great Subjects), the subjects that they as Annierian royalty must learn.

I can't wait to read the conclusion to this series. I so hope that the ending will change Kalmar and Artham back into the humans that they really are and maybe change all the Fangs back into their original forms as well.

If you love fantasy, you should love 'The Monster in the Hollows', but to completely enjoy this book, you should definitely read 'On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness' and 'North! Or Be Eaten' first.

*** I received a complimentary copy of this book from CSFF to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done. ***

If you found this review helpful, please click yes here. Thanks!
View all my reviews

You can purchase the third book here - The Monster in the Hollows
Find out more about the series here -

Places to find the author on the web:

Here are the links to the other participants blogs:

Seers by Heather Frost

For Kate Bennet, surviving the car wreck that killed her parents means big changes and even bigger problems. As she begins to see auras and invisible people, Kate must learn to trust Patrick O'Donnell, a handsome Guardian, or risk her life being overrun with Demons. She soon realizes that both she and her heart are in big-time trouble.

I Give This Book: 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
Ever since the accident that caused the death of her parents, and her own near death, Kate has had the ability to see people's auras - everyone's, that is, but her own. No one knows about her secret ability except her best friend, Lee - not even her boyfriend, Aaron. When she meets Patrick, a new foreign exchange student at her school, she learns that he is a Guardian. A Guardian is a person that when they died choose to stay on earth to guard Seers. Kate also learns that she is a Seer and that there are forces who know about what she can do. Forces who want to use her ability for their own purposes and she must decide if she wants to help the Guardians or not.

I didn't like how Kate kept stringing Aaron along, when she knew that she was no longer interested in having a relationship with him. I didn't feel that was fair to him, she should have just broken up with him. This didn't hinder my enjoyment of the story, I just didn't like it, but I didn't let that affect my rating of the book. Besides that, there wasn't anything else I disliked.

'Seers' was a great book, one that I could see myself reading again. I hope that there will be a second book, because I think that the story ended too abruptly for this to be just a stand-alone novel. If you like books that have a supernatural element to them, you should really enjoy this book.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley to review. I was not required to give a positive review, but only to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.***

View all my reviews

Author Bio:
I was born in Sandy, Utah, a few days before Halloween in 1989. I lived in Salt Lake City until I was about six, and then I moved North and settled into the place I still call home. I'm the oldest daughter and second oldest child in my family. I have six brothers, and three sisters. My parents chose to home-school all of us, and I'm surprised that they held onto their sanity after having us home so much. Still, I'm very grateful to them for all of the many sacrifices they made which enabled me to get the education that I did.
Author's Official Website:

Click the banner above for a list of all the blogs participating in this blog tour.
To learn even more about this book, check out the official website.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Day Two: North! Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

When I signed up to do the CSFF Blog Tour for the third book in this series 'The Monster in the Hollows', I got the first two books from the library so that I could read them in order and to get the most out of the third book. Here is the second book in the Wingfeather Saga:

North! or Be EatenJanner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.

In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest, the thieving Stranders of the East Bend, and the dreaded Fork Factory.

But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart, and Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.

I Give This Book: 5 Stars

My Thoughts:
In 'North! Or Be Eaten' the Igiby/Wingfeather family faces a more perilous and treacherous journey then any of them ever imagined. There is of course the danger of the Fangs and the creatures of the forest, but now they have to deal with Stranders, Trolls, Dragons, a bunch of other terrifying monsters, and people who are more than willing to turn on them for money.

Janner and Tink have to deal with jealousies towards each other. They both also have many other issues that they have to deal with. Tink's fear of the responsiblity that comes with being the High King of Anniera. Janner,Throne Warden of Anniera, is tired of always looking out for Tink. Because of this, some things are said that hurt someone's feelings, and some terrible things happen. Here is what happened...I not going to say, as it will spoil the story for you, but trust me it is huge!

I greatly enjoyed reading 'North! Or Be Eaten' and have already started on the next book 'The Monster in the Hollows'. These books may not be for everyone, but for those who love to read action/adventure/fantasy novels these books will be right up your alley. I think that these also would be great books to read to the whole family, as I believe that young children would love this story!

If you found this review helpful, please click yes here. Thanks!
View all my reviews

You can purchase the third book here - The Monster in the Hollows

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day One: On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson

When I signed up to do the CSFF Blog Tour for the third book in this series 'The Monster in the Hollows', I got the first two books from the library so that I could read them in order and to get the most out of the third book. Here is the first book in the Wingfeather Saga:

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of DarknessOnce, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.

Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.

Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.

I Give This Book: 4 Stars

My Thoughts:
'On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness' by Andrew Peterson is a wonderfully crafted tale! The characters are so well written that I connected to them immediately. The story moves at such a fast pace, that I was able to this book in one sitting. The 'Jewels of Anniera' are mentioned all throughout the book and I kept wondering "What do they look like?" and "Where are they?". When I reached the end of the book, I finally found out where they were and why they were so important.

There were a couple of times that the story was a bit slow. It is for this reason that I didn't give it five stars.

Though Fantasy isn't a genre that I usually read, I found this book to be very enjoyable and will definitely be reading the next book 'North, or be Eaten'. I think that this is a book that all ages can enjoy.

If you found this review helpful, please click yes here. Thanks!

View all my reviews

You can purchase the third book hereThe Monster in the Hollows
Find out more about the series

Places to find the author on the web:

Here are the links to the other participants blogs:
Gillian Adams
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Beckie Burnham
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Cynthia Dyer
Amber French
Nikole Hahn
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
* Eve Nielsen
Joan Nienhuis
Donita K. Paul
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
Donna Swanson
Rachel Starr Thomson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Rachel Wyant

Friday, September 16, 2011

Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about Life by Mike Cope

Megan's Secrets: What My Mentally Disabled Daughter Taught Me about Life
Mike Cope's best teacher was his mentally disabled daughter. Megan taught her father secrets more profound than anything he'd learned in college and seminary. This moving book shares those secrets in a way that will make readers laugh and cry and find new hope.

She was a beautiful pint-sized girl with a big love. And the best scholars in the world couldn't teach what she did in her brief life. Megan died at age ten. But her life has exposed some of the insanities of the world and revealed four life-giving secrets.

One secret is simply this: Second choices don't mean we miss out on life. Sometimes our second choices define and shape us in ways we'd never change even if we could.

Lovingly written by Megan's father, this unique inspirational book wraps these four secrets in stories that will restore hope to those grieving a death or second choice, and all who have a heart for a spunky little girl whose only spoken words were, ''I'm Megan!''

All readers who long to see modern-day examples of the ''little ones'' Jesus held on his lap and loved will be inspired and moved to laugh and cry and exult in God's incredible wisdom spoken through a disabled child.

What Mike discovers is that life with Megan--who slept only three hours a night--was exhausting, challenging, even disappointing, but also filled with joy and secrets that he is ready to tell the world.

I Give This Book: 4 Stars

My Thoughts:
We are a society that obsesses over physical appearance and care very little for the inner man - only about the exterior. 'Megan's Secrets' shows that sometimes the people we are ready to write off are the ones that can teach us the most. That sometimes the older you get, the more vain we are about the people around us. And that sometimes the wisest and most insightful people are the little children, who only care about a person's heart and they are not superficial.

Most people, when they see a handicapped child, pity the parents for having to deal with the child. But I think that Mike would say that we are the ones who should be pitied, for not knowing the unconditional love and the great joy that a child like that can bring.

Megan was only ten years old when she died, but she lived her short life to the fullest that she could. She slept for only 2-4 hours a night, as if she knew that she would only have a short time here on earth and wanted to do the most she could.

"Painful as it is, grief is a gift - a part of the healing process." (pg. 145)

I feel that this quote summarizes a large part of the point of the story. A father grieved the loss of a daughter and in some ways is still grieving - as I am sure every parent is who ever lost a child.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, however there were parts that I found to be a stretch and a bit over-the-top. It is for this reason that I didn't give 'Megan's Secrets' 5 stars. This was a moving story and while it touched my heart, I don't plan to reread it any time soon. I would recommend this book, but probably only to those who are in a similar situation.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was not required to give a positive review, but only to give my honest opinion - which I have done. 

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My Review on Barnes & Noble

It’s Christmas in September!

To celebrate the release of her first Christmas book, Suzanne Woods Fisher has teamed up with her publisher, Revell, to bring you the "Christmas in September" iPad Giveaway! The winner will be announced on 9/27 at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party! Details below. Tell your friends and join in the fun (9/7-9/27).

Oh and be sure to follow the blog tour here - many of the bloggers have copies of the book to giveaway! 

Suzanne and Revell will be presenting one merry winner with a Christmas Prize Pack
(valued at over $600):

  • A Brand New iPad 2 with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to iTunes
  • A copy of A Lancaster County Christmas
To enter, click one of the icons below. But, hurry the giveaway ends on 9/26.

But, wait! There's more! The winner will be announced at the A Lancaster County Christmas Facebook Party on 9/27 at Suzanne's author page. During the party she'll be revealing something *BIG* - you won't want to miss it. She'll also be hosting a book chat, trivia contest and giving away a few early Christmas presents! Hope to see you there.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Blogaholic Designs”=

Win a custom made period dress ... and a KINDLE from Rosslyn Elliott!

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Fairer Than MorningRosslyn Elliott is giving away two fabulous prize packages. The first is brand new KINDLE in her Fairer Than Morning Kindle Giveaway. Then on September 20th she's giving away a $200 gift certificate toward a Custom-Made Historical Reproduction Dress (from Recollections) during the Fairer Than Morning Book Club Chat Party on Facebook! Sigh...romantic.

Fairer Than Morning is receiving wonderful reviews - Library Journal said, "A well-written historical series debut…". Read more reviews here.

Be sure to join the fun and enter the Kindle contest - 

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Fairer Than Morning (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/19. Winner will be announced on 9/20 at Rosslyn's Book Club Facebook Party. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Then be sure to RSVP for Rosslyn's Facebook Party! During the party Rosslyn will be chatting with guests, hosting a book chat about Fairer Than Morning (don't worry if you haven't read the book yet - you could win a copy!) & historical Fiction, testing your trivia skills. She'll also be giving away that $200 gift certificate toward a FABULOUS custom-made period dress from Recollections!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Blogaholic Designs”=

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: Hailee (Book 3 in the Montana Skies Series) by Penny Zeller

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:

Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)
***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Penny Zeller is an author, wife, mother of two, and inspirational speaker. She’s known for her down-to-earth prose and creativity in conveying spiritual truths with clarity and humor. On her blog “A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author” ( she addresses a variety of concerns families experience day-to-day across America. Penny has loved to write since the second grade, but it was in 2000 that she dedicated her writing skills to God and made a commitment to use her talents to inspire others. She recently released the Montana Skies Series for Whitaker House: McKenzie, Kaydie, and the lastest, Hailee. Other titles include: Hollyhocks (Booklocker 2003); Wyoming Treasures (Medallion Books 2005); and 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference (2008 Beacon Hill). Penny leads a Bible study and women’s prayer group, co-organized “Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out,” and regularly volunteers at her daughters’ school. In her spare time she enjoys canoeing, gardening, and playing volleyball with family and friends.

Visit the author's website.


For years, orphan Hailee Annigan roamed the streets of Cincinnati, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. She landed in a home for delinquents where, by the grace of God she received an education. Now 19, Hailee excitedly anticipates her new role as school teacher in a small Montana town, but she’s still plagued by her past and fears never seeing her brothers again. In Montana she meets and is instantly attracted to Rev. Maxwell Nathaniel Adams, Jr., pastor of the local church, who is likewise drawn to her. Rev. Adams is from a wealthy, well-connected Boston family whose plans for him did not include seminary, let alone moving to rugged Montana and falling in love with a former street urchin. Their former worlds collide as the unlikely pair attempt to forge a future together.

Product Details:

  • List Price: $9.99
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Whitaker House (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603742182
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603742184


July 1893

Cincinnati, Ohio

Hailee Annigan removed the discolored sheet of paper from the community board in the train depot. Time and weather had faded the poster, so the message was barely readable, but she had memorized the words:

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.

If you have any information, kindly respond to:

Hailee Annigan
c/o Dot Pangbourn’s Boardinghouse
West Eberlee Street, Cincinnati, Ohio

She crumpled the paper in her hand and stuffed it into her purse. In its place, she posted the notice she’d written that morning, then stepped back to make sure it would be conspicuous to people passing by or preparing to board a train.

Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.

If you have any information, kindly respond to:
Hailee Annigan
c/o Pine Haven School
Pine Haven, Montana

For the past several years, she had replaced the posting every month, two times in order to alter the address where she could be located if someone knew of her brothers’ whereabouts.

Hailee swallowed hard to hold back her tears. She didn’t want to leave Cincinnati and diminish her chances of ever finding her younger brothers. However, she knew that a change in location would do her heart good, and that she was following God’s prompting to fulfill the dream she’d had in her heart since she was a young girl.

Tomorrow, Hailee would begin her journey of nearly two thousand miles to a place she’d never been, where she had accepted a job as the schoolteacher. Yes, such a drastic change would help her to leave the past behind and start life anew.

She turned and trudged the short distance from the train depot to Austin Street. Her feet ached from all the walking she’d done in the past few hours, replacing each of the seven postings in varied locations around the city. Now, she had one more place to visit—one more person to see—before leaving Ohio.

Hailee sat on the wooden bench and waited for the horse-drawn hansom cab to round the corner during one of its many scheduled stops. Hoping she had read the schedule for the cab correctly, she counted the money in her coin purse. She’d ridden in a hansom only a handful of times due to the cost, but today was an exception. Today, she would travel to a distant part of the city to say a final good-bye to an important part of her life. She needed to put a period at the end of the sentence that had affected her more than anything else in her nineteen years.

Within minutes, Hailee spied the carriage. She rose to her feet as the hansom cab slowed to a stop.

A short, husky man with a mustache that was black, peppered with gray, and that curled up in swirly loops at the ends stepped down from the back of the carriage. He removed his top hat and greeted her with a bow. “Good afternoon, ma’am. Ambrose Peters at your service. Where may I take you today?”

“Hello, Mr. Peters. Would you please take me to The Sanctuary of Promise?” Hailee smiled at the driver.

“My! A ways away, is it not?” said Ambrose. “But, yes, I can take you there.” He extended a white-gloved hand and helped Hailee into the cab. “If you need anything, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I can hear you through the open window in the roof.”

Hailee nodded and glanced up at the small window with a hinged cover that was open. As she settled into her seat, Ambrose prepared to close the door. “Are you comfortable?” he asked.

“Yes, thank you.”

“Very well, then. We shall be on our way.” He bowed again, placed his hat back on his head, and closed the door. Moments later, they lurched forward with the clatter of horses’ hooves.

“Are you from Cincinnati, miss?” Ambrose asked sometime later.

“Yes, I’ve lived here all my life,” Hailee replied. She appreciated the driver’s small talk. It took her mind off of the nervousness she felt.

“As have I,” said Ambrose. “Do you have family here?”

Hailee wasn’t sure how to answer that question. Were her brothers still in Cincinnati? Or, had they traveled far from this city, which held so many memories? “My parents have gone to be with the Lord, but I do have two brothers,” she finally answered.

“I’m sorry to hear about your parents, miss.” Ambrose paused. “It sure is a lovely time of year, isn’t it, with the flowers blooming and the trees with all their leaves? I have to admit, I enjoy every season, but winter gets a mite cold at times driving the cab.”

Hailee smiled and nodded. She could only imagine how a cold Cincinnati winter might affect cab drivers. She wondered about the winters in Montana. Were they similar to those she had experienced her entire life in Ohio? Would she still love summer the best of all the seasons once she was settled in her new home? She watched in silence as they passed by the tall buildings, some dating back to the turn of the century, and dozens of other buggies traversing the crowded avenue. Would Pine Haven match the hustle and bustle of Cincinnati? Would it have streets lined with storefronts offering a wide variety of goods? Somehow, she doubted it. From what she had heard, Montana was rugged and wild, Pine Haven nothing like a big city. A change will do you good, Hailee, she reminded herself. Even if that change is a drastic one.

“We’re almost there,” Ambrose announced. “It’s been a while since I’ve traveled out this way. I’d forgotten how beautiful this road looks, lined with trees as it is.”

“It is beautiful,” Hailee agreed. The buildings became fewer and farther apart, while the buckeye trees grew more numerous. They folded out their branches as if to welcome Hailee to the place she would never forget, a place where God had molded her into the type of woman He desired her to become.

In the circular driveway in front of The Sanctuary of Promise, the cab slowed to a stop. The door opened, and Ambrose peered in. “Here we are, miss.” He held out an arm to assist her out of the cab. “When shall I return for you?”

“In about an hour, if it’s convenient. Thank you, Ambrose.” Hailee climbed out, then handed him her hard-earned money for the fare.

“See you shortly, miss.”

“Yes, indeed!” She bid him farewell as he climbed back onto the cab and picked up the reins. Then, she turned around and surveyed the mammoth building before her. The brick structure had four stories and two wings, the third- and fourth-floor windows of which were covered with curtains, and a covered porch held up by four faded white pillars. The building was surrounded by a well-manicured lawn, and Hailee spied the familiar tiered birdbath under an oak tree. To the left of the tree was the fenced-in garden where she had learned much about farming.

Looking back at the building, Hailee could see the heads of students inside the first floor windows, and she recalled the many hours she’d spent in its classrooms. A little girl turned her head and peered out at her with a look of curiosity.

Hailee smiled at her and urged her feet to move toward the front door. Had there really been a time when she’d spent almost every waking moment in this looming fortress of a building? It felt as if she’d stepped back in time; while everything around her had changed in the past two years, and while dozens of children from entirely different backgrounds had lived within its walls and played on its grounds, The Sanctuary of Promise had undergone no observable alterations, at least on its exterior.

On the porch now, Hailee sucked in her breath and turned the doorknob. As she stepped inside the vast entryway, a mix of emotions stirred within her.

“I’ll be right with you,” a woman called from an adjacent room.

Hailee recognized the voice and smiled. “Ella?”

“Hailee Annigan, is that you?” Ella Fanshaw rushed through the door toward Hailee and wrapped her arms around the much younger woman. “It’s been the better of three months since we last saw each other. How have you been?”

“I’ve been well, thank you.”

“Please, come into the dining area,” Ella invited her.

Hailee followed her and sat down at the long, worn wooden table—quite possibly for the last time in her life, she realized—where she had once taken every meal. Gazing around the room, she recalled the first day she’d entered The Sanctuary of Promise, at fourteen years of age….


“I don’t belong here!” Hailee shouted at Officer Ulmer, who had taken her inside the large, frightening building.

“The judge ordered for you to come to The Sanctuary of Promise, so that is where you’ll stay,” Officer Ulmer said firmly. “Had you not done what you did, you wouldn’t have found yourself in this predicament.” He paused and shook his head. “Just about every child I remand to The Sanctuary of Promise makes the same claim about not belonging here. When will you street children come to learn that crime doesn’t pay? It never has and never will.”

“But I don’t belong here!” Hailee stamped her feet.

“If you don’t belong here, then why do you have a reputation for thievery among the storefront owners in East Cincinnati?”

“A reputation?”

“Yes, a reputation. There’s nary a storekeeper who hasn’t fallen victim to your thieving ways and lying tongue.”

Hailee ignored the officer’s insinuations. Yes, she had stolen; yes, she had lied; and, yes, she had deceived. What of it? It had been out of necessity that she had done such things. Had she not needed to provide for her younger brothers, she wouldn’t have dreamed of lying, stealing, and deceiving.

“You don’t understand. I need to be with my brothers!” Without forethought, Hailee pushed past the man, rushed out the door, and raced across the vast lawn. Spurred on by the rhythmic thumping of her heart within her chest, she ran with all her might, willing her eyes to adjust to the darkness of night so that she could make out her path.

“You come back here, young lady!”

Hailee stole a glance over her shoulder and saw Officer Ulmer running after her, but the thickset man was no match for her speed. “Stop that girl!” he yelled as the gap between them continued to widen. “Stop her!”

As Hailee rounded the corner of East Seventh Street and Holmes, a strong hand grabbed her arm and stopped her in mid-stride. “Not so fast,” the officer said sternly.

“Let me go!” Hailee wailed as she tried to wriggle out of the officer’s grasp.

“Not this time,” he said. “Another runaway?”

Hailee looked around. Officer Ulmer was stumbling toward them, gasping for breath.

“Yes,” he managed, still panting. “Ten years ago, I could have caught her”—he expelled a loud breath—“but my best years of chasing street urchins are behind me.”

The other officer chuckled. “That’s true of a lot of us, Quincy.”

“That’s why I requested this post, delivering wayward juveniles to The Sanctuary of Promise,” Officer Ulmer continued. “It’s supposed to be easier and less eventful. But then, spitfires like this Hailee Annigan come along and make my job almost impossible.” He breathed in and out, in and out. “Still, children like Hailee give me reason to pray even harder. Yes, I lift every lost child I meet to my Father’s throne, asking Him to take care of their needs, and—”

Out of desperation, Hailee leaned forward and bit the officer who held her on the arm. Yelling in pain, he immediately released his grip. Hailee stepped back and was ready to run, but Officer Ulmer grabbed her arms and held her fast. “She really doesn’t think she belongs in The Sanctuary of Promise, Officer Edwards,” he said.

“Humph. Do any of them?” Officer Edwards scowled and rubbed his arm where Hailee had bitten him.

She glanced around, hoping for another way to escape her captors. She would not give in and be taken to The Sanctuary of Promise. Sure, it was a big brick mansion, but it was just a fancy jail. Besides, she had her brothers to care for. Why couldn’t these officers see that?

“You don’t understand,” she whined. “My brother Philip, he has to walk with a crutch.” She pasted a sad look on her face in hopes of eliciting their pity. One thing she had learned on the streets was how to manipulate others through emotional appeals.

“Right. And I’m the president of the United States,” Officer Ulmer said with a chuckle. “Let’s get moving.” He started walking and pulled her along.

“I’m telling the truth,” Hailee insisted, trying to keep her voice low and her tone mournful.

“Are you aware of the alternative of going to The Sanctuary of Promise?” Officer Ulmer asked.

“What?” Hailee demanded.

“You would be put in jail.”

“The Sanctuary of Promise is a jail—just a fancy one,” she retorted. “Nothing good ever comes from being in a place like that.”

“I think you’ll find The Sanctuary of Promise quite different from the jail where you were held until the judge heard your case.”

“I don’t want to be in any jail. I want to be free!” Hailee gritted her teeth and tried to pull her arms out of Officer Ulmer’s grasp, but Officer Edwards held fast to her shoulder as he walked alongside. She was no match for two grown men.

“You know, most kids at The Sanctuary are released after about a year and a half,” mused Officer Ulmer. “With the little shenanigan you just pulled, you’re likely to spend more time there, though.”

“I won’t stay there,” Hailee insisted. “I’ll just escape. I have to. My brothers are depending on me. Who’ll make them dinner? Who’ll tell little Philip the story about baby Moses in the basket?”

“I’m sure someone will see to it that they’re taken care of,” Officer Edwards muttered. “If they even exist.”

“You don’t believe that I have brothers?” Hailee was shocked at what she was hearing. Why would she make that up?

“You couldn’t imagine the stories we hear,” Officer Ulmer chuckled. “Do you think you’re the first wayward juvenile to insist she has younger siblings to care for? And we’ve heard the brother-with-a-crutch story one too many times.”

“But it’s the truth! One of Philip’s feet is turned the wrong way. He was born like that. And it makes it hard for him to walk, so he has to use a crutch.”

“And just how old is this Philip?” Officer Ulmer asked as they entered The Sanctuary of Promise grounds.

“He’s only six.”

“What about your other brother? I’m sure he can care for him just fine,” Officer Edwards said dryly.

“Reuben?” Hailee was getting angry. “Reuben can’t care for him—not like I can. He’s only twelve. And, sometimes, Reuben is…well…grouchy.”

“And where do these brothers live?” asked Officer Ulmer.

“Over on Gardner St—wait, why?”

“Gardner Street?” asked Officer Ulmer.

“No, not Gardner Street,” Hailee said. “I meant to say Garrison Avenue.”

“Either way, we’ll find them,” said Officer Edwards. “Again, assuming they exist.”

“Why doesn’t anybody believe me?” Hailee demanded.

“With the crimes you’ve committed and the lies you’ve told, it is a bit difficult to believe you,” Officer Ulmer reasoned. He reached out with his free hand and opened the front door of The Sanctuary. “Good evening Miss Torenz,” he said as they stepped inside and were greeted by a young woman. “We’ve got one who insists on escaping.”

“Don’t worry, she won’t be escaping,” the woman assured him. “Please bring her upstairs to the Yellow Flower Room.”

Still fighting to be released, Hailee kicked and wriggled as the officers dragged her up the stairs. Miss Torenz opened a door, and the officers shoved Hailee inside and quickly shut the door.

“Let me out!” she shouted, beating on the door with her fists. She had to get out of here—her brothers’ lives depended on it! No doubt, little Philip was hungry right now. It was bad enough that she’d spent last night in jail and left Philip and Reuben all alone. But two nights in a row? Hailee cringed at the thought.

“It’ll do you no good to pound on the door,” said Miss Torenz through the door, her voice firm. “We’ll bring you some breakfast in the morning.”

“No, wait! You can’t leave me here!” Hailee resumed pounding on the door. After a while, her fists sore, she turned to assess her whereabouts. A tiny window on the far wall allowed a minute amount of moonlight into the room. With the exception of a bed with a faded quilt, the closet-sized room was empty. Hailee squinted. Was the wallpaper yellow with large sunflowers? It was difficult to tell in the dim light, but she supposed it was, which would account for the name of the room.

One last time, Hailee pounded on the door and screamed until her throat hurt. Finally, she gave up, turned, and leaned back against the door. She slid down into a seated position, buried her face in her hands, and began to sob. While she’d never been one to give up, no matter how harsh the circumstances life had dealt to her, this was the exception. She was trapped, and there was nothing she could do about it….


“Hailee?” Ella asked.

“I’m sorry, Ella. I was just remembering my first day here.”

“I wasn’t here that night, but I recall hearing that you put up the fight of the century,” Ella said, laughing.

“It seems so long ago now, almost a different lifetime.”

Ella sighed. “It was only five years ago, but you were so different then. I could tell when I first met you that you were frightened and feeling alone. And so thin and malnourished…. My heart broke for you.”

“I will forever be indebted to you for all you’ve done for me,” Hailee said.

Ella smiled. “I prayed that very morning for God to send me someone I could encourage. I didn’t realize that He would make good on my prayer right away by sending me someone the same day! And a challenge, too—that’s what you were, Hailee Annigan. A challenge.”

Hailee had thanked the Lord many times for Ella. In the years since she’d left The Sanctuary, she had maintained contact with her former teacher, although their visits had not been as frequent as she would have wished due to the busy lives of both of them. However, Hailee had treasured the times when Ella had met her at the boardinghouse where she lived. They would have tea and catch up on the happenings in their lives, and, many times, Dot Pangbourn, the boardinghouse proprietress, would join them.

Sitting across from Ella, Hailee realized how much the past five years had altered her friend. Her auburn hair was beginning to gray, her lovely face had gained a few more wrinkles, and, behind her thick glasses, her eyes looked more tired than ever. Hailee knew she was responsible for some of those wrinkles, and that she and others like her had been sources of the weariness her dear friend’s face showed. “I am deeply sorry about having been a challenge,” she said.

Ella smiled. “Oh, pooh. That’s in the past. What matters now is what you do with the second chance the Lord has given you.” She paused. “Would you care for a cup of tea?”

“I would love a cup of tea, thank you.”

Ella stood up and left the room, then returned a few moments later with two steaming teacups. She set one down at each of their places and then took her seat again. “So, tell me, Hailee, what is new in your life?”

“Well, I actually came here to tell you that I am moving…to Montana. I’ve been hired as the new schoolteacher in Pine Haven.”

“Pine Haven? That’s wonderful! From the moment you told me of your intent to apply, I had no doubt that you would get the position. I clearly remember the day you showed me the newspaper advertisement.” Ella took a sip of tea. “However, I must say…Montana? That’s pretty far west!”

“It is quite far from here,” Hailee conceded. “At first, I was hesitant because of my brothers. What if Philip or Reuben finally sees one of my postings? It will take weeks for me to receive word, and then there is the matter of the travel time. But you know my dream of becoming a teacher, and Pine Haven was the only place where the incoming teacher was not expected to have several years of experience.”

“If your brothers see one of your notices, they will contact you, wherever you are,” Ella assured her with a pat on her arm. “This will be an adventure, and you are smart to take advantage of it.”

“I have prayed about it so much, Ella. I prayed that God would open a door for me to be a teacher, and He did.”

“He’s had a plan for your life all along.”

“Even when I was causing so much trouble here?”

“Even then.” Ella smiled. “Now, besides the good news of your teaching position, what brings you to The Sanctuary?”

“To see you,” said Hailee. “I couldn’t very well go without saying good-bye, and I’m leaving tomorrow. I will arrive in Pine Haven on July twenty-seventh, with plenty of time to get settled before school starts.”

“My, things are happening fast.”

“They certainly are.” Hailee bit her lip. “I also felt that I needed to see this place one last time.”

“Not much has changed since you lived here, Hailee, although many lives have been changed—for the better, I might add.”

“God has used you in wonderful ways to touch the lives of so many children. I can only pray that He will use me in the same way with my students.”

“I know He will.” Ella paused, looking pensive. “Do you remember the first Bible verse I asked you to look up?”

“Of course!” Hailee had all but forgotten that there had been a time when she was not familiar with the Scriptures. Ella had opened God’s Word to her, and the first verse she’d learned had become one of her favorites. “Jeremiah twenty-nine, verse eleven,” Hailee began, and Ella’s voice joined with hers as the two women recited together: “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.’”

“Hailee, do you finally understand that God has always known the plans and thoughts He has toward you?” Ella said. “He hasn’t changed. The Lord has been laying the foundation for those thoughts and plans, and, now, they are coming to fruition.”

“Thank you.” Hailee squeezed the hand of the woman who had become a second mother to her. “I’m just a little nervous about going all the way to Montana.”

“I can see that. Just remember that there is no place you can go where the Lord is not there with you. Lift your eyes to Him, Hailee, and He’ll be your comforter.”

Hailee nodded. Ever since she’d come to know the Lord, He’d never turned His back on her.

“I’m sure Dot will be sorry to see you go.”

“I will miss her so. She’s been so kind to me, almost like a grandmother.” Hailee paused. “And, more than anyone, Ella, I’ll miss you.”

“I’ll miss you, too, Hailee. But you have prayed about this decision, and I do believe it is the Lord’s calling for your life. Besides, I’m only a train ride away.”

“A long train ride.”

“Nonetheless, we will correspond regularly, which shall be a source of encouragement to both of us.”

“I promise to write if you will,” said Hailee.

“It’s a promise,” Ella agreed.

“Well, we’ve talked enough about me. Please, Ella, tell me how you have been.”

“Oh, I’ve been well.” Ella paused, her eyes suddenly glowing. “I do have a tidbit of information you might find amusing, if not exciting.”

“Do tell!”

“Do you remember Officer Ulmer?”

Hailee feigned a grimace. “How could I forget him?”

“Well, he has asked me to marry him.”

Hailee almost choked on her tea. “I beg your pardon?”

“It’s true. He has been courting me for the past several months, and it happened rather quickly—”

“Officer Ulmer, the man who brought me here?”

“The one and the same.”

“I don’t believe it!” Hailee immediately regretted her words, for Ella looked stricken. “Oh, do forgive me, Ella. Congratulations are in order!” She reached out and clasped her friend’s hand. “I am happy for you.”

“I know you saw only the authoritative side of him, Hailee, but Officer Ulmer—Quincy, rather—is a kind, gentle, and godly man. He’s loving, thoughtful, and….” Ella blushed. “Handsome.”

“You’re right, Ella. I knew him only as a policeman, and we didn’t meet under the best circumstances. He treats you well, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, he does. He’s exactly the type of husband I have been praying for all along. You see, I thought I was much too old to get married, but the Lord had other plans. He placed Quincy in front of me all these years, and we’ve been good friends for so long. It was just recently that we both began to see each other as something much more than a friend.” Ella giggled shyly. “It took us many years, but we finally realized our love for each other. I couldn’t be happier, Hailee.”

“And I am happy for you. Have you selected a wedding date?”

“Sometime this fall. And, although I don’t like to wish time away, autumn can’t come soon enough!”

“I only wish I could be here for the happy event.” For a moment, Hailee considered staying in Cincinnati, if only to see one of her dearest friends get married.

But Ella knew her so well that she read her thoughts. “Now, Hailee, you must go. I know how you have searched for a permanent teaching position for some time now. I also know how humbly you have asked God to use your gift of teaching. I believe He has answered that prayer. Had He wanted you to teach in Cincinnati, the opportunity would have arisen.”

“You’re right, Ella. Still, I shall miss you so.”

“And I shall miss you.”

“I suppose I should go,” Hailee said. She stood to her feet and gave Ella a warm hug.

“Take care, dear one. Write and let me know that you have arrived safely.”

“I will.”

“And don’t worry. You’ll do fine in Montana.”

“Good-bye, then.”

“No, never good-bye,” said Ella. “As my grandmother Fanshaw was fond of saying, ‘It’s never “Good-bye” but instead, “So long.”’”

“So long, then, Ella.”

Hailee hoped that Ella’s conviction about her doing fine in Montana would prove true. She took one last look around the room. With the adventure that lay before her, she might never get another chance to see the place that had housed so much of her past.

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