Sunday, July 31, 2011

Month in Review: July 2011

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Books read:
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren
Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper
Nick of Time by Tim Downs
A Short Life Well Lived by Tom Sullivan
Never the Bride by Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge

Total pages read:
1,616

Reviews posted:
One Lane Bridge by Don Reid
Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper
God Gave Us You by Lisa T. Bergren
A Short Life Well Lived by Tom Sullivan

Favorite of the month:
Waterfall

Goal for August:
I didn't read as much as I wanted in July =( but I'll try harder in august. My goal is to read at least 8.

That's my Month in Review, what's yours?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

What I'm currently reading
Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love. She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember.

But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her. The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing. And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals? Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

What I recently finished reading
Brian O'Connor has spent a lifetime proving he can conquer life's trials. Despite his blindness, he's built a sold life with a loving wife, two children others say are as beautiful outside as Brian knows them to be inside, and a thriving legal career in Boston.

But hard work doesn't stave off tragedy. A truth that crashes into Brian's life when his young son is diagnosed with cancer. The long ensuing battle brings Brian to his knees as he comes to terms with his own limitations and his need for faith.

What I think I'll read next week
Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Giveaway - Shadows on the Sand

I'm giving away my copy of Shadows on the Sand by Gayle Roper. You can read my review HERE.

Giveaway Details:
- To enter you must become a follower through GFC(publicly) or subscribe by email. If you already did, thank you! :)
- Leave a comment on this post letting me know you want to be entered and that you are a follower or subscriber.
- U.S. residents only please
- Leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Remember to disguise it like this: anotherbooklovingirl(at)yahoo(dot)com (If there is no email in your comment you will not be entered.)
-You have until August 1, 2011 to enter.
- I will be using Random.org to choose the lucky winner and I will be announcing who that is by August 5th.
- The winner will have 48 hours to respond. If I don't get a response from them after that I will have to choose someone else.

Happy Reading!

Giveaway - A Short Life Well Lived

I'm giving away my review copy of A Short Life Well Lived by Tom Sullivan. It's still in great condition. You can read my review HERE.

Giveaway Details:
- To enter you must become a follower through GFC(publicly) or subscribe by email. If you already did, that's great and I appreciate it! :)
- Leave a comment on this post letting me know you want to be entered and that you are a follower or subscriber.
- U.S. residents only please
- Leave a valid email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. Remember to disguise it like this: anotherbooklovingirl(at)yahoo(dot)com (If there is no email in your comment you will not be entered.)
-You have until July 31, 2011 to enter.
- I will be using Random.org to choose the lucky winner and I will be announcing who that is on August 1st.
-  The winner will have 48 hours to respond. If I don't get a response from them after that I will have to choose someone else.

Happy Reading!

Review: A Short Life Well Lived


A Short Life Well Lived by Tom Sullivan
Howard Books (June 2011)
Fiction/Christian/General

About the book -
Brian O'Connor has spent a lifetime proving he can conquer life's trials. Despite his blindness, he's built a sold life with a loving wife, two children others say are as beautiful outside as Brian knows them to be inside, and a thriving legal career in Boston.

But hard work doesn't stave off tragedy. A truth that crashes into Brian's life when his young son is diagnosed with cancer. The long ensuing battle brings Brian to his knees as he comes to terms with his own limitations and his need for faith.

My Review -
Brian O’Connor has been blind since birth. But he’s never let that get in his way or stop him from achieving his goals. He’s a very successful lawyer, a husband, and a father of two kids, Tommy and Shannon. He even coaches his sons little league team. Life has been good for Brian and his family, but an unexpected incident turns their world upside down.

While pitching at one of his games, Tommy breaks his arm. After a series of tests and scans, doctors discover the little boy has cancer. All his life Brian really hasn’t had to rely on anyone else but himself, until now. He feels helpless just watching as his son get worse each day. He finds it hard to have faith and trust in God when he’s never felt the need to before. It’s not long until he realizes he can’t get through this without Him. But there's one question that keeps going through his mind and prevents him from really seeking and trusting God. How can a loving God allow this to happen to his son?

A Short Life Well Lived is a beautifully written, touching novel. This is a heart-wrenching story and it had me tearing up several times. The author is also blind, so everything we read about Brain’s life and experience with blindness came from a real place because he knows first hand what it's like. The characters faced so much pain and uncertainty, my heart broke for them. This was a sad story and the ending wasn’t a happy one, but there was still hope. Brian’s faith might not have been a solid one in the end, but he was on his way there.

There was one thing I didn't like. At one point when Brian was so frustrated and angry with God, he said, “Get off Your a__ and do something! Help my son!” I personally think it was very unnecessary and should have been left out. Other than that, this was a great read. The characters felt real, the story held my attention and I couldn’t stop reading. Tom Sullivan has written a wonderful story about life, loss, and keeping the faith in the midst of a crisis.

Rating - 3 stars

(This book was provided for review by Glass Road PR.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Blog Questionnaire

I  found this questionnaire on Wall-to-Wall-Books and thought it'd be fun to take a few minutes and answer the questions here. 

1. How often do you post and how often do you visit other blogs? -
I try to post at least three times a week, whether it be a book review, meme, or giveaway. I want my readers to have something interesting to read when they stop by. I visit  my favorite blogs any time they have a new post up.

2. Do you always comment, or do you only comment when there is a contest? -
It really depends on the posts. If it's something I'm interested in, then I'll comment.

3. When you "follow" a blog, do you always go back and visit or are there some that you only followed for a contest? - 
I usually go back to the blogs I "follow" for a contest. A few of them have actually become my favorite book blogs :) I also feel bad following them just for the contest and then deleting them or never going back.

4. How often do you enter book giveaways? -
I don't enter every book giveaway I come across. If it's a book I know I'll like then I'll go ahead and enter.

5. How long have you been blogging? -
I've been blogging for almost 2 years now. My blogoversary is coming up soon(August 10)!! 

6. Do you have book giveaways, how often, and why do you do it? -
I try to have at least one giveaway a month. If I get a review copy of a book that I liked but don't think I'll be reading over again, I just give it away to one of my readers. The reason why I do giveaways is because 1. You get more blog traffic, 2. You make your readers happy, 3. I can clear my shelf and make room for more! The cost of sending books Media Mail is $2.50 where I live. That's not much and it benefits my blog and readers.

7. What other booky sites do you belong to? -
Goodreads, Shelfari, and Book Blogs.

8. How often do you use "Bookish Memes"? -
I just do one or two a week. It's a great way to meet new book bloggers and find some awesome blogs.

9. What do you like or dislike about some blogs? - 
The one thing I really don't like about some blogs is when they have too much going on everywhere and the page takes FOREVER to load. It's even worse when it freezes my computer.
I really like when I find a blog that has similar tastes and interests as me. 

10. Have you gotten close to any bloggers, just through blogging? -
Yes! I have gotten close to a few bloggers and consider them friends, even though I've never met them in person. :)

OK now its your turn - time to speak your mind!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A great giveaway!

There's an awesome giveaway going on at Christian Bookshelf Reviews. Melanie's giving away her copies of Karen Kingsbury's 9/11 series with a handmade bookmark matching each book cover. How awesome is that?! The giveaway is running until September 11th, but don't wait to enter! Head on over to her blog and enter for your chance to win these books and super cute bookmarks =)

Happy Reading!
Crystal

FIRST Blog Tour & Review: God Gave Us You

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:


WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling author of eight novels, three novellas, and two gift books, with more than a half-million books in print. God Gave Us You is her first children’s book. As an editor during the week and a writer on weekends, she makes her very-messy-but-cozy home in Colorado with her husband, Tim, and their daughters, Olivia and Emma.

Visit the author's website.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Laura J. Bryant attended the Maryland Institute of Art, where she received a strong foundation in drawing, painting, and print-making. Illustrating children’s books has provided her with both a rewarding and creative career. Laura’s clients have included Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill, and Stech-Vaughn publishers, among others. She currently lives among the tidal rivers on the eastern shore of Maryland with her loving husband and curiously cantankerous cat!

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



Filled with playful, winsome illustrations by an artist who specializes in polar bear images, this four-color, read-to-me picture book will build children’s self-esteem through the tale of a mama bear who reassuringly explains where her cub came from and affirms Mama and Papa’s great love for her.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Reading level: Baby-Preschool
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1578563232
ASIN: B002PJ4LHM

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

To Liv, Emma, and Jack—
Words cannot express how glad
we are that God gave us you.
—L.T.B.



To Ron and Shirley—
Who have an endless supply of love and generosity.
—L.J.B.




“Good night, sweet child,” Mama said as she tucked Little Cub in.

But Little Cub wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep.

“Mama, where did I come from?” she asked.



“From God,” her mother answered. “Your papa and I were alone, and we wanted
a baby.”

“And you got me?” Little Cub asked, her voice muffled by the covers.

“Yes, my special child. God gave us you.”

My Thoughts...

God Gave Us You is a sweet story with a simple message for kids to hear. That they are a gift from God. When Little Cub asks, "Where did I come from?" Mama bear responds, "God gave us you." She goes on telling her how she and Papa bear prayed for her, talked to her while she was in mamas tummy, and most importantly she told her what a special gift from God she is.

This is such an adorable book and I love it! The colorful illustrations and furry bears do a good job of keeping kids attention. Since this is a board book it's a lot more durable so they can carry it around with them and enjoy it on their own without you having to worry about it being damaged quickly. This makes a great bed time story that serves as a great reminder to kids that they are a wonderful gift from God.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

WWW Wednesdays


Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

What I'm currently reading
Brian O'Connor has spent a lifetime proving he can conquer life's trials. Despite his blindness, he's built a sold life with a loving wife, two children others say are as beautiful outside as Brian knows them to be inside, and a thriving legal career in Boston.

But hard work doesn't stave off tragedy. A truth that crashes into Brian's life when his young son is diagnosed with cancer. The long ensuing battle brings Brian to his knees as he comes to terms with his own limitations and his need for faith.

What I recently finished reading
She serves him breakfast at her cafe every morning … but he never seems to notice her.

Carrie Carter’s small cafe in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

What I think I'll read next week 
Special Agent Meghan Connors’ dream of one day protecting the president of the United States is about to come true. Only one assignment stands in her way. After the vice president’s rebellious daughter is threatened, Meghan is assigned to her protective detail on a secluded ranch in West Texas. Unfortunately, working with Special Agent in Charge Ash Zinders may be as tough as controlling her charge. Ash has a reputation for being critical and exacting, and he’s also after the same promotion as Meghan. But when the threats escalate and security on the ranch is breached, it becomes clear this isn’t the work of a single suspect—it’s part of a sophisticated plan that reaches deeper and higher than anyone imagined. And only Ash and Meghan can put the pieces together before it’s too late.

FIRST Blog Tour & Review: Shadows on the Sand

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:


Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Gayle Roper, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, is the multi-award-winning, best-selling author of Fatal Deduction and more than forty other books. She teaches and leads mentoring clinics at writers’ conferences across the country. Gayle lives in eastern Pennsylvania.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, leaving only cryptic clues in her Sudoku book, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all too present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420846
ISBN-13: 978-1601420848

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

So Bill punched him in the nose, Carrie!” Andi Mueller swung an arm to demonstrate and nearly clipped me. “He was wonderful!”

I leaned back and held up a hand for protection. “Easy, kiddo.” I smiled at the girl and her enthusiasm.

Andi giggled like the smitten sixteen-year-old she was. “Sorry.”

“Mmm.” I rested my elbows on the pink marble counter that ran along one wall of Carrie's Café, located two blocks from the boardwalk in the center of Seaside, New Jersey. I was the Carrie of the café's name, and Andi was one of my servers, in fact, my only server at the moment. She'd been with me almost two months now, taking up the slack when the summer kids left to go back to college or on to real jobs.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “On Saturday night Bill, who is your true soul mate, punched Jase, our Jase, for paying too much attention to you at a party.” I didn't think my voice was too wry, but soul mates at sixteen made me both cynical and scared, teen hormones being what they were.

Andi just grinned with delight of the even-mentioning-his-name-givesme-the-vapors kind and nodded as she sat on a stool at the counter. “Isn't it romantic?”

I was hearing this tale today, Monday, because now that the season was over, Carrie's was closed on Sundays. My staff and I had earned our day of rest over a very busy and marginally profitable summer. We might be able to stay open for another year if nothing awful happened, like the roof leaking or the dishwasher breaking.

Listening to Andi made me feel ancient. I was only thirty-three, but had I ever been as young as she? Given the trauma of my growing-up years, I probably hadn't. I was glad that whatever her history, and there was a history, she could giggle.

“How do you expect to continue working with Jase after this encounter?” I was very interested in her answer. Jase was one of three part-time dishwashers at the café. All three were students at the local community college and set their schedules around classes. Jase worked Tuesdays and Saturdays from six in the morning until three, and the last thing I wanted was contention in the kitchen between Andi and him.

Andi looked confused. “Why should I have trouble with Jase? I didn't punch him. Besides he's an old--” She cut herself off.

I wanted to pursue her half-thought, but the door of the café opened, and Greg Barnes walked in, all scruffy good looks and shadowed eyes. His black hair was mussed as if he hadn't combed it, and he had a two-day stubble. He should have looked grubby, but somehow he didn't. He looked wonderful.

All thoughts of Bill and Jase fled as my heart did the little stuttery Snoopy dance it always did at the sight of Greg. Before he could read anything in my face, assuming he noticed me as someone other than the person who fed him, I looked down at the basket of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon-swirl muffins I was arranging.

Andi glanced from me to him and, much too quick and clever, smiled with a knowing look. I held my breath. She wasn't long on tact, and the last thing I wanted was for her to make some leading remark. I felt I could breathe again when all she did was wink at me. Safe for the moment, at least.

Greg came to the counter and slid onto his favorite stool, empty now that the receding flood of summer tourists left it high and dry this third week in October, a vinyl-covered Ararat postdeluge.

“The usual?” I asked, my voice oh-so-casual.

He gave a nod, barely glancing my way, and opened his copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Press of Atlantic City waited. I turned to place his order, but there was no need. Lindsay, my sister, partner, and the café's baker, had been listening to Andi's story through the serving window. She waved her acknowledgment before I said a word. She passed the order to Ricky, our short-order cook, who had stayed with us longer than I expected, long enough that he had become almost as much of an asset to Carrie's as Lindsay was.

My sister gave me a sly smile, then called, “Hi, Greg.”

He looked up from his paper and gave Lindsay a very nice smile, far nicer than he ever gave me.

“The sticky buns are all gone,” he said in mild accusation, nodding toward the glass case where we kept Lindsay's masterpieces.

She grinned. “Sorry. You've got to get here earlier.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Or you could make more.”

“I'll take the suggestion under advisement,” she said agreeably.

“Haven't you heard the adage about making your customers happy?”

“Yeah. So?”

He laughed and turned a page in the paper. I brought him a glass of OJ and a cup of my special blend.

“How're you doing?” I asked, just as I did every morning.

He gave me a vague smile. “Fine.” Just as he said every morning.

But he wasn't. Oh, he was better than, say, a year ago, definitely better than two years ago, but he wasn't well. Even three years after the tragedy that had altered his life, he was far from his self-proclaimed fine. If you looked closely--as I did--you could see the strain never completely left his eyes, and the purple stains under them were too deep and dark, a sure sign that a good night's sleep was still little more than a vague memory for him.

But he was sober. More than two years and counting.

“Keep talking, Andi,” Lindsay said as Ricky beat Greg's eggs and inserted his wheat bread in the toaster. “This is better than reality TV. It's really real.” She walked out of the kitchen into the café proper. “Bill bopped Jase,” she prompted.

“Our Jase,” I clarified.

Greg looked up. “Your dishwasher?”

I nodded.

“Hmm.” And he went back to his paper.

“And Jase went down for the count.” Andi's chest swelled with pride at her beloved's prowess.

I flinched. “Don't you think knocking a guy out for talking to you is a bit much?”

Andi thought for almost half a second, then shook her head. “It wasn't for just Saturday. He knows Jase and I work together, and he was staking his claim.”

I'd seen Jase and Andi talking in the kitchen, but there never seemed to be any romantic overtones. “Jase is a nice guy and a good worker. I don't want to lose him because of your boyfriend.”

“He is, and I don't want him to go either,” Andi agreed. “I like talking to him.”

“Me too.” Lindsay rested an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her palm. “I think he's sad.”

“What do you mean, sad?” But I'd sensed he was weighed down with something too.

“He's funny and open most of the time,” Lindsay said, “but sometimes when no one's talking to him, I see this look of sorrow on his face.”

I nodded. “All the more reason to hate that he got punched.”

“Yeah.” Lindsay got a dreamy look in her dark brown eyes. “But there's something about a guy defending you, even if what he's defending you from isn't really a threat.” She sighed.

“Lindsay!” I was appalled. “Get a grip.” Though if Greg ever wanted to defend me, I was pretty sure I wouldn't mind. Of course, that presupposed he'd notice I was in trouble. I glanced at him bent over his paper. Not likely to happen. I bit back a sigh.

“Tell me, Andi. Does Bill plan to punch out any male who talks to you?”

“Come on, Carrie,” Andi said. “Don't be mad at Bill. You know how guys can be when they've had a few beers.”

I did know how guys could be, beers or no beers. “What were you doing at a party where there was drinking?”

She became all prim and prissy. “I did not drink.”

“I should hope not, but you shouldn't have been there.” Good grief. I was sounding more and more like her mother--or how her mother would have sounded if she weren't missing in action somewhere. Part of that history I didn't know.

“Order up,” Ricky announced as he walked to the pass-through. “The food is never better than when I plate it.”

You'd have thought he was Emeril or Wolfgang Puck or one of Paula Deen's sons, not a stopgap cook who couldn't find any other job after graduating from college with a psychology degree and who stayed around because he had a crush on the baker.

I grabbed Greg's scrambled eggs and wheat toast and served them. He accepted them with a nod and a grunt.

“So what happened to Jase?” I asked Andi. I found myself hoping Bill had bruised a knuckle or two in his violence, though I was pretty sure it meant I was a terrible person too. I didn't wish for a broken hand or anything that extreme, just something to remind him that punching wasn't the way to handle a perceived rival.

Andi waved her hand vaguely. “Bill and a buddy carried Jase to his car. They only dropped him once.”

I imagined the thunk of poor Jase's head hitting the ground and flinched in sympathy. No such thought bothered Andi. She was too busy being thrilled by Bill, who rode in like her shining knight, laying waste to the enemy with knuckles instead of the more traditional lance.

“How much older than you is Bill?” Lindsay asked.

Good question, Linds.

Andi studied the cuticle of her index finger. “He's nineteen.”

Lindsay and I exchanged a glance. Those three years from sixteen to nineteen were huge.

I couldn't keep quiet. “So he shouldn't have been drinking at this party either.”

Andi slid off her stool. If looks killed, Lindsay'd be sprinkling my ashes in the ocean tomorrow morning.

“What does Clooney think of you and Bill?” Lindsay asked. Clooney was Andi's great-uncle, and she lived with him.

Andi cleared her throat. “We don't talk about Bill.”

“Does he know about Bill?” Lindsay's concern was obvious.

Andi stared through long bangs that hung over her hazel eyes. The silky hair sometimes caught in her lashes in a way that made me blink but didn't seem to bother her. “Of course Clooney knows. Do you think I'd keep a secret from him?”

“I didn't think you would.” Lindsay smiled. “I'm glad to know I was right.”

So was I. Sixteen could go in so many different directions, and I'd hate for this pixie to make wrong choices--or more wrong choices.

“Is he going to college?” I asked. “Bill?”

“He was, but not now.” Her fingernail became even more absorbing. “He dropped out of Rutgers at the end of his freshman year.”

Uh-oh. Dropped out or failed out? “Does he plan to go back? Try again?”

She shrugged. “He doesn't know. Right now he's happy just being. And going to parties. And taking me.” By the time she was finished, she was bouncing at the excitement of it all, her strawberry blond ponytail leaping about her shoulders.

Greg looked up from his newspaper. “So this guy took you, a very underage girl, to a party where there was lots of drinking?”

Andi looked at him, eyes wide, acting as if he'd missed the whole point of her story. “Don't worry about me, Mr. Barnes. Or any of you.” She included Lindsay and me with a nod of her head. “I can handle any problems that might develop at a party. Believe me, I've dealt with far worse.”

I was intrigued. I'd stared down plenty of problems in my time too, and I wondered how her stare downs compared to mine.

She grinned and waved a hand as if she were wiping away her momentary seriousness. “But I'd rather talk about how great Bill is.”

“So how great is he?” Lindsay asked. “Tell me all.” At twenty-seven, she was an incurable romantic. I wasn't sure how this had come to pass, since she had every reason to be as cynical as I, but there you are.

I frowned at her. “Stop encouraging the girl.”

Lindsay just grinned.

I looked at Andi's happy face and had to smile too. “So what's this wonderful guy doing if he's not in school?” Besides being and partying.

“Uh, you mean like a job or something?”

“Yeah.” Lindsay and I exchanged another glance. Greg looked up again at Andi's reluctant tone.

“Well, he was a lifeguard over the summer. He's got this fabulous tan, and it makes him so handsome.”

Soul mate stuff if I ever heard it. I half expected her to swoon like a nineteenth-century Southern belle with her stays laced too tightly. “What about now? Postseason?”

“And he was the quarterback on the high school football team two years ago when they won the state championship.”

“Very impressive. What about now?”

“He was named Most Valuable Player.”

“Even more impressive. What about now?”

She began making sure the little stacks of sugar and sweetener packets in the holders on the counter were straight. “Right now he's just trying to figure it all out.”

Being. Figuring. And punching guys out while he thought. “You mean he's trying to decide what he wants to be when he grows up?”

She glared at me. In her mind he was grown up. She turned her back with a little sniff and went to clean off a dirty table.

Lindsay swallowed a laugh. “Your sarcastic streak is showing, Carrie.”

Mr. Perkins, another regular at Carrie's Café and at eighty in better health than the rest of us put together, rapped his cup on the pink marble counter. He'd been sitting for several minutes with his eyes wide behind his glasses as he listened to Andi.

“No daughter of mine that age would ever have gone to a party where there was drinking,” he said. “It's just flat out wrong.”

Since I agreed, I didn't mention that he was a lifelong bachelor and had no daughters.

He rapped his cup again.

“Refill?” I asked, not because I didn't know the answer but because the old man liked to think he was calling the shots.

He nodded. “Regular too. None of that wimpy decaf. I got to keep my blood flowing, keep it pumping.”

I smiled with affection as I topped off his cup. He gave the same line every day. “Mr. Perkins, you have more energy than people half your age.”

He pointed his dripping spoon at me. “And don't you forget it.”

“Watch it,” I said in a mock scold. “You're getting coffee all over my counter.”

“And a fine counter it is.” He patted the pink-veined marble slab. It was way too classy and way too pricey for a place like the café. “Did I ever tell you that I remember when it was the registration counter at Seaside's Grand Hotel? And let me tell you, it was a grand hotel in every sense of the word. People used to come from as far as Pittsburgh, even the president of U.S. Steel. Too bad it burned down. The hotel, not U.S. Steel.”

“Too bad,” I agreed. And yes, he'd told us the story many times.

“It was in 1943,” he said with a faraway look in his eyes. “I was thirteen.” He blinked back to the present. “It was during World War II, you know, and people said it was sabotage. Not that I ever believed that. I mean, why would the Germans burn down a resort hotel? But I'll tell you, my father, who was an air-raid warden, about had a seizure.”

“I bet he was convinced that the flames, visible for miles up and down the coast, would bring the German subs patrolling offshore right up on our beaches,” Lindsay said with a straight face. “They might have attacked us.”

I glared at her as she repeated word for word Mr. Perkins's line from the story. She winked unrepentantly.

Mr. Perkins nodded, delighted she was listening. “People kept their curtains drawn at night, and even the boardwalk was blacked out for the duration, the lights all covered except for the tiniest slit on the land side, so the flames from the fire seemed extra bright. All that wood, you know. Voom! ” He threw his hands up in the air.

Lindsay and I shook our heads at the imagined devastation, and I thought I saw Greg's lips twitch. He'd heard the story almost as many times as we had.

Mr. Perkins stirred his coffee. “After the war some investor bought the property.”

“I bet all that remained of the Grand was the little corner where the pink marble registration counter sat.” Lindsay pointed where I leaned. “That counter.”

Again she spoke his line with a straight face, and this time Greg definitely bit back a grin.

Mr. Perkins added another pink packet to his coffee. “That's right. The buyer decided to open a restaurant around the counter and build a smaller, more practical hotel on the rest of the property.”

Even that hotel was gone now, replaced many years ago by private homes rented each summer to pay the exorbitant taxes on resort property.

I walked to Greg with my coffeepot. “Refill?”

He slid his mug in my direction, eyes never leaving his paper.

Be still my heart.



2

The café door opened again, and Clooney sauntered in. In my opinion Clooney sauntered through life, doing as little as possible and appearing content that way. I, on the other hand, was a bona fide overachiever, always trying to prove myself, though I wasn't sure to whom. If Clooney weren't so charming, I'd have disliked him on principle. As it was, I liked him a lot.

Today he wore a Phillies cap, one celebrating the 2008 World Series victory. His gray ponytail was pulled through the back of the cap and hung to his shoulder blades.

“You work too hard, Carrie,” he told me frequently. “You'll give yourself indigestion or reflux or a heart attack or something. You need to take time off.”

“If I didn't want to pay the rent or have insurance or eat, I'd do that very thing,” I always countered.

“What you need is a rich husband.” And he'd grin.

“A solution to which I'm not averse. There just seems to be a shortage of candidates in Seaside.”

“Hey, Clooney,” Andi called from booth four, where she was clearing. She gave him a little finger wave. Clooney might be her great-uncle, but try as I might, I couldn't get her to call him Uncle Clooney. Just “Clooney” sounded disrespectful to me, but he didn't seem to mind.

“Hey, darlin'.” Clooney walked over to Andi and gave her a hug. Then he came to the counter and slid onto the stool next to Greg. He did not take off his cap, something that drove me crazy. I've developed this manners thing, probably because my childhood was so devoid of anything resembling pattern or politeness. I know people thought me prissy and old-fashioned, but I am what I am, a poor man's Miss Manners.

Clooney pointed at a muffin, and I placed one on a dish for him. He broke off a chunk, then glanced back at Andi. “She tell you about that fool Bill?”

I grinned at his disgruntled expression. “She did.”

“What is it with girl children?” he demanded. “I swear she's texted the news around the world.”

“She thinks it's a compliment--her knight defending her.”

Clooney and Greg snorted at the same time.

“Slaying a dragon who's threatening the life of the fair damsel's one thing,” Greg said, actually looking at me. “Decking a kid for saying hi to a pretty girl is another.”

“Your past life as a cop is showing,” I teased.

He shrugged as he turned another page of the paper. “Old habits die hard.”

The door opened again, and in strutted the object of our conversation. I knew it had to be him because, aside from the fact that he looked like a very tanned football player, he and Andi gazed at each other with love-struck goofy grins. I thought I heard Lindsay sigh.

Andi hurried toward the kitchen with an armful of dirty dishes from booth four. She squeaked in delight as Bill swatted her on the rump as she passed. Clooney stiffened at this unseemly familiarity with his baby. Mr. Perkins tsk-tsked his disapproval.

“Can I have breakfast now?” Andi asked when she reappeared empty- handed.

The wait staff usually ate around ten thirty at a back booth, and it was ten fifteen. We were in the off-season weekday lull between breakfast and lunch, and the three men on their stools were the only customers present. I nodded.

Bill looked toward the kitchen. He appeared overwhelmed at the prospect of food, unable to make a selection. He draped an arm over Andi's shoulder as he considered the possibilities, and she snuggled against him. Clooney's frown intensified.

Bill was a big guy, and it was clear by the way he carried himself that he still thought of himself as the big man on campus in spite of the fact that he was now campusless and unemployed. As I studied him, I wondered if high school football would end up being the high point of his life. How sad that would be. Clooney drifted through life by choice. I hoped Bill wouldn't drift for lack of a better plan or enough ability to achieve.

Careful, Carrie. I was being hard on this kid. Nineteen and undecided wasn't that unusual. Just because at his age I'd already been on my own for three years, responsible for Lindsay, who was six years my junior…

Bill gave Clooney, who was watching him with a rather sour look, a sharp elbow in the upper arm and asked, one guy to another, “What do you suggest, Clooney? What's really good here?”

Clooney's relaxed slouch disappeared. I saw the long-ago medal-winning soldier of his Vietnam days. “You will call me 'sir' until I give you permission to call me by name. Do you understand, boy?”

Bill blinked. So did I. Everyone in Seaside, no matter their age, called him Clooney.

“Stop that, Clooney!” Andi was appalled at her uncle's tone of voice.

“Play nice,” I said softly as I realized for the first time that I didn't know whether Clooney was his first name or last. I made a mental note to ask Greg. As a former Seaside cop, he might know. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, darlin'.” Clooney gave Andi an easy smile. He gave Bill a hard stare. “Right, Bill?”

Bill blinked again. “Y-yes, sir.”

Andi took her beloved's hand and dragged him toward the back booth. “Ignore my uncle. He's having a bad day.” She glared over her shoulder at Clooney, who grinned back at her.

“She's got spunk, that one,” he said with pride.

“How'd she end up living with you?” I'd been longing to ask ever since Clooney showed up with Andi just before Labor Day and asked me to give her a job. I did, and I guess I thought that gave me the right to ask my question.

Clooney disagreed because he said, “I think I'll have one of your amazing Belgian waffles with a side of sausage.”

“I'm on it.” Lindsay headed back to the kitchen before I said a word. “Got it, Ricky?”

“Got it.” Ricky tested the waffle iron with a flick of water. He smiled as the water jumped and evaporated. He was a handsome kid with dark Latino looks of the smoldering kind, a young Antonio Banderas. Unfortunately for him, his smoldering looks appeared to have no effect on Linds.

Another victim of unrequited love.

Andi came to the counter and placed an order for Bill and herself. I blinked. We could have served the whole dining room on less.

Mr. Perkins eyed me. “Are you going to make him pay for all that? You should, you know.”

True, but I shook my head. “Job perk. He's cheaper than providing health benefits and not nearly as frustrating.”

“So say you.” Clooney settled to his waffle and sausage.

I watched the parade of laden plates emerge from the kitchen and make their way to the back booth, making me reconsider the “cheaper” bit. Andi took her seat and stared at Bill as if he could do no wrong in spite of the fact that he leaned on the table like he couldn't support his own weight. Didn't anyone ever tell the kid that his noneating hand was supposed to rest in his lap, not circle his plate as if protecting it from famished marauders or little girls with ponytails?

“Look at him,” Clooney said. “He's what? Six-two and over two hundred pounds? Jase Peoples is about five-eight and one-forty if he's wearing everything in his closet.”

“Let's forget about Jase, shall we?” Andi's voice was sharp as she came to the counter and reached for more muffins. “The subject is closed.”

I grabbed her wrist. “No more muffins. We need them for paying customers. If Bill's still hungry, he can have toast.”

“Or he could pay.” To Mr. Perkins a good idea was worth repeating.

Andi laughed at the absurdity of such a thought.

Ricky had left his stove and was leaning on the pass-through beside Lindsay. “Four slices coming up for Billingsley.”

“Billingsley?” I looked at the big guy as he downed the last of his four-egg ham-and-cheese omelet. With a name like that, it was a good thing he was big enough to protect himself.

“Billingsley Morton Lindemuth III,” Ricky said.

“I should never have told you.” Andi clearly felt betrayed.

“But you did. And you got to love it.” Laughing, Ricky turned to make toast.

“He hates it,” Andi said.

I wasn't surprised.

Greg drew in a breath like you do when something terrible happens. We all turned to stare at him.

“What's wrong?” I asked.

He was looking at the front page of The Press of Atlantic City. “Jase Peoples.”

“What?” I demanded.

Clooney grabbed the paper and followed Greg's pointing finger.

I could see the picture and the headline above it: “Have You Seen This Man?”

My review -
Gayle Roper has written an awesome page turner. Shadows on the Sand has a little bit of all the things I look for in fiction. Mystery, suspense, romance, and faith. This is the first of her novels that I've read and I loved it!

The beginning was a bit slow and it took a few chapters for me to get into the story, but I ended up liking it a lot. The most intense scenes were mostly in the last few chapters when the suspense really built up. Just when I thought I figured out who the killer was, I'm surprised with a twist in the story and was guessing who it could be yet again. There were a lot of likeable characters and some I didn't care for at all because they were just so evil!

It was interesting reading about Carrie's life before the cafe and her struggle to forgive someone who hurt her when she was younger. That's something I can relate to. I know how hard it is to forgive and forget and let the past be just that... THE PAST. The romance between Greg and Carrie grew throughout the course of the story and I liked following along as they became closer and, with God's help, began to try and move on from their painful pasts.

Shadows on the Sand had just enough suspense and mystery to keep me wanting more! This is a wonderfully written novel that I'd recommend to any mystery/suspense lover whose looking for a great summer read.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Women of Faith 2011


I just got an email saying that I've been selected as a blogger for the Women of Faith event in Anaheim, Ca. Thank you so much for choosing me BookSneeze!! This will be my first time attending one of these events and I'll be going with my mom who's gone to one a few years ago. I'm so excited! The Anaheim conference is September 9-10 so I'll be posting about it before and after. I'll try my best to get some pictures too :)

Here's the promo video for those interested in attending this event:

You can register for the Anaheim event here and view all the other locations here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

Hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading

What I'm currently reading
Tying the knot may be the toughest thing Nick Polchak has ever tried to do. Nick Polchak is comfortable with bugs. Their world is orderly. He knows where he stands and exactly how to interpret the signs they give him. But a fiance and an upcoming wedding? Not so much.
That's why-a mere four days before the nuptials-Nick finds himself driving to Philadelphia for the monthly meeting of the Vidocq society. Being among a group of forensic professionals consulting on cold cases will surely allow him to feel useful and normal.

But while there he discovers that a close friend has been murdered . . . and in classic Nick style, begins to follow the trail of evidence rather than returning to his fiance. Fearing that his one-track mind won't lead him home by Saturday, Alena and three of her dogs go to track him down. When she finally finds him, nothing is as Alena expected . . . because the twists in this case will surprise even the most dedicated Bug Man fans.

What I recently finished reading

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. Stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, dusty archeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds… until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.

And thus does she come to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Forelli, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

What I think I'll read next
Dr. Sara Miles’s teenage patient is on the brink of death from an overwhelming, highly resistant infection with Staph luciferus, known to doctors as “the killer.” Only an experimental antibiotic, developed and administered by Sara’s ex-husband, Dr. Jack Ingersoll, can save the girl's life.

Seeking to put his life back together after the death of his wife, Dr. John Ramsey joins the medical center faculty staff. But his decision to do so could prove to be costly and even fatal.

Potentially lethal late effects from the experimental drug send Sara and her colleague, Dr. Rip Pearson, on a hunt for hidden critical data that will let them reverse the changes before it’s too late. What is the missing puzzle piece? And who is hiding it?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: One Lane Bridge

David C. Cook(October 2010)
Fiction/Christian/General

About the book - 
Between trying to run two restaurants, keep his daughter from dropping out of college, and satisfy his lonely, aging mother, J.D. could use a rest. One tranquil evening, he takes off on a ride in the country to clear his mind. Top down, setting sun, wind of his hair... leak in the radiator. Walking up to an old farmhouse to ask for water, J.D. finds a family living in poverty, and he vows to help.

But he discovers that nothing about the family - and the one lane bridge that led him there - is as it seems. The more he pursues answers, the less he understands. His wife and his best friend think he's crazy. But solving the mystery will change him forever...

My review -
J.D. and his wife Karlie live in the small town of Hanson, NC. They've enjoyed a long 20 year marriage with little to no real problems. But that changes when they find out someone has been stealing money from one of their two restaurants and their daughter announces she's dropping out of college. The stress of it all begins to overwhelm their marriage. One night J.D. decides to take one of his mind-clearing drives. When he comes across a One Lane Bridge, he turns onto to it but then has car trouble. He doesn't have any bars on his phone so he then goes to a house that's near the bridge.

That's where he meets the Clem family. Paul, his wife Ada, and their fourteen year old daughter, Lizzie. This family was poor and J.D. wanted to help them with as much as he could. When he got back home he told his wife all about them and the next day they got some groceries to take to the family, but J.D. couldn't believe what he saw when they got to the spot where the One Lane Bridge was the night before. He didn't understand how the Bridge and the house could have disappeared in one night. His wife begins to worry about him and tells him to see a doctor. He refuses to go because he knows what he saw was real. He won't let it go until he figures out just who the Clem family really is.

This is the first novel by Don Reid that I've had the chance to read. His writing style kept my attention and interest throughout the entire story. I wanted to figure out who the Clems were just as much as the characters did. There were some interesting twists and turns and the ending was completely unexpected. This had a time travel, supernatural feel to it and it was different from the novels I usually read. I'm afraid to say anything else because I don't want to give anything away, but it was a touching story and I really enjoyed it. One Lane Bridge is a clean, easy read that'll have you wanting answers to the mystery of the Clem family.

Rating - 3 stars

(I was provided a review copy of this book by David C. Cook.)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Month in Review: June 2011

Photobucket

I should have posted this yesterday but I forgot!

Books read:
Shattered by Melody Carlson
A Reluctant Queen by Joan Wolf
Tandem by Tracey Bateman
Possession by Rene Gutteridge
The Blackberry Bush by David Housholder
Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins
One Lane Bridge by Don Reid

Total pages read:
2,192

Reviews posted:

Favorite of the month:
Over the Edge

Goal for July:
Read at least 8

Kindle Freebies!

Here are some awesome Christian fiction Kindle freebies! They're also free for the Nook. I've only read Breathe, but the other 3 look great. Can't wait to read them! Just click on the pictures to go to the page.







 
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