Friday, September 25, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Joanne Bischof ~ To Get to You, © 2015

The Wild Air Series, Book One
live in the sunshine.
swim the sea.
drink the wild air.
– Emerson

But she wasn’t looking at his beanie. Or his hair. She was looking at his eyes...
   --To Get to You

I can tell you my favorite parts, for a start.

Riley and Becca: My very favorite part is the beginning and the visuals I got as the balsam fir was loaded on the sled and the walk in the starlight sky glancing off the snow. Their conversations budding; walking up to the Airstream and the siblings bursting forth. What love they had for each other. Hot cider and baked sugar cookies, lovingly carved and decorated by hand.

Jake: I applaud the Dad for the decision he made ~ to reunite beyond rekindling another award from the public view.

Riley: The struggle leaving the Jeep ~ the prized treasure that was all his. To make that call. How hard. Conflict of emotion. The buffer their friend Saul was. Feet on the dash ~ not mattering after a while as the connection was more important.

The struggle to stay the course. A long trip with past memories ~ vacant and haunting, longing for what couldn't be returned, pushing back time.

I want the reader to experience what I did and not have snippets put before them, robbing them of self-discovery.

These are tidbits of To Get to You I gleaned. So important to read with the heart, filling in longing gaps, moving forward.

***Thank you to author Joanne Bischof for inviting me to review To Get to You. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

A Road Trip Giveaway X's Two ~ click here!

road trip giveaway - www.joannebischof

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz, © 2015

Cover Art

I love all of Laura Franz's adventures! Her newest? Now living in a log cabin in Kentucky with a gorgeous view and a contemplative porch swing muse!

I have always wondered how many people came to the Americas unwillingly ~ dispelled from their home country. After the colonial war, that might explain why some still stayed with the British when they were on their new soil ~ or... being used to being taken care of, instead of venturing out on their own to a barren land they would have to turn over the soil and begin anew. Others coming for a promise of tranquility and prosperity to send to their loved ones at home until they could afford passage for them.
Three Chimney's Template ~ Sophie Menzie's home:
Sophie's home at Three Chimneys

Sophie Menzies is waiting for her brother to come home, returning from the ravages of war. But... letters have been far behind them. Where is he? Without a male heir, her residence could be a thing of the past going on to a near kin. No matter that she has secured a livelihood with continued daybreak to dusk at Tall Acre's neighboring Three Chimneys. The American Revolution left many adrift well after the last cannon sound dispensed and they "all went home."
Father and daughter template. Seamus and Lily Cate:

General Seamus Ogilvy, widowed, has returned to Tall Acre with his young daughter, Lily Cate. Trying to establish a new routine for both of them, Seamus above all hopes Lily Cate will learn to care for him. Separated from each other while he was away has brought uncertainty, especially when her grandparents chose to keep them apart in reflections so she did not know him favorably from reference. He also has a war wound that has kept him from his usual chores. His overseer, Mr. Riggs, has been a fine estate manager, keeping Tall Acre from being adrift. The spinning room has been kept active, keeping things in movement, removed from despair from without.

Portfolio-Photography | Richard Jenkins Photography: The last time Sophie had seen Lily Cate was on her birthing day. Sophie's mother attended the birth with Sophie learning her skills in keeping calm and alert. It was necessary to call in the doctor to aid on this day; all was not well and it was advised from the weakness of the mother, that she not conceive again. Making acquaintance with Lily Cate again has bonded them richly, a part missing with Sophie, an attachment not available due to her spinster state. With war, no suitors have come calling and she longs to share with another.

Living each day as we would like it to be, we do not take into account the dealings of others, nor their intent. Sadness and inevitable hardship surface as a web is untangled, those closest to it, enwoven. Unraveling, truth emerges at the pinnacle of hope.

Laura Frantz's writings are rich with appeal ~ the uncertainty of what life will bring and how the characters will respond ~ frightful, or certain that the Lord will give them grace and a way to continue.

***Thank you to Revell Reads for this review copy of Laura Frantz's The Mistress of Tall Acre. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Enjoy this excerpt from The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz ~ Chapter 1


We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred honor.
                                                                 THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
On this day, 8 August, 1778, a child was safely delivered . . .

Nay, not safely. Anything but safely.

   . . . to Anne Howard Ogilvy and Seamus Michael Ogilvy of Tall Acre, Roan County, Virginia.

   Dropping his quill pen, Seamus ran callused hands through hair bereft of a queue ribbon and watched a stray droplet of ink soak into the scarred desktop. Steadying his breathing, he picked up the pen and pressed on as if time was against him.

   The infant’s name is . . .

   The heavy scratch of the nib against the family Bible’s fragile page was halted by a knock on his study door. A servant to tell him he could finally see his firstborn? Or that his wife was dead? Or the both of them?
   He called out with a shaky voice, but it was Dr. Spurlock who appeared, shutting the door soundly behind him. “A word with you, General Ogilvy, if I may.” At Seamus’s taut expression, Spurlock gave him a slight smile. “At ease, man, at ease. I’m not the undertaker.”
   Pulling himself to his feet, Seamus came out from behind the desk. “A word and a glass of Madeira are in order, at least.” He went to a near cabinet and filled two crystal goblets as a newborn’s wail rent the summer stillness, sharp and sweet as birdsong.
   “’Tis about Anne,” Spurlock said, a careful note to his tone.
   Seamus passed him a glass. The doctor looked haggard after the lengthy ordeal, silver hair standing on end, spectacles askew, to say nothing of his waistcoat. Seamus was sure he looked equally unfit, having spent the night in his study.
   “I don’t need to tell you what a trial this birth has been. You’ve nearly worn a trail in the floor with your pacing.” Spurlock regarded him with bleary, apologetic eyes. “Your wife is very weak. The baby, being so large, took a toll. Anne is a very narrow woman and continues to bleed heavily.”
   Blood. Wounds. Life and death. Seamus was used to such things. These were the staples of a soldier’s life. Childbirth was, in a very real sense, battle. “I trust she’ll recover in time.”
   Spurlock frowned. “Mistress Menzies, the midwife, nearly lost her at one point. If not for her presence of mind and the use of my forceps, we’d be having a very different conversation.” He removed his spectacles and began cleaning them with a handkerchief. “On a brighter note, your wife’s sister is coming from Williamsburg to help care for her, though I do worry about you returning to duty so soon.”
   “Orders,” Seamus said through a stitch of guilt. “General Washington wants me at reveille come morning.” As it was, he’d have to ride all night to reach camp by the appointed time.
   “I speak not only out of concern for your wife but for you, General. I can tell from looking at you that your own health has been compromised.”
   Seamus squared his shoulders. “A malaise of war, little more.”
   “Spoken like a true soldier.” Spurlock fixed his gaze on an open window. “Very well, I’ll talk plain and fast. Your wife faces a long recovery. She’s always been a bit fragile, a true gentlewoman. And though it will be hard for you to hear, I’m duty bound to tell you her very life will be in danger if there’s a second birth. Mistress Menzies concurs.”
   A second birth—and she’d barely withstood the first. The words spun round Seamus’s head but made no sense. Remembering his Madeira, he took a sip, listening as the doctor explained feminine things he didn’t know. Didn’t want to know. Things that made him itch under his uniform collar with a heat that had nothing to do with the humid Virginia afternoon.
   “Of course, husbands have certain needs, certain rights, if you will . . .” The doctor’s words were becoming more labored, nearly lost as the babe’s cries reached a crescendo upstairs.
   “Say no more,” Seamus replied. Spurlock’s warning was clear as a midsummer day. All marital intimacy was at an end. “As it stands, I’ll be away for the duration of the war.” His outward calm belied the storm breaking inside him. “I won’t—I mean, there won’t be occasion to—” He stared at his boots. “I understand.”
   Spurlock nodded and downed the rest of his Madeira. “I knew you’d take it like the officer and gentleman you are. Now, if you’re ready, your wife would like to present you with your firstborn.”
   Firstborn. Final born. And a robust daughter at that.

   The bedchamber seemed strange since Seamus had been away so long. Stepping inside the elegant green and gilt room brought about unwanted, ill-timed memories—a crush of passionate encounters beginning on their wedding night. It was the eve of the war when he’d wed the belle of Williamsburg, three years later when their daughter was conceived on a hasty visit. He hardly remembered either. War had driven such sentimental things from his head, replacing them with the stench of smoke and powder instead.
   To reorient himself, he latched onto the open corner cupboard where medicines were kept, the two wing chairs and tea table before the cold hearth. His gaze finally settled on the bed dressed with crewel embroidery.
   “Seamus.” Anne lay back on the bank of downy pillows, looking exhausted but triumphant. “Come meet your new daughter.”
   Spurs scraped the heart-pine floor before he stepped onto a lush rug and took a seat on the edge of the four-poster bed as carefully as he could. In light of the doctor’s unwelcome words, the ever-delicate Anne seemed made of spun glass. If she was broken, he was to blame, at sixteen stone and over six feet.
   As she settled the newborn in his arms, the catch in his throat nearly stole all speech. One tiny hand peeked from the blanket, the plump face red and round as an orchard apple. He swallowed hard. “She’s . . . beautiful.”
   Something wistful kindled in Anne’s eyes. “You were hoping for a boy, though you never said so.”
   He gave a slight, dismissive shrug. “Soldiers always want sons.”
   “There’ll be some, Lord willing. As soon as I’m well again . . .”
   Her guileless words seared his heart. Spurlock hadn’t told her then, but had left it up to him. Well, he wouldn’t do it now. Let their dream of a large family be left intact a little longer.
   Her lovely face turned entreating. “What shall we call her?”
   The pride and expectancy in her eyes brought a wave of shame. He wouldn’t confess he’d only entertained male names and had given little thought to a girl. Even his men had wagered on a boy, placing bold bets about the campfire till he’d ridden home to settle the matter himself.
   “A name . . .” Lowering his head, he nuzzled the baby’s ear, her downy neck and fuzz of dark hair. The decision came quick. He was used to thinking on his feet. As Washington’s newly appointed major general, he could do little else. “Why not Lilias Catherine?”
   “After my mother and yours?” Surprise shone in Anne’s eyes. “Of course. ’Tis perfect.”
   He hesitated, looking into his daughter’s face as if seeking answers. She seemed too little to merit such an onerous name. “We’ll call her Lily Cate.”
   Nodding, Anne sank back on the pillows, her face so pale he could see the path of blue veins beneath. “I’m relieved. I didn’t want you riding away without knowing.”
   He smiled. “Let me take her till you’ve slept for a few hours. Doctor Spurlock said she won’t be hungry yet, and—” He took a breath, fighting the lurch of leaving. “I don’t know when I’ll be back.” The casual phrasing was more lie. He didn’t know if he’d be back.
   Her hazel eyes held his. “How is it on the field?”
   The question wrenched him. She rarely asked. Their brief times together were too precious to be squandered on melancholy things.
   “’Tis a strange war. We drill. We wait. We fight and fall back.” He wouldn’t tell her the biggest battle of his life was imminent, or that American forces were weak—deprived and diseased—and no match for Clinton’s redcoats. Leaning forward, careful of the warm weight in his arms, he kissed her gently on the cheek. “I’ll go below and introduce Miss Lily Cate to the household.”
   Yawning, eyes already half closed, Anne gave a last, lingering look at the baby. Down the wide, curving stair he went to a staff| on tenterhooks since dawn. The birth had been—what had Spurlock said?—brutal. His people deserved a look, at least. The midwife was in the foyer preparing to leave, her daughter with her.
   “Mistress Menzies, I’ll settle up with you before you go.” He glanced from her to her daughter, both of them looking far less disheveled than the doctor.
   “There’s no fee, General, not for a hero of the Revolution.” Pulling on her gloves, Mistress Menzies smiled in her genteel, unruffled way, reminding him that she was no ordinary midwife.
   “I have you to thank for calling in Spurlock when the situation became . . . untenable,” he told her.
   “You can thank my daughter for that, General. She is fleet of foot and a midwife in the making.”
   He took in Sophie Menzies in a glance. Dark. Plain. Clad in a fine crimson cape like her mother’s.
   “Then I thank you too, Miss Menzies,” he said.
   She smiled up at him, blue gaze fastening on the baby in his arms. “Have you named her, General Ogilvy?”
   “Aye, she’s to be called Lily Cate.”
   The pleasure in her expression seemed confirmation. “Lovely and memorable,” she said with her mother’s poise and a hint of her father’s Scots burr. “I bid you and your wee daughter good day.”
   They withdrew out the front door while he went out the back, which was flung open to the river and leading to Tall Acre’s dependencies. At his appearance, the steamy kitchen at the end of a shaded colonnade came to a standstill.
   “Why, General Ogilvy, looks like you mustered up a fine baby.” Ruby, his longtime cook, hastily left the hearth as the other servants looked on. She leaned near, and one ebony finger caressed a petal-soft cheek. “She’s got your blue eyes and black hair, but I see the mistress in her pert nose and mouth.”
   The maids and housekeeper gathered round next on the rear veranda, cooing and sighing like the dovecote’s doves. Next he went to the stables, a fatherly pride swelling his chest. By the time he returned to his study, his daughter had slept through a brief meeting with his estate manager and a first look at a prize foal. Completely smitten, he crossed to a wing chair in his study, reluctant to let her go.
   “You’re only a few hours old and already you’ve worked your way into my heart.” His voice was a ragged whisper. “But there are some things you need to know. I don’t want to leave you. I’m willing to die for you . . . and if I don’t come back, I want you to forgive me.”
   The choked words staunched none of the pain. His daughter opened wide indigo eyes and stared up at him, as if she understood every syllable. He pressed his damp, unshaven cheek to hers, savoring the feathering of her warm breath on his face. Her flawlessness turned him inside out.
   “Till we meet again, Lily Cate Ogilvy of Tall Acre. Never forget your loving father’s words.”
Laura Frantz, The Mistress of Tall Acre Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2015.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Settler's Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons by Kathleen Ernst, © 2015

While the first few years in their new home might be difficult, many immigrants in time achieved their dream. Old World Wisconsin’s Koepsell Farm represents a well-settled German-American family. (Photo by Loyd Heath)

Right away I was drawn to this photo with the Koepsell Farmhouse in the background. This home was moved to Old World Wisconsin ~ an authentic homestead beginnings. I especially like the overhang on the front, "a cantilevered porch hood."

Hardcover, Non~Fiction, includes bibliographical references and index.
A Settler's Year
The immigrant experience is, at its essence, about people searching for a new home, in a new place. That journey has meaning for almost all of us—whether in our own lives, or in our ancestors’ lives.
   --author Kathleen Ernst

I have awaited this journey and it has arrived! Waiting to post on the day of the special launch event at Old World Wisconsin on September 20, 2015, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Introduction and photos as I begin the seasonal readings. The author has let the times speak for themselves as these pioneers share with those dear to them in their letters and journals. How interesting to hear of their triumphs and hardships firsthand as they begin anew in this new land. Separated from those they loved, they were eager to have their own land, clearing forests to have farmland, to prosper to bring their families from the Old-Country.

LoydHeathAtOWWKathleen Ernst is the award-winning author of more than thirty mystery, historical fiction, and nonfiction books for adults and young readers. Her latest include "Death on the Prairie," the sixth Chloe Ellefson Historic Sites mystery for adults from Midnight Ink, and "The Smuggler’s Secrets," a Caroline Abbott mystery from American Girl. Kathleen has a master's degree in history education and writing from Antioch University. She spent over a decade as curator of interpretation and collections at the Wisconsin Historical Society's Old World Wisconsin site. Learn more at her website, Facebook, and an interesting background story.

Loyd Heath's interest in photography began in 1945 when he was a high school student in Milwaukee. Since then he has taken many photo courses and workshops, participated in many photo shows, and been widely published. After retiring in 1998 from the University of Washington, where he is currently Professor Emeritus of Accounting, Loyd has devoted his time to photography. He is best known for his photos of the University of Washington campus, Pacific Northwest totem poles, Genesee Country Village in Mumford, New York, and Old World Wisconsin. He judged the annual Old World Wisconsin photo contest for many years. More of his photos can be found at his website.

***Thank you to author Kathleen Ernst and the Wisconsin Historical Society Press for this review copy of A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons, of special interest to me because of my Wisconsin ancestry coming from Ireland, Norway, and Germany; and my husband's, settling further north in Wisconsin, from France and Belgium. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

I am beyond thrilled to share this news from the WI Historical Society Press:
"Our upcoming book “A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life through the Seasons” by Kathleen Ernst, with photography by Loyd Heath, has been selected to represent Wisconsin at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC!
"The book is on the list of “52 Great Reads Prepared by the Center for the Book and its Affiliate State Centers,” which features books representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands."
   --author Kathleen Ernst

Enjoy this preview of A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons written by Kathleen Ernst. Photographs by Loyd Heath. Published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. The photos in the book were all taken at Old World Wisconsin, a large outdoor living history museum that you can visit from May through October. Old World Wisconsin is located just outside the rural Village of Eagle in the Southeast corner of the state.


On a breezy, salt-scented day in the 19th century, a group of Bohemian immigrants with tearstained cheeks leaned over the railing of the ship that would take them to America. Someone began to sing Where Is My Home? Husky-voiced, the others joined in as their last glimpse of Europe faded into the horizon behind them.
   Another day, an Irish boy with haunted eyes and hollow cheeks boarded a ship. He did not look back at the land so desperately ravaged by potato blight and famine. Pinned inside his pocket was the note his mother had scribbled on a scrap of paper before she died—the name of an unknown uncle, and a single compass word: Wisconsin.
   At a different dock, several German women gave the tail ends of fat balls of homespun wool to their weeping, shawl-wrapped mothers and sisters. The yarn unwound behind the emigrants as they trudged up the gangway to their ship and found space at the railing. When the ship left her moorings, the yarn unspooled all too fast through trembling fingers. Soon each woman felt her twisted filament slip away—the last ephemeral link to everything dear and familiar. Dozens of strands billowed lightly over the water, fading from sight like the tail of some fearful mare galloping back to familiar pastures.
   Sometime later a Swedish tenant farmer, deep in debt, slipped from home on a dark night and made his way to the nearest port. He left his family with nothing but a promise to send passage money when he could. Years would pass before the family could reunite.
   Where is my home?
   The question haunted thousands of Europeans a century and more ago. They were caught between all they had ever known and the unimaginable—a new home on a different continent. Might America truly offer such dazzling possibilities to justify leaving loved ones? The decision was agonizing. Johann Schutster of Bavaria succumbed to gnawing doubts before departure: “We know how things are here,” he cried. “…Germany we know; America is an unknown country to us.” His wife replied, kindly but firmly, “Johann, we leave tomorrow for America.”
   Some immigrants traveled alone; others took strength from friends, relatives, or neighbors who had chosen to journey together. They’d all gambled that the journey would lead to to a better life—if not for them, for their children. Wisconsin’s population rose from 11,000 to over 305,000 between 1836 and 1850. By then, one-third of the population was foreign-born—some from Great Britain, some from Europe.
   Behind the statistics were more than 100,000 unique people, each with her or his own hopes and heartaches. School children can recite lists of “push and pull factors” that contributed to the mass immigration. Famine, wars and compulsory military service, political or religious oppression, lack of affordable or arable land, and primogeniture prompted thousands of European children, women, and men to turn their backs on home and family; available land and glowing reports from early immigrants and land agents lured them across the Atlantic. But many Polish immigrants, whose homeland was under Russian and German rule, summarized the reason for leaving succinctly: za chlebem—for bread. Thousands of desperate Poles saw no hope of preserving their culture, tilling their own land, or otherwise providing the most basic necessities for themselves and their children in the Old World. They came in search of a new home.
Kathleen Ernst, A Settler’s Year: Pioneer Life Through the Seasons Wisconsin Historical Society Press, © 2015.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joanne Bischof ~ A Road Trip Giveaway X's Two

This new story centers around a road trip ~ not just any road trip, getting from here to there, but a discovery trip ~ within the car, itself.

You will want to get a copy for yourself! Have you ever planned a road trip, or did one just become ~ serendipity happenstance?

A Road Trip Giveaway X's Two ~ click here!

road trip giveaway - www.joannebischof

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick, © 2015

Cover Art

Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now a mother of two, Eliza faces a new kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her mother's grave––and returning to the land of her captivity.
   Haunted by memories and hounded by struggle, Eliza longs to know how her mother dealt with the trauma of their ordeal. As she searches the pages of her mother's diary, Eliza is stunned to find that her own recollections tell only part of the story.
   Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick's latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman's heart. Get swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

   --from the Publisher

"The healing of old wounds comes not from pushing tragic memories away
but from remembering them,
filtering them through love to transform their distinctive brand of pain."
   - Jane Kirkpatrick

The Memory Weaver asks the does trauma affect a marriage and a mother and a life and how do we allow love to transform a memory to bring wisdom rather than despair? What role can friends and family play in helping another heal from a tragedy? How much are friends and family affected by disasters experienced by someone they loved? Set in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and the land where Eliza was once held captive, this is the story of memory and how what we remember isn't always what really happened. This story will remind us all that love is more powerful than the fiercest tragedy and that we often judge ourselves harshly over things we cannot change. Forgiveness is a journey we can make together. --author Jane Kirkpatrick

Describe the photo or the page it links to
I didn't know then that the healing of old wounds comes not from pushing tragic memories away but from remembering them, filtering them through love, to transform their distinctive brand of pain. ... Maybe I didn't even hear what I thought I did. Emotions wrap around memory. We don't recall the detail of our stories; we remember the experience.
   --The Memory Weaver, 18
Brownsville, Oregon Territory ~ 1851 
Eliza Spalding, oldest daughter, age 13 when her mother dies; siblings Henry 11, Martha 4, and Amelia "Millie" then 3. Always drawn to wildflowers, Eliza noticed more than daily chores or happenings; the indent of deer hooves, the quiet watch of an owl in a fir tree. Awareness.
   "I don't believe in coincidences." Then I sermonized as though I knew all there was to know. "I believe the Lord sets our path and whatever befalls us has some meaning and purpose."
   --Eliza, Ibid., 21
Andrew Warren, age 19, gravedigger when needed, hopeful future cattle spread owner. He is to learn a lot from Eliza, and she from him. Her father warns her not to keep company with any young man. Andrew has dreams. They include her.
   Facts do little but annoy big dreamers, or make them more determined to show the naysayers wrong.
   --Eliza, Ibid., 32
And the story weaves of the past ~ remnants remaining in the future.
“I really wanted to tell the story of how a tragic event affects not just the person in the middle of it but the people around it, the people who just stand and wait." --author Jane Kirkpatrick, blog
The Diary of Eliza Spalding

You will need to read The Memory Weaver as the story surrounds the happenings and events so vivid for such a time as this. To meld warmth and remembrance to harsh realities to follow the path set before each of us individually, meandering together as course proceeds.

I enjoy Jane Kirkpatrick's chronicles of paths she has chosen to rediscover in lands she has known.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the coveted Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have been finalists for the Christy Award, Spur Award, Oregon Book Award, and Reader's Choice awards, and have won the WILLA Literary Award and Carol Award for Historical Fiction. Many of her titles have been Book of the Month and Literary Guild selections. You can also read her work in more than fifty publications, including Decision, Private Pilot, and Daily Guideposts. Jane lives in Central Oregon with her husband, Jerry. Learn more at her website.

Enjoy this excerpt from Jane Kirkpatrick's novel, The Memory Weaver ~ Prologue & Part One



The woman rode sidesaddle, holding the leather reins like long ribbons in her sturdy hand.
   “Mama, Mama, wait!”
   The woman turned, looked out beneath her bonnet as her daughter ran forward, carrying a late-blooming iris in her nine-year-old hand. The girl’s Nimíipuu horse with freckles across its rump followed behind the child.
   “Why, I rode right past it, didn’t I, Eliza?” The woman inhaled the flower’s scent as the child handed the blue iris up to her.
   “I notice things.”
   “Yes, you do.” It was good to see the child’s smile light up her usually serious face. “But I notice that you are not on Tashe’s back. I dare not dismount from this sidesaddle to help you get back up.”
   “I can mount all by myself.”
   “Can you?”
   “I’ll show you. Come, Tashe.”
   The horse followed like an obedient dog as the child made her way down the bank of the Clearwater River. At what she decided was the perfect spot, the girl stopped the horse, ordered the mare to “Stay,” then scrambled back up the bank, the horse below her. The mare switched her tail but waited.
   “Watch, Mama.” Certain she had her mother’s full attention, the child leaned over to grab tufts of the horse’s mane, inhaled a deep breath, then leapt like a frog, landing astride, her dress covering the blanket on the horse’s back. She reached for the reins, then sat up straight as an arrow.
   “Oh, that’s wonderful.” Her mother clapped her gloved hands. “You’re so smart, Eliza.”
   “I am.” The satisfied smile revealed two front teeth almost grown in.
   “We must ride more often in the morning like this, so I can witness how wise you are, how much you’ve grown into a young lady.”
   “Just you and me, Mama, and none of the rest.”
   “Yes, just the two of us.”
   It was a promise the woman wished she’d kept, but events intervened as they always do. Still, the girl would remember that last solo ride with her mother: the sweep of the landscape, the scent of the flower and the horses, the sound of the Clearwater River chattering on its way to the faraway sea, and her mother’s approving smile. She would weave those memories into what happened later, trying to make sense of those threads, praying they would support rather than threaten her own life as a woman, mother, and wife.

Part One


In the Beginning

My earliest memory is of laughter inside a waterfall of words. I’m in a half-barrel that once held flour. Tree rounds act as wheels. My bare feet tease the knots of rope bored through the barrel’s end; my dress covers my legs stuck straight out. My hands grip the smooth sides of the half-barrel. A Nez Perce boy, with shiny hair as black as a moonless night, tows the rope over his shoulder, pulling me in my makeshift wagon across the rubbled ground in front of our cabin-school-church. I lay my head back, close my eyes, feel the sun on my face, let my child belly jiggle over the rutted earth, laughter joined to theirs. Ecstasy.
   A sudden jolt. The wagon stops. Eyes pop open. Before us stands my father, hands on hips, elbows out, eyes black as turned earth. Absent our laughter I can hear my mother’s distant voice speaking to her Nez Perce students inside the school, then Nez Perce voices repeating as a song: English. Nez Perce. English. Nez Perce. I let the words wash over me, as comforting as a quilt.
   I found no such comfort many years later at the grave-digging of my mother. I was thirteen. I didn’t know then that the healing of old wounds comes not from pushing tragic memories away but from remembering them, filtering them through love, to transform their distinctive brand of pain. That frigid January day in 1851 I wanted to forget my mother’s dying and so much more. Then laughter interrupted my sorrow as the chink, chink of the shovel hit dirt. Laughter—that made me wonder about my first memory. Perhaps it wasn’t true that I was comforted by Nez Perce words mixed in with my mother’s those years before. Maybe I didn’t even hear what I thought I did. Emotions wrap around memory. We don’t recall the detail in our stories; we remember the experience.
   Deep in the pit, pieces of ice floated in shadowed puddles. I had slipped out of a grieving house in Brownsville, Oregon Territory, leaving my brother and two sisters behind, with my father holding his head in his hands. I ought to have stayed at our cabin for my sisters and brother, comforted as an older sister should, been a shoulder to let them cry on. We all ached from the loss. But I’d had enough of tears.
   The laughter came from one of the grave diggers. He stopped when I approached. A light rain pattered against his felt hat, dotting the brim. I took his sudden silence when he saw me as respect while Mr. Osborne, the father of my one and only friend Nancy, continued to dig. I hadn’t minded the sound of laughter.
   Mr. Osborne looked up in the silence. He introduced us. “Andrew Warren, meet Eliza Spalding.”
   Mr. Warren’s eyebrows lifted. “But I thought—”
   “Same name as her mama, Eliza Spalding, who we’re working for here.” Mr. Osborne nodded at the grave hole they dug for my mother.
   Mr. Warren’s smile when he gazed at me from the pit was a clear drink of refreshing water that, when I swallowed, soothed a throat parched from tears. I noticed his shirt had a scorch mark against the white of his collar and wondered if his mama ironed it for him or if he did it himself.
   “Wishing it wasn’t so, Miss Spalding. A mother’s love can’t be replaced, only remembered.”
   “Thank you, sir.”
   “No need to call him sir. Not much older than you, he is.” Mr. Osborne winked.
   Andrew Warren seemed much older and wiser, his observation of my loss and memory wrapped together a profundity to me at such a vulnerable time. His brown eyes looked through me, and when he removed his hat to wipe his brow of sweat, a shock of dark hair covered his left eye. He had a clear complexion, his face free of whiskers, revealing a young man who chewed on his lip. I’d learn later he was nineteen.
   He did not attend the burial or at least I didn’t see him. My eyes and heart were focused elsewhere, and my hands were occupied with my siblings—Martha, four, but a year older than Baby Amelia, and Henry, named for my father, eleven—as we listened to one of my father’s preacher colleagues read the Scriptures. It was his intent to give us comfort and to try to capture my mother’s story at the grave site. Her amazing story. He failed, in my opinion. But who could capture the fleeting life of a woman who gave her all to the Nez Perce people, Indians who later sent us away.
   I saw Mr. Warren next that same spring. Muck still marked the Territorial Road, but rhododendron with their red and yellow hues edged the dark fir forests. My mother never lived to see spring in this new town my father had moved us to.
   That May morning I walked to Kirk’s Ferry with Nancy Osborne to pick up needles and thread at Brown and Blakely’s store. I could have asked my father to bring needles home since that’s where he worked as a postmaster, but in truth, I loved the walk with my friend. Nancy understood my quirky ways, my wanting to stop and inhale blossom fragrance or seeking tiny trillium that peeked through the dense forest shade. I had to point out deer hooves that had crossed our path and sent her eyes upward at an owl gazing down at us from a fir. It took forever to walk to the store, I stopped us so often.
   Out of nowhere, Mr. Warren appeared, sitting astride a horse, wearing brogans, heavy duck pants with shiny pocket brads, a white collarless shirt, a sweat-stained hat. His hands rested on the pommel, reins loose, as though he waited for me and had not a care in the world.
   “Like a ride into town, little lady?” Andrew’s soft drawl warmed like honey on a johnnycake. I couldn’t let him know of such thoughts, though. But neither was I one to be coy nor play those games I’d seen other girls tease at with boys.
   “I prefer my own two feet.” I looked up at his sable eyes shaded by his hat. “And I already have a companion. Miss Osborne, meet Mr. Andrew Warren.”
   “So you remember me?” He sat a little straighter on his horse. “Well, I am memorable.”
   “For such things as you may not wish to be remembered for. Free-speaking to young girls could be a caddish act.” I stifled back a grin of my own.
   “Hmmm. Well, my horse could use a rest. Any objection to my walkin’ beside you precious ladies?”
   “The road belongs to everyone.”
   Nancy giggled as the May warmth gathered around us, pu!y white clouds like cottonwood flu!s drifted across the sky. The pleasant weather gave me strength enough to deal with my father should he learn of my walking down the road with any young man. My mother could have tempered him. But she wasn’t there.
   His horse clomped along the dirt path and stopped us once or twice to tear at grass. Mr. Warren—I thought of him then and later, too, in that formal way—talked to us about a model of a revolver he hoped to buy one day, “a cap and ball firearm Samuel Colt called a Ranger, but they changed the name, call it Navy.”
   “You like guns, then, Mr. Warren?” Nancy asked the question. She’d turned eleven but was wise beyond her years. Tragedy does that to us.
   “I like the feel of them, their smooth barrels and the weight in my hands. I’m partial to the smell of gunpowder too. I plan to defend as needed against any old Indian uprisin’s that might come my way.”
   “There’s a certain alacrity in your voice, Mr. Warren.”
   “Don’t know the meaning of that word, Miss Spalding.” He frowned. I admired his ability to express his lack of knowledge.
   “Eagerness,” I said. “Or maybe enthusiasm might be a better word.”
   “Ah, that alacrity—that’s how you spoke it?”
   I nodded.
   “That alacrity would arrive on the horse named coincidence, my coming upon you girls walking and letting me join your path.”
   “I don’t believe in coincidences.” Then I sermonized as though I knew all there was to know. “I believe the Lord sets our path and whatever befalls us has some meaning and purpose.” My mother believed that, and at that moment I was certain of it as well, even if I couldn’t explain what happened, what sort of purpose the Lord could have for all those grievous deaths at the Whitmans’; all the pain and suffering that hollowed us still.
   “Then I thank the Lord.” Andrew didn’t seem the least fazed to have been “taught” twice in the same number of minutes nor did he seem to mind the certainty with which I spoke about God and life.
   I told him we were digging bulbs and he offered to help, holding the gritty tubers in his wide hands. He had stubby fingers, not long like my father’s. Nancy and I pressed a deer antler into the ground beside the blooms to loosen and pull them up, just as we’d seen the Nez Perce and Cayuse women do in spring. We were a little late for gathering the camas or other eating roots, but the iris was what I wanted to plant at the grave. My hands in the warm earth brought my mother to mind. But then, everything reminded me of her.
   Mr. Warren’s horse trailed behind, didn’t seem to need to have a rein held. I commented.
   “A well-schooled horse is one of man’s finest accomplishments. Do you like horses, Miss Spalding?”
   “I do. I miss Tashe, the mare I had at Lapwai.”
   “An Indian pony, was it?”
   “Nez Perce. Spotted hindquarters like freckles on a pale white face. She, too, followed behind without reins held when I walked.”
   We had that in common then, the value of a well-trained horse. Relationships have been built on smaller foundations.
   We chatted about the early feel of summer. I wiped sweat where my bonnet met my forehead, finished our digging.
   “I can lend a hand planting these.”
   “They’re for my mother’s grave.”
   “I’ve been watching you since that sad time.” His volunteering this made my skin tingle.
   “I’m not sure I like the idea of a man watching a mere girl.” I kept my eyes forward, caught Nancy’s look, her eyebrows raised in question.
   “You aren’t no girl. You’re an old soul. I saw that from the beginning. You weren’t no whimpering mess like some girls hit with harsh living.”
   “You seem certain of your insights, Mr. Warren.”
   “Ain’t sure of much, but I see courage when it walks beside me.” That day his claiming he saw courage in me proved a comfort and comfort was what I needed more than truth.

   It became a habit, his meeting me weekly, closer to the schoolhouse than might have been wise. I knew my father would object. My father objected to everything after my mother’s death. Yet there was a thrill to wondering what my father would do if he caught us. How strange to think I wanted the tingling of danger but I remember that I did—until a day when my father met me at the door, my brother standing behind him. I could tell by his set jaw and narrowed eyes that he was angry.
   “You will not cavort with that man!”
   “Don’t play naïve with me. That Warren.”
   “I merely walk to town and he walks beside me, Father. We’re rarely alone. Nancy joins us. And Henry watches too, as you know by his . . . tattling.”
   “Don’t blame others for your transgressions.” He raised his hand but did not strike me. He never did strike his own children, though he had been severe in punishment of the Nez Perce children. He used harsh measures with my brother too, more so since my mother’s death. He once put a wooden laundry pin on Henry’s nose, forcing him to wear it all day at school in humiliation for some perceived lack in my brother’s character that day. Had my mother been alive she would have stopped him. She did not believe in shame. And speaking of shame, I did not act to protect my brother either.
   My father continued his diatribe, ending with, “The man is too old, too loose in his direction, Eliza. Your mother had high hopes for you, as do I. You’ll continue your education. And we have work to do together, you and me. Work interrupted by, well . . . you know.” His voice had softened. “You must stay away from Mr. Warren. Or any young man. You are too young and I can’t afford to lose you too.”
   He stomped outside, leaving me and my brother staring at each other. I’d gotten off with a switch of my father’s tongue instead of a willow stick. Yet his words haunted. Or any young man? What future had my father planned for me?
   We’d left the mission at Lapwai in a hurry. Forest Grove, where most of the missionaries landed in the Willamette Valley, was a settled place. My father helped start a school there and my mother taught in it. It was a good place for recovering from all that had happened. Then the trial happened and Mother became ill and not long after we moved to Brownsville. I had traveled with my father, making sure he ate before his hours of preaching as he started new churches in Albany and beyond. I saddled the horses we rode, listening to the stories of hardships told by new immigrants and older settlers alike. If my mother was up to a journey, then we all went and I tended my siblings and took on the task of making certain my mother ate as well. After her death, I became my father’s sole preaching companion. I wondered if that’s how he saw my future.
   I glared at Henry Hart for tattling about Mr. Warren, surprised at the intensity of my upset. I slammed my purchased lye on the table with a bit more force than necessary. Soap had to be made. My father earned little money being the postmaster, teaching, and preaching, so I made soap, did the laundry, stitched patches on my father’s and Henry’s pants, let out the hems on Martha’s and Amelia’s little dresses.
   “Thanks, brother.”
   “I only want to protect you. Father says Mr. Warren is not a nice man.”
   “I can take care of myself. I’ve done it often enough.”
   His mouth turned downward in a frown. “I only said you had man company going to town. I didn’t think Father would mind, not really.”
   “Anything that isn’t his idea he objects to.” Henry nodded, stared at the floor. “It doesn’t matter, Henry. Mr. Warren merely likes to give his horse a rest and so he walks. Father will get used to it, if it continues.”
   “I could walk with you.” He rubbed at a cut on his finger.
   “You could.” I lifted his chin. “But if Papa thinks Mr. Warren is a poor influence, then he’d punish you as well for associating with him. I need to look out for you too. You and Martha and Amelia.”
   “We look out for each other.”
   “We do.”
   I smiled then, and later when Henry Hart came to me with apology wildflowers in his eleven-year-old hand, I accepted them and hugged him. It’s what my mother would have done.
   He lingered for a time, but as he saw I held no grudge against him, he left to chop the wood we’d fire and turn to ash for making soap.
   As I worked preparing supper for the five of us, my mind did wander onto Mr. Warren. His hair was the color of good earth, eyes the same as otter fur. Charming is the word that came to mind, beguiling, with just the slightest hint that what he presented might not be all there was to see. Was I drawn to the mystery of him? Or was testing destiny with Andrew Warren the distraction I longed for, pushing out the losses that had moved into my thirteen-year-old heart and threatened to stay?
Jane Kirkpatrick, The Memory Weaver Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2015.

***Thank you to author Jane Kirkpatrick and to Revell Reads for sending me a review copy of The Memory Weaver. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Bishop's Son by Kelly Irvin, © 2015

Book 2 in the Amish of Bee County series


This story is going to give you a lot of food for thought, whether Amish or Englischer, you will not passively read Leila Lantz's story. Would you choose differently for her? Would you wonder if she chose from her heart, from a need to choose a decision, or from knowing God's exact plan for her?
So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. ~ Colossians 3:1, 2 (The Message)
I got tugged at, even near the end, wondering if Leila was going to change direction after she had professed her intention. A peace that passes all understanding, a surety that we belong to the One who has claimed us as His own.

How do we leave home to go home?

Leaving childhood behind, entering adulthood, making future plans that encompass more than herself, Leila Lantz has new beginnings. Helping her family, making a way for future links with other young women, Leila is given permission to take a job in town. She is an inspiration to one young father as he asks how to care for his daughter. With wise counsel and even a hand in a new perspective for him, Leila sets his life on a new course. A young couple, torn between honoring their family in finishing high school and caring for their young son, Leila is a true friend and a strong foundation in hope. Cousins Jesse and Will bid for her hand and her heart. Decisions they make wrap around her heart as she finds what is her true course.

Kelly Irvin is a strong writer. Both of these first two stories could be read as stand-alones but you will enjoy getting to meet the surrounding families as they meld their lives together. Mordecai King, his sister, Susan, and his son Phineas, are favorites in my view, and I hope to find them interspersed in book 3, The Saddle Maker's Son, releasing in June of 2016.

Meet Kelly
KellyNewHeadShot Kelly Irvin is the author of The Bishop’s Son, the second novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins. It follows The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest House Publishing. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
   The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty-one years. Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They have two young adult children, two grandchildren, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

New Hope Amish
***Thank you to author Kelly Irvin and to Zondervan/HarperCollins for sending me a copy of The Bishop's Son to review. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

The Saddle Maker's Son (June 2016), Book 3 in The Amish of Bee County series by author Kelly Irvin.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lilacs for Juliana by Carrie Fancett Pagels Blog Hop & Kindle Fire Giveaway

The Blog Hop has begun for Lilacs for Juliana!

Be sure to put these dates on your calendar to learn more about Lilacs for Juliana.

Commenting on at least seven of these blog posts, you will be entered to win a magenta Kindle Fire. Enjoy accounts of this third story in The Christy Lumber Camp Series by Carrie Fancett Pagels.

~*One paperback copy will be given away to a commenter at each Blog Hop Stop!*~

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lady Maybe by Julie Klassen, © 2015

I like how this story begins; as an observer and then from the actual person's account. What we see isn't always how it is.

I have stopped reading at the end of the 22nd chapter ~
   "And take my copy of Sir Charles Grandison, since yours was lost. I insist."
   "Thank you, I should like that. When will you depart?"
   "On the morrow. But no need to hurry. Take your time packing your things and making arrangements. Even stay on if you change your mind. Just promise me you'll let Mr. Lowden know of any changes in your residence so he will know where to send the monthly stipend for Daniel's upkeep."
   She said, "I don't know that I will be seeing Mr. Lowden."
   "Oh ..." He drew out the syllable, eyes glinting. "Somehow I think you will."
I have read this far because of my favor for Julie Klassen's writings. I cannot read any further, even to search for a redemption. I would not have chosen this novel if I had known the content. My view is it feeds the flesh of the reader and not the spirit. I choose not to continue. I cannot recommend this novel to the readers of Julie Klassen's previous novels. One may say, I should complete the novel before making this observation. The content has unnecessary sexual description behind closed doors that is left to the imagination with little left out. I am offering a caution.

I will look to Julie's next novel with Bethany House, The Painter's Daughter, releasing in December 2015.

***This review copy was received from Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, upon request. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Music CD ~ Nichole Nordeman ~ The Unmaking, © 2015


"Before things in our lives can be resurrected and given new life, certain things must die.  Before beauty blooms in spring, roots must do the hard work under the hard frozen soil of winter.  Before you renovate and re-build, you tear down the parts of the structure that are weak or damaged or dangerous. Before we make, we must unmake."
   --artist Nichole Nordeman

My review:
(from The Unmaking) / Sorting through what goes and what should stay
Uplifting and freeing, Nichole Nordeman's The Unmaking ~ 6 songs, 24 minutes ~ will draw you close.

(from Not to Us ~ featuring Plumb)
Not to us / Not to us / But to Your name be glory
 / To Your name be glory / Not to us / Not to us
 / But to Your name be glory / To Your name ...

Name ~
He knows your name ~
You're a friend of God, daughter, son / Blameless
and forgiven one / You're a slave no more, finally free
 / Saints and heirs now redeemed / Your beautiful
and broken heart / Is safe and sound in His arms /
You are chosen, you are His / So remember this

Wonderful reminders of how loved we are

Track 4, Love You More, illustrates the forgiven throughout time ~ 
You've been loving me since time began / 
You're behind my every second chance

And the jazzy, Something Out of Me ~ upbeat, will have you movin'
...You make something out of me

Slow Down ~ a Mother's heart

Track Listings
1. The Unmaking 3:47
2. Not to Us 4:39
3. Name 3:02
4. Love You More 4:21
5. Something Out of Me 3:30
6. Slow Down 3:59

“But what if you're wrong? What if there's more? What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for? What if you jump? And just close your eyes? What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise? What if He's more than enough? What if it's love?”
Nichole Nordeman is a recording artist and songwriter (Sparrow/EMI CMG) with numerous #1 and top-ten singles, and CD sales of over one million.
   A two-time Gospel Music Association winner for Female Vocalist of the Year, Nichole has won a total of nine Dove Awards, including the best-selling album, Music Inspired by The Story.
   Her songs include: Holy ~ Legacy ~ Brave ~ This Mystery ~ Why and What If.
   She lives with her family in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

You will want to get acquainted with The Unmaking. Beautiful lyrics and music with a depth you will remember, and draw close.

***Giveaway CD Album of The Unmaking to one commenter at Lane Hill House ~ leave contact info[at]email[dot]com ~ drawing will be September 10, 2015, and winner will be notified.***

    winner guidelines, 2015:

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification."