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!
Paulette Harper is an award-winning and best-selling author. She is the owner of Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tours and is passionate about helping authors succeed in publishing and marketing their books. Paulette has been writing and publishing books since 2008. Paulette is the author of That Was Then, This is Now, Completely Whole and The Sanctuary. Her articles have appeared on-line and in print.
Visit the author’s website.
Candace Walker, Kaylan Smith, Jordan Tate, and Tiffany Thomas have their share of sorrows, but neither of them realizes how deep the sorrow goes. What happens when they agree to meet for a weekend of relaxation in beautiful Napa County? Which one will leave the same or worse?
For Candace Walker, life has left her battered and bruised. Kaylan Smith has struggled with prejudice from her in-laws. After fifteen years of marriage, bitterness is trying to raise its ugly head for Jordan Tate, whose husband wants to call it quits. And for Tiffany Thomas, dealing with rejection has never been one of her greatest feats.
Although they have been friends for years, they thought they knew each other well. But will a secret destroy their relationship and bring the sisterhood to a complete halt? Will they be able to forgive and allow God to mend that which might be torn?
List Price: $8.10
Paperback: 146 pages
Publisher: Thy Word Publishing (November 9, 2013)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
cares anyway if I die? I hate my life; I curse the day I was born,” said
Candace as she rolled out of her twin bed to face yet another day of sheer
disappointments. Her feet landed on the beige, shaggy, dirty carpet that had
seen better days. As she sat on the edge
of her bed, she looked around the small apartment as though she was expecting
to see something different, but nothing had changed.
she cried as her head collapsed in her hands. She knew within
herself that today would be like all the rest: gloomy, sad, and most of all,
lonely. After all she had experienced in life, how could she think today would
be any different?
lived in a small studio apartment off of School Street in the city of
Pittsburg, California, a city surrounded by the beautiful San Francisco Bay
Area. Her apartment had enough room for
only one dresser and a nightstand, which she got at the neighborhood Goodwill
walls of her apartment were dirty from years of cigarette smoke that didn’t
escape out of the window. Her kitchen table was made of plywood, which she
covered with a red table cloth. The table was encompassed by two chairs, one
for her and the other one she had hoped would be occupied by someone who
genuinely wanted to be with her. The blue and cream décor in her kitchen came
from visiting the neighborhood garage sales.
Her neighbors knew her so well because of the frequent visits she made
to their sales. Although Candace always had a roof over her head, she did not
like the environment in which she lived. After looking intently at her dwelling
place, she lay back on her bed and stared at the ceiling. Her thoughts shifted
from her disappointing apartment to her anger about the issues she had to deal
with, problems that had been with her for years, issues with her family.
high school, life was hard for Candace. Almost every decision she made never
retuned a good dividend. The men in her life came and went, except for
Derrick. He stayed the longest, but his
bout with kidney failure ended whatever dreams she had of getting out of what
she called the “ghetto.” Derrick was her sure ticket to a better life, she
hoped. The only consolation to his memory was the pictures on the stained walls
and a locket she wore around her neck.
grew up with both parents and two siblings. Her sister, Monique, was three
years younger than her; her brother, Zach, was two years younger. Candace
always felt that she got the worse end of the stick when it came to Monique.
Monique was light-skinned with long, black, wavy hair, which belonged to her,
by the way. Candace’s skin tone was a few shades darker
than Monique. She was short in stature; five feet, three inches tall, to be
exact. She wore her hair down and straight, although it mostly contained black
hair extensions, which she bought from the neighborhood beauty supply store.
was the image of her mother minus a few inches of hair. She stood five feet,
eleven inches with a small frame; she could have been chosen as America’s Next
Top Model. But Monique decided to study law, passing the bar on her first
attempt; she then started her own practice and moved it to Los Angeles. Monique and her parents could not figure out
how Candace didn’t make more of herself. To them, Candace was merely existing
and taking up space. They wrote Candace
off years ago.
parents would say they didn’t show favoritism to any of their children, but let
Candace tell the story; she would disagree. Candace didn’t have a great
relationship with her parents, nor did she have one with her sister. She longed
to connect with her mother, Vivian, even dreaming of having meaningful
conversations with her, but that never materialized. Vivian grew up without
love, so showing love was not something she did or knew how to do.
Candace did was ever good enough for her parents. She realized long ago that
they would never validate or accept her for who she was. And that always
bothered her. The only relative that
Candace found solace in was her baby brother.
was the comic relief in the family and the only one who tried to keep Candace
from running away from home when they were teenagers. Despite what he saw from
his family, he found laughter to be a source of comfort. A joke at the right time would always make
Candace laugh instead of crying many days.
Now that he was older, his life revolved around school, his baby, and
opening up his own barber shop.
had similar features like his dad. He had a body like LL Cool J, muscular in
built, which required him to spend more time in the gym and less time getting
into trouble. His skin tone was the same as Candace’s, and his hair was black
and curly, which he kept cut low.
dad, Robert, didn’t care about too much except a good home-cooked meal and the
wrestling matches that he saw nightly. He was content to spend his time sitting
in his brown leather recliner with a blanket next to the wooden table that had
enough room to hold his can of soda, the remote control, and the cordless
others, memories of her family only angered Candace even more. The longer she
lay there, the angrier she got. In order
to avoid another day filled with anger, she started thinking about how much her
life would change for the better if only she could win the lotto or meet a rich
man. But that wasn’t going to happen any time soon, especially if she continued
to linger in the bed all day like she had been doing for the last few days.
Candace sighed and finally decided to climb out of bed. Maybe today would be her lucky day.
breakfast. Today’s meal consisted of a slice of toast and coffee. Once she finished her breakfast, she stepped
into the shower and let the warm water sooth her. She grabbed a pair of jeans and a tee shirt,
and headed out the door.
neighborhood kids. “There she goes,” the kids began to yell. Candace was often
referred to as “crazy Candi” because many times while
walking to the corner store to pick up her soda, cigarettes, and a lottery
ticket, they often observed her muttering to herself. Whenever they mocked her,
she would turn around and yell back at them.“I ain’t crazy,” she would yell. “I
know y’all think I am, but I’m not. I’m talking to God. That’s something y’all
young hoodlums should think about doing sometimes.”
differently. Instead of passing by the church on the way to the store, she
decided to go in and pray. She made
herself comfortable in one of the pews. The soft music that played inside the
church made her thoughts wander to the first time she went to church.
was introduced to Christ by one of her friends, Kaylan, To Candace, going to
church was the last thing on her mind or on her agenda. But she figured church
couldn’t be any worse than being home with people who didn’t give love or show
love. “I’ll give church a try,” she said to herself. “Maybe I could find some
answers to my probing questions as to why God didn’t give me a loving family and
why nothing good happened to me. Maybe the church folks would love me and help
me, but most importantly, pray for me,” she said to herself.
remembered the first time she walked into New Life Christian Center on
Christmas day. All the people were raising their hands, which was so foreign to
her. It didn’t seem real. She was feeling something, but didn’t know exactly
what to call “it” or if “it” had a name.
This was one feeling she couldn’t identify.
church décor was beautifully decorated with poinsettias placed around the stage
area. For the first time in Candace’s
life, she thought that maybe this was exactly the thing she needed. When she and Kaylan entered the sanctuary,
the usher wanted to sit them close to the front of the church, but Candace
would not have it. She leaned toward Kaylan and said, “Oh no, can’t we sit near
the back? I might need to go to the restroom.” Kaylan agreed. Seating them in
the front was not a good idea for more reasons than one. And Kaylan didn’t want Candace’s first visit
to New Life to be her last.
motioned to the usher, “We’d like to sit in the back, if that’s okay.” With
reservations, the usher directed them to the empty seats in the back of the
church. During service, the choir did not sing songs that Candace had ever
heard. Luckily, the words were plastered on the screen for people like her, the
un-churched. Yet the sound that came
from the choir calmed her apprehension.
The choir leader invited everyone to stand and join along. Kaylan turned to Candace, as she stood up to
join in on the praise.
on, Candace; it’s okay. Let go and let God.” Candace looked skeptical.
go and let God,” Candace muttered. “What in the world does that mean?” Maybe Kaylan will educate her on the church
lingo later, she thought. Candace slowly stood on her feet and
joined Kaylan and all the church folks who didn’t have the same problem as her.
Not feeling as comfortable as Kaylan, Candace left her arms by her side.
the music continued, people began clapping, shouting, and running around the
church. Candace’s brown eyes widened as big as saucers as she watched all this,
and her focus went from the choir to the little lady doing what appeared to be
some type of praise dance. All Candace
could do was laugh. A nudge from Kaylan on her arm got her attention back on
the choir. After thirty minutes into the singing, the Pastor emerged and took
the podium. “That’s Pastor Jonathon Williams,” Kaylan proudly announced to
Candace “That’s my Pastor,” she said
morning, saints. This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and
rejoice,” Pastor Williams said in a baritone voice.
the Lord,” echoed the congregation to the pastor; well, everyone except for
the usher wanted to seat us in the front of the church. Then they wanted us to
stand. Now we get to yell back to the Pastor?” Candace whispered right before
Kaylan let out a loud “Glory to God.” More claps and more shouting came, and
the applauses became louder. The roar reminded Candace of a sports game when
the winning team finally scored. She
remembered that, but had no idea “church” was anything like that.
text comes from John 3:16. You may be seated,” said Pastor Williams.
exchanged glances, and Candace’s voice let out a soft “Praise the Lord.” They
immediately started smiling and took their seats.
five-inch, black stilettos were not the ideal pair of shoes to wear to church.
They were cute, but being cute was not good enough. Candace didn’t realize that
it took preparation to come to church, something she’d have to really consider
reached down into her purse that was located on the floor and pulled out her
notebook, a Bible, and a pen— all of which Candace had none.
taking notes?” Candace inquired. “You
didn’t tell me to bring a notebook.”
worry. Here you go.” Kaylan quietly tore out several pieces of paper from her
notebook and handed them to Candace along with a pen.
words will be up on the screen, or we can share my Bible,” Kaylan said as they
moved closer together on the seat. In his message, Pastor Williams talked about
the reason why Jesus came to the world and why people needed to be saved; in
his message, he explained the real meaning of love. While Pastor was speaking, the ushers were
walking around the sanctuary, offering Kleenex to those who were apparently
shedding tears. Candace declined the offer. Instead, she wiped the tear from
her face with the back of her hand when the Pastor began to talk about love,
something she yearned for from her family and men.
is love, and God showed His love by given the ultimate sacrifice by sending His
son, Jesus,” said the Pastor. At one
point in his message, he stated, “We try to find love in all the wrong places;
the void in our lives can only be filled by God’s love.”
his message, Candace’s mind traveled back to all the times she wanted to be
loved by her family, excluding Zach because he did love her. Her mind wondered
about the men who had been in and out of her life. The Pastor was right; she had been looking
for love in all the wrong places. Unable
to stop the flow of tears, she realized the reasons why her life was in such
shouts of “Amens” startled her, and brought her back from her reverie. At the end of the message, Pastor Williams
gave what Kaylan called “an invitation to salvation.” Before Kaylan could ask
Candace if she wanted to accept Christ, Candace was already making her way down
to the altar.
and acceptance from others. After the death of Derrick, it was hard for her to
see that God really loved her. But as she walked into the church this dreadful
afternoon, she decided that it was finally time to make a change.