Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A fantastic follow-up to "Soul's Gate": My review of Memory's Door by James L. Rubart @litfuse

Memory's Door


about the book....


The prophecy brought them together—to fight for the hearts of others and set them free.

But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins.


The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people’s souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them.

But their leader Reece is struggling with the loss of his sight. Brandon is being stalked at his concerts by a man in the shadows. Dana’s career is threatening to bury her. And Marcus questions his sanity as he seems to be slipping in and out of alternate realities.

And now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them, and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won’t stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls.


my review....


"Memory's Door" is a fantastic follow-up to the ground-breaking "Soul's Gate", and I enjoyed the book from start to finish. I loved getting reconnected with the four members of the "Warriors Riding" as Reece, Brandon, Marcus, and Dana battle the darkness to offer freedom and hope to hurting people. As with "Soul's Gate", the book is fast-paced and filled with scenes of intense drama and spiritual warfare that left me feeling marvelously entertained. The characters are complex and unique, and their individual pasts and struggles in the present make them characters readers will be able to relate to.

What I most loved about this book is the way the author looks at issues of regret and forgiveness, how we can find deep healing for our souls and walk in freedom from fear or condemnation and from the grasp of legalism. I can freely admit that the scene near the end that takes place between Marcus and his wife left tears streaming down my face! I closed the book wishing I was reading fact, not fiction, and that these Warriors were real and able to do fabulous things like go into people's souls to battle darkness, teleport across the country, and other feats that are not normal happenings in our world! As with "Soul's Gate", I leave this book having had my faith stirred, and feeling a call to prayer as we truly do battle with the spiritual realm around us.

Regardless of the worldview or Christian denomination that readers subscribe to, "Memory's Door" is sure to not only leave you entertained, but leave you deep in thought as well. I highly recommend this book and award it 5 out of 5 stars.

ARC has been provided courtesy of Thomas Nelson & the Litfuse Publicty Group, for the purposes of this unbiased review.



 about the author....




I've been a professional marketer since 1994 through my company Barefoot Marketing, but my passion is writing fiction.

I'm also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. I live in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and my two almost-perfect sons. No, I don't sleep much. You can catch up more with me at www.jimrubart.com or www.barefootmarketing.com.

This biography was provided by the author or their representative.




 

Check out what other people are saying as part of the Litfuse tour at:


Buy the book from Amazon.com:





Free fiction ebook (2013): "Winter in Full Bloom" by Anita Higman

Free for download today from River North Fiction (Moody) is a new ebook from Anita Higman. Download it now from Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com:



Enjoy!

Get Accountable! My review of "Open" by Craig Gross & Adam Palmer




Countless men and women have shared their stories about the impact that succumbing to temptation has had on their lives, the way that secret sins have ensnared them, the damage that has been done to their souls, their families. In answer to the struggles we all have comes "Open", a book written for everyone seeking to learn practical ways to stand in the face of temptation. Author Craig Gross, along with Adam Palmer, provide a refreshingly honest look at the impact our choices have upon us, and provide Biblical solutions to achieving freedom, peace of mind, and self-confidence. They demonstrate the importance of having ongoing accountability in our lives, of having people around us who listen unconditionally, and who support us to help us hold to God's ideals for our lives.

I found "Open" to be a well-written, practical resource that is sure to bring hope to people who just don't know where to turn as they struggle to end enslaving habits. I appreciated hearing about Craig's own journey to finding accountability in his life, and hearing the impact that the XXXChurch website has had on countless individuals in the war against the lure of pornography. The book is easy to read, and provides a clear case for what accountability is, why it is good and necessary, and leads people to a place of freedom in their lives. The book can be read by an individual, or as a group who wants to learn how to open up and be accountable to each other about every area of their lives, from purity issues to exercise to finances. I guarantee that if more people were meeting regularly to share with each other with complete honestly, that the church would look very different than it does today! Rather than the church being filled with people who present as "having it all together", the church would be filled with real men and women of integrity. I know that many Christians already do walk with integrity and stand along side each other, but this book is a call to make it widespread, and they will show you exactly how to do so.

I give this book a high recommendation and a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. I encourage both teens and adults to grab a copy of this book and put the principles to work in their own lives!

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher for the purposes of this unbiased review.




Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Argh! PIRATES invaded my house! See my review of "Pirates on the Farm" by Denette Fretz @DailyVineCA

Pirates on the Farm


about the book....


'No one ever imagined that five swashbuckling pirates would settle in our proper little southern community. But they did.'

When pirates move in next door, life on the farm is bound to get interesting. But will the unadventurous
Sanders family be able to handle the pirates' bad manners, ghastly grub, and outrageous antics? Or will they learn the importance of loving one's neighbor and help the graceless pirates find their 'land legs'?




my review....


If you have young children, like I do, then get ready to read "Pirates on the Farm" over and over again...because that's what I've been doing since the day it arrived at our house! Now, on the best of days, pirates are frequently in attendance at our home, with "Arghs!" resounding from children and parents alike. "Pirates on the Farm" pairs a unique plot with colourful and action-packed pictures, making it a winner. I will say that some of the words in the story weren't always understand by my children, but the handy definition guide at the end of the book allowed for some good learning for the children. I especially enjoyed how the definitions are written in the unique voice of one of the pirates! Not only will this story entertain, but it will also teach your children an important principal about not judging and excluding people based on their differences. The dad especially is a shining example of loving everyone, no matter what, and I loved his adventurous spirit!

Any book that gives my children the giggles while also sharing important truths is an absolute keeper, in my opinion. So, if you've been looking for a children's book that is chock-full of humour, unique characters, and teachable moments to share with your children, then look no further than "Pirates on the Farm". I highly recommend this book and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

A review copy was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.



 about the author & illustrator....



Denette Fretz's passion is creating imaginative, engaging stories that help children understand and apply biblical principles. A veteran elementary educator, Fretz resides in Medford, Oregon with her husband, two teenage children, a sassy cat, and a spastic Jack-A-Bee










Gene Barretta.jpgGene Barretta is an award-winning children's book author and illustrator, animator and character designer. He graduated from New York University: Tisch School of Arts with a BFA in film studies. He currently lives with his family outside of Philadelphia.










Find out more about the book on the publisher website:   http://zondervan.com/9780310723486

Monday, August 26, 2013

Win a Kindle FIRE & see my review of the satisfying "Winter in Full Bloom" by Anita Higman


Enter to win a Kindle Fire
and check out my review of Anita Higman's latest book below:


Winter in Full Bloom


about the book...



Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again.


my review...


"Winter in Full Bloom" is a story with heart, a story of family secrets, new love, and the power of God's grace to bring about healing beyond what can even be hoped for. Lily Winter is a beautifully developed character who I absolutely loved watching grow from a place of having feelings of unworth, to fully discovering the woman God created her to be. The unexpected love that grows between Lily and Marcus is one that rings true, and I enjoyed the scenes of humour between them, along with the romantic moments and also difficult times they encountered along the way. For some reason, the family confrontation between Marcus and his parents didn't entirely sit well with me as it didn't seem realistic in the manner in which it unfolded. However, the wonderful scenes of reconciliation that occur in Lily's life were absolutely moving, and left me feeling inspired. There is much to celebrate in this story, and I enjoyed Anita Higman's writing style and the first person perspective the novel is written in, allowing us to experience life through Lily's eyes. The plot has a number of layers that merge together into a satisfying, unified whole. Readers are likely to close the final pages with a new hope for healing from the seemingly impossible challenges in their own lives.

I strongly recommend this well written contemporary novel, and award it 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, River North (a division of Moody Publishers) and the Litfuse Publicity Group, for the purposes of this unbiased review.


about the author...


Anita Higman, author of River North book Winter in Full Bloom
Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.












 

Check out what other people are saying as part of the Litfuse tour at: http://litfusegroup.com/author/ahigman

Buy the book from Amazon


Anita Higman's latest novel, Winter in Full Bloom, has just released. She's teamed up with her publisher, River North Fiction, for a fun giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party on August 29th.

Winter-in-Full-Bloom-rafflecopter
 
  One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD
  • Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 28th.Winner will be announced August 29th at the Winter in Full Bloom Author Chat Party on Facebook. During the party Anita will be hosting a book chat, talking about family, announcing the winner of the Kindle Fire, and giving away a ton of books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving party goers an exclusive look at her next book.

So grab your copy of Winter in Full Bloom and join Anita on the evening of August 29th 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. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 29th!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

3 free kindle christian fiction books including "Misery Loves Company" by Rene Gutteridge

Three fiction book shave recently become free on Amazon.com. Only one of them is free on Barnes&Noble.com. Here are the novels:

From Barnes & Noble.com:

From Amazon.com:

Another well-written book! My review of "Into the Whirlwind" by Elizabeth Camden (with CFBA tours)


Cover Art

Check out a preview and my review of "Into the Whirlwind", courtesy of the publisher and CFBA:

........

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Into the Whirlwind
Baker Publishing Group (August 15, 2013)
by
Elizabeth Camden


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida.




ABOUT THE BOOK

After her father's death, Mollie Knox takes over his watchmaking company and uses her head for business to solidify the good name of the 57th Illinois Watch Company. Her future looks bright until the night her beloved city is destroyed in the legendary Great Chicago Fire. With her world crumbling around her, Molly must do whatever it takes to save her company in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek is an influential attorney with powerful ties to the political, mercantile, and ethnic roots of Chicago. His only weakness is Mollie Knox, a woman who has always been just beyond his reach. However, all bets are off after the fire destroys Chicago, and Mollie is in desperate need of assistance. Just as Zack finally begins to pursue the woman he loves, competition arises in the form of a hero from her past who can provide the help she needs to rise from the ashes.

While Mollie struggles to rebuild, the two men battle for her heart. One has always loved her, but the other has the power to save her. In the race to rebuild the city, can she survive with her business and her heart intact?

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



.........


my review.....


Written with fascinating historical detail and vivid descriptions that will have you experiencing the heat and chaos of the Great Chicago Fire, "Into the Whirlwind" is a fine addition to Elizabeth Camden's growing list of published works. Although I have read other books that take place at the time of the fire, I really enjoyed the way that Camden has allowed her characters to experience the fire itself and the after effects as well. I can't imagine watching my whole home and livelihood go up in flames, and then discovering that the insurance company meant to help me has gone bankrupt! The book is well-written and flows smoothly from scene to scene, and there is plenty of action to keep the story moving along. I loved reading about a female character who is a watch maker, definitely something that adds a unique spark to the story. I do have to say that the back and forth nature of Zack and Mollie's relationship wore on my patience a bit, and there were times that Mollie's behaviours just made her unlikeable. On the whole, however, I did enjoy the cast of characters who star in this novel, and felt that Camden did a good job at providing them with well-rounded personalities. The ending will definitely leave a smile on your face! Finally, as with her prior novels, I also appreciated how she wove faith in God into the story, making it seem a natural part of the character's lives.

Fans of historical fiction and of prior novels by Elizabeth Camden will appreciate her latest contribution. I give this book a solid rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Bethany House, and Christian Fiction Blog Alliance along with Graf-Martin, for the purposes of this unbiased review.






Thursday, August 22, 2013

Check out "In Golden Splendor" by Michael K. Reynolds, and read the first chapter too!



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:

B&H Books; Reprint edition (July 15, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children in Reno, Nevada.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Irish immigrant Seamus Hanley is a lost soul, haunted by his
past as a U.S. Army deserter and living alone in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in 1849. But after witnessing a deadly stage coach crash, he finds purpose in the scattered wreckage -- a letter with a picture of a beautiful and captivating woman named Ashlyn living in San Francisco at the height of the Gold Rush. Moved by her written plea for help, he abandons all and sets out on an epic journey across the wild and picturesque American frontier. While being pursued by those who want to hang him, Seamus encounters fascinating characters including a young Pauite Indian who makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping Seamus to cross the snowy Yosemite Valley.

Battered but changed for the better, Seamus reaches San Francisco on Christmas Eve as the city burns in the tragic fire of 1849. But there is little time for rest, as an even greater, more harrowing adventure involving Ashlyn is about to begin.



Product Details:
List Price: $11.16
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: B&H Books; Reprint edition (July 15, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433678209
ISBN-13: 978-1433678202


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter 1



Man of the Mountain



Wilderness of the Southern Rocky Mountain Range

September 1849



His sunken face windburned and forested by an icicle-encrusted mustache and beard, Seamus Hanley exhaled a steamy billow through his cracked lips into the frosty mountain air. Then the Irishman held his breath and lowered his rusted Brown Bess musket, his hands numbed by the frigidness breaching his torn and frayed bearskin gauntlets.



The pain of hunger in his stomach had long subsided, and now only the trembling of his grip and weariness of his soul impressed upon him the urgency of this unpleasant task.



He closed one of his lake-blue eyes, the last remnant of the promise of his youth, and sighted the muzzle of the weapon at the unsuspecting, rummaging elk.



Even at a distance, the ribs of the great beast showed through its patchy and scarred chestnut fur. Through the barrel’s eye, Seamus tracked the young bull as it limped its way over to an aspen tree. The elk raised its head, crowned in mockery by horns uneven and fractured.



Did it catch his scent?



Then the animal relaxed, bared its teeth, and tugged on a low-lying branch, releasing a powdery mist of fresh snowfall and uncovering autumnal leaves of maroon, amber, and burnt orange. Brilliant watercolor splashes on a white canvas.



In the deadly stillness of a finger poised on a trigger, Seamus shared a kinship of loneliness and futility with his prey, whose ear flapped and jaw bulged as it chewed.



This wasn’t the way it should be. For both were trailing the herd at this time of season.



This was when both mountain men and wildlife should be well fattened by summer’s gracious hands. For the fall offered only last provisions, the final stones in the fortress. Because, like shadows in the distant horizon, the bitter enemies of winter were approaching.



Seamus tried to steady his focus as the wind shrilled. “It’s me or you, my friend.”



The frizzen was closed, the powder set, and his very last musket ball was loaded. This would be his only shot.



For it had been another disappointing trade season amidst the dwindling market of beaver, otter, and marmot pelts. The fashion shifts in faraway places like New York and Europe were flushing out trappers like Seamus throughout the Western out- lands of this sprouting nation.



But he expected as much. Seamus’s past was rife with disap- pointing harvests.



With a pang of regret, his numb finger squeezed ever so gently and spark and flame breached the touchhole, igniting the gunpowder and sending a lead ball, laced with hope and des- peration, through the icy air. Sounds, though dampened by the snow, ricocheted through the woods.



The creature leapt into the air, thighs and legs flailing in a moment of frenzy. Then it gathered itself, turned, and bobbed its white tail up through the embankment into the sheltering embrace of the frozen forest.



A flash here. A speck of brown again. Then it was gone. And Seamus was alone. Completely alone.



Seamus lumbered over to a tree stump mushroomed by snow, and with the back of his glove he gave it a firm sweep to dust it clean before sitting down on the iced, jagged surface.



“Arrgh!” He flung his musket in the air, watching it spiral before being enveloped into a bank of snow. Then he lowered his face into his moist, fur-covered hands and sobbed.



No one would see him cry. No one ever did. Here, in the high country, emotions were shielded by solitude.



Though just two years had passed, it seemed forever ago when he chose self-exile. When he tried to hide from the memories.



Seamus could barely recall the laughter of his youth and his passion for whimsy. Growing up in the green-rich fields of Ireland, he would feast off the sparkle of cheer that echoed through the farmlands of his people back home.





But that was many tragedies ago. Now that all looked like someone else’s life.



He dwelled in the blackness of despair for a while, but even- tually the chilling lashes of the winds pried him from the depths of his misery. Survival still lorded over the emptiness.



Seamus retrieved his musket from its snowy grave. It was useless without ammunition, but he couldn’t part with one of his only friends.



With slumping shoulders, he headed home. Home. His mis- shapen cabin in the hollow of the woods. Despite his best efforts to acclimate to the wilderness, he was still merely trespassing. And where was home when your spirit wandered?



Yet there was a more pressing question. Would he even make it back to the cabin? The moment the hobbled elk escaped, it became Seamus who was hunted. He had risked the chase and strayed far. Now his hunger grew fangs and eyed its prey.



The weariness. The throbbing of his temples. Every step mattered.



Seamus popped the top of his canteen, lifted it, and poured water down his dry, aching throat. Then he surveyed this unfamiliar terrain.



He rarely traversed this patch of backcountry and for good reason. Civilization had encroached following the opening of a United States Army outpost not far away. It intersected with the Oregon Trail, the main pathway for travelers to the West, who of late were drawn in droves to the resonating whispers of gold in California.



The army fort was tasked to free the flow of commerce from the growing hindrance of the Indian population. Seamus had no quarrels with the brown-skinned natives of this territory. In fact, he coveted their ability to thrive in this cruel environment, which had buckled him to his knees.



But he was terrified of the American soldiers.



At the thought, he reached up to the scar on his left cheek, hidden beneath his scraggly facial hair. The image haunted of that branding iron growing in size as it was pressed down on him, the burning flesh both his punishment and permanent mark as an Irish defector in Polk’s war, the battle against the Mexicans.



He bristled at the word defector. People confused it too easily with deserter. Seamus had fought bravely in the war and never wavered amidst firestorms, death screams, and the lead- filled chaos. Even when, like many of his countrymen, he chose to change allegiances and fight for the other side.



Suddenly, the whinnying of horses pulled him out of his trance. Seamus bent down behind a bush and strained his eyes high above in the direction of the repeating and frantic neighing sounds.



Of course. Fools Pass.



It was daunting enough for wagons to climb this section of the main trail during the warm and dry months. But trying to scale it during wintertime only validated its name.



The horses sounded again, this time blending with the curses of a man and the cracking of a whip. From Seamus’s vantage point far below, he could see a wagon drawn by two steeds straining to make it up the crest of the hill. Its driver beseeched the creatures with a mad flailing of his arm whilst they slid and grappled for traction.



The two great horses managed to find a steadiness in their hoofing and the wagon straightened and lunged forward with the wooden wheels digging into the deep snow. The vehicle moved closer to the crest of the peak.



Then there was a hideous splintering of wood. One of the horses reared and broke free from its bindings causing the other to stumble. In the matter of a moment, the still-yoked horse, the carriage, and its horrified teamster started to slide back down the slope, angling toward the trail’s edge that dropped hundreds of feet below.



Slowly. Excruciating to watch.



First one wheel cleared the edge. Then another. And all was lost.



The driver leapt from his bench, but much too late. The full momentum of the wagon and its cargo ripped violently against the futile efforts of the horse to regain its footing. The helpless creature was yanked through the air as if it were weightless. Its neck flexed unnaturally backward.



Then launching downward, in one flight of wagon, wooden shards, scattering luggage, and flapping limbs of man and beast, the behemoth plunged in fury to depths below amidst hideous songs of anguish rising above the wind’s mournful cries.

Seamus shielded his eyes from the horrific imagery. But his ears weren’t spared the tortuous screeching. He loathed to hear the conclusion of violence, the anticipated clash of rock and timber, metal and flesh.



Instead, there was a muffled thud. Was it possible they survived?



Energy surged through his flesh and he dropped his musket and ran with abandon, boots sinking through fresh powder and legs tripping over fallen pine boughs and sunken boulders.



After bloodying his face and arms through dashes between patches of trees, he arrived with his lungs ablaze at the scene of the carriage accident.



The collision with the ground had been softened by a deep snowdrift, and as a result, the wreckage was relatively intact. But the driver hadn’t survived the fall. His body was bent grotesquely in a rose-colored embankment.



There too lay the horse, still trained to the wagon. Amazingly, the poor creature still showed signs of life, though it was reduced to a dim wheezing, and tiny flumes rose in the coolness from the flutter of its bleeding nostrils.



Seamus curled up beside the fallen beast and stroked its head. “Shhh . . . dear fellow.” He sat beside it in an honoring silence until the last flicker extinguished in its eyes.



He then pushed to his feet and walked over to the mangled body of the driver dressed in a soldier’s uniform and young enough to still be in the daily prayers of a heartbroken mother.

As he looked upon the dead boy, he was struck by the emptiness of the wide-open orbs gazing into the murky skies. Seamus’s thoughts jarred to crimson-drenched fields, haunting memories of explosions, the flashing lights, the whirring of can- non shot hurled through the air against crumbling stone walls, battle equipment, flesh and bones.



How could he had ever fired at another human being? Back then they were faceless uniforms, just flags flapping in the winds of war. Yet this soldier lying below him could have been his brother. Maybe even the brother he lost.



Oh! Why bring back those haunting visions of his youth? Would they ever go away? Would he torment himself in even crueler ways than did his father?



Seamus looked around for anything that could serve as a shovel, and the best he could find was a wooden panel he ripped off of the carriage. He used it to drag snow over the body. It was a crude burial at best, but it would at least keep the corpse from being dragged away by scavenging predators for a day or so before the weather warmed again.



Perhaps he just couldn’t bear to see the boy’s face any longer. He then explored the wagon, which had landed on its side and was twisted and embedded deep in the snowbank.



Seamus reached down and pulled on the door, which tore from its bro- ken hinges, and he tossed it out of his way. He climbed down inside, discovered several canvas sacks, and threw them up and out of the carriage’s womb.







Getting out was a much more difficult proposition. Whatever parts of the cabin he tried to pull himself up with shattered to the touch, and the walls of snow around him threatened to col- lapse. He feared being crushed and suffocating.



After much exertion he managed to claw his way out, and when he was back on his feet, his muscles writhed and his breathing wheezed. Dizziness swept over him and he had to close his eyes to regain his balance.



There would be little time now. His stomach clenched. He must return home.



Could there be food?



He propped up the first of the bags and hesitated for a moment before unfastening the slender rope binding it shut.



Was this right to do? Wouldn’t this make him a robber of graves?



Ridiculous! He was starving.



He removed his leather gauntlets and worked the knot with determination. Then it was freed and when he opened the mouth of the bag his spirit sank.



Mail.



Then the next bag. It was the same.



Another. Uniforms. He flung the sack down, and the cloth- ing scattered, blue against the white.



The heavy bag? Please. If there is a God above, then have mercy on me.



Cans! But there would be no way to open them out here. He untied the last bag, which proved to be the most stubborn. Finally it was freed and, once again, it was mail. But this one also had parcel boxes. He reached in to pull one out and several letters scattered in the wind.



Seamus stared at the box and shook it. Looking up, he saw the sun dipping below the crowns of the trees. He couldn’t squander any more daylight.



He returned the package in the sack and gathered the letters from the ground. As he did, one letter caught his eye.



In addition to an address on it was written PLEASE OPEN IMMEDIATELY. He stared at it for a moment and went to fling it but paused and examined it again.



Not understanding why he was compelled to do so, he tucked the envelope in an inner pocket of his doeskin jacket. Then he lifted the bag of canned goods and slung it over his shoulder. Too heavy. He would have to do something.



Yet he couldn’t fully embrace the thought of throwing away some of its contents. How much would he regret leaving any of these cans behind? The indecision was amplified by the pounding of his head and a surge of nausea.







Something drew him out of this. A movement in the trees behind him, a rustling of leaves.



He spun, now alert, and gazed through foliage beginning to be shrouded by dusk.



Silence. Even the wind had stilled. Only his breathing remained.



Then. It happened again. The snapping of branches. Something or someone was approaching.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Preview "Moon Dancing" by Anna Zogg, courtesy of First Wild Card Tour!



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:

Next Step Books (July 14, 2013)

***Special thanks to Virginia Smith and Keely Leake for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Anna Zogg has always been fascinated by the west: ranch life, wild mustangs and the tough men and women who sought to tame it. Her fondest memories are of summers she spent riding her horse, Brandy, and the day she participated in a rodeo. Moon Dancing was born out of her lifelong love of the west and the discovery of her own Native American heritage. Author of numerous articles, Moon Dancing is Ms. Zogg’s debut novel. She and her husband, John, currently live in Utah.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A rogue black stallion. A sacred white buffalo. Mysterious night voices.

Megan Gillespie returns to Wyoming to fulfill a promise. Nothing more. Yet when the unexplainable happens she is drawn into the intrigues surrounding her uncle’s ranch…intrigues that escalate the longer she stays. How can prized mares simply vanished? Who is the Native American that appears only at night? Why is her uncle determined to keep her from leaving?

Torn between the desire to escape and the need to resolve these long-held secrets, Megan uncovers truths that threaten her life…and stir her to the depths of her soul.


Product Details:
List Price: $10.58
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Next Step Books (July 14, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937671127
ISBN-13: 978-1937671129


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

A scream–long and agonizing–ripped the air. The hair on Megan Gillespie’s neck stood on end while the scent of spring rain filled her senses. She peered through the pickup’s windshield, seeing nothing beyond a mound of pinyon pine and withered grass. Shouts of men and the nervous snorting of horses battered her. What is happening? She flung open the door. As she sprinted up the dusty rise, she tripped on her long jeans skirt.

The scene below riveted her.

Like a pack of wolves, a group of men circled a black stallion. Head flailing, the horse fought uncountable ropes. He reared, hooves striking blindly. Foam flecked his neck, teeth bared and mouth opened in a silent shriek. The setting sun painted his soaked hide in blood-colored lather. Dust boiled upwards, the air choked with pinpricks of glittering gold.

The horse fought in vain. His cry, one of rage and impotence, shuddered through Megan.

Pain! She doubled over, as though punched the stomach. Can’t breathe. Her eyes burned from the agony.

The stallion again reared, legs lashing out.

“Hold him. I said, hold him!” A tall man yanked a lariat from the hands of one of the men.

The next moment, the stallion lunged forward. Men scattered. Rope tore through the gloves of one cowhand, the sound like a zip-line at high speed. He howled.

The stallion’s getting away! Megan’s heart leaped with hope. He’s getting–

Joy crumpled into terror. The horse charged directly at her.



* * *



“Hey, ya hear me? I said, whatcha think of Silver Springs?”

The voice pierced the fog of her mind. Megan shook her head and blinked. A gentle breeze lifted a strand of hair and caressed her cheek. She turned to the speaker.

Miles, the driver of the van, scratched his ribcage as he grinned at her.

Where’s…?

A chill crawled through her. She could have sworn she’d just been standing….

“Cat got yer tongue?”

Miles spat a brown stream of unmentionable liquid into the dirt. She stepped back to avoid being splattered.

He smirked. “Better get used to it, Miz City Gal. Out here, don’t need my spittin’ cup.”

She vaguely recalled the chipped mug and its foaming contents in the truck’s console. Hadn’t she just spent three hours coming from Cheyenne? She remembered thinking how hot the ride had been without air conditioning.

A door slammed. The other passenger opened the back of the van and grabbed his luggage, muttering under his breath.

“Hey, I can get those.” Miles sprang forward to haul the man’s belongings into the building.

A battered sign hung from the eaves of the self-proclaimed hotel, half the words blistered off. Weatherworn rocking chairs squeaked on the porch, propelled by invisible patrons.

As she stared at her grimy feet, Megan remembered stepping out of the van. I distinctly recall worrying about my sandals. Pedicured toenails had morphed from mauve to mud-colored. Dust streaked her skirt. Miles had asked if she were “rump sprung” as she’d gazed down the empty streets of Silver Springs. But after that….

The late afternoon sun beat down, warring with her lingering out-of-sync feeling.

She again glanced down the main street. Twenty or so sad buildings spread out on both sides of a potholed road. Peeling paint, grime and neglect stamped the worn wooden siding. At a distance stood a lonely corral and dilapidated barn. If not for three pickup trucks, Megan could swear she’d stepped back a hundred years into the old west.

I had these thoughts before. The sense of déjà vu hit her again. What is going on?

She remained alone by the van, staring down the vacant street and asking herself why she would voluntarily travel to the wilds of Wyoming. Was she crazy? Obviously, in light of the weird stuff that had happened since the moment of her arrival.

Three months. That’s all I promised my uncle. Megan took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. She could put up with almost anything for three months. Besides, she’d earned it. She’d worked multiple seventy-hour weeks to finish a major project so she could take the time off.

Down the street, a dust devil swirled hypnotically. The tan cyclone bobbed and gyrated, then lifted into the air, passing over her head as though parading out of town. For a moment, the sun blinded her with hazy orange. The cloud of dirt settled and split apart, spraying the horizon in gold and scarlet.

“Wow,” she murmured, entranced by the beauty.

A white calf stood at the edge of town. Is that a buffalo? Nothing had been there a minute ago. Feet splayed, the ghost-colored animal calmly returned her gaze, oblivious to the dust storm. Animals didn’t normally stare at people, but this one did. Wholly intent on her, the calf didn’t move. Megan shivered.

The miniature storm continued to blow at the edge of town, then suddenly shifted, spraying dirt her direction. Dazzling sand particles danced around, without touching her. The storm raged for minutes. Then it unexpectedly died as though someone flipped a switch. She blinked and looked back to the edge of town.

The calf had vanished.

She straightened. Where–?

“Miz Gillespie?” A deep male voice sounded nearby.

Megan ignored the speaker. The calf had been right there!

“Did you–did you just…?” Unable to explain the event, she clamped her mouth shut, still staring.

“Did I what?”

Finally, she gazed at the newcomer.

I’ve seen him before.

The tall cowboy looked like he’d stepped out of a western movie. Sandy hair, blue-gray eyes, and deep tan made her gulp. Not only was he lean and square-jawed, but the huge silver belt buckle, shaped like a horseshoe, large hat and well-worn boots completed the picture.

He grinned. “Don’t tell me you’re overcome by our picturesque town.”

“Heya, Jack.” The voice of Miles boomed as he exited the hotel. “Thought that was you.”

The cowboy turned to the driver. “Where’ve you been? Stop to take pictures or something?” Annoyance roughened the words of the man named Jack. “I’ve been waiting over an hour.”

“I’m sure you found someone to keep ya occupied. Heard the new barmaid has her eye on you.”

“You could’ve called.” Jack poked the brim of his hat back with a thumb.

“Forgot my phone. ’Sides, I was busy talking to the purdiest gal I’ve seen in a while.” Miles winked at her. “This here’s Daniel’s niece.”

The cowboy stuck out his hand. “Jack Crawford. Foreman of the Double O.”

“Megan Gillespie.” As she shook his hand she hissed in a breath from his firm grip.

“Figured. You got his red hair.”

“That ain’t all of his this city gal’s got.” Miles guffawed.

What’s that mean? She pulled her hand away from Crawford’s.

“Course, she don’t have as many freckles. And good thing she don’t weigh near–”

“This your gear?” The foreman stepped up to the back of the van.

Gear. She tucked away the interesting word as she shot him a grateful look. “Yes. Let me–”

“I got it.” He grabbed the three pieces of designer luggage, then stuffed one under his arm. “This all?”

“Let me get my purse and carryon.” She hurried to the front seat to retrieve them.

“That’s one thing about Jack.” Miles dug into a can of tobacco, apparently oblivious to the fact they ignored him. “Always knows how to treat the ladies right.”

“I’m parked down the street.” Crawford indicated the trucks with a tilt of his head.

“So you could be closer to the bar?” Miles stuffed a wad in his lip, then smirked.

The foreman glared. “We agreed to meet at the post office, remember? My pickup’s right out front.”

The driver spread his hands. “How’s I supposed to know we’d have an extra passenger? Jed Harper wanted me to drop him off at the hotel.”

Crawford straightened with a jerk. “Harper?”

“Harper Junior. Returning to the fold, so to speak.” Miles scratched his cheek without a break. “Staying in town overnight. Guess he wants to patch things up a’tween him and the old man.”

Megan raised her brows. The sullen man who’d shared her van ride didn’t seem the type who wanted to patch up anything.

“He tell you this?” Crawford’s mouth hardened. “Or you making it up?”

Miles looked taken aback. “Aw, you know me. Picked it up here and there.”

“And spreading it around.”

“Hey, ain’t still bad blood a’tween you and Harper, is there?”

The foreman’s jaw jutted as he glanced at Megan. “Let’s go.”

“You’re supposed t’forgive and forget, Jack.”

Without answering, Crawford stalked down the street.

She hurried to follow, wondering what Miles meant by bad blood. However, his parting shot distracted her. “Whatever you do, Miz Gillespie, don’t let Jack take the scenic route. He’d ruin your reputation, fo’sure.” His squawking laugh made her wince.

“Thanks again for stopping by.” An overly bleached blond popped out of a building and smiled brilliantly at Crawford. “Don’t forget you got that tab running.”

“You know I’m good for it.” He touched the brim of his hat.

Her smile faded as soon she noticed Megan.

When he reached a blue Chevy, he tossed her luggage into the bed then climbed into the full-sized cab, leaving her to fend for herself. He could at least open her door, couldn’t he? She tucked her carryon under an arm to free her hand. Crawford unexpectedly leaned over and opened the door from the inside.

“Thanks.” Though she was grateful they’d gotten away from Miles, the foreman could be a little more helpful. And not toss her suitcases around like cattle prepared for branding.

He started the truck before she shut the door and began to back out. Megan fumbled to find the seat belt.

“You don’t need ’em around here.”

She glared at him. “I happen to value my life.”

“Nobody uses ’em–trust me.”

She ignored his comment and dug between the middle of the seat. The shoulder strap was missing, leaving her only with the lap belt. After locating the other half, she jammed the gritty ends together, and then struggled to tighten it. Clogged by dirt and disuse, the mechanism wouldn’t budge. Crawford was already heading out of town, acknowledging the wave of another woman who walked along the street.

Megan hated to give up, but finally folded her hands to hide the fact that the belt lay slack. Without a word, Crawford reached over. With one hard tug, he tightened the strap.

“Ow! Enough.” The material dug into her pelvis. She spent the next couple minutes trying to loosen it. “You didn’t have to cut off circulation to my legs.”

He remained silent, staring ahead at the narrow road.

After settling, she studied the landscape. Bare dirt, pinyon pine and spindly grass, all either brown or faded. Nothing else could be seen for miles and miles. What creatures could possibly survive here? Already she missed the lush green of Florida. Forbidding gray mountains dominated the horizon. Though she’d spent the first nine years of her life in Wyoming, nothing seemed familiar. Or inviting.

Megan threw a glance at the foreman. “How far to the ranch?”

“’Bout an hour.”

“That far?” When he didn’t volunteer anything else, she tried again. “Is the road paved all the way?”

“Mostly.”

“Have you lived in this area long?”

“Some.”

“Like it?”

“Yep.”

She blew out a breath. “Definitely not big on conversation.”

Crawford acted as though he hadn’t heard. Fingers choking the steering wheel, he stared ahead. Maybe there was still bad blood between him and Jed Harper.

The subdued drone of tires on pavement began to grate on her nerves. Silence pressed on her, but instead of growing sleepy, she found herself tensing. She almost asked the foreman to turn on the radio. More than once, she unclenched her hands and forced her shoulders to relax. She sighed deeply several times, trying to get enough air.

The shrill ringing of a phone made her jump.

“Sup?” Crawford pressed the cell to his ear. After a pause, he said, “You’re kidding. When? Where? On my way.”

He stomped on the accelerator. When the pickup began to rock, Megan clutched at the door. She glanced at the speedometer. They were doing over seventy-five.

“What’s going on?” Her voice came out a little more sharply than she intended.

“Need to make a detour.”

“Where?” Miles’ warning about a scenic route flashed through her mind. “My uncle’s expecting me.”

“This won’t take long.” Gaze locked ahead, Crawford’s jaw stiffened.

The needle edged eighty. Eighty-five.

“Do you have to drive so fast?” She raised her voice over the whine of the engine. “I’m sure–”

“He doesn’t want me to miss this.” Crawford shot her a hard glance. “Believe me.”

She gulped, saying nothing more.

He slowed only slightly as they came to a dirt road and careened around the corner. The pickup skidded, spraying rocks into the air. They fishtailed. With casual expertise, he righted the vehicle, then sped up again. The truck bounced crazily over uneven ground. Megan banged her arm against the window then grabbed the seat back. Her carryon leaped up, then crashed to the floor several times.

In the distance, men and horses crowded around something. Dread built in her. As the truck hurtled down a hill, she lost sight of them. Her stomach vaulted into her throat. Crawford slammed on the brakes, causing the truck to skid sideways. After shoving the gearshift lever into park, he flipped off the keys.

“Stay here. You’ll be safe.” He jumped out.

For several minutes, she heard only her panting breath. Her arm felt bruised where it had hit the window. Fighting to slow her pounding heart, she rubbed her neck. Megan pushed away the premonition of having been there before.

The sun dipped lower in the sky, the heat growing inside the truck until it became suffocating. She turned the key so she could roll down both windows a few inches. Outside, the blowing wind snatched at the nearby pinyon pine, rustling the twigs, the sound reminiscent of shuffling paper. The breeze moaned its way through the windows.

Help me. Someone, standing outside the cab of the truck, rasped the barely audible words.

“What?” Megan jerked around to look out her window. Imagining she saw a dark form, she shrank back.

No one was there.

“This is creepy.” She rubbed her arms.

The barrenness of the countryside and the utter stillness clawed at her mind.

I’ve been here before. I know it.

She shuddered. Where had Crawford gone? What was he doing? The cries of men and animals gradually welled up into awareness, as though someone slowly turned up the volume on a radio.

The scream of a stallion pierced the air. A shiver slithered down her spine. What were they doing to the horse? Déjà vu hit so hard, she clenched the door handle and dashboard to brace herself. The scent of spring rain enveloped her.

This can’t be happening.

Megan peered through the dirty windshield, knowing she’d done that before. But when? How?

Her hand crept up her throat. The burn of something tightened around her neck. It pulled against her flesh, crushing her windpipe. The agony built and built until she could hardly breathe.

Out of the corner of her eye, a white blur streaked past the truck. Megan gasped in recognition as a buffalo calf ran up the knoll and disappeared.

The next moment, she bolted out of the cab and sprinted up the rise.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Free ebook: "Sweat, Blood, and Tears" by Xan Hood

Free for download today from publisher David C. Cook: 


A fun mystery! My review of "Rules of Murder" by Julianna Deering (with CFBA Tours)


Cover Art

Check out a preview and my review of "Rules of Murder", courtesy of the publisher and CFBA:

........

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Rules of Murder
Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
by
Julianna Deering


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JULIANNA DEERING has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014).



 ABOUT THE BOOK



Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery

Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. When a weekend party at Farthering Place is ruined by murder and the police seem flummoxed, Drew decides to look into the crime himself. With the help of his best friend, Nick Dennison, an avid mystery reader, and Madeline Parker, a beautiful and whip-smart American debutante staying as a guest, the three try to solve the mystery as a lark, using the methods from their favorite novels.

Soon, financial irregularities at Drew's stepfather's company come to light and it's clear that all who remain at Farthering Place could be in danger. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer--and trying harder to impress Madeline--Drew must decide how far to take this game.

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



.........


my review.....


"Rules of Murder" is a fun mystery featuring characters you'll quickly grow to love, and snappy dialogue that is an absolute joy to read! There is plenty of action to keep the plot moving along, and as the dead bodies kept piling up I enjoyed sleuthing along with Drew, Nick & Madeline to try and determine just who was behind it all. I must say that Julianna Deering does an excellent job of capturing that flavor that permeates mysteries by Agatha Christie, and though I won't pretend that any character will ever touch the much-loved Poirot, Drew Farthering definitely makes for an enjoyable hero. I also felt that the author did an excellent job of weaving faith into the story, as she explores belief in God, our purpose in life, and that human element that finds us all, in times of desperation, approaching the throne of God. I am certainly glad that this book appears to be the first in a series, because I was simply not ready to see the book come to an end. The elements of mystery aren't the most complex I've ever seen, but they are woven together well and mystery buffs should be satisfied. Finally, scenes involving Madeline and Drew not only provide some romance, but the dialogue they share is worth reading more than once!

I am looking forward to future installments featuring Drew and gang, and give this book a strong recommendation of 4 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of the publisher, Bethany House, along with Christian Fiction Blog Alliance & Graf-Martin, for the purposes of this unbiased review.