Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's Official!

Your result for The Which Historical Queen Are You Test...

Catherine de Medici

You scored 58% on ruling power!

You are: Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, 1519-1589.Catherine de Medici was a born into the influential Medici family of Florence, Italy. In 1533 she was given in a political marriage to Henri, Duke of Orleans, who became the French King in 1547. As queen she was very influential in bringing aspects of Italian culture to France, such as their theater and food. After her husband's death, she gained political power as regent for her sons (she had ten children). An ambitious woman, she actively involved herself in the political intrigues of the court, always trying to increase royal power. At first Catherine tried to reconcile France's opposing Catholic and Protestant factions as their violent disputes threatened national unity. But with the massacre in 1570 of Protestants (the massacre of St Bartholomew), this peace was shattered, and Catherine was blamed for allowing it to happen.

Take The Which Historical Queen Are You Test



I've always wanted to live in France and Italy and now I know why! J/K--geez! I've always thought the Medici's were an interesting lot. Full of art and culturee, I've always thought I should have been related somehow, or at least born during their time period. (Although I probably would have been their chamber maid!)

It was still fun to take this "test." So, who are you?

Results of 2008

As I reflect back on this year, I realize that there have been many changes in my life. I moved from my own place to my parent's house. I switched job locations. I've learned to use different software for scrapbooking and web design. I've taken on more jobs to supplement my income to help pay off credit cards/student loans. (Ha! Ha! If only I could get a bailout!) I switched car insurance companies. (I had been with my last company for over 15 years!) And many others....


Needless to say, there will probably be many more changes in this upcoming year. Especially with the following:


Living arrangements (I love my parents--but it's time for me to move on--again!)

Work Locations (don't you just love budget cuts)
Relationships (I've been making new friends--who knows, maybe prince charming will show up)
Travel (I'm trusting God that 'll be able to make it to some of the destinations on my Bucket List. Well--at least one of them this summer!)




One thing that is definitely changing is that I will be reviewing less books. Don't misread that statement. I'll still post about books that are coming out, but I will not be reading all of them. Although I will post reviews about the ones that I do get to read. There are just not enough hours in my day to read everything I want to read, plus try to make headway through my TBR shelves (okay, so really a room). So, I'll be a little more picky about the books I actually read, but I'll still post on the others so that you can add to your own TBR pile.




Speaking of books, here's the list of books I've read this year by the month when I finished them. I've also posted links to the books I've reviewed.





January
The Minor Protection Act by Jodi Cowles

The Sweet Potato Queens 1st Big A** Novel by Jill Conner Browne and Karin Gillespie
Wild Thing by Maggie Shayne, Marjorie M. Liu, Alyssa Day, and Meljean Brook
Playing for Pizza by John Grisham
Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins




February

The Novelist by Angela Hunt
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
The Italian Billionaire's Christmas Miracle (e-book) by Catherine Spencer
Only Uni by Camy Tang





March
Glass by Ellen Hopkins

Serenity#1: New/Bad Girl in Town by Real Buzz Studios
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Serenity #2: Stepping Out by Real Buzz Studios
Serenity #3: Basket Case by Real Buzz Studios
Serenity #4: Rave-n-Rant by Real Buzz Studios
Serenity #5: Show Biz by Real Buzz Studios
Serenity #6: You Shall Love by Real Buzz Studios
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult





April




The Gun by Paul Langan

Until We Meet Again by Anne Schraff




Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Blood Is Thicker by Paul Langan and D.M. Blackwell

Brothers In Arms by Paul Langan and Ben Alivez

Summer of Secrets by Paul Langan

The Fallen by Paul Langan

Shattered by Paul Langan

Search for Safety by Paul Langan

What Would Dewey Do? by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Library Mascot Cage Match by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Finding Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

Read Responsibly by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum

Beyond the Reflection's Edge by Bryan Davis (another review here)

What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

Chosen by Ted Dekker

Telling Christina Goodbye by Lurlene McDaniel






May




The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian

Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins

The Coffin Quilt by Ann Rinaldi

Coming Unglued by Rebeca Seitz

House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo

Watcher in the Woods by Robert Liparulo

Doesn't She Look Natural? by Angela Hunt

How to Study the Bible for Yourself by Tim LaHaye





June




She Always Wore Red by Angela Hunt




Carter House Girls #1: Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson

A Mile In My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson

Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson

Maximum Ride #4: The Final Warning by James Patterson

7th Heaven by James Patterson

Something Beyond the Sky by Siri Mitchell





July

Prints Charming by Rebeca Seitz

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Romancing Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

Real Women Scrap by Tasra Dawson

Around the World in 80 Dates by Christa Banister

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney



August


Daring Chloe by Laura Jensen Walker

Summer Blowout by Claire Cook

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

It's All About Us by Shelley Adina






September

All About Us #2: The Fruit of My Lipstick by Shelley Adina

I'm Not CRAZY, but i might be a carrier by Charles Marshall

Carter House Girls#2: Stealing Bradford by Melody Carlson

Goodbye Hollywood Nobody by Lisa Samson

Vampire Academy#2: Frostbite by Richelle Mead
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn






October










November
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Infidel Graphic Novel: The Lost Books volume 2 by Ted Dekker

Leave It to Chance by Sherri Sand
Forsaken by James David Jordan

Carter House Girls #3: Homecoming Queen by Melody Carlson

Carter House Girls #4: Viva Vermont! by Melody Carlson

Eternity's Edge by Bryan Davis






December


Frontier Courtship by Valerie Hansen

The Journey Home by Linda Ford
Gatekeepers by Robert Liparulo (post on the 2nd)

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson
God's Mirror by Max Lucado
It's All About Us Book #3: Be Strong and Curvaceous by Shelley Adina (post on the 5th)
Black River by Dean R. Koontz (audio book by Audible)
The Bishop's Daughter by Tiffany L. Warren (post on the 12th)


I think that there are a few books that didn't get written down, but at this point in time, I couldn't even begin to tell you what they might be. Hopefully next year I do a better job at keeping up with the books that I read.

Records for the Year: (at least as of this posting--there's still a few more hours left!)
Read: 91 (?) books (1 ebook /1 audio book )
Watched: 48 movies
Blogged: 123 times

Well, I'm going to go and enjoy the last day of the year. I hope you will do the same.


Have a SAFE and HAPPY New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Please Help Katy and Liz!

Wow! How could I not send out a plea for help when I read the story about their homeless plight.


To catch you back up, I received an email from a fellow blogger that Brandilyn Collins (a Christian author) had a posting about a young girl and her mother who are now homeless. The young girl has started a Blog about the experience of being homeless due to circumstances beyond their control.


(Wow! I could be in their situation VERY easily.) In any case, please do what you can to help these two people out. I know at this time of year we are all hurting financially, but things could always be worse--as their situation shows. Their contact information is on the sidebar, but here's their "address" for now:
Elizabeth and Katy Hughes
PO Box 111525
Campbell, CA 95011
You can also donate via Paypal. Here's the information directly from Brandilyn Collins' site.
If you'd like to send funds to Liz and Katy, please send them to my account,
and I'll make sure every cent goes to them. Please put in the subject line: For
Liz and Katy. My account is under my email address:
brandilyn@brandilyncollins.com
Thanks in advance for your help! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WILD Card: The Winter of Candy Canes by Debbie Viguie



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


The Winter of Candy Canes

Zondervan (October 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Debbie Viguié has been writing for most of her life. She has experimented with poetry and nonfiction, but her true passion lies in writing novels.

She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from UC Davis. While at Davis she met her husband, Scott, at auditions for a play. It was love at first sight.

Debbie and Scott now live on the island of Kauai. When Debbie is not writing and Scott has time off they love to indulge their passion for theme parks.


The Sweet Seasons Novels:

The Summer of Cotton Candy
The Fall of Candy Corn
The Winter of Candy Canes
The Spring of Candy Apples


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310717523
ISBN-13: 978-0310717522

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Candace Thompson was once again eye-to-eye with Lloyd Peterson, hiring manager for The Zone theme park. This time, though, she felt far more confident. She had already spent her summer working as a cotton candy vendor, and she had worked one of the mazes for the annual Halloween event. She had even saved the park from saboteurs.

Now she was back, and this time she was interviewing for a job working the Christmas events at the park. Surely after everything she had done for the Scare event, she had nothing to worry about. She tucked a strand of red hair back behind her ear as she gazed intently at the man across from her.

“So you want to work Holly Daze?” he asked.

She nodded. Christmas at The Zone was a big deal, and the park began its official celebrations the day after Thanksgiving.

“You keep hiring on for short bursts of time and then leaving. Do you have some sort of problem committing to things?” he asked, staring hard at her.

She was stunned, but answered, “I don’t have any problem with commitment. I signed on to do specific things, and the jobs ended. That’s not my fault. I didn’t quit.”

“So, you plan on making a habit of this?” he demanded. “Are you going to show up here again in a -couple of months expecting me to give you some kind of job for spring break?”

“No, I — ”

“I know your type,” he said, standing up abruptly. “You’re just a party girl. No commitments . . . no cares . . . just grab some quick cash and get out. You think you can handle Holly Daze? Well, you can’t! You’re weak and a quitter. You’re going to bail on me as soon as your school vacation starts, and then what? Well, let me tell you, missy. You aren’t wanted here. So just pack your bags and get out!”

By the end of his tirade, he was shouting, eyes bulging behind his glasses and tie swinging wildly as he shook his finger under her nose. Candace recoiled, sure that he had finally flipped out. I’m going to end up as a headline: Girl Murdered by Stressed-Out Recruiter, she thought wildly. Well, I’m not going down without a fight! She jumped to her feet and put some distance between her and the wildly wagging finger.

“You need to calm down!” she said, projecting her voice like her drama teacher had taught her. Her voice seemed to boom in the tiny office. “Pull yourself together. You’re a representative of this theme park, and there is no call to insult me. Furthermore, I’m not a quitter. I’ll work for the entire Christmas season. Then the next time I come in here, I’ll expect you to treat me with some respect. Do you even realize what I’ve done for this park so far? Seriously. Take a chill pill.”

She stopped speaking when she realized that he had gone completely quiet. She held her breath, wondering when the next explosion was going to come. Instead, he sat down abruptly and waved her back to her chair.

“Very good. You passed the test,” he said, picking up a pen.

“What test?” she asked, edging her way back into the chair.

“The ultimate test. You’re going to be one of Santa’s elves.”

“Doesn’t Santa, you know, have his own elves?” she asked, still not sure that he was completely in charge of his senses.

“Of course Santa has his own elves. However, when he’s here at The Zone we supply him with courtesy elves so that they can continue making toys at the North Pole,” Mr. Peterson told her.

“So, I’m going to be a courtesy elf?” she asked.

He nodded and handed her a single sheet of paper. “Sign this.”

She took it. “What? Just one thing to sign?” She had expected another huge stack of forms that would leave her hand cramped for hours afterward.

He nodded curtly. “You’re now in our system as a regular seasonal employee. All of your other paperwork transfers.”

“Regular seasonal” sounded like some kind of contradiction to her, but she was still not entirely convinced his outburst had been a test. She scanned it, signed her name, and then handed it back to him.

“Good. Report to wardrobe on Saturday for your costume fitting,” he said.

“Okay, thank you,” she said, standing up and backing toward the door.

“Welcome back, Candy,” he said, smiling faintly.

“Thanks,” she said, before bolting out the door.

As soon as she was outside the building, she whipped out her cell phone and called her friend Josh, a fellow employee of The Zone.

“Well?” he asked when he picked up.

“I think Mr. Peterson has seriously lost it,” she said. “He totally flipped out on me.”

Josh laughed. “Let me guess. You’re going to be an elf.”

“So he was serious? That was some whacked-out test?”

“Yeah. Elves are considered a class-one stress position, and it can get pretty intense.”

“How hard can it be to be an elf?” she asked.

She was rewarded by a burst of laughter on the other end.

“Josh, what is it you’re not telling me?”

He just kept laughing.

“Okay, seriously. You were the one who convinced me to work Holly Daze. I think it’s only fair you tell me whatever it is I need to know.”

“Sorry!” he gasped. She wasn’t sure if he was apologizing or refusing to tell her.

A girl bounced around the corner and slammed into Candace.

“Josh, I’ll call you later,” she said, hanging up.

“Sorry,” Becca apologized.

Becca was one of Candace’s other friends from the park, one who had some sort of bizarre allergy to sugar that made her uncontrollably hyper. Candace looked suspiciously at Becca. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes were glistening, and she was hopping from one foot to the other.

“You didn’t have sugar, did you?” Candace asked, fear ripping through her.

“No! Promise,” Becca said.

“Then what gives?”

“Roger made me laugh really hard,” Becca explained.

Roger had a crush on Becca and had wanted to ask her out since Halloween. It hadn’t happened yet.

“Oh,” was all Candace could think to say.

“So, are you working Holly Daze?” Becca asked.

“Yeah. I’m going to be an elf.”

Suddenly, Becca went completely still, and the smile left her face. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Why?” Candace asked.

Becca just shook her head. “I’ve gotta get back to the Muffin Mansion. I’ll catch you later.”

She hurried off, and Candace watched her go. Okay, now I know there’s something -people aren’t telling me.

She debated about following Becca and forcing her to spill, but instead she headed for the parking lot where her best friend Tamara was waiting. She walked through the Exploration Zone, one of the several themed areas in the park.

The Zone theme park was created and owned by John
Hanson, a former professional quarterback who believed in healthy competition at work and play. His theme park had several areas, or zones, where -people could compete with each other and themselves at just about anything. Almost everyone who worked at The Zone was called a referee. The exceptions were the costumed characters called mascots. Most of them, including Candace’s boyfriend, Kurt, were to be found in the History Zone. -People visiting the park were called players, and the areas of the park they could reach were called on field. Only refs could go off field.

Candace cut through an off field area to get to the referee parking lot. She waved at a few other -people she recognized from her time spent working there. Finally, she slid into her friend’s waiting car.

“So are you going to be the Christmas queen?” Tamara asked.

“What am I, Lucy VanPelt? There’s no Christmas queen in Charlie Brown’s Christmas play, and there’s no Christmas queen in The Zone,” Candace said.

Tamara fake pouted. “Are you sure? I think I’d make a beautiful Christmas queen.”

Candace laughed. Tamara was gorgeous, rich, and fun. Her whole family practically redefined the word wealthy, and, with her dark hair and olive skin, Tamara was usually the prettiest girl in any room. She didn’t let it go to her head, though. Anybody who knew Tamara would vote for her as Christmas queen.

“Although I think you would, they’re only hiring elves.”

“You’re going to be an elf?” Tamara smirked.

“Hey, it beats being a food cart vendor,” Candace said.

“But you’re so good at it. Cotton candy, candy corn . . . you can sell it all.”

“Thanks, I think. So, what are we doing tonight? Kurt’s going to swing by at six to pick us up.” Just mentioning her boyfriend’s name was enough to make Candace smile. She closed her eyes for just a minute and pictured him as she had first seen him — wearing a Lone Ranger costume. With his charm and piercing blue eyes, she had fallen for him right away.

“You told him my house, right?” Tamara said, interrupting her thoughts.

“Yeah. So, who’s this guy you’re taking?”

Tamara sighed. “Mark.”

“Uh-huh. And?”

“Remember my cousin Tina?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, she broke up with him over the summer, and he’s been all shattered since then. He won’t date other girls; he just mopes over her.”

“Attractive,” Candace said sarcastically.

“Tell me about it. Well, Tina asked me if I could help him get his confidence back and get over her or something.”

“A pity date? Are you kidding me? You want Kurt and I to double date with you on a pity date?”

“You don’t think I’m about to go by myself, do you? No way. That’s the best-friend creed. When you’re happy, I’m happy. When I’m miserable, you have to be too.”

“Great,” Candace said, rolling her eyes. “So, where are we going?”

“That’s the problem. I was thinking dinner, but then we’d have to talk, and frankly, I don’t want to hear him go on about Tina. Then I thought we could see a movie.”

“You wouldn’t have to talk to him,” Candace confirmed.

“Yeah, but what if — ”

“He tries to grab a hand or put his arm around you.”

“Exactly, and I don’t think me giving him a black eye was what Tina had in mind.”

“I guess that also rules out any kind of concert possibilities?” Candace asked wistfully.

“Yup. Sorry.”

“So, what did you come up with?”

“I was thinking . . . theme park?”

“No way. Kurt doesn’t like to spend his downtime there.”

“I thought he took you to that romantic dinner there over the summer.”

“It was the nicest restaurant he knew, and he got an employee discount.”

“Charming,” Tamara said.

“Plus, ever since we got trapped in there overnight, he’s been even more adamant about avoiding it when he’s off work.”

“I can’t believe you two get to be the stuff of urban legend, and you don’t even appreciate it.”

Candace sighed. It was true that she and Kurt had spent one of the most miserable nights of their relationship trapped inside the theme park. Urban legend, though, had since transformed the story so that they were supposedly chased through the park by a psycho killer. It was still embarrassing to have -people point at her and say that she was the one. Around Halloween she had given up trying to correct -people. They were going to believe what they wanted.

“Earth to Candace. Helloooo?”

“Sorry. So, what does that leave us with? Shopping?”

“No need to torture both our dates,” Tamara said.

“Then what?”

“I don’t — miniature golf!” Tamara suddenly shrieked, so loudly that Candace jumped and slammed her head into the roof of the car.

“Tam! Don’t scare me like that.”

“Sorry. Miniature golf. What do you think? Built-in talking points, lots of movement, and zero grabby potential.”

“I like it. I’ll have to borrow one of your jackets though.”

“At least you’ll have an actual excuse this time,” Tamara teased.

A few minutes later they were at Tamara’s house and upstairs raiding her wardrobe. As Tamara considered and discarded a fifth outfit, Candace threw up her hands.

“Maybe if you’d tell me what you’re looking for, I could help.”

“I’m looking for something, you know, nunlike.”

Candace stared at her friend for a moment before she burst out laughing. She fell to the floor, clutching her stomach as tears streamed down her face. Tamara crossed her arms and tapped her foot, and Candace just laughed harder.

“I don’t know why you think that’s so funny. You know I don’t go past kissing.”

“Tam, nuns can’t even do that. And if you’re looking for something that will completely hide your body, then you’re going to have to go to the mall instead of the closet. You don’t own anything that doesn’t say ‘look at me.’ I’m sorry, but it’s true.”

“Really? Maybe we should go to your house. Think I could find what I’m looking for in your closet?”

“Not since I started dating and mom made me throw out all my old camp T-shirts,” Candace said with a grin.

“Then hello, you’ve got no call to laugh.”

Candace stood up, stomach still aching from laughing so hard. “Tam, I’m not criticizing. I’m just telling you, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for.”

Tam reached into the closet. “Oh, yeah, what about this?” she asked, producing jeans and a black turtleneck.

“If you’re going for the secret agent look, it’s a good choice.”

Tamara threw the jeans at her, and Candace ducked.

“I could wear some black pants with this. Would that be too funereal?

“For a pity date? Go for it.”

Candace opted to borrow Tamara’s discarded jeans instead of wearing the skirt she had brought with her. They turned out to be slightly tighter on her than they were on Tam, and she had to admit when she paired them with her red scoop-neck top that she looked really good.

When Kurt arrived a few minutes later, he whistled when he saw her.

“Keep the jeans,” Tamara whispered to her. “Obviously, they work for you.”

Kurt then looked at Tamara and frowned slightly. “Did you just come from a funeral?”

“No, but thank you for thinking so,” Tamara said with a smirk.

“I don’t — ”

Candace put her finger over his lips. “Don’t ask,” she advised him.

He smiled and kissed her finger, which made her giggle.

The doorbell rang again, and Candace turned, eager to see the infamous Mark.

Tamara opened the door, and Candace sucked in her breath. Mark was gorgeous. He had auburn hair, piercing green eyes, and model-perfect features. He was almost as tall as Kurt, and he was stunning in khaki Dockers and a green Polo shirt.

“Hi,” he said, smiling.

Tamara glanced at her and rolled her eyes.

“Hi, Mark.”

Kurt drove, and Candace was quick to slide into the front seat with him, leaving Tamara and Mark to the back. She shook her head. Mark was not her idea of a pity date in any sense of the word. Maybe Tamara would come around if she actually talked to him.

They made it to the miniature golf course and were soon on the green. Candace got a hole in one on the first time up to putt, and Kurt gave her a huge reward kiss.

When they moved on to the next hole, Tamara whispered in her ear, “Thanks a lot. This is supposed to be a no grabby zone. Now Mark will be getting ideas.”

“Tam, you really need to relax a little.”

They made it through the course in record time, and Kurt gave Candace another kiss for winning by one stroke. After turning in their clubs, the guys headed inside to order pizza while Candace and Tamara went to the restroom.

“This date is the worst,” Tamara groaned once they were alone.

“What’s wrong with you? He’s gorgeous.”

“Really? I guess I just can’t see past the Tina mope.”

“What mope? He hasn’t even mentioned her, and he’s done nothing but smile all night. You should totally take him to Winter Formal.”

“No way. This is a one-date-only kind of thing. I’m not taking him to Winter Formal.”

“Fine. Suit yourself. I’m just telling you that if it weren’t for Kurt, I’d be taking him to Winter Formal.”

Tamara laughed.

“As if. There’s no way you’d ask a guy out.”

“I don’t know. You might be surprised.”

“It’s a moot point anyway. I’ll find someone to take.”

“You could always take Josh,” Candace suggested.

“You’re not setting me up with Josh, so just forget it.”

“Fine.”

“Find out for me, though, if Santa needs a Mrs. Claus,” Tamara said.

“You’re going to find some way to be the Christmas queen, aren’t you?” Candace asked.

“Even if I have to marry old Saint Nick.”

They both laughed.






Dynamic Uno here: The Winter of Candy Canes is another YA book that sounds great. However, since I haven't read any of the other books in this series, I decided to pass on receiving a copy for review. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE readers.) In any case, if you've read this book or any of the others in the series, I'd love to know what you thought of them.

Monday, December 22, 2008

WILD Card: Before the Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard



It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

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





Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Before the Season Ends

Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Linore Rose Burkard lives with her husband, five children, and ninety-year-old grandmother in southeastern Ohio. She homeschooled her children for ten years. Raised in New York, she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York (Queens College) with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. Ms. Burkard wrote Before the Season Ends because she could not find a book like it anywhere. "There are Christian books that approach this genre," she says, "but they fall short of being a genuine Regency. I finally gave up looking and wrote the book myself." She has begun four other works of fiction in the category.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $ 12.99
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736925511
ISBN-13: 978-0736925518

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Chesterton, Hertfordshire

England

1813

Something would have to be done about Ariana.

All winter Miss Ariana Forsythe, aged nineteen, had been going about the house sighing.

“Mr. Hathaway is my lot in life!”

She spoke as though the prospect of that life was a great burden to bear, but one which she had properly reconciled herself to. When her declarations met with exasperation or reproach from her family—for no one else was convinced Mr. Hathaway, the rector, was her lot—she usually responded in a perplexed manner. Hadn't they understood for an age that her calling was to wed a man of the cloth? Was there another man of God, other than their rector, available to her? No. It only stood to reason, therefore, that Mr. Hathaway was her lot in life. Their cold reception to the thought of the marriage was unfathomable.

When she was seventeen, (a perfectly respectable marrying age) she had romantic hopes about a young and brilliant assistant to the rector, one Mr. Stresham. It was shortly after meeting him, in fact, that she had formed the opinion the Almighty was calling her to marry a man of God. Mr. Stresham even had the approval of her parents. But the man took a situation in another parish without asking Ariana to accompany him as his wife. She was disappointed, but not one to give up easily, continued to speak of “the calling,” waiting in hope for another Mr. Stresham of sorts. But no man came. And now she had reached the conclusion that Mr. Hathaway--Mr. Hathaway, the rector, (approaching the age of sixty!) would have to do.

Her parents, Charles and Julia Forsythe, were sitting in their comfortably furnished morning room, Julia with a cup of tea before her, and Charles with his newspaper. A steady warmth was emanating from the hearth.

“What shall we do about Ariana?” Mrs. Forsythe, being an observant mama, had been growing in her conviction that the situation called for some action.

“What do you suggest, my dear?” Her husband reluctantly folded his paper; he knew his wife wanted a discussion of the matter and that he would get precious little reading done until she had got it.

She held up a folded piece of foolscap: the annual letter from Agatha Bentley, Charles’s sister, asking for Alberta, the eldest Forsythe daughter, for the season in London. It had arrived the day before.

Aunt Bentley was a childless wealthy widow and a hopeless socialite. For the past three years she had written annually to tell her brother and his wife why they ought to let her sponsor their eldest daughter for a London season. She owned a house in Mayfair (could anything be more respectable than that?) and knew a great deal of the big-wigs in society. She had, in fact, that most important of commodities which the Forsythes completely lacked: connexions. And as Charles’s family were her only living relatives, she was prepared--even anxious--to serve as chaperon for her niece.

Much to the lady's frustration, Julia and Charles had annually extinguished her hopes, replying to her letters graciously but with the inevitable, “We cannot countenance a separation from our child at this time,” and so on. Charles was unflinching on this point, never doubting his girls would reap a greater benefit by remaining beneath his own roof. They knew full well, moreover, that Aunt Agatha could not hope, with all her money and connexions to find as suitable a husband for their offspring as was possible right in Chesterton.

Why not? For the profound reason that Aunt Bentley had no religion whatsoever.

And yet, due to the distressing state of affairs with Ariana, Julia wished to consider her latest offer. With the letter waving in her hand she said, “I think we ought to oblige your sister this year. She must be lonely, poor thing, and besides removing Ariana from the parish, a visit to the city could prove beneficial for her education.”

Ariana’s father silently considered the matter. His eldest daughter Alberta was as good as wed, having recently accepted an offer of marriage--to no one’s surprise--from John Norledge. Ariana, his second eldest, had been irksome in regard to the rector, but to pack her off to London? Surely the situation was not so dire as to warrant such a move.

“I think there is nothing else for it,” Mrs. Forsythe said emphatically. “Ariana is determined about Mr. Hathaway and, even though we can forbid her to speak to the man, she will pine and sigh and like as not drive me to distraction!”

Taking a pipe out of his waistcoat pocket (though he never smoked), Mr. Forsythe absently rubbed the polished wood in his fingers.

“I recall other fanciful notions of our daughter’s,” he said finally, “and they slipped away in time. Recall, if you will, when she was above certain her destiny was to be a missionary--to America. That desire faded. She fancies this, she fancies that; soon she will fancy another thing entirely, and we shan’t hear another word about the ‘wonderful rector’ again.”

Mrs. Forsythe’s countenance, still attractive in her forties, became fretful.

“I grant that she has had strong…affections before. But this time, my dear, it is a complicated affection for in this case it is the heart of the ah, affected, which we must consider. It has ideas of its own.”

“Of its own?”

Mrs. Forsythe looked about the room to be certain no one else had entered. The servants were so practiced at coming and going quietly, their presence might not be marked. But no, there was only the two of them. She lowered her voice anyway.

“The rector! I do not think he intends to lose her! What could delight him more than a young, healthy wife who might fill his table with offspring?”

Mr. Forsythe shook his head.”Our rector is not the man to think only of himself; he must agree with us on the obvious unsuitability of the match.”

The rector was Thaddeus Admonicus Hathaway, of the Church in the Village Square. Mr. Hathaway was a good man. His sermons were grounded in sound religion, which meant they were based on orthodox Christian teaching. He was clever, and a popular dinner guest of the gentry, including the Forsythes. If these had not been true of him, Mr. Forsythe might have been as concerned as his wife. Knowing Mr. Hathaway, however, Charles Forsythe did not think a drastic action such as sending his daughter to the bustling metropolis of London, was necessary.

Mrs. Forsythe chose not to argue with her spouse. She would simply commit the matter to prayer. If the Almighty decided that Ariana must be removed to Agatha’s house, then He would make it clear to her husband. In her years of marriage she had discovered that God was the Great Communicator, and she had no right to try and usurp that power. Her part was to pray, sincerely and earnestly.

Mr. Forsythe gave his judgment: “I fear that rather than exerting a godly influence upon her aunt, Ariana would be drawn astray by the ungodliness of London society.”

“Do you doubt her so much, Charles? This infatuation with Mr. Hathaway merely results from her youth, her admiration for his superior learning, and especially,” she said, leaning forward and giving him a meaningful look, “for lack of a young man who has your approval! Have you not frowned upon every male who has approached her in the past? Why, Mr. Hathaway is the first whom you have failed to frighten off and only because he is our rector! 'Tis little wonder a young girl takes a fanciful notion into her head!”

When he made no answer, she added, while adjusting the frilly morning cap on her head, “Mr. Hathaway causes me concern!”

Mr. Forsythe’s countenance was sober. “’Tis my sister who warrants the concern. She will wish to make a match for our daughter--and she will not be content with just any mister I assure you. In addition to which, a girl as pretty as our daughter will undoubtedly attract attention of the wrong sort.”

Julia was flustered for a second, but countered, “Agatha is no threat to our child. We shall say we are sending Ariana to see the sights, take in the museums and so forth. Surely there is no harm in that. A dinner party here or there should not be of concern. And Ariana is too intelligent to allow herself to be foisted upon an unsuitable man for a fortune or title.”

Too intelligent? He thought of the aging minister that no one had had to “foist” her upon. Aloud he merely said, “I shall speak with her tonight. She shall be brought to reason, depend upon it. There will be no need to pack her off to London.”






Dynamic Uno here: This is not a book that I received for review, but it is on my Wish List to read. If you've read it, let me know. With Christmas just a few days away, I'm hoping "Santa" remembers this last minute read for my stocking.

If this books sounds interesting to you, you can sign up for Linore Rose Burkard's ezine here.
Let me know what you think of this book!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Teen FIRST: The Sword and the Flute (Matterhorn the Brave series Book #1) by Mike Hamel


It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour! This is the very last Teen FIRST tour as Teen FIRST has merged with FIRST Wild Card Tours. If you wish to learn more about FIRST Wild Card, please go HERE.




and his book:



Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mike Hamel is a seasoned storyteller who has honed his skill over theyears by telling tall tales to his four children. He is the author of several non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles.

Mike and his wife, Susan, live in Colorado Springs, CO. Their four children are now grown and their two grand children will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

From His Blog's About Me:

I am a professional writer with sixteen books to my credit, including a trilogy of titles dealing with faith and business: The Entrepreneur’s Creed (Broadman, 2001), Executive Influence (NavPress, 2003), and Giving Back (NavPress, 2003). I also edited Serving Two Masters: Reflections on God and Profit, by Bill Pollard (Collins, 2006).


My most enjoyable project to date has been an eight-volume juvenile fiction series called Matterhorn the Brave. It’s based on variegated yarns I used to spin for my four children. They are now grown and my two grandchildren will soon be old enough for stories of their own.

I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado with my bride of 34 years, Susan.

As you read this blog, remember that I’m a professional. Don’t try this level of writing at home. You might suffer a dangling participle or accidentally split an infinitive and the grammarians will be all over you like shoe salesmen on a centipede.

BTW – I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of cancer.


Mike's Blog, Cells Behaving Badly, is an online diary about Wrestling with Lymphoma Cancer.

To order a signed edition of any of the 6 Matterhorn the Brave books, please visit the Matterhorn the Brave Website!

Product Details

List Price: 9.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 181 pages
Publisher: Amg Publishers (January 22, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0899578330
ISBN-13: 978-0899578330


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Emerald Isle


Aaron the Baron hit the ground like a paratrooper, bending his knees, keeping his balance.

Matterhorn landed like a 210-pound sack of dirt.

His stomach arrived a few seconds later.

He straightened his six-foot-four frame into a sitting position. In the noonday sun he saw they were near the edge of a sloping meadow. The velvet grass was dotted with purple and yellow flowers. Azaleas bloomed in rainbows around the green expanse. The black-faced sheep mowing the far end of the field paid no attention to the new arrivals.

“Are you okay?” the Baron asked. He looked as if he’d just stepped out of a Marines’ recruiting poster. “We’ll have to work on your landing technique.”

“How about warning me when we’re going somewhere,” Matterhorn grumbled.

The Baron helped him up and checked his pack to make sure nothing was damaged. He scanned the landscape in all directions from beneath the brim of his red corduroy baseball cap. “It makes no difference which way we go,” he said at last. “The horses will find us.”

“What horses?”

“The horses that will take us to the one we came to see,” the Baron answered.

“Are you always this vague or do you just not know what you’re doing?”

“I don’t know much, but I suspect this is somebody’s field. We don’t want to be caught trespassing. Let’s go.”

They left the meadow, walking single file through the tall azaleas up a narrow valley. Thorny bushes with loud yellow blossoms crowded the trail next to a clear brook. Pushing one of the prickly plants away, Matterhorn asked, “Do you know what these are?”

“Gorse, of course,” the Baron said without turning.

“Never heard of it.”

“Then I guess you haven’t been to Ireland before.”

“Ireland,” Matterhorn repeated. “My great-grandfather came from Ireland.”

“Your great-grandfather won’t be born for centuries yet.”

Matterhorn stepped over a tangle of exposed roots and said, “What do you mean?”

“I mean we’re in medieval Ireland, not modern Ireland.”

“How can that be!” Matterhorn cried, stopping in his tracks. “How can I be alive before my great-grandfather?”

The Baron shrugged. “That’s one of the paradoxes of time travel. No one’s been able to figure them all out. You’re welcome to try, but while you’re at it, keep a lookout for the horses.”

Matterhorn soon gave up on paradoxes and became absorbed in the paradise around him. The colors were so alive they hurt his eyes. He wished for a pair of sunglasses. Above the garish gorse he saw broom bushes and pine trees growing to the ridge where spectacular golden oaks crowned the slopes. Birdsongs whistled from their massive branches into the warm air. Small animals whispered in the underbrush while larger game watched the strangers from a distance.

The country flattened out and, at times, they glimpsed stone houses over the tops of hedgerows. They steered clear of these and any other signs of civilization. In a few hours, they reached the spring that fed the brook they had been following. They stopped to rest and wash up.

That’s where the horses found them.

There were five strikingly handsome animals. The leader of the pack was from ancient and noble stock. He stood a proud seventeen hands high—five-foot-eight-inches—at the shoulders. He had a classic Roman face with a white star on his wide forehead that matched the white socks on his forelegs. His straight back, sturdy body, and broad hindquarters suggested both power and speed. A rich coppery mane and tail complemented his sleek, chestnut coat.

The Baron held out an apple to the magnificent animal, but the horse showed no interest in the fruit or the man. Neither did the second horse. The third, a dappled stallion, took the apple and let the Baron pet his nose.

“These horses are free,” the Baron said as he stroked the stallion’s neck. “They choose their riders, which is as it should be. Grab an apple and find your mount.”

While Matterhorn searched for some fruit, the leader sauntered over and tried to stick his big nose into Matterhorn’s pack. When Matterhorn produced an apple, the horse pushed it aside and kept sniffing.

Did he want carrots, Matterhorn wondered? How about the peanut butter sandwich? Not until he produced a pocket-size Snickers bar did the horse whinny and nod his approval.

The Baron chuckled as Matterhorn peeled the bar and watched it disappear in a loud slurp. “That one’s got a sweet tooth,” he said.

The three other horses wandered off while the Baron and Matterhorn figured out how to secure their packs to the two that remained. “I take it we’re riding without saddles or bridles,” Matterhorn said. This made him nervous, as he had been on horseback only once before.

“Bridles aren’t necessary,” Aaron the Baron explained. “Just hold on to his mane and stay centered.” He boosted Matterhorn onto his mount. “The horses have been sent for us. They’ll make sure we get where we need to go.”

As they set off, Matterhorn grabbed two handfuls of long mane from the crest of the horse’s neck. He relaxed when he realized the horse was carrying him as carefully as if a carton of eggs was balanced on his back. Sitting upright, he patted the animal’s neck. “Hey, Baron; check out this birthmark.” He rubbed a dark knot of tufted hair on the chestnut’s right shoulder. “It looks like a piece of broccoli. I’m going to call him Broc.”

“Call him what you want,” the Baron said, “but you can’t name him. The Maker gives the animals their names. A name is like a label; it tells you what’s on the inside. Only the Maker knows that.”

Much later, and miles farther into the gentle hills, they made camp in a lea near a tangle of beech trees. “You get some wood,” Aaron the Baron said, “while I make a fire pit.” He loosened a piece of hollow tubing from the side of his pack and gave it a sharp twirl. Two flanges unrolled outward and clicked into place to form the blade of a short spade. Next, he pulled off the top section and stuck it back on at a ninety-degree angle to make a handle.

Matterhorn whistled. “Cool!”

“Cool is what we’ll be if you don’t get going.”

Matterhorn hurried into the forest. He was thankful to be alone for the first time since becoming an adult, something that happened in an instant earlier that day. Seizing a branch, he did a dozen chin-ups; then dropped and did fifty push-ups and a hundred sit-ups.

Afterward he rested against a tree trunk and encircled his right thigh with both hands. His fingertips didn’t touch. Reaching farther down, he squeezed a rock-hard calf muscle.

All this bulk was new to him, yet it didn’t feel strange. This was his body, grown up and fully developed. Flesh of his flesh; bone of his bone. Even hair of his hair, he thought, as he combed his fingers through the thick red ponytail.

He took the Sword hilt from his hip. The diamond blade extended and caught the late afternoon sun in a dazzling flash. This mysterious weapon was the reason he was looking for firewood in an Irish forest instead of sitting in the library at David R. Sanford Middle School.




Dynamic Uno here: Mike Hamel is an amazing individual. To try to maintain his writing job as well as spend time with his family, AND have to go through chemotherapy--well, he's a better person than I am! Due to some issues with the publisher, we were unable to get a reviewer's copy of this first book in his series; however, I do believe I'm getting some gift cards to some book stores (HINT! HINT! For those family members still out there that can't figure out what to get me.) so this series is definitely on my list to buy! If you've read them already, let me know what you think! Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2008 Wrap-Up



I must admit--I failed miserably in the challenge to read all of the books on my list. I think the only books that I actually did read through were the ones for the blog tours I've done, or the blog tours that are coming up.


Here's my original list of books:


Florida Teen Reads Titles for 2008-2009:
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
Boot Camp by Todd Strasser
The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Firestorm by David Klass
Incantation by Alice Hoffman
Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
What Happened to Cass McBride? by Gail Giles
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr


From My TBR Pile:
Single Sashimi by Camy Tang
Forsaken by James David Jordan
Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman

Here's what I actually (in no particular order) read during the challenge. (If there's a link, then I've posted my review there. Otherwise, I'll put out a few words below each title.)

Single Sashimi by Camy Tang

Forsaken by James David Jordan

Ripple Effect: Time Thriller Trilogy Book #1 by Paul McCusker

Infidel (Graphic Novel): The Lost Books volume 2 by Ted Dekker

Leave It to Chance by Sherri Sand

Eternity's Edge: Echoes From the Edge series book #2 by Bryan Davis

Carter House Girls #3: Homecoming Queen by Melody Carlson
Carter House Girls #4: Viva Vermont! by Melody Carlson
Both Carter House Girls books are very quick reads geared towards the teenaged set. They're a Christian version of Gossip Girl and the It Girl series of books out there. I loved both books--although you'll probably want to read the first two books in the series to get the back stories on the girls. However, I think you'll fall in love with the feisty DJ as her grandmother has "taken in" other girls from various backgrounds as a "finishing school." The girls must learn to live together despite their many differences.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
This book has been on my TBR list for quite some time, and I probably would not have read it except for the fact that our school book club decided to choose it as one of their books to read for the month. (That, and it's a Teens Read book this year, so I would have eventually sat down to read it.)

I'm glad that I did read it because it's a gripping and somewhat heartbreaking story about the life of a woman in the middle east. You get two ladies from very different backgrounds whose lives tie together in strange circumstances so that they must work together through their problems in life.

I must admit, I did enjoy this book--albeit a little slow in some places--once you realize how the two women's lives fit together you won't want to put it down. Reading this book has made me more aware of the cultural differences between the treatment of women (they're more like cattle than people, as opposed to my own ability to speak out about whatever I feel like. I would have probably been killed by the time I was 5 because I've always been outspoken.) If you've been on the fence about reading this book--get off of it and go buy it or check it out from the library!

Frontier Courtship by Valerie Hansen
A very quick read sent to me by Harlequin to read and answer a few survey questions about it. Obviously it takes place during the frontier times and it's a Christian romance novel. Faith and Charity have just lost everything--including their mother--to a tornado that has hit their home. Now venturing off across the wild frontier, they must fight to survive this perilous journey in search for their father who left to find gold in the gold mines. Unfortunately, the wagon train leader is out for money, which he thinks Faith and Charity will have plenty of when they find their father, and he's looking to score for himself. Funny how--his previous love interests have died or disappeared mysteriously.

The Journey Home by Linda Ford
Another quick read for me to review by Harlequin. This book is also a Christian romance and a work of historic fiction that takes place during the Dust Bowl era. Half-breed Kody Douglas stumbles upon Charlotte Porter purely by accident as he tries to escape the raging dust storm outside of what he thought was an abandoned house. Charlotte's brother and his family decided to find other lodgings and promised to send for her as soon as they were able--which was well over a week ago. With no place to go, Kody reluctantly decides to take Charlotte to his parents home--a place where Kody was trying to escape from forever. Why is Kody running from his past? Will Charlotte ever be reunited with her brother? You'll have to read it to find out!

Gatekeepers: Dreamhouse Kings Series Book #3 by Robert Liparulo
(Go read the first two books in the series because this is a definite must read! Review to be posted on January 2!)

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson
At the time of this posting, I'm about a hundred pages out from the end of the story. This series is a cross of CSI and Nancy Drew. Cammie's father is the town of Silverton's coroner and Cammie wants to become a forensics pathologist--just like her dad. When he finally decides to hire her, a body of a young girl is found face down on a hiking trail in the woods. Cammie and her father rush right over, and the identity of the girl turns out to be someone that Cammie knows from town. Is this new death a result of the Christopher Killer? Is he killer still nearby or has he/she left town in search of a new victim? (After all, St. Christopher is supposed to be the saint of travelers.) You'll have to read the book to find out!

I will be doing a book tour for this book VERY soon so keep your eyes peeled for the tour. I'll also be giving away the first two books in her Forensic Mystery series: The Christopher Killer and The Angel of Death!

If you're interested in asking Ms. Ferguson questions about writing and her new books, please leave your questions in the comments area of this posting by midnight (EST) on December 27, 2008, and I'll post the answers when I post an interview with her during the book tour.


Well, I'm off to find out who the Christopher Killer might be--I have a couple of ideas! Let me know what you think about any of these books--or books you may have read for the challenge. And remember to post your questions for Alane Ferguson by next Saturday!! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Calling All Writers!

Here's the story...one of my friends is writing Christian screenplays and knows that this is God's calling for her life. (Even Jim Caviezal--who is in the movie business had a word for her about her writing!) She's entered some into contests and taken various rejections and or prizes, but she doesn't know where to go next to get them possibly published/televised/made into a production. HELP???

This is where you all come in--what does she need to do now? Who does she need to contact? Any suggestions for getting Christian screenplays produced? I figured as writers you all would know the scoop better than I do as a mere reader. Please, let me know--email me offline if you don't want your information published, but any advice would be wonderful. She's just getting started in the whole screenplay aspect. Meanwhile, she writes short stories and journal articles that's she's trying to get published as well. (Any help there would be appreciated as well!)

As I said, any information would be wonderful. I figured, I'd ask you all for help since you have such a wide wealth of knowledge. Thank you in advance and please pray for DM as she starts to follow God's leading in her life. (I know it's a scary step for her.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Exciting News!



How cool is this!?? I just received this exciting bit of news this evening from Disney! A whole year dedicated to MOI!! Yep--membership definitely has its privileges. :)










(If you really believe this video, then I have some land to sell you towards South Florida. It's full of wildlife, if not a bit mushy--but you'll never be bored!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Maybe not so much weather-wise, but in spirit, Christmas is almost here! FIVE MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL!!!!!! And then I'm free from children for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!!!! I'm not sure who is more excited--the children or the teachers. :) Thankfully, four of the days this week are exams, which means the students are only there for half of a day. The other half of the day, teachers will be in the library trying to get their county-mandated exams scored by our crazy Scantron machines that only work about 60% of the time. With 200 teachers--trying to get 6 exams each graded--well, you can do they math. I HATE having to help grade the exams. The teachers make comments like: " Well, we only have to do this a couple times a year." (Like I actually stand there all year and help grade exams. Um, no. ) Then, we also have teachers trying to leave their exams and have me grade them. Um--not when the scores are tied into the teachers receiving money for the number of kids that pass. I DON'T THINK SO!!! They'll sit their happy selves in the chair and do it themselves--especially since they'll try to blame me if they mess up scoring their exams with this scanning system. Yep--it's beginning to look like Christmas alright.


Update on job situation: They announced the new principal at the new school--it's not our current principal--Yay! However, the principal is from a neighboring school and she may be taking one of her Media Specialists with her (unless she is forced to take one of us from my current school). So, the question still remains--do I get to stay, or do I have to go? My cohort and I are going to meet with our principal tomorrow and try to find out what he's been told. Our sources tell us that there will only be one Media Specialist at each school next year, but hopefully he'll do something to keep both of us. Even if it is only on paper. Keep praying! Only 5 more days!!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Go Elf Yourself....

or someone else. You'll get a good laugh out of it--I promise!


Here's our Disco version:

Send your own ElfYourself eCards



Have fun and get to dancing--it's almost Christmas!!!

UPDATED:
Thank you Kirsten for letting me know that it was the same video over and over. What a bummer! For some reason, the site gave me the Disco version code for each dance instead of the code for the others. When you go there, you can also have your "elves" do the Charleston, the Classic Dance, and a Country Dance. If I can get new codes to copy, then I'll re-add the other dances.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Daniel" by Elton John

Cloud 9 has tagged me for this funny meme. Here are the rules:

Put your iTunes/Other music device on shuffle. For each question, press the next button to get your answer. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS! Tag friends who might enjoy doing this.

I own a Zune and haven't put too much music on it yet, so this could be interesting. :)

IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY? "Surrender" by Jeremy Camp
WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY? "Across the Earth" by Hillsong
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? "And Now My LifeSong Sings" by Casting Crowns
HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY? "Beneath the Surface" by Souljahz
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE? "The Point of No Return"-Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO? "Angel of Music"-Phantom of the Opera Soundtrack
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? "When She Cries" by Britt Nicole
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR PARENTS? "Start Over Again" by Addison Road
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? "Hallelujah" by Nicol Sponberg
WHAT IS 2+2? "This Is Our God" by Hillsong
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND? "Made to Love" by Toby Mac
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PERSON YOU LIKE? "Save the Last Dance for Me" by Michael Buble
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? "Satisfy" by Jeff Deyo
WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING? "Worship" by Souljahz
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? "Gimme That Funk" by Group 1 Crew
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? "Our Hope Endures" by Natalie Grant
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET? "Love Them Like Jesus" by Casting Crowns
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? "Dance In the River" by Passion
WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN? "True Love Waits" by Souljahz
HOW WILL YOU DIE? "I See You" by Group 1 Crew
DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU? "Speaking Louder Than Before" by Jeremy Camp
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE? "Here I AM to Worship" by Passion
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW? "Worlds Apart" by Jars of Clay
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR DAY? "Let It Fade" by Jeremy Camp
HOW’S YOUR LOVE LIFE? "What This World Needs" by Casting Crowns
IF YOUR LIFE WAS A TV SHOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED? "I Give You My Heart" by Jeff Deyo
WHAT’S YOUR PARTY SONG? "Come Thou Fount" by Passion
WHAT WILL YOU DO FOR A LIVING? "I Am Nothing" by Jeremy Camp
WHAT WAS THE WEATHER LIKE TODAY? "Wonderful King" by Passion
WHAT WAS/WILL GRADUATION (BE) LIKE FOR YOU? "Sing to You" by Jeff Deyo
WHAT WERE YOUR DREAMS LIKE LAST NIGHT? "He" by Jars of Clay
WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? "Daniel" by Elton John

Okay--my Zune likes Jeremy Camp too because a lot of the songs were by him. This is pretty funny. If you've had a rough day like I have, consider yourself tagged! (Even if you haven't had a rough day--TAG-YOU'RE IT!!!)

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, December 8, 2008

Faculty Meeting Tomorrow


I must admit--I don't usually mind faculty meetings. It's a chance for me to see my friends that I don't always get to see since I'm usually in the library. However, our faculty meeting tomorrow is of a different caliber. There's a new school opening next year that supposed to help relieve our overcrowded school. (It actually involves two other schools, but they're not going to be hit quite as hard as we are in relation to students leaving campus. ) Since we'll be losing students, that means we'll be losing teachers too--and that means my job is on the line.

With a school district cutting back more and more, and cutbacks going so far as to leave one Media Specialist in the libraries, we've been fortunate to have been blessed with two of us. (After all, we have about 3000 students and over 200 teachers, so you would think it's a no-brainer, but our school district has no idea what brains are. We're the ones in the national news for teachers sleeping with their students. Helloooooo? Background check anyone?) However, the district just decided that they need to cut back another 56 million dollars (has our superintendent ever considered taking a pay cut--after all, we've had to do it and we actually work in the trenches. Even if she were to make half of what she makes now, she'd make triple what teachers make...but that's another story.) and I think that means we'll be cut to one librarian. :(

Our faculty meeting tomorrow is to discuss how the new school is going to impact our numbers. Quite frankly, I'm already privy to that information from going to Department Head meetings; I want to know who the new principal is going to be so I know whether or not I need to fight for a job elsewhere. I'm actually hopefully that our principal stays put and that Mary and I get to keep working together until she retires in 3 years. But, if our principal is tapped to go to the new school, then we may be in trouble.

The official results come out in February, so we have a few more months of waiting before the district finishes jerking us around. Then, I can actually start looking for apartments since I'll know where I'm working. (The bummer is that all the deals are happening right now. I mean $485 for an apartment that's usually $700--come on!) Anyone interested in helping me move--let me know. I'd rather not have to hire another moving company, but if I have to, I will.
I'll keep you posted on the drama....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yay Nick and Starr!


Congratulations to Nick and Starr for winning the Amazing Race!!!! I'm really excited that they won. While Ken and Tina are from the Tampa area, Nick and Starr were consistent throughout the race and let's face it--they probably need the money a little more. Yay!!!!

I've been playing again...


Here's my (somewhat) second attempt at a digital scrapbooking page. My actual second attempt was deleted when I tried to close out an Element that I decided not to use. Photoshop Elements decided to close out my entire project. Grrrr....
Now if I could just figure out how to deselect a tool when I'm trying to add elements and layers to layouts--I keep recoloring the backgrounds and then I can't copy and paste items. It's starting to get a little annoying, so if anyone knows how to do it, please let me know. My tools just stay as the default tool until I choose another one. It's like having it glued to your mouse and you can't shake it. VERY annoying!
I have 22 more days of my free trial period before I have to go back to Photoshop CS3. (Unless someone buys me Photoshop Elements for Christmas! Hint...Hint....)

Monday, December 1, 2008

FIRST: Leave It To Chance by Sherri Sand



It is time for the FIRST Blog Tour! On the FIRST day of every month we feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!






The feature author is:



and his/her book:


Leave it to Chance
David C. Cook (May 2008)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sherri Sand is a wife and mother of four young children who keep her scrambling to stay ahead of the spilled milk. When she needs stress relief from wearing all the hats required to clothe, feed and ferry her rambunctious brood, you may find her sitting in a quiet corner of a bistro reading a book (surrounded by chocolate), or running on one of the many trails near her home. Sherri is a member of The Writer’s View and American Christian Fiction Writers. She finds the most joy in writing when the characters take on a life of their own and she becomes the recorder of their stories. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Oregon where she graduated cum laude. Sherri and her family live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

She's also a blogger! So stop by and say hi to Sherri at Creations in the Sand!

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 353 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (May 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799883
ISBN-13: 978-1434799883


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


“A horse? Mom, what am I going to do with a horse?” Just what she and the kids did not need. Sierra Montgomery sagged back against her old kitchen counter, where afternoon sunlight dappled the white metal cabinets across from her. She pressed the phone tight against her ear, hoping she’d heard wrong, as her four-year-old son, Trevor, ate grapes at the kitchen table.

“Miss Libby wanted you to have it. I’d think you’d be delighted, what with the kids and all. You remember Sally, Miss Libby’s daughter? Well, she just called and said it was all laid out in the will. None of their family could figure out who Sierra Lassiter Montgomery was until Sally remembered me from her mom’s church. So she called and sure enough, you were my daughter.” Sierra’s mom tsked into the phone. “Well, you know how Sally is.”

Sierra hadn’t the foggiest how Sally was, or even who she was. She barely remembered Miss Libby from her Sunday school class eons ago.

“She acted pleased that her mother gave you the horse, but I could tell she was miffed. Though what Sally Owens would do with a horse, I’d like to know.” Her mom’s voice was tight and controlled as if they were discussing how to deal with black spot on her Old English roses.

“But I don’t want a horse. You, of all people, should know that after what happened when—” How could her mom even suggest she get a horse? Painful pictures of her childhood friend Molly floated through her mind.

“Honey, accidents like that don’t happen more than once in a lifetime. Besides, Miss Libby wouldn’t have owned a crazy horse.”

Sierra stared out the window where the school bus would soon release her most precious treasures. Her mom never had understood the resounding impact that summer day had made in her life.

“You really need to think of the kids and how much fun they’d have. It’s not like you’d ever be able to afford to buy them one.”

Sierra wished she were having this conversation with Elise rather than her mother. Her best friend would understand the danger she feared in horses, and in her humorous way come up with a sensible plan that would include not keeping the animal.

Her mom, on the other hand, lived life as if she were on one of those moving conveyors at the airport that people can step on to rest their feet yet keep moving toward their destination. As long as everyone kept traveling forward, she could ignore the emotional baggage dragging behind.

“I don’t understand why Miss Libby would give the horse to me.”

“You know how my bingo club visited the Somerset rest home every week? Well, Miss Libby’s been there for years and she always did comment on how horse crazy you were when she taught your Sunday school class.”

“Mom, that was a phase I went through when I was ten and found National Velvet and Black Beauty at the library. I haven’t seen Miss Libby since middle school.”

“Obviously you were special to Miss Libby. I’d think you might be a little more grateful.”

Deep breath, Sierra told herself. “I am grateful.” An errant grape rolled next to her toe. Trevor’s blond head was bent, intent on arranging the fruit like green soldiers around the edge of his plate. Sierra tossed the grape into the sink and considered how to respond to her mom. She was a dear, but sometimes the woman was like dry kindling on a hot day, and one little spark…. “I’m just not sure that owning a horse would be a wise move at this point in our lives.”

The front door slammed and Sierra felt the walls shudder with the thud. The 3:00 p.m. stampede through the house meant it was time to get off the phone and determine how to get rid of a horse before the kids found out about it.

Her mom sighed. “It’s too bad Sally won’t keep the horse at her place for you, but she said her husband wants the horse gone. He wants to fill the pasture with sheep.”

Sheep? A kitchen chair scraped over the linoleum as Trevor scooted back from the table and dashed for the living room. “Mommy’s got a horse! Mommy’s got a horse!” Wonderful. Little ears, big mouth.

Braden and Emory shot into the kitchen, bright eyes dancing in tandem. Their words tangled together in fevered excitement despite the fact that she was on the phone.

“Where is it?” Braden’s eleven-year-old grin split his face, and his dark hair was rumpled and sweat streaked, likely from a fevered game of basketball during last recess.

She held a hand up to still the questions as her mom went on about the sheep that Sally’s husband probably did not need.

“We have a horse?” Nine-year-old Emory, her blonde hair still neat in its purple headband, fluttered in front of her mom, delight and hope blooming on her face.

Despite the fear of horses building deep in Sierra’s gut, her children’s excitement was a little contagious. She wished Miss Libby had willed her a cat.

Sierra ran her hand down Emory’s soft cheek and whispered. “I’ll be off the phone in a minute, sweetie.”

“Can we ride it?” Em looked at her with elated eyes.

Braden tossed his backpack on the table. “Where are we going to keep it?”

The kids circled her, jabbering with excited questions. Sierra rubbed her forehead with the tips of her fingers. “I gotta go, Mom. I’ve got to break some cowboy hearts.”

The kids clamored around her, Braden taking the lead with an arm draped across her shoulder. When had he gotten so big? “Do we have a horse, Mom?” He asked the question with a lopsided grin, a foreshadow of the adolescence that had been peeking through lately. The preteen in him didn’t truly believe they had a horse—he was old enough to realize the odds—but little-boy eagerness clung to his smile.

“That would be yes and a no.”

“What? Mom!” he complained.

“I was given a horse, but we’re not going to keep him.” Braden’s arm slid off her shoulder, a scowl replacing his smile. “Why not?”

“Someone gave you a horse?” Emory ignored her brother’s attitude and flashed her most persuasive grin. “Can we keep him? Please!”

Sierra smoothed her hand over the silky hair and leaned close to her daughter’s face as Emory went on. “I think we should get four horses so we each have one. We could go trail riding. Cameron’s mom has horses, and they go riding all the time as a family.”

“We’re not a family anymore,” Braden cut in. “We stopped being a family when mom divorced dad.”

A shard of pain drove into Sierra’s gut. She hadn’t had time to brace for that one. Braden’s anger at the divorce had been building like an old steam engine lately.

“That’s not fair!” Outrage darkened Emory’s features. “It’s not Mom’s fault!”

Sarcasm colored Braden’s voice. “Oh, so it’s all Dad’s fault?”

Sierra saw the confusion that swept over her daughter’s face. She was fiercely loyal to both parents and didn’t know how to defend them against each other.

Sierra spoke in a firm tone. “Braden, that’s enough!”

He scowled at her again. “Whatever.”

Sierra held his gaze until he glanced away.

“Guys, we’re not going to play the blame game. We have plenty to be thankful for, and that’s what is important.”

Braden’s attitude kept pouring it on. “Boy, and we have so much. Spaghetti for dinner every other night.”

“So what, Braden-Maden!” Emory made a face and stuck her tongue out at him.

“No more fighting or you two can go to your rooms.” Her kids were not perfect, but they used to like each other. Something had changed. Her gut said it was her ex-husband, Michael, but what if she was falling into the whole “blame the dad” thing herself? What if she was really the problem? Two weeks without a job had added stress and worry. Had she stopped hugging them as often in between scouring the want ads and trying to manage a home and bills?

“Mom?” There was a quaver in Trevor’s soft voice.

“Yes, honey?” Sierra gave him a gentle smile.

“Can we keep the horse?”

Emory’s blue gaze darted to meet hers, a plea in them. Braden sat with his arms crossed over his chest, but his ears had pricked up.

Sierra looked at them, wanting them to understand and knowing they wouldn’t. “None of us know how to handle or care for a horse, so it wouldn’t be safe to keep him.”

Emory’s face lit up. “Cameron’s mom could teach us.”

“Honey, it’s not that simple. We can’t afford an animal that big. He probably eats as much in groceries as we do, and it would be very expensive to rent a place for him to live.”

“I could mow yards.” Anger at his sister forgotten, Braden turned a hopeful face to her. “We could help out.”

Emory jumped onto the working bandwagon. “Yeah. I could do laundry or something for the neighbors.”

Braden drilled his sister a look that said idiot idea but didn’t say anything.

Trevor bounced in his chair, eager to be a part of keeping the horse. “I could wash cars.”

“Those are great ideas, but they won’t bring in quite enough, especially since it’s getting too cold to mow lawns or wash cars.”

“You just don’t want to keep the horse, Mom,” Braden said. “I get it. End of story.”

“Honey, I’d love for you to have a horse, but when I was young I had a friend—”

Emory spoke in a helpful tone. “We know. Grandma told us about the accident.”

They knew? Wasn’t the story hers to share? “When did Grandma tell you?”

Braden’s voice took on a breezy air. “I don’t know. A while ago. Come on, Mom. We’re not going to do something dumb like your friend did.”

Defensiveness rose inside. “She didn’t do anything dumb. It was the horse that—”

“So because something bad happened to one person, your kids can never do anything fun for the rest of their lives.”

Sierra gave him a look. “Or you learn from your mistakes and help your kids to do the same.”

Braden rolled his eyes at her.

Worry drew lines across her daughter’s forehead. “Are you going to sell him?”

“Yes, Em. So we’re not going to discuss this anymore. You and Braden have homework to do.” At the chorus of groans she held her hands up. “Okay, I guess I’ll have to eat Grandma’s apple pie all by myself.”

Braden grabbed his backpack and slowly dragged it across the floor toward the stairs, annoyance in his voice. “We’re going.” Emory trotted past him up the stairs.

Trevor remained behind, one arm wrapped around her thigh. “I don’t have any homework.”

She squatted and pulled him in for a hug. “Nope, you sure don’t, bud.”

He leaned back. “Do I get a horse?”

Sierra distracted him by inching her fingers up his ribs. “What, Trev?”

He tried to talk around his giggles. “Do I get—Mom!” Her fingers found the tickle spots under his arms and he laughed, his eyes squinted shut and mouth opened wide. She found all his giggle spots, then turned on Sesame Street as the second distraction. Good old Bert and Ernie.

Now what? She had roughly forty-five minutes to figure out how she was going to get rid of a horse and not be a complete zero in her kids’ eyes.

She eyed the phone and made her next move. Five minutes later a white Mazda whipped into her driveway. Sierra hurried out the front door waving her arms to stop Elise before she could start her ritual honking for the kids.

Wide eyed, her platinum blonde friend stared, one long plum-colored nail hovering above the “ooga” horn on the dash. “What?”

“I don’t want the kids to know you’re here.”

Wicked delight spread across her perfectly made-up face. Light plum shadow matched her nails. Tomorrow, both eye shadow and nails could be green. “Let me guess! Mr. Pellum asked you out!”

“Nooooo!” Mr. Pellum was a teacher Sierra and Elise had had a crush on in seventh grade.

“Ummm … you robbed a bank and need me to watch the kids while you fly to Tahiti?”

Sierra gave her a mock-serious look. “Done?”

Elise tilted her head. “Can I get out of the car?”

Sierra glanced toward the house. All was still silent. “Yes, you may.”

Deadpan, Elise nodded and opened the door. “Then I’m done for now.” Her plump body, swathed in a creamy suit with a purple scarf draped across one shoulder, rose gracefully from the small two-seater.

Sierra closed the door for her, then leaned against it. Elise had a way of removing the extraneous and reducing a problem down to the bare essentials. “Elise, I’m in a predicament.”

“Hon, I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”

Sierra shook her head. “I don’t think you could have seen this one coming even with your crystal ball.”

Elise gave her the spinster teacher look through narrowed eyes. “I don’t think I like the implications of that.”

Sierra held her hands out. “You are the queen of mind-reading, according to my children.”

Elise chuckled. “It’s a good thing I was just headed out for a latte break when you called. Now what’s the big emergency?” She owned a high-end clothing store for plus-sized women in downtown Eugene.

“A horse.”

Elise glanced around as if one or two might be lurking behind a tree.

“A herd of them or just one?”

“One. Full-sized. Living and breathing.”

“I believe I’m missing some pieces here. Is it moving in with you? Holding one of the children hostage? What?”

Sierra breathed out a slight chuckle and tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “You’re not going to believe this, but I inherited it.”

Her friend’s eyes grew wide, emphasizing the lushly mascaraed lashes. “Like someone died and gave you their horse?”

Sierra nodded, raising her brows. “And the kids want to keep him.”

Furrows emerged across Elise’s forehead. “Who is the idiot that told them about the horse?”

Sierra tilted her head with a look that only best friends could give each other.

Elise’s perfectly painted lips smirked. “Moving along, then. Why don’t you keep it? The kids would love it. Heaven knows they deserve it.” She clapped her hands together. “Oh, oh! They could get into 4-H, and Braden could learn to barrel race. That kid would think he’d won the jackpot. Emory and Trevor could get a pig or some of those show roosters.”

Sierra let the idea machine wind down. “I don’t think so.”

“Angora rabbits?”

“No farm animals.”

Elise’s mouth perked into humorous pout. “Sierra, you’re such a spoilsport. Those kids need a pet.”

“A hamster is a pet. A horse is not.”

Diva Elise took the stage, hands on her ample hips. “Don’t tell me you didn’t want a horse growing up. Remember, I was the one who had to sit and watch National Velvet with you time ad nauseam. You’ve said yourself that Braden needs something to take his mind off the problems he’s having at school and with his dad.”

Guilt, a wheelbarrow load of it, dumped on Sierra. “You are supposed to be helping me, Elise, not making it worse. I want to get rid of this horse and …” her eyes dodged away from her friend, “… you know.”

“Mmm-hmm. And still look like Super Mom in your children’s eyes.”

Sierra nodded, but couldn’t find the nerve to say yes.

“Sierra Montgomery, those children have been to heck and back in the last couple years and you’re willing to deny them the pleasure of owning their own free horse because … because of what?”

Sierra stared at the ground for a moment, feeling a tangle of emotions rise within. She let her eyes rest on Elise’s and said quietly, “Fear? Terror? Hysteria?”

A look of puzzlement, then understanding settled on Elise’s face, smoothing away the annoyance. “Molly.”

Sierra nodded. “I won’t put my children in that kind of danger.”

Elise leaned forward and grabbed Sierra’s hands, holding them tight. “Oh, hon. That was a long time ago. Don’t let your life be ruled by the what-ifs. There’s a lot of living left to do. And your kids need to see you taking life by storm, taking chances, not hiding in the shadows.”

“That’s easy for you to say. You were voted most likely to parachute off the Empire State Building.”

Elise gave her a cheeky grin, both dimples winking at her. “We could do it tandem!”

“If you see me jump off the Empire State Building you’ll know my lobotomy was successful, because there is no way in this lifetime you’ll catch this body leaving good sense behind!” Sierra heard the words come from her own mouth and stared at her friend in wonder. “Oh, my gosh. That was so my mom.”

“It was bound to happen, hon.”

Was she serious? “You think I’m turning into her?” Sierra brought a hand to her throat and quickly dropped it. How many times had she seen her mom use the same gesture?

Elise laughed. “You need to stop fretting and just live. We all turn out like our mothers in some respect.”

“All except you. You’re nothing like Vivian.”

“Other than the drinking, smoking, and carousing, I’m exactly like her.”

Sierra lifted a brow. Her mom had rarely let her go to Elise’s house when they were growing up—and for good reason. Elise struck a pose like a fashion model. “Okay, I’m the anti-Vivian.” She gave Sierra a soft smile. “All funnin’ aside, I really think you should keep the horse.”

“I’m not keeping the horse. And even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.” Sierra took a settling breath and stared at the tree over Elise’s shoulder.

“Michael still hasn’t paid?”

Elise knew more about her finances than her mom did. “He paid, but the check bounced again. So now he’s two months behind in child support.”

“Have you heard if Pollan’s is rehiring?”

“They’re not.” Jarrett’s, the local grocery store where she worked for the three years since the divorce had been recently bought out by Pollan’s. They had laid off the majority of the checkers with the possibility of rehiring some.

Elise cringed as if she was bracing herself for a blow. “And the unemployment fiasco?”

Sierra shut her eyes. “Mr. Jarrett did not pay into our unemployment insurance, so there is no benefit for us to draw from. Yes, it was illegal, and yes he will pay, but it may take months, if not years, for various lawyers and judges to beat it out of him.” She gave Elise a tired smile. “That’s the version minus all the legalese.”

“So the layoffs are final, no unemployment bennies, and you’re out of a job.”

“Momentarily. The résumé has been dusted off and polished.” She gave a wry grin.

“I wish I could hire you at Deluxe Couture, but I promised Nora fulltime work. And besides, your cute little buns would drive my clientele away.”

Sierra waved a hand over her jeans and sweatshirt. “Your clientele would outshine me any day.”

“You sell yourself far too short.” Elise glanced at the hefty rhinestone encrusted watch on her wrist. “Anything else I can do for you? Help the kids with their homework? Babysit while you sweep some tall, dark, handsome man off his feet?”

Sierra laughed. “And where is this dream man going to come from?”

Elise gave a breezy wave of her hand and opened the car door. “Oh, he’ll turn up. You’re too cute to stay single. I actually have someone in mind. Pavo Marcello. He’s a new sales rep from one of my favorite lines. I’ll see if he’s free Friday night. You aren’t doing anything, are you?”

“Hold on!” Sierra stepped in front of the car door to keep her friend from leaving. “First, I’m not looking. Second, given my history, I’m not the best judge of character. I’ve already struck out once in the man department.” She pointed to her face with both index fingers. “Not anxious to try again. Third, you just told me I’m turning into my mom, which makes me definitely not dating material.”

A twist of Elise’s lips signaled a thought. “You know, now that I think about it, I believe he has a boyfriend.” She shook her head and lowered herself into the car. “We’ll keep looking. I’m sure Sir Knight will turn up.”

Sierra shut the car door and grinned down at her friend. “And what about finding your knight?”

Elise gave her a bright smile. “Mr. Pellum is already taken. You really need to find a way to keep that horse; it’ll be your first noble sacrifice.”

“First?”

The little car backed up, and Elise spoke over the windshield. “The others don’t count.”

Sierra stared at the retreating car. There was no way she was keeping that horse.



After dinner, Sierra crept into Braden’s room. He sat on the bed intent on the Game Boy in his lap, the tinny sound of hard rock bleeding out of his earphones. She waved a hand and he glanced up. She waited and with a look of preteen exasperation he finally pulled the headphones to his shoulders.

“What, Mom?”

“I just wanted to say good night.”

“Good night.” His hands started to readjust the music back into position.

“I looked at your homework.”

“You got into my backpack? Isn’t that like against the law or something? You’re always telling us not to get into your stuff.”

She crossed her arms. Frustration and worry gnawed at her. “You lied to me about doing your assignment. Why, honey?”

He ignored her and started playing his Game Boy.

She took one step and snatched the game from his hands.

“Hey!”

“I want some respect when I talk to you, Braden.”

His chin sank toward his chest, his gaze fixed on his bed, his voice low. “I didn’t want to do it.”

She sat next to him, her voice soft. “Is it too hard?”

He shrugged. “It gives me a headache when I work on it.”

“Braden, if you need help, I’d be happy to work with you after school.”

He stared at his knees and picked at a loose string of cotton on his pajama bottoms.

“I got a phone call from Mrs. Hamison today.”

His body came alert, though he didn’t look at her.

“She said you’re flunking most of your subjects, and she hasn’t seen any homework from you since school started a month ago.”

He glanced up, his jaw belligerent, but with fear in his eyes.

“What’s going on? I know school isn’t easy, but you’ve never given up before.”

“Middle school’s harder.”

She wanted to touch him, to brush the hair off his forehead and snuggle him close the way she used to when he was small. Back when a hug and a treat shared over the kitchen table was enough to bring the sparkle back to her son. “She thinks we should have your vision tested.”

“Why?”

“She’s noticed some things in class and thinks it might be helpful.”

He shrugged again. “Can I have my game back?”

“You lied to me, son. Again.”

“Sor-ry.”

“You break trust every time you choose to be dishonest. Is that what you want?”

His voice was sullen and he stared at his comforter. “No.”

She touched his leg. “What’s bothering you, honey?”

“I dunno. Can I have my game back?”

She stood up. There was a time for talking and this obviously wasn’t it. “You can have it tomorrow.”

But would tomorrow be any different?


Dynamic Uno here: Leave It To Chance is a story of a single mother trying to raise three kids, while her whole world seems to be falling apart. Her ex doesn't seem to be able to pay child support, which causes the whole family have to move in with--"the mother/grandma." To top things off, she's also inherited the most terrifying animal ever--a horse by the name of Chance. Will Sierra's family be able to survive and what on earth will she do about this troublesome pest of a horse? You'll have to read the book to find out!

I really enjoyed reading this book because it made me laugh and cry. I could just imagine the characters in their daily lives. My favorite is probably ornery Sid--you'll have to read it and see if you agree. I also enjoyed this novel because it gives me hope that my "Ross" is somewhere on the horizon. (I just hope I don't have to inherit a horse to meet him. I'm not to fond of the creatures either.)

In any case, if you're interested in a heart-warming read to take your mind off of the stressful holiday season, then pick up Leave It To Chance by Sherri Sand!