Monday, July 4, 2011

Book Feature: Homefires by Emily Sue Harvey


About Emily Sue Harvey

Emily Sue author photoEmily Sue Harvey, author and speaker, writes to make a difference. Dozens of her upbeat stories and articles appear in Chocolate for Women, Chicken Soup for the Soul, women’s magazines, websites, and other anthologies.
She is the author of the novel Song of Renewal and the novella FlavorsH. Her new novel, Homefires, will be followed by two more novellas and another novel (Unto these Hills) later in 2011.
To find out more about Emily visit or

About Homefires

HomefiresHomefires is set in the Deep South’s Bible Belt on the eve of unprecedented moral changes. It is the story of Janeece and Kirk Crenshaw, a couple married just after their high school graduation who set out to make a life for themselves. It is a life marked by surprises, none more dramatic than when Kirk receives his “high-calling” and becomes a pastor. It is a life marked by tragedy, the most heart-rending of which is a devastating event very close to home. And it is a life marked by challenges: to their church, to their community, and most decidedly to their marriage. And as the fullness of time makes its impact on their union, Kirk and Janeece must face the question of whether they have gone as far as they can together.
Filled with the rich emotions and evocative characters that fans have come to expect from Emily Sue Harvey, and reminiscent of the work of Jan Karon and Anne Rivers Siddons, Homefires is a poignant and compelling novel that will steal readers’ hearts.


Book Excerpt

Golden afternoon sunlight spilled over the heart pine vestibule floor, where Daddy fiddled with his blue shirt ruffle. “Does it look too sissy?” he muttered out the corner of his mouth, his features stricken with apprehension.
“You look just like a movie star,” I whispered, “Only better-looking.”
He relaxed, became Daddy again. Strong. The rock beneath my wobbly, stilettoed feet.
I clutched his arm and felt his hand squeeze my icy fingers. Lordy, was I nervous. Then I saw the groom’s party enter the front of the church, filing to stand before the pulpit. Horace “Moose” McElrath, a barrel of a fellow with corkscrew dark curls and eyes so smiley half-mooned I had yet to detect their color, took his honored place at Kirk’s side. As usual, his turkey-necking chuckle – always present when Moose was nervous – pressed a very latent giggle button deep inside me.
Daddy felt me shaking and gazed worriedly at my lowered head. “You okay?” he asked, patting my hand. I drew in a deep breath and brought the uncharacteristic mirth-seizure under control, nodding.
Then I really focused on Kirk. Another fierce thrill flared through me. Lordy – how did I ever not think him handsome? His loosely waved, wheat blond head glistened, awash with afternoon sunrays pouring through stained windows. From that distance, past one hundred heads, with me nearly hidden behind attendants, his gaze sought me out, found me. The connection – hokey as it sounds – szzzzzzed.
In a single heartbeat, I was back on my porch, nearly two years earlier, that evening Kirk’s contraption had idled to a halt before my mill village house, where I rocked and sang gustily along with Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill drifting through my bedroom window. Moose, my friend from English class, hopped off the passenger seat and chatted with me when I moseyed to the curb – actually a front yard easily spanned in four giant steps – to join them. I quickly labeled the wiry, sun-bleached guy the Quiet One, who sat behind the wheel of his peach flat, his gaze studiously transfixed to something beyond that bug-splattered windshield.
“What you guys doin’?” I’d asked.
“We been fishin’,” Moose replied, grinning.
“Catch anything?” I slid a glance at the Quiet One.
“You kiddin’?” Moose yuk-yukked. “We eat all our Vienna Sausages and crackers and drunk all our Cocolas, then left. Lookin’ fer girls, hey, Kirk?”
The Quiet One merely grunted. Or did he? Feeling bad for Moose, I quickly said, “Moose, did you ever learn how to conjugate them danged verbs?” We laughed and guffawed over that because Moose usually copied my homework paper.
The driver of the vehicle remained statue still, arms akimbo, eyes straight ahead like a horse wearing blinders. Frozen, yet relaxed in an odd sort of way. Curiosity ambushed me.
“Who’s he?” I asked Moose, not caring what the other guy thought since he wasn’t even trying to be polite. Least he could do was speak to me, concede that I existed. So my question was in the same pretend-he’s-not-here category as his silent disregard.
“Kirk Crenshaw,” Moose offered glancing curiously at his buddy.
“He’s in my homeroom.” I’d just recognized him. “Hey! You’re in my homeroom.” Let him ignore that. A thing that truly nettled me was disdain. It pounced against this thing inside me that simply must placate everyone. Fact was, I felt compelled to befriend every danged person I met and would, in fact, have taken them home with me had Daddy been more social-oriented.
For the first time, the wheat blond head turned to acknowledge me and his hard mouth curved slightly, as if in amusement, or annoyance, I couldn’t tell which. “Yeah?” he muttered, as in “so what?” Little did I realize that he waved a red flag before me, with his Elk majesty and male mystique. I knew so little of myself in those young days that it was much later before I recognized what that flag represented. Challenge.
Monday morning in homeroom, I watched Kirk Crenshaw’s brisk entrance just before the bell. His carriage bordered on cocky. But wasn’t. His energetic presence affected me, as did his crisp, freshly pressed shirt and slacks – slacks that showcased firm buttocks and long slender legs. It wasn’t that he was all that good-looking, though with wavy sun-bleached hair, his rugged features weren’t bad. Kinda nice, I decided, in a tousled, inexplicable way. It was something in the way he moved, like harnessed steam, smooth yet forceful. Even the way he shoved his hands in his pockets, infinitely male, held me rapt.
Later, a prickly being watched sensation moved me to suddenly swivel in my desk to face the back of the room, catching Kirk’s study of me. Spring-green eyes, set amid olive-complected features, startled me with their intensity, making my stomach turn over as a warm feeling trickled through me like summer branch water.
I smiled. He smiled back, his gaze never wavering. Then a strange phenomenon occurred. The tough guy blushed. Yeah. He really did, though his eyes never left mine. And that blush changed my whole perspective of Kirk Crenshaw.
Today, across the church, I smiled at him. He smiled back. Deja vu. Only this time, his blush was because a whole danged church full of villagers eyeballed him flirting with me.

FTC Information: I received this book from Pump Up Your Book Promotion for review.  I have Amazon links on my review pages but I do not make any money from these because of NC laws.  I put them solely for people to check out the books on a retail site.

In My Mailbox - July 4, 2011

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. To see this weeks list of participants go here.

I get a number of books that come in that I don't get to right away but deserve to be recognized on the blog so that is what I plan on doing.

I received some great books this week.  Tell me which one you are most interested in for a chance to win one of these books! (US/Canada only, ends 7/11/2011, book may be shipped later so I can read it)  The ARC tour books are not part of the giveaway, sorry.

For Review:

American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar
Little Brown, Publish Date: 1/9/2012

American Dervish: A Novel
Hayat Shah was captivated by Mina long before he met her: his mother's beautiful, brilliant, and soulfully devout friend is a family legend. When he learns that Mina is leaving Pakistan to live with the Shahs in America, Hayat is thrilled.

Hayat's father is less enthusiastic. He left the fundamentalist world behind with reason. What no one expects is that when Mina shows Hayat the beauty and power of the Quran, it will utterly transform the boy.

Mina's real magic may be that the Shah household, always contentious and sad, becomes a happy one. But when Mina finds her own path to happiness, the ember of jealousy in Hayat's heart is enflamed by the community's anti-Semitism-and he acts with catastrophic consequences for those he loves most.

The Full Moon Bride by Shobhan Bantwal
Kensington, Publishing Date: August 1, 2011

The Full Moon BrideWhat makes a marriage-love or compatibility? Passion or pragmatism? Shobhan Bantwal's compelling new novel explores the fascinating subject of arranged marriage, as a young Indian-American woman navigates the gulf between desire and tradition…

To Soorya Giri, arranged marriages have always seemed absurd. But while her career as an environmental lawyer has flourished, Soorya is still a virgin, living with her parents in suburban New Jersey. She wants to be married. And she is finally ready to do the unthinkable…

Soorya's first bridal viewings are as awkward as she anticipated. But then she's introduced to Roger Vadepalli. Self-possessed, intelligent, and charming, Roger is clearly interested in marriage and seems eager to clinch the deal. Attracted to him in spite of her mistrust, Soorya is also drawn into a flirtation with Lou, a widowed colleague who is far from her family's idea of an acceptable husband.

In choosing between two very different men, Soorya must reconcile her burgeoning independence and her conservative background. And she must decide what matters most to her-not just in a husband, but in a family, a culture, and a life…

Wishing For Snow by Minrose Gwin
Harper Perennial, Publishing Date: June 21, 2011

Wishing for Snow: A MemoirA daughter's brave and beautiful tribute to a remarkable damaged soul . . .   For novelist Minrose Gwin, growing up was a time of chaos and uncertainty, the result of? being raised by a parent with a serious mental illness. Life with poet Erin Taylor was unpredictable at best and painful at the worst times, as she spiraled ever deeper into psychosis until her eventual death from cancer. But reading her mother's childhood diary as an adult, Minrose encountered a very different Erin Taylor Clayton Pitner. Her late mother's words, written in the 1930s, revealed a cheerful, perceptive young girl growing up in rural Mississippi who wished for snow that "usually didn't come"—a girl with a bright view of the future as she progressed from college student to young mother to published poet, only to have an unbearable darkness close in around her, cruelly suffocating her hopes and dreams.   In her poignant and extraordinary memoir Wishing for Snow, Minrose Gwin sets out to rediscover her mother in the poems, letters, newspaper clippings, and quixotic lists that Erin left behind after her death. The result is an unforgettable true story of a Southern family and the tragic figure at its center—and a loving daughter's determination to find the mother she never knew.
Adrenaline by Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing, Publishing: 7/1/2011
Sam Capra is living the life of his dreams.

He's a brilliant young CIA agent, stationed in London. His wife Lucy is seven months pregnant with their first child. They have a wonderful home, and are deeply in love.

They have everything they could hope for...until they lose it all in one horrifying moment.

On a bright, sunny day, Sam receives a call from Lucy while he's at work. She tells him to leave the building immediately. He does...just before it explodes, killing everyone inside. Lucy vanishes, and Sam wakes up in a prison cell. As the lone survivor of the attack, he is branded by the CIA as a murderer and a traitor.

Escaping from the agency, Sam launches into a desperate hunt to save his kidnapped wife and child, and to reveal the unknown enemy who has set him up and stolen his family. But the destruction of Sam's life was only step on in an extraordinary plot-and now Sam must become a new kind of hero.

The Lost Angel by Jaview Sierra 
Atria Books, Publishing Date: 10/4/2011 (sorry I could only find a foreign cover)

Javier Sierra, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Supper, makes his long-awaited return with a heart-pounding apocalyptic thriller.

In approximately seventy-two hours, a little known Middle Eastern terrorist group plans to bring about the end of the world. Convinced that they are the descendents of angels, they believe they are on the verge of at last being returned to heaven. Central to their plan is the kidnapping of an undercover American scientist whose research has led him to an extraordinary secret: He is the keeper of a pair of mysterious stones whose origins are as old as time, artifacts said to grant their owner the power to communicate directly with God himself.

The scientist’s only hope for survival is his young wife—a woman born with a rare psychic gift that can unleash the power of the sacred stones. But she must find the courage to accept her visions and save her husband, all while running from religious extremists and secret U.S. government agencies who want the stones for their own purposes.

Like The Secret Supper, The Lost Angel bears all the hallmarks of Sierra’s erudite yet fast-paced brand of storytelling, combining historical fact and fiction with dazzling narrative feats.

Borneo Tom
In Story and Sketch: Love, Travel and Jungle Family in Tropical Asia by Tom McLaughlin
For Pump Up Your Book Tour

Join award winning science teacher Tom McLaughlin tracking orangutans, dancing naked in an earthquake, inadvertently swimming with jelly fish and MORE DANGEROUSLY falling in love.This humorous collection of essays follows Tom as he travels throughout Southeast Asia and parts of China and Vietnam.

Researching both Alfred Wallace and Charles Darwin, he arrives at his own ideas about how they came up with their theories that will bring controversy to the scientific history crowd. In four remarkable stories he explores both lives and deduces one was probably drunk and the other crazy.

Love plays an important part of his story. He reconciles with his daughter after a nasty divorce. Her younger sister shares many of his adventures with him and he chronicles a teenagers reactions to the many wonderful sights and sounds of Southeast Asia.

Without warning Tom falls madly in love with a kampung girl, marries, and then, after a vasectomy, finds she is with child.Follow the courtship and marriage ceremonies all sensitively portrayed with respect to local custom.

Wildlife plays an important part in Tom's essays. He relates humorous encounters with orangutans, the raflesia flower and pandas.Part of the earnings from the book will supplement the trip cameras he has already purchased for a wildlife center in Malaysian Borneo.

The book is illustrated in caricature by famous Kuching waterfront artist Niki whose paintings of the Malaysian national bird The Horn Bill hang in homes around the world.

Tom lives in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo with his expectant wife Suriani. Check out his blog at And, since you read this far, you will receive a free sling bag, see the blog description mailed via sea mail from Borneo. Just e-mail Tom at

ARC Tours

Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson
Milkweed Editions, Publish Date: September 13, 2011

CalliFifteen-year-old Calli has just about everything she could want in life—two loving moms, a good-looking boyfriend, and a best friend who has always been there for support. An only child, Calli is excited when her parents announce that they want to be foster parents. Unfortunately, being a foster sister to Cherish is not at all what Calli expected. First Cherish steals Calli’s boyfriend, then begins to pit Calli’s moms against one another, and she even steals Calli’s iPod. Tired of being pushed around and determined to get even, Calli steals one of Cherish’s necklaces. But this plan for revenge goes horribly awry, and Cherish ends up in juvenile detention.

Isolating herself from her moms, her boyfriend, and even her best friend, Calli wrestles with her guilt and tries to figure out a way to undo the damage she’s caused. When her moms are asked to take on another foster child, Calli sees an opportunity to make amends for her past mistakes.

Funny, moving, and emotionally rich, Calli is a portrait of an endearing young woman caught between adolescence and adulthood, striving to do the right thing even when all of her options seem wrong.

Left Neglected by Lesa Genova
Gallery Books, Publish Date: January 4, 2011

Left NeglectedSarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

 A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.  

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.