Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking by Sherry Gore

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking
Author: Sherry Gore
Publisher: Zondervan
ISBN: 9780310335542
Spiral Concealed: 256 pages

Book Description
Unbeknownst to many folks outside the Amish Mennonite population in America, Pinecraft, Florida - a village tucked away in the heart of Sarasota - is the vacation paradise of the Plain People. Unlike any other Plain community in the world, this village is a virtual melting pot of Amish and Mennonites from around the world, intermingled with people, like author Sherry Gore’s family, who live there year-round.

Gore has put together a cookbook that represents the people who make Pinecraft unique. With hundreds of easy-to-prepare recipes, 16 full-color photographs and black-and-white photographs throughout, this cookbook includes traditional favorites such as Sweet Potato Sweet Mash and Mrs. Byler’s Glazed Donuts, as well as Florida favorites including Fried Alligator Nuggets, Grilled Lime Fish Fillets, and Strawberry Mango Smoothies. Interspersed with the recipes are true-life stories about births, engagements, weddings, deaths, funerals, celebrations, wildlife encounters, and accidents told through years of Sherry’s Letters from Home column published in The Budget, the Amish newspaper. This delightful cookbook offers readers a faith-based, family-focused perspective of the simple way of life of the Plain People. It is truly a breath of fresh air from Sarasota, Florida!
My Thoughts:

This delightful cookbook was originally inspired by the lack of a community cookbook. Sherry Gore wanted to gift her friend a cookbook that represented her Pinecraft community located in Sarasota, FL, but sadly couldn't find any. She gathered recipes from the local women and also posted in The Budget (a well-known and read Amish paper) for recipes from those that may have visited the Pinecraft community in the past. This task took over three years and more than 700 recipes to weed through before "Simply Delicious Amish Cooking" was born.

When skimming the pages, one will first come across the story of the community, cookbook, the Amish and their beliefs as well as information about The Budget and how it can be obtained. Then comes the sections with the delicious recipes and story excerpts taken from The Budget creating a wonderful blend of food and stories to delight the soul. One soon discovers how important food is to the Amish and Mennonite communities.

I took my time testing and cooking recipe after recipe from "Simply Delicious Amish Cooking" and the title could not be any more correct or self-explanatory! The recipes are simple, using basic ingredients and they are delicious!!! Be prepared to find recipes for Honey Whole Wheat, to Amish Bean Soup, to Hand-Breaded Pork Chops and Creamy Country Gravy to some of the most delightful (and sinful) desserts like Final Exam Brownies. At the end is a chapter called "This and That" and it has recipes for things that didn't seem to fit in the other categories such as Zucchini Relish and Apple Butter.

Every recipe I tried was very, very good. The family wanted seconds and family and friends demanded (yes - you read that right) the recipes. There were a few recipes that called for ingredients that I didn't have on hand because of our location, but then again, I'm not sure if I would really want to try the Alligator Stew. I, too, like to cook simple and that really doesn't fit into my line of simple thinking.

This cookbook is a treasure of both recipes and stories and would make the most wonderful gift for anyone on your gift-list as well as a copy for yourself.  It comes highly recommended by all who have tasted the recipes from it so far and I know a few of those have went out and purchased their own copies!

I received this book through the Booksneeze program. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

I review for BookSneeze®

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Goodbye to Yesterday by Wanda E. Brunstetter

Goodbye to Yesterday
Author: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Barbour Publishing Inc
6 month serial novel
Genre: Christian romance, Amish


The Discovery—A Six-Part Serial Novel Series from NY Times Bestselling Author Wanda E. Brunstetter

Wanda E. Brunstetter delivers a fresh take on Amish romance with her one-of-a-kind Discovery series. Releasing as a serial novel, the compelling love story will be broken into 6 short books releasing consecutively over a six-month period. Each novel will end in a heart-wrenching cliffhanger that will leave readers dying to know what happens next. The story follows a newlywed Amish couple in Lancaster County whose relationship faces insurmountable odds.

Book #1: Goodbye to Yesterday
Join Meredith and Luke Stoltzfus, an Amish couple who are faced with the greatest challenge of their young lives. Financial struggles. Arguments. A suspected pregnancy. A last-minute trip to Middlebury, Indiana. A drug addict on the run. A deadly encounter at a Philadelphia bus station. Will their love and faith be enough to bring them back together again, against all odds?

My Thoughts:

I so enjoy reading Amish fiction and usually enjoy Wanda Brunstetter's stories. Unfortunately, I'm not sure why I didn't love this first part, but I found myself not connecting with the characters and found myself not really involved. Maybe it's because the story was too short and I needed more time to connect, but as it stands now, I'm not really caring if I continue the series or not.

The story ended in a cliff-hanger (as all serials do), but I felt like it was too predictable, that Meredith whined too much and I found it to be annoying. Will I read the next? Only time will tell at this point.

Don't let my frustrations sway you. Pick up an e-copy at your local library and judge for yourself. I'd love to hear what you thought about it!!!!

  I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of Barbour Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Storm by Evan Angler

Book 3 of the Swipe Series
Author: Evan Angler
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781400321971
Genre: Christian, Young Adult
Paperback: 288 pages

In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care—without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.

Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Ever since, he’s been on the run from government agents and on a quest to find his sister Lily, who disappeared when she went to get her Mark five years earlier. His journey leads him to befriend the Dust, a vast network of Markless individuals who dissent against the iron-grip rule of the government. Along the way to the capital to find Lily, the Dust receive some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.

In Storm, Logan and his friends are the leaders of the Markless revolution. But while some Markless are fighting Chancellor Cylis’ army, the Dust is busy trying to find a cure for a horrible epidemic sweeping through the Marked. And it's difficult for them to know who to trust, especially when they aren't sure if Logan's sister Lily, one of the commanders in Cylis' army, is on their side or not. And all across the nation—and the world—the weather has become less stable and a storm is brewing that bigger than any of them could have ever imagined.
My Thoughts:

The last book in the series made us wonder about Erin's loyalty plus her illness really threw a wrench in things. Lily is gone and Eddie has been captured. That's about where we begin in Storm. If you haven't read the two previous books, you could probably pick this one up and not be very lost because of how the back story is woven throughout. This is really a nice addition for those like me who have been away from the series for a bit.

As the story unfolds, we discover one surprise after another - some predictable and some not. What will Logan do about Lily? Has he written her off? And then there's Eddie... Will he survive another period with the helmet? Is Erin really on board or is she still working with DOME? And will they find the doctor in time enough to save Erin? And what about the drought? Why isn't it ending?

One page turning event after another will keep the reader entertained and guessing until the end and then even beyond as the series continues with "SPARK". Full of suspense and excitement, this series will entertain both young adults and adults alike. Personally I have really enjoyed the series so far and cannot wait to get my hands on the next book. I must see what happens with Logan and... oops - can't share any spoilers. You'll just have to read this for yourself!!!

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Vintage Surprise

As we approach our first anniversary here in our new home, I figured it was time to start going through the boxes of things that came out of our attic - things from our past as well as from my mother and my mother-in-law when they both died. Many boxes were just stuffed and delivered to the attic at the old house without ever going through them. Our intention was to sort the things after the pain of loss had lessened. Well, it was easy to ignore them in the attic... out of sight, out of mind! That was until we had to move them all here.

With the cold months quickly approaching and the garden has grown quiet, it is now the  perfect time to start sorting and seeing what treasures and memories those boxes have in store for us. One thing I came across that I had completely forgotten about was a cross-stitch quilt top that needs to be put together, embroidered and then the whole thing quilted. It is a very pretty piece and has all the threads and fabric included. I wish I knew what time period it was from. I'm guessing the 50's but so far, I can't find any information on the web about it. 

This top appears to have been offered in "Bride and Home" magazine and I've found some issues on the web dating back to the 50's and 60's. I've combed through everything in the bag but nothing gives a clue on the age of this lovely top.

The piece is in panels that need to be sewn together before embroidering it. I'm not sure how I'm going to like seams running through the piece but they may disappear in the background after it is finished and quilted. The strips are yellowed - some more than others and there lines where it was folded. I can't wash it before working on it, because it's possible the printed design will wash out. I guess that will just be the charm of the piece when it is finished. Now I just need to live long enough to complete it! 

Do you have any interesting vintage things that you love or have to make? I'd love to hear about them!!!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Martyr's Fire by Sigmund Brouwer - CSFF Tour

I adore Arthurian tales. They are full of so much chivalry, magic, good vs evil and heroes - all taking place in the medieval period. For me, it's a wonderful winning combination. Especially when we are talking about the book/series that I'm featuring here today.

"Martyr's Fire" is the third book of Sigmund Brouwer's Merlin's Immortals series (a definite must read for any Arthurian fan) that brings to life an issue that is discussed in other books, but not in the realistic way it is handled in this series. The issue? Magic. What medieval tale cannot be told without a bit of magic?! Brouwer includes it in his series, but the difference is, he defines it. The Druids used magic to deceive the masses, however they made it appear it was from some supernatural source and used it as a "sign" to convince the viewing audience to their way of thinking. What a novel idea, eh? We've seen it over and over again throughout history. (Remember the magicians of Egypt in Exodus?) This defining of magic makes this series seem much more realistic and believable.

In Book 3, we find Thomas had to abandon the throne and is now a wanted man. He is still struggling with trying to decide who can be trusted, especially after all that happened in Magnus. As he travels and tries to find answers, he comes across some fantastic characters, finds old "friends" and learns more about both the Druids and the Immortals.

As with the first two books, this was a page-turner for me. Diving into the world of mystery, confusion and evil, I wanted to find out about things as much as Thomas did. There were a few surprises and one additional hero was introduced that made me smile. An old favorite has returned and some heartache surfaces as things go wrong.

Sigmund Brouwer is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine, and not just because of this series. He's written numerous books and has an amazing gift of storytelling. Make sure to add this series to your list of must reads. You won't be disappointed!!!!

You can purchase a copy of "Martyr's Fire" HERE

If you would like to learn more about Sigmund Brouwer and his work, you can visit his website at:

Make sure to visit others on the tour and see what they have to say about "Martyr's Fire".

Red Bissell
Beckie Burnham
Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson
Rachel Wyant

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. 

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

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:

Harbourlight Books (October 25, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Taylor for sending me a review copy.***


Bonnie Doran's debut novel, Dark Biology, released October 25th as a science fiction thriller from Harbourlight of Pelican Book Group. Prior to delving into fiction, she wrote and sold over 60 devotionals. She is represented by Steve Hutson of WordWise Media. When she isn't writing, she enjoys reading (mostly science fiction), cooking, Sudoku puzzles, and hanging out with other writers, sci-fi fans, and Mad Scientists. She has a reputation of telling groan-producing puns and volunteers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She's been married 29 years to an electrical engineer and Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet and plays with lasers for a living.

Visit the author's website.


Renowned vaccinologist "Hildi" Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal.

Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he'll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father's marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody. After all, it's only a mild influenza strain...Or is it?

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Harbourlight Books (October 25, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611162777
ISBN-13: 978-1611162776


Infection Minus Ten Months

Hildi’s nose itched.

She ignored it. While she waited for her lab partner to emerge from the airlock, she checked the seals of her blue biocontainment suit again. Good habits could save her life.

Hildi pulled a coiled yellow air hose suspended from the ceiling and plugged it into a socket near her waist. The deflated suit expanded as air roared past her face. The familiar ballooning sensation saddened her for a moment. She’d miss her work here.

Then she grinned. She’d be wearing a pressure suit in her new job and performing similar cutting-edge work in an even stranger environment.

Her practiced eyes appraised Biosafety Level 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most dangerous lab. Everything “down and cold.” But an adjoining room held liquid-nitrogen freezers filled with hot agents, the deadliest diseases known to man. Francine stepped from the airlock. Hildi’s college friend had never worked in Level 4, but she moved with confidence. Hildi stared into Francine’s faceplate and noted her calm expression. She’d do fine.

Hildi maneuvered past the stainless-steel tables dominating the room. She pulled two-inch test tubes, a push-button micropipette, and other tools from drawers and placed them in the biosafety cabinet, a glorified box with a fume hood and clear front that rested on the work counter. She detached her hose, inhaling the reserved air in her suit.

Humming to herself, she walked into the adjoining room and attached her suit to another hose. Every time Hildi moved in the lab, she repeated the procedure, a necessary inconvenience if she wanted to continue breathing.

She punched a code into the lock of one of the stainless-steel freezers and extracted a vial of the latest X virus that may or may not have killed John Doe.

Returning to the biosafety hood, she slipped her yellow-gloved hands under the clear protective shield, a sneeze guard at a toxic salad bar. She withdrew a tiny sample of the unknown and released it into one of the tubes. After Hildi repeated the protocol many times, she keyed the information into the computer.

Hildi glanced at Francine just as she straightened from a hunched position over a microscope. Francine turned, her movements jerky like a marionette’s. Her suit’s chest zipper gaped, exposing her blue scrubs underneath. She seemed to shrink as her biosuit deflated.

Hildi froze.

“I’ve got a problem here!” Francine yelled, her voice quavering. The rush of air in their ears turned conversations in Level 4 into a shouting match. Francine fumbled for the zipper with trembling fingers.

Hildi’s heart skipped several beats then she zipped the suit shut in one smooth motion. “Zippers get worn. They can pop open.”

Francine’s white-rimmed, dark-chocolate eyes returned to normal. “How bad was that?”  Her voice still quavered.

“Your suit had positive pressure the whole time. A hot agent couldn’t get in. You OK?”

Francine gave a nervous chuckle. “Sure gave me the jumpy jitters.” She turned back to the scope.

Hildi released the breath she’d been holding. Risk was part of the job. Zippers failed. Gloves failed. Usually it wasn’t life threatening.

She placed the rack of tubes in the incubator cabinet, maintainedat the ominous temperature of warm blood, and then returned the original sample of hot agent to the freezer. Her mood descended into a gray chasm. She already missed the challenge of Level 4. But she had a job offer that would take her research to a whole new level. She could smell that Nobel Prize. Her brother Chet would never catch up to her now.

 Hildi exhaled a heavy sigh that fogged her faceplate. “Done,” she yelled. “Finally I can get out of here and scratch my nose.”

“Thought you’d be used to it after three years.”

“Never. Right now it’s driving me nuts.”

Francine chuckled and headed for the airlock.

Hildi followed. She inhaled the chemical smell as the decontamination shower sprayed disinfectant over her suit. The two of them scrambled out of their blue suits as soon as they reached the changing room. Hildi scratched her tingling nose with ferocity.

Francine grinned at her and walked to the regular showers which contained detergent for washing and a bath of ultraviolet light.

Hildi hung her short suit next to Francine’s long one. She reached up to caress a sleeve of the guardian that protected her against infection. “Thanks for keeping me safe. I’ll be back.”

Hildi stripped and marched naked to the shower. No modesty in this job. Afterward, she tugged on jeans and a mauve T-shirt.

Her lab partner’s perfect complexion glistened as she toweled off. Hildi’s pale skin and red curls contrasted with Francine’s coffee coloring and corn-rowed black hair. Not exactly twins separated at birth.

“When do you get in to Houston?” Francine pulled on black leggings and a flowered tunic then grabbed her tiny purse.

“Around four.”  Hildi grimaced. “Rush hour. My favorite time.” She longed for the feel of the afternoon sun on her face, but she wouldn’t enjoy it today.

“I’m surprised Director Hunt gave you such a long leave of absence.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity.” Her spirits bounced like an acrobat on a trampoline. “But it’s not like I won’t be working.” She grunted as she wrenched her holds-anything-and-hides-everything handbag from her locker.

Francine smiled. “You know, I might just lock you in one of the labs until after your flight leaves.”

Hildi laughed. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Don’t try me. I’m missing you already.” Francine hugged her. “I can’t believe you’ll be gone for a whole year.”

Hildi swallowed to keep her voice from cracking. “I will be back for visits, you know.”

“You’d better be.”

They walked through another airlock into a corridor and less-lethal safety levels. The burning, moist smell of giant autoclaves bid a pungent farewell.

“You just don’t want to work with Chet.” Hildi baited her friend.

“Don’t rub it in.” Francine lowered her voice. “Did you hear? Your brother’s in big trouble.” Francine sounded like she relished the thought.

Hildi groaned. “What did he do this time?”

“Chet worked on that new anthrax sample from England without authorization. Director Hunt turned three shades of purple.”

“Hunt’s a bit paranoid about the paperwork, that’s all.”

Francine shook her head. “Your brother has an attitude.”

“I know.” Hildi frowned. “It’s hard to work in the same building with him when he avoids me like—well—the plague.”

“He’s done a good job at alienating everyone around here, so don’t feel special.”

They drove directly to the airport in Francine’s tired green Altima. The Atlanta traffic, abysmal at any time of the day, choked Hildi with exhaust fumes. She turned up the AC. “Sure you don’t mind caring for my cat?”

“Whiskers will be just fine.”

Francine pulled up to departures, opened the trunk, and hefted the bulky suitcases. “What do you have in here, moon rocks?”

Hildi grabbed her carry-on. They chatted until a security officer ordered, “Clear the lane, please.”

Hildi fished in her purse for a tissue and gave Francine one more tight hug. “Thanks for everything.”

“Vaya con Dios.”

Hildi wheeled her suitcases to the nearest door, her stomach fluttering as if she’d just won the lottery. Maybe she had.


Hildi deplaned in Houston after an unremarkable flight. She heaved her suitcases onto their wheels and stepped outside. A tanned man in a polo shirt and jeans held a sign. Dr. Hildebra. Someone hadn’t quite fit her name on the cardboard. Situation normal.

“Evangeline?” He smiled.

“Please call me Hildi.”

“Larry Gomez.”

Hildi stifled a gasp and flung her star-struck feelings aside as she wiped sweaty palms on her jeans. Larry’s exploits in space were the stuff of legend. She shook his hand.

He loaded her luggage into the trunk of his silver Jaguar convertible. More diesel exhaust assaulted Hildi as they headed south on I-45. She’d expected oil fields and cowboy hats when she first came here but instead found apartments, shopping centers, and malls. Same humidity as Atlanta, same traffic. He chatterednonstop.

Hildi interrupted. “So tell me about the rest of the team.”

“You’ll like them. Jasper Reingold and Frank Schotenheimer.”

Hildi nearly jolted out of her seat. “Frank?” If she’d known, would she have volunteered for this assignment?

In a heartbeat.

Larry’s face held a puzzled frown. “You know him?”

She hesitated. How had Larry missed knowing about her relationship with Frank? Would it jeopardize her chance to work in space? No way to hide it now. “We were engaged.”

“Well, things are about to get interesting.” Larry’s mouth quirked. “The director moved him up from a later mission when our pilot shattered his leg yesterday.”

She stared at the scenery. Frank? On her team? Scenes flashed in her mind. Their first kiss that had warmed her to her toes. Her growing suspicions. The night she confronted him about his gotta-work-late excuses, and he confessed his affairs. Trampled dreams.

Lord, I could use a little help here.

Larry must have sensed her mood. He didn’t say a word for the rest of the trip.

An hour later, they pulled up to the employee entrance of a sprawling facility, the salty tang of the Gulf of Mexico perceptible even this far from the ocean. Shimmers of heat rose from the pavement. After the security guard examined their badges, he beamed. “Dr. Hildebrandt? Welcome. Let me page Dan Stockton for you. He asked me to notify him when you arrived.”

Hildi’s mind whirled. First Frank and now Dan? Last time they’d talked, Dan had been training in Alabama. Probably his idea of a romantic surprise. She tried to submerge a surfacing smile. She wanted to jump into his arms when Dan arrived. Instead, she forced herself into neutral pose. He wore a periwinkle silk shirt with coordinating tie. Always a tie, as if he could never relax.Larry whispered in Hildi’s ear. “Now you know why he’s earned the nickname Dandy Dan.”

“Hildi.” Dan stepped toward her with an eager grin, glanced at Larry, and stopped in mid-stride.

 “You know him, too?” Larry’s glance bounced back and forth between them like a hyperactive tennis ball.

Dan hesitated. “Uh, yes. We’ve met.” An uncomfortable silence descended. Hildi stared at the polished floor, counting the squares. She didn’t want to tell the mission commander about another relationship, especially when she couldn’t explain it herself. An on-again, off-again, long-distance relationship that was going nowhere.Larry cleared his throat and turned to Hildi. “Another fianc├ę? Have we ever been engaged?”

Hildi laughed, relieved he didn’t ask any more questions.

Dan smiled. “Would you rather go to your quarters first or eat?”

Her stomach rumbled in response.

“Perry’s Steakhouse?” Larry still eyed them with suspicion.

“Yes, sir.” Dan spread his arms and planted his feet on the emblem emblazoned on the floor, like a barker at the circus. “Welcome to the Johnson Space Center and phase two of astronaut training.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Domination by Jon S. Lewis - Review

A C.H.A.O.S. Novel (Book 3)
Author: Jon S. Lewis
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 9781595547552
Paperback: 288 pages
Genre: Young adult, science fiction, Christian

About the Book:

With six arms and jaws that can snap a man in two, the warmongering race of aliens known as the Thule has conquered every planet they’ve attacked.

And now their invasion of Earth has begun.

Humanity’s only hope springs from a mysterious Thule legend about a Betrayer, who they believe will rise up and destroy their people. The American government tried to manufacture their own Betrayer by injecting children with Thule blood but time after time the experiment failed . . . until Colt McAlister.

A decade later, Colt is a 16-year-old cadet at the CHAOS Military Academy where he’s training to defend mankind. But he’s afraid that the alien blood may be turning him into a Thule—and he’s beginning to suspect that fulfilling his role as the Betrayer may cost him everything.

Experience a cosmic battle filled with high-tech gear, gateways to other planets, and ultimate stakes. Not everyone will survive. But heroes will rise up and step into their destiny in this earth-shaking conclusion to the C.H.A.O.S trilogy.

My Thoughts:

Please note: This is the third book in the C.H.A.O.S trilogy and really should not be read as a stand alone. Since there is not much back-story given, one will end up missing out on a lot of information that may hinder the story.

Colt and his group are back together on a mission - a dangerous mission that could cost the team members their lives. This time it's serious and the Thule are wanting world domination. Can Colt stop them? With Oz expelled, Jonas with a secret, Colt's experimental blood transfusion and Pierce a difficult member, can the team survive their own problems, let alone save mankind?

Packed with page-turning action, "Domination" finishes the trilogy nicely, yet at the same time leaves a opening for another story! This story is full of alien fighting, some stunning reveals and tragedy, making it worth the wait.

Throughout the story, the main character, Colt, talks about his faith and knows that God will never leave him. It seems a bit odd at times, especially when they are at war, but then again, what better place to be to rely on God?

This story is mostly geared towards male teens with all the war and fighting. However, with Danielle and Lily involved, this may also appeal to teen girls who enjoy science fiction or action-packed stories

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley courtesy of Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"The Scavenger's Daughters" by Kay Bratt

The Scavenger's Daughters
Book 1 of Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters
Author: Kay Bratt
ISBN: 9781477805862
Paperback - 230 pages

About the Book:
Having survived torture and imprisonment during China’s Cultural Revolution, Benfu escaped to find love with his compassionate and beautiful Calla Lily. Together they build a fulfilling life around the most menial of jobs—Benfu’s work collecting trash. As he sorts through the discards of others, he regularly discovers abandoned children. With unwavering determination, he and Calli spend decades creating a family of hand-picked daughters that help heal the sorrow and brighten their modest home. But all is not perfect and when crisis threatens to separate their family, Benfu—or possibly his band of headstrong daughters—must find a way to overcome the biggest hardship yet.

Inspired by a true story, and set against the backdrop of a country in transition, The Scavenger’s Daughters is a sweeping present day saga of triumph in the face of hardship, and the unbreakable bonds of family against all odds.
My Thoughts:

There are those rare books that after you finish reading them, you can't help but feel good - happier and just plain satisfied. "The Scavenger's Daughters" is definitely one of those books. Beautifully written, you are drawn into the life of Benfu and his unusual family. Benful's sacrifice and unconditional love makes this book one of the best I've read in a long time. It's touching, emotional, and full of compassion.

Based on a true story and taking place in China, the story opens with a horrendous scene from Benful's past and then moves to the present. Benful is not a rich man by any means. He scavenges for a living. However, what he finds discarded is not always sold. Some discarded treasures are just too precious to allow to be left behind or even consider selling. These treasures are little girls and many are with defects or disabilities of some type. Benful finds these children, takes them home to his wife, Calli, and gives them a home and with much love. This story deals with the struggles of raising a large family, aging, illness, abandonment, broken promises, respect and most important - love. And I haven't even hit the most amazing point!! It was inspired by a true story!!

This is one book that should make it to everyone's must read list! In a world where money and power is important, this story shines light on what is most important in life - love and compassion.


I received a copy of this book from Vine. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Friday, October 4, 2013

DawnSinger (Tales of Faeraven 1) by Janalyn Voigt

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:

Harbourlight Books (June 29, 2012)

***Special thanks to Janalyn Voigt for sending me a review copy.***


Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams.

Janalyn is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary. She serves as a literary judge for several international contests and is an active book reviewer. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA.

When she's not writing, Janalyn loves to find worlds of adventure in the great outdoors.

Visit the author's website.


The High Queen is dying… At the royal summons, Shae mounts a wingabeast and soars through the air to the high hold of Faeraven, where all is not as it seems. Visions warn her of danger, and a dark soul touches hers in the night. When she encounters an attractive but disturbing musician, her wayward heart awakens.

But then there is Kai, a guardian of Faeraven and of Shae. Secrets bind him to her, and her safety lies at the center of every decision he makes. On a desperate journey fraught with peril and the unknown, they battle warlike garns, waevens, ferocious raptors, and the wraiths of their own regrets. Yet, they must endure the campaign long enough to release the DawnKing—and the salvation he offers—into a divided land. To prevail, each must learn that sometimes victory comes only through surrender.

Product Details:
List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Harbourlight Books (June 29, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611162009
ISBN-13: 978-1611162004


Part 1: Summons


The Whispan Tree

A crosswind caught Kai’s wingabeast as lightning flared too near. Shrilling, the winged horse tilted in flight, and Kai’s stomach lurched. A gust snatched the hood from his head and roared in his ears. He blinked to clear the stinging rain that drove into his eyes. Thunder boomed like a timpani, shaking the air. Flecht shuddered beneath him, and Kai placed a calming hand on his wingabeast’s straining neck. He did not like this long flight through the wild night any better than did Flecht.

An image rose, unbidden—Lof Raelein Maeven, Faeraven’s High Queen, upon her deathbed, her sea-green eyes surging with life. As a guardian of Faeraven and as a friend, he would die to appease the hope that had flared in those eyes.

Wind howled and lightning flashed close enough to blind. Kai wondered if his own death neared. He would not—could not—halt his journey, although it took him into the teeth of danger. Necessity drove him as he pushed onward, past endurance. If he survived the storm, he would deliver Maeven’s last summons.


Shae put up her hood and left the shelter of the stronghold to follow the graystone path. A chill wind rippled through the folds of her cloak, and she shivered. Overhead, clouds unfurled in a pearling sky. She passed into green scented shadow, where notes of damp moss and ripe humus met her.

She shouldn’t have yielded to temptation and escaped into nature unescorted. In earlier days, she had roamed the grounds in freedom with no one caring. She couldn’t get used to the strictures placed on her now that she’d grown older. When would she learn to be more like Katera? She couldn’t remember her winsome twin ever causing their mother concern.

She would go back, but first she needed fresh air to ease the tightness in her chest.

Shae wandered beneath boughs laced with new growth and came at last to her favorite place at the garden’s heart. Although the voice of a stream beckoned in the near distance, she paused beneath a stand of gnarlwoods, their ancient branches stretched wide. These trees had witnessed the construction of Whellein Hold, and they would remain when the stronghold’s mortar crumbled and its stones fell away. She emerged from the copse into a meadow dotted with early flowers and bathed in morning light. The flutter of wings beat an accompaniment to the warbling of birds, and a wingen flitted through the lesser canopy to light in a nearby whispan tree. She stilled to avoid frightening the tiny bird, which dipped and bobbed its bright head to preen scarlet feathers. With its grooming complete, the wingen lisped into sweet-sad song.

Shae smiled. “Sing, small one.”

But a shriek ended the wingen's song. Darkness extinguished its colors. Blood dripped from the foliage of the whispan tree, pure white only an instant ago. Terror gripped Shae by the throat, choking off her scream.

The giant raptor had descended from nowhere and now flailed ragged wings as it rose, screeching in victory, its black eyes trained on Shae.

Pulse thrumming in her ears, she crept backward. Back, back she moved, her gaze never leaving the leathery beast in the air.

This made no sense. How could a welke have ventured so far north?

Her heel caught the hem of her cloak, and she slammed into the ground.

Fear yanked her to her knees. Shock brought her to her feet.

The whispan tree stood pristine as new snow. No blood stained the smooth bark. No movement stirred the silken plumes. No sign lingered of wingen or welke.

And yet she had seen...what?

“Lof Yuel! Does this vision warn of danger?”

Wind stirred the leaves. Branches rubbed and creaked. A stone turned in the stream bed.

Another sound whispered at the edge of hearing.

Shae paused to listen. The sound resolved into a steady flapping, and her heart picked up its pace. She ran into the meadow and scanned the pale sky.

With a toss of its silver mane, a wingabeast spiraled toward her.

The rider sagged, and the spiral went amiss, but the wingabeast recovered with quick grace. With a ripple of muscles, its neck arched, and the feathered wings lifted. Shae rushed toward the rider before the creature's diamond-shod hooves found purchase on the ground.

She reached for his arm as he slid from the saddle, but he shrugged off her help and steadied himself against the shifting beast.

She searched his face. “Kai?” Strain etched her brother’s features.

He turned and with one finger, traced forgotten moisture at the corner of her eye. “Shae?”

She shook her head to silence his question. “You’ve ridden through the night?”

He didn’t answer but pushed her away with gentle hands.

“What troubles you?”

His long silver-gray eyes glazed with tears. “Lof Raelein Maeven lies on her deathbed.”

She opened her mouth to speak, but no words came. What could she say to ease him when the news pierced her like a blade? Tears seeped down her cheeks, silent as the grave.

Kai touched her arm. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have spoken so. You formed a heart-bond when she visited Whellein Hold.”

“What other way is there to speak it?” The image of the wingen and welke returned to her. “Death is death.”

His head bent in acknowledgment, the movement slow.

She touched his arm. “I’m sorry, Kai. I know she means much to you.”

“Could but my hope and my prayers save her, she would live.” He spread his hands in a helpless gesture. “Such power is not mine.”

“Only Lof Yuel has the wisdom to command life and death. We must leave such things to him.”

He looked at her with a somber expression, but then tousled her tangled curls. “Truth from a babe!”

“One day, my brother, you may understand I am grown, or nearly so.” She raised her brows at him, but then sobered. “Does Lof Raelein Maeven…suffer?”

“Little. She does not ail. Life ebbs from her, it seems, by choice.”

Shae let out her breath. “I’m glad she feels no pain.”

He nodded; his expression strange. “You love her, as she does you.”

“How can such a thing come from one meeting?” She spoke again the puzzle that had long occupied her.

“Love has no logic. Come. I must tell Father this news.”

“Then you must wake him.” At his look, she added, “Last night’s revelry kept him late.”

“Revelry? Oh!” His eyes widened, and he gave a moan. “How could I forget the celebration of the founding of Whellein?”

She fell into step beside him as he led Flecht toward the stronghold. “Pay no mind. No one faulted you for not being here. You are given over to the Lof Raelein and must go or stay as she pleases.” Struck by a sudden thought, she grasped his arm. “Her death will release you from your promise. Will you not then serve her son when he is made Lof Shraen of Faeraven?”

Kai turned to her. “I may serve Elcon...if I do not undertake our older brother’s duties here at Whellein as Father wishes.”

She considered his words. “Is it not possible to do both? For in serving one, have you not served the other?”

“Such a thing can only be in the realm of dreams.”

“But not in wakefulness?”

He passed a hand across his eyes. “Such an ideal lies far from my reach. I can only hope Daeven will return from his adventures and relieve me from the choice.”

Their older brother had been gone for what seemed an eternity, and she missed him with each passing day. Of her many siblings, only Kai held a closer place in her heart.

She smoothed a stray lock of Kai’s hair. “You will know best when the time comes.”

He sketched a smile. “Such blessed faith I cannot deserve!”

She gave him an arch look. “Faith has no logic.”

His eyes widened, lightening from gray to silver. Laughter broke from him. “Such medicine I find in you!” He sobered. “Now tell me why I come upon you unkempt, unhappy, and alone outside Whellein Hold.”

She gave no excuse. “I woke with the dawn and made my way to the garden to listen to the heartbeat of creation.”

“In that you follow the habit of all Kindren. But you disregard wisdom to seek nature alone. I’ll warrant our mother has no knowledge of your whereabouts. I thought you old enough to leave such mischief behind. You must stop this carelessness, Shae. Even within Whellein in these times of peace, the lands outside our stronghold are not safe.”

She murmured an acknowledgment and broke contact with a gaze that had become too piercing. How could she explain the need that drew her from the constraints of life and into the freedom of nature, if only for a time?

“And the tears?”

She shrugged and looked past his ear. “I tripped on my cloak and fell.”

“But you have no cloak.”

Despite the morning chill, she’d been too preoccupied to notice its absence. She forced a smile that wavered. “I must have lost it when—when I heard you coming.”

“Where did you lose it? I’ll help you look.”

“In the garden. Kai, I welcome your company but regret keeping you from your rest.”

His hand cupped her chin and tilted her face. “What brings the tremor to your voice? Did something frighten you?”

“No.” She pulled away and ignored the puzzled glance he gave her. She still did not understand what she had seen. How could she explain the unexplainable?

“I’ll lead while you ride Flecht.” Kai guided her onto the wingabeast’s back. “Now, where did you lose your cloak?”

She looked down at him, her hands tangled in Flecht’s silken mane. She would have felt more secure if Kai had ridden with her, but he seemed happy to walk. Perhaps he meant to spare her contact with his sodden clothing. She guided him to the emerald cloak, puddled below the whispan tree. Kai gathered it, and she accepted the rough woolen garment with thanks.

Mottled light swept the garden, creating an illusion of movement. The air rippled, on the edge of hearing, with the bittersweet song of a wingen.

Shae sucked in a breath, and her gaze flew to the whispan tree, but its branches remained innocent and bare.


Flecht quivered under Kai’s hand. Shae must have communicated to the beast the tension he read in her face. Why did she stare at the naked branches of the small, white tree? He drew his brows together but didn’t speak. Her eyes, so green they reminded him of deep shadows in an old forest, told him nothing. As she settled the cloak upon her shoulders, burnished tangles cascaded down her back. She looked beautiful and far too grown.

Something had upset Shae—that much seemed obvious. Equally obvious was her desire for privacy in the matter. Well, he didn’t question such things. He already held enough secrets to quell any desire for more.

After his long ride, Kai relished the chance to walk. But he should not linger further. He swung into the saddle behind Shae and reached around her for the reins. Flecht adjusted to the additional burden with trained ease. Shae relaxed against him, and Kai smiled to himself at the small gesture of trust. Would that it could always be so between them.

Kai led Flecht to the path, and the wingabeast’s hooves rang against stone in a steady cadence as the garden fell away behind them. The ancient fortress rose before them sullen and gray, while the fields and orchards beyond glowed with new light. The sharp scent of tilled soil and fresh herbs carried on the wind as they passed into the shadow of Whellein Hold.

They entered the ancient fortress through the gatehouse archway beneath the raised iron portcullis. Following the graystone path along the sward, they skirted the great hall, which rose to impressive heights.

As they neared the stables, voices, thuds, and the rustlings of crisp straw reached Kai. He dismounted and lifted his arms to Shae. Light as she was, he had to step backward when she leaned into him. He steadied them both, and then turned to instruct the groom. When Kai looked for her again, Shae was gone. A smile touched his mouth as he went through an archway in the inner curtain wall. He would keep his knowledge of Shae’s morning activities to himself.

His mother’s voice carried past her maid, Tahera, at her parlor door. “Let us start with soup of boar sausage and wild greenings dressed in sweetberry vinegar, then follow with smoked whitefish in savory sauce and—”

“I hope you have enough for one more.” Kai entered the snug room.

A gold-edged mirror above the ornate mantle reflected his mother, Aleanor of Whellein’s surprise and delight. She rose and pressed her slight frame into his swift embrace.

Kai held her at arm’s length to gaze upon her. How long had it been since he’d seen her calm gray eyes and basked in her smile? He marked, with sadness, the progress of time across her face. Furrows marred a brow once smooth, and lines fanned from the corners of eyes that sparkled. His mother wore a simple woolen tunic of blue, girt with an embroidered sash. Her silver hair coiled in braids about her head.

She smiled. “We have stores aplenty for a Son of Whellein. But how come you by morn and not by eve?”

“I did not stop the night. I couldn’t contain my excitement at nearing home.” His gaze drifted past her to the muscular Cook garbed in a brown tunic, who smiled at their exchange.

Mother met Kai’s look. “I think we shall continue later, Maeric,” she said without seam. “I won’t detain you from your duties longer. Tahera, please bring cider, cheese and bread.”

The door to the raelein’s parlor closed with a click behind Maeric and Tahera, and they were alone.

Kai went to the fire, grateful for its comfort as he steeled himself for what he would say.

“You must sit.” His mother gestured in invitation as she resumed her seat on the bench. “Now tell me what has brought you on such a difficult journey.”

“I’ve come for Shae.”

Mother let out her breath in a long sigh. “And so I am to lose another child.”

“Lof Raelein Maeven sends for her while on her deathbed.”

Her hand flew to her throat. “The time has come, then.”

“It nears, yes.” He ignored a frisson of uneasiness. Of course, he spoke of more than Maeven’s death. “It’s long past time Shae learns her true identity as Raena Shaenalyn of Rivenn. On her dying bed, Lof Raelein Maeven yearns for her daughter.”

His mother squared her shoulders as if recovering from a blow. “I thought I had prepared myself for this, and yet…” Her voice faded to a whisper.

“You’ve raised her well.”

She looked down at the hands clasped in her lap. “I wish I’d done more to treat her as one of my own.”

Kai knelt at her feet. “You did your best. Ever since I brought her to you as a babe in arms, you’ve kept her hidden from those who would destroy her.”

Aeleanor raised eyes shiny with tears. “She’ll return to danger at Torindan.”

“You have my promise to protect her.” Each word fell from his lips by its own weight.

“When do you leave?”

He spoke with reluctance. “At first light.”

She arose and took the place at the fire he had vacated, putting her arms about herself as if cold. “I will not say goodbye to her. It is better so.”

Kai stood. For Shae’s sake, he wished his mother would look beyond her own needs. But he cut short the reply that rose to his lips. How could he censure her when he did not know her pain? He hesitated, and then lowered his voice. “Have you word of Daevin?”

Mother lifted her head, and he read in her face what he should have already known. He need not have worried his question would quicken his mother’s pain. She carried her missing son in her heart as surely as she had once carried him within her womb.

She shook her head and turned toward the fire. “None.”

The word echoed through his mind. Kai shouldered its weight, but wished again for the freedom to search for his brother.

He crossed to one of the tall windows overlooking the inner ward with its herb garden. New growth burgeoned in all its beds, ready to erupt with life. His hands clenched into fists. He wanted to rejoice in such things. He wanted to comfort his mother. He closed his eyes, shut in by his own dark thoughts.

A touch on his arm, feather light, called him back. He turned and read the plea in his mother’s face. “The Lof Raelein’s death will free you to return to Whellein, as your father wishes.”

He met her gray gaze and told her what she already knew. “My duty at Torindan calls for my pledge of service to Elcon when his mother dies.”

“Surely Elcon would not rob the House of Whellein so.” She clasped her hands together so hard the knuckles showed white.

“Mother, let us leave this conversation.” He put his hands over hers to still them. “You know I must decide my own course, for good or ill.”

Tahera returned, bearing on a tray a tankard of steaming cider, a selection of cheeses, and a fragrant loaf. Kai cleansed his hands in the laver the servant provided and fell upon the repast.

His mother sat silent while he ate. She would not try again to win his promise, but he knew she ceded the battle only.

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Harbourlight Books

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May God’s glory shine through

this inspirational work of fiction.



COPYRIGHT 2012 by Janalyn Voigt

The author is represented by and this book is published in association with the literary agency of WordServe Literary Group, Ltd.,

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or Pelican Ventures, LLC except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

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Contact Information:

Cover Art by Nicola Martinez

Harbourlight Books
a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC
PO Box 1738 *Aztec, NM * 87410

Harbourlight Books sail and mast logo is a trademark of Pelican Ventures, LLC
Publishing History
First Harbourlight Edition, 2012
Print Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-200-4
Electronic Edition ISBN 978-1-61116-199-1
Published in the United States of America

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ruth Mother of Kings by Diana Wallis Taylor

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:

Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling for sending me a review copy.***


 Recently named “Writer of the Year” by the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild, Diana Wallis Taylor has been writing since the age of 12 when she sold her first poem to a church newspaper. A former school teacher, popular women’s speaker and award-winning author, she’s best known for her biblical novels that focus on women such as Martha, Mary Magdalene, Claudia Wife of Pontius Pilate, and Journey to the Well. She’s also published several contemporary novels, a collection of poetry, and contributed to a wide variety of publications.  Diana lives in San Diego with her husband, Frank. Among them, they have six grown children and ten grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.


The story of Ruth has captivated Christian believers for centuries, not least of all because she is one of only two women with books of the Bible named after them. Now, Diana Wallis Taylor animates this cherished part of the Old Testament, with its unforgettable cast of characters. She describes Ruth’s elation as a young bride— and her grief at finding herself a widow far before her time. Readers will witness the unspeakable relief of Naomi upon hearing her daughter-in-law’s promise never to leave her. And celebrate with Boaz when, after years as a widower, he discovers love again, with a woman he first found gleaning in his field. The story of this remarkable woman to whom Jesus Christ traced His lineage comes to life in the pages of this dramatic and unique retelling.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603749039
ISBN-13: 978-1603749039
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches


Ruth sat with her brother, Joash, on a small rug in the neighbors’ courtyard, listening fearfully as the adults discussed what to do with them. Ruth wanted her mama. Why would they not let her see her? Was she still sick? Her papa had tended her for several days and told them not to disturb her. No one baked any bread for their breakfast.

She scrunched up her small face, her lower lip trembling. Yesterday, her mama would not wake up, and her papa began weeping and acting strangely. He struggled to stand up, and perspiration ran down his face. She remembered his words, spoken like he was out of breath. “Joash, you must help me. Take Ruth and go to the house of Naaman. Tell him I need his help. Stay there until I call for you.”

Joash grabbed her hand and almost pulled her to the neighbors’ house. She had been holding her mother’s shawl, and she wrapped it around herself that night as they slept in the neighbors’ courtyard. She could hardly breathe for the fear that seemed to rise up from her chest. Why would the neighbors not let them go home? Had Papa not called for them?

Everyone looked at them with sad eyes and whispered to one another. She clutched her mother’s shawl and turned to her brother.

“Why will they not let us go home?”

“I don’t know. Something is wrong.” He looked at a woman standing nearby. “We want to see our mama and papa.”

The woman answered quietly, “Children, your mama and papa are dead. You cannot see them…ever again.”

Ruth heard the word “dead.” A bird fell in their small courtyard one day, and her papa said it was dead. It lay on the dirt, unmoving, its eyes closed. She could not imagine her mama and papa like that bird. She turned to her brother again.

“Mama and Papa are dead?”

Joash nodded, tears rolling down his cheeks. He put an arm around her, and they clung to each other.

Naaman’s wife spoke up. “I have fed them for two days, but I cannot continue to care for them.”

“Do they have family elsewhere?” said another neighbor woman. “I have children of my own to feed.”

Naaman murmured, “Phineas has family near the Plains of Moab, outside Beth-Jeshimoth. He told me before he died.”

“What family? His parents? Are they still alive?”

There was silence. Then, “How would the children get there? They can’t go alone; the boy is only six, the girl almost four. Who would take them?”

“That is something to consider. It is a two days’ journey.”

Teary-eyed, Ruth turned to her brother and whispered, “Where do they want to take us?”

He straightened his shoulders and tried to sound very strong. “I don’t know, but do not be afraid, Sister. I will care for you.”

A couple entered the small courtyard and hurried up to the group that had been talking. The woman spoke. “We just heard about the parents. The mother, Timna, was my friend. Do you know what is to be done with the children?”

Someone said, “Naaman told us they have grandparents, outside Beth-Jeshimoth, but we don’t know how to get them there. They cannot travel alone.”

The man nodded, then said, “I will take them. My wife, Mary, will go with me.”

“But, Gershon, can you leave your shop for that long? It will take at least two days or more, just one way.”

“Ha’Shem will watch over my shop. It is the right thing to do. If they have family, that is where the children should go. I will prepare my cart and donkey.”

The first woman spoke. “May the Almighty bless you for your kindness, Gershon, and your wife also. It is a good thing you do. I will gather food for your journey. The other women in the neighborhood will help.”

Ruth listened to the women click their tongues and murmur among themselves.

“Those poor children were alone in the house with their sick parents for days before Phineas sent them to Naaman and his wife.”

“My husband wondered why Phineas had not come to work in three days.”

“The Lord only knows the last time they had eaten.”

“Both of the children are so thin.”

One of the other men spoke up. “What if you get there and find that the children’s grandparents are dead?”

“We will just have to trust the Almighty to guide us; we will pray that they live and that these orphaned children will be welcomed.”

Joash clutched Ruth’s hand tighter. “See? We will go to Abba’s family. They will take us there.”

Ruth, too frightened to speak again, could only nod, dried tears still on her cheeks.

Early the next morning, they were fed some lentil soup and fresh bread, and then Gershon and Mary took their hands and led them home, telling them they would now gather a few things to take with them. Mary clicked her tongue and sighed as she and her husband looked around the small house. “There is little of value here,” Gershon said. “The girl seems determined to hold on to her mother’s shawl.”

Mary glanced at Ruth. “It is a comfort to her. We must not take the bedding, because of their sickness. I will bring bedding from our house. Oh, Gershon, they were so poor. How did they live?”

“Evidently he made just enough to survive.”

Ruth, with her mother’s shawl still wrapped around her shoulders, clutched a doll made of rags that her mother had sewn for her. She looked around. There was no sign of her mama or papa anywhere. She watched her brother slip a small leather box out of a cupboard when the man and his wife were not looking. He put a finger to his lips and hid the box in his clothes.

When the cart was loaded, Ruth climbed in after Joash and settled in as the journey began. Never having ventured beyond her street, she looked about, wide-eyed, as they passed through the town.

“What is our town called?” Joash asked.

“It is Medeba,” the man answered.

His wife turned around in her seat at the front of the cart. “Have you not been in the town before?”

Joash shook his head.

“It is large. Your father made many fine bricks to build houses with.”

Ruth looked up at her. “I miss my mama.”

Mary sighed. “I know, child. Your mama and papa were so sick from the fever. They just didn’t get better, like so many others. But soon you will be with your grandparents.”

“Will they let us stay with them?” Joash asked.

There was a pause, and Mary looked at her husband. “Oh, of course. I’m sure they will be glad to see you.” She turned around again. “Have you ever met them?”

Ruth looked at her brother, and both children shook their heads.

They spent the night with some other families that were traveling. Gershon said something about it being safer to stay with a group.

Mary made sure Ruth and Joash were settled for the night and then lay down next to her husband. The two adults whispered to themselves, probably thinking that Ruth was asleep. She kept her eyes closed and listened in.

“Oh, Gershon, I pray that the grandparents are still there. What will we do if they are not?”

“We must trust the Almighty, Mary. I feel we are doing the right thing.”

“Then we will do our best, and know the outcome soon.”

“Timna was never well, from what I understand.”

Mary murmured, “If the parents of Phineas had a farm, why did he leave? Would he not work the farm with his father?”

“A disagreement of some kind. I don’t think the parents approved of the marriage. Medeba is a larger town. He probably thought he had a better chance of finding work there.”

She sighed. “Then the grandparents may not even know about the children?”

“It’s likely they don’t. Let us get some rest. We have many miles to cover tomorrow.”

Ruth yawned. What did it all mean? She was so tired. It was too much for her to understand. Moving closer to Joash, she settled down and, despite missing her parents, allowed sleep to draw her into its embrace.