Friday, November 30, 2012

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Wild Goose Chase Christmas
Abingdon Press (November 2012)
by
Jennifer AlLee


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Word from Jennifer:

As I look back on my life, it's interesting to see where God's taken me, and where I took myself that God pulled me out of. I finally got back to writing, the dream of my heart. Since 1996, I've published numerous short stories, devotions and plays. I've also been active in church drama ministries, another passion of mine. My first novel, The Love of His Brother (November 2007, Five Star Publishers), was followed by The Pastor's Wife (February 2010, Abingdon Press) and The Mother Road (April 2012). A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is book two in the new Quilts of Love series.

Besides being a writer, I am a wife and mom. Living in Las Vegas, Nevada, my family has learned how to enjoy the fabulous buffets here without severely impacting our waistlines. God is good!



ABOUT THE BOOK

Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure.

Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the "treasure map," they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.

What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, go HERE.

My review:
This book is pretty much a romance, but I loved it. It is centered around Christmas, which is always a plus for me in a book, and family. Abington Publishers has a series of books that are independent of each other and written by different authors, Quilts of Love. They are all about a quilt. I haven't read any of the others, but enjoyed this one. It was entertaining, funny, and had a great family message in it. I liked how the quilt brought family members closer. Neat book, I recommend it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Gaither Homecoming Bible, NKJV

The Gaither Homecoming Bible will make the Bible come alive for those seeking truth in the twenty-first century, even for those who think they already know it.

For years, Bill and Gloria Gaither have reached millions of people across generations with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Their music of joy, thanksgiving, and praise ushers people into the presence of God so that He can do His wondrous work in their lives. Featuring inspirational and insightful Scripture devotions by the Gaithers and other favorite Homecoming artists; articles on beloved hymns, gospel songs, and Gaither classics and the inspiration behind them; original poetry by Gloria Gaither to enlighten and inspire; and quotes by greats of the faith, reflecting on the importance of music in the life of believers, this beautiful Bible featuring the New King James Version® (NKJV) is one that readers will treasure for years to come


My review:

   I admit when I saw this Bible was coming out that my reaction was "Oh brother!" The Bible section in bookstores do seem to be overflowing with all sorts of specialized Bibles, and do we really need one for we Southern Gospel/Homecoming fans? Maybe not, but it IS a nice Bible.

  My two favorite versions of the Bible are The New Living Translation and The New King James Version, so they made me happy right off the bat using one of my favorites, The New King James Version. So how does this Bible differ from other NKJVs? The Homecoming Bible has devotionals scattered all throughout written by people who appear and have appeared in the Gaither Homecoming videos. People such as Connie Hopper, Dallas Holm, Gordon Mote, Kim Collingsworth, Squire Parsons, and many more.

   There are also several stories of popular hymns in this Bible along with the lyrics to the hymns. Gloria Gaither has written some thoughts on the sides of some passages of Scripture, and also has included some songs they wrote with her thoughts.

   There is some beautiful artwork throughout the Bible used as backgrounds for the hymn stories and other features and along the tops of many pages. There are also quotes by different people and some verses highlighted with color against the white pages.

   This may not be a "must have" Bible, but it is a very nice Bible with some neat features that the average Southern Gospel fan will enjoy.

   The Homecoming Bible is available in hardcover, bonded leather, and leather-look.

  Check out and explore the Bible here.

About the editors:

Bill Gaither
The pages of history have been written by ordinary people who had something extraordinary to say with their lives. Bill Gaither is just such an individual... an Indiana-born kid with an insatiable love for music who grew to become an industry leader who would change the course of gospel music history through the songs he has written and through his influence as a mentor for other artists.

An avid fan of gospel quartets throughout his childhood, Bill founded his first group, The Bill Gaither Trio, in 1956, while he was a college student. He began teaching English in 1959 because his musical aspirations couldn't support him full-time... yet.

In 1962, Bill did one of the best things he has ever done. He married Gloria Sickal, who became the best writing partner Bill could have found anywhere. The couple spent the first five years of their married life juggling full-time teaching jobs, writing, singing, recording and publishing until music became their full-time career in 1967.

The collaborations of Bill and Gloria have resulted in more than 600 popular gospel songs, including the hymnal standard "Because He Lives," "The King Is Coming," "Something Beautiful," "He Touched Me," "It Is Finished," "There's Something About That Name," "Let's Just Praise The Lord," and "Loving God, Loving Each Other." They recorded more than 40 albums, won eight Grammy Awards and more than a dozen nominations and received more than two dozen Dove Awards from The Gospel Music Association, earning the title of Gospel Music Association's "Songwriter of the Year" eight times.

In 1996 Bill and Gloria Gaither were the first musical artists to be inducted into the Christian Booksellers Association's Hall of Honor. Only three people have been previously honored with this distinction: Reverend Billy Graham, Dr. Kenneth Taylor (author of The Living Bible) and Dr. Richard Halverson (former U. S. Senate Chaplain). Their album, Alleluia: A Praise Gathering for Believers was the first inspirational album ever to achieve gold status by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.).

The Indianapolis Star named "He Touched Me" among the Top 10 Songs of the Century written by a Hoosier. Clearly, many others agree because in end-of-the-millennium honors, Bill and Gloria received the surprise of their lives when the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) named them Songwriters of the Century, based on the impact their work has made on American culture in the 20th century. His Spring House Music label was named the top video company of 2000 by Billboard Magazine, placing 20 titles on the chart that year, with Gaither-produced projects spending more than a dozen weeks at the top of the music video chart Bill and Gloria are members of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame, and they were most recently honored with the Living Legend Award in 2006 by the Indiana Historical Society.

In the early '80s Bill and a few of his friends were harmonizing around the piano and were pleased enough with their sound to try it out on an audience at the next Bill Gaither Trio concert. After the hearing enthusiastic response from the audience at that concert, the Gaither Vocal Band was born. The group's tight four-part harmonies, commanding presence and, of course, great songs has forever raised the bar for gospel groups who would follow them. The Vocal Band has touched audiences all over the world for more than twenty-five years and has never been better. In 2006, as a result of the Gaither Vocal Band's harmonic sound and musical excellence, Bill was presented an honorary membership to the Barbershop Harmony Society. There have been numerous opportunities for the GVB to sing at Billy Graham Crusades and group members past and present often name those crusades among the highlights of the lives.

Throughout his years in the music industry, Bill has had many opportunities to meet artists with a quality he believed audiences needed to hear, so he has eagerly shared his stage with countless fledgling artists who, as a result, became defining influences in their field, including Don Francisco, Mark Lowry, Sandi Patty, Steve Green, Michael English, Cynthia Clawson and a host of others.

In 1991, Bill was in his mid-fifties and was grateful to have had the opportunity to do what he loved, full-time, for so many years. He gathered the Vocal Band together with a few of his gospel music heroes to record a song entitled, "Where Would I Go?" for what he thought would be the Gaither Vocal Band's final album. Something very special happened that day... and someone captured it all on a home video camera. That rough recording marked the birth of the Homecoming video series, which has now sold 18 million copies and has grown to more than 100 titles strong. By Spring of 2006, ninety-nine of the Gaither Homecoming videos had achieved precious metal status, with four certified multi-platinum, 45 certified platinum, and 50 certified gold.

From a little log cabin studio to world-renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, The Sydney Opera House, and a host of others around the globe, the Homecoming series has taken on a life of its own. The award-winning series now airs weekly on television networks all over North America and Europe, and the Homecoming concert tour celebrates more than 10 years of live events that bring gospel music to major arenas across North America. Now more than 70 years of age, Bill is still going strong touring with the Gaither Vocal Band and the Homecoming artists, releasing new Homecoming video titles each year, and he still has much to say to the loyal multi-generational following of listeners that have latched onto the down-to-earth yet truth-filled songs that have become his trademark.

Bill's first-ever solo recording was released in 2005 when he finally felt there were some things he wanted to say himself, from the perspective of someone who has lived a little and has learned a lot. Another avenue through which Bill shares his unique perspective on life and music is through his autobiographical book published by Warner Faith called, It's More Than The Music.

After decades of unprecedented musical successes, Bill and Gloria still operate their business from Bill's home town of Alexandria, Indiana, and they dwell in the same home in which they raised their family. They live a lifestyle focused on investing all of their resources into eternal things.

"Our calling is not just making music... but communicating the reality of Christ. That might mean birthing a song about Him or simply offering a cup of cold water to someone who needs it. Gloria and I have never claimed to have God figured out, but we do know that if He could use two imperfect people like us to communicate His Truth to the world, He can use everyone sitting in the audience, working on our staff or singing with us. If we have done anything right over the years, I hope we have built bridges where people could connect with God and with each other. That is what started us writing and what will keep us writing for the rest of our lives."

Gloria Gaither
Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment living is the theme that frames the canvas of Gloria Gaither's life. It is a life lived out of a sincere belief that being available to the wonder of each day's unexpected twists and turns is a gift from God to be responded to with tenacity, joy, and excellence. This value has allowed Gloria to explore a wide spectrum of creative, artistic and academic worlds. Despite a staggering list of awards from her peers in all of these venues, she continues to invite new challenges with open arms, and an insatiable desire to grow and to have influence for God's kingdom. Gloria's commitment to her family is a brush stroke that colors every aspect of her choices and gives definition to every endeavor she has pursued.

Married for more than forty years to her soul-mate and writing partner Bill Gaither, Bill and Gloria's life together has been an adventure. They have shared a mutual commitment to a "larger purpose" and to that which is lasting. As a result of this philosophy, their union has produced over 700 songs, hundreds of recordings, numerous awards, a dozen musicals, a collection of books; and best of all, three children and five grandchildren. In affirmation of Bill and Gloria's vast contribution to the gospel music industry they have been recipients of many Grammies and Dove Awards, the ASCAP Songwriters of the Century Award and have been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Gloria's writing spans a wide range of subjects and genres; from children and family themes to devotional encouragement for women; from social commentary to scripts for video format; from song lyrics to magazine interviews. A lover of words, all of her written offerings grow out of an irrepressible habit of journaling. Gloria has always been a student of literature, with special interest in the works of John Steinbeck, and has contributed papers and reviews on his writing in a variety of academic settings. She has written over 40 books including titles for adults and children and created scripts for over 100 videos. All of these pursuits have won her the respect of the academic community with Honorary Doctorates from six universities. Out of a sincere heart to help young adults pursue excellence in their respective fields through Christian education, she has been a dynamic voice serving on the Board of Directors for both the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the United Christian College Fund. Gloria maintains an extensive speaking schedule. As an advocate of family preservation, living in the moment and unadulterated discipleship, Gloria has touched the hearts of audiences everywhere with her simple, yet profound message.

Gloria's love for creating moments has been the seed for the creation of Gaither Family Resources, an innovative gathering place and Latte Café that showcases the Homecoming Friend's videos and recordings and includes a wide variety of hand-picked life-issues resources, art, books and gifts for people from every generation. Now in its ninth year, GFR continues to offer stimulating events and experiences to its visitors.

Whether she is writing, speaking, or giving birth to a new idea, those who really know Gloria know that no achievement or work schedule is worth the sacrifice of a relationship. For Gloria nothing is more important than building a history around the things that are priceless, or, as she expresses in Things that Last Forever;

I will give myself away for the things that will never die...the simple joys of living--my family and my friends, relationships that go on after space and time shall end.

The Homecoming Bible is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

Cloud Culture by Chuck Giacinto and Bryce Conlan, with a giveaway



The Issue

More than 150 million Americans log on to a social media site every day. Facebook just reached the billion monthly active users mark. Twitter is adding one million accounts every day. And in one day on the Internet, two million blog posts are written, enough posts to fill TIME Magazine for 770 million years. Social media is more than a trend—its redefining communication worldwide. How should Christians respond to this booming trend and what possibilities does it offer for furthering the message of the Gospel?

About the Book

In their new book Cloud Culture: Walking the Walk & Typing the Talk: Christian Living in the Social Media World (Seven Leaf Press, 2012), Chuck Giacinto and Bryce Conlan help believers understand how social media fits into their daily walk with Christ and how it can be a mechanism to serve others.

 In Cloud Culture, Giacinto and Conlan examine social media technologies to see how they fit into a Christian’s life, as they seek to live out Christ’s kingdom on earth, follow Him, and serve others. Less about social media and more about the need to communicate well, Cloud Culture is a book about communication, how to do it better and how Christians can engage the world through the dynamic and ever-evolving world of social media.
 
My review:
 
   This is a book that should interest anyone that is on line, as it has to do with something most of us use: social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.
 
   It isn't a long book, coming in at just 120 pages, but it is an interesting, informative, and convicting read. The authors have really nailed it in this book. Christians use social networks as much as non-Christians, but how often do we use it for God, and how careful are we in how we use it and what we say.
 
  The idea of the book is not that we have to constantly evangelize and post Christian things on our blogs, facebook, and other such sites. The authors present a great case though that we need to be doing more than we are, and that we can be reaching people in small ways.
 
   One thing they talked about that hit me, is how shallow so many of our friendships are on Facebook. How little we really communicate and get to know people. They pointed out how some people's posts can indicate problems, but all too many of us overlook it instead of trying to really be a friend and reach out to them.
 
  This book isn't a major guilt trip that is going to hit you over the head. The authors don't have that attitude at all. In just 120 pages, they simply present some ideas of how Christians should better use social networking. I enjoyed reading the book, and have to say they have a lot of good things to say that we all need to apply to our on line lives.
 
About the authors:
 
Chuck Giacinto and Bryce Conlan are long-time acquaintances who have lived seemingly divergent lives before tag teaming on this collaboration. Both based in Illinois, Giacinto serves as a worship pastor, music producer, husband and father of three, while the Connecticut-bred/Chicago-transplanted Conlan, also married, works with his video production company Big Swell Media servicing celebrities, authors and politicians. Cloud Culture is their first collaboration.
 
Giveaway:
Courtesy of Side Door Communications, I have one copy of Cloud Culture to give away.
To enter, comment on this post with couple of social networks you use, if any.
I will pick a winner 2 weeks from today on December 12 using Random.org.
 
Cloud Culture is available from Seven Leaf press.
 
Thanks to Debbie from Side Door Communications for the review copy and giveaway copy.

Razed by Paula Wiseman

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:

Mindstir Media (July 12, 2012)

***Special thanks to Paula Wiseman for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


After working several years as research chemist, Paula Wiseman was blessed with the opportunity to stay home with her children and follow the writer’s path. Her bestselling Covenant of Trust Series, including Contingency, Indemnity and Precedent was recognized by Indie Excellence Awards, a Readers Favorite Gold, and Next Generation Indie Book Awards, and featured on Lifetime Television. When she isn’t working on new projects, Paula blogs on matters of life and faith at www.paulawiseman.com.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Doug Bolling lost his wife of twenty years just as their stormy marriage was beginning to thrive, and he bitterly blames God. He tries to reconnect with his son, but it seems Mark is only interested if the relationship comes wrapped in religion. Mark claims he's just following God when he moves his family, including Doug's grandsons, further away, first to pastor, then to attend seminary. With frustrated resignation, Doug turns his attention to building a new life and a new home for himself and interior designer, Cassandra Grayson. The conflict erupts as Mark is preparing to leave for the mission field in Kenya. He delivers an ultimatum, cutting off all contact between his kids and their grandfather. God may have ripped away his wife and his son, but Doug draws the line at his grandchildren. Mark's attempt to force him to choose between the woman he loves and the grandkids he adores, drives Doug to one fateful desperate act, even if it means destroying his relationship with his son.



Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 390 pages
Publisher: Mindstir Media (July 12, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985365099
ISBN-13: 978-0985365097



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


SIXTEEN YEARS AGO

Thursday, July 29

Doug Bolling clutched the small bag of cookies in his left hand. His right hand rested on the door handle to his wife’s hospital room. No matter how many times he’d done this, it never got any easier.

He took a deep breath, pushed the door open slowly, and stepped inside. Images flickering across the screen of the muted television gave the room its only light. Judy’s eyes fluttered open as he got closer, and she gave him her best smile. “Hey, Babe,” he whispered, and leaned down to kiss her, wishing her cheeks were still full with the almost babyish roundness they used to have.

“You just missed the doctor.” She pulled at the bedrails and managed to prop herself up.

“There was a line at Schnuck’s.” He held the bag up for her to see.

“What’d you bring?” She stretched her arm forward, revealing her narrow wrists. Would she have enough strength to hold the bag?

“Those cookies. The white chocolate and macadamia nut ones.”

“Bless your heart.”

She labored to open the bag, and he fought the urge to do it for her.

She inhaled deeply. “They smell wonderful. I can’t wait to have one.”

“Why can’t you have one now?”

“I’m not hungry yet. I’d rather be hungry.”

“You want me to set them on the table?”

“No, I want them close.” She held out her hand, and he cradled it in his. “Almost as close as I want you.”

“So what’d the doctor say?”

Her smiled faded and she hesitated. Not good. “He’s sending me home, Doug.”

Home. Not “home” home. Home to die. “There’s not anything—?”

She shook her head. “He suggested some, uh, some hospice care providers.”

“How, how much—” He swallowed and tried again. “How much time?”

Her gentle smile returned. “He’s too slippery to give me anything definite. Christmas is probably, I mean, Christmas was his best-case estimate. He said I should think in terms of weeks . . . not months. I’m sorry.”

The grief in her eyes tore at him most of all. “Don’t be sorry.”

“I hate for you to have to go through this.”

“Me? Don’t worry about me. I’m a tough guy.”

“The toughest,” she said, and he felt the slightest squeeze. “I have a request.” She raised her eyes to his. “I want to be the one to tell Mark.”

He nodded. She’d do it better than he would anyway. He hooked his boot around the leg of the bedside chair and dragged it closer without ever letting go of her hand. Home. Hospice. Christmas. They knew it was close. But hearing it, having a doctor pronounce that . . .”Are you afraid?” He hoped she’d say yes, because he was terrified.

“No. I don’t have any pain, really.”

“I mean to die.” He regretted the words as soon as he heard himself say them. He shifted in the chair. “I shouldn’t have said that,” he mumbled.

“It won’t be as frightening if we talk about it.”

Which meant she knew he was terrified, so she would pretend she was, too. “But you’re not scared.”

“You remember when you asked me to marry you?”

“Like it was yesterday. I think it was just yesterday.”

“Seems like it. My parents were so worried. All they could see was this punk who barely graduated high school.”

“They still see that.”

She smiled and squeezed his hand again. “They never heard you say that you’d take care of me, and that you’d never, ever leave me.” She twisted and pulled herself up a little straighter. “I know this makes no sense to you, but God’s made those same promises to me, so I’m not afraid. I trusted you. I trust Him.”

He dropped his head and hoped she couldn’t see his jaw clench in the low light. The God she trusted was a fairy tale, a happy story to help her sleep better at night. A real God, a good God wouldn’t kill a wife and mother in the prime of her life.

“I see that line of discussion is a dead end.”

He smiled at the spark of attitude. “I’m glad your, uh, your faith helps you.”

“I wish it helped you.”

“It does. When I see you optimistic and brave and—” He had to look away again. If he didn’t shut up, he’d lose it in front of her. “So where’s that doctor? I need to get you out of here.”

*******

For Mark Bolling, three-thirty was the best part of the day, and his favorite thing about working for Bolling Developers. He didn’t hate construction work exactly, even though he missed the air conditioning at his grandfather’s car dealership. His dad was rarely on-site and the guys were okay to work with. He liked being able to see progress when he left every day.

His mother smiled with quiet approval any time he mentioned working for his dad. That was the main reason he was doing it. Plus, it was her idea. Right after she got sick last summer, she suggested—no, insisted—he ask his dad for a job. His father said, “So help me, if you pull an attitude and embarrass me, you’ll wish you were shoveling horse barns for a living. Am I clear?”

“Crystal.”

“You need work boots. Pack your own lunch and be ready to leave by six-thirty in the morning.”

That was his orientation talk.

The first two days she was in the hospital this time around, it looked like this was her last trip, but she rallied once more. He planned to grab a quick shower then spend the evening there with her.

His father’s truck was in the driveway. That meant his parents were home—both of them. They’d sent her home. Great!

The stillness in the house sucked that optimism right out of him. He walked as carefully and quietly as his clunky, steel-toed boots would allow, checking the living room and the kitchen. Outside? He peeked out the back door and saw his dad fussing with the charcoal grill.

Charcoal. The guy was a million-dollar-a-year homebuilder, but he was too cheap for a gas grill. Not only that, they still lived in the same three-bedroom place he built the first year Bolling Developers was in business, and he still drove the pick-up truck he bought that year.

Mark slipped off his boots and left them by the back door, then he took the stairs two at a time, doubly anxious to talk to his mother. He heard the television. Hopefully that meant she was awake. He knocked gently as he pushed the door open. “Mom?”

“Mark? Is it that late already?” Her voice was soft, but her eyes shone. She reached for the remote and clicked off the television set. “Come and sit with me and tell me about your day.”

“I’d rather hear about yours.” He eased himself down onto the edge of the bed.

“Oh, it was about what I expected.” She tugged at the sleeve of her warm-up jacket, pulling it toward her wrist. The sicker she got, the more athletic her preferred attire became. She thought the bulky clothes hid things better. She was mistaken.

Her eyes fluttered, hardly daring to rest on his. “I shouldn’t have to go back.”

“No more treatments?” he asked, knowing exactly what that meant.

She shook her head. “The doctor said . . . well . . . his primary concern from here on out . . . is that I’m comfortable.”

Here on out. The death sentence. The air in the room thickened until it was like trying to breathe syrup. Hot, smothering syrup.

She put a hand on his knee and winked with an impish grin. “I can have all the morphine I want.”

He had to smile at her. “How did . . . ?” Mark swallowed hard and wiped his eyes. “How’s Dad?”

Her smile faded. “That’s what hurts me. Watching him.” She smoothed the comforter. “He’s so lost. He needs you more than he will ever admit, more than he understands even.”

His father didn’t need anyone, least of all him. “Excuse my cynicism.”

She took his hand and spoke with urgency. “I want you to remember this when I—” She shook her head gently. “Your dad, he carries everything inside, and he’s going to need someone he can vent to. Someone who can take it.”

“You mean someone to yell at?”

“Yell at, yell to. It’s all the same to him.”

“Then I’ve been there for him for years.”

“I’m not explaining this right,” she said. “There’s much more to your dad than the blustering guy in the hardhat. Give him a chance. Be patient and he’ll come around. Promise me you will.”

“Have you given him this speech?” he asked, carefully avoiding the promise.

“Not yet. He’s on my schedule.” She smiled. “If only I could have a few more years with him.” She blinked away her own tears. “He just needs someone who will love him.”

She wanted, expected, him to be the one—a worshipful son to take the place of the smitten wife. He was in so much trouble.

*******

Doug sat at the kitchen table sorting through the latest stack of bills. Doctor, doctor, hospital, ambulance, radiology. What a mess. He wrote check after check, stuffed them in the envelopes, and dropped the keep this portion in the box at his feet. He didn’t have time for this. He should be in there with Judy. Christmas. Christmas was only five months away. He couldn’t be ready in five months.

If she didn’t eat any more than she did today, he didn’t see how she could last that long. She used to have this metabolism most people would give anything to have. She could eat whatever she wanted, and still keep a cheerleader’s figure. He teased her about out-eating him.

She was never what anyone would call beautiful. Judy was cute. Petite and youthful, she never seemed to age. She’d never let herself get old, she said. Terminal cancer took care of that for her.

Mark strode into the kitchen and pulled a glass from the cabinet. “She’s asleep.” The teenager got a two-liter bottle from the refrigerator and it hissed loudly when he twisted off the cap. “You want a Coke or something?”

“No.” Doug laid down his pen and pushed his chair back from the table. He’d dreaded this conversation all day, especially the part where he’d ask the center of the universe to relinquish his position. “Listen, I think you need to sit out this semester coming up.”

“Why?” Mark gulped the Coke, then set the glass on the counter, clinking it against the sink.

“Really? I have to explain this to you? Your mother is dying, Mark. It’ll be a miracle if she lives past Christmas. Don’t you think you belong here with her instead of some frat house somewhere?”

“I’m not even gonna respond to that.”

Doug had seen the same condescending sneer on Judy’s face more times than he cared to remember.

“Mom specifically said not to drop out of school. She told me to go on with my life.”

“I bet she did,” Doug muttered.

“Fine! You want me to stay home? I’ll stay.”

“Oh no. I’m not taking the blame for bullying you into dropping out of college.”

“You bully me into everything else.”

“And Mommy always rescues you, doesn’t she?”

“Again, I’m not going to respond. You’re just ranting at me, and I’ve learned not to try to reason with you when you’re like this.”

“I’m unreasonable?”

“Right now, yes.”

Doug jerked himself out of the chair and stood inches away from his son. The boy, the man now, straightened himself until he stood half a head taller than Doug, with a look of annoyed indifference he inherited directly from Judy’s father.

Then Doug stopped himself. He waved his hand and stepped back. Mark couldn’t understand, and he didn’t have the strength or the words to explain it.

“Go ahead and say it, Dad.”

This time it wasn’t a challenge. Mark was inviting him, the way Judy did. Maybe the long talks with his mother were paying off. Maybe he was listening.

“Just . . . you better pray to that God of yours that you never have to stand by and watch your wife . . . watch her go through something like this.”

“He’s your God, too.”

“I have no God.”

“That’s your problem.”

*******

Tuesday, August 3

“What do you think you’re doing?” Doug leaned against the kitchen doorframe, his arms crossed against his chest as he watched his wife rummage through the kitchen cabinets.

“Making your dinner.” Judy hugged a skillet close to her body.

“You have no business—” He gently took the skillet from her hand and set it on the counter.

She huffed like an angry teenager. “Will you please, please, let me do as much as I can for as long as I can?”

“But you shouldn’t be wasting your energy—”

“It’s not wasting it if I’m doing what I enjoy.”

“You enjoy making my dinner? Since when?”

She pulled the skillet toward the stovetop. “All right, all right. There have been times when making dinner was not my favorite thing.”

“Like the first nineteen years of our marriage,” Doug teased.

“Get out the spaghetti, smart aleck.”

“That’s more like it.” He handed her the box of pasta and watched her brown the ground beef. He wasn’t joking, though. She had begrudged everything she did for him until she got sick.

“You know, this reminds me of the time we were at Disney World and Mickey or Goofy or somebody sat down beside Mark and begged for his spaghetti.” She smiled as she stirred. “He wouldn’t walk close to the characters any more after that. Do you remember?”

“No.”

“Oh, sure you do. Mark was about . . . five . . .”

“Judy, I wasn’t there. You and your parents took Mark. I couldn’t get away.”

“Or wouldn’t.”

“That’s not fair.”

She sighed with a heavy sadness. “Why did we treat each other that way for so long?”

“We were young. We didn’t know what we were doing.”

“I was selfish, Doug.” She struggled to pull a heavy pot from the cabinet, so he steadied it for her. “I married you because it infuriated my father.” She slid the pot into the sink and turned the water on. “You deserved a woman who loved you for you.”

“I have one.”

“But I’m not gonna be around to finish the job.” She turned off the faucet and held out a hand. He slipped in beside her and put an arm around her waist. She was so thin now. “Can you forgive me?”

“For what?”

“For being such a horrible wife.”

“That’s crazy.” He dropped his hand and stepped away. “You were, I mean, are, you are a perfect wife.”

“Now who’s crazy.” She arched an eyebrow at him, and he smiled. “I know better.”

“At least we had the last couple of years when things were good. Some people don’t have that.”

“It has been good, hasn’t it?”

He nodded and lifted the pot from the sink, then set it on the stove for her. “I think we both learned what was really important.”

“I learned what love was. I couldn’t give you what I didn’t have.”

Doug braced himself. He recognized the set-up for another Christianity commercial from her.

She wrinkled her brow at him. “All right. I won’t say anything else.”

“No, say it. I don’t want to leave anything unsaid between us.”

She faced him and spoke with urgency. “You’re a good man, Doug. You’ve made your own way. You work hard, and you have great integrity. I love all those things about you.”

He smiled, trying to diffuse the heaviness in the moment. “Tell me more.”

“Those things aren’t going to be good enough. The only thing, the only thing that scares me is an eternity without you. Mark finally came around, and I pray every day you will, too . . . and I pray I’ll get to see it.”

He saw the tears in her eyes, and guilt washed over him. Why couldn’t he simply say he believed whatever she wanted him to, make her happy, let her have peace these last few months?

Because he couldn’t lie to her.

“Babe, here’s how it looks to me. God . . . I don’t trust Him. He could fix all this and He won’t. He’s holding out.”

“But He’s not like that!”

“Not to you.”

“Let me find somebody who can explain things better than I can—”

“I don’t want to talk about it with somebody else. I only talk about it with you because—”

“Because I’m dying. You’re patronizing me.”

“I’m not patronizing you. I’m trying to be supportive.” He sighed deeply at the hurt in her eyes. “Just save your religion talk for Mark.”

“You hate that, too.”

“I don’t. ” He turned his back to her, paced away, and took a deep breath. If she saw his eyes, she’d know he was lying.

“You resent every minute I spend with him.”

It was a soft declaration, not an accusation, but she still knew how to cut into his very soul. He faced her again. “Can we compromise on this?”

“Can we?” The light in her eyes faded, and her hair seemed to gray before his eyes. She’d spent all her energy on him.

“Talk about your religion, your faith. Tell me all about it, but I don’t want to hear how much I need it. No hard sells, no sob stories, nothing.”

“And you won’t give Mark a hard time?”

“Mark and I will be fine.”

*******

Wednesday, September 22

Mark met his father at the top of the stairs outside his mother’s room, and to his utter surprise, his dad held out a hand. Mark shook it as grieving fear took hold of him. “Is she . . . ?”

“They said it was a matter of days now.” His father glanced back toward the door. “She’s on a lot of medication. She’s kind of in and out.”

Mark nodded. “You tell her I was coming?”

He shook his head. “She didn’t want me to call you. Afraid your schoolwork would suffer.”

As if he had anything more important to do.

“I’m gonna grab her a glass of water and throw a load of her things in the laundry. Did you get the mail on your way in?”

“It’s on the table.”

“Thanks.” His dad stepped around him and headed down the stairs.

“Dad?”

“What?”

“We’ll get through this.”

His father shook his head and shuffled into the kitchen.

Mark pushed the bedroom door open, and his breath caught when he saw his mother, ashen-faced and motionless, propped up against a pillow. “Mom?”

“Mark? It’s not Friday, is it?”

“No, it’s Wednesday.”

“Your dad doesn’t listen.” She managed a smile.

“I’m glad he called me.”

She reached for his hand. “Your dad, he reads my Bible to me. I wish you could hear him.” Her eyelids drooped until they were only half open. “It’s the most beautiful thing. Mark.” She let out a dreamy sigh. “Would you let him read at your wedding?”

“My wedding?”

“You’re still dating the preacher’s daughter, aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah.”

“You love her?”

“I do.”

“See, you’re already practiced up on the ‘I do.’” She smiled again and rolled her eyes to look at him. “Don’t wait, Mark. Don’t wait until you’re older . . . or you’re more settled . . . or you have more money. There are no guarantees.”

“Mom, it’s a little—”

She managed another smile. “Your dad doesn’t know about her, does he?”

“It’s not like I’m trying to keep it a secret. It just never seemed like the right time to bring it up.”

“Practice then. Tell me about her. Tell me what you love about her.” She settled back against her pillow, her eyes drooping shut again.

“Um, well . . . She’s, uh, she’s pretty, of course, and smart. She listens to me.”

His mother nodded slightly. “Mmmm. You need that. Men need that. They need someone who believes in them . . . then they can do anything.”

“Did you believe in Dad?”

“Not like I should have. Look what’s he’s accomplished in spite of it. What if I’d been what he needed? What could he have done?” She reached for his hand and squeezed it gently. Her fingers were soft and cool. “With, uh, tell me her name again.”

“Julie. Julie Hammell.”

“With Julie behind you, there’ll be no stopping you. I wish I could have met her. I’m sure she’s wonderful.”

Mark smiled and nodded. “She is.” Julie Hammell was his ticket to respectability, acceptance, and purpose, and it didn’t hurt that she was crazy about him. “Does Dad know you want him to read?”

“He promised me today.”

“You pick out the passage?”

“First John, chapter four. Where it talks about love, God’s love for us. He read it today.” She sighed and closed her eyes. “‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear.’ It was beautiful. He has a beautiful voice . . . and he read it slow so he didn’t stumble.”

“Are you getting tired? I should let you rest.”

“No, stay. I have one for you too.”

“Something to read at my wedding?”

“No, a promise. I want you to make me a promise.” She squeezed his hand weakly again. “Promise me you won’t give up on him. Promise you’ll make sure your dad becomes a believer.”

“Mom, I can’t. He has to make that decision.”

“You have to tell him. You have to. It’s like in Ezekiel. You’re the watchman. If you don’t tell him . . . if he dies in his sins, Mark, we’re accountable. Maybe not responsible, but . . . Please tell me you won’t let that happen. I have nightmares—”

“I won’t, Mom. I’ll take care of it.” How could he not promise?

She relaxed against her pillow, apparently exhausted, and guilt closed off his throat. He couldn’t make his dad become a believer. He’d just lied to his mother on her deathbed.

“Talk to me,” she said without opening her eyes. “I love hearing you. I’m listening.”

Mark talked about his classes, his homework, the drive home, whatever he could think of, but the promise hung in the back of his mind. I’ll take care of it. How?

The more he talked, the more each word came with a keen awareness of every breath she took. If she passed without his father there at her side . . . God help them all.

*******

Friday, September 24

Doug rubbed his eyes and shifted in his chair. In the pale early morning light he squinted, trying to make sure Judy was still breathing. Finally, he reached his hand to her chest. It rose and fell in a slow, shallow rhythm. That reassurance was costly. Now he was afraid to pull his hand away for fear he’d miss the last one.

Ellen and Russell Carson had passed the night with him here, hovering over their only daughter. Of course they belonged here, had a right and a need to be here, but Doug hated it. When Ellen slipped out to get a quick shower, at least Russ left to make coffee, giving Doug these precious few moments alone with Judy.

“You’ve never answered anything I’ve ever asked,” he whispered. “But . . . I’ll do . . . anything. Or take me instead . . . Just . . . Don’t . . . You can fix this. I read those stories to her, I know what You can do . . . I need her. Take anything else of mine . . . Just not—”

Judy drew in two quick breaths and opened her eyes. “Doug?”

“I’m right here.” He slipped his hand around hers. “Right here.”

“I love you.” She labored to draw the corners of her mouth into a smile. “Mark . . . ?”

“He’s down the hall. He’ll be right here.”

“Were Mom and Dad . . . ?”

He nodded. “Your mom’s down in our bathroom getting a shower and your dad’s making a pot of coffee. They’ve been here the whole time.”

She closed her eyes. “You need . . . that.”

“Need what? Coffee?” he asked, daring to tease her in this moment.

She blinked slowly in place of a smile. “I heard . . . you pray.”

He felt himself flush with the shame of desperation. “I don’t think it did any good.”

“I pray . . . for you . . . and Mark. You need . . .”

You, he wanted to say. I need you, Judy.

“You need someone . . . someone who deserves to have you.” She squeezed his hand. “You . . . I love you. We will meet again. I have that peace.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can let go. You’ll . . .” Her hand relaxed, and everything inside Doug Bolling died.
I wrote down the wrong date for this book and have not had a chance to read it yet. I did read another book by this author recently that was excellent, so I can recommend her without hesitation.

Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Shattered Silence
Abingdon Press (September 2012)
by
Margaret Daley


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, Holt Medallion and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines, romantic suspense for Abingdon Press and historical romance for Summerside Press. She has sold eighty-three books to date.

Margaret is currently the President for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization of over 2300 members. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired a few years ago, she was a teacher of students with special needs for twenty-seven years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community as well as serving on her church’s vestry.

On a more personal note, she has been married for over forty years to Mike and has one son and four granddaughters. She treasures her time with her family and friends.



ABOUT THE BOOK

A serial killer is targeting illegal aliens in southern Texas. Texas Ranger Cody Jackson is paired with a local police officer, Liliana Rodriguez, to investigate the murders.

While the case brings Cody and Liliana ever closer, the tension between Americans and Mexican Americans heightens. As Cody and Liliana race to discover who is behind the murders and bring peace to the area, what they uncover isn't what they expected. Will Cody and Liliana's faith and love be strong enough to survive the storm of violence?

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

My review:
This is only the second book I have read by Margaret Daley, but I loved both of them. This is the second book in The Men of the Texas Rangers series, and it is even better than the first book. Margaret writes a terrific suspense novel while working in some romance and other themes. The topic of bullying and wife abuse are both dealt with, along with a father/son relationship.

I give this book the highest rating. The book is totally free of vular language and cursing, and the author delivers an awesome suspense novel while dealing with some big issues. The romance factor wasn't the main part of the book and only added to the story. With only this second book I have read of hers, Daley is becoming a favorite author of mine.

Tyndale Rewards Program

Tyndale Publishing started a new rewards program last month. By just signing up you can get points, then get more by posting review of their books, getting more people to sign up, etc. After you get so many points, you can get free product. Check it out at this link, and if you sign up through this link, I will get points for it: http://tyndalerewards.com/signup/?pc=3cc0-7k0l-f78d-r7sk

Monday, November 26, 2012

The 13: Fall, by Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed

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 (September 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Robbie Cheuvront is the worship/associate pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN, and cofounder of C&R Ministries with Erik Reed. He is also a songwriter and formerly tour with BNA recording artists, Lonestar who is best known for their crossover smash, “Amazed”, which was #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100. The band also won 1999 ACM’s Single of the Year” for “Amazed” as well as ACM’s Song of the Year award. Robbie is married to Tiffany and has two children, Cason and Hadyn, and is currently pursuing a theology degree.

Visit the author's website.

Erik Reed is the lead pastor and an elder of The Journey Church in Lebanon, TN. He graduated from Western Kentucky University with a BA in Religion Studies. He also graduated with his MDiv from Southern Seminary. Erik is married to Katrina, with two children, Kaleb and Kaleigh.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

When former black ops specialist turned CIA operative Jonathan Keene is summoned to the White House, he’s not sure what to expect. And neither does FBI agent Megan Taylor. Together they learn they’ll be working with a former military chaplain Boz Hamilton to track down a man claiming to bear a message from God about the imminent downfall of the United States. As the three of them traverse the country and the globe in search of the Prophet, they’re led deeper down a path of deception and dead ends. Suddenly they’re called to join a battle against an enemy no one saw coming. As the US is pushed into a situation it hasn’t seen since its inception, a conflict awaits that will test the foundations of the country…and force Keene to face a past and faith he’d rather leave buried. Can Keene—and America—survive?



Product Details:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616267690
ISBN-13: 978-1616267698



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


THE CLOCK ON THE WALL TICKED DOWN THE SECONDS
AS HE STARED INTO THE CAMERA.

This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change. Everyone’s life
would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could see
his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked off
the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”






Prologue
H i d a l g o C o u n t y S h e r i f f ’ s D e p a r t m e n t
E d i n b u r g , Te x a s , J u l y 2 , 2 0 2 5 ; 1 0 : 3 0 a . m .


Becky Sayers looked at the discolored, flat-screen plasma TV and silently
cursed her boss. “You’d think in this world of technology, we could find a
TV that wasn’t made before I was born,” she mumbled to no one. “I mean,
this thing’s not even in 3-D.” A rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond was
playing—the one in which Raymond fakes going to the doctor so he can
play golf. She’d seen it at least four times, but it was one of her favorites.


She pushed back from her desk and stretched her legs. The switchboard
had been quiet most of the afternoon. A few drunk-and-disorderlies and a
domestic dispute. The holiday weekend usually meant a boring few days
at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Department. But even though Hidalgo
County seemed like half a world away from Washington, DC, the impact of
the last two weeks’ events were being felt. It seemed that everyone was waiting
to see what would happen next.


The green light flashed on her board. She placed the earpiece in
her ear and said, “Thank you for calling the Hidalgo County Sheriff ’s
Department. This is Becky. . . .”


The caller made her complaint and hung up abruptly. Her neighbors
were setting off illegal fireworks; could a deputy come by and take care of it?
All of south Texas had experienced a horrible drought these last few months.
The governor had issued a decree, suspending all fireworks throughout the
entire state. Residents weren’t happy, but they understood. Brushfires this
time of year were common and could lead to damage in the billions of dollars.


Becky keyed her microphone. “Roy, this is Becky. I need you to go out
to Ms. Dobson’s farm, out on Highway 83. Neighbor kids are shootin’ off
sparklers or something.”
She waited for the grumpy complaint that was sure to come. Roy
hated dealing with neighborly disputes. He always tried to pawn them off
on one of the other deputies.
Nothing.
“Roy, this is Becky—come in.”
Nothing.
“Roy! I ain’t playing! Pick up that radio or else!”
Still nothing.
She switched over to another channel. She couldn’t figure why one
of her deputies would switch channels, but she was starting to get a little
worried. Roy was dependable, if nothing else. He’d never not answered a
call while he was out in the field.
“Roy, this is Becky. You change channels on me to try and get some
R and R?”
Nothing.
Now she was getting worried. She switched the channel back. “Clay,
this is dispatch. Check in—over.”
Nothing.
“Marcus, check in—over.”
Nothing.
She walked down the hall and found her boss, told him what was
going on, and waited for a response. He told her not to worry. It was probably
just weather related. “Probably a sunspot or something, messin’ with
the radios,” he said. “Try again in a few minutes.”
Back at her desk, she waited, watching the end of the show. As the
credits rolled she picked up her microphone. After five minutes of going
through the motions again, she decided this was no sunspot.
She grabbed the phone and called the Cameron County Sheriff ’s
office—the next county over. She told them what was going on and asked
if they were having any trouble. Gina, the dispatcher over there, said none
of her deputies had checked in or returned back to HQ either.
Becky hung up and called Star, Zapata, and Webb Counties. All three
reported the same goings-on. At that point, she dismissed paranoia and
called the state police. She was told that they, too, had a few officers who
weren’t responding, but all of the state police vehicles were equipped with
GPS and were being located as they spoke. The young man at state police
HQ offered to send a few officers her way to check on her deputies as well.
She thanked him and told him where her deputies were last known to be.


July 4, 2025; 12:00 p.m.
Becky stood in front of her fourth TV camera in the last hour and told
her story again. This time it was Fox. NBC and CBS had already been by.


The mysterious disappearance of her deputies two days ago was making
national news. Several sheriff ’s deputies, border patrol agents, and state
and local police officers had all turned up dead, all across the border towns
in Texas. Over the last two days, New Mexico and Arizona had reported
similar tragedies.
Becky was one of the first to discover the disappearances across the
border, therefore she was a hot commodity with the news anchors.
The pretty, blond reporter smiled and nodded as Becky told her story.
She opened her mouth—Becky figured she was about to ask another
question—and then slapped her hand over her left earbud. Her smiled
faded and gave way to a look of disbelief, shock, then horror. Tears filled
her eyes and her face turned ashen. Her arm dropped to her side, taking
the microphone with it.
“What’s wrong?” Becky had never seen a television personality act like
this.
The reporter turned to her, eyes wide. She moved her mouth but
nothing came out.
Becky grabbed the woman by her shoulders and shook her. “Hey,
what’s wrong?”
The reporter looked at Becky blankly and said, “Bomb. . . They’re all
dead.” Her knees gave out, and she slumped to the hard, dry ground.
Becky ran back inside to the flat-screen TV.


Hidalgo County, Texas
July 4, 2025; 11:30 a.m.
Jonathan Keene pulled his car off the road onto the dirt path, according
to the directions he’d been given. After a mile, he came to the fork in the
road. Up ahead, on the left, there stood the house.
He parked the car, got out, and surveyed the area. Nothing. No sign
of anyone. The house was a typical single-family home. It needed a coat
of paint, and the railing on the front porch had seen better days. The lawn
was unkempt, but a somewhat new-looking satellite dish sat mounted on
the corner of the roof.
Walking into the house, he noticed the reflection of light coming
from the hillside off to his left. He waited ten minutes. Then, as per his
instructions, he left through the back door and walked slowly up the hill
toward the reflection.
Once at the top, he got to his knees, placed his hands behind his head,
and interlocked his fingers. This was the unsettling part. Out in the open.
No cover. The sun blazing in his eyes. The wind blowing dust everywhere.
It was hard to see anything past twenty feet. He did feel better, though,
knowing that strapped to his back, under his loose shirt, was his Glock
9mm. It lay inches from his fingertips.
After nothing for five minutes, he heard the faint hum of motorcycle
engines. Within seconds he was surrounded by a half dozen, armed
Mexicans. One, covered with tattoos and a scar across his left cheek,
moved toward him. According to the description he’d been given, this was
his informant.
“Hola,” the young man said. “Welcome to Mexico.”
Though the walk uphill had been a short one, Keene knew that in
doing so, he’d illegally crossed the invisible border into the gangbanger’s
country.
“Gracias.” Keene shifted uncomfortably and squinted upward. “You
must be Hector.”
“Do I need to search you?”
“Not unless you want to find the nine mil I got strapped to my back,”
Keene said.
Hector laughed. “Stand up.”
“So what’s so important that you need to talk to the CIA?”
“Follow me.” Hector began walking down the hill toward the house.
Keene followed the men back into the house, thankful to be back on
sovereign US soil.
“I know what happened to those sheriff ’s deputies,” Hector said.
“Yeah, so. Call the police.”
“Nah, CIA, la policía don’t want none of this.”
“None of what?”
“That’s a nice watch. Where was that made? China?”
“Yeah,” Keene said. “What’s that have to do with anything?”
“Lots of stuff in your country made by China.”
“Yeah, so?”
“Funny thing. In the last two months, I been seeing lots of Chinese
people ’round here.”
“Maybe they like the food.”
“Maybe,” Hector answered. “But these Chinese been coming in
droves. In big military trucks. From down south.”
“Interesting.” Keene gave this some thought.
“You want to know what’s really interesting?”
Keene shrugged.
“These Chinese, they got guns.”
“So?”
“And tanks. And airplanes.”
“What?”
“You heard me. They got an army down here. They been bringing it
up here to the border for the last two months.”
“Impossible. We would’ve known about it,” Keene said. This guy was
unnerving him.
“You wanna know what happened to your cops? About three hundred
Chinese foot soldiers, with automatic weapons, crossed your border and
took them out. I got boys all up and down the border saying they see it,
man. Now, I don’t know what’s up with a hundred thousand Chinese
being in my—”
“What did you say? How many?”
“From what I hear, about a hundred thousand.”
Keene’s jaw went slack. There was no way a hundred thousand Chinese
soldiers were living across the border without the United States knowing
about it. Something was wrong.
“You look like you seen a ghost.”
“Why are you telling me this? Why now? Why not two months ago?”
“ ’Cause two months ago, I couldn’ta cared less. You Americans don’t
know what goes on down here. You come to your vacation spots and get
treated like kings. Then you go back home and don’t care what happens
to the rest of us. Well, guess what? These Chinese start showing up and
doing nice things for our communities. Nobody says anything ’cause they
like it. Then, without warning, they start taking over. And our policía don’t
care. They getting paid off. Next thing I know, I start seeing guns, tanks,
and fighter planes. And then they come into town and line up five men
and shoot them in the head. They say, anyone talks or tries to do anything,
they kill the whole town.”
“This is—this is ridiculous!” Keene said. “I don’t know what your
game is, but this isn’t funny. You could get into a lot of trouble—”
“I ain’t playin’!” Hector shouted angrily. “They kill my little brother,
man! And something bad is about to happen! I’m telling you as a favor.”
He hung his head and wiped his eyes. “I don’t know why your government
don’t know about this, CIA, but I’m telling you. Someone had to mess up
big to miss this.”
Keene stood there dumbfounded. There was no way this could be
true. An entire army couldn’t march on the United States’ border and not
be detected. He had to call Jennings. He reached for his phone and felt the
buzz against his leg. He looked at the display. Funny, he thought.
“I was just getting ready to call you,” he spoke into the mouthpiece.
“Get back here immediately,” his boss, Kevin Jennings, ordered.
“Yeah, about that,” Keene said, “I think I need to stay here awhile.
I need to check something out.”
“No, you need to get back here immediately. Turn on the TV.”
“What’s happened?”
“Just do it!” came the reply.
Keene pushed past the group of men and pushed the button on the
television sitting on a makeshift stand. It only took a few moments for him
and the others to see what was happening.
Every channel had interrupted programming, now covering the
breaking news. Plumes of black smoke rose into the sky from devastated
buildings. Bridges and highways melted into a pile of searing red metal.
Ash and debris covered the entire landscape. Cars were turned over and
blown to bits. Then the camera changed. A new city. Same result. Then
another. Then another. Finally the images ended. The cameras returned
to the news station. A disheveled-looking man in blue jeans and a sweater
sat in front of the camera. He opened his mouth and said the words that
would change the course of history.
“Ladies and gentlemen, less than ten minutes ago, the entire West
Coast of the United States of America was attacked. It appears to be a
nuclear strike. Every major city from San Diego to Seattle. The death toll
has to be in the millions. . . .”



Chapter 1
Two Weeks Earlier
The man sat in front of the small camera, rehearsing what he was about to
say. Behind him, the wall was dotted with computer monitors, all displaying
different news websites, with the screens zoomed in showing today’s
date. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his cheek as he bit into his
lower lip, trying to calm himself. He was moments away from doing something
that couldn’t be undone.
He’d wrestled with himself the last three days, knowing what would
happen if he didn’t do as he was instructed. He’d cried out in desperation,
begging that he wouldn’t have to be the one. He’d even tried to bargain his
way out of it. But it was no use. This would be done. If not him then someone
else. But no. It was his charge. Given to him with explicit instructions.
He would be obedient and do as he was instructed.
The clock on the wall ticked down the seconds as he stared into
the camera. This was it. In a matter of minutes, his life would change.
Everyone’s life would change.
He rehearsed his lines, though he knew them by heart. There would be
no teleprompter. There would be no script. There would only be him. And
the camera, of course. And the person who would receive this message.
A small television sat off to the side, monitoring the feed. He could
see his image staring back at him. He watched as the second hand ticked
off the final seconds. Tick. Tick. And then it was time.
The red light above the lens flicked on. With the remote in his hand,
he zoomed in and watched the monitor. This was it. No turning back.
He closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath and let it out
again. His heart was pounding through his chest. He opened his eyes and
set his jaw firm. And then he began.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”


Chapter 2
The sun had begun to set over Washington, DC, as the streets bustled
with the commuters going home from work. Slivering rays of light pierced
their way through the buildings, making way for the cool early summer
breeze that wound its way off the Potomac and into the city streets. Soon
the breeze would give way to the hot midsummer. Soon you would be able
to see, as well as feel, the heat wafting up from the pavement, making DC
inhabitants wistful for the pleasantries of June.
The president was just a few minutes away from giving his highly anticipated
speech on health-care reform. Rarely did a president call together both
chambers of Congress for the purpose of an address to the nation outside of
the State of the Union address. But since President Calvin Grant had taken
office, it had been one of his major priorities to put an end to all of the
infighting with the health-care industry once and for all. This speech was
to be the exclamation point at the end of a three-year, grueling bipartisan
reform effort. Though it was no secret that the president had been working
on the new policy, details of it were. The only thing that had been leaked
so far had been the fact that President Grant had successfully achieved what
none of his three predecessors could, a comprehensive bill with regulation
that all parties agreed upon. Outside of that, not even a hint of what was
to come had been available, which had every news anchor and pundit both
frustrated and in anticipation.
The news anchors outside the Capitol seemed to be in deep conversation
with their cameras, floating their ideas and predictions of what was to
come. And then, as if being led by a conductor, they all nodded in unison,
each to his respective camera, signifying the president’s speech was about
to begin.
Inside the chamber of the House of Representatives, significant leaders,
from both parties, lined the aisleway, hoping to get a photo opportunity
with President Grant as he passed by. The room, as was typical for this
sort of event, was a cacophony of noise as everyone continued conversations
and settled in. Finally the outer doors to the House chamber swung
open, and the sergeant at arms entered. Immediately the room quieted, as
if someone flipped a switch. Then came the announcement.
“Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States!”
As was traditional, the room was again flooded with noise as the members
of the Senate and House, along with everyone else in attendance,
stood and applauded as the president slowly made his way to the floor of
the chamber, shaking hands, signing autographs, and posing for pictures
along the way. Finally, with the business of being sociable behind him,
President Grant held his hands up to quiet the almost eight-minute opening
ovation.
Only a few moments later and the speech was in full swing, and the
president had wasted no time in commanding the attention of the entire
nation. So far, the speech had lived up to its expectations. With the news
of his wife being diagnosed with cancer only a few weeks earlier, he was
expected to deliver a stunning blow to the health-care reformers. And with
the content of the speech being perhaps the closest-kept secret in all of
Washington, the entire room, as well as the rest of the country waited
on bated breath to hear what the president had to say. That and the fact
that President Grant was thought of as perhaps one of the most beloved
presidents in recent history, it was a sure bet that this address would go on
record as being one of the most viewed events in all of television history,
not just presidential history.
Homes all across the country were tuning in to hear what the president
would say. Ratings were already pouring in from all over the country.
Indeed, this was already a record-setting event. Within the first ten minutes,
the reports were already surpassing the collective quarterly ratings.
President Calvin Grant had the nation waiting on bated breath for his
next thought.
The speech was just over forty-five minutes when, just as promised,
President Grant landed his final blow. The news was simple. He had already
been working with members of Congress and had the support needed to
change the health-care system. His plan would strip away the potential for
many of the frivolous lawsuits that plagued the industry. New law was being
introduced to allow Americans unprecedented access to good health insurance.
And there were major stipulations being put on the insurance companies,
regulating how they underwrote policies and collected revenue. No
longer would there be massive abuses, deterioration of services, and rising
costs. The message was simple. There was about to be a complete overhaul
of the American medical system. An overhaul that would eliminate the
government-run policies of previous administrations and give the medical
field back to the private sector, but with some “seat belts,” as President Grant
liked to call it.
The speech ended in thunderous applause. And though there had
been some lines drawn previously in the speech between parties, the final
five minutes brought both sides of the chamber to their feet in rousing
cheers.
After the speech, President Grant made his way through the chamber,
once again pausing for photos and signing autographs. He tried to be as
pleasant as he could, but there were bigger things on his mind right now.
Tess, his wife, was at home, lying in bed. He wanted nothing more than to
get home and see how she felt.
After another fifteen minutes of meet-and-greet obligations, he finally
excused himself, reminding everyone where he really needed to be right
now. He asked the Secret Service agent in charge of his detail to make
ready the motorcade. He wanted to leave in the next few minutes.
The drive back to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was quiet. He waved to
the guard as the car passed through the security entrance. Once inside, he
headed straight upstairs to the private residence.
Tess was lying in bed and greeted him with a huge smile.
“You were amazing, Calvin. I’m so proud of you.”
“Nah,” he brushed it off. “Just a bunch of no-good politicians trying
to make things worse is all we are!”
“I wish I could’ve been there.”
“Me, too, Tess,” he said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. He took
her hand in his and kissed it gently. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” she said.
“I’ll leave you to rest,” he said, standing back up. “Besides, I’m going
to go surf the net and see all the good stuff they’re saying about me!” He
winked.
Tess smiled back at him and said, “Don’t stay up too late. You need
your rest.”
“Look who’s talking.”
He left her to sleep and stepped into his private office. He sat down and
turned on the monitor to wake up the computer. In just a few moments,
the desktop came alive. He opened a browser window and typed in his
search. Already, there were over twenty-five thousand results for his speech.
He was looking down the list when he heard a ding. His private e-mail.
He assumed it was one of his staff, congratulating him on a successful
speech. He decided to check it because, well, he thought at least one
positive response would be nice before he started sifting through all the
negative ones.
Opening the mail server he saw the new message. There was no
subject. There was no return address. He didn’t think much of it, so he
double-clicked the icon and watched it open. It was a video. And it definitely
wasn’t from one of his staff. But he was afraid that he knew who this
was. And what this was about. He had heard from this man before. Just
not like this. How did you get into my private e-mail? he thought. He stared
at the still image of the man on the screen. Should he call for Agent Green?
Should he just step away from the computer and not touch anything? No,
he decided. He wanted to see it. He pushed Play.
The man sat still on a stool and stared into the camera. A bead of sweat
rolled down his forehead and clung to the top of the bandana that covered
every inch of his face below the eyes. He wore a plain, long-sleeved, white
T-shirt and blue jeans. His shoes were everyday work boots. All in all, a
very nondescript, average-looking man—with the exception of the face, of
course. Behind him stood a white wall with what appeared to be computer
monitors with websites showing today’s date.
A few seconds, which might as well have been hours, passed as the
strange man closed his eyes and took a deep breath. As he opened his eyes
again, he began to speak.
“Good evening, Mr. President. I am the Prophet. And I have been
commanded to give you a message.”
The man swallowed hard and then continued, “I am a servant of the
Lord Most High. And I have been instructed to warn you. Since the days
of our forefathers, the United States has become a prosperous nation,
strong in her defenses. She has done great moral things in the name of
peace and freedom. She has been an open door for those who are in search
of something greater. And she has brought stability to the world.”
The man blinked hard and wiped the sweat from his brow.
“But,” he continued, “‘I have this against you,’ says the Lord. ‘That
you have abandoned the love you had at first.’
“Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to
destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations
will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the
moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the
wicked for their iniquity; I will put an end to the pomp of the arrogant,
and lay low the pompous pride of the ruthless. I will make people more
rare than fine gold, and mankind than the gold of Ophir. Therefore I will
make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place, at
the wrath of the Lord of hosts in the day of his fierce anger. Behold, my
anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast,
upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not
be quenched.’
“Yet fourteen days, and the United States shall be overthrown!”
My review:

This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year, and given how many I have read, that is saying a lot. This is the second book by these two authors. I had the privilege of reading and reviewing their first book, The Guardian last year. It was a great book, but they have put out and even greater read with this one.

The 13: Fall is the first in a series, and hopefully the second book isn't too far away. The word awesome gets overused, but this is truly an awesome read. It is a suspenseful read, but not in the mystery sense. There is a lot of political intrigue, military action, and drama in the book. As entertaining and riveting as the book is, it is also sobering and scary to imagine the events in the book really could happen.

We as a nation have forgotten God, and are voting in politicians who have no use for Him. We can't keep going on the way we are going without having a day of reckoning. I am of the mind that the same Chinese who own most of our debt are not our friend and could turn on us. This book, though fictional, paints a scary, yet realistic picture of what could happen to America if we keep going on the way we are.

And yes, though the book does paint a scary picture, I loved the book. It is definitely worth reading, and is one of those fiction books that people will enjoy who don't normally read it. I would give it 5 out of 5 stars and wouldn't change anything in it. The authors have created some great characters and woven a terrific political plot around them. I can't wait to pick up the story in book two.

Thanks to Barbour Books and FIRST for the review copy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Free From Guilt by Pat Simmons

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Free From Guilt
Lift Every Voice; New Edition edition (September 20, 2012)
by
Pat Simmons


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Pat Simmons is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth. She is passionate about digging up the dirt on her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels. She has been a genealogy enthusiast since her great-grandmother died at the young age of ninety-seven years old.

She has won numerous awards for her previous novels and was voted the Best Inspirational Romance for 2010. She was also a nominee for the African American Literary Award’s best Christian fiction award. Pat is best known for her Guilty series. The Jamieson Family Legacy trilogy: Guilty by Association, Guilt Trip and Free From Guilt is a continuation of first three Guilty Series books and the of the story of the much-loved Grandma B.B character and her new sidekick, Mrs. Valentine.

Pat and her husband live in Missouri and have two children.



ABOUT THE BOOK

The Jamieson Family Legacy series follows the lives of the two Jamieson brothers in Boston, Kidd and Ace and their cousin Cameron from St. Louis. Kidd, the older brother, is struggling with anger and resentment issues toward his absentee father who never married his mother, but had the audacity to demand his illegitimate sons carry his last name Jamieson. Ace, on the other hand, is on a collision course with disaster as he shows how much a "chip off the old block" he is when it comes to women. Their highly educated MIT graduate cousin, Cameron Jamieson, is all about saving his family from self-destruction. Through genealogy research, Cameron's mission is to show his cousins their worth as eleventh generation descendants of a royal African tribe and give them a choice: to be angry black men or accept the challenge to become strong successful black men.

In Free From Guilt the third book in the Jamieson Legacy, Cameron, cousin to Kidd and Ace, has it all: the looks, money and tbrains. An MIT double degree graduate and lecturer, he is a genius. No amount of knowledge or wisdom however can convince him of the simplicity of God's love and the gift of salvation. He believes it's much more complicated than those men preaching from an outdated book lead others to believe. It's simply going to take more to make a believer out of him. And, he's not alone in this thinking.

Beatrice "Tilley" Beacon, aka Grandma BB is a seventy-something, childless widow who is young at heart and full of life. Her antics are legendary among her surrogate family, the Jamiesons, her five hundred facebook fans and the local law enforcement, to whom she is known as the neighborhood one-woman militia crime task force. The Jamieson's always thought they were a unified front to draw Grandma BB to Christ. But when Cameron, her surrogate grandson and the youngest of their clan, returns to spend time with the family in St. Louis, he immediately takes Grandma BB's position that life is to be enjoyed to the fullest. There's always time to repent ...later.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Free From Guilt, go HERE.