Tuesday, January 31, 2012


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:

Realms (January 3, 2012)

***Special thanks to Jon Wooten of Charisma House for sending me a review copy.***


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar is a certified Christian life coach; a popular speaker at writers’ conferences, workshops, and women’s groups; and the author of numerous published books, including the Seasons of Redemption series: Unwilling Warrior, Uncertain Heart, Unexpected Love, and Undaunted Faith.

Visit the author's website.


Kristin Eikaas has her hopes set on a new life in America.

The year is 1848, and Kristin Eikaas has traveled from Norway to Wisconsin with dreams of a new life. But when she arrives, she finds one disappointment after another. Worse, her superstitious uncle now believes that his neighbor’s Oneida Indian wife has put a curse on Kristin. Everyone knows the Sundbergs put spells on people…

Everyone except Kristin. Her run-ins with Sam Sundberg only prove that he is a good man from a Christian family. But when her uncle discovers she’s been associating with Sam, his temper flares. To escape his wrath, Kristin gratefully accepts a job as the Sundbergs’ house girl, finding solace at the family’s spinning wheel.

In the time Sam and Kristin spend together, their friendship develops into much more, and Sam prays about a match between them. But opposition threatens to derail their newfound love. Will they have the courage to stand up for what is right—even against their own families?

Product Details:

  • List Price: $13.99
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616384972
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616384975

My Take:
This was a heartwarming story that takes a different spin on two feuding families.  It takes place in Wisconsin, so it was nice to see a different setting for a historical novel.  The story flowed fairly easily and took a normal course for a love story, with God trying to show the way (but as people do..not always listen).  I loved the dance without the shoe...the humor was written in a way to make you smile, but not necessarily laugh out loud..but it was quaint and cute!  I'd recommend this for anyone who needed a lighthearted read about overcoming family problems and finding that true love.


September 1848

It looks like Norway.

The thought flittered across nineteen-year-old Kristin Eikaas’s mind as Uncle Lars’s wagon bumped along the dirt road. The docks of Green Bay, Wisconsin, were behind them, and now they rode through a wooded area that looked just as enchanting as the forests she’d left in Norway. Tall pine trees and giant firs caused the sunshine to dapple on the road. Kristin breathed in the sweet, fresh air. How refreshing it felt in her lungs after being at sea for nearly three months and breathing in only salty sea air or the stale air in her dark, crowded cabin.

A clearing suddenly came into view, and a minute or so later, Kristin eyed the farm fields stretched before her. The sight caused an ache of homesickness. Her poppa had farmed . . .

“Your trip to America was good, ja?” Uncle Lars asked in Norwegian, giving Kristin a sideways glance.

He resembled her father so much that her heart twisted painfully with renewed grief. Except she’d heard about Onkel—about his temper—how he had to leave Norway when he was barely of age, because, Poppa had said, trouble followed him.

But surely he’d grown past all of that. His letters held words of promise, and there was little doubt that her uncle had made a new life for himself here in America.

Just as she would.

Visions of a storefront scampered across her mind’s eye—a shop in which she could sell her finely crocheted and knitted items. A shop in which she could work the spinning wheel, just as Mor had . . .

Uncle Lars arched a brow. “You are tired, liten niese?”

Ja. It was a long journey.” Kristin sent him a sideways glance.

“I am grateful I did not come alone. The Olstads made good traveling companions.”

Her uncle cleared his throat and lowered his voice. “But you have brought my inheritance, ja?” He arched a brow.

Ja.” Kristin thought of the priceless possession she’d brought from Norway.

“And you would not hold out on your onkel, would you?”

Prickles of unease caused Kristin to shift in her seat. She resisted the urge to touch the tiny gold and silver cross pendent suspended from a dainty chain that hung around her neck. Her dress concealed it. She couldn’t give it up, even though it wasn’t legal for a woman to inherit anything in Norway. But the necklace had been her last gift from Mor. A gift from one’s mother wasn’t an inheritance . . . was it? “No, Onkel.”

She turned and peered down from her perch into the back of the wooden wagon bed. Peder Olstad smiled at her, and Kristin relaxed some. Just a year older, he was the brother of Kristin’s very best friend who had remained in Norway with their mother. She and Peder had grown up together, and while he could be annoying and bad tempered at times, he was the closest thing to a brother that she had. And Sylvia—Sylvia was closer than a sister ever could be. It wouldn’t be long, and she and Mrs. Olstad would come to America too. That would be a

happy day!

“You were right,” John Olstad called to Uncle Lars in their native tongue. “Lots of fertile land in this part of the country. I hope to purchase some acres soon.”

“And after you are a landowner for five years, you can be a citizen of America and you can vote.” The Olstad men smiled broadly and replied in unison. “Oh, ja, ja . . . ”

Uncle Lars grinned, causing dozens of wrinkles to appear around his blue eyes. His face was tanned from farming beneath the hot sun, and his tattered leather hat barely concealed the abundance of platinum curls growing out of his large head. “Oh, ja, this is very good land. I am glad I persuaded Esther to leave the Muskego settlement and move northeast. But, as you will soon see, we are still getting settled.”

Ja, how’s that, Lars?”

Kristin heard the note of curiosity in Mr. Olstad’s voice.

“I purchased the land and built a barn and a cabin.” He paused and gave a derisive snort. “Well, a fine home takes time and money.”

“Oh, ja, that way.” Mr. Olstad seemed to understand.

And Kristin did too. One couldn’t expect enormous comforts out in the Wisconsin wilderness.

Just then they passed a stately home situated on the Fox River. Two quaint dormers peered from the angled roof, which appeared to be supported by a pair of white pillars.

“That is Mr. Morgan Martin’s home. He is a lawyer in town.”

Uncle Lars delivered the rest of his explanation with a sneer. “And an Indian agent.”

“Indians?” Kristin’s hand flew to her throat.

“Do not fret. The soldiers across the river at Fort Howard protect the area.”

Kristin forced her taut muscles to relax.

“Out here the deer are plentiful and fishing is good. Fine lumber up here too. But the Norwegian population is small. Nevertheless, we have our own church, and the reverend speaks our language.”

“A good thing,” Mr. Olstad remarked.

“I cannot wait for the day when Far owns land,” Peder said, glancing at Mr. Olstad. “Lots of land.” The warm wind blew his auburn hair outward from his narrow face, and his hazel eyes sparked with enthusiasm, giving the young man a somewhat wild appearance. “But no farming for me. I want to be rich someday.”

“As do we all!” exclaimed Mr. Olstad, whose appearance was an older, worn-out version of his son’s.

Kristin’s mind had parked on land ownership. “And once you are settled, Sylvia will come to America. I cannot wait. I miss her so much.”

She grappled with a fresh onset of tears. Not only was Sylvia her best friend, but she and the entire Olstad clan had also become like family to her ever since a smallpox epidemic ravaged their little village two years ago, claiming the lives of Kristin’s parents and two younger brothers. When Uncle Lars had learned of the tragic news, he offered her a place to stay in his home if she came to America. Onkel wrote that she should be with her family, so Kristin had agreed to make the voyage. Her plans to leave Norway had encouraged the Olstads to do

the same. But raising the funds to travel took time and much hard work. While the Olstads scrimped and saved up their crop earnings, Kristin did spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing for those with money to spare. By God’s grace, they were finally here.

Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to her right.

Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past, with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t wait to own his own farm!

Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers, and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field. Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.

“Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam Sundberg or any members of his family.”

Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her gaze.

Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is so bad about that family?”

“They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the good people of this community.”

“Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.

Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”

“Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.

Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”

Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”

Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg. She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described. Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.

“Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.

“I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never seen an Indian.”

“Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”

“Half-breed, eh?”

Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his chin.

“Interesting,” he added.

“How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin Territory?”

Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”

“And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.

Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster. “Now the government will get rid of those savages once and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese, will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself scalped.”

Ja, Onkel.”

With a measure of alarm, Kristin touched her braided hair and chanced a look at Peder and Mr. Olstad. Both pairs of wide eyes seemed to warn her to heed Uncle Lars’s instructions. She would, of course. But somehow she couldn’t imagine the man they’d just passed doing her any harm. Would he?

Sam Sundberg wiped the beads of perspiration off his brow before dropping his hat back on his head. Who was the little blonde riding next to Lars Eikaas? Sam hadn’t seen her before. And the men in the wagon bed . . . he’d never seen them either.

After a moment’s deliberation he concluded they were the expected arrivals from the “Old Country.” Months ago Sam recalled hearing talk in town about Lars’s orphaned niece sailing to America with friends of the family, so he assumed the two red-haired men and the young lady were the topics of that particular conversation. But wouldn’t it just serve Mr. Eikaas right if that blonde angel turned his household upside down—or, maybe, right-side up?

He smirked at the very idea. Sam didn’t have to meet that young lady to guess Mr. Eikaas would likely have his hands full. Her second backward glance said all Sam needed to know.

The word plucky sprang into his mind. He chuckled. Plucky she

seemed, indeed.

But was she wise enough not to believe everything her uncle said?

Sam thought it a real shame. Years ago Pa and Lars Eikaas had been friends. But then Pa’s silver went missing, insults were traded, and the Eikaases’ prejudice against Ma, Jackson, and Mary kept the feud alive.

The Eikaas wagon rolled out of sight, leaving brown clouds of dust in its wake. A grin threatened as Sam thought again of that plucky blonde’s curious expression. Maybe she did have a mind of her own. Now wouldn’t that be something? Sam thanked God that not everyone around here was as intolerant of Wisconsin Natives as the Eikaas family. There were those who actually befriended the Indians and stood up to government officials in their stead. Like Pa, for instance. Like Sam himself.

The blistering sun beat down on him. Removing his hat once more, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. He started pondering the latest government proposal to remove the Indians from their land. First the Oneida tribe had been forced out, and soon the Menominee band would be “removed” and “civilized.” As bad as that was, it irked Sam more to think about how the government figured it knew best for the Indians. Government plans hadn’t succeeded in the past, so why would they now? Something else had to be done. Relocating the Menominee would cause those people nothing but misery. They’d stated as much themselves. Furthermore, the Indians, led by Chief Oshkosh, were determined not to give up their last tract of land. Sam predicted this current government proposal would only serve to stir up more violence between Indians and whites.

But not if he and Pa could help it.

In the distance he heard the clang of the dinner bell. Ma didn’t like him to tarry when food was on the table. Across the beet field, Sam saw his younger brother run on ahead of him. He wagged his head at the twelve-year-old and his voracious appetite.

With one calloused hand gripping the hoe and the other holding the bushel basket, Sam trudged toward their white clapboard home. Its two dormers protruded proudly from the second floor.

Entering the mudroom, he fetched cold water from the inside well, peeled off his hat, and quickly washed up. Next he donned a fresh shirt. Ma insisted upon cleanliness at the supper table. Finally presentable, he made his way into the basement where the summer kitchen and a small eating area were located. The cool air met his sun-stoked skin and Sam sighed, appreciating the noonday respite.

Next he noticed a cake in the middle of the table.

“That looks good enough to eat,” he teased, resisting the urge to steal a finger-full of white frosting.

Ma gave him a smile, and her nut-brown eyes darkened as she set the wooden tureen of turkey and wild rice onto the table. “Since it’s Rachel’s last day with us, I thought I would prepare an extra special dessert.”

Sam glanced across the table at the glowing bride-to-be. In less than twenty-four hours Rachel Decker would become Mrs. Luke Smith. But for the remainder of today she’d fulfill her duties as Ma’s hired house girl who helped with the cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing, and ironing whenever Ma came down with one of her episodes, which were sometimes so intensely painful that Ma couldn’t get out of bed without help. Rachel had been both a comfort and an efficient assistant to Ma.

“I helped bake the cake, Sam.”

He grinned at his ten-year-old sister, Mary. “Good job.”

They all sat down, Mary taking her seat beside Rachel. Sam helped his mother into her place at the head of the table then lowered himself into his chair next to Jackson, who’d been named after Major General Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of this great country.

“Sam, since your father is away,” Ma began, “will you please ask God’s blessing on our food?”

“Be glad to.” He bowed his head. “Dearest Lord, we thank Thee for Thy provisions. Strengthen and nourish us with this meal so we may glorify Thee with our labors. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

Action ensued all around the table. The women served themselves and then between Sam and Jack, they scraped the bowl clean.

“Good thing Pa’s not home from his meetings in town,” Jack muttered with a crooked grin.

“If your father were home,” Ma retorted, “I would have made more food.”

“Should have made more anyhow.” Jack gave her a teasing grin. “No seconds.” He clanged the bowl and spoon together as if to prove his point.

“You have seconds on your plate already,” Ma said. “Why, I have never seen anyone consume as much food as you do, Jackson.”

His smile broadened. “I’m growing. Soon I’ll be taller than Sam.”

“Brotherly competition.” Sam had to chuckle. But in the next moment, he wondered if his family behaved oddly. Didn’t all families enjoy meals together? Tease and laugh together? Tell stories once the sun went down? According to Rachel, they didn’t. The ebony-haired, dark-eyed young woman had grown up without a mother and had a drunkard for a father . . . until Ma got wind of the situation and took her in. She invited Rachel to stay in the small room adjacent to the kitchen and offered her a job. Rachel had accepted. And now, years later, Rachel would soon marry a fine man, Luke Smith, a friend of Sam’s.

Taking a bite of his meal, he chewed and looked across the table at Mary. Both she and Jack resembled their mother, dark brown hair, dark brown eyes, and graceful, willowy frames, while Sam took after his father, blue eyes and stocky build, measuring just under six feet. Yet, in spite of the outward dissimilarities, the five Sundbergs were a closely knit family, and Sam felt grateful that he’d known nothing but happiness throughout

his childhood. He had no recollection whatsoever of his biological mother who had taken ill and died during the voyage from Norway to America.

Sam had been but a toddler when she went home to be with the Lord, and soon after disembarking in New York, his father met another Norwegian couple. They helped care for Sam and eventually persuaded Pa to take his young son and move with them to Wisconsin, known back then as part of the “Michigan Territory.” Pa seized the opportunity, believing the promises that westward expansion touted, and he was not disappointed.

He learned to plant, trap, and trade with the Indians, and he became a successful businessman. In time, he saved enough funds to make his dreams of owning land and farming a reality.

Then, when Sam was a boy of eight years, his father met and married Mariah, an Oneida. Like her, many Oneida were Christians and fairly well educated due to the missionaries who had lived among them. In time Sam took to his new mother, and she to him. Through the years Ma cherished and admonished him as though he were her own son. She learned the Norwegian language and could speak it fluently. As far as Sam was concerned, he was her own son—and Mariah, his own mother.

They were a family.

“Was that the Eikaas wagon driving by not long ago?” Mary asked.

Sam snapped from his musing. “Sure was. It appears they have relatives in town.”

“Mr. Eikaas didn’t stop and visit, did he?” Mary’s eyes were as round as gingersnaps.

Sam chuckled. “No, of course not. I can’t recall the last time Lars Eikaas spoke to me . . . or any of the Sundbergs, for that matter.”

“Erik is nice to me at school.” Mary took a bite of her meal.

“Glad to hear it.”

“I can’t wait to begin school next week.”

Sam grinned at his sister’s enthusiasm. He’d felt the same way as a boy.

“Sam, what made you assume Mr. Eikaas transported relatives in his wagon today?”

He glanced at Ma. “A while back I’d heard that Lars’s niece was coming to America, accompanied by friends, and since I didn’t recognize the three passengers in the wagon this morning, I drew my own conclusions.”

“Is she pretty?” Jackson’s cheeks bulged with food.

“Is who pretty

“Mr. Eikaas’s niece . . . is she pretty?”

Sam recalled the plucky blonde whose large, cornflower-blue eyes looked back at him with interest from beneath her bonnet. And pretty? As much as Sam hated to admit it, she was about the prettiest young lady he’d ever set eyes on.

Jackson elbowed him. “Hey, I asked you a question.”

Sam gave his younger brother an annoyed look. “Yeah, I s’pose she’s pretty. But don’t go getting any big ideas about me courting her. She’s an Eikaas.”

“You’re awful old to not be married yet.” Jack rolled his dark eyes.

“What do you know about it? I’m only twenty-one.” Sam grinned. “Hush up and eat.” It’s what the boy did best. “So . . . did everyone have a pleasant morning?” He forked another bite of food into his mouth, wondering why he tried so hard to shift the subject off of Lars Eikaas’s niece.

Kristin looked around the one-room shanty with its unhewn walls and narrow, bowed loft. Cotton squares of material covered the windows, making the heat inside nearly unbearable.

Disappointment riddled her being like buckshot. Although she knew she should feel grateful for journeying safely this far, and now to have a roof over her head, she couldn’t seem to shake her displeasure at seeing her relatives’ living quarters. It looked nothing like her uncle had described in his letters nor the homes she’d glimpsed on the way.

“Here is your trunk of belongings,” Uncle Lars said, carrying the wooden chest in on one of his broad shoulders. With a grunt, he set it down in the far corner of the cabin. “Where is my inheritance? Let me have a look at it.”

“Right now, Onkel?”

Ja, ja . . .” Impatience filled his tone.

Pulling open the drawstring of her leather purse, she reached inside and extracted the key. She unlocked the trunk and opened its curved lid. Getting onto her knees, Kristin moved aside her clothes and extra shoes until she found what she searched for. Poppa’s gold watch. She held the black velvet-covered box reverently in her hands for one last, long moment before she stood and presented it to her uncle.

“This belonged to my poppa.”

“Ah . . .” Uncle Lars’s face lit up with delight as he opened the box. Looking to Aunt Esther, he nodded. “This will bring a fair price, do you think?”

Disbelief poured over her. “But . . . you would not sell Poppa’s watch, would you?”

“None of your business!”

Kristin jumped back at the biting reply. Her opinion of her uncle dropped like a rock into a cavern.

“Anything more?” Her uncle bent over the wooden chest and quickly rummaged through it, spilling clothes onto the unswept floor.

Onkel, please, stop. My garments . . .”

“Does not seem to be anything else.” Uncle Lars narrowed his gaze. “Is there?”

“No.” The necklace Mor had given her burned against her already perspiring skin. Still, Kristin refused to part with the gift. “Nothing more. As you know, Poppa was a farmer. He supplemented his income by working at the post office, but no money was ever saved. After my parents died, I sold everything to help pay for a portion of my passage to America. I earned the rest myself.”

“Any money left?”

Kristin shook her head as she picked up the last of her belongings, careful not to meet her uncle’s stare. A little money remained in the special pocket she’d sewn into her petticoat. For safety, she’d kept her funds on her person throughout the entire voyage. The last of her coinage would purchase muchneeded undergarments. She’d managed to save it throughout the journey for the specific purpose of buying new foundations when she reached America. It wasn’t inherited. She’d worked hard for it.

With a grunt Uncle Lars turned and sauntered out of the cabin.

“You will sleep in the loft with your cousins.” Aunt Esther’s tone left no room for questions or argument. Wearing a plain, brown dress with a tan apron pinned to its front, and with her dark brown hair tightly pinned into a bun, the older woman looked as drab as her surroundings. “Your uncle and I sleep on a pallet by the hearth.”

“Yes, Tante. I am sure I will be very comfortable.” Another lie.

“Come, let us eat.” Aunt Esther walked toward the hearth where a heavy black kettle sat on top of a low-burning fire. “There is venison stew for our meal.”

“It sounds delicious.” Kristin’s stomach growled in anticipation. She’d eaten very little on the ship this morning. Excitement plus the waves on Lake Michigan made eating impossible. But after disembarking in Green Bay, her stomach began to settle, and now she was famished.

Aunt Esther called everyone to the table, which occupied an entire corner of the cabin. Her three children, two girls and one boy, ranging in ages from seven to sixteen, came in from outside, as did the Olstads. After a wooden bowl filled with stew was set before each person, the family clasped hands and recited a standard Norwegian prayer . . .

I Jesu navn gar vi til bords,—We sit down in the name of Jesus,

Spise drikke pa ditt ord,—To eat and drink according to Your


Deg Gud til are, oss til gavn,—To Your honor, Oh Lord, and

for our benefit,

Sa far vi mat i Jesu navn.—We receive food in the name of



Having said grace, hands were released, and everyone picked up a spoon and began to eat. Kristin noticed her cousins, Inga and Anna, eyeing her with interest. They resembled their father, blonde curls and blue eyes.

“What do you like to do on sunny afternoons such as this one?” she asked cheerfully, hoping to start conversation. After all, Inga’s age was close to hers. Perhaps her cousin would help her meet friends.

“We do not talk at the table,” Aunt Esther informed her. “We eat, not talk.”

“Yes, Tante.” Kristin glanced at Peder and Mr. Olstad who replied with noncommittal shrugs and kept eating.

Silently, Kristin did the same. The Olstads always had lively discussions around their table.

When the meal ended, the girls cleared the table and the men took young Erik and ambled outside.

“May I help with cleaning up?” Kristin asked her aunt.

“No. You rest today and regain your strength. Tomorrow we are invited to a wedding, the day after is the Sabbath. Then beginning on Monday, you will labor from sunup to sunset like everyone else in this place.”

“Except for one,” Inga quipped. No one but Kristin heard.

“Who?” Her lips moved, although she didn’t utter a sound.

Far, that is who.” Disrespect seeped from Inga’s tone, which was loud and clear.

Hadn’t Aunt Esther overheard it?

Tante suddenly whirled around and glared at Kristin. “Do something with yourself. We are working here.”

With a frown, Kristin backed away. Her aunt’s brusque manner caused her to feel weary and more homesick than

ever. She missed her parents and her little brothers. Why did God take them, leaving her to live life without them? And Sylvia . . . how she longed for her best friend!

Kristin knelt by the trunk and carefully lifted out a soft, knitted shawl that had once belonged to her mother, Lydia Eikaas. Mor had been an excellent seamstress, expert in spinning wool into yarn and thread, as well as in weaving and sewing garments. She’d taught Kristin everything she knew about the craft. Surely Kristin could now put her skills to good use in this new country, this land of opportunity.

She sighed and glanced over to where her aunt and two cousins continued straightening up after the meal. Inga and Anna barely smiled, and her aunt’s expression seemed permanently frozen into a frown. Is that what this country really afforded . . . misery?

Allowing her gaze to wander around the dismal cabin once more, Kristin began to wish she had not come to America.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Title:  The Sneezy Wheezy Day
Author:  Sharon Cramer
Artist:  Sharon Cramer
Publisher:  Talking Bird Books
Available:  Now
Source:  PRbytheBook

Pages: 37
Genre: Picture Book
Rating:  G
Series:  Cougar Cub Tales (BK 3)

About the Book:
Brother Cougar Cub is ill. With the help of sister, they seek the advice of their well intentioned forest friends. The Grizzly Old Bear tells him, The reason you re warm is you have too much hair. Best if you trim it as short as you dare. But, could it be that SISTER finally discovers the best remedy? The Sneezy Wheezy Day is a wonderful tale that will delight and challenge your child, but it is the paintings that will capture you and your young readers! Make sure to have your child search for the small, hidden creature on each page!

My Take:
What a cute picture book about being sick.  The pictures are bright and fun to look at and kids will be sure to love having to find the extra animal on each page.  There were a few words that will have to be explained to younger kids, but it's not excessive.  I loved how the book teaches that friends only want to help, but aren't always right and even when you have to have medicine or a Dr. to help you out, a hug can help too. 
This would be a great book to read while snuggled up to a sick child so they know they aren't alone (or even take to a Dr. appt to read while waiting). 
Giveaway and More
Amazon has this book available for a free download until Saturday, January 28, 2012.  Visit Amazon to pick it up today! 

Fill out the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win a HardCover version of this book.  This will be shipped by the publicity company!  Please leave your name and email.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author:
Sharon Jean Cramer was born in Jamestown, New York in 1960. Sharon’s education includes a Master’s in Anesthesia Education from Gonzaga, with her minor area of study in fine arts at the University of Houston. She pulls heavily from her experiences in healthcare to consider subject material for her children’s books.  You can learn more about Sharon and hear audios of the book by visiting Talking Bird Books or following her on Twitter (@SharonJCramer) and Facebook (Talking Bird Books)

*I was given a copy of this book for review purposes, and no other compensation was given.


Title: CardSharp
Author: Paul Oliver Westmoreland
Publisher: Self-published
Available:  Now
Source:  Author
Tour promoted by:  Lightning Book Promotions
Genre:  Middle Grade Thriller
Series: Vincent War, (BK 1)
Rating:  PG

About the Book:
Burning houses. Daring robbers. Motorway chases. Exploding boats. Flying daggers. Brutal policemen. Ruthless pirates. Beautiful women. Deadly bullets. Racing hearts. International Criminals. Narrow escapes. Tricks, stings and electrocutions. And a priceless painting by one of art’s world’s most notorious masters.
Welcome to the adventures of Vincent Ward, where getting through each day alive just isn’t enough.
 My Take:
Nonstop action with a touch of artistry?  This was a good first start for a first book of an action packed series, and great for the middle grade child who has a flair for the dramatic!  I really liked the fact that some actual history was included that we don't often get besides the Magic Tree House Series.  I really don't know much about art history so I really enjoyed learning more about Caravaggio, it wasn't in your face history, so I think most kids will read it as part of the story and not as an actual history lesson.  There is some violence, thus the PG rating.  I found it very entertaining and I'm sure it will soon find it's place among other popular middle grade literature!

Young and old will find excitement in this novel, you can pick it up from Amazon for only $.99 right now!

About the Author:
Paul Oliver Westmoreland (POW) lives in North London and works for a digital advertising agency. He is hard at work on his second novel in this adventure!  His goal is to leave you with the want for more.  You can visit POW at http://www.powbooks.com

I was given a copy of this book for review purposes.  


Title: Chasing Mona Lisa
Authors:   Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey
Publisher: Revell
Source:  Publisher
Available:  Now
Pages: 352
Genre:  Christian Fiction Romantic Suspense
Rating:  PG
Series:  Swiss Agents (BK 2)

About the Book:
It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

With nonstop action, Chasing Mona Lisa is sure to get readers' adrenaline pumping as they join the chase to save the most famous painting in the world. From war-ravaged Paris to a posh country chateau, the race is on--and the runners are playing for keeps.
  Want to read an excerpt?
My Take:
If you are a Tricia Goyer fan,  you are not going to be disappointed in this book!  Tricia and Mike have managed to come together and swipe a page from history and make it current, believable and an unforgettable race against time.  While I didn't read the first book (I want to now tho'), I didn't find myself totally lost in this book.  I would suggest reading the first one if you have the chance, but Chasing Mona Lisa can be read as a standalone.  The historical research is immense in this book and very well done.  I thought I knew a lot about this time period, but I picked up many bits and pieces that I had no idea happened.  It was not a quick read for me, the French language (I took Spanish) slowed me down since I just had to make sure I was reading it correctly, and there is so much action that I had to take my time to make sure I knew who was doing what and when! 

The only reason it was a PG rating from me is because of the nature of war...there is violence in this book, but war is violent.  If you are a fan of historical novels and especially WW2 era, pick this up today! My mom really liked this one too!

The Giveaway!

Win an iTouch SPY Pack in the Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway from @triciagoyer @mikeyorkey!

Chasing Mona Lisa is the continuing tale of Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler (first introduced in The Swiss Courier). This time the due are on a relentless quest to save the most famous painting in the world  - the Mona Lisa. You can help Gabi and Eric with your very own spy pack when you enter The Chasing Mona Lisa Giveaway!

One passionate protector will receive:

  • iTouch (The must-have device for any spy. Camera, Maps & Music.)
  • Starbucks Gift Card (For all those late nights.)
  • Moleskin Notebook (For those important notes.)
  • Invisible Ink Pen (Don’t want anyone reading those important notes.)
  • Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey (Great handbook and intriguing tale for any spy-in-training!)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on January 31st. The winner will be announced at the Chasing Mona Lisa Facebook Party on 1/31. Tricia and Mike will be hosting an author chat (on Facebook and Live from Tricia's website) and giving away their books and a Book Club prize pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club AND a LIVE Author Chat for your group with Tricia and Mike.)

So grab your copy of Chasing Mona Lisa and join Tricia and Mike on the evening of the 31st for an author chat, spy training (do you know how to pick a lock?) and lots of giveaways. 

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 31st!

About the Authors:

Tricia Goyer is the coauthor of The Swiss Courier as well as the author of many other books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Arkansas. For more about Tricia and her other books visitwww.triciagoyer.com 

Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including The Swiss Courier and the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California. For more about Mike  and his other books visit www.mikeyorkey.com 
Buy it here!  ow.ly/8sRzd 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Young Adult Giveaway

Thank you for visiting me during the Young Adult Giveaway Hop!  A big thanks to Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Amber from Down the Rabbit Hole for Hosting this!

For your pleasure....
The winner of this contest 
will win..

$10 toward a young adult book 
of your choice from 
The Book Depository


The Clockwork Prince
Cassandra Clare

I will contact the winner upon completion of the contest to find out which prize you would like!

Fill out the Rafflecopter and come back tomorrow for yet another contest!


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Love Blooms in Winter
Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2012)
Lori Copeland


Lori lives in the beautiful Ozarks with her husband Lance. Lance and Lori have three sons, three daughter-in-laws, and six wonderful grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters. Lance and Lori are very involved in their church, and active in supporting mission work in Mali, West Africa.

Lori began her writing career in 1982, writing for the secular book market. In 1995, after many years of writing, Lori sensed that God was calling her to use her gift of writing to honor Him. It was at that time that Lori began writing for the Christian book market. To date, she has had over 100 books published.


A romantic new book from bestselling author Lori Copeland that portrays God’s miraculous provision even when none seems possible.

1892—Mae Wilkey’s sweet next-door neighbor, Pauline, is suffering from old age and dementia and desperately needs family to come help her. But Pauline can’t recall having kin remaining. Mae searches through her desk and finds a name—Tom Curtis, who may just be the answer to their prayers.

Tom can’t remember an old aunt named Pauline, but if she thinks he’s a long-lost nephew, he very well may be. After two desperate letters from Mae, he decides to pay a visit. An engagement, a runaway train, and a town of quirky, loveable people make for more of an adventure than Tom is expecting. But it is amazing what can bloom in winter when God is in charge of things.

My Take:
I've read some great historical novels as of late and this one is no exception.  It's a light quick read that will leave you with a smile on your face and all questions answered.  The characters are all quite the character and Lori (as usual) makes them seem so lifelike that they really did exist back there in 1892.    I love the subtle way that Ms. Copeland has of telling us God is in control, without pushing it too hard.   Another great read to add to your winter collection!

If you would like to read the first chapter of Love Blooms in Winter, go HERE.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Title:  UnHallowed Ground
Author:  Mel Starr
Publisher:  Monarch Books
Available: Now
Source:  Publisher

Pages: 240
Series: Chronicles of Hugh De Singleton, Surgeon Bk 4
Rating:  PG
Genre:  Christian Suspense

About the Book: The fourth adventure of Hugh de Singleton, medieval surgeon and detective, finds Hugh investigating what seems to be a suicide of one of the town's scoundrels and his longtime enemy. Though at first reluctant to pursue a mystery that no one else sees, Hugh and and his new wife Kate set out from the town of Bampton only to follow the clues back in order to discover which of their friends committed the murder

My Take:
Just when I thought authors can't surprise me any more, along comes another surprise.  I know virtually nothing about the 1300's in England so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I came away from this book wanting more and glad to know that this is a continuing series so I can keep it going!  I didn't read any of the others and I would highly encourage you to start at the beginning to get the inside scoop on the characters. It can be read without going back, but I felt like I was missing something in places.  I do believe that each book has it's own plot, just the same characters, so you aren't missing out on the story, tho.  The research that went into the time period, the medical stuff and even the food is just amazing, thank goodness for the glossary!  The pages flew by quickly with a lot of action and descriptive writing, even though I figured out the who dun it pretty quickly, it was still a very enjoyable read!  I can't wait to see what happens next for Hugh...

If you are a big fan of medieval history, you should pick this up soon! 
About the Author: Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.

I was given a copy of this book by Kregel for review purposes. No other compensation was given.  


Title:  On the Rim of Love
Author:  Marie Astor
Source:  Goddess Fish Tours (author)
Available:  Now

To Buy: Amazon
Pages:  235
Rating:  PG13
Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Okay..first off I was honored to have Marie Astor come by and answer a few burning questions about her newest book, but before we get to the fun of the interview...here's something special to win just for readers like you!

Who wouldn't want to hang that around their necks?  Well, Marie is awarding these prizes to two randomly drawn commenters during the tour!  (that means hit the comment button and tell us something you learned or like about the book or the author)  The jewelry was custom designed just for this tour (sterling silver aventurine necklace and sterling silver plum quartz necklace and earrings).  If you want more chance to win...visit Goddess Fish (or click the picture) and join the tour fun!  The more you read and comment...well..the better your chances!  
And now...here's the answers to questions you are dying to know!
Tell us something about On the Rim of Love that didn't make the cut.
In the original outline, Maggie’s fiancé, Jeffrey had a much smaller role in the story, but as I worked on the novel, Jeffrey refused to leave, so I had to give him a bigger part.

I love how those pesky characters let their voices be known to authors!

Where do you usually do your writing?
I do my best writing at my desk at home – that’s where I am most focused, but I also love grabbing my laptop and heading to a park on a sunny day – I may be less productive sitting on a bench under a tree, but the sheer pleasure of the experience is worth it!

I agree...plus people watching is always inspiring!

How much of this story is based on a true life love affair?  Curious minds want to know...
Sorry to disappoint – there’s no real-life love story behind On the Rim of Love, but I am a skier and I think that there is something very special about ski towns, which was how I got the inspiration to choose a ski town as the setting for On the Rim of Love.
What were your favorite Childhood books?
The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis were my favorite books while growing up and are still among my favorites – there is just something magical about these books and I reread them every holiday season. I also loved The Pippi Longstocking series and Karlsson-on-the-Roof series by Astrid Lindgren.
Some of my favorite books as well!

Sweet or Salty Snacks?
Both! I love chocolate, but I also love peanut butter – peanut butter chocolates are my favorite treat.

What is your favorite form of social media?
I would have to go with Facebook – it’s incredible how it helps people to stay connected. I look forward to meeting you at my Facebook page:

Do you have anything in the works you would like to share?
I am currently reviewing the second draft of my next contemporary romance – it is a love story about letting go of one’s inhibitions, finding true love and learning to tango. The release date is scheduled for March of 2012. Stop by my website, www.marieastor.com, if you would like to sign up to the distribution list to receive updates on future book releases and events. 

Tango...I have 2 left feet, maybe I can get some tips!!

Anything you would like to add about your book? 

Thank you for inviting me to Good Family Reads and giving me the opportunity to talk about my latest contemporary romance, On the Rim of Love. With your permission, I’m including a blurb and a brief excerpt below:

About the Book:
Maggie Robin has been dating the irresistibly good-looking, successful Jeffrey Preston for two years. But when Jeffrey proposes marriage a week after Maggie’s college graduation, she is no longer sure if she wants to marry a workaholic TV producer. Her doubts culminate when during a ski trip to British Columbia, Maggie meets Taylor Denton, a handsome, free-spirited big mountain skier who is the complete opposite of Jeffrey. It does not take Maggie long to realize that she has fallen in love with Taylor and she decides to break off her engagement with Jeffrey. But just when she thinks she has found the love of her life, an ill-fated misunderstanding tears Maggie and Taylor apart. A week later, Maggie is told that Taylor has died in a tragic ski accident; yet, her heart refuses to believe in Taylor’s death. When Maggie returns to Taylor’s native town, she learns that Taylor is indeed alive, but has been seriously injured. Resolved to bring her lover back to life Maggie stands by Taylor’s side, convincing him to embrace life again.

“Why are you crying?” Taylor asked.“Because you have to leave.”“But I don’t have to go anywhere,” he whispered.“Yes, you have to,” she said, pointing down. He followed her glance, and saw his body, frail and weak, entangled by a myriad of machines, on a hospital bed. “I’m not going back there,” he protested, “I’m staying here, with you.”“But we can’t stay here. You have to get back before it’s too late.”“Sure we can, we can do anything we want. I’m right here, Maggie. Nothing will ever keep me away from you.” But she only shook her head.Suddenly, everything around them began to change. A monstrous shudder pierced the air, and the mountains around them began to crumble, disintegrating with lightning speed. The bright sun vanished behind the clouds, replaced by gray fog. Gusts of wind tore Maggie from Taylor’s embrace, widening the distance between them with every second. He reached for her, but his arms felt strangely heavy and constricted. Still, he fought on, trying to bid his body into submission, not understanding what had suddenly gone wrong – just a few moments ago, he was bursting with limitless strength, and now, his limbs were buckling underneath him, as though they were made of clay. I must get to her, Taylor thought, but with each move his body only seemed to get more unyielding until, finally, his legs fell from under him, and he collapsed on the ground.“Come back, Taylor – fight to come back,” the wind trailed Maggie’s voice.A moment later, she was gone.

My Take: 
Finding true love is never easy, especially when you think it is right in front of you.  This book shows us what true love looks like compared to just settling for.  I loved the location of the book, never having been skiing, I read with great envy of the wonderful picturesque setting Marie set before me. The characters were quite the mix, from the ones you almost have to hate, to those you can't help but love and those that make you want to slap and say 'wake up'.  It was a fun and quick read that will quickly take your mind off of your troubles and make you feel all warm and gooey inside (despite the fact the location is snow).  I enjoyed the writing and the story made me want to find other books by Marie (sorry to say I have not read anything else by her).  

This would be good for anyone who is looking for a true love story and loves to visit exotic locale!  

About the Auth
Marie Astor is a die-hard romantic who wholeheartedly believes in true love, which is why she writes in the contemporary romance genre. Marie is the author of contemporary romance novels, On the Rim of Love, Lucky Charm, and a short story collection, A Chance Encounter and Other Stories. In addition to being a writer, Marie is an avid hiker, an excellent swimmer, a good skier, and a capable badminton player.
Currently, Marie is working on her next novel - stay tuned for details! If you would like to receive updates about book releases and events, please visit Marie’s website at: www.marieastor.com or visit Marie at her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorwrites.

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Rim-Love-Contemporary-Romance-ebook/dp/B005TOWI7K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320616758&sr=8-1

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/on-the-rim-of-love-marie-astor/1107065056?ean=2940013215627&itm=1&usri=on2bthe2brim2bof2blove

Website: http://www.marieastor.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/marieastor