Friday, April 29, 2011

False Witness by Randy Singer

Clark Shealy is a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line: his wife’s life. He has forty-eight hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm—an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption.


Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist: she and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. After a life-changing trip to the professor’s church in India, the couple also has the key to decode it.


Now they’re on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.

More about the book:
This is kind of long, but I thought it was interesting and it explains more about why this book was re-published:

What is our responsibility for obtaining justice for those in need? Does the end always justify the means? Randy Singer examines these questions while taking his readers through twists and turns on a powerful journey in his novel False Witness. This engrossing legal thriller is a re-telling of Singer’s original novel by the same name. The new version has many substantial changes—some designed to bring about Singer’s original vision for the book inspired by his friend’s funeral.



The deceased was David O’Malley, Singer’s good friend and former client. O’Malley’s wife had asked Singer to give her husband’s eulogy. So, at the funeral, Singer talked about his friend’s generosity and big heart. Everyone there had a David O’Malley story, so heads nodded as he shared his. David’s pastor followed Singer in the pulpit. He spoke about a man named Thomas Kelly. The man was a scoundrel involved in organized crime. He turned on everyone he knew. “You don’t think you know Thomas Kelly, but you do,” the pastor explained. “David O’Malley was Thomas Kelly before he went into the witness protection program—before he came to the Lord.”


Prior to that moment, the only people that knew about David’s past were the government, his family, Singer, and his pastor. There was utter silence as the pastor concluded with a line Singer said he will never forget. “The government can give you a new identity,” he said, “but only Christ can change your life.” It was then that he decided to write this book.


But Singer also wanted to draw attention to one of his passions. He wanted to highlight the challenges of today’s church in India. He believes that most Western Christians are unaware of the persecution of the church and the miraculous things happening there.


India is a land of civil rights, in theory, but of brutal oppression, in fact—especially for the 165 million members of the Dalits, India’s lowest caste. During Singer’s first trip to India a few years ago, he saw firsthand the systemic oppression of the Dalits (formerly known as untouchables) through the Hindu caste system. Singer was astonished by the fact that the world’s largest democracy was also a breeding ground for the world’s largest human-trafficking operations, that it would allow the exploitation of 15 million children in bonded labor, that it would tolerate temple prostitution and other forms of sexual slavery, and that it would foster economic and social systems that oppress nearly 25 percent of its people.


But there is a silver lining. A bond was formed between the Dalits and Christians. The Dalits began asking the church to help educate their children. Hundreds of schools sprang up, providing thousands of Dalit children with an English-based education (critical to landing good jobs) and newfound self-respect. The Dalits responded with another invitation: “If this is the Christian faith, come start a church in our village.” The result is that millions of Dalits and other Indians are coming to Christ, drawn by a religion that believes the ground is equal at the foot of the cross.


Singer was moved by the plight of the Dalit children, struggling to throw off the yoke of oppression and replace it with real freedom and dignity, so he committed to do his part because he believes that “no child should be untouchable.” So he is donating every penny from the sale of False Witness to the Dalit Freedom Network. His novel will take readers from the streets of Las Vegas to the halls of the American justice system and the inner sanctum of the growing church in India with all the trademark twists, turns, and legal intrigue his fans have come to expect.

My review:
Randy Singer is one of my favorite authors, and I have read all of his books, to my knowledge. Most of my books are in storage, so I couldn't check to see if I had this one, but I assume I do. However, if I have read it, it has been too long to remember much about it, and too long to know what parts of the book have been updated, as this book is a new version with new material added.

That said, I really enjoyed reading this book. Singer writes in the style of John Grisham, but without the cursing. The plot was complicated, but easy to follow, with  a lot of twists and turns. I didn't know who the bad and good guys were for sure for most of the book, and the unexpected kept on happening.

A lot of the story revolves around  Federal Witness Protection, and I found that kind of thing totally fascinating. There is a lot of suspense in the book, and Singer also separates himself from Grisham in the fact that he isn't afraid to write God into the story.

This is the kind of novel I hate to put down, but one does need to sleep, so I finished it this morning, instead of late last night - but I couldn't wait to finish it. There were a few surprises and even a disappointment.... I wish the author had done something different with a romantic element, but we can't always have the book end exactly like we want it to.

He also tried to show the plight of the churches in India, and I feel he did a great job of doing that.

I highly recommend this book, and any of Singer's books to readers who enjoy legal thrillers. This one is a great one, definitely worth reading.


About the author:
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned 10 legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel, Directed Verdict. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at http://www.randysinger.net/.


Fatal Witness is available from Tyndale House Publishing.

Thanks to Tyndale and B & B Media for the review copy.


The Judgment by Beverly Lewis


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Judgment
Bethany House (April 5, 2011)
by
Beverly Lewis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Not until her own children were well into middle school did Bev seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993—Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular CUL-DE-SAC KIDS series of chapter books—see list of Bev's children's books).



Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, THE HERITAGE OF LANCASTER COUNTY, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."



Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Bev's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."



A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and playing with their three grandchildren. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."





ABOUT THE BOOK



Rose Kauffman is engaged to Silas Good, a well-liked Amish fellow, so why does she still pine for Nick Franco, the former foster son of the bishop? Especially now that Nick has left the Amish community under a cloud of suspicion after the death of the bishop's biological son? Will Rose marry Silas, even while struggling with romantic feelings for Nick? Meanwhile, Rose's older sister, Hen, has returned to live at her parents' farm with her young daughter. Hen and her modern husband, Brandon, are separated by mutual agreement, although he is threatening to sue for custody of their daughter if Hen does not return soon. Will the judge rule in Brandon's favor? Is there any way Hen can reestablish her place among the People without sacrificing her marriage?



If you would like to read the first chapter of The Judgment, go HERE





Watch the book trailer:



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nick of Time by Tim Downs

Tying the knot may be the toughest thing Nick Polchak has ever tried to do.



Nick Polchak is comfortable with bugs. Their world is orderly. He knows where he stands and exactly how to interpret the signs they give him. But a fiancée and an upcoming wedding? Not so much.


That's why—a mere four days before the nuptials—Nick finds himself driving to Philadelphia for the monthly meeting of the Vidocq society. Being among a group of forensic professionals consulting on cold cases will surely allow him to feel useful and normal.


But while there he discovers that a close friend has been murdered . . . and in classic Nick style, begins to follow the trail of evidence rather than returning to his fiancée. Fearing that his one-track mind won't lead him home by Saturday, Alena and three of her dogs go to track him down.


When she finally finds him, nothing is as Alena expected . . . because the twists in this case will surprise even the most dedicated Bug Man fans.

My review:
This is the best Bug Man book so far, in my opinion. I received the book in the mail today, and have already finished reading it. As the plot description says, there are some very surprising twists and turns in the book. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, I was wrong. At one point in the book, I was a tad bit disappointed, but then the story took another turn, and I ended up liking the direction it went, and was very happy with the ending of the book. The plot overall was excellent, and as with all of the Bug Man's book, the writing was awesome.

I always take issue with Christian fiction that has no Christian content, and though this one has more than some of Down's books, it still doesn't have much, but his books are always clean and curse-free - and this one was no different. I really appreciate that in a book, so his books are among my favorites for staying true to those standards.

One thing I did not like in this book, was beer at Nick's bachelor party. I know some Christians are ok with alcohol, but I am among the greater number of evangelicals who are not, so I was disappointed in the inclusion of that.

Overall though, this was an immensely enjoyable and suspenseful read, and I loved reading the book, and was sorry to see it come to an end. I recommend this book, and the others in the series to any suspense lovers. You will not be disappointed.

About the author:

Tim Downs is the Christy Award-winning author of Plague Maker and the Bug Man novels. When he's not writing, he and his wife are featured speakers for the Family Life conferences. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and three children.




Nick of Time is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.


Buy

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fade To Blue, a book review by Molly

My blogging friend Molly was more interested in reviewing a book I had received from Broadman & Holman than I was, so I passed it on to her. Here is her review.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Abigail's New Hope by Mary Ellis


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Abigail's New Hope
Harvest House Publishers (April 1, 2011)
by
Mary Ellis




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from the author:I grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community of Geauga County, where my parents often took me to farmers’ markets and woodworking fairs. My husband and I now live within the largest population of Amish in the country–a four-county area in central Ohio. We love to take weekend getaways to purchase farm produce and other goodies, stay with Amish families in bed and breakfasts, attend country auctions and enjoy the simpler way of life.



This is my first series of novels set in the Amish community.



I would love to hear from readers of Christian novels. Please leave me a post at my blogsite.



ABOUT THE BOOK



As an Amish midwife, Abigail Graber loves bringing babies into the world. But when a difficult delivery takes a devastating turn, Abigail is faced with some hard choices. Despite her best efforts, the young mother dies—but the baby is saved.

When a heartless judge confines Abigail to the county jail for her mistakes, her sister Catherine comes to care for her children while Daniel works his fields. Catherine meets Daniel’s reclusive cousin, Isaiah, who’s deaf and thought to be simple minded by his community. She endeavors to teach him to communicate and discovers he possesses unexpected gifts and talents.



While Abigail searches for forgiveness, Catherine changes lives and, in return, finds love, something long elusive in her life. And Isaiah discovers God, who cares nothing about our handicaps or limitations in His sustaining love.



An inspirational tale of overcoming grief, maintaining faith, and finding hope in an ever-changing world.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Abigail's New Hope, go HERE.



Watch the book trailer:

In Grandma's Attic Series by Arleta Richardson

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:

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.


Product Details:

In Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma's Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1


Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”


Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”


“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”


Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”


“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.


Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”


Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.


“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”


I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.


This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.


Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.


There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.


“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”


If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.


Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.


“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.


All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.


Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.


Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.


Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.


The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!


Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.


“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.


Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”


***************************************

More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1


The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.


“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.


“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”


I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.


“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”


Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.


“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”


“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.


“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”


“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.


“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”


“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”


Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.


“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”


“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”


Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.


“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”


When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”


I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”


Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”


I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”


I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”


Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.


And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.


“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”


“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”


Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.


From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”


As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.


I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”


I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.


“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”


I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.


“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”


But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.


“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”


I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?


Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”


“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”


“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”


“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”


My two brothers looked at me in amazement.


“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”


Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.


“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”


Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.


“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”


I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.


Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”


I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.


“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.


“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”


“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.


When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.


“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.


“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”


Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”


Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

My review:
This may date me, but I remember reading these books as a kid, and loving them. When I saw that David C Cook was re-publishing them, I thought that was a great idea.

These are excellent books. They are enjoyable to read, humorous at times, and have all kinds of lessons in them. Though originally written in the 70's, these are the kind of books that are timeless, and can be read and enjoyed by any generation - or age. Even though they are written for and geared for kids, I enjoyed familiarizing myself with the stories again.

If I gave stars, these would get 5 out of 5. I highly recommend them, especially for parents wanting wholesome reading for their kids that is worth reading.

Thanks to David C. Cook and FIRST for the review copies.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Eye for Glory by Karl Bacon


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
An Eye For Glory
Zondervan (February 28, 2011)
by
Karl Bacon




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



A word from the author:



I grew up in the small picturesque town of Woodbury, Connecticut. After graduating from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, I returned to Connecticut and found employment in manufacturing. “Just a job” turned into a professional career, much of which was spent working for a Swiss machine tool company. In 2000 I started my own business to provide services to manufacturing clients across the USA. This change also allowed time to develop my writing craft.



From youth I’ve been a serious student of the Civil War. The draft of An Eye for Glory took ten years from conception to completion. Thousands of hours were spent researching every detail through copious reading, Internet research and personal visits to each battlefield so the novel might be as historically accurate and believable as possible. I live in Naugatuck, Connecticut with my wife of thirty-three years, Jackie.





ABOUT THE BOOK



Michael Palmer is a good man, a family man. But honor and duty push him to leave his comfortable life and answer the call from Abraham Lincoln to fight for his country. This 'citizen soldier' learns quickly that war is more than the battle on the field. Long marches under extreme conditions, illness, and disillusionment challenge at every turn. Faith seems lost in a blur of smoke and blood...and death.



Michael's only desire is to kill as many Confederate soldiers as he can so he can go home. He coldly counts off the rebels that fall to his bullets. Until he is brought up short by a dying man holding up his Bible. It's in the heat of battle at Gettysburg and the solemn aftermath that Michael begins to understand the grave cost of the war upon his soul. Here the journey really begins as he searches for the man he was and the faith he once held so dearly. With the help of his beloved wife, Jesse Ann, he takes the final steps towards redemption and reconciliation.



Using first-hand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry, Karl Bacon has crafted a detailed, genuine and compelling novel on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Intensely personal and accurate to the times, culture, and tragedy of the Civil War, An Eye for Glory may change you in ways you could have never imagined as well.



If you would like to read the first chapter of An Eye For Glory, go HERE.



Watch book video trailer:





My review:

I enjoy reading about the Civil War, so this book caught my interest right away, and I was happy to be able to get a copy to review.


The author did a great job on this book. It is written in the first person, and the author used firsthand accounts of the 14th Connecticut Infantry, which helps with the story being more real and realistic. While reading the book, I almost felt like I was there.

There is a lot described about the battles and fighting, but the book also deals a lot with the main character, Michael, and how the war changes him for the worst. How he becomes obsessed with hating and killing the enemy.

War is a necessary evil, but this book shows just how terrible the Civil War was. Christians killing fellow Christians, brother against brother. I really enjoyed the story, and it was moving to see how Michael finally found redemption and found his way past hate.

I truly hated to see the book end, it was a great historical journey through one of our nations worst wars, and a refreshing look at what went on during that time. Highly recommended. This is a great novel of the Civil War.

Over The Edge by Brandilyn Collins

Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.



Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.


One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.


But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.


Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.

My review:
In my opinion, this is not the best book Brandilyn Collins has written. If I gave stars, it would be 4 out of 5. Possibly because it is different from what she usually writes, and wasn't as suspenseful as most of her books. That said, it was still an enjoyable read.

The story revolves around Lyme Disease. I didn't know much about the disease and through research and the author's own personal experiences, she does a great job of educating the reader. It is a disease that there has been a lot of debate about the symptoms and the treatment of it, which is one reason she wrote the book. It is actually surprising how much disagreement there is in medical field about the disease. In addition to writing a suspense novel, this was the author's way of getting information about Lyme Disease out to more people.

I did still finish this book in one evening of reading, so it is a gripping and interesting story. Even though it is different from the usual fare from Collins, I would still recommend this book and consider it worth reading, especially if  you want to learn more about Lyme Disease.


About the author:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. Awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice. Also, The Writer magazine named her nonfiction release, Getting Into Character, one of the best books on writing published in 2002.


When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

 
Over The Edge will be available from Broadman and Holman Publishing on May 1, 2011.

Thanks to Broadman and Holman for the review copy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Max on Life by Max Lucado

We have questions. Child-like inquiries. And deep, heavy ones.

In more than twenty-five years of writing and ministry, Max Lucado has been the receiving line for thousands of such questions. The questions come in letters, e-mails, even on Dunkin Donuts napkins. In Max on Life he offers thoughtful answers to more than 150 of the most pressing questions on topics ranging from hope to hurt, from home to the hereafter.

Max writes about the role of prayer, the purpose of pain, and the reason for our ultimate hope. He responds to the day-to-day questions—parenting quandaries, financial challenges, difficult relationships—as well as to the profound: Is God really listening?

A special addendum includes Max’s advice on writing and publishing.

Including topical and scriptural indexes and filled with classic Lucado encouragement and insight, Max on Life will quickly become a favorite resource for pastors and ministry leaders as well as new and mature believers.

My review:
I really enjoyed this book, probably more than any o Lucado's others. It is set up in a series of questions and answers and a variety of subjects from marital relationships, heaven and hell, hurts, prodigals, and many more.

I will say up front I don't agree with everything Max says in his book, suicide one of them, yet there is a lot in the book that is good. Though the book is set up with questions and answers, he doesn't give quick and trite answers. The answers he gives are thoughtful and insightful. I was very impressed with his answers on many of the questions. He tackles some pretty tough ones.

This book isn't necessarily one you would sit down and read straight through. It is more of a resource. I enjoyed reading it, and yes, I did disagree occasionally, but still found it an excellent book and enjoyed reading it and seeing what someone of Lucado's stature had to say about some of the topics addressed. He makes a lot of sense and it is obvious he put a lot of time into this book and what he had to say in it.

About the author:

With over 100 million products in print, Max Lucado is one of America’sDenalyn, live in San Antonio, Texas, where he serves the Oak Hills Church.




Buy

Read


Max on Life is available from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer

Raised among the Amish of Indiana, 18-year-old Marianna Sommer plans to get baptized into the church, marry Aaron Zook, and set up life in the only community she has ever known. But when her older brother chooses the world’s path following his rumschpringe, and a younger sibling begins showing interest in Englisch ways, Marianna’s parents move the family to Montana.



Although she is also in her rumschpringe years and not obligated to move, Marianna makes the journey to dutifully help her mother who is expecting another child. Surprisingly, from strangers on the cross-country train ride to the less rigid stance of the new Montana community, many Englisch influences awaken within Marianna—and even her father—the desire to pursue a deeper kind of joy and love for God.


After an accident, Marianna tells her friend Ben a defining story about the Sommer family, and his response further illumines the active relationship God seeks with His followers. In due time, she learns the move from Indiana was not about losing anything, but finding out who God really is. Despite all the shake-ups, Marianna feels a sweet peace, like still waters, in her soul.

About the author:

Tricia Goyer is an acclaimed and prolific writer, publishing hundreds of articles in national magazines including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family while authoring more than twenty-five fiction and nonfiction books combined. Among those are 3:16 Teen Edition with Max Lucado and the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award winners Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. She has also written books on marriage and parenting and contributed notes to the Women of Faith Study Bible. Tricia lives with her husband and four children in Montana.

Check out her website at TriciaGoyer.com

Note:
Since I am a guy, I don't get into the Amish books much, so I am just posting this blurb about the book and author.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Fallen Angel by Jeff Strueker and Alton Gansky

Major Jeff Struecker (a real life Black Hawk Down veteran) and his award-winning coauthor tell a space-based intelligence story of intense extremes in their new novel, Fallen Angel, named for the "Angel-12" American satellite that is ambushed by China and falls 22,000 miles to land in remote Siberia. U.S. Sgt. Major Eric Moyer and his Special Ops unit are deployed to find Angel-12 and keep its advanced nuclear fuel from enemy hands-and there are many. A Russian shadow government bent on restoring the former USSR pursues the satellite as does the Chinese special forces group that knocked it from the sky. A rash of military and domestic hostage concerns ensues as the stark truth looms: three nations are racing to the satellite, but only one will get there first.

My review:
This is the third book in a series, and is the best so far, in my humble opinion. This is writing at its best. Special ops, suspense, international intrigue, kidnapping.... it just can't get any better than this.

When a book of this type is written by an author who has "been there" and knows what he is talking about when describing military actions and technology, it makes the book all the more enjoyable and believable, and Strueker knows what he is talking about. Add to that the great writing talents of Alton Gansky, and you have a book that is definitely worth reading.

I started reading this book and it didn't take me long to get involved in the story. I didn't want to put it down, but had to for phone calls, etc. I still finished it in one evening. The book was so riveting that I was determined to finish it before I went to bed - and I did.

The book had an excellent, though scary plot. Though the book and the plot are fictional, the fact that countries like China and Russia do want to steal our technology and any secrets we have, is not fictional, and this book brought that fact home.

This book, and the two that precede it, are definitely Christian, though that doesn't come through on every page. Only one member of the team of Special Ops is a Christian, and he isn't "in your face" about it, but the authors still have the message of a sovereign, loving God in the story.

One of the themes explored in the book was the question of how a man can be a Christian and a soldier who kills people to protect our country. The question is never completely resolved, but I am sure there are men in our military who struggle with that, and it was interesting to see that discussed.

I would recommend these books mainly to men. Some women might enjoy them, but these books are about military, special ops, and other themes that are more male-oriented. But no matter who reads them, this series is definitely worth reading.

About the authors:
Chaplain (Captain) Jeff Struecker is a decorated member of the United States Army's most elite fighting corps whose personal experiences in Mogadishu, Somalia, were written about in the New York Times bestseller and major motion picture Black Hawk Down. In thirteen years of active duty, he also fought in Operation Just Cause in Panama and Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait. As a chaplain Jeff has done multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He uses his personal story of survival on the battlefield to tell others how they, too, can be prepared for any circumstances life may bring. Struecker and his wife, Dawn, have five children, and live in Columbus, Georgia.




Alton Gansky is the author of nine novels, including By My Hands, Distant Memory, A Ship Possessed, and Vanished. Alton holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in Biblical Studies. His first novel, By My Hands, was published in 1996. He lives with his wife Becky in Phelan, California, where he is senior pastor of High Desert Baptist Church. The have twin daughters and a son. You can find out more about Gansky on his web site at http://www.altongansky.com/.


Fallen Angel will be available from Broadmand and Holman Publishing in July, 2011.

Thanks to Broadmand and Holman for the review copy.

Check out the other two books in the series, Certain Jeopardy and Blaze of Glory.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 






He's Gone

If you have never heard this song, it is worth your time to listen. It is a story in song with narration, lasting 8 minutes. Performed by The Regeneration Singers several years ago, it is still a favorite of mine.

A few years ago, I contacted the radio station to see if they knew where I could get a copy of the song. They informed me they had purchased the copyright to the song and would be happy to mail me a copy on CD, and so they did - no charge.

Since Easter is almost upon us, I thought I'd throw some pictures together and make a video of the song so I can share it. Watch it and enjoy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Journey by Wanda Brunstetter

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:

Barbour Books (April 5, 2011)
***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell, Director, Faith Division, Planned Television Arts for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Wanda E. Brunstetter is a bestselling author who enjoys writing Amish-themed, as well as historical novels. Descended from Anabaptists herself, Wanda became deeply interested in the Plain People when she married her husband, Richard who grew up in a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania. Wanda and her husband live in Washington State, but take every opportunity to visit their Amish friends in various communities across the country, gathering further information about the Amish way of life.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

This is the first book of the new Kentucky Brothers Series by
Wanda Brunstetter. Discover along with Titus Fisher how life can begin anew in Christian County, Kentucky. Moving from Pennsylvania, finding rewarding work, and leaving a broken romance behind is the best decision Titus ever made. But is he ready to consider love again when he meets two women: one who seems perfectly suited for any Amish man and one who challenges long held ideas of the woman’s role. Who will Titus chose, and will it be the right choice?



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602606811
ISBN-13: 978-1602606814

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Paradise, Pennsylvania


Titus Fisher liked horses, dogs, and shoofly pie. What he didn’t like was a cat that scratched, and a woman he couldn’t trust. Today he’d dealt with both.

Gritting his teeth, he grabbed his horse’s bridle and led him into the barn, wishing he hadn’t gotten out of bed that morning. The day had started on a sour note when Titus had come to the barn to feed the horses and accidentally stepped on one of Mom’s cats. Five of the irksome critters lived in the barn, and every one of them liked to bite and scratch. Whiskers, the smallest of the five, was the most aggressive. The crazy cat had been so miffed when Titus stepped on her tail that she’d clawed her way right up his leg, hissing and yowling as she went. When Titus had tried to push Whiskers off, she’d let him have it—leaving a nasty scratch on his leg.

Titus pulled up his pant leg and stared at the wound, still red and swollen. It reminded him of the time when he and his twin brother, Timothy, were six years old and had found a wild cat in the woodpile behind their barn. !e mangy critter had bitten Titus’s hand, and when the bite became infected, he’d started running a fever. Mom had taken him to the doctor’s, where he’d been given a tetanus shot and an antibiotic. Ever since then, he’d had an aversion to cats.

“In my opinion, except for catching mice, cats are pretty much worthless,” Titus mumbled as he guided his horse into one of the stalls. When he patted the horse’s ebony-colored flanks, the gelding whinnied and flipped his head around to nuzzle Titus’s hand. “Not like you, Lightning. You’re worth every dollar I paid for you. You’re dependable and trustworthy.” He grimaced. “Wish I could say the same for Phoebe Stoltzfus.”

Titus poured some oats into a bucket, and as his horse ate, he replayed the conversation he’d had with Phoebe on his way home from work that afternoon. . . .



“I’m not ready to join the church yet, and I’m too young to get married.” Phoebe flipped the strings of her head covering over her shoulders and blinked her blue eyes. “Why do you have to put so much pressure on me, Titus?”

“I–I’m not,” he stammered, “but I’ve been waiting a long time for you, and I’d thought that when I joined the church two years ago, you’d join, too.”

“I wasn’t ready then. I was only sixteen and had other things on my mind.”

“How well I know that. You were too busy runnin’ around with your friends and tryin’ out all sorts of worldly things.” Titus groaned. “Figured you’d have all that out of your system by now and would be ready to settle down.”

She shook her head. “Maybe in a few years I’ll be ready.”

“You said that two years ago.”

“Things have changed.” She placed her hand gently on his arm. “My friend Darlene Mast is planning a trip to Los Angeles, and she’s leaving in a few days, so—”

He held up his hand. “Please don’t tell me you want to go with her.”

“I think it would be fun, and I’ve always wanted to see the Pacific Ocean.” She looked up at him and smiled. “You’re full of adventure and like to try new things. Wouldn’t you like to see California?”

He shrugged. “Maybe someday, but not right now. What I want is for you to join the church this fall so we can get married.”

She shook her head. “I just told you—I’m not ready for that.”

“Will you ever be ready?”

“I don’t know.” She pushed a wisp of soft, auburn hair under her white organdy head covering and turned her gaze away from him. “I—I might not join the church. I might decide to go English.”

“Are you kidding?”

“No, I’m not. I don’t know if I want to be Amish.”

Titus’s jaw tightened as the reality of the situation set in. If Phoebe went to California, she might never come back. If she didn’t join the church, they couldn’t get married. Titus had been in love with Phoebe since he was seventeen years old, but she’d been four years younger than him, and their parents had disapproved. He’d waited patiently until Phoebe turned sixteen. Even then, his folks had been opposed to him courting her because she seemed so unsettled and ran with a wild bunch of kids.

Now Titus, at the age of twenty-two, still wasn’t sure he and Phoebe would ever get married. If she did go English, the only way they could marry would be if he broke his vow to the Amish church, which he did not want to do.

“Can we talk about this later?” he asked. “After you’ve had a chance to think about this some more?”

“There’s nothing to think about. I’m going to California.” She tipped her head and stared up at him. “If you don’t want to come, then I guess it’s over between us.”

“You can’t do this, Phoebe. Are you just going to give up on us like this?”

She shrugged.

“Don’t you love me anymore?”

“I–I’m not sure. Maybe we’re not meant to be together.”

Titus flinched. He felt like he’d been kicked in the stomach by one of his dad’s stubborn mules. He had a sinking feeling that once Phoebe left home she’d never come back. All his years of waiting for her had been for nothing.


Titus’s horse whinnied and nudged his hand, pulling his thoughts back to the present.

“Stop it, Lightning. I’m not in the mood.” Titus kicked at a bale of straw and winced when Lightning whipped his head around and bumped his sore leg.

Lightning whinnied again and stomped his hoof. Then he moved to the other end of his stall and turned his backside toward Titus.

“It’s all right, boy. I’m not mad at you.” Titus stepped up to the horse and reached out his hand. “I’m upset with Phoebe, that’s all.”

As though accepting his apology, Lightning nuzzled Titus’s neck.

Horses and dogs—that’s about all that ever held my interest until Phoebe came along, Titus thought. If there was only some way to get her out of my system. If I could just tell myself that I don’t care anymore.


Pembroke, Kentucky


As Suzanne Yoder stared out the living room window, a sense of discontentment welled in her soul. She enjoyed living in Christian County, especially in the spring when the flowers and trees began to bloom.

I wish I could be outside right now, tilling the garden or even mowing the lawn, she thought with regret. It was too nice to be stuck indoors, yet she knew she needed to work on the quilt she’d started several months ago for her friend Esther Beiler’s twenty-fourth birthday, which was less than a month away.

Suzanne’s gaze shifted from the garden to the woodshop, where her grandfather and twenty-year-old brother, Nelson, worked. Due to painful arthritis, Grandpa’s fingers didn’t work well anymore, so he’d recently decided to look for someone else to help Nelson in the shop. Someone younger and more able-bodied. Someone who knew the woodworking trade.

Grandpa wasn’t one to sit around or take life easy while others did all the work, but Mom had convinced him that he could still have a hand in the business by ordering supplies, waiting on customers, and keeping the books. Grandpa wasn’t happy about it, but at least he wouldn’t be sitting on the porch in his rocking chair all day, wishing he could be in the shop.

“I thought you were supposed to be working on Esther’s birthday present,” Mom said when she joined Suzanne in the living room.

“I was, but my eyes needed a break. I was thinking about going out to the woodshop to see if there’s anything I can do to help out.”

Mom’s dark eyebrows furrowed as she slowly shook her head. “You’ll never get that quilt done if you keep procrastinating, and there’s no need for you to run out to the woodshop, because I’m sure you and Nelson would only end up in a disagreement. You know how he feels about you hanging around the shop.”

Suzanne frowned. No one in the family understood her desire to be in the woodshop, where she could enjoy the distinctive odors of wood being cut, sanded, or stained. It was a shame nobody took her interest in woodworking seriously. Not long ago, Suzanne had borrowed some of Grandpa’s tools so she could make a few birdhouses and feeders to put in their yard. She’d never gotten any encouragement in making them, though. She guessed compared to the cabinets, doors, and storage sheds Grandpa and Nelson made, the birdhouses and feeders were insignificant.

Mom touched Suzanne’s shoulder. “I’m going to plant some peas and lettuce this afternoon, so if you think you’ve worked long enough on the quilt today, I could use your help.”

Suzanne didn’t have to be asked twice. Any chore she could do outdoors would be better than being inside, where it was warm and stuffy. “I’ll meet you outside as soon as I put away my quilting supplies,” she said.

“That’ll be fine.” Mom gave Suzanne’s arm a light tap and disappeared into the kitchen.

Suzanne glanced out the window once more and sighed as her gaze came to rest on the woodshop. “Guess I won’t make it out there today—except to take the men their lunch.”


Paradise, Pennsylvania


Titus left the barn and was about to head for the house, when a dark blue pickup rumbled up the driveway. He didn’t recognize the vehicle or the young English man with dark curly hair who opened the cab door and stepped out.

“Is this where Zach Fisher lives?” the man asked as he approached Titus.

“Sort of. My dad owns this place, and Zach and his family live in the house behind ours.” Titus pointed in that direction.

“Oh, I see. Is Zach at home?”

“Nope, not yet. He’s up in Blue Ball, painting the outside of the bowling alley. Probably won’t be home till sometime after six.”

The man extended his hand. “I’m Allen Walters. I knew Zach when he lived in Puyallup, Washington.”

“That was when he thought his name was Jimmy Scott, huh?”

“That’s right.”

“Zach’s my half brother. My twin brother, Timothy, and I were born during the time Zach was missing. He was about six or seven then, I think.”

“My mother and the woman Zach thought was his mother became good friends, so Zach and I kind of grew up together.”

“Zach’s mentioned that,” Titus said. “Sure is somethin’ the way he was kidnapped when he was a baby and never located his real family until he was twenty-one.”

“I really missed Zach after he left Washington, but I’m glad he found his way home.” Allen folded his arms and leaned against the side of his truck. “The last time I saw Zach was before he got married, and that was seven years ago. We’ve kept in touch through letters and phone calls, though.”

“Did Zach know you were coming?”

Allen shook his head. “He doesn’t know I’ve moved from Washington State to Kentucky either.”

“You’re welcome to hang around here until he gets home, because I’m sure he’ll be pleased to see you.”

“Thanks, I’ll do that.”

Just then, Titus’s mother stepped out of the house and started across the yard toward them, her slightly plump figure shuffling through the grass.

“This is my mother, Fannie Fisher.” Titus motioned to Allen. “Mom, this is Zach’s old friend, Allen Walters. He used to live in Washington.”

Mom’s brown eyes brightened as she shook Allen’s hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you. Zach’s told us a lot about you and your family.”

“He’s talked to me about his family here, too.”

“I explained to Allen that Zach’s still at work and said he’s welcome to stay here until Zach gets home.”

Mom bobbed her head. “Why don’t you stay for supper? I’ll invite Zach and his family to join us. I think it would be nice for you to meet his wife and children.”

“I’d like that,” Allen said with an enthusiastic nod.

“If you need a place to spend the night, you’re more than welcome to stay here.” Mom smiled. “Since Titus is our only son still living at home, we have more than enough room to accommodate guests.”

“I appreciate the offer, but I’ve already reserved a room at a hotel in Bird-in-Hand.”

“That’s fine, but the offer’s open if you change your mind.” Mom turned toward the house. “I’d better go back inside and get supper going.”

As Mom headed to the house, Titus motioned to a couple of wooden chairs sitting beneath the maple tree on their lawn. “Why don’t we take a seat?” he said to Allen. “I’m real interested in hearing why you moved to Kentucky.”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Blood of the Prodigal by P.L. Gaus


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Blood of the Prodigal
Plume; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
by
P.L. Gaus




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Paul took an interest in writing fiction in 1993, and with the advice and encouragement of author Tony Hillerman, he began writing mystery novels set among the Amish in Holmes County, Ohio. The first of Gaus's mysteries, Blood of the Prodigal, An Ohio Amish Mystery, was published by Ohio University Press in June of 1999, and a total of six novels have appeared in this series: Broken English, 2000, Clouds Without Rain, 2001, Cast a Blue Shadow, 2003, A Prayer for the Night, 2006, and Separate from the World, 2008. A seventh novel in the series is in preparation.



All of Paul's stories have now been republished by Plume (a division of Penguin Group USA) as The Amish-Country Mysteries, and these editions have been embraced by Christian retailers such as CBD.com, Family Christian Stores, and LifeWay. Future mysteries in the series will still first be published in hard cover editions, as The Amish-Country Mysteries by Ohio University Press, with Plume bringing out the soft cover editions some time later.



Paul and his wife Madonna still travel frequently in Holmes County. He lectures widely about Amish culture at libraries, bookstores, literary societies, and the like, and his books have been featured at Book Expo America and similar professional shows around the country. Paul's novels have been reviewed in prominent journals and newspapers, for instance, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Ohioana Quarterly, and the New York Times Book Review.



ABOUT THE BOOK



For Jonah Miller, shunned by his Old Order sect and cast into the wider world, the summer begins with his decision to kidnap his ten-year-old son from the home of the bishop who had exiled Miller a decade earlier. In his desperation to retrieve the boy, the bishop appeals for help to the only "English" men the sect would ever approve.



Professor Michael Branden and Pastor Caleb Troyer had been looking forward to the kind of sleepy rural summer they had enjoyed as boyhood friends growing up in the small college town of Millersburg. Instead, they plunge into the normally closed Amish culture to find the boy. When the kidnapping leads to murder, they can no longer keep the case from the law. Working sometimes at cross purposes with his friend Sheriff Bruce Robertson, Professor Branden digs through the past to uncover truths that many would prefer to leave undisturbed. Little does he suspect that even the anguished bishop, torn by an insoluble moral dilemma, tragically does not tell everything he knows about the case. Suddenly the vast tangle of Amish and Mennonite settlements that sprawl among several thousand small farms and homesteads seems less bucolic than unknowable and impenetrable.



As they inquire delicately among the peaceful ones, Branden and Troyer learn that the troubles of Jonah Miller began far earlier than the kidnapping, with his Rumschpringe - the customary wild year before taking Amish vows. But his grand Rumschpringe had exploded into a decade of drugs, whiskey, and women, in the company of people no Amish person should meet.



In the tradition of Tony Hillerman, P. L. Gaus depicts a culture that successfully stands outside the mainstream yet interacts with it in complex and fascinating ways, a culture that is every bit as susceptible to the undertow of the human spirit as any we might know.



If you would like to read the first chapter of Blood of the Prodigal, go HERE

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Safe Haven by Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse

Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.


But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them.


Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andie and they both sense Cole is hiding something.


A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.

My review:
I was sent this book to review and for some reason it didn't look that interesting to me, so I set it aside until later. My sister read it and raved about it, so this evening I picked it up to read, and read clear through to the end. How wrong I was!

This is the first book by this mother and daughter writing duo, and they hit a home run. The book is written in both the first and third person point of view, with it always showing whose point of view is being shown.

The suspense starts immediately in the prologue and does not let up. Sabotaged planes, men out to kill the hero and heroines of the story, injuries, and a dangerous health issue all add up to make this a very exciting book. As with the teen aged half of this writing duo, the young girl in the book suffers from a disorder that leaves her unable to feel pain and the inability to regulate body temperature. They talk a lot in the book how to deal with that and the dangers that someone with that condition encounters.

There is also romance and espionage. I really, really loved this book and could not put it down. It has everything I love in a good book, and the authors stayed true to it being Christian fiction, and had God working throughout the story. I am thankful I had the honor to read and review this book and am looking forward to the authors' next release.



About the authors:

Kimberley Woodhouse is a wife, mother, writer, and musician approaching life with a positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. Her previous book, Welcome Home: Our Family’s Journey to Extreme Joy, chronicles her daughter’s extremely rare health issues and how the Woodhouses received an amazing gift through the ABC television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Kim and her husband have two children and live in Colorado.


 
Kayla Woodhouse is a teenage author whose life-altering medical condition (a nerve disorder that prevents the body from regulating its temperature or sensing pain) has not stopped her love for swimming. She is home schooled and has an adventure blog called Dragon Claws, Dog Paws, Swimming Laws.



Read an article about Kayla at ClubhouseMagazine.com


 
 
No Safe Haven is available from Broadman & Holman Publishing.
 
Thanks to Broadman & Holman for the review copy.