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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!
and the books:
Barbour Books (August 1, 2009) )
Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
Nicole O’Dell lives in Illinois with her husband and six children—including triplets! Nicole has a heart for young girls and a special passion for the relationships between mothers and daughters as they approach the teen years. Her new book series, Scenarios Interactive Fiction for Girls, is designed to help girls develop sound decision-making skills and debuts in August 2009 with the release of the first two books. Her writing also includes devotionals and Bible studies for women of all ages.
Visit the author's website.
Truth or Dare:
List Price: $7.97
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
All That Glitters:
List Price: $7.97
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTERs:
Scenarios—Interactive Fiction for Girls
Rule the School
The first bright, yellow light of day was starting to peek through the blinds covering her window. Lindsay Martin stretched and yawned as she slowly woke up. After tossing and turning much of the night, she was still sleepy, so she turned over and pulled the puffy pink comforter up to her chin and allowed herself to doze off for a few more minutes, burying her face in her pillow.
But wait. She sat up quickly, remembering it was the first day of school. With no time to waste, she jumped out of bed.
She had carefully selected her clothes the night before, and the khaki pants and screened-print tee were still hanging on her closet door just waiting to be worn. But, after thinking about it, they seemed all wrong. Frantically plowing through her closet for something different to wear, Lindsay pushed aside last year’s jeans and T-shirts, and found the perfect outfit: not too dressy, not too casual, not too anything. As an eighth grader, she wanted to look cool without looking like she was trying too hard—which was the fashion kiss of death. Confident she had selected the perfect outfit, she padded off to the bathroom to get ready to face the day.
Happy with how she looked—jeans with just the right amount of fading down the front, a short-sleeved T-shirt layered over a snug, long-sleeved T-shirt, and a pair of sunglasses perched atop her blonde hair—she bounced down the stairs, slowing as she reached the bottom. Just wanting to get out of the house and be on her way, Lindsay sighed when she recognized the smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. “Mom, I’m really not hungry, and I have to go meet the girls!”
“Now, you know I’m not going to let you head off to school without breakfast, so at least take this with you.” Mom held out Lindsay’s favorite breakfast sandwich: an English muffin with fluffy scrambled eggs, cheese, and two slices of bacon.
Lindsay wrapped it up in a napkin so she could take it with her and gave her mom a quick kiss before rushing out the door. “Thanks, Mom. You’re the best!”
Hurrying toward the school, Lindsay munched on her sandwich along the way. Nerves set in and, halfway through her sandwich, her stomach wouldn’t allow her to finish it; so she tossed what was left into a nearby trash can where it fell with a thud.
After her short walk down the tree-lined streets, she arrived at the meeting spot—a large oak tree in the front yard of the school—about fifteen minutes early. Shielding her eyes from the sun and squinting in eager anticipation, Lindsay watched the street for the first sign of her three best friends. She expected Sam and Macy to arrive by school bus—they lived too far away from the school to walk, so they generally rode the bus together. Kelly didn’t live too far away, but her mom usually dropped her off before heading to her job as an attorney in the city. Lindsay was thankful she lived so close to the school. She loved being the first one there to greet her friends each morning. Since her mom didn’t have to leave for work, and Lindsay didn’t need to catch the bus, she had a bit more flexibility and could save a spot for them under their favorite tree.
The bus pulled into the driveway, squealing as it slowed. It paused to wait for the crowds of students to move through the crosswalk. When it finally parked, the doors squeaked open and students began to pour off the bus just as Kelly’s mom pulled up to the curb right in front of Lindsay.
“Bye, Mom!” Kelly grabbed her new backpack out of the backseat and jumped out of the car. At almost the same time, Macy and Sam exited the bus after the sixth and seventh graders got off.
Excitedly, the four girls squealed and hugged each other under their tree, never minding the fact that they had been with each other every day for the entire summer. They shrieked and jumped up and down in excitement as if they had been apart for months. They were eighth graders. This was going to be the best year yet. With eager anticipation, each one of them could tell there was something more grown-up and exciting about the first day of eighth grade, and they were ready for it.
With a few minutes to spare before the bell rang, the girls stopped and leaned against their tree for a quick survey of the schoolyard. It was easy to identify the sixth graders. They were nervous, furtively glancing in every direction; and, the most telltale sign of a sixth grader, they had new outfits and two-day-old haircuts. The girls easily but not fondly remembered how scary it was to be new to middle school and felt sorry for the new sixth graders.
The seventh graders were a little bit more confident, but still not nearly cool enough to speak to the eighth graders. Most students, no matter the grade, carried backpacks and some had musical instruments. Some even had new glasses or had discarded their glasses in favor of contacts.
“Look over there.” Kelly pointed across the grassy lawn to a student. A new student, obviously a sixth grader, struggled with his backpack and what appeared to be a saxophone case. Two bigger boys, eighth graders, grabbed the case out of his hands and held it over his head. They teased him mercilessly until the bell rang, forcing them to abandon their fun and head in to the school. The girls shook their heads and sighed—some things never changed—as they began to walk toward the doors.
Kelly and Sam both stopped to reach into their backpacks to turn off their new cell phones before entering the school—it would make for a horrible first day of school if they were to get their phones taken away.
“You’re so lucky,” Macy whined as she watched Kelly flip open her shiny blue phone, carefully decorated with sparkly gems. Sam laughed and turned off her sporty red phone, slid the top closed, and dropped it into her bag. Macy’s parents wouldn’t let her have a cell phone until high school.
“When did you guys get cell phones?” Lindsay asked.
“I got mine yesterday, and Sam got hers on Saturday,” Kelly explained. “My mom wanted to have a way to reach me in the case of an emergency and for me to be able to reach her. I’m not supposed to use it just anytime I want to.”
“Same with me. I might as well not have it. I can call anyone who has the same service or use it as much as I want to on nights and weekends, but that’s it,” Sam complained.
“It’s still way more than I have. You’re so lucky,” Macy said emphatically.
Lindsay sighed and agreed with Macy while she smeared untinted lip gloss onto her lips. “I have no idea when I’ll ever get to have a cell phone. My mom thinks that they are bad for ‘kids.’” She rolled her eyes to accentuate the point that she not only thought she should have a cell phone, but that she definitely disagreed with the labeling of herself and her friends as kids. “She won’t even let me use lip gloss with any color in it. She thinks I’m too young.”
With cell phones turned off, backpacks slung over shoulders, lip gloss perfectly accenting skin tanned by the lazy days of summer, and arms locked, the four best friends were ready to enter the school to begin their eighth-grade year. Seeing their reflection in the glass doors of the school as they approached it, Lindsay noticed how tall they’d all become over the summer. Four pairs of new jeans, four similar T-shirts, and four long manes of shiny hair—they were similar in so many ways, but different enough to keep things interesting.
Kelly Garrett was the leader of the group. The girls almost always looked to her to get the final word on anything from plans they might make, to boys they liked, to clothes they wore. She was a natural leader, which was great most of the time. Her strong opinions sometimes caused conflict, though. Sam Lowell, the comedienne of the group was always looking for a way to entertain them and make them laugh. She was willing to try anything once, and her friends enjoyed testing her on that. Macy Monroe was the sweet one. She was soft-spoken and slow to speak. She hated to offend anyone and got her feelings hurt easily. Then there was Lindsay. She was in the middle, the glue. She was strong but kind and was known to be a peacemaker. She often settled disputes between the girls to keep them from fighting.
Amid complete chaos—students talking, locker doors slamming shut, high-fives, and whistles—the first day of school began. There was an assembly for the eighth graders, so the girls head toward the gymnasium rather than finding their separate ways to their first classes.
Unlike the younger students who had to sit with their classes, eighth-graders could choose where they wanted to sit. The girls filed into the bleachers together, tucking their belongings beneath their feet carefully so that they wouldn’t fall through to the floor below. The room was raucously loud as 150 eighth graders excitedly shared stories of their summers and reunited with friends.
The speakers squealed as the principal turned on his microphone and tried to get everyone’s attention. “Welcome back to Central Middle School. Let’s all stand together to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”
Conversations slowly trailed off to a dull roar as teachers attempted to create some order in each row. The eighth-graders shuffled to their feet and placed their right hands over their hearts to recite the Pledge, and the principal began, “I pledge allegiance to the flag. . .”
Lindsay joined in, but her mind wandered as she looked down the row at each of her best friends. She remembered the great summer they had. They spent many days languishing in the hot sun by Kelly’s pool. She remembered the day when Sam got a bad sunburn from laying on the tanning raft for hours and not listening to the girls when they suggested she reapply her sunscreen. She wanted a good tan, and she paid the price. Kelly had the bright idea of using olive oil and lemon juice to take away the sting—she thought she had heard about that somewhere—but all it did was make Sam smell bad for days along with the suffering that her burns caused.
They also had gone shopping at the mall whenever Sam’s mom would pile them into her SUV and drop them off for a few hours so they could check out the latest fashions and watch for new students—boys in particular. Their favorite mall activity was to take a huge order of cheese fries and four Diet Cokes to a table at the edge of the food court so they could watch the people walk by.
They had a blast burying each other in the sand at the beach whenever Macy’s dad took a break from job-hunting to spend the day lying in the sun. One time, they even made a huge castle with a moat. The castle had steps they could climb, and the moat actually held water. It took them almost the entire day, but the pictures they took made it all worth it.
They had also shared a weeklong trip to Lindsay’s Bible camp. It was a spiritual experience for Lindsay, who used the time to deepen her relationship with God. She enjoyed being able to bring her friends into that part of her life—even if it was just for a week. Macy, more than the others, showed some interest and said that she’d like to attend youth group with Lindsay when it started up again in the fall. All four girls enjoyed the canoe trips—even the one when the boat capsized and they got drenched. They swam in the lake and played beach volleyball. The week they spent at camp was a good end to what they considered a perfect summer.
Although there was a certain finality to their fun and freedom with the arrival of the school year, there was excitement too, as they took this next step toward growing up together. Lindsay took a moment to imagine what it would be like in the future. Next year, they would start high school. After several years, they would head off to the same college and room together as the plan had always been. At some point, they would each find someone to settle down with and get married. They had already figured out who would be the maid of honor for whose wedding. That way, they each got to do it once. And they would each be bridesmaids for each other. Then, they would have children. Hopefully, they would have them at around the same time so they their children could grow up together too. Beautiful plans built on beautiful friendships. . .what more could a girl ask for?
“…One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The Pledge of Allegiance ended, and all of the students sat down to hear about the exciting new school year.
Scenarios—Interactive Fiction for Girls
Time for a Change
A fancy sports car on one side and a shiny, brand-new SUV on the other, Mrs. Daniels slid her car into a parking spot at the mall. More than any other year, shopping for school clothes this year was a very important task. Dani and Drew, identical twins, were starting the ninth grade—freshman year, the first year of high school. They knew full well how important their first impression was— well, at least Drew did. She had spent most of her summer planning and researching fashion trends, hairstyles, and makeup tips by reading fashion magazines. Not that it would do her much good, she often thought. Their parents didn’t allow them to wear makeup; and her long, straight, dark hair looked just like her sister’s and was cut and styled in the same style they had always had.
“Mom, I think it’s time for a change,” Drew announced as they walked through the parking lot toward the mall.
“What kind of change?” Mrs. Daniels asked hesitantly.
“You know, change isn’t always a bad thing.” Drew thought her mom might need some convincing before she tried to state her case. “Change can just be a part of growing up and a sign that a girl is secure and comfortable with herself.”
“Yes, Drew, I’m aware of that. Why do I have a feeling that I’m not going to like what you’re about to suggest?” Mrs. Daniels sighed good-naturedly and looked at Drew’s twin sister, who shrugged her shoulders not knowing anything about the big change that her twin was proposing. “Well, let’s have it. What have you got cooked up?”
“Oh, it’s really not a big deal, Mom. I’d just like to get my hair cut.” Drew pulled a picture of a hairstyle out of her pocket and showed it to her mom.
Mrs. Daniels could see immediately that the softly layered style would cascade to a very flattering place just below Drew’s shoulders. She looked at Dani and raised her eyebrows. “Do you want your hair cut like that?”
“No, Mom, you don’t understand.” Drew interrupted with a slight whine, nervous that she wasn’t getting her point across. “If Dani cuts her hair like that too, then I don’t want to. This is how I want to look. . .by myself. I want to make a change, even just a slight one like my hairstyle, to separate myself from just being ‘one of the twins.’ I want to be an individual; I want to be Drew.”
“Ah, I see, now.” Mrs. Daniels knew that this would happen one day and, she had to admit, high school was a reasonable time for this to occur. It pained her to think of her baby girls reaching such an independent place, though. “How do you feel about that, Dani?”
“Well, to be honest, I really don’t want to change my hair. And I like being ‘one of the twins’ as Drew put it. I guess I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. Why would changing your hair to look like a picture of someone else make you an individual anyway?” She asked pointedly, turning to Drew.
“It just gives me the chance to express myself and be different than I have been.”
“As long as you really mean ‘different than you have been’ and not just that you want to be different than me.” Dani tried not to be hurt, but it was difficult.
“Aw, Sis, I love you. Nothing can change that we’re twins. That will always be a part of us. We’re just talking about a haircut here.”
“I guess you’re right.” Dani laughed. “Let’s go get your hair cut so we can all get used to it while we try on clothes.”
First stop: Shear Expressions for a new hairstyle. The bell above the door jingled as they entered the store. Luckily, there wouldn’t be a wait because Drew was too excited and impatient to wait. She took her seat in the shampoo chair, and the stylist began to lather up her hair. After the shampooing was finished, she patted Drew’s hair dry and moved her to the station where she would be cutting her hair.
Drew struggled to get her hand into the front pocket of her jeans so she could show the stylist the picture of the haircut that she wanted. “Um, Drew, I didn’t realize that your jeans were getting so tight. We’re going to have to be sure to buy some new jeans today.”
“Mom,” Drew laughed. “This is how I bought them. I want them this way.”
Mrs. Daniels looked at the stylist, obviously a mom herself, and shrugged her shoulders. “I know,” the stylist said, “it looks uncomfortable to me too.”
“This is what I want.” Drew showed her the picture, ignoring the comments about her jeans.
“Oh, that’s going to be easy enough and beautiful too. We’ll just take this hair of yours and cut some layers into it. We’ll probably need to take off about three inches, but you have plenty of length so it won’t even be that noticeable. Are you doing the same cut?” The stylist turned to Dani.
“Nope, not me. I’m staying just like this.”
“All right then, let’s get started.”
Thirty minutes later, with dark hair in little piles all over the floor around her, Drew was staring into the mirror in front of her, getting her first look at her new self. She was stunned with what she saw. After looking at her sister for so many years, she was used to having a walking mirror right beside her. But now, as they both gazed into the mirror and took in the changes, they realized that a simple thing like a haircut signaled major changes afoot. Dani was sad when she saw the differences between them, but Drew was thrilled with her new look.
“I love it!” She spun around to the right and then to the left and watched her hair bounce in waves around her shoulders. “It moves, and it’s free.” She didn’t miss the long, thick straight locks a bit. “It has personality. Thank you so much. You did a perfect job,” she said to the hairdresser.
“I’m so glad you like it. I think it looks great too.” Both the hairdresser and Mrs. Daniels were a bit more reserved out of sensitivity to Dani.
“Mom, what about you? Do you like it?”
“You look beautiful, dear. Very grown up.”
“Now I’m ready to shop.” Nothing was going to contain Drew’s excitement as they left the salon; she was thrilled.
* * * * *
“We need to be wise now, girls. There is a limit to today’s budget. My question is whether you want to split the budget and each get your own clothes—or do you want to pick things out to share and get more that way?”
Drew was trying to be more of an individual, but even she could see the logic behind pooling their resources and sharing the clothing allowance; and she knew that Dani would agree. But Drew did have one trick up her sleeve that she decided to save for later in the day.
They spent the day trying on clothes. It helped that both girls were exactly the same size and basically liked similar things. By the end of the day, they had successfully managed to supply their wardrobe with all of the basics they would need for ninth grade, including new winter jackets, jeans, tops, sweaters, belts, socks, pajamas, undergarments, accessories, and shoes. They were exhausted by the end of the shopping trip, and Mrs. Daniels was more than ready to go home.
As they were walking toward the exit door, Drew said, “Mom, you mentioned that you have grocery shopping to do. Would it be all right if Dani and I stayed here and meet you when you’re finished? I have a few things I still want to look for.”
“I suppose that would be okay, but I’m done with dishing out money today. So what are you looking for, and what will you do once you find it?” Mrs. Daniels laughed.
“I brought some of the money I saved from babysitting this summer, and I really want to use some of it to get a few unique shirts or something that will be just mine—you know, signature pieces. I promise I won’t spend it all, Mom.”
“Oh, I see. This is part of your search for individuality? Is that it?” At Drew’s nod, she continued, “I don’t see anything wrong with that. But, Drew, just remember what your dad and I allow and how we expect you to dress. No super-tight jeans, no shirts that show your belly, nothing with a saying or advertisement that your dad and I would find inappropriate. Think of it this way: nothing that I wouldn’t let you wear to youth group. Deal?”
“Got it, Mom. Thanks, you’re the best.”
After they discussed their meeting time and location, Mrs. Daniels left the girls to their shopping. They hit all of their favorite stores again. Dani wasn’t too happy about it, though. “Why couldn’t you have done this while we were shopping earlier?” She asked Drew.
“Because, I wanted to finish the shopping for our stuff and then I would know what I still needed.”
“Oh, Sis, there’s nothing else that you need.”
“I know, that’s what makes this part so fun. It’s all about what I want.”
Dani sighed and suggested they get started before they ran out of time. With her own money, Drew selected two snug, plaid shirts to wear over a tight black T-shirt that she found. The flannel shirts barely reached her waistband, but the T-shirt was long enough, so she thought it would pass. She also selected a cropped denim jacket that was covered in studded rhinestones. Dani liked the jacket, but it wasn’t really her style at all. Drew also picked a few cropped sweaters that, if worn alone, would be way too short for Mrs. Daniels approval, but with a T-shirt or tank underneath, would probably get by. Her favorite and most expensive purchase was a black leather belt with a big silver buckle covered in rhinestones in the shape of a big rose. Drew thought that it was unique enough to become her signature piece.
“Well, one thing you won’t have to worry about,” Dani assured her, “is that I won’t be bugging you to borrow any of the things you bought. They’re all yours.”
Their time was up so they hurried to the exit door to find Mrs. Daniels already waiting there for them. As they slipped into the car she asked, “Well, was your search successful?”
“Oh, yeah! Mom, I found some really cute things,” the ever-excited Drew told her mom.
“Yeah, real cute,” Dani said, rolling her eyes.
Sensing from Dani’s reaction that there might be something she needed to see in those bags, Mrs. Daniels said, “Great. Then we can have our own private fashion show when we get home.”
“Sure, Mom. No problem.”
* * * * *
After dinner, Mrs. Daniels remembered that she hadn’t checked out Drew’s purchases yet. “Drew, why don’t you get those things that you bought so we can make sure that everything is acceptable for you to wear.”
“Mom, I know the rules and I followed them. I don’t see what the concern is.”
“There’s no real concern, honey; but I’d appreciate if you don’t argue with me and just humor me. I am only looking out for your best interests.”
“Okay, Okay, I’ll go get them.” Drew left to get her bags from her room. She stomped down the hall, careful not to be disrespectful but made sure that they knew she wasn’t too happy.
Plopping her bags down on the couch, Drew waited for the verdict. Her mom wasn’t too happy at all when she saw how small and short some of the shirts were. Drew said, “Hold on, Mom. Before you say no, let me try them on.”
Skeptically, Mrs. Daniels agreed to reserve her judgment until she had a chance to see the items on Drew.
After Drew had the first outfit on, Mrs. Daniels realized that they were layering pieces and that the shorter items were worn on top to reveal the layers beneath. “Well, now, that’s not so bad. But, Drew, you have to promise me that I’m not going to catch you wearing those clothes alone or in anyway that shows your belly.”
“I already know that, Mom.”
Mrs. Daniels raised her eyebrows, waiting.
“Okay, I promise, Mom. Really.”
“Well, then, everything is fine; and I especially like the belt you bought. It’s definitely a unique piece.”
Dani had been sitting quietly on the other side of the room, watching the process and waiting for the verdict. She quietly got up and went to her room, softly closed the door, and got ready for bed. She wasn’t too happy, but she didn’t really know what it was that was bugging her.
“Too many changes,” she whispered as she drifted off to sleep.