Monday, April 30, 2012

Heroes and Monsters by Josh James Riebock

Heroes and Monsters is an unforgettable memoir of passion and redemption, a ragged look into a world at once wildly twisted and profoundly beautiful, an expos

In this stunningly honest, thoroughly unconventional, and ultimately hopeful book, Josh James Riebock explores issues that form us into the people we are--issues of family, love, intimacy, dreams, grief, purpose, and the unexpected stops along the journey. With artful prose and vivid storytelling, he shows that pain and beauty are so inextricably linked that to lose the former costs us the latter.

If you're grappling with life's inconsistencies and trials,

If you're searching for an encounter with something real,

If you're craving a story that's just a wee bit odd . . .

Heroes and Monsters is a fresh and exhilarating perspective on the uneven nature of life, and the equally uneven people who inhabit it.

My review:
This book had a very different start to it. Actually kind of weird, and I wasn't too sure about it, but the author was setting up to tell his story.

The book IS unique and different. Through telling the ups and downs of his own life, the author causes the reader to examine their own life and faith. He is very transparent and honest about his own struggles and life in a way that was very refreshing.  I was both encouraged and convicted by reading the book.

About the author:

Josh James Riebock is a sought-after speaker at conferences, colleges, and churches across the country. The author of mY Generation, he lives with his wife, Kristen, in Texas.

Monsters and Heroes is available from Baker Book Publishing.

Thanks to Baker for the review copy.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan

Sam Hopkins is a good kid who has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Hanging around with car thieves and thugs, Sam knows it’s only a matter of time before he makes one bad decision too many and gets into real trouble.

But one day, Sam sees these thugs harassing an eccentric schoolmate named Jennifer. Finding the courage to face the bullies down, Sam loses a bad set of friends and acquires a very strange new one.

Because Jennifer is not just eccentric. To Sam, she seems downright crazy. She has terrifying hallucinations involving demons, the devil, and death. And here’s the really crazy part: Sam is beginning to suspect that these visions may actually be prophecies—prophecies of something terrible that’s going to happen very soon. Unless he can stop it.

With no one to believe him, with no one to help him, Sam is now all alone in a race against time. Finding the truth before disaster strikes is going to be both crazy and very, very dangerous.

My review:
I loved Andrew Klavan's series he did for teens, The Homelanders, and was excited when I heard he had another book coming out. I was lucky to snag a copy to review, and totally loved the book.

All of Klavan's books I have read so far have been written in the first person point of view, which is not my favorite, but depending on the story and the author, sometimes I like it better. Klavan is one such author. Even though I am far from a teenager, I really enjoy his books. This one was totally different from the 4-book Homelanders Series, and as far as I can tell, this is a stand alone title, but I was blown away. This is top notch writing, and even though it isn't geared for adults, the suspense is intense enough to appeal to adults.

I try to leave books like these for when I can read the whole thing without having to put it down and finish it another day, and good thing I did, for I did not want to put it down. The author created a very likable kid who wants to be good, but ends up getting in trouble more often than not. The young girl in the story is very strange, actually downright weird, but adds to the story.

The book has a great ending, and Sam becomes a hero after all. I was sorry to see the book end, but was very happy with the ending. Terrific book.

I do have one complaint, if Mr. Klavan happens to read this, or Thomas Nelson can pass it on: This author needs to write some adult fiction for Nelson. I keep hoping for it. I did just purchase one of his general market books for adults. Maybe I will post a review for it when I read it.

About the author:

Award winning author, screenwriter and media commentator Andrew Klavan is the author of such internationally bestselling novels as True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. Andrew has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award five times and has won twice. His books have been translated around the world. His latest novel for adults, The Identity Man, has been praised by Nelson Demille as “fast paced, intelligent and thought-provoking; a great read!” Television and radio host Glenn Beck says “Andrew Klavan never disappoints…one of the best illustrations of the power of redemption that I’ve ever read.” His last novel Empire of Lies was about media bias in the age of terror, and topped’s thriller list. Andrew has also published a series of thrillers for young adults, The Homelanders, which follows a patriotic teenager’s battle against jihadists. The books have been optioned to be made into movies by Summit Entertainment, the team behind the mega-successful Twilight film series.

Andrew is a contributing editor to City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute. His essays and op-eds on politics, religion, movies and literature have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The Washington Post, the LA Times, and elsewhere. His video feature, “Klavan on the Culture,” can be found at Andrew is a frequent media guest on television and radio stations from coast to coast, where he is known for his quick wit, humor and commentary on politics and entertainment.

As a screenwriter, Andrew wrote the screenplay to 1990’s A Shock to the System, which starred Michael Caine, and to 2008’s One Missed Call, which stars Ed Burns and Shannyn Sossamon. He lives in Southern California.

Crazy Dangerous is available from Thomas Nelson.
Thanks to Nelson's blogging for books program, Booksneeze, for the review copy.

Eyes of Justice by Lis Wiehl and April Henry

The Triple Threat Club has solved intense mysteries before . . . but this time it’s personal.

Cassidy, Allison, and Nicole fight for justice every day—Cassidy as a crime reporter, Nicole with the FBI, and Allison as a federal prosecutor. Together they're a Triple Threat to be reckoned with.

But never have they faced a case so full of blind alleys—or so painfully close to home.

When a devastating turn of events upsets the balance of the Triple Threat team, they discover an ally in a quirky Private Investigator named Olivia. The women vow not to stop until the case is solved and justice is served.

Yet just when it appears the police have the killer in custody, he somehow strikes again. Not knowing who to trust, the Triple Threat women go undercover for an intricate and deadly cat-and-mouse game where nothing can be taken at face value . . . and nothing will ever be the same.

Success—or survival—isn’t assured in this riveting Triple Threat mystery that will leave readers both shocked and satisfied.

My review:
I was disappointed in the first book in this series, Face of Betrayal, on account of inappropriate content and language, but a friend has read the others and said that wasn't the case, so I recently read the second and third, and requested this one, #4, to review. And he was right - no bad language.

The whole series is very suspenseful, but this one was even more so, and had a different twist: one of the three main characters is murdered. Even though it is in the book description, that still threw me for a loop, and made the book all the more interesting, and made the crime all more important for the other two to solve and bring the murderer to justice.

This book, and the ones that precede it, are not overtly Christian. Only one of the characters is a Christian and it is definitely not "preachy", which is a complaint of some readers of Christian fiction. However, it is clean, has a great plot and story line, and a lot of suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am hoping the series isn't finished.

About the authors:

Lis Wiehl is one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers and highly regarded commentators. Currently, she is the legal analyst and reporter on the Fox News Channel and Bill O’Reilly’s sparring partner in the weekly “Is It Legal?” segment on The O’Reilly Factor. Prior to that she was O’Reilly’s co-host on the nationally syndicated show The Radio Factor. She is also a Professor of Law at New York Law School. Her column “Lis on Law” appears weekly on

Prior to joining Fox News Channel in New York City, Wiehl served as a legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered. Before that, Wiehl served as a Federal Prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office.

Wiehl earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland.

Wiehl is also the author of The 51% Minority, which won the 2008 award for Books for a Better Life in the motivational category, and Winning Every Time.

She lives with her husband and two children in New York.

April Henry (in her words)

I grew up in a small Oregon town, and I still remember my mom teaching me with alphabet flash cards. White with a picture of an object on one side and a letter on the other, those cards glowed with magic.

When I was 12, I sent Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a short story about a frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. The day he received it, Dahl had lunch with the editor of an international children's magazine and read her the story. She contacted me and asked to publish it. Click here to read more about it.

But as I got older, even though I read all the time, I didn't even dream of being a writer. It would have been like thinking I could fly by flapping my arms really, really hard. Then I got a hospital job with lots of down time and started thinking maybe I could try to write a book about the life and death that surrounded me every day.

That first book I wrote attracted no interest from agents. My second book got me an agent (and we're still together many years and many books later) and nice rejection letters from editors. My third book didn't even get nice rejection letters from editors. My fourth book sold in two days. It was a seven-year overnight success.

Since then, I've written more than a dozen mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. The first in the Triple Threat Club series, co-written with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was followed by Hand of Fate and Heart of Ice.

My first young adult novel, Shock Point was an ALA Quick Pick, a Top 10 Books for Teens nominee, a New York Library's Books for the Teen Age book, named to the Texas Tayshas list, and a finalist for Philadelphia's Young Readers Choice Award. It was followed by two more teen thrillers: Torched and Girl, Stolen. Girl, Stolen was an ALA Quick Pick and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and is a finalist for many state awards.

Eyes of Justice is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Booksneeze, Nelson's blogging for books program, for the review copy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Sound of Red Returning
Kregel Publications (December 9, 2011)
Sue Duffy


Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001), Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010), and The Sound of Red Returning (Kregel, 2011). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.


After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can't shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she's giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash.

It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he'd been spying for Russia. She had seen that man-that eerie face-the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he's back-and coming for her.


“Sue Duffy has mixed the mayhem of political intrigue with the melody of romance.” —Dick Bohrer, author, editor, and former journalism professor

“Intrigue and suspense come together in an incredible story of love and betrayal, commitment and courage, power and danger . . . and a God who controls it all. Sue Duffy is a wonderfully gifted writer and this book is a must-read.” —Steve Brown, founder and president of Key Life and host of Steve Brown Etc.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Sound of Red Returning, go HERE.

My review:
I was happy to see this come up on the list of books to review from the CFBA, as I had tried to get it from another blogging group I blog for, but the tour was full.

I didn't think I had ever read anything by this author until I looked her up on Amazon and discovered that I had read - and reviewed -  a book by her, Fatal Loyalty - which I tremendously enjoyed.

In my humble opinion, this book is even better than Fatal Loyalty. This one is more of a spy thriller and also has a lot of suspense and some romance thrown in. I started reading it when I didn't have the time to read it in one sitting, or I would have. I loved the plot, setting, and characters, and was pulled into the story very quickly. The end left me with that satisfying feeling that one has upon finishing a great book.

Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker

Telling the Truth Could Get Them Killed. Remaining Silent Could Be Worse. When Cooper, Hiro, and Gordy witness a robbery that leaves a man in a coma, they find themselves tangled in a web of mystery and deceit that threatens their lives. After being seen by the criminals---who may also be cops---Cooper makes everyone promise never to reveal what they have seen. Telling the truth could kill them. But remaining silent means an innocent man takes the fall and a friend never receives justice. Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous? The three friends, trapped in a code of silence, must face the consequences of choosing right or wrong when both options have their price.

My review:
I occasionally review juvenile fiction, and so so for a few reasons: Some of it is really good, I am still a kid at heart, and I am always on the look out for good books for my nieces and nephews. This one sounded worth reading and reviewing, so I requested it and was not disappointed at all.

This is supposed to be geared for ages 13-16 or so, but the writing is not "dumbed down" at all (not meant in a derogatory sense). Other than the main characters being 13-year old kids, this could pass for an adult novel.

The plot was great and suspenseful, and the book reminded me a bit of the Three Investigators books I read as a kid, only better. Even though I am an adult, I couldn't put the book down.

Lying is dealt with a lot in the book. The central character, Cooper, makes a pact with his friends to keep a secret, but finds himself telling lie after lie to keep the secret, until even his friends wonder when he is telling the truth.

The book comes to a satisfying and suspenseful ending and after the story part of the book, there is a discussion on lying with reasons people lie, the effects, etc that I thought was done very well.

A side note: I passed the book onto my nieces and asked them what they thought. Stephanie (16) said it was "awesome!" and said she told Katie(12) "Katie, you HAVE to read this book!" Katie also loved it, so there you have it.... two members of the audience the book is geared for loved it also.

About the author:
Tim Shoemaker is a speaker and author of eight books, including Dangerous Devotions for Guys; Smashed Tomatoes, Bottle Rockets, and Other Outdoor Devotionals; and Mashed Potatoes, Paint Balls, and Other Indoor/Outdoor Devotionals.He has three grown sons and has been happily married for over 32 years. His debut into the juvenile fiction market draws from his experience with kids as a volunteer youth leader for more than sixteen years.

Code of Silence is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Love Won by the Talleys

In the 80's and early 90's, The Talleys were very popular, having an edgy Southern Gospel sound. The group consisted of husband and wife, Roger and Debra, and Roger's brother, Kirk. They disbanded in the late 90's and Kirk went solo. A few years later, Roger and Debra hit the road with their daughter, Lauren, as the Talley Trio. Their sound has been more traditional Southern Gospel, and they quickly became one of my favorite groups.

They have done several CDs as the Talley Trio, but that has changed with this CD. Lauren married and her husband, Brian, became part of the group. Obviously now that they are four, they are no longer a trio, so they dropped the trio and are now the Talleys again. I was really looking forward to this new CD and even took advantage of a pre-buy special they had, hoping I'd get it earlier, and I did. The CD is not in stores yet and has a release date of early May. I got it last week, and am loving it. They have an even better sound, and Brian adds a lot to the group.

The songs:

1) We Want To Thank You: a very slow song, written by the new group member, Brian Alvey. Its very pleasant to listen to and reminds us  to be thankful to God.

2) Love Won: Written by Kenna Turner West, this song alone is worth the price of the CD. It starts out with just piano playing some Mozart piece. Other instruments join in for a few seconds, then it calms down and the group begins singing in unison before going to parts.... this is an awesome song, a great song about the Resurrection of Jesus.

3) Make Way For the Master: another song from the pen of Brian, and featuring him. Great song. The first verse is about the blind man Bartimaes, and the second makes it relevant to us today. Check out the video I made of the song at the end of the blog post.

4) Broken World: Not one of my favorites on the CD, though I like it well enough. The song presents some scenarios showing how we live in a broken world, but how that will change some day. Features Lauren.

5) Every Scar: This is a song I skip sometimes. It features Roger, and I'm just not that wild about the song. It sounds like it needs something, though I'm not sure what. The words are good enough.

6) Talk To The Lord About It: This song has a different sound to it, but I like it. It features Debra, and is a reminder to pray about our problems. They go into a little of the old standard, A Little Talk With Jesus.

7) Up Above: Another favorite. Features Lauren and Brian. The song talks about how bad it can be down here, but "up above" we will understand and see things clearly why we went through what we did here. Very nice song.

8) Surely: This is a fast tempo song using the words of the last verse of Psalm 23. It features Lauren, and is another great song.

9) Great Love He Gave: a slower song that also has an Easter theme to it. Features Debra and Lauren and has the chorus of Christ Arose in the song. I really enjoy this one.

10) The Church Will Overcome: This is the liveliest song on the CD, and I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but it grew on me. It features Brian and he shows his talents on this one.

11) How Deep The Father's Love For Us: This song sounded familiar to me, and as many CCM and P&W artists that have recorded it, it is likely that I did hear it before. It sounds like an old hymn, but is a very new song. I find myself humming and/or singing it constantly. Very pleasing melody and great words. One of my favorites. I also made a video for it.

12) That's Why I Love Him So: my favorite song on the CD. Co-written by Brian, and previously recorded with the quartet he was in, The Tribute Quartet. I listened to their version, and this one beats it by far. Awesome song. I love everything about it. It features Brian.

13) Love Covers All: Another slow song, but done very well. It features Lauren and reminds us that God loves, no matter what.

The song has 13 songs and comes in at 53.7 minutes, longer than the average CD. It has some top-notch songs, and I am really loving the new sound of the group. This one will be hard to top.

Make Way For The Master:

How Deep the Father's Love For Us:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus by Joyce Magnin

Aging and recent widow Harriet Beamer insists she’s getting along fine with her dog Humphrey in Philadelphia … until she falls for the fourth time, injuring her ankle, and causing her son and daughter-in-law to cry foul. Insisting Harriet move in with them in California, they make a bet that her ankle is broken, and she foolishly promises to move if they’re right. Four x-rays later, Harriet’s ankle---and her heart---are broken. She packs up, ships her huge salt and pepper collection to California, and prepares to move away from the only life she knows. The only catch? She’s doing it her way. Just wait till her daughter-in-law hears Harriet will travel cross country only by public transportation and alternate means. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming journey by train, metro bus, ferry, and motorcycle. Along the way, Harriet discovers that although her family thinks it’s time for her to be put out to pasture---God has a different plan.

My review:
When I was offered this book to review, I almost passed on it, as it didn't sound like something I typically read, and it isn't something I typically read, but I really enjoyed the book. Even though the main character is an elderly woman, the book is extremely interesting, entertaining, and amusing.

This was a completely new author to me, and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. The books I normally have a hard time putting down are suspense/mystery, but this book had me hooked early on and I didn't want to put it down to go to work, but I had to, but I finished it when I got home from work.

There is a wide variety of characters and places in the book, and by the time I was halfway through the book, I was wishing that I could take a trip like Harriet. This is a book I'd recommend to anybody.

About the author:Joyce Magnin is the author of five novels, including the popular and quirky Bright’s Pond Series and the middle grade novel Carrying Mason. She is a frequent conference speaker and writing instructor. Joyce lives in Pennsylvania with her son, Adam, and their crazy cat, Mango, who likes to eat nachos.

Harriet Beamer Takes The Bus is available from Zondervan Publishing.

Thanks to Shelton Interactive for the review copy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Prophet by R.J. Larson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2012)
R.J. Larson


R. J. Larson is the author of numerous devotionals featured in publications such as Women's Devotional Bible and Seasons of a Woman's Heart. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her husband and their two sons. Prophet marks her debut in the fantasy genre.


Close your eyes, Ela of Parne. Close your eyes and you will see.

Ela Roeh of Parne doesn't understand why her beloved Creator, the Infinite, wants her to become His prophet. She's undignified, bad tempered, and only seventeen--not to mention that no prophet of Parne has ever been a girl. Worst of all, as the elders often warn, if she agrees to become the Infinite's prophet, Ela knows she will die young.

Istgard has turned their back on me. See the evil they do.

Yet after experiencing His presence, she can't imagine living without Him. Determined to follow the Infinite's voice, Ela accepts the sacred vinewood branch and is sent to bring the Infinite's word to a nation torn apart by war. Here she meets Kien, a young Traceland ambassador determined to bring his own justice for his oppressed people. As they form an unlikely partnership, Ela must surrender to her destiny . . . and determine how to balance the leading of her heart with the leading of the Infinite.

Will you accept the branch and speak my will? Will you be my prophet?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Prophet, go HERE.

My review:
I don't read much fantasy fiction, but really enjoyed this one. I like the writer's style. I wasn't sure I would like the book after I got it, but was pleasantly surprised that I got caught up in the plot from page one and I read the book in one evening, which I did not intend to do.

I was sorry to see the end of the book come, and even though I am a guy, I am hoping that the author has a certain couple get together in the next book, or I will be one disgruntled reader. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moonblood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Bethany House Publishers (April 1, 2012)
Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she enjoys her profession as an art teacher, giving private lessons from her personal studio, and teaching group classes at the Apex Learning Center. She is married to the handsome man she met at fencing class and lives with him and a gaggle of cats. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. Heartless is her debut novel.

Anne Elisabeth is also the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic Fairy Tale style.


Moonblood Draws Near, and Soon the Dragons Will Wake

Desperate to regain the trust of his kingdom, Prince Lionheart reluctantly banishes his faithful servant and only friend, Rose Red. Now she is lost in the hidden realm of Arpiar, held captive by her evil goblin father, King Vahe.

Vowing to redeem himself, Lionheart plunges into the mysterious Goldstone Wood, seeking Rose Red. In strange other worlds, Lionheart must face a lyrical yet lethal tiger, a fallen unicorn, and a goblin horde on his quest to rescue the girl he betrayed.

With the Night of Moonblood fast approaching when King Vahe seeks to wake the Dragon's sleeping children, Lionheart must discover whether or not his heart contains courage before it's too late for Rose Red . . . and all those he loves.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Moonblood, go HERE.

Unmasking the Antichrist by Ron Rhodes

The identity of the Antichrist is a topic of hot debate today. Adding fuel to the flame of rampant speculation are voices saying the Antichrist might be a Muslim or a Jew—a view that respected Bible scholar and bestselling author Ron Rhodes argues against in this revealing, Scripture-based exploration of:

•what God’s Word does and does not tell us about the Antichrist

•the advance signs, power moves, and eventual fall of this person

•the mysterious “Gog”—leader of Northern military coalition mentioned in Ezekiel

It is time for a trustworthy study of this topic to take the place of emotion-based suspicions. Believers, followers of end-times news, and anyone anxiously watching the turmoil of today’s political landscape will be thankful for this thorough, straightforward resource. Excellent for church and personal libraries.

My review:
I have read and heard a lot of speculation about the Antichrist in my lifetime. Preachers, authors, and others have had ideas about who he might be and where he might come from. I don't think I have ever read a whole book devoted to the subject until I read this one though.

The author covers a lot, and covers it very well. Obviously, no one on earth, including him, knows who the Antichrist will be, but he presents some great proof of who he won't be, and where he won't come from. He lists people down through the ages who were thought to be the Antichrist, and I was somewhat surprised to find out how far back suspicions of people went. It is nothing new for someone in power that is popular to be suspect. I was also surprised at some of the people who made the list.

This is not a boring book. It is very informative, and written in a style that is interesting and easy to read. I can honestly say I learned a lot. It isn't a suspense novel like the books I love to read, but it still held my interest and kept me turning pages, and no, I still don't know who the Antichrist will be, nor when he will appear, but I have some ideas based on the Bible on who he will not be.

About the author:
Ron Rhodes, president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, is heard regularly on nationwide radio and is the author of Bite-Size Bible Answers, Bite-Size Bible Definitions, Commonly Misunderstood Bible Verses and 5-Minute Apologetics for Today. He holds ThM and ThD degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary and teaches there and at several other seminaries.

Unmasking the Antichrist is available from Harvest House Publishers.

Thanks to Aaron from Harvest House for the review copy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Fiddler by Beverly Lewis

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Fiddler
Bethany House Publishers (April 10, 2012)
Beverly Lewis


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 Beverly'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 spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."


Come home to Hickory Hollow, Pennsylvania--the beloved setting where Beverly Lewis's celebrated Amish novels began--with new characters and new stories of drama, romance, and the ties that draw people together.

A wrong turn in a rainstorm leads Englisher Amelia Devries to Michael Hostetler--and the young Amishman's charming Old Order community of Hickory Hollow. Despite their very different backgrounds, Amelia and Michael both feel hemmed in by the expectations of others and struggle with how to find room for their own hopes. And what first seems to be a chance encounter might just change their lives forever.

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

Watch the book video:

Echoes of the Titianic by Mindy Starns Clark and John Campbell Clark

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 authors are:

and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Karri James Harvest House Publishers of for sending me a review copy.***


Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books (more than 450,000 copies sold), which include A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, Shadows of Lancaster County, Whispers of the Bayou, and The Amish Midwife. In addition, Mindy is a popular inspirational speaker and playwright.

John Campbell Clark is an attorney and CPA who works in the Christian nonprofit field. Married to Mindy Starns Clark, he has served as her brainstorming partner, research facilitator, and first reader for many years. A lifelong Titanic buff, he is pleased to be coauthoring with her now. John and Mindy live with their two daughters near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Visit the authors' website.


Kelsey Tate comes from sturdy stock. Her great-grandmother Adele endured the sinking of Titanic and made it safely to America, where she not only survived but thrived. Generations later, Kelsey works for the firm Adele founded nearly 100 years ago.

Now facing a hostile takeover, the firm’s origins are challenged when new facts emerge about Adele’s actions on the night Titanic sank. Kelsey tries to defend the company and the great-grandmother she has long admired, but the stakes are raised when Kelsey’s boss is murdered and her own life threatened. Forced to seek help from Cole Thornton, a man Kelsey once loved—and lost, thanks to her success-at-all-costs mentality—she pursues mysteries both past and present. Aided by Cole and strengthened by the faith she’d all but forgotten in her climb up the corporate ladder, Kelsey races the clock to defend her family legacy, her livelihood, and ultimately her life.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (March 1, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0736929460

ISBN-13: 978-0736929462


Lower Manhattan, New York
April 3, 2012
Kelsey Tate glanced at the clock and then at the stack of files on her desk. It was three p.m., which meant she had thirty minutes before she’d need to start getting ready for the ceremony. She knew she should use that time to work on risk assessments, but something told her she’d be better off getting some fresh air and clearing her head. The assessments she could do later that evening, once the big event was over. For now, she wanted to run through her speech and somehow find focus. Today had been a busy day at the office, and at the moment all she felt was scattered.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, she made the decision. Air. Ceremony. Work. In that order.
She locked the files away, straightened her desk, and grabbed her Bluetooth headset for cover. The only way she’d get out of here without being pulled into half a dozen conversations en route to the elevator was to clip the device over her ear and pretend she was on an important call as she went. She loved her front office and the view it afforded her of the busy Manhattan streets below, but sometimes it was a pain having to run the gauntlet of a conference room, an administrative assistant area, and three other executive offices just to get away.
“Is there something proprietary about this?” she asked aloud as she stepped into the hall and pulled the door shut behind her. “Because otherwise, I’m afraid it’s just a little too early to buy in. At this point, there’s simply not enough data.”
Pausing at the desk of Sharon, her executive assistant—or “EA,” as she liked to be called—Kelsey told the nonexistent person on the other end of the line to hold on and then said in a low voice, “I’m running out for a few, but I’ll be back by three thirty if anybody needs me.”
“Got it, Chief,” Sharon replied with a brisk nod, her auburn, precision-cut bob swinging loosely around her face.
So far, so good. Continuing on toward the elevator, Kelsey spotted one of her more talkative coworkers coming up the hall, so before he could speak, she gave him a quick smile and continued with her faux telephone conversation.
“Look, we can’t justify a buy-in of that size. You know as well as I do that you’re estimating the value too high. A million and a half for ten percent is ridiculous.”
The coworker smiled in return and continued past her in the hall.
She finally made it to the elevator, pushed the down button, and punctuated her wait with several well-timed brief utterances. “Really?…With that price earnings ratio?…I don’t know, I’m not sure about that…How much?”
Finally, the bell dinged and the doors opened to reveal an empty elevator. She stepped inside with relief and removed the device from her ear as soon as the doors whisked shut again. She hated to admit it, but her nerves were more rattled today than she had anticipated, though she wasn’t sure why. The announcement she’d be making at the ceremony was an important one, yes, and something she’d been working toward for a long time. But she was no stranger to the podium. She had no fear of public speaking.
It was a more general, vague apprehension she was feeling, almost a foreboding about today’s impending event, though she couldn’t imagine why. Regardless, Kelsey had these thirty minutes to pull herself together somehow. Then she would return, get ready to go on, do her part, and be done with it.
If only the new public relations consultants hadn’t insisted on combining the two separate announcements into one big celebration, she thought as she reached the lobby and walked briskly toward the front door. Though she usually stopped to chat with her friend Ephraim, the building’s head of security, she moved on past with just a glance and a wave toward the front desk. Once she was outside, she exhaled slowly, grateful for the warm spring sunshine. Weather in April in New York City could go either way, but today was warm and dry, thankfully, with just a hint of a breeze.
Turning right, Kelsey merged into the foot traffic moving down the wide sidewalk toward Battery Park. On the way, she thought about the important part of today’s ceremony, the announcement of a brand-new scholarship program to be funded by her late great-grandmother’s foundation. Adele Tate had survivedTitanic and gone on to become a successful businesswoman in an era when women in business were practically unheard of. In her later years, she had created the foundation with the express purpose of empowering other women in business. This new program Kelsey would be announcing today was a perfect fit and would provide up to ten scholarships per year to outstanding young females majoring in business-related fields of study.
Kelsey had been pushing for this for a long time, but it wasn’t until recently, when her family’s firm, Brennan & Tate, had begun taking steps to improve their public relations, that the board was even willing to consider it. The fact that, in the end, the scholarship decision had come down to a PR move rather than any actual altruism didn’t bother her. She figured as long as the money was given out to deserving recipients, the end result was the same, regardless of motive.
Kelsey ran through her speech as she continued down the sidewalk and was pleased to get through the entire thing without once having to refer to the notes in her pocket that listed her key points. When she finally reached the corner at Number One Broadway, she looked ahead longingly at Battery Park, a fixture of the city for several hundred years and the perfect greenery-filled end cap to the island of Manhattan. More than anything, she wanted to make her way across the street and into the park to seek out one of her favorite spots in all of New York: the old family memorial stone that honored her two relatives who had perished on Titanic. Kelsey loved to visit the memorial, as it always left her feeling connected somehow to her many family members, both living and dead.
But there was no time for that now. Instead, she turned left, and once the light changed she moved with the crowd across Broadway to the triangular-shaped area on the other side known as Bowling Green. At the foot of the triangle was a sprinkling of vendors, and she took a moment to buy a bottle of water from a pretzel cart. Continuing onward, she tried some deep breathing exercises as she angled across the wide base of the triangle to tiny Bowling Green Park, another of her favorite places to go when she needed a quick breather during the workday. She loved the symmetry of the place and convergence of shapes: a circular fountain inside an oval park on a triangular piece of land. This was a little oasis of greenery in a landscape of cement, its current focal point a ring of vivid red tulips surrounding the fountain.
Kelsey wanted to sit for a while on one of the benches that lined the walkway and take it all in, but she knew she needed to keep moving. At the very least, she slowed her pace and sipped her water and forced herself to get down to what was really bothering her: the other purpose of today’s event, the part she wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about.
To be sure, she appreciated the honor that was about to be bestowed upon her, and she was proud of having reached this new level of achievement in her career. The problem wasn’t the award itself but the big public fuss that was being made over it. Others had earned membership in Brennan & Tate’s “Quarter Club” in the past, and the most they had received was a handshake and a little plaque.
She, on the other hand, was about to be trooped out front and center in what the PR firm was practically turning into a circus. Between the handwritten invitations and the catered munchies, they were going all out to promote something that should have happened far more quietly. The best Kelsey could do, she supposed, was to grin and bear it––and try as hard as she could to keep the focus on Adele and the foundation and the new scholarship program. The more publicity for that, the better.
Kelsey let out a deep sigh as she continued through the park. This was the price she paid for being not just an account associate in the company’s corporate finance division but an account associate in the corporate finance division who also just happened to be the great-great-granddaughter of the company’s founder and the daughter of its reigning president. If there was such a thing as reverse nepotism, she thought, she was living it now. She’d never expected her professional path to be made easier because of family connections, but she also hadn’t realized how much harder she’d have to work because of them.
At least she had her mentor and business-savvy friend Gloria to guide her through this current maze of public relations troubleshooting. But she’d be glad when this flurry of promotions was finally over and she could get back to business as usual. She loved what she did—and she was very good at it—but lately she’d spent more time authorizing interviews than she had authorizing investments.
Looking upward, Kelsey watched as a copter lifted off from the heliport at the water’s edge, probably taking some important executive to a business meeting. She picked up the pace, exiting the park at the northern end and making her way around a group of chattering tourists who were taking turns posing for photos beside the bronze bull, a statue that had become synonymous with Wall Street and the stock market. Crossing back to her side of the road, she retraced her steps to the office building, allowing herself to take in the sights and sounds and smells of the city that was always so utterly alive and invigorating: car horns blaring the ever-present soundtrack of New York, the doughy smell of pretzels warming in a vendor’s cart, businesswomen on their way to appointments in thousand-dollar suits and Uggs, their designer heels tucked inside briefcases for when they reached their destinations.
About twenty feet from her building, Kelsey spied a catering truck idling out in front and stopped short. From what she could see, Ephraim was holding open the door as a trio of uniformed workers dashed in carrying trays of food. Feeling a vague stir of nausea at the spectacle to come, she ducked into an alley on her left and made her way around to the back side of the building.
At the rear entrance, a solid metal door with a keypad above the knob, Kelsey typed in her security code, listened for the click, and stepped inside. Coming in this way, she’d have to take the stairs rather than the elevator, but she didn’t care. Right now she just couldn’t face the lobby and the excited chaos of the event that was being pulled together in her honor.
Kelsey’s office was on the fourth floor, but she continued up the back stairs to the fifth without stopping. Once there, she again had to type in her security code, and then that interior door unlocked with a soft click. The fifth floor back entrance opened into the executive conference room, but it didn’t occur to Kelsey until she was swinging the door wide that she might be interrupting some sort of meeting. Fortunately, however, she wasn’t. The room was empty.
Stepping inside as the door to the stairwell fell shut behind her, Kelsey paused, relishing in the peace and quiet of the empty space. The fresh air had done her good, but the busyness of the streets had managed to stir up the busyness in her soul. She still felt disquieted, unsettled.
Ignoring those feelings, Kelsey glanced around, trying to remember if there was a phone in here as there was in the conference room on the fourth floor. Sure enough, she spotted it on the back wall, mounted between the audio/video cabinet and the broad space where the projection screen hung when it was in use. Lifting the receiver, Kelsey dialed the extension for her EA and told her she was back in the building but would be upstairs with Gloria until it was time for the big event. Sharon read off several messages that had come in while she was gone, none of them urgent, and then said there was one more thing.
“Yes?” Kelsey looked around the room for a clock, hoping her assistant wouldn’t take much longer.
“Next time you fake a phone call as you’re leaving,” Sharon said with a chuckle, “make sure you actually bring your cell phone with you.”
Quickly, Kelsey patted her pockets, her face burning with heat when all she came up with was the headset.
“Busted,” was the best she could say, and then they both laughed. “So who else knows?”
“Just me. I was putting some files on your desk when I heard a ringtone coming from a drawer. I found your phone in your purse and put it on mute. Hope that was okay.”
“Of course. I appreciate it,” Kelsey said, grateful for the quick thinking—and discretion—of her faithful assistant. “Would you do me another favor and lock up my office before you head down to the ceremony?”
“No problem, Chief.”
They ended the call, and Kelsey decided that before she went to talk to Gloria she would take a few minutes to fix herself up for the ceremony. Hoping to avoid having to go downstairs to her office, she decided to pay a visit to the executive washroom instead, where she knew all sorts of necessities could be found.
Slipping from the conference room into the main hall, Kelsey walked toward the front of the building. Though she had to go past a reception area and several offices along the way, she made it to the primary executive suite without having to pause and chat with anyone. Fortunately, the door to the CEO’s office on her left was closed, and the EA that worked for the upper echelon, the exotically lovely Yanni, was busy talking on the phone and simply waved Kelsey on through to the right. With a smile and a nod, she turned and continued down the hallway, past the closed door of Gloria’s office, to the executive washroom.
As expected, inside were baskets of toiletries on the wide marble counter. She washed her hands and then helped herself to an individually wrapped toothbrush and a tiny, disposable packet of toothpaste. After brushing her teeth, she unwrapped a fresh comb and ran it through her hair, trying to neaten up the windblown look she’d earned from her walk outside. She followed that with a shot of hairspray, a little dab of face powder, and some lip gloss for the cameras’ sake, and then she stepped back, smoothed out her clothes, and studied the full effect in the mirror.
Whenever Kelsey looked at herself, the word that came to mind was “Irish”—not the red-headed, pale-skinned, green-eyed variety that most folks thought were the norm. Instead, she and her family sported a look far more common among the Irish: dark hair, even-toned skin, blue eyes.
Taking a cue from her mentor Gloria—and from her great-grandmother Adele, for that matter—Kelsey always bought the nicest clothes she could afford, knowing they were a business investment of sorts. Today she was sporting a new Hugo Boss suit in a soft gray pinstripe, accented with a red silk blouse and a pair of red Gaetano Perrone shoes. On her lapel was her favorite piece of jewelry, a hat pin she’d inherited from her great-grandmother and often wore as a stickpin instead. Purchased in London the day before Adele and her cousin and uncle set sail for America on Titanic, the top of the hat pin was in the shape of a tiny Irish harp, a lovely reminder of their homeland.
The overall look Kelsey always strived for was class, competence, and understated elegance. Examining her image in the mirror now, she felt that today’s outfit had really hit the mark. Her layered, shoulder-length brown hair nicely framed her face, and the touch of makeup emphasized her lips and gave a smooth, matte finish to her skin.
Now all she had to do, she decided, was to get through the big event. In the end, though she wasn’t looking forward to it at all, at least the new scholarship program made this trouble worthwhile.
Gloria’s door was still closed, so Kelsey knocked first and then cracked it open, peeking through to see if her friend was in there by herself or if she had company. Fortunately, she was alone, and though she looked quite startled for a moment, she invited Kelsey in.
“Well, if it isn’t the woman of the hour,” Gloria said. Papers were spread across her desk, but she quickly shoved them into a single file folder and slipped it in a drawer. “You look gorgeous. Is that a new suit?”
Grinning, Kelsey slowly turned in a full circle. “Gotta look good in the photos. It’s all about playing the game, right?”
“I’ve taught you well, my dear.”
Kelsey took her usual seat in one of the two leather chairs facing the desk—a move she’d done countless times before. Yet as she settled in, she detected an odd expression on the older woman’s face, as if she were more nervous and apprehensive than Kelsey herself. Worse, in fact. Though Gloria could usually be found looking perfectly polished, at the moment she was anything but, with dark circles under her eyes, rumpled clothing, and not a speck of makeup on.
“Are you okay?” Kelsey asked. She didn’t want to be rude, but clearly something was wrong. “You’re not sick, are you?”
“Just tired. I worked later than I should have last night. You know how it is.”
Gloria obviously didn’t want to talk about it, so Kelsey simply nodded and changed the subject, asking about the order of events for the ceremony. Gloria spelled things out, describing what sounded like a two-person show featuring Kelsey and the company’s CEO, Walter Hallerman.
Kelsey scrunched up her face in dismay. “What about a board member or two? And don’t we want to include somebody from the foundation?”
“Stop trying to deflect, Kels. You know as well as I do that this is all about you. That’s the whole point.”
Miserably, Kelsey slumped in her chair. “This is getting so old.”
Gloria pulled off her glasses and nervously cleaned them with the corner of her blouse. “Hopefully, it won’t be for much longer.”
Both women knew Kelsey really had no choice—both for her family’s sake and for the sake of the corporation. According to management, after Nolan Tate, Kelsey’s father and the firm’s leader, suffered a stroke last year, the company’s value had taken a serious nosedive and now they needed to show that someone else would be carrying on the Tate name, someone who possessed the same sharp gut instincts and business acumen for which the Tates had long been known. As Kelsey was the only other family member who currently worked here, she’d become the logical choice by default.
It was a heavy weight to bear, one that was feeling heavier all the time. She was happy to carry on the family legacy and didn’t mind doing her part to bolster the company’s image, but she was getting awfully tired of being the center of attention. Last week had been a feature article in the New York Times magazine section about the “up-and-comer with the Midas touch.” Prior to that, her name and face had been splashed across countless other newspapers and magazines, and she’d even appeared on a few local television and radio interview shows. Now she was about to go through this ridiculous ceremony, all for the sake of reassuring the public that even though Nolan Tate might be sidelined for now, another, just-as-capable Tate was ready to step up and prove that the family gift for investing was alive and well.
“I hope you’re right,” she said tiredly. “I don’t think I can stand much more.”
An odd look appeared on Gloria’s face, and Kelsey thought she was about to say something important. But then, after a moment, she simply cleared her throat and asked if Kelsey needed any last-minute help polishing her speech.
“No, thanks. It’s fine. But what were you thinking, just now? I can tell there’s something on your mind today.”
The older woman’s cheeks flushed. “It’s not important. I was…I was going to tell you not to worry, that the end is in sight. Maybe sooner than you think.”
“What do you mean?”
Gloria shrugged and looked away, her fingers nervously taking off her glasses, cleaning them again, and putting them back on. Before she replied, the phone on the desk buzzed, startling her so much she practically fell out of her chair.
Face flushing, Gloria resettled herself in her seat and pushed the button for the speaker. Out came the voice of Walter, their CEO.
“I just got downstairs and don’t see Kelsey. Have you talked to her?”
“She’s here with me now.”
“Good. Tell her to hurry up and get down here. We’ll be starting in ten minutes.”
“No problem.”
“Have her take the stairs and use the side door to go backstage. She can wait there until I finish my introduction.”
“Will do.”
With a click he was gone.
“You heard the man,” Gloria said, suddenly using her brightest pep talk voice, though it sounded strained and on edge. She rose, walked to the door, and stood there holding it open. “It’s showtime, kid. You’d better get downstairs. Break a leg, or whatever it is they say.”
Kelsey stood, feeling oddly dismissed. “Aren’t you coming with me?”
“I…uh…I’ll slip in the back later.”
“But I thought we could go down together.”
“I don’t think so,” Gloria responded without further explanation.
“Listen, are you sure you’re all right?” Kelsey pressed, moving closer.
The woman wouldn’t meet her gaze, though after a moment, much to Kelsey’s surprise, her eyes filled with tears. Cooing sympathetically, Kelsey pulled a clean tissue from her pocket and handed it over, asking again what was wrong, if Gloria wanted to talk about it.
“Is it something with work?”
Gloria didn’t reply.
“Maybe something personal? A problem with you and Vern, perhaps?”
Even though Gloria’s marriage wasn’t exactly known to be warm and fuzzy, she seemed surprised at the thought. Shaking her head, she blew her nose and said, “It’s…I…” Her voice trailed off as she dabbed at her tears. Then she took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, looking down at the floor and speaking in a soft voice. “Have you ever done something bad out of good intentions?”
Kelsey was surprised. What an odd question for an ethical, no-nonsense woman like Gloria to ask.
“You mean, the ‘end justifies the means’?”
Gloria nodded. “Exactly.”
“Probably,” Kelsey replied, studying her friend’s face. “One time when I was a kid, my mother wouldn’t buy me the mini marshmallows I wanted from the grocery store, so while she was busy at the checkout, I went back and got a bag off the shelf, tore it open, and started eating them anyway. I figured that once they were open she’d have no choice but to buy them. Of course, I didn’t count on her making me pay her back out of my allowance—and then she didn’t even let me have the rest of the marshmallows.”
Both women smiled, but fresh tears filled Gloria’s eyes. “If only this were that simple.” She blinked, sending twin tracks of wetness down her cheeks.
Kelsey felt terrible for the poor thing, but she still didn’t have a clue as to what any of this was about. Of all the people in this office, Gloria was the very last person she’d ever expect to talk this way, much less to stand in an open doorway and cry.
Suddenly, before Kelsey could even think of how to reply, Gloria gripped her by both arms and spoke in an urgent whisper.
“You don’t have to go down there, you know,” she hissed. “You don’t have to do this at all. You could walk right out the back door and go home, and I could tell Walter you weren’t feeling well and had to leave.”
Kelsey was dumbfounded. What on earth was Gloria talking about?
“Why would I do that? It’s just a stupid ceremony. I’ll get through it, no big deal.”
Just as suddenly, Gloria let go of her arms, stepped back, and placed both hands over her eyes. “What am I saying? Don’t listen to me. I’m not myself today at all.”
Kelsey stood there amidst her friend’s meltdown, thinking, You can say that again. She wondered if perhaps Gloria had been drinking or something. She didn’t smell alcohol on her breath, but she certainly was acting strange—stranger than Kelsey could ever have imagined.
“Enough of this,” Gloria said finally, taking her hands from her face and giving Kelsey a broad, forced smile. “Are you ready to go? Because your time’s up. Come on, Tater Tot. Forget what I said earlier. I’ll walk you down myself.”

My review:
I have never read a book by Mindy Starns Clark, but if this book is any indication of what her books are like, I need to check out her other books.

The book is part historical fiction and part contemporary suspense. It happens mostly in the present, but flashes back to the events leading up to and after the Titianic sinking. I was intrigued by the book description, so I requested it to review and was not disappointed. I really enjoyed reading it, not only for the suspense element, which was great, but also for the historical element. The authors did a great job of portraying the events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic.

There is also a Christian theme to the book, and the main character deals with her lagging relationship with God.

After reading this book, I would recommend it to others, and any of the author's books.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Anarchists by Brian Thompson

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:

Great Nation Publishing (April 13, 2012)

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


I work hard to mix inspirational themes and unforgettable characters together in unique stories. The Lost Testament, my debut novel under Great Nation Publishing, is a historical fiction thriller set in the 1960s south. There, a pastor passing for white discovers proof of a resurrected Jesus Christ and uses it to spark a spiritual revolution.

The Revelation Gate is a historical fiction/fantasy book named a 2011 five-star favorite read by Amazon 1000 reviewers Michelle Sutton and Cyrus Webb. It is the story of an enslaved race whose hopes rest on the shoulders of a boy with unbreakable bones.

In April, 2012, I will release The Anarchists: a speculative fiction thriller set in 2050. When a single mom, unemployed engineer, military hopeful, and psychiatrist are struck by tragedy, a supernatural force offers them a chance to improve their lives. Their decisions will either destroy the world or save it.

It’s obvious writing is my first love, but teaching comes in at a close second. I combine them both with Creating A Positive Environment: a training/mentorship platform to lead aspiring writers down the publishing path. Anybody can self-publish or even independently publish, but not everyone does it well. C.A.P.E. shows you how to do both.

When I am not writing, or showing others how to do what they love, I live in East metro Atlanta, Georgia with my family. I’m a fan of old school rap, classic literature, and all the major sports.

Visit the author's website.


Four people struck by tragedy are offered an opportunity to improve their lives by a supernatural force. When they return to a different world, their decisions will either save the earth or destroy it.

After a failed coup, a revolutionary named Noor is exiled and sentenced to die. Vowing to rule earth, but separated from his lieutenants, he is forced to use human beings instead. In the year 2050, tragedy strikes. Harper Lowe loses her son's father to a last-minute decision. A drunk Damario Coley is maimed in a freak accident. Quinne Ruiz is assaulted and arrested, and Teanna Kirkwood witnesses the death of her daughter. Weeks later, the alluring Kareza Noor, CEO of the Genesis Institute, pilots a psychological experiment, the "Begin Again" initiative. It affords Harper, Damario, Quinne and Teanna the opportunity to erase a past regret. One of them must be forced into it. All solve their former problems but create new ones. Noor, now the Prime Minister of Italy, is plotting a dangerous end-game - if they try to stop him, they will be treated as terrorists. The Anarchists answers the question "what if?" with high-stakes action inside of a page-turning, reality-twisting adventure. Readers will fall in love or hate with the textured characters, who confront their flaws and try to determine what is "the right thing to do."

Product Details:

List Price: $11.95

Paperback: 272 pages

Publisher: Great Nation Publishing (April 13, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0615602142

ISBN-13: 978-0615602141



New Year’s Eve morning, 2049

Prior to committing what some considered murder, Micah Darrion James held a high resolution photo of his family. Meanwhile, Harper Lowe, his always punctual girlfriend, changed from a fire engine red, v-neck sweater shirt and grey dress slacks into a knitted top and jeans.
Harper was a slender and leggy Caucasian, with shoulder-length blonde hair she ponytailed and obsessively dyed black to mask the premature gray. For the picture, she let it down at Micah’s urging. Christian, then six months old, had been propped up between his father’s thick legs, a smile squeezing from his fat cheeks. Two-year-old Gabrielle, his ebony-skinned daughter from a previous relationship, held a plush toy. Still tanned from the vacation, Micah laughed. His natural curls were cut low. It was his 38th birthday, about a year-and-a-half ago.
Last night, he happened to coerce his mother into entertaining her grandchildren for a few hours on New Year’s Eve morning. He and Harper needed “couple time.” Otherwise, the former scientist would question her son into the ground about their doings, asking “where are you going?” and “why can't the family go with you?” A two-time divorcée, Laverne James heavily scrutinized the relationships of both her sons - especially this interracial one. She informed him that Harper’s enlarged breasts signaled pregnancy. He explained it as the effects of a push-up bra and hoped she left it at that.
Micah and Harper did not speak en route to the facility. It was their least expensive option, shoddy in more than a few ways, and situated in a dangerous location. Words had been previously exchanged on the subject, but nothing constructive. Harper was “irresponsible” and “forgetful.” Micah, who had gotten downsized months ago, was “jobless” to his face and “basically worthless” behind his back. Because of their collective gross inadequacies, they agreed to end it. A third-party’s involvement meant neither had to dirty their hands in the deed. The decision itself would remain a joint one.
Their transport rattled, halting at a traffic intersection where it moved no more. Micah cursed and authorized the ignition again, but the engine failed. Jupiter, an American auto giant, specialized in practical vehicles, but this one passed its prime 50,000 miles ago.
Harper started the vehicle’s warning lights and expectantly looked at her boyfriend of three years. We should have traded it in years ago, like I told him we should do.
“I’ve got it.” He cursed again before entering the pouring rain without Harper’s umbrella, protected by his stained, black leather coat. Beneath the hood, his patchwork had not held: a critical hose hissed steam from a tiny split. Wrapping the crack to the best of his ability, he reconnected the hose. This time, the hydroelectric engine sparked alive.
“Piece of junk,” she snarked. “We’re going to be so late.”
Completely drenched, Micah cranked the heat to high and cut his eyes at her. “At least we own it. We’ll get there in time.”
“These people don’t wait. It's not a drive-through window, Micah. You can’t just get there when you get there and expect a D&C like a Happy Meal.”
I'm not the one who changed outfits. “It’s New Year’s Eve. We’ll be waiting anyway.”
Micah tuned the satellite radio to something he could listen to and drown her out. When the station played a classical song he liked, Harper shut it off.
“Do you have to be like that, Harp?”
She crossed her arms. “I love the sound of falling rain, and I can't hear it over that.”
He knew that but did not care. Silence forced him to dwell on his lingering drowsiness. Micah lit a cigarette and took a long drag.
“Really?” Harper shook her tousled hair, which showed hints of gray and blonde at the roots. “Of all the things you can think of to do. . .”
Micah exhaled smoke. “You shut off the satellite, I'm soaked, and you want to piss and moan about a cigarette? Listen to your rain and leave me alone.”
Harper’s hands cupped the bottom of her growing belly. Micah noticed it. “It’s not a ‘him’ or a ‘her’ yet,” he said, his voice trailing off. “It doesn’t matter. . .not now.”
“It’s a boy,” she ventured. “I know it, and it matters to me. You would too if. . .”
She turned in her seat. “Your great great-grandfather. . .
“It didn't happen. And you can’t have faith just because someone in your family did. That’s part of why church is so fake now. . .”
Here we go. “There were articles, pictures, eyewitnesses. . . what about all the people he healed?
“. . .and you’ve got people pretending to love God, or even know him, or her, or it. People get leadership roles because they know how to work crowds. They put together shows with God slapped on them somewhere. I don’t understand how you can believe in that. It’s a con. I won't even get into the money thing.”
“My faith lets me sleep at night,” she shot back, “and I know that even after we do what we’re about to do, God will still love us. Faith isn't a scientific thing, Mike.”
The allusion to his insomnia irritated him. “God will forgive you, if you know it’s wrong and you do it anyway? That’s weak.”
“That's love and mercy.”
They said no more on the subject until Micah stopped at the clinic. Despite the rain, a line of silent but hostile-looking protesters blocked the entrance. A pang of fear hit his stomach. “These wackos make me nervous. Wait for me at the curb. I’ll walk you in.
“Why, so we can be even later?” Harper opened the door, umbrella in hand. “Just park. I don’t care where those people post up our pictures. We had a nine o' clock and it’s eleven after. After twenty minutes, they cancel you, and I’m not going into the New Year without ending this.”
“Ending what exactly. . .us, or the pregnancy?” He suspected the answer. “Just wait.”
She departed without responding. Micah watched the canary yellow oval approach the gathering dressed in all black. If he abandoned the Jupiter in the unloading area and it got towed, that would be another financial burden. And then they would not have a way home.
Harper tried to circle the line, but a gaunt woman with a face painted like a skull blocked into her path. “Consider your options carefully,” she warned.
The irony of options humored Harper. “Snap a picture and get out of my way.”
“Give it up for adoption. Let a relative raise her. Take responsibility and raise her yourself. This isn’t just about you and how you live your life.”
Harper cursed Skull Face. “Then, who's it about: my unemployed boyfriend? The bills we can’t pay? What do you even know about anything?”
“I know women like you use abortion like an eraser. Murder's a sin!”
“Do you have children? Have you even had sex before?
The brazen woman’s lip quivered a bit.
“Do you adopt? Take in foster kids? Show me one scripture that says ‘tell someone what to do, but don’t help them.’ That’s a sin. Tell me! We’ll turn around and go figure this thing out.”
“You could have prevented it.” Skull Face reloaded on rhetoric. “Contraceptives work almost all of the time unless you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Harper raised her fist to strike but a clinician kept her from doing so by restraining the expectant mother's wrist.
“That’s enough.” The woman had forced her way through the crowd. “The ban goes into effect tomorrow. Give this young lady the opportunity to exercise her right to choose today.”
“Choosing death is not God’s will!” said Skull Face.
“Maybe not,” said the clinician. “But what about free will?”
At that, the doors shut behind them at 9:19.
Inside the whitewashed and sterile waiting room, Micah imagined the programmers responsible for the trippy music had been lobotomized. Four magazines later, the power cell of his holographic phone, or “holophone,” had reduced to emergency levels, severely limiting his entertainment options. The spectacled nurse looked wroth and unwilling to change the HTV channel from the forum talk show airing. This type of holographic programming irked him even more than the judgmental assembly outside. He pushed his way through the ranks like a linebacker.
Irritated, Micah redirected his attention to the show, which, at a low volume, sounded like fighting turkeys. It featured five women of different walks of life analyzing and debating issues. Far stage right, a conservative pundit on the panel had a fashion sense as buttoned-up as her viewpoints. Next to her sat a wisecracking, middle-aged businesswoman. At center, Kareza Noor, a beautiful, middle-aged local executive, acted as guest moderator. To her left, a popular liberal provoked arguments to rankle the right-winger. Last on the panel, an Asian woman folded her hands and rarely spoke her mind.
The topic swung from trivial gossip to the changes in abortion legislation. The front desk attendant turned up the volume. Micah leaned forward and cocked his head. Though the James/Lowe family’s finances were in disarray, this one thing went their way. The law would not go into effect until midnight tomorrow. Had Harper’s boss Jackie not advanced them the monetary units, they would have had this child. Thinking about the diapers, formula, and healthcare expenses alone made his nights restless.
“Some of these peaceful demonstrations have turned violent, especially in Florida, and New York City - which has the highest number of legally-induced abortions. It’s not about ‘put-my-picture-on-a-website-so-everyone-knows-my-shame’ anymore. People are getting killed, said Kareza with definition.
“Well, abortion - it’s murder. Period. Point-blank.” The conservative crossed her arms. “The legislation squares with existing laws. Kill a pregnant woman? You’re charged with double murder.” She flipped her hand. “Can’t call it alive when on one hand, and deny it’s alive on the other!”
Murder is illegal,” said the finger-pointing liberal. “But abortion shouldn’t be. I’ll put it out there. I own an Ordnance.”
The funny one ducked, drawing nervous laughs from the live audience. “You brought it here, on the set? Take her purse! Pat her down or something.”
“That's my Second Amendment right. How I use it is my choice. This new law takes freedom of choice away and enforces a system of beliefs on all women. That’s unconstitutional. That’s the decision handed down eighty years ago, Roe. Vs. Wade, and it should stand.”
“So, let me get this straight: citizens should have the choice to shoot someone or kill babies?” the conservative barked. “Why even open your mouth and say something so stupid?”
“Stupid? Free will is stupid? What do you do about the poor and impoverished without access to free contraception and educational services because our conservative president cut funding to it? Tell them not to have sex? We were all teenagers once. Trust me: ‘just don’t do it’ doesn’t work.”
Micah found interest in the topic, though his views were simple. They couldn’t afford it. Laverne couldn’t stand to help, and Harper’s affluent mother wouldn't. A couple thousand monetary units now were better than the millions they may spend in the years to come. Their answer was simple, even now, as he imagined his son or daughter being destroyed. My son. He wanted another boy, but not now. Not like this.
Kareza crossed her shapely legs. “So, playing devil’s advocate, should abortion be legal in ‘certain situations’ - like rape, incest, molestation, and the like?”
The funny one laughed. “Guest moderator for one day and you’re trying to start a fight?”
“We’re trying to get to pick at the heart of the issue,” Kareza replied.
The Asian woman perked up. “The Center for Disease Control reports that pregnancies from rape, incest and molestation make up a small fraction of the three million abortions performed last year - less than one percent. Almost 80 percent say they aborted because of finances, unplanned pregnancy, or inconvenience.”
“It’s a sad state of humanity when bringing a life into the world becomes ‘inconvenient’,” said the conservative, drawing a small pocket of applause.
“Let me point out,” said the liberal, “those numbers are documented cases of incest, rape, and molestations. It happens off the record all the time. How does a 12-year-old girl report that her stepfather or mother’s boyfriend impregnated her and get someone to believe her story? This law forces her to keep a daily reminder of a sick act or seek a dangerous and illegal alternative.”
Micah became so engrossed in the conversation that he failed to notice his name being called. A different nurse tried to mute the HTV in vain.
“Mister James, by now your wife should be in recovery.”
“That was quick.” Micah rose and quietly approached her. “Is she alright?
“She’s still under anesthesia. She will need you to fill a prescription.”
“Any idea of how much this’ll cost?”
“Not sure. I can’t access that information at this time.
Probably 300 units or so.”
Micah’s eyes bulged. “Generic?”
“That's the generic version.”
He would have to pay a fraction of the utilities again and pray that they did not get cut off until Harper’s next paycheck. Thankfully, her position as a psychiatrist paid reasonably well. But with the cost of living, the note on her transport, and their burdensome student loan debt, 1.2 million units a year did not go far.
“Here,” she said, handing him a thumb segment-sized, blood red disk. “I know Kareza Noor, the woman on the HTV. She’ll be able to help you with whatever you need. Be back at a quarter ‘til one to pick her up.”
Hands in pockets, Micah started the half-mile trek back to the free parking lot. “It was our decision,” he told himself, though he knew that he pushed for it more than she did. He regretted forcing her to do anything and hoped she did not resent him for it.
More than halfway there, he checked the time. Ten minutes past noon. He stopped inside a busy Dunkin’ Donuts on the next corner. Harper had not eaten breakfast, so a bran muffin and a shot of hazelnut-flavored caffeine might do her some good.
Fifteen minutes later, he ordered and paid, hustling the rest of the way. With all green lights, he’d still be on time - barely.
He docked his phone to charge it, placed the coffee in the cup holder, the muffin on the passenger seat, and started the Jupiter's engine, which turned over without reservation.
The sun broke through the clouds and shined on him. Thinking it a sign of good things to come, he turned on the radio. One of his favorite classical pieces, “Mars,” played. He smiled, backed out of his space, and turned onto the street. When Harper got in, he would turn it off, and they would peaceably talk.
Since his layoff from the structural design firm, they had been under financial pressure. Harper’s pay didn’t cover the bills, so budgeting became a complicated balancing act. Unexpected expenses meant begging or borrowing to make it work. Micah’s job search had been so unsuccessful that he even applied for menial jobs that preferred humans over droids. “Too educated” for those, and “not educated enough” for high-level mathematics positions, he was stuck. But, with this pregnancy out of the way, he felt better about their future.
Micah braked at the light a block away from the clinic. The song continued to build and he pretended to conduct the strings. Up the street, the protesters had vacated the property. Almost half of the tune had played before Micah realized the light still had not changed. His holophone lit up and projected an image of Harper in front of him. “Mike, where are you?”
“I know you’ve been waiting. I’m sorry. I’m stuck at the light out front. Be there as soon as it changes. And I have a little surprise for you.”
Harper spotted the Jupiter from a café across the street. “Can you see me?” She waved behind the front window. “Baby, I didn’t. . .”
“Plus,” he interrupted, “I think I’ve got a lead on something good!” The signal turned green. Micah accelerated and pulled over thirty feet from the entrance. We can finally afford to talk marriage! he thoughtDo you know Kareza Noor? Is she in your department? Never mind. Tell them to wheel you out. I’m on time for once. And, we need to talk about. . .”
“Mike, listen, I’m across the street. I told them to stop. . .”
Suddenly, a raucous explosion blasted through the clinic, turning the Jupiter over and upside down. The suicide doors swung open, but the vehicle’s collapsed dashboard pinned Micah into his seat. Shards of window glass jutted out from his face. He struggled to breathe.
“Harp. . .” Micah could not finish her name without coughing out the blood pooling in his mouth. He hoped someone heard his pleas.