August 20, 2014

What Counts Most is How You Finish by Shelia Payton - Book Review and Guest Post

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What Counts Most is How You Finish by Shelia Payton
ISBN: 9781465364982
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: What Counts Most is How You Finish is a book of short essays that shares ideas for addressing life's challenges. The book (which uses experiences from the author's life and the lives of others) is written with two ideas in mind: 
• Each person has to find his or her own way in life 
• We can learn worthwhile things from each other 

To make it easier to find an essay that can help the reader address life situations in real time, What Counts Most is How You Finish is divided into seven topic areas: Being You, Taking Care of You, Dealing with People, Overcoming Challenges, Staying Focused, Achieving Success and Making a Difference.

While the primary audience for What Counts Most is How You Finish is people between the ages of 16-25, the book has received positive feedback from many older than that who say it’s a good reminder for them.

My Review: I have been on a kick of looking for self help books to read. This book was written as a young adult book but is good for all ages. The way the author breaks down the lessons into seven topic areas make them easier to read about and learn. I enjoyed how the author used her life stories to teach us lessons that can be used your whole life. This is a book I will read more than once to get everything out of it. They say you must read/listen to new lessons six times to get everything out of it, so I will be doing that with this book. It is just the right length so as to now overwhelm you but to be satisfying. I recommend this book for parents and teenagers alike. 

Be sure to check out I Read Book Tours (click here) to see all the stops on the tour. 

Author's Bio:

Shelia Payton is an entrepreneur, former newspaper reporter, corporate manager and educator who spent all of her early life and much of her career in a time when people of color and women in this country were pushing for greater inclusion at all levels of society, and seeking greater opportunities to live life to the fullest. Like others in her generation, Shelia had to face and overcome barriers to entering and succeeding in non-traditional jobs, and create a place in civic and leadership settings. Also like others in her generation, Shelia’s motivation has not just been about what she can accomplish for herself, but also how she can open up opportunities for future generations. Shelia’s current focus is on creating books, plays and music that build human connections by breaking down barriers and stereotypes.

Guest Post by Shelia Payton

Building Up Your Self-Esteem Muscle
Motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar said “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” I agree. Someone growing up in modest or difficult circumstances who believes in themselves is more likely to succeed than someone who may be smarter and had more life advantages, but doesn’t believe in themselves.

How do you maintain a positive attitude that can boost self-esteem? There is no easy answer, but the titles of some of the essays in my book, What Counts Most is How You Finish, provide some suggestions:
Who You Hang with Matters: The people you spend time with influence how you feel about yourself, act, and what you believe is possible for your life. Hang with “why not” people—those who see life’s barriers, but focus on life’s opportunities. Doing this can teach you to be more positive and confident in yourself.
Nobody Has the Right to Make You Feel Bad: Some people are miserable and want company in their misery; so they do things to make others feel bad. You don’t have to be their company. As toddlers we’re quick to tell someone “no” and snatch away when we don’t want to do something. If someone tries to make you feel bad, recapture your inner toddler: say “no” inside your head, and physically separate yourself from them.
Playing the hand you’re dealt: You can’t always control what happens in life, but you can decide how you respond to it. There are three basic options: wallow in self-pity, give up or, as songwriter Jerome Kern wrote, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.” Follow Kern’s advice will help build your self-confidence.
Nothing Beats a Failure But a Try: You can’t win a sports championship if you never step on the field or court. It’s the same in life. People often don’t try something new or innovative, or take advantage of opportunities because they’re afraid they won’t succeed. If you don’t try, you’re guaranteed not to succeed. Rather than hold back, find out what you need to do, and do your best.
Focus on the Positive: This is tough. When you experience disappointment or get knocked down emotionally, it’s natural to curl up and lick your wounds. But neither good times nor bad times last forever. Instead of giving up tell yourself: “As long as I’m inhaling air things can get better.” Read books/articles or watch videos at the library about people who overcame life challenges, and follow their lead.
God Don’t Make No Junk: When doubt creeps into your thoughts, remind yourself you are not a mistake or an accident. You are here for a positive reason.
When you’re discouraged, keep this image in your mind: Flowers can teach us lessons about life. Before they blossom and show their beauty, flowers push their way through dirt and debris. Because they’re determined, they eventually break through to enjoy the sunlight.
Live your life with the determination of a flower and you, too, will enjoy the sunlight.

Thank you to Shelia for stopping by my blog and being a guest post. I hope you enjoy her book as much as I did. 

August 7, 2014

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron Review and Giveaway for a Kindle Fire as well as Facebook Party on 8/7

The Butterfly and the Violin
Hidden Masterpiece Book #1
By Kristy Cambron
ISBN: 9781401690595
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.
Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting's subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.
A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.
As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
My Review: I loved this book the thing that pulled me in first was the cover, I love a good cover. I was not sure at first that I would enjoy it as I found out it is about the Holocaust and I am not big on those books but this one grabbed my attention and held it until the last page. Another thing that I liked is that this told the story of someone from the past and I enjoy stories like that. This book is an emotional book so if you are a person who cries at books be sure to have the kleenex at hand. Great character development and setting description. Kristy did a great job in her first book and I look forward to the next one. 

    About the Author

Kristy Cambron has been fascinated with WWII since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an Art History degree from Indiana University and works as Communications Consultant. Kristy writes WWII and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons. Website: Twitter: @KCambronAuthor Facebook: Kristy-L-Cambron-Author

Welcome to the launch campaign for debut novelist Kristy Cambron's The Butterfly and the Violin. Romantic Times had this to say: "Alternating points of view skillfully blend contemporary and historical fiction in this debut novel that is almost impossible to put down. Well-researched yet heartbreaking. . . ."

Kristy is celebrating the release of the first book in her series, A Hidden Masterpiece, with a fun Kindle Fire giveaway and meeting her readers during an August 7th Facebook author chat party.


 One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 7th. Winner will be announced at The Butterfly and the Violin Author Chat Party. Kristy will be connecting with readers and answering questions, sharing some of the fascinating research behind the book, hosting a fun book chat, and giving away some GREAT prizes. She will also be giving an exclusive look at the next book in the series, A Sparrow in Terezin!

So grab your copy of The Butterfly and the Violin and join Kristy on the evening of August 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 7th!

August 6, 2014

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin Review and Giveaway for a Kindle HDX and a set of books

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review from Litefuse Group
In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin
Wings of Nightengale Series #3
ISBN: 9780800720834
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.
Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don’t want to go.
Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?
My Review: As with the other two books in this series, I enjoyed them. The author does a good time of developing the characters and getting the setting just right for the story. Even though this is the third in the series you can read it as a stand alone but I can almost guarantee you will want to go back and read the other two. I liked how Sarah touched on more than one area affected by the war not just the battlefront. Another thing that I like is that there was a little drama with some romance. A good ending to a great series of books.
Be sure to check out Litefuse Group (click here) to see all the other stops on the tour.
 Purchase a copy: 
About the author: Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist's mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Find Sarah online: websiteFacebookTwitter

Don't miss Sarah Sundin's hot-off-the-press novel, In Perfect Time. Publishers Weekly gives it an enthusiastic thumbs up: “Sundin excels at well-researched historical detail . . . with such accurate depictions of culture and setting that we are fully immersed in the times as well as in the story. The strength of relationships forged in war and the apprehension of God in times of trouble infuse this well-crafted novel with substance and light.”

Sarah is celebrating the release of her book with a fun giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle HDX
  • The Wings of the Nightingale Series (With Every Letter, On Distant Shores, and In Perfect Time)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 24th. Winner will be announced August 25th at Sarah's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Sarah's blog on the 25th to see if you won! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

August 4, 2014

Through the Deep Waters Book Giveaway

Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer
ISBN: 9780307731296
Trade Paperback

Synopsis: A past filled with shame can be washed away with a love that conquers all

Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.

The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?
Praise for Through the Deep Waters“Kim Vogel Sawyer paints a picture of redemption and forgiveness in not one but many lives in Through the Deep Waters. Just as weary travelers found comfort in Mr. Harvey’s hotels, readers will find comfort in this wrenching tale
of one woman’s shameful past and one man’s struggle to look beyond her indiscretions and accept the woman she has become—a woman redeemed by grace. Ms. Sawyer’s historically accurate novels tug the strings of the heart
while giving hope to those who feel unworthy.”
—Pam Hillman, author of Claiming Mariah
“Kim Vogel Sawyer’s careful attention to detail and heartfelt writing make her one of the industry’s favorites.”
—Lori Copeland, author of The Healer’s Touch
“Kim Vogel Sawyer has crafted an emotion-packed novel about two damaged souls whose faith and courage ultimately come shining through. Readers will root for Dinah and Amos to overcome the wounds of their troubled pasts in order to find love and hope for the future. With its vividly rendered settings and well-rounded characters, this lovely story is sure to please Ms. Sawyer’s many fans.”
—Dorothy Love, author of Carolina Gold
- See more at:

The Giveaway is for one paperback copy and will run from now through August 20th, to fill out the form: 

August 1, 2014

Butternut Summer by Mary McNear

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Butternut Summer by Mary McNear
The Butternut Lake Trilogy #2
Published August 12, 2014
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780062283160

Synopsis: Every summer on Butternut Lake, the tourists arrive, the shops open, and the waves lap up on its tree-lined shore, just as they have for years. But this season, everything changes for Caroline and her daughter Daisy, who have always called the lake home. Caroline’s ex-husband Jack has returned for the first time in years. He is just as handsome and charming as she remembers, but has he changed his irresponsible ways? Caroline is tempted to let him back into her life, but is skeptical following the heartbreak she felt so long ago. For Daisy, summer is filled with surprises, such as reuniting with a father she hardly knows, and falling in love for the first time with Will, the town “bad boy” whom her mother doesn’t approve of.

A summer full of surprises, Caroline and Daisy come to realize that even if Butternut Lake won’t change, life will. Readers will absolutely love this dual mother-daughter love story, set in one of the most scenic, romantic places imaginable.

My review: This second installment of the series was just as good as the first one. I like how it makes me feel as if I am back home again as I am from the Midwest. The author again does a great job in developing the characters and their relationships to make this story believable, it could be any mother daughter. Butternut Summer is a love story but at the same time a story of a great mother - daughter bond. This book would make a great end of summer read that will have you flying through the pages. Although this book is part of a trilogy but you are able to read it as a standalone but you will find yourself wanting to go back and read the first one Up at Butternut Lake

Mary McNear is a writer living in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage children, and a high-strung, miniscule white dog named Macaroon. She writes her novels in a local donut shop where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly-made donuts. She bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the Northern Midwest.

July 30, 2014

Here and Again by Nicole R. Dickson - Book Spotlight and Giveaway

NAL Accent/Penguin
Trade paperback, $15.00/$17.00 Canadian
Kindle $15.00
400 pages
ISBN: 978-0-451-46677-8
June 3, 2014
Complimentary Digital Download for Review available at NetGalley [For press, professionals & bloggers only]
Genre: Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction

Deep in the Shenandoah Valley, the present and the past are as restless as the river mists. And when they collide, the heart is the only compass pointing home.
For nurse Ginger Martin, her late husband’s farm is both a treasured legacy and the harbinger of an uncertain future. Since he was recently killed in Iraq, every day is fraught with grief that won’t abate. Keeping the farm going and nourishing her children’s hopes without him seems as impossible as having dreams for the future—or going back into the past...
By a curious coincidence, a stranger appears in Ginger’s life, always showing up to help in unexpected and much-needed ways. He says he’s a soldier, lost and trying to make his way home, but Ginger understands that Samuel is a kindred spirit, longing to repair a life interrupted. The challenges of their hopes and longings will test who they really are in the most heartbreaking of ways. And only by coming to terms with their losses and the necessity of change will Ginger and Samuel be able to each make a future of their own—and discover at last where their true home lies...

Author Nicole R. Dickson creates an indelible, delicate world filled with heartbreak and hope, seamlessly weaving past and present, and tying together the personal price we pay for legacy, war and duty.

Praise for Here and Again 

"If you could seamlessly blend the movie The Field of Dreams with Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife and season liberally with John Jakes' North and South, you might find yourself with this unputdownable book.  Dickson deftly draws the humanity out of two wars in which the U.S. has seen many horrors and places Ginger's story against a backdrop that blends scars from the two... Ginger's pain will resonate and stick with readers who will want to move to a farm - with horse-drawn plows - and hug each and every one in Ginger's circle." -- RT Review, June 2014

"Ginger Martin lives on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley with her children and working as a nurse. Now her in-laws want to sell the farm and Ginger wonders how she can keep it. But the farm is her children's legacy, and Ginger is determined to hold on to her home. The appearance of a stranger dressed in a Civil War uniform will change everything. Dickson seamlessly blends past and present in this deeply satisfying novel of a family coming together after a devastating loss, finding strength in the most unexpected of places, and discovering exactly where they truly belong." – Booklist, June 2014 

About Nicole R. Dickson
Nicole R. Dickson is the author of two novels, the first of which, Casting Off (2009), was a top ten entry in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2008. Additionally, as a business executive, she writes essays on leadership and defining brand. An avid student of history, she can most often be found buried in that section of the library and finds many of the books there follow her home to rest on her bedside table. Here and Again is her second novel.

Twitter: @nicolerdickson

For interviews and press assets, please contact Darlene Chan at


Chapter 13
The house had been full of words and shuffling feet as Ginger tried to serve coffee to the Martins. They, however, would not settle; instead they followed Osbee from one room to another, trying to beat sense into her with argument and tenacious pursuit. But everyone was talking and no one was listening any longer, so the words just floated about the kitchen, dining room, and family room like a bunch of notes played absently by a small child on a piano. None of it made sense and it wasn’t a pretty tune to be sure. Eventually, the long drone of discord found its way to the door, down the steps of the porch, and was silenced by the slamming of the Mercedes’s doors. At the exact moment the car rolled onto the asphalt, Beau came slinking out of the barn. Coward.
Ginger kissed Osbee on the cheek and, without any words, they made dinner. All was quiet as they ate, after which there was just a soft murmuring as baths were taken. Osbee mentioned something about exhaustion when she passed by the door to the bathroom. Ginger was towel drying Oliver when a mumbled “Good -night” was followed by the gentle closing of Osbee’s bedroom door. That was soon followed by Bea’s door shutting and Oliver climbing into bed next to his brother.
By nine p.m., silence fell through the house and Ginger slowly walked around it, room to room, turning off the lights, locking the doors. As she did so, for the first time, she pondered how many people had done these things in the hundred and forty-four years the Smoots’ Farm had stood. Then she wondered why she hadn’t thought about it before this night. When Samuel and ghosts rolled across her mind, she shivered and went upstairs quickly to bed.
There she lay down, covers tucked beneath her chin, listening to the wind and watching herself kneel in the snow near Jesse’s tree. She had asked for anything and so here she was, in an old house, on ancient land, waiting for a ghost to help her—farm.
“Be careful what you ask for,” she whispered, breathing in the scent of coffee that was now brewing in the kitchen. She hadn’t slept a wink, and when her cell phone alarm sounded at eleven thirty p.m., she turned it off. It was time to get up—time to go to work. As she rolled out of her covers, a large shadow moved in the far corner of the room. An electric zap of terror seized her spine and instantly, she reached for the lamp next to her bed.
“Don’t!” Samuel said, but it was too late. It was reflex; she turned the knob.
“Ahhh!” he yelled. In the flash of light, in the second the bulb came to life, Ginger saw Samuel in the corner of the room with both of his arms flung across his face as if recoiling from a large flame. Then, he was gone.
“Samuel?” Ginger called.
The door burst open and Osbee rushed in.
“What?” the old woman asked, her eyes wide as she stood barefoot in her white nightdress.
In the light, Ginger could just make out a shadow of red undergarments through the cotton. She grinned a little.
“Uh —bad dream,” Ginger said, with a shrug as she endeavored to recover from her own start. “So sorry.”
“Holy Moses!” Osbee said, grabbing her heart. “That didn’t even sound like you.”
“It was a really bad dream,” Ginger added, climbing out of bed. “Sorry to wake you. Go on back to bed.”
Osbee shot her a sideways glance, shaking a little as she turned to go. Before she left, she paused to offer, “We’ll talk tomorrow when you get home.”
“Yeah. Oh—and Ed Rogers is coming to fix Henry’s Child.”
Osbee stopped, gazing over her shoulder. “Who?”
“Ed Rogers. Jesse bought parts for Henry’s Child before he, uh—”
“Yeah, okay.” Osbee waved to stop the rest of the sentence. “Good thing, ’cause we’ll need that tractor now.”
“Time to plow,” Ginger said as she followed the old woman into the hall.
“That’s for sure. Drive safe, daughter.”
“Always,” Ginger replied. “Love you, Osbee.”
“Love you, too.”
Ginger shut the bathroom door, stood still for just a second, and then, faster than Oliver could grab a free cookie, she was dressed and tiptoeing down the stairs. She found Beau sleeping on the couch with Regard resting just above him on the window sill. Both raised their heads as Ginger entered the living room.
“Samuel?” she whispered. She stopped to listen. Nothing.
“Samuel?” Stepping into the kitchen, she turned on the light. There was no sound except the popping of the coffee pot as it finished brewing.
“Uh —sorry,” she whispered to the empty kitchen. “I didn’t realize it was you.”
Ginger poured coffee into her traveler’s mug, grabbed her lunch from the refrigerator, slipped into her coat and boots, and quietly stepped out of the house. The yard was darker than the night before even though a sliver of moon hung above. Snow reflects light and as most of it had melted away during the day, the moon had no help brightening the night. Coming around the back of the house, she found a shadow sitting on the front fender of her truck. She halted.
“Samuel?” she whispered.
“I did not mean to startle you, Virginia. I was hoping to speak with you and could not determine how best to wake you.”
“I was awake,” she replied, walking toward the truck.
“Oh,” Samuel said, standing free of the fender.
“Why did you yell?” she asked.
“I cannot be in light.”
Ginger thought for a moment. She had seen him in the day and opened her mouth to say such.
“Electric light,” Samuel interrupted. “Electricity hurts me.”
Ginger shut her mouth, not sure she wanted any further explanation.
“To be in your house —itches a little.”
“Itches,” she repeated.
“Yes. I can will myself through your doors and windows, but not through the walls, as there is electricity there.”
She nodded as if to indicate she understood. She had, of course, no true comprehension of what he was talking about but it seemed the polite thing to do. What were manners when dealing with a ghost?
“Um —is that what you wanted to tell me?”
“No. But it is why I could not help you with the sick boy on the road.”
“Ah.” Ginger smiled. “You couldn’t get in my truck.”
“It is full of electricity. And light hurts. Bright light hurts greatly.”
“But not the sun,” Ginger stated.
“No. Nor moonshine.” Samuel pointed up at the moon, which smiled down at them like the Cheshire cat.
She nodded again and lightly danced from one foot to the other. It was cold. “I—uh –have to go to work.”
“I know. I— Would you mind if I rode with you?”
Ginger cocked her head. “I thought yo—-”
“I can sit back here,” Samuel said, walking back to the bed of the truck. “And this window opens, yes?”
He pointed to the little sliding window in the back of the cab. Oliver called it “Beau’s window”.
“It won’t hurt?”
“It’ll itch a little, I think. But we can talk. Would you mind, Virginia?”
“Not at all. Mmm. There’ll be headlights on the freeway.”
“I think I can duck. If I dissipate, though, I’ll only end up back in your orchard.”
Reticently, Ginger shuffled to the driver’s side. “You dissipated when I turned on my light,” she said.
As she opened the door, Samuel, who was climbing into the bed, coughed loudly and held his hand over his nose. “What is that smell?” he asked, shaking his head.
“Jacob Esch hurled in my truck,” Ginger replied, turning on the truck. She then reached back and opened Beau’s window.
“Who is Jacob Esch and what is ‘hurled’?” Samuel said as he lifted himself into the truck bed.
“The Amish kid you found in the ditch. And ‘hurled’ means he threw up.”
Ginger shut her door, turned her lights on, and began to back down the drive. There was Samuel, a ghost, sitting with his head in Beau’s window. She shivered a little and so turned instead to her side windows to back up down the gravel drive.
“Amish. So they yet live?”
“Yep. You had Amish back the—” Her sentence stopped with the truck. What were ghostly manners?
“Back then,” Samuel finished her sentence. “We did.”
Ginger put the truck in drive and slowly made her way down the road.
 “Where are you from?” Ginger asked.
“I have said, Virginia Moon. Laurel Creek.”
“There were Amish in Laurel Creek?”
“No. My best friends had a friend who was from Pennsylvania. An Amish on rumspringa.”
“I see.”
Ginger came to the spot where she’d fallen near the fence—where Bea saw Samuel standing as she rode away in the bus. Samuel had not said anything and she looked in her rearview mirror to see if he was still there. He was, his eyes lifted to the sky.
“Light hurts, Virginia Moon. I can smell and see and hear. But I cannot touch or taste. I am left here in the world, but am not of it. That is how the Amish say they live.”
“How’s that?” Ginger turned right.
“They are in the world, not of it. But truly, they are of it. They can feel the sun and the wind. They can feel warmth of soup on a cold night and taste the salt of its broth. They can work all day beneath heaven and feel the aches of their muscles. They can touch hair, feel breath, taste lips.”
How long had it been since she’d tasted Jesse’s lips? She felt an ache in the center of her body as a car came toward the truck and she could see Samuel disappear from her rearview mirror.
The car passed. Darkness grew. Had he dissipated? “Samuel?” she called quietly.
“I am here, looking up at a Virginia moon.”
She smiled and leaned forward to see it, too.
“To farm beneath a Virginia moon,” he said.
“Hard to farm in the dark, I reckon, Samuel,” she said with a giggle.
“The orange one that rises on the harvest. Huge and round on the horizon. No sound but insects, the click of horse hooves, and the scour of the plow.”
Ginger imagined the quiet of plowing so. “I love that moon,” she said. “I like it when it’s warm on those evenings.”
“Mmm. A ginger moon,” he whispered.
Ginger giggled.
“What’s funny?” Samuel asked.
“I was thinking about my name.”
He popped up in her rearview mirror. “I love your name,” he said.
She smiled to his reflection. “My mother always wanted to name her daughter Virginia after her grandmother. My father wanted to name his child ‘Moon.’ You know my dad? The one you want to meet?”
Samuel nodded, staring at her intently.
Ginger sighed, thinking about her father. Step into the light. What if it hurts? “Yeah—Virginia Moon. My hair is strawberry blonde so my parents call me Ginger Moon.”
They had reached Highway 81 and Samuel lay down, saying, “But your hair is dark.”
“Mood hair,” she replied, accelerating.
“My hair changes with my mood. Like a mood ring.” She laughed.
“What’s a mood ring?”
Ginger stopped laughing with a little cough. That joke didn’t translate. There must not have been mood rings back —then. “It’s a little ring with something inside the glass stone that changes color with the heat of your body. Supposedly different colors mean you’re feeling this way or that. Doesn’t really work or anything. It’s just a—thing. It was popular a while ago.”
“You change your hair with your mood?”’ Samuel asked.
Ginger shook her head. This wasn’t working. “Just a joke, Samuel.”
“Your hair changes as a joke?”
“No. The mood thing—that’s a joke. The hair color—the mood ring.” For the love of Pete.
“Why do you change your hair?”
She rolled her eyes. Could she switch subjects politely? “I don’t know. To change something. To see something new.”
“Is that why you drive so far to work?”
Ginger thought. “I don’t think I do those two things for the same reason.”
“We passed a hospital on our way, Virginia. It is closer to home.”
“I know.”
The cab of the truck fell silent. Cars passed on the left and Ginger wondered if ever anyone would believe she had a ghost riding with her. Until this morning, Samuel could be explained away logically. Now, he was her companion on her travels. Was she calling him, keeping him with her? He had said as much.
“When my husband was alive, I was more. I was greater than I am now.”
“You are the same person.”
“No—not the same. I never used to question if I was pretty because he thought me so. And smart—he thought me so. It’s like I am myself and I have respect for myself, but with him, I was more myself. And he was more himself with me. Now, I am just myself. I was more because he thought me so.”
Ginger switched into the left lane. A BMW had been going too slow for her. This made no sense.
“Look—I was born a traveler. I had a wanderlust to see the world. To be of it and in it. To walk on as it rolls endlessly beneath my feet and be dusty and sore from the road. But with him, I didn’t need to go anywhere to do that. Every day was something new. Another day to figure stuff out with him. We weren’t done with anything. We weren’t even sure we were done having kids.”
She returned to the right lane.
“But now, here I am. No more kids. I didn’t even get a choice in that. I don’t even know who I am anymore or what I want or what I like. How can I raise children and do them any justice? This wasn’t our plan. We were together in this. We were greater. I want him back. I want to see him and tell him he is more—more than anything else in the world.”
Ginger broke off, her voice cracking. Flipping on her blinker, she turned the endless loop off of 81 and onto the road that climbed into the Blue Ridge. She wept as the truck wound through Harrisonburg and crawled up the hill. The sky was clear; the air cold. She said nothing for miles as she struggled to stop crying. She came to the spot where Jacob Esch had lain drunk in the ditch and she wiped her stinging eyes.
“Are you still there?” she asked as her voice steadied.
Samuel slid up into Beau’s window.
“I called to him, Samuel. That day in the snow. And you came. An answer to my prayer.”
“I —am an answer to your prayer, Virginia Moon?”
“As sure as I’m sitting in this smelly truck.” She sniffled, taking a sip of her coffee.
“I have never been an answer to a prayer. I have been prayed over. I must confess I was hardly an obedient son. I perpetually spilled things I shouldn’t have touched or broke things I shouldn’t have played with or rode away to a far, distant place on a horse that was not our own. Many a time have I heard the prayer, ‘Lord, give me patience with this boy’ as the switch hit my backside. Never would my father believe I would be the answer to anyone’s prayer.”
Ginger looked up at the rearview mirror. Samuel’s face was shadowed by the light of her dashboard and he was smiling in the darkness of the empty road.
“Well, maybe, Samuel, one day I’ll meet your father and set him straight.”
“Will you?” He chuckled.
“Yes.” “
“And what will you say to him?”
“I will say that in the darkest day I have ever lived, your son came as an answer to my prayer. And I know now—– I know, Samuel —my husband rode the Elysian Fields home and is watching over me. Watching over our children.”
She put on her blinker and pulled into the hospital parking lot, which held more than ten vehicles. In her three shifts at Franklin, the parking lot never had so many cars when she arrived. It was a busy night at the hospital. The truck crawled closer to the lights.
“Better go now, Samuel. This is no moonshine and I would never wish you to hurt on account of me.”
“Very well. I will be home when you return,” he said quietly, and as Ginger turned into a parking space far from the emergency room door, she gazed over her shoulder to find Samuel gone.

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July 24, 2014

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Tea Shop on Lavender Lane by Sheila Roberts
Life in Icicle Falls Series # 5
ISBN: 9780778316183
Mass Market Paperback

Synopsis: When it comes to men, sisters don't share! 
After a fake food poisoning incident in L.A., Bailey Sterling's dreams of becoming a caterer to the stars collapse faster than a soufflĂ©. Now Bailey's face is in all the gossip rags and her business is in ruins. But the Sterling women close ranks and bring her back to Icicle Falls, where she'll stay with her sister Cecily. 
All goes well between the sisters until Bailey comes up with a new business idea—a tea shop on a charming street called Lavender Lane. She's going into partnership with Todd Black, who—it turns out—is the man Cecily's started dating. It looks to Cecily as if there's more than tea brewing in that cute little shop. And she's not pleased. 
Wait! Isn't Cecily seeing Luke Goodman? He's a widower with an adorable little girl, and yes, Cecily does care about him. But Todd's the one who sends her zing-o-meter off the charts. So now what? Should you have to choose between your sister and the man you love (or think you love)?

My review: As with the rest of this series I absolutely loved this book. When I start reading any of Sheila's book I want to savor each of them so I find myself reading even slower so that it will last me. I felt so bad for Bailey when the start faked the food poisoning - I don't know if I would have been as nice as Bailey was - I think I would have sued her for slander. It was so nice that the sisters stepped in and brought Bailey home to help her get through this tough time. As for Cecily - I also felt bad for her as it seems she just can't get a break when it comes to love. I don't want to spoil the story by telling you what happens but you will be happy with the ending. I would love to live in Icicle Falls as it is such a quaint little town with such good people.