Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hot Buttons, the Bullying & Image editions, by Nicole O'Dell

Click here to buy on Amazon.com
 Ms. O'Dell, in this series of books, encourages parents to not only face head on the issues that arise with adolescence, but to intentionally open conversations and resolve the issues that face modern teens and pre-teens before they crop up. She clearly discusses the big, taboo questions from "How do you feel about how you look?" to "Have you ever looked down on someone because of their looks or abilities?".

The first part of the book tells us the importance of pro-active, open communication and why it is important to each of these topics. This section is interlaced with testimonies from the author's life, and real-life responses of teens.

The next section is the work manual, the hands-on guide to communicating clearly, which Nicole calls "pressing the hot buttons."
This section is filled with thought provoking questions and how to answer the answers. One key she always emphisizes, is to never, ever, react to what your teen says, but to act. This shows respect for their opinions and keeps communications open--the result being a teenager who is respectful of what you have to to say and is willing, wanting, waiting (thank you Mr. Doolittle), to communicate with you. If the lines of conversation stay open and clear, you eliminate a lot of the issues caused by frustration. 

These are not easy questions, and a lot of thought and massive amounts of prayer should go along with the recommended exercises.

As for recommendations, these are great books for parents (for whom they were intended) or for teachers, counselors, and youth leaders.

There are several titles in this series: 

Hot Buttons: the 30-Day Challenge
The Bullying Edition
The Dating Edition
The Drug Edition
The Image Edition
The Internet Edition
The Sexuality Edition
 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Preacher's Wife by Brandi Boddie

Christmas is in full swing at home, and everyday life has been all but forgotten! Sorry this is a bit late, catching up now.

This book was sweet and uplifting, with a theme of redemption and forgiveness.


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:

Realms (October 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandi holds a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law and a BA in political science from Youngstown State University. Her love of writing and research has led her to work that includes case management for the Office of the Attorney General in Washington DC and teaching assignments for elementary and secondary students. When she is not working on a story, Brandi enjoys hiking, fencing, and swing dancing. She loves spending time with her family, which includes a cocker spaniel who aspires to be a food critic.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

During the hot, windy summer of 1870 in the burgeoning prairie town of Assurance, Kansas, Marissa Pierce is fed up with her abusive boss. She longs to start a new life and is growing weary of convincing townsfolk that she is most certainly not a prostitute.

Civil War veteran and preacher Rowe Winford arrives in town intent on leaving the tragic memories of his deceased family behind. Although Rowe has no plans to fall in love anytime soon, the plans of God rarely match those of man.

Faced with adversity and rejection from the town and Rowe’s family, can Marissa overcome her past, renew her faith, and experience the life of love that God has planned for her?


Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Series: Brides of Assurance (Book 1)
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616388439
ISBN-13: 978-1616388430


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1

July 1870, Kansas Plains

What did I get myself into? Rowe Winford carried his three large valises from the passenger train to the station wait area. He had arrived in Claywalk, Kansas, sooner than he expected. Then again, he had been daydreaming the entire trip, from the carriage ride in Richmond, Virginia, all the way west on the tracks of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.
So this was to be his new home, away from the war reformations, away from the bittersweet memories of his late wife, Josephine, and their stillborn son. The land seemed to engulf every living thing in its wide-ranging vastness. He felt like a tiny speck upon the face of the green, rolling earth.

“Over here, sir.” A tall, lean man in rugged canvas trousers, work shirt, and Stetson hat waved him over to the other side of the wait area. A small schooner and horse awaited him.

“Welcome to Kansas, Rev’ren.” The man’s white teeth flashed in his tanned face as he grinned. “We wouldn’t have expected you this early if you hadn’t sent that letter. I’m Dustin Sterling.” He stuck out his hand. “My friends call me Dusty. David Charlton sent me to come get you and take you to our lil’ town of Assurance down the road.”

Rowe shook his hand. It was rough with calluses. He guessed him to be a horseman or rancher of sorts. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Dusty. My name is Rowe Winford, but how did you know I was the new minister?”

He pointed to Rowe’s overcoat and gray trousers. “Clothes don’t get that fancy in these parts. I knew you must be one of them city preachers back East.”

“Richmond.”

“Yep, I was right.” He picked up Rowe’s valises and hoisted them into the schooner. “Well, you’ll get used to this place soon enough, if you have the mind to.”

Dusty drove him away from the train station. The trip toward the “lil’ town of Assurance down the road” turned out to be more along the lines of sixty minutes. Rowe passed the time taking in the nearly treeless plains and the endless open sky. To his left and right he found himself surrounded in a sea of green grass.

“We just got rain last night, after a dry spell.” Dusty chatted amiably along the way about the land. “You have to watch out for the July wind.”

“Wind? There’s barely a breeze out.” As the words escaped Rowe’s lips, a sudden gust blew in his face. He grabbed hold of his hat before it flew from his head. “Where did that come from?” He coughed as the wind forced air down his throat.

Dusty chuckled. “Some say the devil’s in the wind. That’s how come it knocks you off your feet.”

“Well, as long as we can keep him in the wind and out of town, things should be alright.”

The wiry man cast him a wry glance. “’Fraid you might be getting here too late then, Rev’ren’. The devil’s come and set up shop in Assurance. And, sadly, business is sure boomin’.”

“What do you mean?”

Dusty shook his head. “There’s a saloon run by a businessman named Jason Garth. He can get a man to part with his wallet faster than a rattler strikes your heel. His girls help, with their short skirts and paid services.”

“You mean prostitution.”

Dusty shrugged. “I went to the dancehall before it got bad the last year or so. I haven’t been lately, but you’ll hear things. You’ll get your fill of gossip in Assurance.”

Rowe thought about the people who hired him. “What about the church? Haven’t they tried to put a stop to what the saloon is doing?”

“They grumble mostly. Folks here believe they shouldn’t sully their hands with the things of the world. Much easier to judge from a distance, I suspect, but I’m just a hired worker.”

“Aren’t you also a town citizen?”

He shook his head. “I’m all the way from San Antone. David Charlton hired me to tend his cattle, but I used to drive longhorns up here to the railroad.”

“Well, it sounds like the people of the church don’t want to confront corruption.”

The cowboy gave him another look. “Maybe that’s why they hired you.”

Rowe chewed on the inside of his jaw. His first position as head of a church. An apathetic one, from what Dusty implied. He could prove himself by going after the saloon and its seedy practices, but what would be harder, doing that or convincing the church to get their hands dirty along with him?

“Get thee clothed, heathen woman!” A man yelled down at her from the raised dais of the town square. “Thou art the scourge of this fine land, with your harlot’s garments!” He shook his fists.

“I’m not a harlot. I’m just a saloon and dancehall girl.” Words she had repeated all too often.

Marissa Pierce recognized the man as a traveling speaker, clutching his worn Bible to his chest. She hurried along the edge of the main road toward the bank, doing her best to hide her face from the disapproving looks from several of Assurance’s finest and upstanding populace.

They would be right to judge me if I was an evening lady, she thought. I wish they knew the truth.

She walked faster, adjusting her headpiece in a selfconscious attempt to push down the high feathers. Jason Garth, proprietor of the town’s only saloon, sent her out on a last-minute errand while she was getting dressed for the weekly Wednesday Night Revue. The money had to be deposited in the bank before it closed today, he stressed. Well, he could have let her know that earlier, before she changed into the tawdry costume!

More than a few men eyed her in her knee-length ruffled skirt and soft-soled dance boots peeking out from her coat. She knew a number of them as patrons. Those walking with wives, mothers, or another respectable woman had the presence of mind to avert their gazes.

“Have you no shame, lady of the night?” The orator cried in the profession’s flowery prose.

“More than you’ll ever know,” she muttered.

Marissa kept her back straight and face forward, tightly gripping the leather money satchel that held the saloon’s illbegotten earnings. Would that she could put a stop to the corruption and leave the shady establishment today, but soon she would be away from it all. Her saloon contract with Jason was about to end, and she had some money saved for room and board.

She considered her investment in a small share of the general goods store in Claywalk that was up for sale. If she received all the money due her, it would be enough to live off of until she found employment in the nearby town.

A rush of excitement surged through her as she contemplated a new life elsewhere. She would be free, in a respectable position where no one knew of her horrible past.

Marissa slowed her steps as a schooner rolled down the street. A dark-suited man seated atop peered about curiously, shielding his eyes from the afternoon sun.

“That must be our new preacher.” Linda Walsh, the town’s young seamstress, walked up beside Marissa. Always eager for conversation, Linda would speak to anyone who stopped to listen, as Marissa had learned since coming back to Assurance a couple years ago. “We weren’t expecting him for another two weeks. I wonder what made him take off from home so fast.”

Marissa groaned at the thought of meeting another preacher. Every preacher she came across had turned her away once they discovered her profession.

She watched the small schooner pull up to the local inn. She recognized the driver Dusty Sterling seated beside the other man. Dusty hopped down and tethered the horses. The man in black stepped onto the dusty curb. His recently polished boots gleamed.

“Fancy one, he is,” Linda continued. “I hear he comes from a city somewhere in Virginia.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“It was in the paper a month ago. Our advertisement for a new preacher was answered from a man back East.”

Marissa focused again on what was in front of her. The traveler indeed looked foreign to the prairie. Not a hint of travel dust stuck to his long, black frock coat and four-inhand necktie, probably changed into just before departing the train. His gray pants were new and expertly tailored. He removed his hat briefly to wipe his brow, and Marissa saw the dark, wavy hair cropped close to his head.

“He doesn’t have a wife or children with him. Such a shame.” Linda clucked her tongue. “He’s a handsome fellow, for certain.”

Marissa agreed with her on that. He must have stood over six feet tall, with broad shoulders and a powerful build. The man’s profile was strong and rigid, his square jaw and straight nose a true delight for the eyes. Assurance’s former preacher, Reverend Thomas, did not look like this.

“Would having a wife and children make him a better preacher?”

Linda tossed her a look. “That’s got nothing to do with it. One ought to be settled down at a certain age, wouldn’t you say so? Instead of running wild with the barmen?”

Marissa absorbed the sting of emotional pain. Anything she said in response would not sway Linda or anyone else’s notion that she was just a beer-serving streetwalker. She put on a polite stoic face. “I’m sure the ladies of this town will clamor for his attention. Will you excuse me, Miss Linda? I should be going.”

She left the seamstress just as Dusty carried the new preacher’s valises inside the inn. The preacher moved to follow then stopped short, pausing for Marissa to walk past. Marissa saw his blue eyes widen and take in her entire form, from the feathered hat on her head to the dainty-heeled boots on her feet. By his expression she didn’t know whether he admired or disapproved.

His lips settled into a firm line of what looked to be distaste, and she got her answer.

The preacher hadn’t been there for an hour and already she drew out his scorn. Marissa returned the stare until her image of him blurred with beckoning tears.

He jolted from his perusal. His low, straight brows flicked. “Good day to you, ma’am.” He amiably tipped his hat to her.

She paused, not used to being addressed in that fashion. Kindness was in his greeting, not the sarcasm she normally heard from others. Marissa tilted her head to get a clear look at him. His eyes were friendly, calm deep pools. The rest of his face, with its strong, angular lines, remained cordial.

“Good day,” she replied, hoarse. Awkwardness seized her person. Marissa hastily continued on her way to the bank.

Rowe stared after the brightly costumed woman, not noticing Dusty come from the inn until he stood in front of him, blocking the view.

“Your cabin by the lake is still bein’ cleared. The Charltons will pay for your stay here since they don’t have room at the farmhouse.”

“That’s kind of them, Dusty. Who is that saloon woman? I hoped she didn’t think me impertinent for stepping in her path.”

Dusty squinted in the distance. “Oh, Arrow Missy? She’s a dancer down at Jason’s.”

Dancer. That explained the light-stepping gait. “Why do you call her that?”

“She’s got a sharp tongue and even sharper aim with the drinks. That is, before I stopped going there.” Dusty scratched his chin.

“I think I upset her. She looked sad.” Rowe studied her shrinking form as she went inside the bank. She was a lovely young woman, tall and raven-haired. Her features carried an exotic lilt. He guessed her to be in her early twenties.

If he wasn’t the one who caused her to be upset, then what made the tears brim in her eyes?

“You carrying that last bag in, or you want me to do it?”

Rowe picked up his valise. “I’ve got it, Dusty.” He went inside the inn, glancing one more time in the direction of the bank, his mind still on the melancholy woman with the dancing boots. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Keeper of Reign by Emma Right

When his grandparents disappear, the world changes for young Jules. He's an Elfie, and an heir to a Keeper, each of whom looks after one of the King's books. He's the oldest of five, an unusual number for Elfies. But when even more strange happenings take place, Jules sets out, with friends and siblings in tow, to save the kingdom...if he doesn't get caught by Lord Gehzroulle and his toadies first...

Emma Right originally wrote these stories to her five home-schooled children. For great family reading that's fun, packed truths of basic Christianity and action, and yet isn't too-scary for the "little ones", read this. The stories cover such subjects as betrayal, seeking truth and forgiveness. Well written to hold the attention of the big people and the little people. A good family read-aloud.



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:

 Emma Rightt an imprint of Telemachus Press (May 19, 2013)

***Special thanks to Emma Right for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast of the USA. Besides running a busy home, and looking after their five pets, which includes two cats, two bunnies and a Long-haired dachshund, she also writes stories for her children. She loves the Lord and His Word deeply, and when she doesn't have her nose in a book, she is telling her kids to get theirs in one.

Right worked as a copywriter for two major advertising agencies and won several awards, including the prestigious Clio Award for her ads, before she settled down to have children.

Visit Emma Right at her home site and blog for tips and ideas about books, homeschooling, bible devotions, and author helps of various sorts: http://www.emmaright.com

and follow her on facebook emma.right.author and "like" her fan page at http://www.facebook.com/keeperofreign


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Books written in blood. Most are lost, their Keepers with them. A curse that befell a people. A Kingdom with no King. Life couldn’t get more harrowing for the Elfies, a blend of Elves and Fairies. Or for sixteen-year-old Jules Blaze. Or could it?

For Jules, the heir of a Keeper, no less, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It was bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King’s Ancient Books, did not help ward off that anathema.

Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle’s agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.



Product Details:
List Price: $17.99
Paperback: 340 pages
Publisher: Emma Rightt an imprint of Telemachus Press (May 19, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939337690
ISBN-13: 978-1939337696


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Prologue: Beginning





“Sire, you’re running out of blood.” Eleazer’s voice quivered as he addressed the only other occupant in the royal chamber. He tried to veer his eyes from the King’s bruised arm but could not pull his gaze away.
The young King grunted a response, his attention focused on the red words whispering out of his plumed pen.
Glancing at his cupbearer, he said, “I am aware, Eleazer.” His velvet lapels caught the golden gleam flickering from the lanterns hung on the columns and gave it a rich burgundy sheen.
“Perhaps the wine will help?” Eleazer poured scarlet juice into a goblet and held the fluted stem out, his eyes drawn to the highness’ pale wrist. His master’s pallid face sent a shiver up his spine, and a knot of worry formed above Eleazer’s brows. Palm clammy, he set the goblet next to his master’s arm.
The room was dim despite the golden sparkle of the dragonfly lanterns hooked to the four columns of alabaster that flanked the two draped windows. Books, their golden spines atop each other, were stacked on the mahogany table. Copper wires forming two “X”s upon each spine bound the leaves of the magnificent Books.
“The new star,” the King said, “will be birthed tomorrow, so I must finish writing the Sacred Tomes.” He paused and shot Eleazer a smile. “Why don’t you bind this remaining stack? You can include this end page I am finishing later.” He waited for Eleazer to reply, but the servant only stared at the floor. “My instructions are in the Master Books, but you must inform the others to keep the matter to yourselves.”
“I know— Gehzurolle must not find out.”
“More importantly, do not let him deceive you.”
“I promise.”
“You are a most faithful servant—friend, Eleazer. Thank you.”
“It has been my honor, Your Highness. I should thank you.” Eleazer wanted to say more but his throat strangled the words. He swallowed hard a few times and bowed, as a sigh slipped from his lips.
“Do you comprehend my wishes?” The King’s eyes rested on Eleazer’s face.
“Completely.” Eleazer dared not add anything further lest his voice break entirely. His hands busied with the binding of the closing chapters, whilst his master penned the final paragraphs.
All those books yet not a single ink pot on that writing desk, or, on any other furniture in that library. Too soon Eleazer would have to bid his master adieu.  What if he failed the King?
“Master, I wish you didn’t have to d—”
“Don’t start this again, Eleazer — no other way exists. You must trust me. If all of you heed the Words, you will end up better off.” Without looking up, the King said, “Once you’ve completed the binding you must leave me alone. I am almost finished.”
Afraid he might forget the Majesty’s visage, Eleazer’s eyes flitted to the King’s face and drank in the dark brows, the high cheekbones, the soft lips. He opened his mouth to say something, but only shook his head, bowed a fraction, and exited through the double doors.
Alone in the chamber, the King pierced his bruised vein a last time and completed the closing paragraph.


1. ONE NIGHT





The last thing Jules Blaze thought of before he closed his eyes was how he, how anyone, could undo the curse his people were under. He was in the middle of a dream, a nightmare as far as he was concerned, begging Grandpa Leroy and Grandma Bonnie not to leave, when someone banged on their front door, shaking their entire treehouse.
Who’d be crazy enough to disturb them at this hour? He sat up on his bed and cocked his head. His mother’s soft tread tap-tapped on the wood floor of their treehouse.
“Who’s there?” her muffled voice asked, harsh and whispery from sleep.
The banging stopped.
“Erin, open up.” Mr. Saul’s voice, gruff and loud, jolted the last fog of sleepiness from Jules. He peered over at his brother sleeping noiselessly in the bunk below him, and quietly slipped down the ladder. On tip toe he sneaked to the trap door opening that led down to the living room where Mr. Saul stood dripping from the rain.
“Is everything okay?” Erin said.
“Would I visit now if it were?” Saul said. Then in a gentler voice he added, “I’m sorry. Please, let’s take a seat, Erin.” He nodded at Jules who’d slipped down the pull down ladder to join them. “Jules.”
Jules thought about his father at the war front and swallowed a lump in his throat. Was this why Dad hadn’t sent any word to them for the last months? Because he couldn’t?
Saul held Erin by the arm. He led her to the dining room chairs behind the sofa covered with knitted shawls and afghan throws.
Jules trudged to the window and peered at the branches outside. The arm of the oak tree grew so thick they could easily live in it, although getting up there could be a problem, especially since he was afraid of heights. These days they didn’t even live in stone houses, or even wooden ones, unless living under a tree counted as a wooden home. Elfies lived in trees, or burrowed under rocks, in the forest of Reign.
“Take a seat, Jules.” Mr. Saul locked eyes on him for an instant. “I just received word from the river front patrol—Leroy and Bonnie’s boat capsized in the storm. They’re searching for the bodies, but it doesn’t look good.”
Erin let out a gasp and brought a fist to her mouth. “No!”
“Boat? How can they be sure it was them?” Jules leaned forward in his chair.
“Some of their belongings floated to shore, and I identified the wreck—the pieces drifted to the bank.”
Erin looked at him blankly.
Saul said, again, “The boat…was a wreck.”
“Boat?” Erin said.
“I’d loaned it to them.”
“Why?”
Saul looked at the ceiling. “They’d wanted to get across to Handover.”
“Handover? That’s preposterous. After telling us never to cross the river and saying how dangerous Handover is?” Erin’s voice sounded angry amidst her sobs.
Saul pushed his chair back and stood. He reached into the cloak of his pocket, brought out a few items and laid them on the dining table. “Some things to remember your folks by.” And with that he turned and stalked back out into the dripping night.
Jules stared at his grandpa’s pocket watch, the green felt hat the old man always wore, especially on damp days, and his grandma’s silk scarf she donned when the wind ruffled her snowy white hair. Erin sobbed more violently, and Jules stood behind his mother’s back, leaned over and hugged her trembling shoulders.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Four Blood Moons by John Hagee

Click here to buy on Amazon.com

*still reading; review forthcoming*



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:

Worthy Publishing (October 8, 2013)

***Special thanks to Leeanna Case for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Hagee is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, as well as Jerusalem Countdown, which itself has sold over 1 million copies. He is the founder and senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, a nondenominational evangelical church with more than 20,000 active members, as well as the founder and president of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his radio and television teachings throughout America and in 249 nations worldwide. Hagee is also the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, a grassroots national association with over one million members to date.
http://worthypublishing.com/books/Four-Blood-Moons/


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


 Inspired by NASA projections and recorded history, Pastor John Hagee reveals direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.

Over the last 500 years, blood-red moons have fallen on the first day of Passover three separate times. These occurrences were connected to some of the most significant days in Jewish history: 1492 (the final year of the Spanish Inquisition when Jews were expelled from Spain), 1948 (statehood for Israel and the War of Independence) and 1967 (the Six-Day War). Every heavenly body is controlled by the unseen hand of God, which signals coming events to humanity. There are no solar or lunar accidents. The next series of four blood moons occurs at Passover and Sukkot in 2014 and 2015. In this riveting book, Hagee explores what these blood moons mean and why Christians must understand these signs and what they bode both for Israel and the world.

Joel 2 and Acts 2 both state: "And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness [eclipse] and the moon into blood [eclipse] before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes."



Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (October 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617952141
ISBN-13: 978-1617952142


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Signs in the Heavens




There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. . . . Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.
—Luke 21:25, 27–28




As the jet plane gracefully circled over the majestic beauty of Puget Sound, I looked out of the window at the tall and perfectly shaped spruce trees that surrounded a series of glis- tening lakes. Along the shoreline stood elegant homes with boat ramps and fishing docks extending from beautifully








#bloodmoons




manicured lawns. It was the American paradise that is the gorgeous state of Washington.
The wheels of the jet touched down on the runway with their familiar screech, which is always music to my ears. Every safe landing is a great landing!
The jet rolled to a stop. I unbuckled my seat belt, climbed down the steps, and was refreshingly jolted by the cool breeze on my face. I knew then we were far from the sweltering Texas heat! I began to focus on the reason I was here and what I was to say to the thousands that were gathering for the statewide Night to Honor Israel rally that evening.
Six years earlier, on February 6, 2006, I had invited four hundred of America’s foremost evangelical leaders to join me at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, to form a na- tional organization called Christians United for Israel. The purpose of our organization is to bring Christians and Jews together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and brotherly love, in order to emphasize that what we have in common is far greater than the differences we have allowed to separate us over the centuries.
If you are not currently a member of Christians United for Israel and desire to stand with Israel and the Jewish people, I strongly encourage you to join us today by going to CUFI.org.
King David said, “You will arise and have compassion on
Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come” (Psalm 102:13 niv). . . . The appointed time is now!




4








Signs in the Heavens




why Should we Support iSrael?
If we are to correctly understand heavenly signs and wonders, it’s imperative we grasp the full scope of Scripture and history. The following are five biblical reasons why Christians should be grateful to, and show support for, the nation of Israel and the Jewish people:




1. god proMiSeS to BleSS thoSe who BleSS iSrael “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Genesis 12:3). This is God’s pledge to Abraham and the Jewish people for all generations to come. God has promised to bless nations, churches, and individuals who do practical acts of kindness to bless Israel and the Jewish people.
Biblical evidence of God’s promised blessing is found in Luke 7, where a Roman centurion who had a sick servant wanted the Rabbi from Nazareth to come into his home and heal his servant. Jesus was an observant Jew; yet He would have to break the laws of Moses to enter the house of a Gen- tile, who was considered unclean.
The centurion—commander of a hundred soldiers—sent the Jewish elders to intercept Jesus. The elders begged Jesus earnestly, saying that the Roman centurion request was de- serving of Jesus’ healing, “for he loves our nation, and has built us a synagogue” (Luke 7:5).
Jesus healed the sick servant because a Gentile had




5








#bloodmoons




performed a practical act of kindness to bless Israel and the
Jewish people.
The Bible further supports God’s blessing on those who bless Israel with the evidence of Cornelius. Why were Cor- nelius and his household the first Gentiles to hear the gospel and to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? The answer is found in Acts 10:22, which describes Cornelius the centurion as “a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews.”
God performed a miracle to motivate the apostle Peter to go to the house of this unclean Gentile. Peter had a vision of a sheet (a prayer shawl) filled with unclean animals (Gentiles), and God commanded him not to call unclean what God had pronounced as clean (Acts 10:9–16). Peter obeyed the mes- sage of the vision and went, against religious tradition, to the house of a Gentile to present the gospel.
When Peter shared the gospel with the household of Cor- nelius, they all received salvation and were filled with the Holy Spirit, and then Peter commanded them to be baptized in wa- ter (Acts 10:44–48).
The Holy Spirit was poured out on Cornelius and his household because a Gentile did practical acts of kindness to bless the Jewish people, and true to His promise, God blessed him beyond measure.
I can testify personally that there is no human explana-
tion for the unprecedented blessing of God on Cornerstone




6








Signs in the Heavens




Church and John Hagee Ministries other than the fact that more than thirty years ago we decided to show practical acts of kindness for Israel and the Jewish people. Since that time, God has opened the windows of heaven and blessed us be- yond measure.
God’s promise is a fact: “I will bless those who bless you.”




2. we are coMManded to pray for the peace of JeruSaleM
Praying for the peace of Jerusalem is not a request—it’s a command! “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you” (Psalm 122:6).
From God’s perspective, Jerusalem is the center of the uni- verse. Jerusalem is the city David conquered from the Jebusi- tes three thousand years ago, and it became the capital of Isra- el forever. May it always be the eternal and undivided capital of Israel, and may peace be within her walls and prosperity within her palaces (Psalm 122:7).
Jerusalem is where Abraham offered Isaac on Mount Mo- riah. Jerusalem is where Jeremiah and Isaiah penned prin- ciples of righteousness that became the moral compass for Western civilization. And outside of its gates Jesus Christ, the Son of David, was crucified for the sins of the world.
According to biblical prophecy, Jerusalem is the past, present, and future of the world! From this city, Jesus will rule
planet earth with a rod of iron, and of His kingdom there shall




7








#bloodmoons




be no end (Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:33).
When you pray for Jerusalem, you are praying for world peace. History proves that when there is peace in Jerusalem, there is peace in the world. When there is war in Jerusalem, the blood flows on planet earth. The universe revolves around Jerusalem. I quote my friend Dr. Graham Lacey, “As long as there is Jerusalem there is God; and as long as there is God there is Jerusalem.”




3. we are coMManded to Be watchMen on the
wallS of iSrael
God commands us through the prophet Isaiah to be watch- men on the walls of Jerusalem (62:6). We are commanded by God, through the prophet Isaiah, to speak up and defend Is- rael and the Jewish people when they are slandered, attacked by their enemies, and are subjected to any callous act of anti- Semitism. Isaiah writes:




For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest. . . .
I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent.


(62:1, 6)












8








Signs in the Heavens




4. we are coMManded to MiniSter to iSrael in
Material thingS
Another biblical reason we support Israel is given by the apostle Paul: “For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things [the Jewish people], their duty [the Gentiles] is also to minister to them [the Jewish people] in material things” (Romans 15:27).
What are the “spiritual things” Paul is referring to?




• The Jewish people have given to us the written Word of God.
• The Jewish people have given to us the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
• The Jewish people have given to us the Old Testament prophets: Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habak- kuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
• The Jewish people have given to us the first family of Christianity: Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. Take Jesus out of Christianity and there is no Christianity.
• The Jewish people have given to us the twelve disciples and the apostle Paul.


Consider the monumental contribution given to us by the seed of Abraham. For this reason Jesus said in John 4:22, “For salvation is of the Jews.”




9








#bloodmoons




If you take away the Jewish contribution to Christianity, there would be no Christianity. Judaism does not need Chris- tianity to explain its existence; Christianity, however, cannot explain its existence without Judaism.
When I refer to Christianity I am referencing the teach- ings of Christ, which were based on the principles of Juda- ism—not the deeds of polluted historic Christianity.
Historic Christianity has left an evil legacy. It is responsible for the Crusades, in which Jewish people from Europe to Je- rusalem were slaughtered in seven major pogroms (crusades). The first crusade was declared by Pope Urban II in 1095. The Crusaders were rapists and thieves, forgiven in advance by the reigning pope for any sins they might commit while on their holy campaign to liberate Jerusalem from the “infidels.”
Not one Christian in a hundred today can answer the ques- tion: “How is it that Christianity, born through the teachings of a Jewish rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth, could three hundred years later kill Jews in the name of God?”
There is a dramatic difference between historic Christian- ity and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I publicly state that I am not a follower of historic Christianity; I am a follower of Jesus Christ!




5. JeSuS entreated the church to Support iSrael We should support Israel and the Jewish people because it was Jesus’ final request to His church. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40:




10








Signs in the Heavens




Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren [the Jewish people], you did it to Me.




Jesus never called the Gentiles His brethren until after the cross. Before the cross we were, as described by the apostle Paul, outside the covenants of Israel, without God and with- out hope, of all men most miserable (Ephesians 2:12; 1 Cor- inthians 15:19).
Gentile Christians can look at the day of the cross and shout for joy. It was there we were grafted into the original olive tree (Romans 11:17). It was there our sins were forgiven, buried in the deepest sea, never to be remembered anymore (Jeremiah 31:34). It was there that our sicknesses and diseas- es were removed and we received divine health, for “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
It was at the cross that Jesus took our poverty and gave to us the riches of Abraham. We who were “not a people” (1 Pe- ter 2:10) were adopted and became “kings and priests to His God” (Revelation 1:6), “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthi- ans 5:20), and have been taken from rags to royalty through the precious blood of the virgin-born, “the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). The curse of death, hell, and the grave was broken, and we were given eternal life; hallelujah for the cross!
God’s Gentile assignment toward the Jewish people is to
show them what they have not seen from historic Christianity




11








#bloodmoons




in two thousand years—the pure and unconditional love of
God!




Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works [practical acts of kindness] and glo- rify your Father in heaven.


(Matthew 5:16)




Jesus said, “I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew
25:35–36).
Jesus makes it very clear that it’s not what you feel about the Jewish people that is the acid test, for Jesus didn’t say, “I was hungry and you felt sorry for Me; I was thirsty and you felt concern for Me; I was a stranger and you felt pity for Me.” I often hear pastors, evangelists, and Christians say, “I really like Israel” or “I like the Jewish people.” Jesus couldn’t care less what you like or don’t like; He’s looking for action. What will you do? What practical acts of kindness have you or your church done to demonstrate your love for Israel as mentioned in Matthew
25:40? What action have you taken to support Israel?
Stop talking about what you feel . . . and start taking action by showing practical acts of kindness toward God’s chosen people. Simply put, “Don’t tell me you love me. Show me!”




12

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Big Sky Bachelor by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Click here to buy on Amazon.com
This novel is the sequel to Lights, Cowboy, Action (click here to read review)

Adam's sister, Jenessa Greene, knows just what she wants in life, yet can't seem to get it. Micah has had all life has to offer, and yet, can't find peace. When these two are flung together in an unlikely meeting, will they both find what they've been seeking?





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:

Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God's guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women's fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Janessa Greene is leaving Thornton Springs

All she's ever wanted is to attend cooking school in Seattle. But when a big-shot rodeo rider comes to work on her family's Montana ranch, Janessa's determined not to let the cowboy distract her from her goal no matter how charming he is.

Micah was a rodeo star, but he's been trampled by one bull too many. While he's deciding his next move, he gets sidetracked by a pretty cowgirl who's headed out of town. Can Micah convince her to take a chance on a cowboy ready to put down roots?



Product Details:
List Price: $4.99
Series: Heartsong Presents (Book 1068)
Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (October 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373486790
ISBN-13: 978-0373486793:


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14



Chapter 1

Janessa Greene could have sworn her old hatchback lost a little more oomph with each passing day. As she pulled off the highway and through the Bar-G Ranch gate, she sent up a prayer. No way could she spend money on her car right now—not with all the expenses she had coming up. Both she and her car would have to go the extra mile for just a while longer.

As she gunned down the long stretch toward the house, the sight of twenty or so impatient-looking parents standing outside their horse trailers made her stomach buckle. She checked the clock on the dash and grimaced. Why did they all have to be so prompt on the days when she was running behind?

She clattered to a halt between the house and the barn, then gathered up her work bag and purse. Leaping out of the car, she gave the parents a quick wave. “I’ll only be a sec!”

A grating mixture of grumbles and moans followed her as she ran toward the front porch steps. She winced. Those folks had paid good money to have her teach their kids to ride this summer, and they had every right to expect her to deliver her best. She had tried to get there on time. If only the restaurant would stop being so busy on her class days.

She scurried inside, slowing only to push the door shut and to gather up the mail from the table next to it. Flipping through the stack as she bounded across the foyer, she held her breath. Today had to be the day.

“Argh!” She tossed the pile of pure disappointment onto the bench at the base of the staircase, gripped the bannister, and charged up. It was July already. Shouldn’t she have heard by now?

Reaching the top step in record time, she darted across the hall and into her room. She kicked the door closed, dropped her bags on the bed, and tore off her grease-splattered tee, then grabbed a plaid cotton western shirt from the back of her desk chair. As she yanked it on, a rap on the door gave her a jolt.

“Ness, it’s Courtney.”

Her fingers found the shirt buttons as she searched the floor for a pair of jeans. “I’ll be right out.”

“I can go down and get the kids started if you want.”

“Really?” Relief surged as she retrieved some decently-clean Levis off the window seat. “That would make you my favorite sister-in-law.”

Courtney’s laugh sounded through the door. “I’m your only sister-in-law. Besides, you know I love those kids.”

Janessa breathed a little easier. The parents would feel better seeing Courtney, but she’d still have to hustle.

As she fumbled with her cuff button, her focus fixed on the poster over the desk. A plain chef’s jacket hung on a fancy wire hanger with the words ‘Le Cordon Bleu—L’Art Culinaire’ above, and the logo of the school below.

Leaving her second cuff undone, she tugged at the laces on her white SlipGrips—great for the kitchen but definitely not for the arena—and allowed her thoughts to stray. Le Cordon Bleu had been her dream ever since she’d realized she wanted to be a chef. Not only was it a great school, but they had a location in Seattle, not far from Thornton Springs. She bit her lip and yanked at the second lace. Okay, not too far to drive home for holidays and an occasional weekend, anyway. Montana only seemed like a million miles away from everything truly exciting in the world.

She kicked off the shoes. For as long as she could remember, all she’d wanted was to get out of Thornton Springs. Now that she had finally graduated from high school and worked for a year to save up money, her plans were just about to jell.

Flinging herself onto the bed, she quickly replaced her white Dockers with the jeans. She rolled onto her belly to reach under the bed, pulling out one boot, then a second.

She maneuvered into a sitting position, then yanked on the boots and scanned the immediate vicinity for her belt. Her eyes flicked across the framed photo that sat on her bedside table, momentarily sidetracking her with the familiar combination of comfort and sorrow that always accompanied it. Absentmindedly fingering the ever-present heart-shaped diamond necklace at her throat, she wondered for the zillionth time how different her life would be if her dad was still here. He had her heart, even after being gone for so many years.

Forcing her thoughts back to the task at hand, she plucked up her floral-shammed pillow from the head of the bed and let out a mini-cry of victory. She dove for a large gold buckle that peeked out from under her sloppily-placed duvet, then swung her legs around and clamored to her feet. She quickly looped the belt into her jeans and grabbed a hair band off her bedside table, then dug through the pile of hats on the chair next to the door. She paused, running her hand over her Le Cordon Bleu ball cap. Her mind latched onto the one problem with her plan, the magnitude of which grew with each passing day.

What if the school didn’t accept her?

Shoving away the thought, she snapped up her favorite white cowgirl hat and plunked it onto her head. She just couldn’t let herself think that way. It was only July. There was still plenty of time for her to hear from them. Besides, if she didn’t get in, they’d send a rejection letter. No news didn’t necessarily mean bad news.

She darted back out into the hallway and took the stairs two at a time, awkwardly yanking her hair into a ponytail as she flew.

Making her way across the drive, she saw that Courtney had gotten the class started preparing their horses. A few parents lingered along the outside of the fence, but most of them had left, probably furious at her for cutting short their hour to go get things done.

Rushing into the barn, she grabbed a curry comb off its hook on the wall and greeted her horse. “Hey, Miss Molly.” As she ran the comb quickly across Molly’s back, she mumbled to herself. She’d have to do a better job of grooming her later on.

Tossing down the comb, she took up the brush. “Sorry, baby. You deserve better than this.” Moving around to the horse’s other side, she realized she’d left her second cuff undone. She fumbled with the button as she continued to brush Molly, but since she actually needed both hands to accomplish each task, she succeeded only in scratching her wrist with the bristles.

“Youch!” She jumped back, pulling up her sleeve to examine the scratch.

“Works better if you use the brush on the horse.”

The confident baritone behind her nearly startled her out of her skin. She whipped around to see a guy hoisting a saddle up onto the rack on the wall, glancing over his shoulder and smirking like the feline friend of the recently departed canary.

“What in the…?” Her tone came out a little more venomous than she’d intended, but he looked like a guy who could handle it. She’d been standing there talking to her horse. Why hadn’t he made his presence known?

“Hey, I noticed that mare has some weeds stuck in her mane.” Speaking without even looking at her now, he secured the saddle. “You know, if you don’t have time to groom your horse correctly, you don’t have time to own a horse.”

Her jaw went slack. She’d been riding her whole life. This was her horse and her barn, and this guy—whoever he was—had no right to admonish her. Questions swirled in her brain, and she spit out the first one she could latch onto. “Who are you?”

Chuckling lightly as he finally turned to face her, he radiated an air of belonging that implied she was the outsider here, not him. His lack of a swift answer to her question gave the impression that he thought she should somehow already know who he was—like he was some kind of celebrity or something.

“Well…?” She seethed. Not only had he made her even later by springing up behind her like that, but he had implied that she wasn’t properly caring for her horse. And now he wouldn’t even identify himself.

Flashing a gleaming white smile that dented a dimple in his cheek, he ambled toward her. He pushed up the brim of his well-worn tan Stetson, revealing tousled blond hair and a pair of eyes so clear and blue they conjured an instant image of Flathead Lake on a hot summer day.

She gulped. As much as she hated to admit it, this guy was the best looking thing to hit Thornton Springs since Jeffrey Mark Caulfield came to town to make that movie last year.

“Name’s Micah.” Stepping confidently close to her, he held out a hand. “I started work here this morning.”

Oh. Of course. She’d forgotten all about the new ranch hand her brother Adam had hired.

Twisting her mouth in irritation at his obvious lack of first day self-consciousness, she reached out for a quick shake. “I’m Janessa.” Hoping to convey a lack of interest in further conversation, she returned to brushing Molly. Time was wasting.

“Pleasure to meet you, Janessa.” After a long moment of studying her the way you would an auction horse you were considering bidding on, he dipped the brim of his hat and strode out of the barn.

Her hand slowed on Molly’s back as she furtively witnessed his exit. She gave herself a mental shake. What was the matter with her? Standing there gawking like a schoolgirl when she needed to get to her class.

Irritation swelled in her gut. Just what she didn’t need, another pointless distraction from what really mattered—making the money to escape Thornton Springs and get her life off the ground.

As she hurried over to fetch her tack, her gaze again drifted to the doorway, but he had moved out of view. Guys. That was one thing she just couldn’t waste time thinking about right now.

She clicked her tongue. Of course, not thinking about them would be a whole lot easier if God didn’t make some of them so all-fired nice to look at.

Saving Grace (Madison Falls Series book 1) by Leslie Ann McDaniel



Kay here. Still reading away, review forthcoming!




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:

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 27, 2013)

***Special thanks to Lesley Ann McDaniel for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

LESLEY ANN MCDANIEL is a lifelong lover of words, and theatre. While earning a degree in acting, she fell in love with theatrical costuming, and pursued that as a career while nurturing her passion for writing on the side. Through God's guidance, she has shifted her focus to honing her skills as a writer of women's fiction. She is a member of the Northwest Christian Writers Association and of a wonderful critique group. A native Montanan and a Big Sky girl at heart, Lesley now resides in the Seattle area.

Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

What happens when a New York City opera singer flees to a small town in Montana to escape a stalker? Tracy Fontaine is about to find out.

When an obsessive fan forces Tracy to change her name to Grace Addison and go into hiding, the last thing she wants is to get to know the locals. Now, not one but two men have worked their way into her daily routine, much to the chagrin of jealous local girl Sophia, who insists on prying into Grace’s past and stirring up deadly trouble.

Will Grace find love in Madison Falls…or will her stalker find her?

Madison Falls. Home of faith, love, peach pie…and a dollop of danger.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Series: Madison Falls
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1491056908
ISBN-13: 978-1491056905


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Warm air prickled the back of Grace’s neck. The porch creaked under her feet as she stole a glance over her shoulder at the dark street. Nothing.
“...excited to have you here ....”
The real estate agent’s lilting voice hummed in Grace’s ear. She turned, marveling not only at the whiteness of the agent’s slacks, but at the boldness of that fashion choice for a woman whose figure resembled that of a snowman.
“...cab ride even longer than your flight.”
Something pinged against the wooden planks. Grace jolted, dizzied by days of wakefulness. The agent dipped down gracefully as her plump fingers extended.
Just a dropped key.
“I know you’ll fall in love with this adorable house. The pictures on our website don’t do it justice.”
Her chipper tone set Grace’s tired nerves on edge. Why couldn’t the woman move a little faster? Casting a wary eye down the shadowy street, Grace eased the strap of her computer bag off the tense spot on her shoulder. Her over-worked adrenal glands pulsed as the agent—what was her name...Cookie? No. Spritz. Spritz Cole, that was it. As Spritz righted herself and lifted the rescued key toward the mahogany Craftsman door.
“Of course,” Spritz lobbed her an encouraging smile. “Most people want to actually see a house first before signing the papers. You must be anxious to start out fresh.”
“Yes.” Grace coerced a steady tone. “This place just felt right.”
An air of confidence spread over Spritz’s carefully made-up face. “You won’t be disappointed.” She clicked the key, and the deadbolt gave an obliging swoosh. Pushing the door open, she took a theatrical step back. “Welcome home.”
Grace’s heart made a thump that could have come from the score to a Hitchcock movie. She peered in. Her lungs filled with paint-infused air as she took a careful step across the doorsill and into the foyer.
She blinked away welling emotion, plunking her suitcase down on the polished wood floor of the vacant bungalow. Her chest ached as she perused the living room, which looked bigger than her entire studio apartment back home. Its white walls stared at her like a vast canvas.
“Well?” Spritz’s voice glistened with just enough gusto to instill consumer confidence without falling into phoniness.
Grace forced a step further into the house which now bore her name on the title—or rather her chosen name. She found it impossible to whip up much enthusiasm when all she really wanted was her life back. “It’s...adorable. Just like you said.”
The door ka-thunked shut, sending Grace’s heart into her throat.
Spritz let out a pleased breath. “You were smart to snap it up. Houses like this don’t come on the market very often. Why, folks in Madison Falls tend to stay put till they die.”
Grace shot her a fretful glance. Was she being funny or merely factual?
Apparently oblivious to Grace’s unease, Spritz breezed into the living room. “Let me just give you a quick tour.”
Exhaustion jabbed at Grace like a maestro’s baton. “No, you don’t have to—”
“You’ve come all this way,” Spritz cajoled. “I can’t just abandon you at the door. I don’t mind at all.”
Too weary to argue, Grace ran a jittery hand through her hair. Startled once again by the shortness of her cut, she flinched. “Alright then.”
As Spritz took center stage with a clearing of her throat, Grace backed up just enough to secure the deadbolt. She forced attentiveness, though frankly her only architectural concern was the structure’s ability to keep danger at bay.
Spritz stepped seamlessly into tour guide mode. “The key feature of this cozy room is of course the striking Craftsman brick fireplace.” She recited the painstakingly penned text of her own website.
Feeling like a reluctant audience to a friend’s baby-picture-slideshow, Grace swallowed her protest and stepped into the living room.
“...loads of light from this generous picture window.” Spritz pulled a cord, sending the front blinds clattering upward.
Grace shrank back, feeling the same vulnerability as she did whenever someone burst into her dressing room unannounced. The darkness outside chilled her. Why hadn’t she planned for a day-lit arrival?
“...cut glass...original to the house.” Spritz dropped the cord. Her arm extended toward the smaller windows above the built-in bookcases which flanked the fireplace.
Keeping a polite focus on her guide, Grace slid toward the picture window. She felt for the cold metal of the latch, breathing easier at its firmness. She gave the cord to the blinds a quick yank then twisted the wand to smooth the slats.
“...1920’s charm.” Spritz clasped her hands in front of her, clearly moved by her own narrative of the home’s features. A well-rehearsed pause, then a twirl toward the dining room.
Forcing her tired eyes to stay focused, Grace pulled shut the blinds on the smaller windows. 1920’s charm, indeed. Feigning cheerful interest, she crossed under the wide arch which separated this room from the next.
Spritz drew her arm with a flourish in the direction of a built-in china hutch. “This room is perfect for entertaining.”
Grace huffed at the suggestion that she would actually invite people over. Spritz’s eyes narrowed.
“I...I...” Grace stuttered, dismayed that fatigue had wiped out her ability to self-censor. “I just never had my own dining room before. I didn’t know I needed one.”
Spritz’s face lit like a make-up mirror. “Our neighborhood progressive dinner is coming up. I’ll be sure to add you to the circuit.”
Grace shivered, giving in to a long blink. Just what she needed. An invitation to the biggest event of the Mayberry social season.
Spritz swung open a double-hinged door, taking a calculated step through it as she spoke. “I just love the charm of this vintage style kitchen.”
Grace cast a polite look through the doorway. Vintage style? Was that real estate lingo for badly-in-need-of-an-update?
“Cute.” Too bad she couldn’t cook. All those years of dorm food and take-out had made that skill superfluous. At least she knew how to make coffee.
Thoughts of a comforting beverage warmed her momentarily, then vanished as her inaugural step into the kitchen almost sent her plummeting.
Spritz let out a yelp, catching her by the elbow. “Sweetie! Are you okay?”
Her heart racing, Grace clutched Spritz’s arm as her feet surfed for solid flooring. “I… I’m fine. Thanks.” She let go, testing the tiles using the care of a person treading through a minefield. One tile near the door had a definite trampoline-like quality. Funny that hadn’t made the web site’s list of fancy features.
Spritz gave the floor a healthy stomp with the heel of her Easy Spirit pump. “I really had no idea there was a problem here.” She patted Grace’s bicep. “Not to worry. We’ve got a wonderful handyman in town who’ll fix it for a song.”
Grace’s stomach fluttered. The last thing she needed was some strange man in her house expecting her to sing. “I’m sure I can take care of it myself.”
“Oh, a DIY girl, huh?” She looked impressed. “Why not let Sam handle this, and put your energy into the fun projects?”
With a decisive nod, Spritz stepped over the aberrant flooring to the rectangle of a hallway. Grace followed, anxious to finish the tour and get on with her plan. All she needed was to be left alone, to let down her guard at last, and fall into a deep sleep.
“Storage closet. Linen closet. Basement.” Spritz flung open each door in turn. “The floor is original to the house, but it’s been refinished. Let me show you the back bedroom.” She disappeared, rattling off facts as if her audience still needed convincing.
Grace’s body followed her eyes to the cracked-open bathroom door. A golden trail of light across the floor taunted her. Flashes of that last moment before her life had changed for good. She looked intently at the light—an eerie implication that someone else had recently been in the house. Be strong. What other choice did she have?
She reached out. A light touch to the crystal doorknob. Good grief, it’s only a bathroom. Wouldn’t be practical to avoid it indefinitely.
Shoving the heavy door with one hand while instinctively clenching the other, her own breath threatened to choke her.
The bathtub held a dead body.
No! Reflexively, her hands shielded her eyes. Then through parted fingers, she forced a second look. It was just a bathtub. Clean, white...and empty.
It had been more than two years now, but the image of the blood splattered porcelain still haunted her.
“Don’t you just love the claw foot tub?”
Grace sucked in a sharp breath, jolted by the perky voice from behind. She shook off the memory. Why couldn’t the place just have a shower, like her apartment?
“Let’s take a look at the front bedroom,” Spritz chirped with an air of unruffled confidence. She stepped into the room to her left, flicking a switch to illuminate it.
Grace followed, heavy with fatigue. She hovered in the doorway of the big white box that would be her bedroom, piqued by Spritz’s unnecessary perkiness.
Spritz beamed with professional pride. “The bedrooms are the same square footage, so it really depends on which view you prefer.”
Grace heaved an anxious sigh. She had already decided she’d sleep in this room. Best to keep track of the world out front—as if anything would happen in a town this size. Yawning, she lifted her wrist slightly, shocked at the hour—nearly eleven. One o’clock in the morning back home. Her eyelids felt like they had stage weights in them.
“Where’s my head?” Spritz crossed toward her, hands outstretched. “You flew all the way from Seattle, then had that long cab ride from Missoula. You must be dead on your feet.”
Grace’s stomach pitched at the ill-chosen words, but she coerced a smile. Spritz had shown such kindness without even knowing how much Grace had needed it. She allowed the realtor to enclose both her hands in a solid, warm grasp.
“I’ll see myself out.” Spritz gave Grace’s hands an extra squeeze. “You just call if you need anything.” She turned for the door, speaking over her shoulder as she walked. “Or stop by my office. It’s on Main, right across from the park. You can’t miss it.”
Grace chuckled to herself. As if finding anything in this town would require the use of MapQuest.
Grateful for her long-awaited solitude, she bolted the door after Spritz’s exit and lowered the blinds over its small cut glass pane. Talk about impractical. Why would anyone want a window in their front door?
Looking around the quiet house, she surrendered to a welcome yawn. She hadn’t been this tired in a very long time. All she needed was a refreshing night’s sleep to plan her next step for surviving this ordeal.
She dragged her feet back to the bedroom and stopped. Looking down at the hard wood of the floor, she let out a throaty moan. Where had her head been? She had always prided herself on her ability to think things through down to the minutest detail. How could she have neglected to arrange for a bed?
She sat down with a thud and buried her face in her hands, not knowing if she would burst out in laughter or sobs.
“Good grief, Grace Addison.” A quiet laugh escorted her words. “Or whatever your name is. Get your act together, would you?”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Peril: A Novel (Bloodline Trilogy #3) by Jordyn Redwood

Peril
Peril by Jordyn Redwood

Plot:  
Dr. Thomas Reeves is at the pinnacle of his career. The Department of Defense has awarded him a lucrative contract for his new research into superior autobiographical memory, which promises the ability to create combat troops able to quickly learn complex battle plans and enact them perfectly under the most demanding battlefield scenarios.

An elite unit has received neural grafts from fetal cadavers of genetically altered brain cells with enhanced NMDA receptors. The results are remarkable . . . until the recipients begin suffering hallucinations, nightmares, paralysis, . . . and death. Dr. Reeves searches for answers, but DOD insiders want him to stop the search.

The situation becomes public when pediatric ICU nurse Morgan Adams, Dr. Reeves's daughter, is taken hostage by three research subjects in an attempt to force Dr. Reeves into disclosing why they are sick. If answers aren't revealed within twenty-four hours, patients in the pediatric ICU will be killed. 

This spine-tingling conclusion to the Bloodline Trilogy raises spiritual and ethical dilemmas torn directly out of today's headlines. When does life begin? How far does commitment to family go? And can the sins of the father ever be forgiven?

My review: 
Wow, is this book an attention grabber! One afternoon I started it with no more expectations than I would have for any poolside novel but quickly found I was hooked and couldn't put it down! Jodyn Redwood knows how to grab your interest. In fact, I was so into the story I didn't realize until I was explaining the plot to someone else how sci-fi the story was with brain graphs, super-human memories, transplant memories, etc. This book is labeled suspense and suspense it delivers! Brain graph patients with horrific side effects wanting revenge. The main character's struggle with her young daughters traumatic death and suicidal thoughts. A marriage on the fritz. An estranged family. The situation seems hopeless. But through forgiveness and faith in God there is hope in even the darkest nights. In addition to the great themes of forgiveness and family I loved the unique way question "when does life being?" was presented. Oh, and nine seasons of ER  history (and yes, I mean the TV show) really helps before reading this book. I am proud to say that after my fine ER training there wasn't any medical lingo in PERIL I didn't understand :) Recommended for mature readers due to some dark themes.

Jordyn Redwood

About the author:
Jordyn Redwood has served patients and their families for nearly 20 years and currently works as a pediatric ER nurse. As a self professed medical nerd and trauma junkie, she was drawn to the controlled chaotic environments of critical care and emergency nursing. Her love of teaching developed early and she was among the youngest CPR instructors for the American Red Cross at the age of seventeen. Since then, she has continued to teach advanced resuscitation classes to participants ranging from first responders to MD’s.


Jordyn lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters and one crazy hound dog. In her spare time she also enjoys reading her favorite authors, quilting and cross stitching.


Bring home your own copy of PERIL: 
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DISCLAIMER: I received a free advanced copy of PERIL from KREGEL in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Under the Rainbow: A Mother's Experiences of the Promises of God by Catherine Campbell

Click here to buy on Amazon.com
After reviewing Ms. Campbell's 40-day devotional, Rainbows for Rainy Days, I jumped at the chance to review this book, her memoir of motherhood. Not one, but two of her three children were born with the same developmentally-crippling disease, microcephaly. (This is when the "soft spots" on a baby's head harden either during pregnancy or shortly after birth, not leaving room for the brain to grow and develop. In most cases, this leads to blindness, a lack of ability to walk, talk or even to sit up unaided, and eventually, to death. However, Catherine didn't allow her daughters' disability to disable her light. Still, she shone on, letting the stories of herself, of her husband and her children to help change the view of these people. They are not some "thing" to be rid of.


My younger brother "Henry" has  Down Syndrome, and as his family, we had to adjust. We've always believed that God made and loved those born with disabilities, but as Henry's sister, well, I found the following excerpt absolutely beautiful, and began to tear up when I read it:

*please note that the Author is from Northern Ireland, therefore, you may find some spellings and words to be different.*

"Undoubtedly, we live in a world of the designer label. What we wear is not nearly as important as who made it, and that others know who made it. This is so much the case that manufacturers often display their exclusive label on the outside of the garment. Why wear Ralph Lauren of Coco Chanel if no one else recognizes it? A lot of our teenagers would rather die than be seen in a pair of trainers [American speak: tennis shoes] manufactured by anyone other than those of the current trendsetting brands...
'I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;Marvellous are your works,And that my soul knows very well...You saw my substance, being yet unformed'...
'Listen to this, Cheryl,' I exclaimed, making the poor child jump as I raised my voice in excitement. 'You are no mistake, Sweetheart. God knew exactly what He was doing when He made you...it ways so right here in Psalm 139. it says here that God formed you. He knew your little frame before I did, when it was just a bunch of cells- it wasn't hidden from Him. You were no surprise to Him.'...
Down through the years I have learned to see this world's view of perfection from a completely different perspective. Our raison d'etre is far greater than health and wealth, happiness and beauty. Psalm 139 gave me the assurance that Cheryl was 'designer made', and that stamped across her life were the words:
Made with love by God'."(excerpts from pages 53 and 54)