Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury

Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury
Reviewed by Mark Buzard
Fiction Addict Blog Tours
Genre: Drama
Publisher: Howard Books
Pub Date: October 29, 2013

Karen Kingsbury’s new book asks the question: What Would You Sacrifice For Fame? 

(Synopsis from Zack Dylan made a promise to God and his college sweetheart as he left his family’s horse farm in Kentucky to compete on the popular reality television show Fifteen Minutes: If he makes it, the fame won’t change him. 

Overnight, Zack is the nation’s most popular contestant, a country singer with the looks and voice of a young Elvis. As his star rises, Zack is asked to compromise and quiet his beliefs, and also something more. Something Zack could never have imagined. Just as America is falling in love with Zack, just as he’s on the verge of winning it all, his choices lead him to the brink of personal disaster. 

At the same time, Reese Weatherly, a therapeutic horse instructor, is no longer sure about her relationship with Zack, or the wedding they had dreamed about. While Zack advances from one round of the competition to the next, an offer comes to Reese—one that will take her to a home halfway around the world. 

Then Chandra Olson—reigning diva pop star and one of the Fifteen Minutes judges—intervenes. Chandra has suffered so much public pain and private agony since her days as a Fifteen Minutes contestant. Now she wants just one thing: meaning. 

Can Chandra’s private losses help Zack find his way, or will his fifteen minutes of fame cause him to lose the life he once loved? Fifteen Minutes is a story of character, compromise, and the cost of having it all. A story that raises the question: Who are the real winners? 
My review:
    I haven't read many Karen Kingsbury books for a while, but I had been checking this one out and thinking about reading it. When I got a chance to review it, I jumped for it, and am glad I did.
    I enjoyed the book a lot. So many Christian fiction books center on female characters, and the Christian fiction market is mostly a women's market. This book, though written by a woman, centered on a young man, so admittedly that helped me get into the story more than had it been the usual female lead. And no, I have nothing against female leads in a story, its just easier to relate to a character of the same gender.
   The plot involves a young Christian guy trying out for an American Idol type competition. I am not at all into American Idol, nor anything close, but it made for a fascinating plot. The story was very entertaining, and I really liked the main character, but it also brought out the dangers of popularity and money for a Christian. I felt Karen gave a great look into what it must be like to be on a show like that, and the affect it can have on anyone, but especially a young guy trying to live a life pleasing to God.
  Sometimes with a book like this, it can seem a bit unrealistic, but I didn't feel that with this book. Karen took a very ordinary character with a talent, and showed the what it takes to get on a reality vocal show.
  I walked away having enjoyed a great book, but also with the sober reminder of how easy it is to get off track spiritually, and how even small choices can affect the big picture. I would highly recommend this book. It is definitely worth reading.
About the author:
No. 1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America's favorite inspirational
novelist. There are nearly 20 million copies of her award-winning books in print, including several million copies sold in the past year. Karen has written more than 50 novels, ten of which have hit #1 on national lists.
Karen's newest novel, COMING HOME - The Baxter Family - releases June 26 and is the subject of much buzz on Karen's active Facebook page, where she had more than 250,000 friends. There is also great anticipation over THE BRIDGE, Karen's much-anticipated first hardback release with her new publisher - Simon & Schuster's Howard Books. THE BRIDGE is a love story set against the demise of the American bookstore.

In addition, Karen has ventured into the area of short pieces with her new non-fiction series - KAREN KINGSBURY, THE REST OF THE STORY. Her first piece, I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, has touched the hearts of tens of thousands of readers interested in knowing more about Karen's personal life and the motivation behind her Life-Changing Fiction (TM). I CAN ONLY IMAGINE shares the story of Karen's brother, his struggles, and his quest for redemption.

Karen's novel LIKE DANDELION DUST is the subject of a major motion picture currently in theaters. Like Dandelion Dust stars Academy Award winning Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper, along with Cole Hauser and Maxwell Perry Cotton. The film has received more than 30 awards in the Film Festival Circuit including numerous Best Picture awards. Several of Karen's books are currently under theatrical development.

Karen's most recent series - the Bailey Flanigan Series, wrapped up in March. Coming Home - The Baxter Family - is a stand-alone novel about John Baxter's 70th Birthday and the tragedy that happens during June, 2010 with Take Four. The series is about two producers looking to change the world with the power of film. The Above the Line series also includes Karen's popular characters from the fictitious Baxter Family. The Baxters were first introduced to readers through the five-book Redemption series, and then the five-book Firstborn series, and finally the four-book Sunrise series.

Dubbed by Time Magazine as the Queen of Christian Fiction, Karen has also been a featured guest on the Today Show, Fox News, USA Today, and numerous other television programs and magazines. Her fiction has made her one of the country's favorite storytellers. Others of her emotionally gripping titles include the 9-11 Series, Even Now, Ever After, and Between Sundays.

Karen is also a public speaker, reaching more than 100,000 women annually through various national events. Karen and her husband, Don, live in Nashville, TN with their five sons, three of whom are adopted from Haiti. Their daughter Kelsey is an actress who has appeared in several Christian films. She is newly married to Christian recording artist Kyle Kupecky. The two also live in Nashville.

Fifteen Minutes is available to purchase from 

Note: I received this book as part of the Fifteen Minutes blog tour from Fiction Addict. I received no compensation for this review and only received a copy of the book for review purposes.  Review copy provided by the publisher.
Book trailer:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gunpower Tea by Margaret Brownley, and a chance to win a Kindle Fire

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom---an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch.

But she isn't the only one at the ranch with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggart is working undercover as well. Their true identities may be a secret, but it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the sparks flaring between them.

Neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn't removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they get to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets---and no one on the ranch is safe.

The longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers---and their lives---depend on solving this case. Love will just have to wait.

My review:
   This is a book that I almost passed on, as I thought it was just romance, which I normally don't review. I then noticed the gun being held behind the woman's back, and read the description. It sounded close enough to my favorite genre' of suspense, that I requested it, and I am glad that I did.

  If you're wanting a nail biting suspense novel that has you hiding under the covers, this book isn't for you. However, if you're looking for a fun read that has undercover lawmen in the days of the Old West, with some romance thrown in, this book is for you. Even I, the anti-romance guy, didn't mind the romance part of the book. It added to the book and made the interaction between the two main characters all the more interesting and fun.

  On the other hand, if you steer completely clear of books where there are bad guys who are trying to do bad things, you might not enjoy this book.... but the Bible has that. :-)

   This truly was a book I enjoyed reading. It wasn't as suspenseful and nail biting as the suspense novels I usually read, but it was a great change from that. I quickly found myself engrossed in the story, and though I had intended to read part of it and finish it later, I read the book in its entirety.

  This is the third book in a series, but I didn't feel I missed anything by not reading the other two books. It would appear at least this third one, and maybe all three, can stand alone. It also would appear this is the only one of  the three that would be classified as mystery/suspense. I would recommend this book even to those who don't read suspense. It is not a scary book, but a very enjoyable, light suspense novel.

About the author:

    Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this---except Grieving God's Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing, has won much critical acclaim. She is currently working on the third book in her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter at the time. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction." So that's what Margaret did. She's now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit. Her first non-fiction book,
For more information, visit

Margaret Brownley's latest release, Gunpowder Tea, is receiving high praise, and she's celebrating with a Kindle Fire giveaway and a "Tea with Margaret" Facebook party!


  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at the "Tea with Margaret" Facebook Author Chat Party on the 7th. Connect with Margaret and friends for an evening of book chat, prizes, and get an exclusive look at Margaret's next book!

So grab your copy of Gunpowder Tea and join Margaret on the evening of November 7th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN at the event page. Spread the word — tell your friends about the giveaway and party via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on 11/7!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I, Saul by Jerry Jenkins

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)

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


Jerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist (Left Behind Series) and biographer (Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Joe Gibbs and many more), with over 70 million books sold. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and he has been featured on the cover of Newsweek.

Visit the author's website.


A MURDERER who would change the WORLD
From multi-million copy best-selling novelist Jerry Jenkins comes a compelling international thriller that conveys you from present-day Texas to a dank Roman dungeon in A.D. 67, then down the dusty roads of ancient Israel, Asia, and back to Rome.

A young seminary professor, Augustine Knox, is drawn into a deadly race to save priceless parchments from antiquities thieves and discovers a two- thousand-year old connection with another who faced death for the sake of the truth. I, Saul consists of two riveting adventures in one, transporting you between the stories of Augustine Knox and Saul of Tarsus.

Filled with political intrigue, romance, and rich historical detail, I, Saul is a thrilling tale of loyal friendships tested by life-or-death quests, set two millennia apart, told by a master storyteller.

Product Details:
List Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (August 27, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1617950068
ISBN-13: 978-1617950063


Tor n

T E x AS


“call now. desper8.”
The text appeared on Dr. Augie Knox’s phone at 8:55 a.m., seconds before he was to turn it off—protocol for profs entering a classroom at Arlington Theological Seminary.
Augie could have fired off a “give me a minute,” but the message was not signed and the sending number matched nothing in his contacts. The prefix 011-39-06 meant Rome. He’d traveled extensively in his thirty-eight years and enjoyed many visits to the Eternal City, but such a text could easily portend one of those I’ve-been-mugged-and-need- money scams. Whatever this was could wait until he got the Systematic Theology final exam started and could step into the hall with his phone.
Augie had long been fascinated by his students’ nervous chatter before

final exams. One announced, “I looked you up in Who’s Who, Doc, and I
know your full name.”
“Congratulations for discovering something you could have found in your student handbook four years ago.”
“No! That just says Dr. Augustine A. Knox! I found out what the A
stands for.”
“Good for you. Now, a few instructions . . .”
“Aquinas! Augustine Aquinas Knox! Man, what other career choice did you have?”
“Thank you for revealing the thorn in my flesh. If you must know, that moniker was my father’s idea.” Augie mimicked his dad’s monotone basso. “‘Names are important.They can determine a life’s course.’”
Many students chuckled, having sat under the elder Dr. Knox before he fell ill the year before.
“It also says you were adopted. Sorry, but it’s published.” “No secret,” Augie said.
Another hand shot up.“Was that a hint about the exam? Will we be speculating on Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”
“He’s only mentioned that mystery every class,” another said.
Augie held up a hand. “I trust you’re all prepared for any eventual-

“So, what’s your dad’s name?”
“Ed!” someone called out. “Everybody knows that.” “Look it up,” Augie said. “You may find it revealing.”
With blue books distributed, Augie slipped out and turned on his
phone.The plea from Rome had already dropped to third on his message list. At the top was a voice mail from Dr. Moore, who had been filling in as acting department chair since Augie’s father had been hospitalized with a stroke.

Augie would have checked that one first, but next was a voice mail from Sofia Trikoupis, his heart. It was eight hours later in Athens, after five in the afternoon. “Call me at the end of your day,” her message said. “I’ll wait up.” It would be midnight her time by then, but she apparently needed his undivided attention. That would bug him all day. How he longed for them to be together.
His phone vibrated. Rome again. “urgent. call now, pls!” Augie pressed his lips together, thumbing in, “who’s this?” “trust me. begging.”
“not w/out knowing who u r.”
Augie waited more than a minute for a response, then snorted. As I
figured. But as he headed back into the classroom, his phone buzzed again. “zionist.”
Augie stopped, heat rising in his neck. He quickly tapped in, “90 minutes OK?”
“now! critical.”
Few people had been more important in Augie’s life than Roger Michaels, the diminutive fifty-year-old South African with a James Earl Jones voice and a gray beard that seemed to double the size of his pale, gnomish face. Augie would never lead a tour of an ancient city without Roger as the guide.
“2 mins,” Augie texted.
He rushed to his father’s old office, which still bore the senior Dr. Knox’s nameplate on the door. Augie knocked and pushed it open.“Les, I need a favor.”
Dr. Moore took his time looking up from his work. “Number one, Dr. Knox, I did not invite you in.”
“Sorry, but—”
“Number two, I have asked that you refer to me as Dr. Moore.”

“My bad again, but listen—”
“And number three,” the acting chair said, making a show of study- ing his watch, “we both know that at this very moment you are to be conducting—”
“Dr. Moore, I have an emergency call to make and I need you to stand in for me for a few minutes.”
Moore sighed and rose, reaching for his suit coat.“I know what that’s about.Take all the time you need.”
Augie followed him down the hall. “You do?” “You didn’t get my message?”
“Oh, no, sorry. I saw one was there, but I—”
“But you assumed other messages were more important. I said we needed to chat after your first exam.”
“Well, sure, I’ll be here.”
“Part of what we need to discuss is your father. Is that what your call is about?”
“What about my father?” “We’ll talk at ten.”
“But is he—”
“There have been developments, Dr. Knox. But he is still with us.” As Dr. Moore headed for the classroom, Augie ducked into a stair-
well, away from the windows and the relentless sun forecasters were saying would push the temperature at least twenty degrees above normal by 2:00 p.m., threatening the 107° record for the month.
Augie wasn’t getting enough signal strength to complete his call, so he hurried back out to the corridor. Cell coverage was still weak, so he stepped outside. It had to be near 90° already. Scalp burning, he listened as the number rang and rang.
Augie moved back inside for a minute, braced by the air condition-

ing, then ventured out to try again. He waited two minutes, tried once more, and felt he had to get back to class.
On a third attempt, as he neared the entrance, it was clear someone had picked up a receiver and hung up. Augie dialed twice more as he walked back to take over for Dr. Moore. Just before he reached the class- room, his phone came alive again with a text.
“sorry. later. trash ur phone. serious.”
Augie couldn’t make it compute. Had his phone been traced? Tapped? If he got a new one, how would Roger know how to reach him?
Dr. Moore stood just inside the classroom door and emerged imme- diately when he saw Augie. “Talk to your mother?” he said.
“No, should I?”
Moore sighed and opened his palms. “You interrupt my work and don’t check on your father?”
Augie reached for his cell again, but hesitated. If he used it, would he be exposing his mother’s phone too?
“Call her after we’ve talked, Dr. Knox. Now I really must get back to my own responsibilities.”
It was all Augie could do to sit still till the end of class. Before get- ting back to Dr. Moore, he dropped off the stack of blue books in his own office and used the landline to call his contact at Dallas Theolog- ical Seminary, just up the road. Arlington Sem sat equidistant between DTS to the east and the massive Southwestern Baptist Seminary to the west. Arlington was like the stepchild no one ever talked about, a single building for a couple of hundred students, struggling to stay alive in the shadows of those two renowned institutions.When Augie needed some- thing fast, he was more likely to get it from the competition. Such as a new phone.
Like his father before him, Augie was the travel department at

Arlington. No auxiliary staff handled logistics as they did at DTS and Southwestern. The head techie at Dallas was Biff Dyer, a string bean of a man a few years older than Augie with an Adam’s apple that could apply for statehood. He could always be counted on to program Augie’s phone, depending on what country he was traveling to.
“Calling from your office phone, I see,” Biff said. “What happened to the cell I got you?”
“It’s been compromised.”
Biff chuckled. “Like you’d know.What makes you think so?” “I need a new one.Trust me.”
“I’ll just switch out the chip.You’re not gonna find a better phone. How soon you need it?”
“Fast as possible.”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me? I’m not deliverin’ it. Can you come by during normal hours?”
There was a knock at Augie’s door and he wrenched around to see
Les Moore’s scowl. “Gotta go, Biff.”
“Sorry, Les. On my way right now. Or do you want to just meet here?” “Here would not be any more appropriate than your insisting on our being on a first-name basis,” Dr. Moore said, scanning the tiny chamber in which the guest chair was folded in a corner and brought out only
when necessary.
“C’mon, Les. You were only a couple years ahead of me. We hung out, didn’t we?”
“Hardly. You spent most of your free time in the gym with the—
what?—six other jocks who happened to enroll here.”
It was true. And everyone knew the library had been where to find
Les Moore.
Augie looked at his watch. Another final at 11. He followed his interim

boss back to his father’s old office. It wasn’t that much bigger than his, but at least the guest chair didn’t block the door.
“Would you start with my dad?” Augie said as he sat.
“I would have thought you’d have already checked in with your mother, but all right. She called this morning, knowing you were in class. Your father has slipped into a coma.”
Augie nodded slowly. “She okay?”
“Your mother? Sure. It’s not like he’s passed. She just thought you might want to visit this afternoon.”
“Appreciate it.”
“Now then, Dr. Knox, I have some paperwork here that I’m going to need you to sign. Frankly, it’s not pleasant, but we’re all expected to be team players and I’m going to assume you’ll accede to the adminis- tration’s wishes.”
“What’s up?”
“You’re scheduled to teach summer-school Homiletics beginning four days after commencement.”
“A week from today, right.”
“And we have contracted with you for this stipend, correct?”
Why Les felt it necessary to pencil the figure on the back of a business card and dramatically slide it across the desk, Augie could not fathom.
“Yep, that’s the fortune that’s going to let me retire by forty.”
“Um-hm. Humorous. It is my sad duty to ask you to agree to under- take the class for two-thirds that amount.”
“You’re serious.” “Always.”
That was for sure.
“Les—Dr. Moore, you know we do these classes pretty much as gifts to the sem. Now they seriously want us to do them for less?”

“This is entirely up to you.” “I can refuse?”
“We’re not going to force you to teach a class when we have to renege on our agreement.”
“Good, because I just don’t think I can do it for that.”
“I’ll report your decision. We’ll be forced to prevail upon a local adjunct instruct—”
“Like that youth pastor at Arlington Bible—” “He’s a graduate, Dr. Knox.”
“I know! I taught him. And he’s a great kid, but he didn’t do all that well in Homiletics, and there’s a reason they let him preach only a couple of times a year over there.”
“He’ll be happy to do it for this figure—probably even for less.” “And the students be hanged.”
Les cocked his head. “Naturally, we would prefer you . . .”
Augie reached for his pen and signaled with his fingers for the doc- ument.
“I’m glad I can count on you, Dr. Knox. Now, while we’re on the subject, I’m afraid there’s more.You were due for a four percent increase beginning with the fall trimester.”
“Let me guess, that’s not going to happen either.” “It’s worse.”
“What, now it’s a four percent decrease?” “I wish.”
“Oh, no.”
“Dr. Knox, we have seen an alarming downturn in admissions, and the administration is predicting a fall enrollment that puts us at less than breakeven, even with massive budget cuts.We’re all being asked to accept twenty percent reductions in pay.”

Augie slumped. “I was hoping to get married this fall, Les. I can barely afford the payments on my little house as it is.”
“This is across the board, Dr. Knox. The president, the deans, the chairs, all of us. Some departments are actually losing personnel. Mainte- nance will be cut in half, and we’ll all be expected to help out.”
Arlington had been staggering along on a shoestring for decades, but this was dire. “Tell me the truth, Dr. Moore. Is this the beginning of the end? Should I entertain the offers I’ve gotten from Dallas over the years?” “Oh, no! The trustees wish us to weather this storm, redouble our efforts to market our distinctives, and then more than make up for the pay cuts as soon as we’re able. Besides, the way your father bad-mouthed Dallas and Southwestern his whole career, you wouldn’t dream of insult-
ing him by going to either, would you?”
“He bad-mouthed everything and everybody, Les.You know that.” “Not a pleasant man. No offense.”
Augie shrugged. “You worked for him. I lived with him.”
“Do you know, I have heard not one word from your father since the day I was asked to temporarily assume his role? No counsel, no guidelines, no encouragement, nothing. I assumed he was angry that you had not been appointed—”
That made Augie laugh.“He still sees me as a high school kid! Forget all my degrees. Anyway, I wouldn’t want his job, or yours. It’s not me.”
“How well I know. I mean, I’m just saying, you’re not the typical prof, let alone department chair.”
“I’m not arguing.”
Augie couldn’t win. Despite having been at the top of his classes in college and seminary, his having been a high school jock and continu- ing to shoot hoops, play touch football, and follow pro sports made him an outsider among real academics.Too many times he had been asked if

he was merely a seminary prof because that was what his father wanted for him.
Dr. Moore slid the new employment agreement across the desk. “Sorry, Les, but this one I’m going to have to think and pray about.” The interim chair seemed to freeze. “Don’t take too long. If they
aren’t sure they can count on you for the fall, they’ll want to consider the many out-of-work professors who would be thrilled, in the current econ- omy, to accept.”
“Yeah, that would help. Stock the faculty with young assistant pas- tors.”
“May I hear from you by the end of the day?”
“Probably not, but you’ll be the first to know what I decide.”
Back in his own office, Augie popped the chip out of his cell phone and put it in a separate pocket. He called his mother from his desk phone to assure her he would see her at the hospital late in the afternoon, then called Biff to tell him he would try to stop by DTS on his way.
“What’s the big emergency?” Biff said.
“Roger Michaels has himself in some kind of trouble.” “Tell me when you get here.”
During his 11:00 a.m. final Augie was summoned to the administra- tive offices for an emergency call. On the way he stopped by to see if Les would stand in for him again, but his office was dark.The final would just have to be unsupervised for a few minutes.
“Do you know who’s calling?” he said to the girl who had fetched him. If it was his mother . . .
“Someone from Greece.”
He finally reached the phone and discovered it was Sofia. “Thought you wanted me to call later, babe.You all right?”
“Roger is frantic to reach you.”

“I know. He—”
“He gave me a new number and needs you to call right now, but not from your cell.” She read it to him.
“Any idea what’s going on, Sof ?” Augie said as he scribbled. “This is not like him.”
“No idea, but, Augie, he sounded petrified.” “That doesn’t sound like him either.”
“You can tell me what it’s about later, but you’d better call him right away.”
Augie rushed to his office and dialed the number in Rome. It rang six times before Roger picked up. “Augie?”
“Yes! What’s—”
“Listen carefully. I’ve got just seconds. I need you in Rome as soon as you can get here.”
“Rog, what’s happening? This is the absolute worst time for me to—” “Give Sofia your new cell number and text me your ETA. I’ll give
you a new number where you can call me from Fiumicino as soon as you get in.”
“I don’t know when I could get there, Rog. I’ve got—” “Augie! You know I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t life or death.”

My review:
   I heard a lot about this book before and after it came out, and everything I heard was good. Jerry Jenkins is a master storyteller, and I couldn't wait to read this new book everyone was raving about. I kept checking my mailbox day after day, hoping it at arrived, and finally it came.

  Its not a short book, but I did indeed read it in one day. The book is even better than I had built up my expectations to be. There are two stories in one in this book. There is a modern day story that has to do with the Apostle Paul, and the book goes back and forth between it and the actual story of Paul, with some Jenkins fictionalizing the account by adding information.

  To be honest, I hadn't realized until I got the book that it went back and forth between two time periods, and wasn't sure I'd like that when I realized it was that kind of story, but I was wrong. Jenkins brought out the story of Paul in a fascinating way and made me see Paul in an entirely different light. I don't know that Jenkins has written Biblical fiction, but he should. He did an excellent job on the story of Paul.

  And I don't want to leave out the modern story. Jenkins came up with a great main character and plot and wove them together with the Biblical story to make a great Christian thriller that should inspire and entertain the pickiest of fiction readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and am eagerly looking forward to the sequel. This is a book that is worth reading, and it was definitely worth the time I spent reading it.

The Christmas Quilt by Vanetta Chapman

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Christmas Quilt
Abingdon Press (October 15, 2013)
Vannetta Chapman

A Word From The Author:

I hold a BA and MA degree in English, and I am proud to be represented by Mary Sue Seymour, AAR. I have published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, and have received over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. I am honored to be a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Faith Hope and Love.

I live and teach in the Texas hill country with my husband, cats, and a rather large herd of deer. Our four children have flown the nest; however, we are fortunate that they all live close enough to visit.

I have always felt that my faith was at the very center of who and what I am, and I am thrilled beyond words to be able to now write about something that is so near to my heart. At various times I have served as a pianist, teacher, church secretary, and worship team member. While living in the Dallas area, I served as an adjunct professor of English Literature at Dallas Baptist University. When we moved to a small town in Central Texas, I continued teaching for a few years, but I now write full-time and I play the keyboard in our church’s praise band.

My grandfather was born in Albion, Pennsylvania, and I am currently researching whether I might have Amish roots.


Annie's life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community's minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

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

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dark Biology by Bonnie Doran

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:

Harbourlight Books (October 25, 2013)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Taylor for sending me a review copy.***


Bonnie Doran's debut novel, Dark Biology, released October 25th as a science fiction thriller from Harbourlight of Pelican Book Group. Prior to delving into fiction, she wrote and sold over 60 devotionals. She is represented by Steve Hutson of WordWise Media. When she isn't writing, she enjoys reading (mostly science fiction), cooking, Sudoku puzzles, and hanging out with other writers, sci-fi fans, and Mad Scientists. She has a reputation of telling groan-producing puns and volunteers at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She's been married 29 years to an electrical engineer and Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet and plays with lasers for a living.

Visit the author's website.


Renowned vaccinologist "Hildi" Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal.

Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he'll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father's marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody. After all, it's only a mild influenza strain...Or is it?

Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 342 pages
Publisher: Harbourlight Books (October 25, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1611162777
ISBN-13: 978-1611162776


Infection Minus Ten Months

Hildi’s nose itched.

She ignored it. While she waited for her lab partner to emerge from the airlock, she checked the seals of her blue biocontainment suit again. Good habits could save her life.

Hildi pulled a coiled yellow air hose suspended from the ceiling and plugged it into a socket near her waist. The deflated suit expanded as air roared past her face. The familiar ballooning sensation saddened her for a moment. She’d miss her work here.

Then she grinned. She’d be wearing a pressure suit in her new job and performing similar cutting-edge work in an even stranger environment.

Her practiced eyes appraised Biosafety Level 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most dangerous lab. Everything “down and cold.” But an adjoining room held liquid-nitrogen freezers filled with hot agents, the deadliest diseases known to man. Francine stepped from the airlock. Hildi’s college friend had never worked in Level 4, but she moved with confidence. Hildi stared into Francine’s faceplate and noted her calm expression. She’d do fine.

Hildi maneuvered past the stainless-steel tables dominating the room. She pulled two-inch test tubes, a push-button micropipette, and other tools from drawers and placed them in the biosafety cabinet, a glorified box with a fume hood and clear front that rested on the work counter. She detached her hose, inhaling the reserved air in her suit.

Humming to herself, she walked into the adjoining room and attached her suit to another hose. Every time Hildi moved in the lab, she repeated the procedure, a necessary inconvenience if she wanted to continue breathing.

She punched a code into the lock of one of the stainless-steel freezers and extracted a vial of the latest X virus that may or may not have killed John Doe.

Returning to the biosafety hood, she slipped her yellow-gloved hands under the clear protective shield, a sneeze guard at a toxic salad bar. She withdrew a tiny sample of the unknown and released it into one of the tubes. After Hildi repeated the protocol many times, she keyed the information into the computer.

Hildi glanced at Francine just as she straightened from a hunched position over a microscope. Francine turned, her movements jerky like a marionette’s. Her suit’s chest zipper gaped, exposing her blue scrubs underneath. She seemed to shrink as her biosuit deflated.

Hildi froze.

“I’ve got a problem here!” Francine yelled, her voice quavering. The rush of air in their ears turned conversations in Level 4 into a shouting match. Francine fumbled for the zipper with trembling fingers.

Hildi’s heart skipped several beats then she zipped the suit shut in one smooth motion. “Zippers get worn. They can pop open.”

Francine’s white-rimmed, dark-chocolate eyes returned to normal. “How bad was that?” Her voice still quavered.

“Your suit had positive pressure the whole time. A hot agent couldn’t get in. You OK?”

Francine gave a nervous chuckle. “Sure gave me the jumpy jitters.” She turned back to the scope.

Hildi released the breath she’d been holding. Risk was part of the job. Zippers failed. Gloves failed. Usually it wasn’t life threatening.

She placed the rack of tubes in the incubator cabinet, maintainedat the ominous temperature of warm blood, and then returned the original sample of hot agent to the freezer. Her mood descended into a gray chasm. She already missed the challenge of Level 4. But she had a job offer that would take her research to a whole new level. She could smell that Nobel Prize. Her brother Chet would never catch up to her now.

Hildi exhaled a heavy sigh that fogged her faceplate. “Done,” she yelled. “Finally I can get out of here and scratch my nose.”

“Thought you’d be used to it after three years.”

“Never. Right now it’s driving me nuts.”

Francine chuckled and headed for the airlock.

Hildi followed. She inhaled the chemical smell as the decontamination shower sprayed disinfectant over her suit. The two of them scrambled out of their blue suits as soon as they reached the changing room. Hildi scratched her tingling nose with ferocity.

Francine grinned at her and walked to the regular showers which contained detergent for washing and a bath of ultraviolet light.

Hildi hung her short suit next to Francine’s long one. She reached up to caress a sleeve of the guardian that protected her against infection. “Thanks for keeping me safe. I’ll be back.”

Hildi stripped and marched naked to the shower. No modesty in this job. Afterward, she tugged on jeans and a mauve T-shirt.

Her lab partner’s perfect complexion glistened as she toweled off. Hildi’s pale skin and red curls contrasted with Francine’s coffee coloring and corn-rowed black hair. Not exactly twins separated at birth.

“When do you get in to Houston?” Francine pulled on black leggings and a flowered tunic then grabbed her tiny purse.

“Around four.” Hildi grimaced. “Rush hour. My favorite time.” She longed for the feel of the afternoon sun on her face, but she wouldn’t enjoy it today.

“I’m surprised Director Hunt gave you such a long leave of absence.”

“It’s a fantastic opportunity.” Her spirits bounced like an acrobat on a trampoline. “But it’s not like I won’t be working.” She grunted as she wrenched her holds-anything-and-hides-everything handbag from her locker.

Francine smiled. “You know, I might just lock you in one of the labs until after your flight leaves.”

Hildi laughed. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Don’t try me. I’m missing you already.” Francine hugged her. “I can’t believe you’ll be gone for a whole year.”

Hildi swallowed to keep her voice from cracking. “I will be back for visits, you know.”

“You’d better be.”

They walked through another airlock into a corridor and less-lethal safety levels. The burning, moist smell of giant autoclaves bid a pungent farewell.

“You just don’t want to work with Chet.” Hildi baited her friend.

“Don’t rub it in.” Francine lowered her voice. “Did you hear? Your brother’s in big trouble.” Francine sounded like she relished the thought.

Hildi groaned. “What did he do this time?”

“Chet worked on that new anthrax sample from England without authorization. Director Hunt turned three shades of purple.”

“Hunt’s a bit paranoid about the paperwork, that’s all.”

Francine shook her head. “Your brother has an attitude.”

“I know.” Hildi frowned. “It’s hard to work in the same building with him when he avoids me like—well—the plague.”

“He’s done a good job at alienating everyone around here, so don’t feel special.”

They drove directly to the airport in Francine’s tired green Altima. The Atlanta traffic, abysmal at any time of the day, choked Hildi with exhaust fumes. She turned up the AC. “Sure you don’t mind caring for my cat?”

“Whiskers will be just fine.”

Francine pulled up to departures, opened the trunk, and hefted the bulky suitcases. “What do you have in here, moon rocks?”

Hildi grabbed her carry-on. They chatted until a security officer ordered, “Clear the lane, please.”

Hildi fished in her purse for a tissue and gave Francine one more tight hug. “Thanks for everything.”

“Vaya con Dios.”

Hildi wheeled her suitcases to the nearest door, her stomach fluttering as if she’d just won the lottery. Maybe she had.


Hildi deplaned in Houston after an unremarkable flight. She heaved her suitcases onto their wheels and stepped outside. A tanned man in a polo shirt and jeans held a sign. Dr. Hildebra. Someone hadn’t quite fit her name on the cardboard. Situation normal.

“Evangeline?” He smiled.

“Please call me Hildi.”

“Larry Gomez.”

Hildi stifled a gasp and flung her star-struck feelings aside as she wiped sweaty palms on her jeans. Larry’s exploits in space were the stuff of legend. She shook his hand.

He loaded her luggage into the trunk of his silver Jaguar convertible. More diesel exhaust assaulted Hildi as they headed south on I-45. She’d expected oil fields and cowboy hats when she first came here but instead found apartments, shopping centers, and malls. Same humidity as Atlanta, same traffic. He chatterednonstop.

Hildi interrupted. “So tell me about the rest of the team.”

“You’ll like them. Jasper Reingold and Frank Schotenheimer.”

Hildi nearly jolted out of her seat. “Frank?” If she’d known, would she have volunteered for this assignment?

In a heartbeat.

Larry’s face held a puzzled frown. “You know him?”

She hesitated. How had Larry missed knowing about her relationship with Frank? Would it jeopardize her chance to work in space? No way to hide it now. “We were engaged.”

“Well, things are about to get interesting.” Larry’s mouth quirked. “The director moved him up from a later mission when our pilot shattered his leg yesterday.”

She stared at the scenery. Frank? On her team? Scenes flashed in her mind. Their first kiss that had warmed her to her toes. Her growing suspicions. The night she confronted him about his gotta-work-late excuses, and he confessed his affairs. Trampled dreams.

Lord, I could use a little help here.

Larry must have sensed her mood. He didn’t say a word for the rest of the trip.

An hour later, they pulled up to the employee entrance of a sprawling facility, the salty tang of the Gulf of Mexico perceptible even this far from the ocean. Shimmers of heat rose from the pavement. After the security guard examined their badges, he beamed. “Dr. Hildebrandt? Welcome. Let me page Dan Stockton for you. He asked me to notify him when you arrived.”

Hildi’s mind whirled. First Frank and now Dan? Last time they’d talked, Dan had been training in Alabama. Probably his idea of a romantic surprise. She tried to submerge a surfacing smile. She wanted to jump into his arms when Dan arrived. Instead, she forced herself into neutral pose. He wore a periwinkle silk shirt with coordinating tie. Always a tie, as if he could never relax.Larry whispered in Hildi’s ear. “Now you know why he’s earned the nickname Dandy Dan.”

“Hildi.” Dan stepped toward her with an eager grin, glanced at Larry, and stopped in mid-stride.

“You know him, too?” Larry’s glance bounced back and forth between them like a hyperactive tennis ball.

Dan hesitated. “Uh, yes. We’ve met.” An uncomfortable silence descended. Hildi stared at the polished floor, counting the squares. She didn’t want to tell the mission commander about another relationship, especially when she couldn’t explain it herself. An on-again, off-again, long-distance relationship that was going nowhere.Larry cleared his throat and turned to Hildi. “Another fiancé? Have we ever been engaged?”

Hildi laughed, relieved he didn’t ask any more questions.

Dan smiled. “Would you rather go to your quarters first or eat?”

Her stomach rumbled in response.

“Perry’s Steakhouse?” Larry still eyed them with suspicion.

“Yes, sir.” Dan spread his arms and planted his feet on the emblem emblazoned on the floor, like a barker at the circus. “Welcome to the Johnson Space Center and phase two of astronaut training.”
My review: I never received the book, so I was given an ebook, but had trouble getting it to work for me, so I never got the book read.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Greetings From the Flipside

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greetings from the Flipside
B&H Books (October 15, 2013)
Rene Gutteridge


Rene is the author of seventeen novels. She also has extensive experience writing comedy sketches, and worked for five years as the director of drama for a church. She has a degree specializing in Screenwriting, for which she earned the Excellence in Mass Communication Award, and graduated magna cum laude.

She is married to Sean, a musician and worship leader, and has two children. They reside in Oklahoma, where Rene writes full time and enjoys instructing in college classrooms and writers conferences.


Hope Landon has been rewriting other people's greeting cards since she was six years old -- there's always a funnier caption. She's all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can't write a song for her. That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple's month long honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral -- everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it's not that easy to rent a place when you've been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YWCA, Hope soon lands a job at a Christian inspirational greeting card company as an assistant to Jake, a guy who shut down his organization's humor department. She has lost her faith in love; he needs to find something or someone that will make him laugh.

Is there anything in the cards for these two? Find out in the truly original Greetings from the Flipside by authors Rene Gutteridge (Boo) and Cheryl McKay (screenplay for The Ultimate Gift).

If you would like to read the first chapter of >Greetings from the Flipside, go HERE.

My review:
   I just got the book in the mail and have not had time to read it yet.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Heart Failure by Richard Mabry

When her fiancé’s dangerous secrets turn her world upside-down, a beautiful doctor must choose between her own safety and the man she loves—and thought she knew.
Dr. Carrie Markham’s heart was broken by the death of her husband two years ago. Now, just as her medical practice is taking off, her fresh engagement to paralegal Adam Davidson seems almost too good to be true . . . until a drive-by shooting leaves Carrie on the floor of his car with glass falling around her.
When he confesses that Adam isn’t his real name and that he fled the witness protection program, Carrie is left with an impossible choice: should she abandon the fiancé she isn’t sure she really knows, or accept his claim of innocence and help him fight back against this faceless menace?
While Carrie struggles to decide whether to follow her heart or her head, the threats against them continue to escalate. Her life—as well as Adam’s—depends on making the right choice . . . and the clock is ticking.

My review:
    I have read all of the books Richard Mabry has written. The first few were good, and I enjoyed them, but they were just that: good, in my opinion. As many authors do though, he has been getting better and better with each book he writes. I thought his last book, Stress Test, was outstanding  and then I read this one. Wow. This is one awesome read. I started reading it the day I got it in the mail, and I could not put it down, so I didn't. I read it through from cover to cover in one day, and thoroughly enjoyed every page.

  Some books start out slow and build up slowly to the exciting parts. Not this one. The reader is thrown into the suspense and action on page two, and it doesn't slow down for the whole book.

  As with all of his novels, one of Mabry's main characters in the story is in the medical profession and a lot of the story revolves around a hospital. I like the fact that he puts everything in terms people like me, who have no medical knowledge to speak of, can understand.

  The Witness Protection Program added even more to the suspenseful plot line, and I learned a little more about how it works.

  I thought I had the guilty party narrowed down, only to be wrong. I wasn't extremely surprised at who it was, but still loved the suspenseful climax of the story.

  I don't have stars on my blog, but if I did, this book would easily get five out of five. It could not have been improved upon. It has it all: great and likeable characters, a terrific plot, a lot of suspense, drama, and action, and a great Christian message. Mabry is another author who isn't afraid to put a strong Christian message in his books, and this one was no exception. I would highly recommend this book to any readers who enjoy suspense. It is worth your while.

About the author: (taken from his website at under the "about me" section)

      In addition to the practice of medicine, my past includes a stint overseas in the US Air Force,
several periods as an interim music minister, and an all-too-brief experience as a semi-pro baseball player. In other words, there’s more to me than “M.D.” covers. Let me share a little about myself.


      My BA is from the University of North Texas (which was North Texas State University at the time). I graduated with an MD degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, then obtained my specialty training in otolaryngology (that’s “ear, nose, and throat” to most folks) at two major teaching hospitals in Dallas: Parkland and the VA Hospital.
Air Force:
       I served for almost three years as a Captain in the US Air Force at Lajes Field, in the Azores, a Portuguese possession in the middle of the North Atlantic. I’ve forgotten most of the Portuguese I learned there, but will never forget the friendships I made. Because I was involved in saving the life of a little Azorean girl whose airway was obstructed by a coin, I was written up in Stars and Stripes and received the Air Force Commendation medal. When there’s a recognition on Veteran’s Day, I’m proud to stand beside all the others who’ve served.

      I’ve been a Christian for six decades. For almost forty years, I was a Deacon in the Baptist church, serving as a Sunday school teacher and singing in the choir. After a recent move across the city, I’m proud to be a member of the Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where I get to hear Dr. Chuck Swindoll preach regularly.

      During the 36 years I spent in medicine, I wrote or edited eight textbooks, authored over a hundred professional papers, and was an invited guest speaker all over the world. I held the presidency or vice-presidency of three professional societies, and was privileged to receive a number of awards and honors. But if you asked my greatest reward in medicine , it would be in seeing patients get better under my care.

      Primarily golfing, usually once a week with the same golf partner for the past ten years or so. We don’t keep score (heresy to purists, I suppose) and we enjoy the fellowship. I’m also a voracious reader, mainly fiction, although I do read non-fiction books.
Heart Failure is available from Thomas Nelson Publishing.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson for the review copy.

The Reichenbach Problem by Martin Allison Booth

Arthur Conan Doyle is on the run from his own fame. Taking a much-needed holiday, Doyle escapes to a picturesque village in Switzerland nestled beneath the imposing Reichenbach Falls. There he hopes to find anonymity, but even in this beautiful rural setting, peace eludes him when he finds himself immediately recognized and involved in the investigation of the mysterious death of a fellow traveler.
All too soon, Doyle's somewhat unwilling, gentle probing into the case causes the finger of suspicion to turn toward him. But can the creator of the famous detective actually do the sleuthing himself? As Doyle learns more and more about the famous character he penned, he finds he is less like Sherlock and more like his sidekick, Watson. Can the "sidekick" see enough of the picture to solve the case for once?  
Sherlock Holmes has fascinated readers since he first burst into fiction, over one hundred years ago. In this novel, the first in a trilogy, we meet his author and discover the difficult relationship between them.

My review:
   The book had what seemed to me a slow start, and I had a hard time getting into it, but once I got a few chapters in, it caught on more with me. I liked the idea of the book: writing a mystery where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is part of the story and has to deal with his fame as the writer of the Sherlock Holmes stories, and also has to deal with the idea of competing against his own character.

  The book wasn't as fast paced as a lot of suspense novels I read, but I still found it an enjoyable read.

About the author:
   I always put an author bio and picture here, but I could find neither anywhere on line.

The Reichenbach Problem is available from Kregel Publishing.

Thanks to Kregel for  the review copy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Heart of the Country by Rene Gutteridge and John Ward

Faith and Luke Carraday have it all. Faith is a beautiful singer turned socialite while Luke is an up-and-coming businessman. After taking his inheritance from his father’s stable, lucrative business to invest in a successful hedge fund with the Michov Brothers, he’s on the fast track as a rising young executive, and Faith is settling comfortably into her role as his wife.

When rumors of the Michovs’ involvement in a Ponzi scheme reach Faith, she turns to Luke for confirmation, and he assures her that all is well. But when Luke is arrested, Faith can’t understand why he would lie to her, and she runs home to the farm and the family she turned her back on years ago. Meanwhile, Luke is forced to turn to his own family for help as he desperately tries to untangle himself from his mistakes. Can two prodigals return to families they abandoned, and will those families find the grace to forgive and forget? Will a marriage survive betrayal when there is nowhere to run but home?

My review:
   This book sounded like a romance, which I usually steer clear of unless it is romantic suspense, but I have come to really enjoy Rene Gutteridge's books, so I decided to review it. The book is meant to be a modern day retelling or portrayal of the Prodigal Son story from the Bible. Both of the main characters in the book, Faith and Luke, have left their families and fallen flat on their faces.

  There isn't much Christianity shown by either Luke and Faith, and even at the end of the book, I wasn't sure if either really professed to be a Christian, but I could definitely see the parallels between their story and the story of the Prodigal Son.

  I enjoyed the book and the message of the book, but did have a couple of issues with it. It was written in the first person point of view from several people's perspective. I would sometimes forget to look to see whose view it was coming from and would have to turn back a page or two. I definitely think the third person point of view would have been better for this book and made it flow better and be easier to read. The other issue: I know there is debate among Christians about alcoholic beverages. I personally am against them, and it seemed in the book and movie both there was more alcohol consumption than needed.

  The book was an interesting and enjoyable read, and it wasn't all about romance. Romance and restoration in a marriage definitely was part of the book, but the book was more about family and prodigals returning and being welcomed back.

  The book is a novelization of the movie by the same name. I was given a copy of the movie along with the book. There are some differences in the book and movie, and if I was going to do just one, I would recommend the movie. It moves a little faster than the book and has a few gaps from the book, but it is easier to follow and is a very enjoyable and clean movie. There were two uses of hell as an expletive, but that was all.

About the authors:
   Rene Gutteridge is the author of eighteen novels, including Listen, the Storm series (Tyndale House Publishers) and Never the Bride, the Boo series, and the Occupational Hazards series from WaterBrook Press. She also released My Life as a Doormat and The Ultimate Gift: The Novelization with Thomas Nelson. Rene is also known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting while earning a mass communications degree, graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma City University and earning the Excellence in Mass Communication Award. She served as the full-time director of drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writers conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City. Visit her Web site at

John Ward has spent twenty-five years in the film industry as a screenwriter, director, and actor. He recently wrote, directed, and starred in the feature film I AM. He also wrote, produced, and directed the Liquid DVD series for Thomas Nelson. He currently serves as president of Bayridge Films.

Heart of the Country (book) is available from Tyndale Publishers.
The movie is available from Bayridge Films

Thanks to Tyndale for the review copy of the book and for the DVD.

Torn Blood by David J Bain with a giveaway

Three weeks before officially reporting for duty at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Addison Deverell arrives in Israel determined to find an answer to a question buried for nearly four thousand years.

Bound to an escort by the embassy, he is unable to begin his search as time is running out. Mere days before he must report for duty, Addison is freed from his forced escort, Hafiz IbnMansur, as a female escort, Elizabeth Daniels, takes his place.

Addison issues an ultimatum to Elizabeth that he must go into Palestinian territory for answers he can’t find in Israel. But, as Addison races to uncover a long buried truth that promises to establish a career, he faces peril from those he seeks to understand and finds himself a pawn in an international plot to drive Israel’s Jews into the sea.

Nearly seven thousand miles away in Oregon, Dr. Janelle Henning confronts a past that threatens to destroy the only family she’s ever known. A search for understanding thrusts her into a foreign world long buried to confront a birthright hidden by the passage of time. With no place—or no one—to turn to, Janelle tries to put the pieces of her life back together.

An ill-boding call shreds the little of Janelle’s world that is left, compelling her to leave her home and fly to Israel in search of Addison. But terrorists stand in Janelle’s way of reaching him, the one person that might unlock hidden identities in a relationship that has spanned a lifetime. But will Addison live, or will death, the master of all, once again keep its secret buried?

My review: (giveaway details at the very end of the blog post)
   This book is longer than the average Christian fiction book, coming in at 569 pages, but it was a thrilling and fascinating read. The book is set in Israel for the most part, and the author does a great job of making the reader feel as if they were there with his descriptive writing style.
  At the center of the story is the Jew-Muslim conflict, especially the Jew-Palestinian fighting,  and I learned a lot by reading this book. The author brings out the a lot of history and gives a lot of information about why the Jews and Muslims don't get along and does a really good job of showing what living in that area is like for Jews and Palestinians.
  The book is filled with some fascinating people, both good and bad. I liked the main character, Addison, and found myself cheering him on and sympathizing with him for being dropped into the middle of everything and being used as a pawn by terrorists trying to take down Israel.
  This is a book that requires more attention and thought than the average Christian fiction book. It is too long of a book for me to read through in one sitting, and I found that when I let it lie for a few days, it took me a few pages to get back into the story and remember what was going on, so I would recommend reading it with not much time in between reading times. I did have a little bit of a hard time getting into the book, but the further I got, the more interesting it became and the harder it got to put the book down. There are some slower moments in the book, but there are also a lot of nail biting, roller coaster moments in  the book.
  There are a lot of people in the book. Jews, Americans, Muslims, good guys, and bad guys. Some of the non-American names are similar and I had some difficulty remembering who was who. There is no cast of characters in my copy of the book, which is an advanced reader copy, but I am hoping there is one in the finished product, as that would be very helpful.
   There is some bad language in the book, which is something I abhor in Christian fiction. I caught four different curse words, and also the word for an illegitimate child used as profanity. There were at least twenty combined uses of the curse words, which is twenty too many. That, and the difficulty of keeping characters straight, are my only complaints about the book. Overall, it is not just a very engaging, thrilling, and fascinating story, it is also informative and through fiction, helps the reader better understand what is going on in that area of the world.
  This book is one men and women will enjoy, and is definitely a book to recommend to male readers.
  This book is the first release from Bo Iti Press, and other than the language, I like what I see so far and am looking forward to more from this author and publisher both. I really liked the pro-Israel viewpoint in the book, and that is what this publisher is all about.

About the publisher:

   Bo Iti Press, is a newly founded niche publisher focusing on stories about the Jewish experience as well as the rights of Israel as a sovereign nation. It is a Christian publishing company owned by a Gentile believer
who is passionate about Israel. The press is based in Jackson, WY.

About  the author:
    David J. Bain is a novelist focused on writing stories about the Jewish experience and founder of Bo Iti Press. His debut book, Torn Blood, releases in October  2013. Before launching his publishing company, he collaborated on two screenplays made into movies and has been involved in the business world for more than 30 years where his company publishes technical manuals and he wrote the company’s occasional newsletter. David, and his wife, Doris, reside in Oregon.
Q&A with the author:


David Bain, Torn Blood
1. David, how did you first come up with the idea for Torn Blood?
I knew that Jews in Israel had been attacked multiple times before and after its founding in 1948 but I didn’t know the story behind the attacks. Warfare doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Torn Blood began as research for the story behind the story of those attacks and ended as a journey that challenged my faith and broadened my perspective about the world.
2. What have you learned personally about your own faith as you researched and wrote Torn Blood?
As a Christian I thought monolithically. There is the God of the Bible and there I am in relationship to the God of the Bible. While true, it’s too limiting because God works through all of mankind which includes through the Jewish people even when they, for the most part, reject that Yeshua/Jesus is God. God’s original covenant was with Adam. When Adam broke that covenant we then see God’s covenant with Abraham and that covenant is still in effect in spite of choices the Jewish nation and people have made over the millennia. Through the process of research and writing this story I came to find my faith centered more in God and less in what He could do for me which is both challenging and liberating.
My picture on reality was too small to include many important events occurring outside the frame of my singular life. I am now discovering a faith I only thought I had before this eight year journey to research and write Torn Blood began and I understand this journey has just begun.
3. Could you define what you mean by faith?
All human beings, from our first recognition of free will, exercise faith. The theist to the atheist, and everyone in between. My faith is that the Bible represents the will and truth of God therefore my faith is in the authenticity of the Bible as God’s word to humanity.
4. Can you give us a snapshot of the story, without giving away any spoilers?
Torn Blood is a story of choices and their consequences. It takes its moral imperative from the Bible which isn’t all that touchy-feely to the Jews at times but demonstrates an ongoing relationship between the God of the Bible and the Jewish people.
The events of Torn Blood look into the past showing how blood can be torn and the consequences of such a choice, and it was a choice.
There is armed confrontation between the jihadist’s and the Jews, that’s the adventure part of the story but what interests me is how a handful of insurgents believe they can prevail against a military force that has proven itself every time it has been challenged since its founding in 1948. What could the jihadists know or possess that would level the field of battle? Keeping in mind their goal is to inhabit all of Israel so nuclear weapons are not on the table. Torn Blood doesn’t pick sides but presents choices made and consequences unleashed.
5. What drives your passion for Israel?
The heart of God. He established a covenant with Abraham for the purpose of testifying to His existence and from that testimony to bring people to Himself. God set down conditions; faithfulness and obedience to his commands would bring blessings but persecution would result if His commands were disobeyed. History has been an unfolding of that story ever since. If God loves Israel—He calls them the apple of His eye—and I love God, then the result of my love for God will naturally be a love for Israel and her people.
6. How did you research your book to ensure it accurately reflects the culture of Israel and Palestine?
The Old Testament was my beginning point as to this day the Jewish people are defined by their roots. I then focused from the time of Theodor Herzl who is widely considered to be the founder of the State of Israel though he died in 1904, forty-four years before Israel became a nation. I also worked with several research assistants in Israel, studied hundreds of articles about different aspects of the Jewish and Arabic dilemma in modern Israel. The Palestinians were of particular interest as they are an eponymous group made up of a number of different ethnic groups none of which are ethnically Palestinian (Arabs, Persians, Egyptians, among others) because sociologically that ethnic group doesn’t exist. It came into being courtesy of the Romans in about 132 A.D. when they renamed Iudaea province Syria Palaestina and from that, hundreds of years later, Palestinians declared themselves to be a separate genera group.
7. Why do you think Israel is such a controversial country?
This is a question that elicits a wide range of opinions. Please note I didn’t say answers since after considering the facts all that is left are opinions. The book’s premise is that the only answer consistent with the facts is that a spiritual battle is taking place.
8. How can Christians take a more active role in supporting Israel?
A good place to start would be Psalm 122:6 which tells believers to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Praying for the Arab residents of Israel, Judea, and Samaria wouldn’t hurt either. Support mission work in Israel as there is much need in both Jewish and Arab people in Israel. Finally, something for each of us: go to Israel, visit. I know of no Christian that has gone there that hasn’t touched the roots of their faith.
9. What do you think is ahead for Israel and its people?
If we go to Romans 11:25, Paul says that a partial hardening (of heart) has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and verse 26 says: and so all Israel will be saved. Scriptures warn what will happen at that point and many good books have been written about this period of time which is beyond the discussion of my book but the essence is God has not forgotten His chosen people and He will conclude history as foretold in Scripture.
10. As part of writing Torn Blood, you also launched a new publishing company, Bo Iti Press, which focuses on stories about the Jewish experience as well as the rights of Israel as a sovereign nation. Why do you think a company like this is needed?
Few of us have the fortitude to read academic tomes about the issues confronting Israel. Torn Blood’s purpose was to give flesh, blood, and bone to people facing an existential threat which is a part of life in Israel. We rarely see behind the headlines which are at times simply biased talking points. Israel holds a singular place of importance among the nations and Bo Iti Press provides a platform to show that importance in stories about real lives. In an adventure story you follow protagonists and antagonists. Torn Blood shows these opposing forces but it shows them in their humanity dealing with the life they were born into. Bo Iti Press can publish books so that readers will not only be entertained but informed, this I think is good.
11. What impact do you hope Torn Blood has on readers?
When readers come to the end of Torn Blood my hope is that they will have apprehended the heart of an Israel not seen before. It is this Israel, covenanted by God and not created by man, which can start a discussion, a dialogue, that may challenge our world.
Excerpt, first chapter:
Thursday February 21 2008
United States Embassy, Consular Section, 71 Ha-Yarkon Street, Tel Aviv
Dialing her well-used phone, Lynda Touree smiled into the vacant stare of the weary presence before her while awaiting her boss’s familiar snarl.
“What now?” the phone’s receiver demanded, civility being a luxury seldom afforded.
“Mr. Cantwell, Addison Deverell is standing in front of my desk.”
“And I am being interrupted because?”
“He is reporting for duty sir.”
“Duty, no one’s listed as arriving for a month, unless you failed to get me papers.”
“Sir, all arrival credentials are in your possession.”
“Then who, as I so kindly asked, is this interruption?”
“Mr. Deverell’s papers indicate he’s our new consular officer, sir. He is due twenty-one days from today.”
“Three weeks, one month, no difference. Not due today—don’t bother me today.”
“Sir, you know mission protocol states once a consular department officer proffers assignment papers they must be accepted by the deputy administrator.”
“How about handing him a map of Gaza and a compass, that ought to keep him out of my hair for three weeks.”
“You don’t mean that.”
“Don’t bet on it.”
There was a pause on the line. “Sir, Mr. Deverell?”
“I’ll get to him when I get to him.” Slamming down the phone’s receiver, Deputy Administrator Cantwell could be heard cursing through the meager door that separated his office from the rest of humanity at the back of the embassy.
Smiling, Lynda looked up, “Welcome to the U.S. Embassy, Mr. Deverell. I believe Mr. Cantwell would like you to have a seat until he can welcome you to Israel. You’ll want to hang on to these,” Lynda said holding out his assignment papers. “Mr. Cantwell needs to personally accept them.”
Retreating to the back wall, where four overstuffed chairs formed a protective semi-circle, Addison wondered when he’d be free to disappear into Israel to uncover what he came three weeks before his reporting date to find.
Later that afternoon
The phone’s ring invaded Addison’s thoughts. He strained to overhear Ms. Lynda Touree, as her desk’s nameplate announced, speaking with the wild man from the inner sanctum.
“Yes, Mr. Cantwell,” she paused. “Yes sir, he’s still waiting, patiently I might add.” She listened intently. “I’ll call and see who’s available.” After several silent moments she said, “I’ll let you know, sir.”
Lynda looked across to Addison and smiled, hitting her phone’s receiver button, entering numbers with the dexterity of practiced fingers.
“Liddy, who do we have available for escort?” She listened for a moment, then said, “How about consulate?” More silence, then “how long has he been with us?” Again silence, “credentials?” After several nods of Lynda’s head she said, “thanks hon,” hit disconnect and dialed consulate’s inside line. “Marcie, hi hon, this is Lynda at the DA’s office Tel Aviv . . . Fine and you? I’m looking for one of your escorts, Hafiz IbnMansur. Will you put me through?” a momentary pause then, “Do you know when he’s expected?” Another brief silence followed by, “please have him call me soon as he arrives. It is most pressing. Thanks, hon.” With that she hung up and dialed the inner sanctum.
“What now?”
“No one is available locally for Mr. Deverell. I located someone down at consulate in East Jerusalem who should do nicely: Hafiz IbnMansur, he’s their guide for in-country tours and orientations.” Lynda fell silent listening intently, finally volunteering, “mostly visiting VIPs, but he has escorted several State people and been with consulate over ten years.” After a brief pause she continued, “He’s away from his desk, doing some volunteer work with Elizabeth Daniels of Messianic Jews International.”
“Daniels!” Cantwell bellowed through the door. “I ran into that fanatic at a meet and greet when I first arrived. Damn near started a riot toe to toe with Muslim and Jewish clerics. I don’t want that troublemaker—”
“As I said, Mr. IbnMansur is performing volunteer work but is expected back shortly.” Listening, Lynda then responded, “No, I don’t know what shortly means, I will inform you the moment he calls.” With that she hung up her phone. She winked at Addison. “Patience, it’s a long career path you have chosen and it seems that begins today. Are you hungry?”
Addison nodded.
In no time he was tearing into a ham and cheese on rye and washing it down with an ice-cold cola while he sat imprisoned in his overstuffed chair.
As he ate, a lone janitor at the end of the hall finished dust mopping the floor. Going to the utility closet she exchanged her dirty dust mop head for a clean one, put on her coat, and headed for security check. Passing Lynda’s desk she said, “See you tomorrow, Lynda.”
“Getting out early Yasmina? Hot date?”
“Father would have thoughts on that. A cousin is with child and soon to be delivered. She asks for help so I’ll stop by on the way home.”
“Aren’t you the kind one. See you tomorrow.”
After clearing security Yasmina stopped by her cousin’s then walked home. Diplomatic Security Service, on routine surveillance, noted her early departure and the visit. Lynda Touree would be questioned the next day; Yasmina was assigned to her area.
Later that evening, Yasmina’s cousin’s husband paid a visit to a café PMIJ members were known to patronize.
The ringing of the phone jolted Addison to consciousness after the food, warmth of the room, and jet-lag had caught up with him. He stretched and attempted to focus on Lynda’s phone conversation. As she hung up he busied himself with the paper he had picked up at Ben Gurion. His Hebrew skills were coming along but reading right to left still felt awkward. It would come with time, he knew, if he could just report and get out of here. Becoming lost in a story, he barely noticed the phone ring again nor Lynda’s conversation. When his mind surfaced from the Hebrew characters, he heard Lynda say, “. . . within the hour, I appreciate that.”
Lynda dialed an extension and waited while listening to the receiver before saying, “Mr. Cantwell, Mr. IbnMansur at consulate just called. He has received clearance and will be up within the hour to discuss your needs. Call if you have questions.” As soon as she cradled the handset on its base, her phone rang and Addison could hear Sid Cantwell’s voice through his closed door.
“Why in the devil didn’t you put consulate through to me?”
“Your line was busy, sir.’
“And you couldn’t walk the fifteen lousy steps to my office?”
“You told me yesterday not to interrupt you this afternoon since you would be reviewing the Status Report for Washington.”
“Yesterday—yesterday was before young mister what’s-his-name showed up unannounced.”
“Addison Deverell is the young man’s name. You might as well learn it now because he’s going to be with us for quite some time.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“You just like scaring people.”
“What did he say?”
“Who is that, sir?”
“Mr. IbnMansur asked what our need was. He was most polite, unlike others I know.”
“And, he said he would need to talk with you personally, had been given clearance to do so and would be up within the hour, exactly what I said in my message.”
“Just make sure you only let him in and not Deverell as well.”
Hanging up, Lynda went back to her computer.
What have I gotten myself into? Addison wondered. He dove back into the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, the safest harbor he could find.
“Mr. Deverell . . . Mr. Deverell?” Addison started as he felt a woman’s hand on his shoulder. He struggled to orientate himself. The clock on the wall read 5:17. An Arabic man came into view over the woman’s right shoulder.
“You drifted off,” Lynda Touree said. “Considering how long you’ve been kept waiting it was most sensible. Someone has come for you.” With that the Arabic man stepped forward while Lynda said, “Mr. IbnMansur will be your escort for the next few days.”
Handing the man a clipboard, Lynda said, “Just the usual: Sign right there beneath Mr. Cantwell’s signature.”
Taking a pen from his jacket pocket with his left hand he scribbled on the page then handed it back to Lynda.
She gave him a copy. “You’ll want to hang onto this.”
Addison stood, dropping the half-crumpled newspaper on the floor and extended his hand to this stranger whose name he wasn’t sure he had heard correctly. Grabbing his hand the intruder shook it perfunctorily, saying, “Quickly, collect luggage—follow me.”
Sunlight glistened off the mirrored surfaces of the random array of skyscrapers as it followed its daily path toward the sea. Its reflected glory embraced shorter buildings as they maintained their silent witness to Tel Aviv’s earlier years. The first Jewish city built since biblical times was far removed from its founding in 1909 as Ahuzat Bayit, when it had been established on sand dunes by sixty families as a low-cost alternative to the more expensive Arab town of Jaffa. Renamed Tel Aviv one year later, it never looked back.
After the sun set, the city began its metamorphose from a metropolis of commerce to nightlife mecca. Family men and women withdrew to the suburbs of Ramat Ha-Sharon, Giv’atayim, and Bnei Brak, as the nocturnal transformation took until just after 10 p.m. when the young and beautiful left their lairs in a nightly ritual of wanton and abandoned carousing.
Addison watched as Hafiz careened between countless cars, squeezing past fenders, oblivious to the near misses as he charged through traffic with little more than a grunt every now and then.
“Would it be impolite for me to ask where you’re taking me?”
“No.” Hafiz spat out, followed by another jarring lane change and then silence.
“Well?” Addison asked.
“Going to Intercontinental David.”
“And?” Addison pressed.
“Embassy has standing reservations. If lucky we get suite with couple bedrooms, not so lucky, a room, and two double beds.”
“What do you mean we?” Addison asked.
“We, you and me,” Hafiz said.
“I don’t need company,” Addison shot back. “Just drop me by a decent hotel and I’ll find my way back to the embassy when I’m rested.”
“Sorry,” Hafiz said. “As of now, we’re joined. Where you go, Hafiz goes. Never lost a Junior F.S.O., and with your boss’s reputation, don’t feel like starting now.”
“Don’t you live in Jerusalem?” Addison asked.
“East Jerusalem,” Hafiz’s responded. “You eavesdrop on Lynda?”
“Then why stay in Tel Aviv with me?”
“Because that’s what I’m paid to do. Forget everything you learned in orientation and training at State in U.S. of A. This world has no equal. You’d be swallowed up and never surface again—ever. It’s my job to see that doesn’t happen, at least for the next few days.”
“Look, we’ll just keep this between you and me. I don’t need a sitter.”
“Like hell you don’t,” Hafiz snarled. “You have American written all over you. There are people who will slice your throat open for that fancy watch on wrist.”
“America tries to help around the world, and what’s wrong with my watch? It was a graduation gift.”
“Not everybody wants to be helped. Tomorrow you’ll get different watch and keep graduation memento from those who would deprive you of future memories. Addison, you’re nobody. You have an advanced degree and will spend long days pushing papers for impatient, ungrateful people all demanding more than you have to give. Maybe, after years of sacrifice, you’ll rise high enough to make a tiny difference that will never be anything because important decisions are made by political brokers at nation-state level, not career diplomats. To start life’s work you showed up ahead of schedule. Don’t think that nice man you tried to report to takes an interruption to his world kindly. Our time together is costing your government money it didn’t intend to spend, but the damage you could do outweighs the cost, so you get me as your date. You pay attention, follow every instruction, or I’ll lock you in a back room in East Jerusalem. I have a brother who doesn’t so much like Americans and would love to visit with you. I could retrieve you just in time to deliver you to deputy administrator who won’t be too concerned how you enjoyed time.” Hafiz’s jaw muscles clenched and unclenched. His arms were taut as individual muscles pulsed while he maintained a stranglehold on the steering wheel.
“What do you want me to say?” Addison replied. “I just wanted to make a difference. This is my first duty station.”
“What is decision?”
“You won’t have any problems. I’ll follow directions.”
“Israel has been simmering and boiling over for thousands of years,” Hafiz said. “My assignment is to show you some of country and how to survive when I’m not around. We’ve got just enough time to do that but remember this isn’t like any other place on earth.
Things aren’t what they seem. Be cautious, watch back. Maybe if lucky you might tell grandchildren about first days in Israel.”
The jet lag, day’s wait, and dressing down, along with his bondage to this stranger, leveled Addison. He needed to get to the hotel, pull the sheets over his head, and lose himself in a dream that wouldn’t assail him.

This excerpt is taken from Torn Blood by David J. Bain. Copyright © 2013 by David J. Bain. Published by Bo Iti Press. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Giveaway: Courtesy of Side Door Communications, there is a free copy of Torn Blood for one winner. US and Canada entries only.
To enter, just leave a comment. Comment about  the book, the excerpt, the Q&A.... whatever you want to say.
I will let the giveaway run for 10 days, and pick a winner on October 25. Deadline to enter is October 24 at midnight.
Torn Blood is available from Bo Iti Press.
Thanks to Debbie at Side Door Communications for the review and giveaway copies, and for everything else I needed for the review.