New York Debut by Melody Carlson

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:

New York Debut (Carter House Girls)

Zondervan (May 1, 2009)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past ten years, she has published more than a hundred books for children, teens, and adults, with sales totaling more than 2.5 million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List.

Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards including The Gold Medallion, The Christy, and The Rita Award. And most recently she is in the process of optioning some of her books for film rights.
She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (May 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310714931
ISBN-13: 978-0310714934

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Where is Taylor?” asked Grandmother as she drove DJ home from the airport.
”Is she coming on a later flight?”

DJ hadn’t told her the whole story yet. In fact, she hadn’t said much of anything to Grandmother at all during the past week, except to leave a message saying that she’d changed her flight and planned to be home two days earlier than expected. Obviously, Grandmother had assumed that Taylor had changed her plans as well.

“Taylor’s in LA,” DJ said slowly, wishing she could add something to that, something to deflect further questioning.

“Visiting her father?”

“No…”

“Touring with Eva?”

“No…”
“What then?” Grandmother’s voice was getting irritated as she drove away from the terminal. “Where is the girl, Desiree? Speak up.”

“She’s in rehab.”

“Rehab?” Grandmother turned to stare at DJ with widened eyes. “Whatever for?”

“For alcohol treatment.”

Grandmother seemed stunned into speechlessness, which was a relief since DJ didn’t really want to discuss this. She was still trying to grasp the whole strange phenomenon. It was hard to admit, but the past few days of being mostly by herself in Las Vegas had been lonely and depressing and one of the reasons she’d been desperate to change her flight and come home early. She had really missed Taylor. The hardest part was when she discovered that Taylor wasn’t allowed any communication from outside the rehab facility. This concerned DJ. No cell phone calls, email, or anything. It seemed weird. Although DJ was praying for her roommate, she was worried. What if it wasn’t a reputable place? What if Taylor never came back? What if something bad happened to her? Not only would DJ blame herself, she figured everyone else would too.

Finally Grandmother spoke. “Did you girls get into some kind of trouble in Las Vegas, Desiree?”

“No…”

“I want you to be honest with me. Did something happen to precipitate this?”

“The only thing that happened is that Taylor came to grips with the fact that she has a serious drinking problem. If you’ll remember, I tried to let you in on this some time ago.”

“Yes, I remember the vodka bottle. I simply assumed it was a one-time occurrence.”

“I told you otherwise.”

“Well, I know that girls will be girls, Desiree. You can’t have spent as much time as I in the fashion industry and not know this.”

“Were you ever like that?” asked DJ. “I mean that girls will be girls bit?”

Grandmother cleared her throat. “I wasn’t an angel, Desiree, if that’s what you’re hinting at. However, I did understand the need for manners and decorum. I witnessed numerous young women spinning out of control. Beautiful or not, a model won’t last long if she is unable to work.”

“Isn’t that true with everything?”

“Yes…I suppose. How long is Taylor going to be in…this rehabilitation place?”

“I don’t know. You should probably call her mom.”

“Oh, dear…that’s something else I hadn’t considered. Certainly Eva Perez won’t be blaming me for her daughter’s, well, her drinking problem.”
“Eva is fully aware that Taylor had this drinking problem long before she came to Carter House.”

“Good.” Grandmother sighed and shook her head. “I just hope her treatment won’t prevent her from participating in Fashion Week. That would be a disaster.”

“Seems like it would be a worse disaster if Taylor didn’t get the help she needs.”

“Yes, of course, that goes without saying. But I would think that a week or two should be sufficient. Goodness, just how bad can a problem get when you’re only seventeen?”

DJ shrugged, but didn’t say anything. The truth was she thought it could get pretty bad, and in Taylor’s case it was bad. And it could’ve gotten worse. To think that Taylor had been drinking daily and DJ never even knew it.

“It’s just as well you came home early, Desiree,” said Grandmother as she turned onto the parkway. “Already Casey and Rhiannon are back. And Kriti is supposed to return tomorrow. Eliza will be back on New Year’s Eve.”

“I’m surprised she didn’t want to stay in France for New Year’s.”

“As am I. If I were over there, I’d certainly have booked a room in Paris. Nothing is more spectacular than fireworks over the City of Light. But apparently Eliza has plans with her boyfriend. Imagine—giving up Paris for your boyfriend!”

Of course, DJ knew that Eliza’s life of lavish luxury didn’t mean all that much to her. Like a poor little rich girl, Eliza wanted a slice of “normal.” Well, normal with a few little extras like good shoes, designer bags, and her pretty white Porsche.

“It’s good to be home,” DJ proclaimed as her grandmother turned into the driveway.

“It’s good to hear you say that,” said Grandmother.

And it was the truth. After a week in Vegas, DJ was extremely thankful to be back. Maybe for the first time, Carter House did feel like a home. She couldn’t wait to see Casey and Rhiannon.

“Welcome back,” called Casey as she opened the door, dashed out onto the porch, and hugged DJ. “Need some help with those bags?”

“Thanks.” DJ studied Casey for a moment, trying to figure out what had changed. “Your hair!”

Casey picked up one of DJ’s bags then grinned as she gave her strawberry blond hair a shake. “Like it?”

“It’s the old you—only better.”

“My mom talked me into it. The black was a little dramatic, don’t you think?”

“I think you look fantastic. And that choppy layered cut is very cute.”

“Your grandmother approved it too. And I got highlights.”

DJ touched her own hair. “Taylor had been nagging me to get mine redone. But it was so expensive in Vegas. I figured I’d do it here.”

Casey lowered her voice. “So how’d your grandmother take the news about Taylor?”

DJ stopped at the foot of the stairs and stared at Casey. “Did Rhiannon tell you everything?”
“Yeah, is it supposed to be a big secret?” Casey made a hurt face now. “I was wondering why you told Rhiannon and not me. I thought we were friends, DJ.”

“I didn’t mean to, but I sort of spilled the beans with Rhiannon because I was so desperate and didn’t know what to do at the time. But then I felt bad. I mean it was possible that Taylor wanted to keep it private, you know?”

Casey nodded somberly. “Yeah, I guess I do know.”

“You should.” After all, it had only been a few months since they had intervened with Casey in regard to her pain pill snitching.

“So, are you saying mum’s the word?”

“Until Taylor comes back. Don’t you think it’s up to her to say something or not?”

“Yeah. I can just imagine Eliza with that tasty little morsel of gossip. It’d be all over the school in no time.”

“Speaking of Eliza, that means Kriti too.”

“Kriti just got here about an hour ago.” Casey paused, nodding toward the room that Kriti and Eliza shared. The taxi dropped her and she went straight to her room. But something seems wrong.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure. She just looks different. Kind of unhappy. I mean she didn’t even say hello or anything.”

“Maybe she was missing her family.”

“Maybe, but my guess is it’s something more.”

“We should probably try harder to reach out to her and make her feel at home.”

“You’re here!” Rhiannon burst out of the room and threw her arms around DJ. “Welcome home!”

“Man, it is so good to be back. Vegas—for more than a day or two—is a nightmare.”

“At least you got a tan,” observed Rhiannon. She glanced at Casey. “Both of you, in fact.”

“It’s that California sun.”

“Don’t make me envious,” said Rhiannon.

“Hey, look at you,” said DJ as she noticed that Rhiannon had on a very cool outfit. “Is that new?”

“Old and new. My great aunt gave me some of her old clothes and I’ve been altering them.” She held out her hands and turned around to make the long circular skirt spin out. “Fun, huh?”

“And cool,” said DJ.

“She’s got all kinds of stuff,” said Casey. “Hats and costume jewelry and scarves and things. I told her she should open a retro shop and get rich.”

“Maybe I will someday.”

“Or just sell things here in Carter House,” suggested DJ. “Between Eliza and Taylor’s clothing budget, you could clean up.”

“Oh, yeah, DJ, Conner just called,” said Rhiannon. “They just got back from their ski trip and he said he tried your cell a few times, but it seemed to be turned off.”

“More like dead. My flight was so early this morning, I forgot to charge it.”

“Well, I told him you’d call.”

Casey set DJ’s bag inside her door. “Speaking of boys, I think I’ll check and see how Garrison is doing—find out if he missed me or not.” She touched her hair. “Do you think he’ll like it?”

“How could he not,” said Rhiannon. “It’s so cool.”

“Later,” called Casey as she headed for her room.

“So, how’s Taylor?” asked Rhiannon quietly.

“You didn’t tell Kriti, did you?” whispered DJ, pulling Rhiannon into her room then closing the door.

“No, why would I?”

“I just wanted to be sure. I think we need to respect Taylor’s privacy with this.”

“Absolutely. So, have you talked to her?”

“They won’t let me. They have this no communication policy. No email, cell phones…nothing. It’s like a black hole. Weird.”

Rhiannon nodded. “Yeah, it was like that with my mom at first. I think they wanted to keep her cut off from any bad connections. Then after a while, you earn communication privileges.”

“Oh, that’s a relief. I was really worried.”

“I still can hardly believe Taylor went willingly.”

“Yeah, our strong-willed wild child…putting herself into rehab.” DJ shook her head.

“That remind me, Seth has called a few times too. He wanted to know why Taylor’s cell was off and where she was.”

“What’d you say?”

“That I didn’t know.” She shrugged. “Actually, that was the truth.”

“But nothing else?”
“No.”

“Good. I mean it’s not like we need to keep it top secret, but until we hear from Taylor, let’s not talk about it.”

“Sure.” Rhiannon put a hand on DJ’s shoulder. “And don’t worry about her, DJ. She’ll be fine.”
“I know.” DJ nodded as she put her bags on her bed and started to unzip them. But as soon as Rhiannon left, DJ wasn’t so sure. What if Taylor wasn’t fine? What if something had gone wrong? And what if it was all DJ’s fault?

Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Nothing But Trouble
Tyndale House Publishers (May 1, 2009)
by
Susan May Warren

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Susan grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. Her favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota is where she met her husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for her first series, The Deep Haven series, based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. Her first full-length book, Happily Ever After, became a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest.

As an award winning author, Susan returned home in 2004, to her native Minnesota after serving for eight years with her husband and four children as missionaries with SEND International in Far East Russia. She now writes full time from Minnesota’s north woods and the beautiful town that she always dreamed of living in.

You can sample a chapter of each and every one of Susan’s novels, on her website, HERE.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

PJ Sugar knows three things for sure:

1) After traveling the country for ten years hoping to shake free from the trail of disaster that’s become her life, she needs a fresh start.

2) The last person she wants to see when she heads home for her sister’s wedding is Boone-her former flame and the reason she left town.

3) Her best friend’s husband absolutely did not commit the first murder Kellogg, Minnesota, has seen in more than a decade.

What PJ doesn’t know is that when she starts digging for evidence, she’ll uncover much more than she bargained for-a deadly conspiracy, a knack for investigation, and maybe, just maybe, that fresh start she’s been longing for.

It’s not fair to say that trouble happens every time PJ Sugar is around, but it feels that way when she returns to her home town, looking for a fresh start. Within a week, her former teacher is murdered and her best friend’s husband is arrested as the number-one suspect. Although the police detective investigating the murder—who also happens to be PJ’s former flame—is convinced it’s an open-and-shut case, PJ’s not so sure. She begins digging for clues in an effort to clear her friend’s husband and ends up reigniting old passions, uncovering an international conspiracy, and solving a murder along the way. She also discovers that maybe God can use a woman who never seems to get it right.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Nothing But Trouble, go HERE

MY REVIEW:

I have been a fan of Susan May Warren for awhile now and have enjoyed each and every book of hers that I have read. Still have a couple I haven’t gotten hold of yet – but I will eventually. There is only so much money and so much time.

I wish I had time to do justice to this review but I am already behind on everything I need to do to get everything ready for my daughter’s pre-wedding reception. She and her intended are flying to Hawaii to have a private wedding on the beach and are celebrating with friends and family before the blessed event. Mom still has a lot of cooking to do and serving dishes to locate. You know the routine.

Anyway, just let me say that Nothing But Trouble is another winner for Susan. It is a fresh and humorous tale with plenty of situations that will have you laughing out loud. The romantic storyline will keep you guessing and probably hoping that PJ will make the right choice – at least I know I was. And as in all Susan’s novels, there is a spiritual life lesson that is woven artfully into the story without a heavy hand.

A Vote Of Confidence by Robin Lee Hatcher

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Vote Of Confidence
Zondervan (April 2009)
by
Robin Lee Hatcher

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Lee Hatcher discovered her vocation as a novelist after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles. The winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Whispers from Yesterday), the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Romance (Patterns of Love and The Shepherd’s Voice), two RT Career Achievement Awards (Americana Romance and Inspirational Fiction), and the RWA Lifetime Achievement Award, Robin is the author of over 50 novels, including Catching Katie, named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home outside of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon

ABOUT THE BOOK:

In A Vote of Confidence, the stage is set for some intriguing insight into what it was like during 1915 to be a woman in a “mans’ world.”

Guinevere Arlington is a beautiful young woman determined to remain in charge of her own life, For seven years, Gwen has carved out a full life in the bustling town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho, where she teaches piano and writes for the local newspaper. Her passion for the town, its people, and the surrounding land prompt Gwen to run for mayor. After all, who says a woman can’t do a man’s job?

But stepping outside the boundaries of convention can get messy. A shady lawyer backs Gwen, believing he can control her once she’s in office. A wealthy newcomer throws his hat into the ring in an effort to overcome opposition to the health resort he’s building north of town. When the opponents fall in love, everything changes, forcing Gwen to face what she may have to lose in order to win.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Vote Of Confidence, go HERE

MY REVIEW:

Gwen Arlington is a heroine who defies the standards set for women by the early 1900’s town of Bethlehem Springs, Idaho. Not only is she beautiful, but she is intelligent,  independent, courageous, totally devoted to her Savior, and devoted to her family and town.  At her sister’s encouragement, she decides to run for mayor when no one else steps up to oppose the only candidate who is frequently publicly intoxicated.  Sparks fly when wealthy newcomer Morgan throws his hat into the ring.

A Vote of Confidence is a fun story with primary characters who live their lives according to their Christian principles. It has a little romance, a little suspense, and a lot of entertainment. I am looking forward to the next book in the series Fit to Be Tied which will feature Gwen’s twin sister Cleo, another interesting character .

A Jane Kirkpatrick Duet – Aurora & A Flickering Light

I was given the opportunity to participate in the blog tour for Jane Kirkpatrick’s two newest books. A Flickering Light is a novel based on the life of Jane’s grandmother and includes several photographs of her as well as people and events that shaped her life. Aurora is a beautiful hard cover book that illustrates the history and wonderful craftmanship of the early Aurora colony of Oregon.

Aurora is a book that could easily be considered a coffee table book. It is one that can be picked up and browsed simply for its beautiful photography of quilts and other crafts as well as the historical photographs of the colony. For those who have read Jane’s Change and Cherish Historical Series, the people and settings will come to life. If you have not read the series, once you read Aurora, you will just have to.

In A Flickering Light, Jane tells Jessie’s story without fear of the tough issues. Jessie’s struggles with her attraction to her much older, married employer is handled with understanding and discretion. The book is an interesting look at the people and customs of the early twentieth century as well as an indepth character study that not only chronicles the events but the hidden ambitions and emotions that shaped them.

I would recommend both Aurora and A Flickering Light. To purchase Aurora, click here. To purchase A Flickering Light click here.

Summary for A Flickering Light:

flickeringlightReturning to her Midwest roots, award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick draws a page from her grandmother’s photo album to capture the interplay between shadow and light, temptation and faith that marks a woman’s pursuit of her dreams.

She took exquisite photographs, but her heart was the true image exposed.

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Ann Gaebele loves nothing more than capturing a gorgeous Minnesota landscape when the sunlight casts its most mesmerizing shadows. So when F.J. Bauer hires her in 1907 to assist in his studio and darkroom, her dreams for a career in photography appear to find root in reality.

With the infamous hazards of the explosive powder used for lighting and the toxic darkroom chemicals, photography is considered a man’s profession. Yet Jessie shows remarkable talent in both the artistry and business of running a studio. She proves less skillful, however, at managing her growing attraction to the very married Mr. Bauer.

This luminous coming-of-age tale deftly exposes the intricate shadows that play across every dream worth pursuing—and the irresistible light that beckons the dreamer on.

Summary for Aurora:

Aurora by Jane KirkpatrickWrap yourself in a fantastic journey, a remarkable commitment, and a spare and splendid story

Master storyteller Jane Kirkpatrick extols the beautiful treasures, unknown to a wider public, rediscovered in the Old Aurora Colony of Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley. The people and legacy of Aurora, a utopian community founded in the mid-1800s, will stir your imagination, hopes, and dreams; and remind you that every life matters—that our lives are the stories other people read first.

~Featuring~

Unique and treasured quilt pattern variations

More than 100 photographs, many never-before published, from 1850 to today

Cherished stories from Aurora descendants

Rich images of fine crafts from the Aurora Colony and private collections

An introduction by renowned American artist John Houser

Aurora is about the difference every ordinary life can make—and a beautiful celebration of a time and place in which people expressed their most cherished beliefs through the work of their imagination and hands.

Author Bio:

Jane KirkpatrickJane Kirkpatrick is a best-selling, award-winning author whose previous historical novels include All Together in One Place and Christy Award finalist A Tendering in the Storm. An international keynote speaker, she has earned regional and national recognition for her stories based on the lives of actual people, including the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Hall of Fame. Jane is a Wisconsin native who since 1974 has lived in Eastern Oregon, where she and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 rugged acres.

A Promise to Believe In by Tracie Peterson

MY REVIEW:

I have always found Tracie Peterson’s books to be well written, thoroughly researched, and captivating. A Promise to Believe In, the first of the Brides of Gallatin County series did not disappoint. Peterson’s vivid imagery of life in the Montana Territory of the late 1800’s, excellent character development, humor, and even a bit of suspense make for an engaging story.Of particular interest to me was how Peterson began to weave in the stories of the other Gallatin sisters  who will be  primary subjects of later volumes of this series. How could the reader fail to follow up on characters with whom they have already connected?

Each of the Gallatin girls is charming in her own way but each has her own emotional issues that seem to tie in with their mother’s death and the subsequent nomadic life spent with their recently deceased father.  A Promise to Believe In is Gwen’s story – her firm belief that she is cursed and a danger to those she loves, her fear of taking another chance at love, and ultimately her conviction that God has abandoned her. It is an example of the transformation that comes once God’s truth is accepted and taken to heart.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Gwen, Beth, and Lacy Gallatin fashion a life for themselves in the Montana wilds, operating a roadhouse that is located at the crossroads of two major stage lines. When their father is accidentally killed, the oldest sister, Gwen, reasons that she’s cursed. After all, death seems to haunt her: her mother, now her father…and she was married for a mere ten days before her husband died from a bout of measles.

As Gwen and her sisters struggle to maintain the inn on their own, an unexpected visitor adds to the mayhem. Hank Bishop claims to be searching for something in the possession of Gwen’s late husband. But mayhem of another sort builds in Gwen’s heart as she finds a growing attraction to this man. Can she dare to hope that love might again be hers?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tracie Peterson is a bestselling author who writes in both historical and contemporary genres. Her novels reveal her love for research as well as her strong desire to develop emotionally meaningful characters and stories for her readers. Tracie and her family live in Montana.