It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour
book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)
***Special thanks to Kathleen Fuller for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathleen Fuller is the author of over twenty books, including the best-selling Hearts of Middlefield series. She lives with her husband of twenty years, James, and their three teenagers in Geneva, OH. Visit her website at www.kathleenfuller.com
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Everything changed between them the first time he called her Katie.
Katherine Yoder has loved Johnny Mullet since they were children, but he never actively returned her affections. Like so many things in their world, he assumes Katherine will always be there. Once his horse farm is a success, then he will court her in earnest.
For several weeks, Katherine has been plagued by severe headaches and dizziness. While resting at home, Johnny unexpectedly visits, but when dizziness strikes, she loses consciousness. She awakens hours later in a hospital bed, unable to remember how she got there.
Seeing Katherine injured and vulnerable stirs something in Johnny, and his guilt compels him to spend time with her while she heals. Soon his heart begins to stir with questions: Does she even remember why he'd come to her house that day?
As Katherine struggles to recall recent memories of Johnny, a surprise visitor arrives in her already unsteady world—a man named Isaac who claims they had been writing letters to each other, even considering marriage, before her illness.
With two men vying for her attention and her memory still elusive, Katherine has never felt so divided. The answer may lie behind a door she never considered opening.
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 7, 2013)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
“Oh, Katherine. This is so schee.”
Kathleen Fuller finishes up her Middlefield Family series in fantastic form with Letters to Katie. She promised me she would tie up loose ends of the series in this book -- and she did a superb job of fulfilling that promise.
Katherine Yoder smiled at her best friend, Mary Beth. She’d spent hours working on the baby quilt, making sure the tiny stitches were as perfect as possible for Mary Beth’s new baby. “I’m glad you like it.”
“Of course I do.” Mary Beth touched the soft flannel quilt, running her fingers over the pale yellow, blue, and peach blocks. Each block had a ragged edge, a new pattern she hadn’t attempted before. The simple style was well suited for a baby, and Mary Beth’s was due within a few weeks.
“I love it.” Mary Beth folded the quilt and placed it on her knees, her expanded belly barely allowing the space. “Danki for such a beautiful gift. Although I don’t see how you have the time, working so many hours at the restaurant.”
All I have is time, Katherine thought. She pushed the self-pity aside and managed a smile. She didn’t want to ruin the moment between them with jealousy. Unlike Mary Beth Shetler, Katherine didn’t have a husband—and soon a child—to take care of. Outside of working at Mary Yoder’s and helping her parents at home, her only other pursuits were her sewing and needlework. She was always busy, yet longed for something different. Something more.
Apparently God had other plans.
Mary Beth managed to rise from the chair in her tiny kitchen. Her husband Chris had built the four-room home behind Mary Beth’s parents’ property. The dwelling resembled a dawdi haus, and likely would be used as such once the rest of Mary Beth’s siblings—Johnny, Caleb, Micah, and Eli—married and left home. But for now, the tidy, cozy home was enough.
And more than Katherine had.
Mary Beth placed the quilt on the table. “I’m glad you came over. Since I’ve gotten so big, I haven’t gotten out much.” Her light blue dress draped over her bulging belly.
Katherine’s eyes widened. “Are you sure you’re not having twins?”
“Nee.” Her friend laughed. “But I look like I am.” With a waddling gait she moved to the cabinet. “Do you want anything to drink?”
Katherine shook her head. “I can’t stay too long. I wanted to make sure you got the quilt before the boppli arrived. I have to work later today.”
“Maybe just a few minutes?” Mary Beth went back to the table and sat down. She reached for Katherine’s hand. “It’s been so long since we talked. ”
“We’ve both been busy.” She squeezed her friend’s hand. “And you’ll be even busier in a few weeks.”
“Ya.” A radiant glow appeared on Mary Beth’s cheeks. “But I don’t want us to drift apart. You’re mei best friend.”
Katherine released her hand. “And I promise I’ll be the best aenti to your boppli.”
“The baby has plenty of onkels, that’s for sure.” Her smile dimmed a little.
Katherine frowned. “What’s wrong? It’s not the boppli, is it?”
“Chris is fine too. We’re happier than we’ve ever been. “
“Then what is it?”
Mary Beth sighed, but she didn’t reply.
“You know you can tell me anything. If something’s troubling you, I want to help.”
Her friend looked at Katherine. “It’s Johnny.”
Katherine’s heart twisted itself into a knot. She glanced away before steeling her emotions. “What about Johnny?”
“Are you sure you want to talk about him?”
“I’ve accepted that there’s no future for us. What I felt for Johnny was a childhood crush.”
A crush. The truth was, Katherine had loved Mary Beth’s twin brother Johnny for as long as she could remember. For years she held out hope for a chance, however small, however remote. She had clung to that dream as if she were drowning and it was her only lifeline.
But not anymore.
She sat straight in the chair, brightened her smile, and said, “What’s going on with him?”
“He’s been acting. . .different.”
“What do you mean?”
“Distant. Partly because he’s been working so many hours at the buggy shop. Mamm said she barely sees him except for church service. He leaves early in the morning and comes home late. But when he is around, he’s quiet.”
“That doesn’t sound like him,” Katherine said. “Do you think he’s keeping something from your familye?”
Something. . .or someone?
Despite Katherine’s vow not to care, her heart constricted again at the thought.
“I don’t know.” Mary Beth’s brown eyes had lost the warmth they’d held moments ago. “He’s becoming like a stranger to me. To all of us. We’ve drifted apart.” Her smile faded. “Like you and I have.”
Katherine shook her head in protest. “You know I’m always here for you.”
Tears welled in Mary Beth’s eyes.
Katherine drew back. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“I’m always crying.” Mary Beth wiped her eyes. “It makes Chris ab im kopp. Hormones, I’m sure.” She sniffed, wiping her eyes. “I’m glad we’re still best friends.”
Katherine hugged Mary Beth. “We always will be.”
Johnny Mullet put his hands on his hips and surveyed his new property. Four acres, a small house and an even smaller barn. All his.
The sad little farm didn’t look like much. But by the time he finished fixing everything up, no one would recognize it. He glanced at the empty pasture on the left side of the house. Tall grass, green and dense, swayed against a southerly breeze. He planned to purchase that acreage, too. Expand, and make his horse farm something he could be proud of.
If only Daed could see. . .
At the thought of his father, the grin faded from his face.
Hochmut, his father would say. Pride.
The worst character flaw any Amish could have.
But was there something wrong with feeling satisfied after hard work? After a job well done?
This wasn’t about pride. It was about independence. Making a good living. He’d seen his family struggle. He didn’t want that for his future. A future that, God willing, wouldn’t include only him.
With the hazy orange sun dipping below the horizon, Johnny hopped into his buggy and headed home. Ten minutes later he pulled up to his parents’ house. He was late for supper. Again. He quickly put up his horse and hurried into the house, sliding into his seat just as his father closed his eyes for grace.
After prayer, his mother passed his father a platter of ham. He speared a slice with his fork, peering at Johnny as he did. “Late day at work again?”
Johnny picked up a roll from the basket on the table. He drew in a deep breath. “Nee.”
“Then why are you late?”
“I bought a farm.”
Silence. Johnny glanced around the table. Caleb’s mouth dropped open, and Micah’s fork was poised in mid-air. Even six-year-old Eli gave him a funny look. “You what?” His mother’s eyes went wide with shock.
“You know that house down the road a piece? The one with the barn in the back?”
“You mean that shack?” Caleb shook his head.
Micah scooped up a forkful of green beans. “Calling it a shack is a stretch.”
Their father cleared his throat. The boys ducked their heads and kept eating. He turned to Johnny. “When did you do this?”
“Signed the paperwork yesterday.”
“Where did you get the money?”
He was already tired of the third degree, but he had expected no less. “Savings. From my job at Gideon Bender’s.”
“You must have gotten it for a song,” Caleb added. “Or less than a song. Maybe just a note.” He chuckled.
“Caleb.” His father shot him a silencing look before turning to Johnny again. “I wish you had consulted me first.”
“I’m an adult, Daed. I didn’t think I had to.” Seeing the flash of hurt in his father’s eyes, he added, “Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”
“I hope so.”
“Maybe you two could discuss this after supper?” Mamm’s lips pinched into a thin line. “The food is getting cold.”
Daed nodded, and dug into his food. No one said anything for the rest of the meal. But all Johnny could think about was the disappointed look on his father’s face.
Cora Easely gripped the smart phone in her hand. “The doctor wants me to do what?”
“He’d like to see you again,” the nurse repeated in a crisp, emotionless tone. “As soon as possible.”
“He’d like to run a few more tests.”
“How many more tests does he need?” Cora looked down at the bruise on her arm from the blood draw she’d received a few days ago. For months she’d been poked, prodded, scanned, and questioned. The dehumanizing madness had to stop. Her weary body couldn’t take it anymore.
“You tell Dr. Clemens I’m through with his tests. If he doesn’t have a treatment plan by now, clearly I need to see a more competent doctor.”
Silence on the other line. The nurse cleared her throat. “Mrs. Easley, Dr. Clemens is just being thorough.”
“Too thorough, if you ask me.”
“Are you refusing more testing?”
“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m doing.”
A pause. “I’ll mark that in your chart. You’ll still need to meet with Dr. Clemens at your earliest convenience. He will want to talk to you.”
“And I want to talk to him.” This nonsense had gone on long enough. She already had a diagnosis—Parkinson’s. What she didn’t have was a cure.
After making her appointment, Cora clicked off her phone and laid it on the glass coffee table. She walked to the large window in her penthouse and looked at the landscape in front of her. New York. The city of her birth, the place she’d lived all her life. But everything had changed in the past few months, changes she never expected.
Her hands trembled. The shaking had worsened over the past two weeks. Dr. Clemens had said to expect it. She hated that he was right.
Parkinson's. The diagnosis terrified her. She’d briefly glanced at the literature about the disease, only to promptly dispose of the pamphlets after reading about some of the symptoms. Loss of memory. Loss of motor function. Loss of control.
Cora Easely had never been out of control. She'd dictated and orchestrated every aspect of her life except for one. And now she was facing the possibility that within the next couple of years, she wouldn't even be in control of her bodily functions. What kind of life was that? Not one she wanted to live.
Cora turned to look at her maid, a faithful servant for the past several years. If it hadn't been for Manuela, her grandson, Sawyer, wouldn’t have found out the truth about his parents and the reason his mother ran off with his father. Or the story behind the estranged relationship she had with her daughter Kerry, and how Kerry had tried to mend the rift between them. Cora’s stubbornness had thwarted that. And now her grandson didn’t seem to want to have anything to do with her.
When he left to find Laura Stutzman two months ago, he swore he’d return. But he hadn’t. She wasn’t sure he ever would.
“Señora?” Manuela repeated. “Por favor. Did you hear me?”
“Sorry. Lost in my thoughts, I suppose.”
“Is everything all right?”
“Everything is fine.” But it couldn’t be further from the truth. She walked away from the window. “I need a glass of sparkling water.”
“Sí. Anything else?”
“No, just the water. Bring it to my bedroom.”
Manuela nodded and disappeared from the room. Cora made her way to her spacious bedroom. She sat on the edge of her bed, the silk comforter rustling from the movement. She picked up the landline phone on the mahogany end table. Dialed a familiar number. Tensed when she heard the voicemail.
“This is Sawyer. Leave a message.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but words failed. She couldn’t tell her grandson about her diagnosis. Not like this. She’d have to find another way. But she had no idea how.
The story is filled with great characters -- like Katherine, Johnny, Sawyer, Laura, and Cora -- many of whom are familiar "faces" from the earlier books. There is enough uncertainty in Katherine's and Johnny's story to keep you turning the pages, and the continuing struggle between Sawyer and his grandmother adds a whole other dimension of interest.
Kathleen has delivered a thoughtful message of people learning the importance of giving up personal goals to search for God's plans -- and the sometimes unexpected benefits of doing so.
I would highly recommend Letters to Katie to anyone who enjoys great Amish fiction. You will likely appreciate the story more, though, if you first read Treasuring Emma (my review) and Faithful to Laura (my review).