Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Remembered by Tamera Alexander

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

(Fountain Creek Chronicles, Book 3)

(Bethany House, 2007)



Tamera Alexander is a bestselling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Alexander’s books have won multiple awards, including Romance Writers of America’s 2007 RITA® for Best Inspirational Romance, the 2007 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 2007 Bookseller’s Best, and Library Journal’s Top Christian Fiction of 2006.

Her books have received acclaim from Library Journal, True West Magazine and Historical Novels Review, and Rekindled debuted on the CBA fiction bestseller list. She has a professional background in business management and conference coordination. A leader of women's ministries for over twelve years, she is currently active in music ministry, facilitating small groups, and mentoring other women. A graduate of Harding University, Tamera lives with her husband and their two teenagers in Greeley, Colorado.

Her other two books in the Fountain Creek Chronicles are Rekindled (Book 1) and Revealed (Book 2)

To celebrate the release of Remembered, as well as the 3-volume boxed set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered), Tamera is currently giving away boxed sets in a contest on her website. Check out the contest at .

From a Distance, the first book in Tamera’s next historical series (Timber Ridge Reflections) releases in spring 2008.


Though loss is often marked
in a single moment,
letting go of someone you love
can take a lifetime...

The threat of war--and a final request--send Véronique Girard from France to a distant and uninviting country. In the Colorado Territory, she searches for the man who has held her heart since childhood--her father. Pierre Girard left Paris for the Americas to seek his fortune in fur trading, vowing to send for his wife and daughter. But twenty-five years have passed and his vow remains unfulfilled. Sifting through shards of broken promises, Véronique embarks on a dangerous search for a man she scarcely remembers.

His grief finally healed, Jack Brennan is moving on with life. After years of guiding families west, he is now working as a freighter to the mining towns surrounding Willow Springs. What he doesn't count on is an unexpected traveling companion on his trips up into the mountains, and how one woman's search will cause havoc with his plans... and his life.

"Alexander again delivers a most amazing story. The characters are more than words on the page; they become real people. Though there are French words sprinkled throughout the story, they enhance the emotions rather than distract the reader." --Romantic Times

"...a rich historical romance by possibly the best new writer in this subgenre." --Library Journal

"Alexander has done it again with Remembered, third in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES. She's fashioned characters that are as rich and deep as the mountains and valleys they explore throughout the pages, coloring the story as adeptly as the heroine does her canvas. I was drawn immediately into the ages-old heartaches of both of the main characters, understanding at once Veronique's reticence to make a place for herself in the unknown wilds of America and Jack's uncompromising love for this land that he’s cut a swath through time and again. They both have a series of mountains to overcome in the search for Veronique’s father, but I enjoyed watching their faith and appreciation grow with each turn of the page. And woven adeptly through it all is the encompassing truth of the Lord's sovereignty—that sometimes He takes away, and sometimes He gives us what we need, not what we're looking for.

Anyone's who's read the other Fountain Creek books won't want to miss this one, but it easily stands alone. The characters will take you by the hand and lead you heart-first into their stories, and by the time they release you at the end, you'll feel as though you've taken up residence just across the Creek from them, as surely as they have in your heart." --Roseanna White,

"Remembered, the third book in the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES, takes us back to Willow Creek and revisits beloved characters from the previous two books in the series, Rekindled and Revealed. Tamera Alexander has the remarkable ability to create places, and characters who endear themselves to us, even those just briefly mentioned. If I had lived in the late 1800s, I would love to have met these people and would surely have been inspired by the way they lived out their faith.
Remembered is a delightful read, well-researched and well-written. I expect to see great things from this author in the future." --Lindsey Freitas,

"Remembered is an absolutely wonderful continuation of the FOUNTAIN CREEK CHRONICLES." --Amanda Schafer,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Blessed Assurance by Lyn Cote

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Avon Inspire (October 1, 2007)


Lyn Cote


Lyn Cote's journey to becoming a published author was a long one - she started her first book when her daughter was 13 months old and her first novel was published when her daughter was about to enter high school. But Lyn was writing for a market that hadn't taken shape yet - the inspirational fiction market.

In 1996, Lyn Cote's first inspirational historical manuscript was a finalist in the Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Contest. This became her first historical novel, Whispers Of Love, in her
Chloe, the first novel in Lyn's "Women of Ivy Manor" historical series was a 2006 RWA Rita Award finalist for Best Inspirational, as well as a finalist for the Holt Medallion and the National REaders Choice Contest.

Lyn also writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in the lovely northwoods of Wisconsin with her husband and three cats. Aside from writing, she also likes to knit, crochet, read, and do lunch with friends.


Now available for the first time in one edition--All three novels from Lyn Cote's beloved Blessed Assurance series

In Whispers of Love, Civil War widow Jessie Wagstaff must fend for herself and her son. When a stranger, Lee Smith, befriends Jessie's son, even though she recognizes nine-year-old Linc's need for a father figure, she's reluctant to let a new man into their life. When the Great Chicago Fire blazes, every heart is pushed to its limits.

In Lost In His Love, Jessie's son Linc, a social activist and reporter, charms his way through the upper class of San Francisco to build much-needed support for his fight against child labor. His main target is Cecilia Jackson, a beautiful heiress who doesn't recognize the crucial part she plays in this dangerous exploitation. As the secrets of her family's dark past are exposed, Cecilia must revive her own wounded spirit and find the strength to lean on the never-failing love of Christ. But when the 1906 earthquake hits, everyone's faith will be put to the test.

In Echoes of Mercy, Meg Wagstaff challenges the racial barriers of 1920s New Orleans in order to prove that her childhood friend did not commit murder. The stubborn lawyer prosecuting the case, Gabriel St. Clair, is an authentic Southern gentleman who makes the mistake of underestimating Meg, both her tenacity and her charm. Despite their many differences, sparks begin to fly. But when Meg discovers the truth, will Gabe be able to protect her from those who can't afford to have justice prevail?

"A beautiful tale of love, forgiveness, and acceptance."

~CBA Marketplace

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Hey, I just visited someone's post where they tell all the states they've been to and asked people to comment on where they've been too. I'll take it a step further: States and Countries!

States I've visited:

Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey.

Countries I've visited:

USA...duh, Mexico, England, Hungary, Croatia, Germany, Switzerland, France, Ireland, Holland, Italy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Silly Names

If you like this, consider yourself tagged and let me know where to go look at your post!

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car),
Tippy Corseca

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie),
Burgundy Cherry Mint Milano

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal),
Red Ferret

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born),
Christina Santa Clara

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first),

7. SUPERHERO NAME: ("The" + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink),
The Green Tea

8. NASCARrs),first name of your grandfathers
Harold John

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy),
Poison Crunch

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names ),
Sylvia Paul

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher's last name, a major city that starts with the same letter),
Oliver Oklahoma

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower).
Spring Wisteria

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you're wearing right now + "ie" or "y")
Strawberry Shirtie

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Melon Eucalyptus

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: ("The" + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + "Tour"),
The Painting Fog Tour

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ex-Files by Victoria Christopher Murray

This was a controversial book to the readers of the CFBA. We had a discussion about it on Shelfari. Here's what was said:

M. C. Pearson - 9 days ago
Personally, I started it but was turned off by the blatent sexual references. Bad images were going through my head, so I decided to just put it down.

karlyle - 8 days ago
Mimi, I think you and I have very similar reading tastes! That is exactly what I did, too. I read the first 2 chapters, but I won't be finishing this one. (And I do try to read all the books I request for blog tours...)

I'm not sure what to post for my comments when it's time to put it up on my blog. I hate to only say something negative... maybe it would be best to just post the cover blurb and let it go at that. What *do* you do in a case like this?

M. C. Pearson - 8 days ago
I'm going to be honest...sometimes it just has to be said, ya know? So what if we make others upset, we need to stand up for what we believe in. I'm really surprised that all that stuff was put into a 'Christian' book. We shouldn't have to put up with R rated material. Even if it wasn't 'explicit' I did not enjoy reading about the huffing and puffing of premarital sex, a gay husband, and some chick fantasizing about a banana and her lover. PLEASE!

beatccr - 7 days ago
really? wow all that was in the book???? and this is a Christian fiction book????? ok i'm going to have to go get my copy now and flip through it...

karlyle - 7 days ago
Not only was "all that" in the book... "all that" was in the first two chapters. And, yes, it was supposed to be Christian fiction. I have to assume there was some redeeming message to the story... but I didn't care to drag my mind through "all that" to get to it.

thedeena - 6 days ago
The redemptive message is in there, but it seems very watered down. As the book went along (I skimmed it) I kept waiting for Biblical teaching on homosexuality and never really found it.

The character who was married to the gay man....her daughter gets caught kissing another girl...and it was fairly explicit.

CFBA - 20 hours ago
If you requested a book, whether you like it or not you are obligated to post at least the cover and book link. If you didn't like it tell why. Everyone does not like every book, and to dislike it is a fair option.

I have seen much more explicit encounters in christian books, especially in Steeple Hill. There were a total of 11 an almost 400 page book.

Finding out that your husband is gay, has even happened to christian women, and is a fact of life that we can't sweep under the rug. We already know that homosexuality is a sin. The story wasn't about the husband :-) Homosexuality was not addressed because it was not the protagonist's problem. It was her exhusband's problem. The story thread was HOW she dealt with his infidelity, and the loss of mutiple men in her life.

And as for the two girls kissing, if you read the book you would have found out that the girls were kissing because they wanted to know what kissing a boy was like, but they were both afraid to ask a boy to kiss them, so they tried it on each other. They were NOT gay!

The woman in premarital sex...that was her problem. The man involved was begging her to marry him, and she refused because she was afraid of commitment. It gets resolved in the end with her accepting his marriage proposal.

The redemptive message was by no means watered down, unless you call NOT being hit over the head with a Bible watered down. Three of the women...thru prayer, God, and a very attentive Pastor were redeemed by the end. The fourth, couldn't get past her problem and wouldn't allow God to help her, and she commited suicide.

Bonnie Calhoun - Director- Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

M. C. Pearson - 8 hours ago
Glad you liked it, Bonnie. Don't worry, I always post...and when I feel the need, give my opinions. LOL...I wuv you.

thedeena - 6 days ago
Oh, I'm SO glad I'm not the only one! I wish I hadn't signed up for this one...I don't even want to help promote it.

M. C. Pearson - 6 days ago
I'm going to write up what we've been saying and put it on my blog. You got so much further than I did...I can't believe the homosexuality wasn't even addressed Biblically! Man, I'm glad I put this in my file 13 (trash can)!

thedeena - 6 days ago
I think the pastor said, "Of course, you know he wasn't born that way." But that was all I read concerning it. It was assumed to not be a good thing, but it ended up that he was bi-sexual, and wanted to get back with his wife.

I didn't really "read it". I skimmed the chapters about the gay man's wife to see what she would say about the subject...but there was some yuck about child molestation and I caught the girl's kiss...that just turned my stomach.

I feel bad saying anything about the author's work...but I can't for the life of me figure out why we were asked to review this one...even the cover sent me bad signals. Maybe I'm just a prude, but I like myself that way:-)

karlyle - 5 days ago
Makes me leery of that publisher, for one thing... I often judge books by who the publisher is... for example, if I pick up a book that's published by Bethany House I know it's okay. I may not end up enjoying the story as much as some, but at least I can trust that it will be clean and usually scriptural.

I don't mind that this one came up on our review list. That's what a review list is for, right? To give our opinions of the book. I just hate that I have nothing good to say about it. Obviously, I've enjoyed some of the books we've reveiwed more than others, but I can usually find something worthwhile about each one... even if it's not exactly my "cup of tea"...

Rel - 2 days ago
Due to an overwhelming TBR I haven't got to it yet and I am thinking I might not want to - LOL! Thanks for your honest thoughts!

CFBA - 20 hours ago
I only read action/adventure, suspense, and thrillers. I don't read women's fiction at all, but after some of the comments I read, I was compelled to read this book for myself. I thought it was a heart-rendering account of four women's lives that mirror several of my own friends.

I didn't feel that the eleven lines in the almost 400 page book were "blatant" about sex. I've seen a lot longer...and much more explicit accounts in Steeple Hill romance novels. And those 11 lines were by no means gratuitous. They were necesary to help you understand the depth of the character's emotional commitment.

But there are different strokes for different folks. I personally can't stand Harry Potter for what I consider blatant witchcraft, yet there are many Christians who see nothing wrong with HP and have read all the books!

I loved The Ex Files, and now I'm going to have to buy the other book that this one family is in to see how they began.

Bonnie Calhoun - Director - Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

M. C. Pearson - 20 hours ago
Boy, Bonnie...was that a zing at me about HP? LOL...don't worry. I still love you. ;-)

CFBA - 20 hours ago
LOL...not just you Mimi! There are a ton of Christians who see absolutely nothing wrong with Harry Potter. To me Harry Potter is blatant witchcraft. In the Bible there is no redemptive value in witchcraft..whether it is "white-(good)" witchcraft or "black-(evil) witchcraft...God said it is bad...period.

With sex...God said there is a place where it is the marriage bed. Although we all know many, many christians that take it outside of those boundries. If Christians listened to God there would be no out of wedlock sex does have a 'good' purpose in God's word, although we sometimes use it wrong, but witchcraft does not!

LOL...and i love you too. We don't always have to agree!
Bonnie Calhoun - Director- Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

M. C. Pearson - 8 hours ago
I totally agree that we are entitled to our opinions and people like different things, but for arguments sake I’m going to answer this. The Harry Potter books are not under a Christian label. I believe they have wonderful morals and themes to them. If God can speak out of the mouth of a donkey, then he can speak out of the words of a secular novel. I do agree that any form of witchcraft is evil. But this was a fantasy novel…I wish she had chosen a different way to tell the wonderful stories she told so that many Christians could benefit from them.

I am glad that you liked Ex-Files and found it had some great lessons. I wish she hadn’t illustrated the sexual immorality the way she did. By painting the word pictures of pre-marital sex, homosexuality, promiscuousness, and adultery so well, I couldn’t get the images out of my head. I did not want to subject my mind to it and did not want to give any more time to it to find if it had redemptive qualities. I felt that if the author had all that in the first two chapters, it would just be more of the same throughout. I’m glad to hear that I was not totally right. Yet, I still have no desire to read the book.

Just my opinion. I will still blog about it, but I am going to state how I feel about the book.

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Ex Files

(Touchstone June 19, 2007)



Victoria Christopher Murray always knew she would become an author, even as she was taking quite an unlikely path to that destination. A native of Queens, New York, Victoria first left New York to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia where she majored in Communication Disorders. After graduating from Hampton, Victoria attended New York University where she received her MBA.

Victoria spent ten years in Corporate America before she decided to test her entrepreneurial spirit. She opened a Financial Services Agency for Aegon, USA where she managed the number one division for nine consecutive years. However, Victoria never lost the dream to write and when the “bug” hit her again in 1997, she answered the call.

Victoria originally self published Temptation. “I wanted to write a book as entertaining and compelling as any of the books on the market, put God in the middle, and have the book still be a page-turner. I wasn’t writing to any particular genre – I didn’t even know Christian fiction existed. I just wanted to write about people I knew and characters I could relate to.”

In 2000, Time Warner published Temptation. Temptation made numerous best sellers list across the nation and remained on the Essence bestsellers list for nine consecutive months. In 2001, Temptation was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in Outstanding Literature.

Since Temptation, Victoria has written four other novels. All of her novels have continued to be Essence bestsellers; her last three each reaching #1. In addition, Victoria has received numerous awards including the Golden Pen Award for Best Inspirational Fiction and in 2006, she was awarded the Phyllis Wheatley Trailblazer Award for being the pioneer in African American Christian Fiction.


The Ex Files:

A Novel About Four Women and Faith...

There are four ways a woman can handle heartbreak. She can fall apart, seek revenge, turn cold, or move on. The Ex Files is the story of these four women:

When Kendall Stewart finds her husband and her sister in bed together, she vows to never let anyone get that close again. But when she is faced with saving the life of the woman who destroyed hers, will she be able to forgive?

When an NBA superstar tells his mistress, Asia Ingrum, that he's decided to honor his marriage vows, her shock quickly gives way to revenge...but her decision may come back to haunt their five-year-old daughter.

Every night Vanessa Martin wonders why her husband committed suicide. Even worse, she contemplates joining him in eternity. Will Vanessa be able to gather the strength to live again?

Sheridan Hart is finally finding her way after a lie destroyed her seventeen-year marriage. Her new love is ready to get married, but will she commit to this younger man or is her ex-husband taking up too much space in her heart?

When their pastor asks Kendall, Asia, Vanessa, and Sheridan to meet weekly for prayer, they can't imagine they will have anything in common. But then a devastating tragedy strikes and these strangers are forced to reexamine their choices. Will they find true friendship, or will prayer -- and their union -- fail them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fun Survey

Bethany House, a publisher, is asking people's opinions about book covers for a new book they're putting out. I found it interesting how the different covers made me feel about the book. Click here to take the survey! The survey is on the top right hand side of the page.

Life, Libby, and the Pursuit of Happiness by Hope Lyda

I enjoyed this book. There were several laugh out loud moments. I especially liked how she would go into a used bookstore and spend hours sitting with a book and the store owner's dog. Sounds like something I'd do. LOL...except I'd have trouble with the allergies. If you are in a lazy rainy day mood, this is a good choice for a read on the couch. :-)

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(Harvest House Publishers March 1, 2007)



Hope Lyda has always wanted to write. Ever since she was a young tyke with a spiral notebook in hand, she had the urge to fill it. Sadly, Peggy Meets the Midgets did not cause Hope to be deemed a child prodigy, so she continued her path of education. She was grade-obsessed but also truly enjoyed sharing laughs with her circle of creative friends.

Hope attended the University of Oregon and graduated with a double major in Journalism: Advertising and Telecommunications and Film. With aspirations to write screenplays or teleplays, she of course ended up doing public relations for non-profits until she entered the publishing field in which she has worked for 10 years.

Her passions are quiet ones—she loves a good read, an afternoon of free thinking time, writing, journaling, road trips, travel, and pondering life from her back yard pergola. She loiters in bookstores frequently, though has never been arrested for such. Her big hope is to encourage others to embrace their dreams and understand their faith journeys through the practice of journaling and the art of creative living. She hopes to also inspire such things through the themes in her fiction including Hip to Be Square and Altar Call. (There are also visions of a nice Casita with a hammock in Mexico—but one thing at a time.)

When not living in her head, she resides with her husband, Marc, in the Pacific Northwest.


Libby Hawthorne makes exotic trip itineraries but never leaves Seattle. She’d like to attend church but winds up at a bookstore. She longs for love—but who has the time? Delayed happiness has been worth it, because she’s about to get her dream promotion...

Or not.

So now what?

When a corporate merger leaves her demoted and disillusioned, Libby realizes she needs to start living authentically...and soon. But just as she tries to uncover her purposed life, her cruel and unusual boss, Cecilia, demands that Libby hide Seattle’s most famous homegrown rock star in order to keep her new, bad job. For the first time in years, Libby doesn’t have a step by step plan to guide her. She must trust her faith and her heart. But what is she supposed to do with her growing admiration for Blaine Slater, a new VP from Chicago, or the surprising kindness of the rock star living incognito in her Seattle apartment? Through the humorous twist and turns, Libby uncovers a big life truth—the detours we are afraid of might just be the perfect path to happiness.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

I LOVED THIS BOOK! It was hilarious and fun, as well as handling the horrible topic of rape in a wonderfully tender way. Two thumbs way up to Camy!!!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sushi for One?

(Zondervan, September 1, 2007)




Camy Tang is a member of CFBA and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

To celebrate the launch of her debut novel, she's got a huge contest going on. Camy is giving away baskets of Christian novels and an iPod Nano! Only her newsletter YahooGroup subscribers are eligible to enter, so join today.

For more information about the contest, visit her website.

Contest ends October 31, 2007!


Lex Sakai’s family, big, nosy, and marriage-minded, is ruled by a crafty grandmother. When her cousin Mariko gets married, Lex will become the OLDEST SINGLE COUSIN in the clan, a loathed position by all single female family members.

Lex has not dated for years.

Grandma homes in on this fact and demands, bribes, and threatens Lex to bring a boyfriend (not just a date) to her cousin’s wedding.

Lex does not want to date ... not since that terrible incident a few years back ... but, Grandma doesn't give her that choice.

Lex's options are slim because she has used her Bible study class on Ephesians to compile a huge list of traits for the PERFECT man (and the more she dates, the more she adds to the list).

The one man she keeps running into (and is completely attracted to) doesn’t seem to have a single quality on her list. It’s only when the always-in-control Lex loses control and lets God take over that all the pieces of this hilarious romance finally fall into place.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sushi for One? by Camy Tang

It is September 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature author is:

and her book:

Sushi for One?

(Zondervan, September 1, 2007)


Camy Tang is a member of FIRST and is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.

Sushi for One? (Sushi Series, Book One is her first novel. Her second, Only Uni (Sushi Series, Book Two) comes out in February 2008!

Visit her at her website.


Chapter 1

Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.

If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.

Lex Sakai raced through the open doorway to the Chinese restaurant and was immediately immersed in conversation, babies’ wails, clashing perfumes, and stale sesame oil. She tripped over the threshold and almost turned her ankle. Stupid pumps. Man, she hated wearing heels.

Her cousin Chester sat behind a small table next to the open doorway.

“Hey Chester.”

“Oooh, you’re late. Grandma isn’t going to be happy. Sign over here.” He gestured to the guestbook that was almost drowned in the pink lace glued to the edges.

“What do I do with this?” Lex dropped the Babies R Us box on the table.

Chester grabbed the box and flipped it behind him with the air of a man who’d been doing this for too long and wanted out from behind the frilly welcome table.

Lex understood how he felt. So many of their cousins were having babies, and there were several mixed Chinese-Japanese marriages in the family. Therefore, most cousins opted for these huge—not to mention tiring—traditional Chinese Red Egg and Ginger parties to “present” their newborns, even though the majority of the family was Japanese American.

Lex bent to scrawl her name in the guestbook. Her new sheath dress sliced into her abs, while the fabric strained across her back muscles. Trish had convinced her to buy the dress, and it actually gave her sporty silhouette some curves, but its fitted design prevented movement. She should’ve worn her old loosefitting dress instead. She finished signing the book and looked back to Chester. “How’s the food?” The only thing worthwhile about these noisy events. Lex would rather be at the beach.

“They haven’t even started serving.”

“Great. That’ll put Grandma in a good mood.”

Chester grimaced, then gestured toward the far corner where there was a scarlet-draped wall and a huge gold dragon wall-hanging. “Grandma’s over there.”

“Thanks.” Yeah, Chester knew the drill, same as Lex. She had to go over to say hello as soon as she got to the party— before Grandma saw her, anyway—or Grandma would be peeved and stick Lex on her “Ignore List” until after Christmas.

Lex turned, then stopped. Poor Chester. He looked completely forlorn—not to mention too bulky—behind that silly table. Of all her cousins, he always had a smile and a joke for her. “Do you want to go sit down? I can man the table for you for a while. As long as you don’t forget to bring me some food.” She winked at him.

Chester flashed his toothy grin, and the weary lines around his face expanded into his normal laugh lines. “I appreciate that, but don’t worry about me.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. My sister’s going to bring me something—she’s got all the kids at her table, so she’ll have plenty for me. But thanks, Lex.”

“You’d do the same for me.”

Lex wiggled in between the round tables and inadvertently jammed her toe into the protruding metal leg of a chair. To accommodate the hefty size of Lex’s extended family, the restaurant had loaded the room with tables and chairs so it resembled a game of Tetris. Once bodies sat in the chairs, a chopstick could barely squeeze through. And while Lex prided herself on her athletic 18-percent body fat, she wasn’t a chopstick.

The Chinese waiters picked that exact moment to start serving the food.

Clad in black pants and white button-down shirts, they filed from behind the ornate screen covering the doorway to the kitchen, huge round platters held high above their heads. They slid through the crowded room like salmon—how the heck did they do that?—while it took all the effort Lex had to push her way through the five inches between an aunty and uncle’s
chairs. Like birds of prey, the waiters descended on her as if they knew she couldn’t escape.

Lex dodged one skinny waiter with plates of fatty pork and thumb-sized braised octopus. Another waiter almost gouged her eye out with his platter. She ducked and shoved at chairs, earning scathing glances from various uncles and aunties.

Finally, Lex exploded from the sea of tables into the open area by the dragon wall-hanging. She felt like she’d escaped from quicksand. Grandma stood and swayed in front of the horrifying golden dragon, holding her newest great-granddaughter, the star of the party. The baby’s face glowed as red as the fabric covering the wall. Probably scared of the dragon’s green buggy eyes only twelve inches away. Strange, Grandma seemed to be favoring her right hip.

“Hi, Grandma.”

“Lex! Hi sweetie. You’re a little late.”

Translation: You’d better have a good excuse.

Lex thought about lying, but aside from the fact that she couldn’t lie to save her life, Grandma’s eyes were keener than a sniper’s. “I’m sorry. I was playing grass volleyball and lost track of time.”

The carefully lined red lips curved down. “You play sports too much. How are you going to attract a man when you’re always sweating?”

Like she was now? Thank goodness for the fruity body spritz she had marinated herself in before she got out of her car.

“That’s a pretty dress, Lex. New, isn’t it?”

How did she do that? With as many grandchildren as she had, Grandma never failed to notice clothes, whereas Lex barely registered that she wasn’t naked. “Thanks. Trish picked it out.”

“It’s so much nicer than that ugly floppy thing you wore to your cousin’s wedding.”

Lex gritted her teeth. Respect your grandmother. Do not open your mouth about something like showing up in a polkadotted bikini.

“Actually, Lex, I’m glad you look so ladylike this time. I have a friend’s son I want you to meet—”

Oh, no. Not again. “Does he speak English?”

Grandma drew herself to her full height, which looked a little silly because Lex still towered over her. “Of course he does.”


“Yes. Lex, your attitude—”


“Now why should that make a difference?”

Lex widened innocent eyes. “Religious differences account for a lot of divorces.”

“I’m not asking you to marry him, just to meet him.”

Liar. “I appreciate how much you care about me, but I’ll find my own dates, thanks.” Lex smiled like she held a knife blade in her teeth. When Grandma got pushy like this, Lex had more backbone than the other cousins.

“I wouldn’t be so concerned, but you don’t date at all—”

Not going there. “Is this Chester’s niece?” Lex’s voice rose an octave as she tickled the baby’s Pillsbury-Doughboy stomach. The baby screamed on. “Hey there, cutie, you’re so big, betcha having fun, is Grandma showing you off, well, you just look pretty as a picture, are you enjoying your Red Egg and Ginger party? Okay, Grandma, I have to sit down. Bye.”

Before Grandma could say another word, Lex whisked away into the throng of milling relatives. Phase one, accomplished. Grandmother engaged. Retreat commencing before more nagging words like “dating” and “marriage” sullied the air.

Next to find her cousins—and best friends—Trish, Venus, and Jenn, who were saving a seat for her. She headed toward the back where all the other unmarried cousins sat as far away from Grandma as physically possible.

Their table was scrunched into the corner against towering stacks of unused chairs—like the restaurant could even hold more chairs. “Lex!” Trish flapped her raised hand so hard, Lex expected it to fly off at any moment. Next to her, Venus lounged, as gorgeous as always and looking bored, while Jennifer sat quietly on her other side, twirling a lock of her long straight hair. On either side of them …

“Hey, where’s my seat?”

Venus’s wide almond eyes sent a sincere apology. “We failed you, babe. We had a seat saved next to Jenn, but then . . .” She pointed to where the back of a portly aunty’s chair had rammed up against their table. “We had to remove the chair, and by then, the rest were filled.”

“Traitors. You should have shoved somebody under the table.”

Venus grinned evilly. “You’d fit under there, Lex.”

Trish whapped Venus in the arm. “Be nice.”

A few of the other cousins looked at them strangely, but they got that a lot. The four of them became close when they shared an apartment during college, but even more so when they all became Christian. No one else understood their flaws, foibles, and faith.

Lex had to find someplace to sit. At the very least, she wanted to snarf some overpriced, high calorie, high cholesterol food at this torturous party.

She scanned the sea of black heads, gray heads, dyed heads, small children’s heads with upside-down ricebowl haircuts, and teenager heads with highlighting and funky colors.

There. A table with an empty chair. Her cousin Bobby, his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brood. Six—count ’em, six— little people under the age of five.

Lex didn’t object to kids. She liked them. She enjoyed coaching her girls’ volleyball club team. But these were Bobby’s kids. The 911 operators knew them by name. The local cops drew straws on who would have to go to their house when they got a call.

However, it might not be so bad to sit with Bobby and family. Kids ate less than adults, meaning more food for Lex.

“Hi, Bobby. This seat taken?”

“No, go ahead and sit.” Bobby’s moon-face nodded toward the empty chair.

Lex smiled at his nervous wife, who wrestled with an infant making intermittent screeching noises. “Is that …” Oh great. Boxed yourself in now. Name a name, any name. “Uh … Kyle?”

The beleaguered mom’s smile darted in and out of her grimace as she tried to keep the flailing baby from squirming into a face-plant on the floor. “Yes, this is Kylie. Can you believe she’s so big?” One of her sons lifted a fork. “No, sweetheart, put the food down—!”

The deep-fried missile sailed across the table, trailing a tail of vegetables and sticky sauce. Lex had protected her face from volleyballs slammed at eighty miles an hour, but she’d never dodged multi-shots of food. She swatted away a flying net of lemony shredded lettuce, but a bullet of sauce-soaked fried chicken nailed her right in the chest.

Yuck. Well, good thing she could wash—oops, no, she hadn’t worn her normal cotton dress. This was the new silk one. The one with the price tag that made her gasp, but also made her look like she actually had a waist instead of a plank for a torso. The dress with the “dry-clean only” tag.

“Oh! I’m sorry, Lex. Bad boy. Look what you did.” Bobby’s wife leaned across the table with a napkin held out, still clutching her baby whose foot was dragging through the chow mein platter.

The little boy sitting next to Lex shouted in laughter. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t had a mouth full of chewed bok choy in garlic sauce.

Regurgitated cabbage rained on Lex’s chest, dampening the sunny lemon chicken. The child pointed at the pattern on her dress and squealed as if he had created a Vermeer. The other children laughed with him.

“Hey boys! That’s not nice.” Bobby glared at his sons, but otherwise didn’t stop shoveling salt-and-pepper shrimp into his mouth.

Lex scrubbed at the mess, but the slimy sauces refused to transfer from her dress onto the polyester napkin, instead clinging to the blue silk like mucus. Oh man, disgustamundo. Lex’s stomach gurgled. Why was every other part of her athlete’s body strong except for her stomach?

She needed to clean herself up. Lex wrestled herself out of the chair and bumped an older man sitting behind her. “Sorry.” The violent motion made the nausea swell, then recede. Don’t be silly. Stop being a wimp. But her already sensitive stomach had dropped the call with her head.

Breathe. In. Out. No, not through your nose. Don’t look at that boy’s drippy nose. Turn away from the drooling baby.

She needed fresh air in her face. She didn’t care how rude it was, she was leaving now.

“There you are, Lex.”

What in the world was Grandma doing at the far end of the restaurant? This was supposed to be a safe haven. Why would Grandma take a rare venture from the other side where the “more important” family members sat?

“My goodness, Lex! What happened to you?”

“I sat next to Bobby’s kids.”

Grandma’s powdered face scrunched into a grimace. “Here, let me go to the restroom with you.” The bright eyes strayed again to the mess on the front of her dress. She gasped.

Oh, no, what else? “What is it?” Lex asked.

“You never wear nice clothes. You always wear that hideous black thing.”

“We’ve already been over this—”

“I never noticed that you have no bosom. No wonder you can’t get a guy.”

Lex’s jaw felt like a loose hinge. The breath stuck in her chest until she forced a painful cough. “Grandma!

Out of the corner of her eye, Lex could see heads swivel. Grandma’s voice carried better than a soccer commentator at the World Cup.

Grandma bent closer to peer at Lex’s chest. Lex jumped backward, but the chair behind her wouldn’t let her move very far.

Grandma straightened with a frighteningly excited look on her face. “I know what I’ll do.”

God, now would be a good time for a waiter to brain her with a serving platter.

Grandmother gave a gleeful smile and clapped her hands. “Yes, it’s perfect. I’ll pay for breast implants for you!”

© Camy Tang
Used by permission of Zondervan