Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul

If you have read my blog much, you know I love Donita K Paul's writings.  Well, here's a new one and I can't wait to read it!:


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 (October 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Donita K. Paul is the author of The Dragons of Chiril, Dragons of the Valley, and the bestselling DragonKeeper Chronicles with more than a quarter of a million books in print. She enjoys cooking, beading, stamping, knitting, and her grandsons. Not necessarily in that order.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Trapped in a forgotten city, bound by secrets, Ellie and Bealomondore must enlist the dragons of the watch to find freedom.

Ellie knows exactly where she is going. She just wants to experience the pomp and circumstance of a royal wedding, then settle into a simple life with a country husband.

With too many choices, Bealomondore’s future is a tangle of possibilities. He is respected, well-known, and admired among the elite of Chiril, but Wulder demands he narrow his focus and follow his Creator, one step at a time.

Both Ellie and Bealomondore’s plans are thwarted when they find themselves lost in an isolated city. As they discern the needs of a group of wild children and a very old man, clues began to surface and a bigger picture is revealed. With the help of the dragons of the watch, can the two tumanhofers find the way out—and perhaps discover their connection to something greater than themselves?

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1400073413
ISBN-13: 978-1400073412

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Invitation

     Ellie sat on her favorite boulder and looked Tak right in the eyes, telling him what was on her mind. “Gramps shouldn’t have taught me to read.”

     Tak responded as he usually did when he received Ellie’s confidences. He lowered his head, placing it on her knee for a rub.

     Ellie obliged her pet, stroking the white hair between his nubby horns with one hand while digging in the pocket of her homespun pinafore with the other. The mountain breeze toyed with the paper she withdrew. With difficulty, she smoothed the small poster out on her other knee. Dirty and wrinkled, it still made her heart beat a little faster.

               

                             Royal Wedding and Coronation

                                         Princess Tipper

                                                  and

                    Prince Jayrus, Dragonkeeper and Paladin

           

                             All invited to the celebration

     “All invited. But Ellicinderpart Clarenbessipawl and her goat Tak can’t come. No chaperone, no travel. Ma and Da aren’t interested. And Gramps just laughs. ‘You’ll see. You’ll see,’ is all he says. He should take me himself.”

     Her younger brother’s shrill yell came from the knoll rising out of the river to the east. “Ellie! Ellie!”

     He stood on the hill, grinning like a bear with a paw in the honey hive and his face red from running. His stubby tumanhofer body bounced with excitement. He held his fists above his head and whirled them around in circles. Something had set him off.

     She stood and hollered back. “You be calling me by my proper name out in the open ’n’ at the top of your lungs, Gustustharinback. Ma will tan yer hide if she’s finding out you disgrace the family with such shabby care of our dignity.”

     When he saw her, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Yer wanted at home. Itta be good news.”

     That information didn’t impress her. Probably a delivery of the bolt of muslin ordered, which meant she’d be cutting and dyeing lengths for making new clothes. Not exciting news at all.

     “Can it wait?” She gestured behind her to the scattered goat herd. “I’ll have to gather Tak’s clan if I’m to come home now.”

     “I’ll come help you.” Gustus charged down the hill toward the footbridge across the river.

     Ellie stared at him for a moment with her mouth hanging open. The good news had nothing to do with cloth. Her brother would never voluntarily help bring in the goats for something as mundane as new clothes. He scurried down the path, slipping some on the loose rocks. But the precarious descent did not slow him a bit. Even in the narrower patches, where exposed roots of arranndon bushes tripped careless hikers, her sturdy brother skidded downward.

     Folding the royal celebration notice into a small square, Ellie stuffed it back in her pocket. She turned away from watching her brother’s progress and nudged the goat. “Come on, Tak. You find the nannies, and I’ll find the billies.”

     Ellie went one direction and Tak another. In a few minutes, she located the fifteen goats that formed the herd. Mostly young males, these animals preferred the rockier terrain. She suspected it had to do with their perpetual game of I’m-up-highest.

     She clicked her tongue and tapped her staff on a rock. Their heads rose as if all attached to the same string, though they didn’t come right away. Each one chewed what was in his mouth and casually left his place one by one. Taking a serene amble down the hillside, they passed her, heading toward the bridge and home.

     When the last one clomped by, Ellie rested her staff on her shoulder and followed. Tak already had the nannies plodding along the bank toward the footbridge. Gustustharinback trailed the nannies and carried the smallest of the baby goats in his arms.

     He shouted when he caught sight of his sister. “Hurry! Aunt and Uncle Blamenyellomont are at the house. I can’t tell you the surprise, and I’m gonna burst with keeping my tongue from waggin’ and you from knowin’.”

     She tapped her staff on the rock beneath her feet. The billies scampered before her, picking up her impatience and gratefully heading for home. Even after eating all day, they appreciated the handfuls of button grain they got from the farmer’s younger children.

     With the goat hoofs pounding on the wooden bridge, Ellie couldn’t hear or be heard. So she waited until she’d caught up with her brother on the other side.

     “What’s with all the falderal, Gustus?”

     She watched as he forced a glare onto his face, erasing the impudent grin he’d been wearing. “You are to call me by my proper name if I have to call you by yours.”

     “There’s a difference between shouting ‘Ellie’ and speaking ‘Gustus’ quietly.” She grabbed his arm. “Now tell me, or I’ll toss you into the river.”

     He pressed his lips together and gave her his most obstinate glower. The corners of his lips twitched, and she knew he wanted to laugh. She let go. She couldn’t really dunk him while he carried the small kid.

     “Why are our aunt and uncle here?”

     “Can’t tell you that either. But they’s only stopping, not staying. We’d better hurry.”

     Ellie lost Gustustharinback’s help as soon as they came in sight of the pens. He scuttled down the last hill and opened the gate but then ran through the goat barn, across the yard, and into the house.

     The herd followed the leader through the opening and took up different places to observe their world. Ellie and Gustus had put many odd things within the goat pen for the animals to climb on. Old wooden benches, barrels, a huge thick branch they had pulled with the donkey’s help, and crates littered the ground. The goats enjoyed scrambling up, over, and around the obstacles.

     Tak stayed at Ellie’s side as she put water in the trough and fastened the barn door securely open so the animals could come in if they wanted. He followed her out the door on the other side of the barn and waited patiently while she latched it shut.

     Entering the back door so she could wash before meeting their visitors, Ellie noticed that the kitchen showed signs of serving tea. Her mother must have prepared refreshments to carry into the common room. Through the pantry door, she could see empty spots on the shelves, which meant the good china pot and the blue glass dishes were being used.

     Warm water sat in a tub in the sink, and she used that to wash her face and hands. She pulled the scarf off her head, gathered her long, curly black locks into a ponytail and used the scarf to tie it in place. Wisps of hair immediately escaped and framed her tanned face. She washed her face again as if she could rid herself of the look of a farm girl. Hopefully Aunt Tiffenbeth wouldn’t make that tired old comment: “Your blue eyes would be more attractive if you scrubbed away some of that mud you use for face cream.”

     Voices from the family’s conversation drifted through the partially open door. Aunt Tiffenbeth quarreled with Ellie’s father.

     “Brother, you are wrong in this. Ellicinderpart is your eldest child and way past the age to be in the village looking for a husband.”

     “If there’s a man good enough for her, he can just come courting here.” Her father’s voice rumbled in the wood-paneled room, and Ellie did not even have to strain to hear him. She stepped closer to the door in order not to miss a single word her aunt spoke.

     “You are the most vexing man. That is not going to happen. It isn’t the way of things, and you know it. You’re selfish and your mind is rootbound.”

     Only his older sister could get away with talking like that to Ellie’s father. She probably ought to go in before the discussion escalated to verbal warfare. She finished wiping her hands and draped the towel over one of the kitchen chairs around the square table.

     “The girl is needed here.”

     “The young woman is your unpaid servant.”

Excerpted from Dragons of the Watch by Donita K. Paul Copyright © 2011 by Donita K. Paul. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

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 (October 4, 2011)
***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Award-winning writer Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Books of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A house shrouded in time. A line of women with a heritage of loss. As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn't believe that Susannah's ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband's home, it isn't long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide's richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.





Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458857
ISBN-13: 978-0307458858

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Excerpt

     The bride stood in a circle of Virginia sunlight, her narrow heels clicking on Holly Oak’s patio stones as she greeted strangers in the receiving line. Her wedding dress was a simple A-line, strapless, with a gauzy skirt of white that breezed about her knees like lacy curtains at an open window. She had pulled her unveiled brunette curls into a loose arrangement dotted with tiny flowers that she’d kept alive on her flight from Phoenix. Her only jewelry was a white topaz pendant at her throat and the band of platinum on her left ring finger. Tall, slender, and tanned from the famed and relentless Arizona sun, hers was a girl-nextdoor look: pretty but not quite beautiful. Adelaide thought it odd that Marielle held no bouquet.

     From the parlor window Adelaide watched as her grandson-in-law, resplendent in a black tuxedo next to his bride, bent toward the guests and greeted them by name, saying, “This is Marielle.” An explanation seemed ready to spring from his lips each time he shook the hand of someone who had known Sara, her deceased granddaughter. His first wife. Carson stood inches from Marielle, touching her elbow every so often, perhaps to assure himself that after four years a widower he had indeed patently and finally moved on from grief.
   
Smatterings of conversations wafted about on the May breeze and into the parlor as received guests strolled toward trays of sweet tea and champagne. Adelaide heard snippets from her place at the window. Hudson and Brette, her great-grandchildren, had moved away from the snaking line of gray suits and pastel dresses within minutes of the first guests’ arrival and were now studying the flower-festooned gift table under the window ledge, touching the bows, fingering the silvery white wrappings. Above the children, an old oak’s youngest branches shimmied to the tunes a string quartet produced from the gazebo beyond the receiving line.
   
Adelaide raised a teacup to her lips and sipped the last of its contents, allowing the lemony warmth to linger at the back of her throat. She had spent the better part of the morning readying the garden for Carson and Marielle’s wedding reception, plucking spent geranium blossoms, ordering the catering staff about, and straightening the rented linen tablecloths. She needed to join the party now that it had begun. The Blue-Haired Old Ladies would be wondering where she was.
   
Her friends had been the first to arrive, coming through the garden gate on the south side of the house at five minutes before the hour. She’d watched as Carson introduced them to Marielle, witnessed how they cocked their necks in blue-headed unison to sweetly scrutinize her grandson-in-law’s new wife, and heard their welcoming remarks through the open window.
   
Deloris gushed about how lovely Marielle’s wedding dress was and what, pray tell, was the name of that divine purple flower she had in her hair?
   
Pearl invited Marielle to her bridge club next Tuesday afternoon and asked her if she believed in ghosts.
   
Maxine asked her how Carson and she had met—though Adelaide had told her weeks ago that Carson met Marielle on the Internet—and why on earth Arizona didn’t like daylight-saving time.
   
Marielle had smiled, sweet and knowing—like the kindergarten teacher who finds the bluntness of five-year-olds endearing—and answered the many questions.

     Mojave asters. She didn’t know how to play bridge. She’d never encountered a ghost so she couldn’t really say but most likely not. She and Carson met online. There’s no need to save what one has an abundance of. Carson had cupped her elbow in his hand, and his thumb caressed the inside of her arm while she spoke.

     Adelaide swiftly set the cup down on the table by the window, whisking away the remembered tenderness of that same caress on Sara’s arm.

     Carson had every right to remarry.

     Sara had been dead for four years.

     She turned from the bridal tableau outside and inhaled deeply the gardenia-scented air in the parlor. Unbidden thoughts of her granddaughter sitting with her in that very room gently nudged her. Sara at six cutting out paper dolls. Memorizing multiplication tables at age eight. Sewing brass buttons onto gray wool coats at eleven. Sara reciting a poem for English Lit at sixteen, comparing college acceptance letters at eighteen, sharing a chance letter from her estranged mother at nineteen, showing Adelaide her engagement ring at twenty-four. Coming back home to Holly Oak with Carson when Hudson was born. Nursing Brette in that armchair by the fireplace. Leaning against the door frame and telling Adelaide that she was expecting her third child.

     Right there Sara had done those things while Adelaide sat at the long table in the center of the room, empty now but usually awash in yards of stiff Confederate gray, glistening gold braid, and tiny piles of brass buttons—the shining elements of officer reenactment uniforms before they see war.

     Adelaide ran her fingers along the table’s polished surface, the warm wood as old as the house itself. Carson had come to her just a few months ago while she sat at that table piecing together a sharpshooter’s forest green jacket. He had taken a chair across from her as Adelaide pinned a collar, and he’d said he needed to tell her something.

     He’d met someone.

     When she’d said nothing, he added, “It’s been four years, Adelaide.”

     “I know how long it’s been.” The pins made a tiny plucking sound as their pointed ends pricked the fabric.

     “She lives in Phoenix.”

     “You’ve never been to Phoenix.”

     “Mimi.” He said the name Sara had given her gently, as a father might. A tender reprimand. He waited until she looked up at him. “I don’t think Sara would want me to live the rest of my life alone. I really don’t. And I don’t think she would want Hudson and Brette not to have a mother.”

     “Those children have a mother.”

     “You know what I mean. They need to be mothered. I’m gone all day at work. I only have the weekends with them. And you won’t always be here. You’re a wonderful great-grandmother, but they need someone to mother them, Mimi.”

     She pulled the pin cushion closer to her and swallowed. “I know they do.”

     He leaned forward in his chair. “And I…I miss having someone to share my life with. I miss the companionship. I miss being in love. I miss having someone love me.”

     Adelaide smoothed the pieces of the collar. “So. You are in love?”

     He had taken a moment to answer. “Yes. I think I am.”

     Carson hadn’t brought anyone home to the house, and he hadn’t been on any dates. But he had lately spent many nights after the children were in bed in his study—the old drawing room—with the door closed. When she’d pass by, Adelaide would hear the low bass notes of his voice as he spoke softly into his phone. She knew that gentle sound. She had heard it before, years ago when Sara and Carson would sit in the study and talk about their day. His voice, deep and resonant. Hers, soft and melodic.

     “Are you going to marry her?”

     Carson had laughed. “Don’t you even want to know her name?”

     She had not cared at that moment about a name. The specter of being alone in Holly Oak shoved itself forward in her mind. If he remarried, he’d likely move out and take the children with him. “Are you taking the children? Are you leaving Holly Oak?”

     “Adelaide—”

     “Will you be leaving?”

     Several seconds of silence had hung suspended between them. Carson and Sara had moved into Holly Oak ten years earlier to care for Adelaide after heart surgery and had simply stayed. Ownership of Holly Oak had been Sara’s birthright and was now Hudson and Brette’s future inheritance. Carson stayed on after Sara died because, in her grief, Adelaide asked him to, and in his grief, Carson said yes.

     “Will you be leaving?” she asked again.

     “Would you want me to leave?” He sounded unsure.

     “You would stay?”

     Carson had sat back in his chair. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea to take Hudson and Brette out of the only home they’ve known. They’ve already had to deal with more than any kid should.”

     “So you would marry this woman and bring her here. To this house.”

     Carson had hesitated only a moment. “Yes.”

     She knew without asking that they were not talking solely about the effects moving would have on a ten-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. They were talking about the strange biology of their grief. Sara had been taken from them both, and Holly Oak nurtured their common sorrow in the most kind and savage of ways. Happy memories were one way of keeping someone attached to a house and its people. Grief was the other. Surely Carson knew this. An inner nudging prompted her to consider asking him what his new bride would want.

     “What is her name?” she asked instead.

     And he answered, “Marielle…”
   
Excerpted from A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner Copyright © 2011 by Susan Meissner. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner


Here's the blurb from the back of the book:


A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.    

My Review:

While the read was okay, it was not what I was expecting.  I really expected more of the historical action, history to come out.  Instead, it was a little jumping back and forth and more of a reconciling of the past and moving on into the future of this family.  Marielle has stepped into a strange situation with what seems to be some family secrets and rumors flying around.  Once I resigned myself to what the book would be like, I did enjoy the book  for what it was.  I would recommend this to anyone who likes a book with a little bit of history, some romance and extended family.  I guess I would give it 3 stars. 



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