Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview with Cait Lavender, Excerpt and a Giveaway!

Cait, welcome to Hardcover Feedback! Would you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a stay-at-home mom of one very busy toddler in Central California. My husband and I ranch Angus cattle and I read and write like a madwoman whenever I get a spare minute. I’ve always loved the written word and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in Jr. High, I attended Fresno State for English Literature, so this has been a dream come true!

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
I love books. Period. It’s not much of a leap from loving books to wanting to write them. I had a couple really awesome English teachers, but they really only fanned the flame that was already burning.

What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
The first book I ever tried to write was this awful miss-mash of Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. I wrote about half of it before calling it quits and it was never published. No one ever read it but myself, for which I’m infinitely grateful!

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I can’t really think of any besides the fact I usually write until the wee hours of the morning. The only real time I have to write is after my daughter goes to sleep, so when I get on a roll it’s usually two or three in the morning before I stagger to bed.

Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
Shelby is my girl. She’s everything I’d like to be, but the funny thing about being a writer is you utilize characters to fill a gap, but then those minor characters grow on you. Jack really did that to me in Hunter Moon. I just felt like his story wasn’t over yet, that’s why he’s the center of a short I wrote and published in an anthology. I’m still debating on whether I’m going to take his story further, as several of my readers have asked me. We’ll see.

What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
Well, besides my daughter? LOL I know this sounds trite following that but my sister bought me a Kindle two Christmases ago and it set off a domino effect launching me into writing. Without that I don’t think I would have ever gotten the courage to publish.

What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
I’ve always wanted to go to Europe. Great Britain, Italy, Germany, the works. There is so much history there, I just haven’t had the time or the money to be able to go. Maybe if I do well enough in my writing career it would happen.

What is your all-time favorite book?
That is such a hard question! I really can’t choose. So much depends on my mood, if I need inspiration, or if I just need to relax and let my brain go on vacation.

Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
Again, so hard to choose. Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, Patricia Briggs. All of them are so talented, I can only aspire to be as good as they are.

If a TV show was based on your life, what would the theme song be and why?
Wow...good one. Probably the closest one I could get would be Only Prettier from Miranda Lambert.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like reading, of course, but I also like shooting, riding horses and listening to music.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Definitely a night owl. Like I said, I’m staying up until 2-3 am writing and being chipper after that is not really an option. I think my husband counts himself fortunate he’s at work when I wake up so he doesn’t get mauled.

What is your favorite TV show and/or movie?
I watch Bones religiously. I love me some David Boreanaz! I’m also a big Castle fan since Nathan Fillion is one of the lead characters. He’s so charming and he’s a writer!

If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at any time in history, where would you go and why?
I’d really love to go to the Globe in London and watch a play when Shakespeare was alive and acting. I’m pretty sure that would be the most amazing thing in the world.

If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive) who would you invite?
Ha! Shakespeare, because he’s got a naughty sense of humor. Simon Pegg, because he’s my favorite Brit and he’s amazing. Christopher Moore, because he’d be a riot. Karen Marie Moning, because I have so many questions for her! And finally, my great grandmother, because I never got to meet her, but she was a great woman.

What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the first book in a new series, based in the same world as Hunter Moon and involving vampires and Knights Templar. I’m really excited about it because it’s a little darker and more intense, but the characters are really coming to life.

Where can people connect with you online?
I’m on Twitter, @caitlavender and on Facebook. I also have a website, Please do contact me and let me know your thoughts!

Thank you so much Cait for being on Hardcover Feedback!


“You got a death wish, now? What, finding dead bodies isn’t exciting enough for you, you have to try and get mauled by a wild animal?” Her voice had raised several octaves during the course of our conversation, and I was afraid the old guys would start listening in. I switched tactics.
“Well, getting the life kissed out of me by the hot warden was pretty exciting, I guess.”
She looked like she was going to have a stroke. “YOU WHAT?” Sure if Jesse’s voice went any higher, Reggie would start howling, I motioned with my hands for her to quiet down.
“Sheesh, Jess. Shut up! I don’t want the whole town to know!” Her eyes narrowed as she slammed her hands on the counter and leaned over.
“If you don’t tell me everything that happened right this second, I’m going to tell Matt that you secretly have been in love with him!” She hissed.
I swallowed and nodded. “Well, it was after you and Ty left. We were just standing there, and one second he was all sweet and quiet and then he said some really stupid thing about me just calling him next time and not needing to find a body if I wanted to see him.”
Jesse took in a sharp breath and I knew she thought about how well that must have gone over. My reputation was well founded; I had a temper.
“I started to say this really wicked comeback,” Liar. “When all the sudden he was just kissing me.” Jesse stood back up, eyes wide and grinned. I continued before she could say anything. “It wasn’t a really big deal. I think he did it just to shut me up. And then he just left. Personally, I thought it was kind of rude to just invade my personal space like that. I’m sure Cash could tell I didn’t want him to kiss me.”
Jesse laughed and looked over my shoulder. I frowned.
“Oh, I don’t know,” a rich baritone voice behind me said. Oh crap! “It seemed like you enjoyed it to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure I heard you moan.”
Jesse nearly doubled over with laughter. I was paralyzed with horror.
There he was, in all his glory, standing right behind me. I opened and shut my mouth, knowing I must have looked like a fish, floundering at what to say. Ba dum, ching! Cash just stood there, all self-satisfied hotness. Finally my brain kicked back into gear.
“I did not moan. I tried to tell you to stop, but you took that as encouragement and kept on fumbling around,” I said in my best haughty voice. “You might have heard me moan if you practiced kissing a little more.” I heard Jesse gasp for air behind me as she struggled to breathe.
I glared at her. “A little warning might have been nice, best friend!” I hissed.


To be entered to win an e-copy of Hunter Moon, complete the mandatory entry and then fill in all the applicable entries on the Rafflecopter form. There will be ONE winner. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

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Interview with R. L. Prendergast and a Giveaway!

Would you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m six feet tall, weight about 300 hundred pounds and make ice. Wait. Hold on. That’s my refrigerator. Hmmm. About me, eh? (I’m Canadian so I have to say “eh” once a day to keep my citizenship). Well, I never set out to be a novelist. I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to write a book and I didn’t take English or journalism in school. I was the kid you saw on your neighborhood street selling lemonade on a hot
summer’s day. My mom always said my eyes were green because I loved money, so she bribed me to read. The first few books I read she paid me 25 cents per book. Her trick worked. She instilled in me a lifelong love of reading. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties and my wife and I moved to New Zealand so that she could continue her education that I first began to write. By the time we moved back to Canada I had a draft of my first novel – The Impact of a Single Event. Even though The Impact of a Single Event became a national bestseller in Canada, I still had no intention of making a career as a writer. However, like the reading bug I caught as a boy, I found myself compelled to write and came up with Dinner with Lisa.

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
As I mentioned, my wife and I moved to New Zealand so that she could continue her education. While we were there I didn’t have the same work pressures that I had in North America. I found New Zealand to be a much more relaxed environment. As a result I began to spend a lot of time in the local libraries reading to my heart’s content. One day while I was reading an idea popped into my head. “Wouldn’t it be interesting to read a story about a diary that gets passed down from one generation to the next, where only one person per generation gets to add a story about a turning point in their life.” That was the initial idea for my novel The Impact of a Single Event. So, it was a situation that initially inspired me to write.

What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
The first book I ever wrote was The Impact of a Single Event. Although it became a national bestseller, it definitely wasn’t an easy process. After returning from New Zealand with my initial manuscript I spent the next two and a half years rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. As I stated earlier, I didn’t have a background in writing so I sought out some local published writers and had them read small sections of the manuscript; usually about 5000 words or so. These people were very generous with their time and always gave me a pearl of writing wisdom that I incorporated into the rest of the story. When I finally had something worthy of being reviewed by a publisher I got a lucky break. I found an editor who had 34 of her own novels published. She has an excellent understanding of writing and story telling and guided me through the final steps. There’s a reason why so many writers thank their editors when they win an award.  A good editor is beyond value and I credit some of my success to her.

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I wish I could tell you something about my writing habits that would be memorable, but I don’t think I have any interesting habits. When I write I treat it like a job. I sit down in the morning and work. I have lunch and then I go back to work until my brain is mushy. Sometimes mushy brain strikes me at three in the afternoon, sometime it’s eight at night. I know I’ve had enough when I get a little dizzy and the words on the page start to swim. I might force myself to sit down in the morning, but I stop when my body tells me to. I’ve never looked at a blank page. If I get stuck with something I’m working on I know the story isn’t fully developed in my head and I leave it and work on a different part of the story until the scene is clear to me.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve got a couple of projects I’m working on. One is a children’s story inspired by my son, who hasn’t slept through the night since we brought him home from the hospital. You can see his picture on the home page of my website. The other project is a fictionalized account of one of the most famous people who ever lived. I’d like to tell you more, but I need potential readers to be intrigued enough to visit my website again. The job of a storyteller, after all, is to keep the reader interested!

Where can people connect with you online?
I love to hear from readers so please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions. My author website is and my email is You can also find me on Facebook through my website or by searching RL Prendergast. I’ve also recently created a twitter account. I’m @RodPrendergast.


Rod has graciously offered to give away a copy of Dinner with Lisa! If the winner is from the US or Canada they may choose a printed book or an e-book. If the winner is NOT from the US or Canada, then they would receive an e-book.
To enter, all you have to do is follow this blog in at least one way, complete the mandatory entry and then complete whichever extra entries you want in the Rafflecopter form below. If you are not familiar with how to use Rafflecopter HERE is a link to a how-to video. Giveaway is open internationally!

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dinner with Lisa by R. L. Prendergast

In the disastrous economic times of the 1930s, Joseph Gaston, a young widower with four children, arrives in the small town of Philibuster seeking security for his family. Instead, he faces barriers everywhere. He does his best despite great adversity, but the strain of feeding and protecting his family whittles away his strength. Finally, destitution forces him to consider giving up his children in order to save them. Enraged by his situation, he attempts one last desperate act—on the night he learns about the mysterious Lisa.

Heart wrenching, humorous and historically authentic, Dinner with Lisa incorporates the crucial issues of the depression: poverty, unemployment, drought and racism. In the midst of love and loyalty, trickery and despair, the ultimate message of the novel is one of hope and the courage to survive even the worst odds.


I was actually really surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Dinner with Lisa - before starting it I wasn't sure if I would even like it! I knew how hard the Depression was in the U.S., but I never knew that people in other countries were having a depression too. It was very enlightening to read about it.

The story is full of neat facts about things that happened, that are woven into the story seemlessly. I learned several new things about 1930's Canada. During the course of the story there is a "black blizzard" that happens in Philibuster. A black blizzard is a natural phenomenon caused by severe drought along with decades of farming without crop rotation or other techniques to prevent wind erosion. (Click HERE to watch a fascinating video about black blizzards).

Joseph and his children were such likeable characters. All the kids had me laughing.  The two boys would do such crazy things that I kept hoping they wouldn't get hurt. Joseph's brother, Henri (a.k.a. The Great Henri), was a bit of a confusing character at first - I wasn't sure whether I was going to like him or not. However, not far into the story I couldn't help liking him - his wife on the other hand was a completely different story!

Tilda, Henri's wife, at first I liked her a lot, but throughout the story I began to like her less and less. She has never been able to have children of her own and jumps at the chance to care for Joseph's children while he looks for work or is working. However, soon she begins to devise a plan in which she will be able to adopt Joseph's two daughters. Tilda thinks that if she can make them love her more than Joseph, and fill their heads with enough talk about how girls should be raised by women, that she can somehow convince him to give them up. It was so wrong what she was doing, and it made her seem so selfish. I understand why she wanted them and everything, but to try to break-up their family when Joseph was trying to do everything in his power to keep them together was just so wrong!

Winfield Westmoreland, the mayor of Philibuster, was such a heinous man, and I kept waiting for a time when he would get what was coming to him. Though not much is said about his family, it seems to me that he abused them. Winfield had the chief of police and some other higher-up people under his thumb. Anytime he would get angry, he would have one of them make an appointment for him with a prostitute, insuring he maintain his clean image with the public.

There were so many other interesting characters in the book, such as Tom Wah, Mrs. Nye, Raven Mullens, Copper, Beth, and of course Lisa.

This book had quite a few expletives in it, especially religious ones - which is something I don't like at all in books.  I wish the story didn't use Their names in that way!

Many times in the book a word would be spelled differently than I was used to it being spelled, such as two-storey house and mould. I actually never knew that there was a different way to spelling some of these words - so it was great to learn!

Overall, I thought that Dinner with Lisa was a riveting story and one that I found to be very entertaining.

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

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

Book Details:
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Dekko Publishing (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978454820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978454821
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Available to purchase at Amazon
I also have a giveaway of this book going on until 4/13, to enter it go HERE.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Brutal & Perfection by Joel M. Andre and a Giveaway!

One dark and warm October night in the heart of Arizona, a group of friends are out for an evening of fun. It was a night for celebration, and to draw them away from the world.

As they drink the night away, a dark and handsome stranger watches them in the distance. His observations going unnoticed as the girls focus on their own conversation.

Too drunk to make it home on their own, the stranger offers the group a ride home in his taxi. Reluctantly, the girls agree.

What follows is a dark and brutal act of revenge decades in the making.


Brutal was just that - brutal. It is full of blood and gore, and truthfully is not a genre that I really enjoy reading. However, I am judging the book solely on how it is written and I think that it does a good job of causes the right amount of disgust and horror to keep people who like this genre interested.

A few words of warning, this story has very graphic scenes of brutal murders so people who are easily squeamish may not want to read this one. Also, there is a lot of vulgar language in the story, which fits with who the character is, but I am mentioning this for those (like me) who absolutely do not want to read books with that in it.

It is a VERY quick read, as it is a short story, and there is actually a part two to this book, which is quite obvious with how the story ended. If this is a genre that you like, I think that you would enjoy it.

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

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

Brutal Book Details:
  • Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Horror
  • Publisher: Darkcountry Publications
  • Publication Date: March 1,2010
  • Available to purchase at Amazon 

Carol and Tammy Long have fought a constant battle with their weight all their lives. When a stranger on the television offers an amazing new diet plan with a weight loss success rate of 100 percent, Tammy feels like it was an answer to their prayers.

As the pair ventures off to the Verde Valley Weight Loss Clinic things start to take a darker turn. The owner Kathy Black gives them a new take on the classic idea of perfection.

Now, placed in a medical facility where they are constantly monitored, the women learn there is something wrong with perfection.


This story sent shivers up my spine and so many parts shocked me! The reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because some of it seemed forced and not well explained. The ending left me wanting to read the next book, because it just leaves you hanging as to what happens.

A word of caution to people (like me) who don't like to have swearing in their books, this story has some cussing in it. I know that a lot of people do use language like this and just because I don't like it, I wouldn't feel right in giving it a lesser rating because of it. However, if every other word would have been a swear word, that would have been a different story.

A really enjoyable short story and I recommend it!

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

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

Perfection Book Details:
  • Genre: Adult Suspense, Mystery, Thriller, Horror
  • Publisher: Darkcountry Publications
  • Publication Date: February 12,2010
  • Available to purchase at Amazon

About the Author:
Joel M. Andre was born January 13, 1981. At a young age he was fascinated with the written word. It was at fourteen that Poe blew his mind, and Andre began to dabble with darker poetry.

Between the years of 1999 and 2007 Joel was featured in various poetry anthologies and publications. In 2008 he released his first collection,Pray the Rain Never Ends.

Knowing there was something deeper and darker inside of his soul, Joel decided to take a stab at commercialism. Releasing the dark tongue in cheek, A Death at the North Pole, created a dark world among the death of Kris Kringle. Ultimately providing a tale of redemption.

October of 2008 saw Joel release his second book, Kill 4 Me. A tale in which a woman is haunted by a vengeful spirit through text messages and instant messaging.

Taking some time off and doing a lot of soul searching, Joel took things in a new direction and dabbled in the Fantasy Genre with, The Pentacle of Light. The tale dealing with five major races battling for control of Earth, and the acceptance of their God.

Finally, after missing his detective Lauren Bruni, he released the book The Return in October 2009, this time moving the action from the North Pole and placing it in the small Arizona community he was raised in.
Andre’s latest book is The Black Chronicles: Cry of the Fallen about a dead man who seeks revenge on the woman that tormented him in peaceful Northern Arizona.

Currently, he resides in Chandler, AZ. You can visit his website at

Enter to win an ebook of Kill 4 Me by Joel M. Andre. Here is the synopsis:

After a car accident that claimed the life of her sister, she has struggled to return to a normal life. But on a cold winter day what seemed like a harmless text on her cell phone changed everything.

Now Casey will try to do anything to protect her and her family and friends against a vengeful spirit. Even kill. Who is the spirit stalking Casey and how far will it push her into the darkness of madness?

Come enjoy a grisly tale, woven with mystery and intrigue where once you think you have it all figured out, you find out you're dead wrong.

To be entered to win an e-copy of Kill 4 Me, complete the mandatory entry and then fill in all the applicable entries on the Rafflecopter form. There will be ONE winner. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY! 

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Valkyrie's Vengeance by Suzie Grant: Book Excerpt & Giveaway!

Title:  Valkyrie's Vengeance (Maidens of the Shield, Book 1)
Author:  Suzie Grant
Publisher:  Night Shift Publishing
Length:  70,000 words
Sub-Genres:  Action/Adventure, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Stranded on foreign soil. Rescued and raised by the enemy. Tyra Svensdottir declares war on her own people after witnessing the death of the very woman who’d saved her life. Kidnapping the man who wields the sword of the underworld —Hel’s Hammer — Tyra forces him to repair her shipwrecked vessel. Her quest to kill the swordsman’s king takes them across frigid waters on a myriad of adventures and a voyage of sensual discovery.

Rorik Thorlicksson uncovers treachery within his clan but in order to return home to warn of the impending attack, he must yield to the woman holding him captive. Along their voyage he unravels the mystery behind his captor. He discovers she is the woman promised to him in wedlock at birth though her disappearance years ago released him from his betrothal. Dissuading the little heathen from her purpose and into his bed becomes a more appealing prospect with every passing day.

Blood vengeance brings them together even as desire binds their hearts. Amongst the secrets and obscurities of their destinies, they find a love that spans a lifetime as well as an end to A Valkyrie’s Vengeance.


Off the coast of England - 901 ADThwack, thwack, thwack. Arrows embedded into the beached ship with every step Tyra Svensdottir took, missing her ankles by mere inches.She dove for cover inside the grounded longship’s hull. Her heart stalled and then nearly pounded its way outside of her chest. She placed a hand there as if she could stop the horrendous hammering, or at least quiet it somewhat. Eyes wide, she spat the mouthful of salt water out and rose to her knees, making sure to stay hidden. The hull tilted on its side like a great fish dragged from the sea. Leaning against the wooden planks, Tyra summoned the courage not to cry. Who shot at her? How had they found her? For the last three days, she’d wandered the beach alone. She wasn’t even sure where she was. Her gaze roamed her surroundings. Early morning mist swept the beaches in its wispy grasp and limited visibility. But she could hear voices. She couldn’t locate from whence they came. Tyra slogged through the calf-high water, leaning low, to the front of the ship. Her fingers shook as she reached out to grasp the edge of the jagged planks where the hull had struck stone, causing the vessel to sink. Waves lapped at her ankles and washed the sand out from under her bare toes as she stepped over one of the bloated, dead bodies. Bile rose in her throat and she tamped it down. The rancid scent of rotting flesh permeated the air around the longship’s belly and her empty stomach protested the smell. Her lips quivered. From fear? Cold? Both. She only wished to go home. Her father had warned her— when the gods grant our desires we may find we no longer wish for them, Tyra. An ache developed in her chest and she could almost hear the deep timbre of his voice. Why hadn’t she listened to him?  Bodies littered the beach in various positions. Her brother...her cousins...all dead. She’d been the sole survivor. Of the twelve men, only four had washed ashore so far. She covered her mouth, to hold in the scream forming in the back of her throat. A deep, hearty laugh caused her to stiffen as she waited for further movement. She peered around the edge of the shattered boards and a single arrow thumped into the side of the ship next to her face. She leapt back with a gasp.The laughter grew louder. They were toying with her now. They must know she was alone. Her legs were weak and wobbly from lack of nourishment and her vision blurred. Voices carried to her and she knew the enemy was closing in.Tyra could not wait here to be slaughtered like an animal. She must move to a better battlefield. She scanned the area. The beach faded into a dark cluster of trees. If she made it there, she would have a better chance of survival with more places to hide. But running from here to there...a single arrow would kill her. Tyra choked back her tears. Taking a deep breath, she burst from the opening and plunged headlong down the stretch of open beach toward the cover of the trees. Her legs pumped furiously and she squealed at the swish of an arrow flying past her. She gasped for breath and her lungs burned from lack of air. Plink. Plink. Two arrows hit the face of the rocks ahead of her and fell harmlessly to the ground. Tyra grabbed one as she ran past. A weapon would even the odds somewhat. She might only be twelve-winters-old, but her father had taught her from an early age how to protect herself. He appreciated strength in a woman and had encouraged her to take up arms. A woman’s place was beside the hearth, but a woman also protected the hearth while the men were away. Steep, craggy rocks settled at the base of an incline. She leapt over a small boulder and burst through the edge of the trees. There was no path here, and she knew not where to go, but she could not falter now. The sound of the chase followed her as the enemy crashed through the brush behind her. Their harsh breath broke the silence of the forest as the men sucked air into their lungs. Tree limbs slapped against her face and stung her tender skin. How many were there? Did she dare look? If she fell she would never be able to get away once they caught her. She could not look and risk losing her small advantage. They laughed and taunted in a foreign tongue, and they were closing in. Lengthening her strides, she dodged a maple tree and leapt over a dead, fallen trunk. Why had she stowed away on her brother’s ship? Why had she not stayed home where she belonged? Hugh had been headed to Jorvikskyr on a trading expedition, and her father had forbidden her to go. Determined, she had hidden away in an empty trunk. A storm had brewed so suddenly, near falling right atop them, leaving the crew little time to sail safely to land.And due to her foolish pride she was left running for her life in an unknown land. The terrain dipped and she slid down an embankment. She sprang forward and raced north. Several seconds later she realized she heard no sound. Her footsteps slowed. She gasped for breath and leaned a hand against a thick oak, while her other settled against her heart. Dropping to her knees, she hid behind the large trunk, and searched the area. The mist weaved between the carpet of trees, Tyra studied the wall of green for the slightest movement. Nature’s breath seemed to be silenced as she waited for some sound.  Where had they gone? Had they given up the search? The mist thickened amongst the vegetation and descended into a moist cloud just above her head. Everything beyond her reach faded into a grey haze.  A limb snapped. She shrank back, the bark of the tree scrapping against the soft flesh of her forehead. Hot, silent tears coursed down her cheeks. She’d wished for adventure. And now she wished for home. Silence hung in the air like the weighty fog. It was there and she felt it. But it was the danger within she feared, not the fog itself. She swallowed. Her parched tongue scratched against the roof of her mouth. Three days since she’d had any nourishment. Three days since she’d had shelter. And three days since she’d seen another human being. Alive at least. To have endured the storm stowed away in a trunk and survived the crash—only to die on land at the hands of strangers seemed one of Loki’s cruel jests. By Odin, she refused to be his entertainment and she refused to die here in a land not her own, amongst a people not her own.

Available to purchase at Amazon & Smashwords!


Suzie still believes in happily-ever-after and after growing up reading classic adventure literature like Treasure Isle, Robinson Crusoe, and The Swiss Family Robinson tales, as well as epic novels like Gone with the wind, Suzie would dream up adventures of her own.With her love of history she brings the action of thrillers to historical romance with steamy, love scenes and a pace that will leave you breathless!

She lives happily ever after with her new beau, three boys and one little Shih tzu named Peppy Le’Pew in NC. One day she plans to retire and sail along the east coast an adventurer to the end.

Website link:

Tour link:

To be entered to win a pdf copy of Valkyrie's Vengeance, complete the mandatory entry and then fill in all the applicable entries on the Rafflecopter form. There will be ONE winner. This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

CFBA Tour: Missing by Shelley Shepard Gray

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Avon Inspire; Original edition (March 20, 2012)
Shelley Shepard Gray

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals.

When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work. She’s attended RWA’s national conference six times, the ACFW conference and Romantic Times Magazine’s annual conference as well as traveled to New Jersey, Birmingham, and Tennessee to attend local conferences.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page

In the first book in her new Secrets of Crittenden County series, Shelley Shepard Gray delivers another page-turning romance set in Amish country

Perry Borntrager had been missing from the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky, for months when his body was discovered at the bottom of an abandoned well. Everyone had assumed Perry left Crittenden on his own, seduced by the wider world he discovered during his rumspringa, but now the truth has thrown this once-peaceful town into chaos. The first death from mysterious circumstances in Crittenden in more than two decades has invited the scrutiny of the outside world: a police detective arrives to help their local sheriff with the investigation. His questioning begins with Lydia Plank, Perry’s former girlfriend, and Perry’s best friend, the Englisher Walker Anderson.

Lydia and Walker know they didn’t have anything to do with Perry’s death, but they both hold secrets about his final days. Do they dare to open up about the kind of man Perry had become? In the oppressive shadow of these dark times, they discover strength in a most unlikely companionship that offers solace, understanding, and the promise of something more.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Missing, go HERE.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Until Next Time by Amy Lignor (Review)

How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.


The story was a quick read (thankfully), but had it not been for the fact I had to review this book I would have not continued reading it. First of all let me state that I am a Christian, and as such I found a lot of the references to Heaven and the afterlife in this book to be wrong and some down-right offensive. If this book had not made it very clear that the people being mentioned were the well-known archangels from the Bible, Gabriel and Michael, and the writers of the first four books of the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - I would have probably overlooked a lot of the things I found to be offensive, because I know that when I read a non-Christian novel that is what may happen. However, when the story goes to great lengths to make you realize that the people being described are the ones I just mentioned, then I find it offensive.

What I liked:
  • That the part of the story takes place in Ireland.
  • That the story was a very quick read.
  • Umm...umm...I can't think of anything else I liked about this book. Sorry!

What I didn't like:
  • The casual way that Jesus's names is taken in vain and the jokes made about both that and other swearing. Quote: Looking at Gabe, Mike sighs, "I swear - you're worse than they are." "You shouldn't swear," Gabe smirks. "I hear it's frowned upon up here." 
  • The complete and total disregard for the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to save those who will accept Him as their personal Saviour. Quote: "We're looking at what could be the end. And your partnership is the only thing that may save them all down there. It's up to the two of you."
  • I don't believe that anything will be better than Heaven, but this quote has Mark saying "If you find the right person and open your heart to him, you'll enjoy a love that will be better than...well...Heaven." Are you kidding me! An emotion with someone on earth will be better than spending the rest of eternity with the Lord? I don't think so!
  • How the Gospel writers were written as though they were children. Stealing each others things and saying how they were giggling.
  • The way the angels are more like witches in that they conjure up things with a wave of their hand.
  • The way that it makes it seem as though angels are capable of creating different species of life. 
  • The way it made it seem as though everyone will get to come back to earth as many times as they want, and then when they are tired of earth they can stay in Heaven.
  • The way it made it seem as though angels are both male and female and that they have "relationships" with each other. The Bible is very clear that angels on this issue.
  • I personally found it very annoying every time one of the angels would say some well known phrase (i.e. "Take the time to smell the roses") and then would say "I hope that catches on some day". This happened A LOT!
  • There is more, but I can't remember it and I read this book as an ebook so it is very hard to flip through it to jog my memory.

I hate to give books low ratings, because I know that authors put a lot of work into writing them, but when I find parts to be offensive, other parts just not accurate, and the story completely boring I have to give them a low rating. I almost wanted to give the book 1 star, but felt that wouldn't be fair to the author as the writing style was very easy to read. But, I can't give it any higher than a 1 1/2 stars rating. Obviously I wouldn't recommend this book.

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

If you found this review helpful will you please click yes HERE. Thanks!

CFBA Tour: Stuart Brannon's Final Shot by Stephen Bly

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Stuart Brannon's Final Shot
Center Point Pub; Lrg edition (March 2012)
Stephen Bly

Stephen Bly (August 17, 1944 – June 9, 2011) authored 106 books and hundreds of articles and short stories. His book, The Long Trail Home (Broadman & Holman), won the prestigious 2002 Christy Award for excellence in Christian fiction in the category western novel. Three other books, Picture Rock (Crossway Books), The Outlaw’s Twin Sister (Crossway Books), and Last of the Texas Camp (Broadman & Holman), were Christy Award finalists. He spoke at colleges, churches, camps and conferences across the U.S. and Canada. He was the pastor of Winchester Community Church, and served as mayor of Winchester, Idaho (2000-2007). He spoke on numerous television and radio programs, including Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family. He was an Active Member of the Western Writers of America. Steve graduated summa cum laude in Philosophy from Fresno State University and received a M.Div from Fuller Theological Seminary. The Blys have three sons: Russell (married to Lois) and father of Zachary and Miranda (married to Chris Ross) and mother of Alayah; Michael (married to Michelle); and Aaron (married to Rina Joye) and father of Keaton and Deckard. A third generation westerner, Steve spent his early years working on California farms owned by his father and an uncle.

Janet Chester Bly received a B.S. degree in Literature & Languages and Fine & Performing Arts from Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, Idaho. She speaks at women’s luncheons and retreats and does writers’ workshops. She is a member of Winchester Community Church where she serves as music director. She has authored eleven nonfiction and fiction books and co-authored twenty others, as well as contributed to five books. Janet’s hobbies include decorating her home in “country clutter,” reading almost all genres of fiction and mall walking. She lives in Winchester, Idaho–elevation 4,000 feet, population 300– situated on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.

In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon - now a rancher and widower - had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for his longtime friend didn’t persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down . . . people trying to kill him . . . lawless gangs preying on the innocent.

Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.

How could he refuse a request from the President of the United States?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stuart Brannon's Final Shot, go HERE.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview with Richard Alan


Richard, welcome to Hardcover Feedback!

Would you tell us a little about yourself? After an education in mathematics, a 17 year career in manufacturing engineering and a 22 year career in software engineering, I started a career as an author. I write novels about people trying to find their life-partner, soul-mate, the person they are meant to be with for life. My first two books, Meant to Be and The Couples, are available on my website and most online retailers. Ilive in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his wife, Carolynn. We are the proud parents of three wonderful adult sons. I am a Vietnam combat and 101st Airborne Division veteran. My other interests range from mathematical analysis and photography to anything with an engine. My current projects include writing the third (Finding Each Other) and fourth novels in the “Meant to Be” series, and discovering the properties of functions of p-adic numbers.

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
I was asked to write an article for a blog ( about my experiences in Vietnam. I submitted the article and it was published. CJ Heck, the owner of the blog, a published author,
asked how long I had been writing. I replied that I hadn't ever been an author and she replied that I should. That was about a year and three months ago. Since then I have completed three books and have just started a fourth.

What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
Meant to Be is the first book I wrote. I self-published.

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I don’t think so.

Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
Meyer is my favorite character, but don’t tell the others.

What is the best gift you have ever received and who gave it to you?
My children are God’s gift to me.

What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
I want to sail around the Windward Islands in the Caribbean.

What is your all-time favorite book?
That’s a difficult question because I love so many books, authors, and genres. The top of my list would include:
Leon Uris – Exodus, Mila 18, QB VII, Trinity, O’Hara’s Choice
Michael Crighton- The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Disclosure, Jurassic Park, Prey, Rising Sun, Timeline
James Mitchner – The Bridges of Toko-Ri, Chesapeake, Hawaii, The Source,
Robert Ardrey – African Genesis: A Personal Investigation into the Animal Origins and Nature of Man

Other than yourself, who is your favorite author? 
Steven Hawking

If a TV show was based on your life, what would the theme song be and why?
“Timothy” from “Peter Gun” because it expresses the speed and intensity I find in life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I read, play drums, study German and Hebrew using Rosetta Stone, write math proofs, and drive my wife to watch salmon runs, visit National Parks, and anywhere that provides an opportunity to view her avian friends.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Early bird

What is your favorite TV show and/or movie?
It is a tie between “Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines” and “Anne of Green Gables”. I love comedy, airplanes and engines. I also like the way Anne grew as a person throughout the story.

If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at anytime in history, where would you go
and why?
I would have wanted to work in the Swiss Patent Office while Einstein developed his theory of relativity.

If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive)
who would you invite?
I would invite Steven Hawking, Roger Penrose, Amy Tan, Walter Rudin, and Leon Uris.

What are you currently working on? 
While my third book, Finding Each Other is being edited, I am writing the fourth book in the “Meant to Be” series. The storylines just keep on coming.

Where can people connect with you online?
Website –
Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –
eMail –

Thank you so much Richard for being on Hardcover Feedback!

Author Bio:
Richard Alan lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with his wife, Carolynn. They are the proud parents of three wonderful adult sons. He is a Vietnam combat and 101st Airborne Division veteran. After careers in manufacturing management and firmware development, he has started a career as an author. Richard writes fictional novels about people trying to find their life-partner, soul-mate, the person they are meant to be with for life. His other interests range from mathematical analysis and photography to anything with an engine. His current projects include writing the third and fourth novels in the “Meant to Be” series, and discovering the
properties of functions of p-adic numbers. Having completed a potting bench for his lifepartner, Carolynn, he is busy driving her to watch salmon runs, visit National Parks, and anywhere that provides an opportunity to view her avian friends.

His latest books in the Meant to Be Series are Meant to Be and The Couples.

You can visit Richard Alan’s website, VILLAGE DRUMMER FICTION at

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon Kindle Store (Meant to Be) | CreateSpace (Meant to Be) | Amazon Kindle Store (The Couples) | CreateSpace (The Couples)
Meant to Be: When four year old Meyer met five year old Joan, they had no idea that the two of them would be spending a lifetime together. Three generations of friends and family would help them celebrate the good times and help get them through the tragic times. A new book about love and life from author, Richard Alan.

The Couples: This novel follows seven couples as they explore their relationships to determine if they are meant to be together. As the couple’s lives intertwine we learn how the world around them helps or at times hinders them. Their story comes alive with carefully crafted characters that the reader will identify with and want to know more about. Their struggle to move from individuals to couples to families is richly depicted in this work.

Richard Alan’s second book in the “Meant to Be” series further explores relationships, love and life.

Blogaholic Designs”=

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Heart's Frontier by Lori Copeland & Virginia Smith

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

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

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012) 

***Special thanks to Karri | Marketing Assistant | Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

Lori Copeland is the author of more than 90 titles, both historical and contemporary fiction. With more than 3 million copies of her books in print, she has developed a loyal following among her rapidly growing fans in the inspirational market. She has been honored with the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, The Holt Medallion, and Walden Books' Best Seller award. In 2000, Lori was inducted into the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame. She lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband, Lance, and their three children and five grandchildren.
Visit the author's website.

Virginia Smith is the author of more than a dozen inspirational novels and more than fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense.

Visit the author's website.


An exciting new Amish-meets-Wild West adventure from bestselling authors Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith weaves an entertaining and romantic tale for devoted fans and new readers.

Kansas,1881—On a trip to visit relatives, Emma Switzer’s Amish family is robbed of all their possessions, leaving them destitute and stranded on the prairie. Walking into the nearest trading settlement, they pray to the Lord for someone to help. When a man lands in the dust at her feet, Emma looks down at him and thinks, The Lord might have cleaned him up first.

Luke Carson, heading up his first cattle drive, is not planning on being the answer to anyone’s prayers, but it looks as though God has something else in mind for this kind and gentle man. Plain and rugged—do the two mix? And what happens when a dedicated Amish woman and a stubborn trail boss prove to be each other’s match?

Product Details:

  • List Price: $13.99
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0736947523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736947527


Apple Grove, Kansas
July 1881

Nearly the entire Amish district of Apple Grove had turned out to help this morning, all twenty families. Or perhaps they were here merely to wish Emma Switzer well as she set off for her new home in Troyer, fifty miles away.
From her vantage point on the porch of the house, Emma’s grandmother kept watch over the loading of the gigantic buffet hutch onto the specially reinforced wagon. Her sharp voice sliced through the peaceful morning air.
“Forty years I’ve had that hutch from my dearly departed husband and not a scratch on it. Jonas, see that you use care!”
If Maummi’s expression weren’t so fierce, Emma would have laughed at the long-suffering look Papa turned toward his mother. But the force with which Maummi’s fingers dug into the flesh on Emma’s arm warned that a chuckle would be most ill-suited at the moment. Besides, the men straining to heft the heavy hutch from the front porch of their home into the wagon didn’t need further distractions. Their faces strained bright red above their beards, and more than one drop of sweat trickled from beneath the broad brim of their identical straw hats.
Emma glanced at the watchers lined up like sparrows on a fence post. She caught sight of her best friend, Katie Beachy, amid the sea of dark dresses and white kapps. Katie smiled and smoothed her skirt with a shy gesture. The black fabric looked a little darker and crisper than that of those standing around her, which meant she’d worn her new dress to bid Emma farewell, an honor usually reserved for singings or services or weddings. The garment looked well on her. Emma had helped sew the seams at their last frolic. Of course, Katie’s early morning appearance in a new dress probably had less to do with honoring Emma than with the presence of Samuel Miller, the handsome son of the district bishop. With a glance toward Samuel, whose arms bulged against the weight of holding up one end of the hutch, she returned Katie’s smile with a conspiratorial wink.
Emma’s gaze slid over other faces in the crowd and snagged on a pair of eyes fixed on her. Amos Beiler didn’t bother to turn away but kept his gaze boldly on her face. Nor did he bother to hide his expression, one of longing and lingering hurt. He held infant Joseph in his arms, and a young daughter clutched each of his trouser-clad legs. A wave of guilt washed through Emma, and she hastily turned back toward the wagon.
From his vantage point up in the wagon bed, Papa held one end of a thick rope looped around the top of the hutch, the other end held by John Yoder. The front edge of the heavy heirloom had been lifted into the wagon with much grunting and groaning, while the rear still rested on the smooth wooden planks of the porch. Two men steadied the oxen heads, and the rest, like Samuel, had gathered around the back end of the hutch. A protective layer of thick quilts lined the wagon bed.
Papa gave the word. “Lift!”
The men moved in silent unity. Bending their knees, their hands grasped for purchase around the bottom edges. As one they drew in a breath, and at Papa’s nod raised in unison. Emma’s own breath caught in her chest, her muscles straining in silent sympathy with the men. The hutch rose until its rear end was level with its front, and the men stepped forward. The thick quilts dangling beneath scooted onto the wagon as planned, a protective barrier from damage caused by wood against wood.
The hutch suddenly dipped and slid swiftly to the front. Emma gasped. Apparently the speed caught Papa and John Yoder by surprise too, for the rope around the top went slack. Papa lunged to reach for the nearest corner, and his foot slipped. The wagon creaked and sank lower on its wheels as the hutch settled into place. At the same moment Papa went down on one knee with a loud, “Ummph.”
Ach! ” Maummi pulled away from Emma and rushed forward. Her heart pounding against her rib cage, Emma followed. Men were already checking on Papa, but Maummi leaped into the wagon bed with a jump that belied her sixty years, the strings of her kapp flying behind her. She applied bony elbows to push her way around the hutch to her son’s side.
She came to a halt above him, hands on her hips, and looked down. “Are you hurt?”
Emma reached the side of the wagon in time to see Papa wince and shake his head. “NoA bruise is all.”
“Good.” She left him lying there and turned worried eyes toward her beloved hutch. With a gentle touch, she ran loving fingers over the smooth surface and knelt to investigate the corners.
A mock-stern voice behind Emma held the hint of a chuckle. “Trappings only, Marta Switzer. Care you more for a scratch on wood than an injury to your son?”
Emma turned to see Bishop Miller approach. He spared a smile for her as he drew near enough to lean his arms across the wooden side of the wagon and watch the activity inside. Samuel helped Papa to his feet and handed him the broad-brimmed hat that had fallen off. Emma breathed a sigh of relief when he took a ginger step to try out his leg and smiled at the absence of pain.
“My son is fine.” Maummi waved a hand in his direction, as though in proof. “And so is my hutch. Though my heart may not say the same, such a fright I’ve had.” She placed the hand lightly on her chest, drew a shuddering breath, and wavered on her feet.
Concern for her grandmother propelled Emma toward the back of the wagon. As she climbed up, she called into the house, “Rebecca, bring a cool cloth for Maummi’s head.”
The men backed away while Katie and several other women converged on the wagon to help Emma lift Maummi down and over to the rocking chair that rested in the shade of the porch, ready to be loaded when the time came. Maummi allowed herself to be lowered onto the chair, and then she wilted against the back, her head lolling sideways and arms dangling. A disapproving buzz rumbled among the watching women, but Emma ignored them. Though she knew full well that most of the weakness was feigned for the sake of the bishop and other onlookers, she also knew Maummi’s heart tended to beat unevenly in her chest whenever she exerted herself. It was yet another reason why she ought to stay behind in Apple Grove, but Maummi insisted her place was with Emma, her oldest granddaughter. What she really meant was that she intended to inspect every eligible young Amish man in Troyer and handpick her future grandson-in-law.
Aunt Gerda had written to say she anticipated that her only daughter would marry soon, and she would appreciate having Emma come to help her around the house. She’d also mentioned the abundance of marriageable young men in Troyer, with a suggestion that twenty-year-old Emma was of an age that the news might be welcome. Rebecca had immediately volunteered to go in Emma’s place. Though Papa appeared to consider the idea, he decided to send Emma because she was the oldest and therefore would be in need of a husband soonest. Maummi insisted on going along in order to “Keep an eye on this hoard of men Gerda will parade before our Emma.”
As far as Emma was concerned, they should just send Maummi on alone and leave her in Apple Grove to wait for her future husband to be delivered to her doorstep.
Rebecca appeared from inside the house with a dripping cloth in hand. A strand of wavy dark hair had escaped its pins and fluttered freely beside the strings of her kapp. At barely thirteen, her rosy cheeks and smooth, high forehead reminded Emma so sharply of their mother that at times her heart ached.
Rebecca looked at Maummi’s dramatic posture and rolled her eyes. She had little patience with Maummi’s feigned heart episodes, and she was young enough that she had yet to learn proper restraint in concealing her emotions. Emma awarded her sister with a stern look and held out a hand for the cloth.
With a contrite bob of her head, Rebecca handed it over and dropped to her knees beside the rocking chair. “Are you all right, Maummi?”
Ach, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s my time. Yet.”
Emma wrung the excess water from the cloth before draping it across the back of Maummi’s neck.
Danki.” The elderly woman realized that the men had stopped working in order to watch her, and she waved her hand in a shooing motion. “Place those quilts over my hutch before you load anything else! Mind, Jonas, no scratches.”
Papa shook his head, though a smile tugged at his lips. “Ja, I remember.”
The gray head turned toward Emma. “Granddaughter, see they take proper care.”
“I will, Maummi.”
Katie joined Emma to oversee the wrapping of the hutch. When Samuel Miller offered a strong arm to help Katie up into the wagon, Emma hid a smile. No doubt she would receive a letter at her new home soon, informing her that a wedding date had been published. Because Samuel was the bishop’s son, there was no fear he would not receive the Zeungis, the letter of good standing. Rebecca would be thrilled at the news of a proper wedding in tiny Apple Grove.
But Emma would be far away in Troyer, and she would miss her friend’s big day.
Why must I live there when everything I love is here?
She draped a thick quilt over her end of the hutch and sidled away while Papa secured a rope around it. The faces of her friends and family looked on. They filled the area between the house and the barn. She loved every one in her own way. Yes, even Amos Beiler. She sought him out among the crowd and smiled at the two little girls who hovered near his side. Poor, lonely Amos. He was a good father to his motherless family. No doubt he’d make a fine husband, and if she married him she wouldn’t have to move to Troyer. The thought tempted her once again, as it often had over the past several weeks since Papa announced his decision that she would live with Aunt Gerda for a while.
But she knew that if she agreed to become Amos’s wife that she would be settling. True, she would gain a prosperous farm and a nice house and a trio of well-behaved children, with the promise of more to come. But the fact remained that though there was much to respect about Amos, she didn’t love him. The thought of seeing that moon-shaped face and slightly cross-eyed stare over the table for breakfast, dinner, and supper sent a shiver rippling across her shoulders. Not to mention sharing a marriage bed with him. It was enough to make her throw her apron over her face and run screaming across Papa’s cornfield.
He deserves a wife who loves him, she told herself for the hundredth time. Her conscience thus soothed, Emma turned away from his mournful stare.
“That trunk goes in the front,” Maummi shouted from her chair on the porch. “Emma, show them where.”
Emma shrank against the gigantic hutch to give the men room to settle the trunk containing all of her belongings. An oiled canvas tarp had been secured over the top to repel any rain they might meet over the next week. Inside, resting on her dresses, aprons, bonnets, and kapps, was a bundle more precious to her than anything else in the wagon: a quilt, expertly and lovingly stitched, nestled within a heavy canvas pouch. Mama had made it with her own hands for Emma’s hope chest. The last stitch was bitten off just hours before she closed her eyes and stepped into the arms of her Lord.
Oh, Mama, if you were here you could convince Papa to let me stay home. I know you could. And now, without you, what will happen to me?
Yet, even in the midst of the dreary thought, a spark of hope flickered in the darkness in Emma’s heart. The future yawned before her like the endless Kansas prairie. Wasn’t there beauty to be found in the tall, blowing grasses of the open plain? Weren’t there cool streams and shady trees to offer respite from the heat of the day? Maybe Troyer would turn out to be an oasis.
Maummi’s sharp tone cut through her musing. She jerked upright. Her grandmother appeared to have recovered from her heart episode. From the vantage point of her chair, she oversaw every movement with a critical eye.
“Yes, ma’am?”
“Mind what I said about that loading, girl. The food carton goes on last. We won’t want to search for provisions when we stop at night on the trail.”
An approving murmur rose from the women at the wisdom of an organized wagon.
“Yes, ma’am.” Emma exchanged a quick grin with Katie and then directed the man carrying a carton of canned goods and trail provisions to set his burden aside for now.
A little while later, after everything had been loaded and secured under an oiled canvas, the men stood around to admire their handiwork. Samuel even crawled beneath the wagon to check the support struts, and he pronounced everything to be “in apple-pie order.”
Emma felt a pluck on her arm. She turned to find Katie at her elbow.
“This is a gift for you.” Her friend pushed a small package into her hands. “It’s only a soft cloth and some fancy-colored threads. I was fixing to stitch you a design, but you’re so much better at fine sewing than I am that I figured you could make something prettier by yourself.” She ducked her head. “Think kindly of me when you do.”
Warmed by her friend’s gesture, Emma pulled her into an embrace. “I will. And I expect a letter from you soon.” She let Katie see her glance slide over to Samuel and back with a grin. “Especially when you have something exciting to report.”
A becoming blush colored the girl’s cheeks. “I will.”
Emma was still going down the line, awarding each woman a farewell hug, when Bishop Miller stepped up to the front of the wagon and motioned for attention.
“It’s time now to bid Jonas Switzer Godspeed and fair weather for his travels.” A kind smile curved his lips when he looked to Maummi and then to Emma. “And our prayers go with our sisters Marta and Emma as they make a new home in Troyer.”
He bowed his head and closed his eyes, a sign for everyone in the Apple Grove district to follow suit. Emma obeyed, fixing her thoughts on the blue skies overhead and the Almighty’s throne beyond. Silence descended, interrupted only by the snorts of oxen and a happy bird in the tall, leafy tree that gave shade to the porch.
What will I find in Troyer? A new home, as the bishop says? A fine Amish husband, as Papa wishes? I pray it be so. And I pray he will be the second son of his father so that he will come home with me to Apple Grove and take over Papa’s farm when the time comes.
A female sniffled behind her. Not Katie, but Rebecca. A twist inside Emma’s rib cage nearly sent tears to her eyes. Oh, how she would miss her sister when Rebecca left Troyer to return home with Papa. She vowed to make the most of their time together on the trail between here and there.
Bishop Miller ended the prayer with a blessing in High German, his hand on the head of the closest oxen. When the last word fell on the quiet crowd, Maummi’s voice sliced through the cool morning air. “Now that we’re seen off proper, someone help me up. We’ll be gone before the sun moves another inch across the sky.”
Though she’d proved earlier that she could make the leap herself at need, Maummi allowed Papa and the bishop to lift her into the wagon. She took her seat in her rocking chair, which was wedged between the covered hutch and one high side of the wagon bed. With a protective pat on the hutch, she settled her sewing basket at her feet and pulled a piece of mending onto her lap. No idle hands for Maummi. By the time they made Troyer, she’d have all the mending done, and the darning too, and a good start on a new quilt.
Emma spared one more embrace for Katie, steadfastly ignored Amos’s mournful stare, and allowed the bishop to help her up onto the bench seat. She scooted over to the far end to make room for Papa, and then Rebecca was lifted up to sit on the other side of him. A snug fit, but they would be okay for the six-day journey to Troyer. Emma settled her black dress and smoothed her apron.
“Now, Jonas, mind you what I said.” Maummi’s voice from behind their heads sounded a bit shrill in the quiet morning. “You cut a wide path around Hays. I’ll not have my granddaughters witness the ufrooish of those wild Englischers.”
On the other side of Papa, Rebecca heaved a loud sigh. Emma hid her grin. No doubt Rebecca would love to witness the rowdy riots of wild cowboy Englischers in the infamous railroad town of Hays.
Papa mumbled something under his breath that sounded like “This will be the longest journey of my life,” but aloud he said, “Ja, Mader.
With a flick of the rope, he urged the oxen forward. The wagon creaked and pitched as it rolled on its gigantic wheels. Emma grabbed the side of the bench with one hand and lifted her other hand in a final farewell as her home fell away behind her.

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