Friday, June 29, 2012

Exposed by Shannon Deitz

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:

Hopeful Heart Ministries (May 18, 2012)

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


 Shannon Deitz is a woman in love with God and excited about her faith. But it wasn't always that way. While still a teen, her boyfriend was tragically killed in an auto accident, and she began to question a God who would claim a young man with so much life yet to be lived. At the fragile age of seventeen, she was raped and she began to distrust a God who would allow such a thing. Again, as a freshman in college, she was raped a second time, and she began to earnestly put as much distance between herself and God as she possibly could. At the age of 27, having run from God as far as she could go, she found herself at the bottom of a life that was no longer tolerable. Having no place to go but up, she looked to Heaven. And there was God, surrounding her with His peace. It was the beginning of a love story that has grown more beautiful with each passing day.

Shortly after her love affair with God began in earnest, Deitz felt a distinct calling to begin teaching the teens at her local church. Her work with teens led to a full-time youth ministry. Within the next four years, that ministry bloomed, allowing her to witness God's amazing work in her church and her life. In 2007, her youth group was voted in the top five of EWTN's Catholic Youth Groups in the United States, and in 2008 she was invited to speak on God's unfailing love at the World Youth Day Festivities in Sydney, Australia. In 2011, she was again asked to speak at the WYD Festivities in Madrid, Spain.
Deitz has also served as a team speaker for the Franciscan University Steubenville Youth Conferences in Ohio, Louisiana, Florida, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington State, collectively reaching more than 40,000 teenagers. She also reaches out to her audiences through her popular blog, www.ShannonMDeitz.com .

Deitz has been a 'featured columnist' on CatholicLane.com. She and her husband, Neal, live in Kingwood, Texas, where they are active in their local church and community. The couple has two sons, Ryan and Seth, who provide them with endless joy and reason to continually count their blessings.

Information regarding her book and current speaking schedule may be found on the site, as well as specifics for engaging her as a speaker for an upcoming event.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


We all yearn to be loved. It is our self-imposed litmus test for worthiness-our way of confirming we are special and knowing that we matter. Acclaimed author and speaker Shannon Deitz understands that yearning well. Raped at seventeen and then again as a freshman in college, she felt completely bypassed by love. Rebelling against the violent attacks on her body and struggling to quiet the pain through self-abuse, her feelings of worthlessness eventually became so palpable she could not fathom how anyone-most especially God-could love her. This only caused her to push deeper into her own torment.

Then, at the age of 27, unable to fight the battle raging inside her any longer, she gave it all up. Face down on her bedroom floor with her life in shambles all around her, Deitz surrendered every aspect of her being to God. She gave up the self-judgment, the condemnation, the need to be better. She let it all go. And, in that moment, every fear faded away and for the first time since childhood she experienced true peace.

Now, a dozen years later, having shared her remarkable story of transformation in her critically-acclaimed and award-winning book, Exposed: Inexcusable Me...Irreplaceable Him (Pleasant Word Publishing, 2010), Deitz is taking her message to audiences across the country and abroad. Passionately sharing her own story, she unabashedly offers new hope to the hopeless and rekindles flames in coals of faith grown cold.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Hopeful Heart Ministries (May 18, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0985250305
ISBN-13: 978-0985250300



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Preface

Why me?

I have asked this question many times in my life. Growing up, I wondered why I felt so ugly and wanted so much attention, why my older sister told me secrets I never wanted to hear, why it felt like our family was falling apart and I couldn’t do anything to stop it, and why it felt like bad things kept happening to me and I never could catch a break.

The most common response would be that “it all happens for a reason.”  Looking back, however, it is obvious to me that is not necessarily true. I cannot ignore the decisions that were made on my part, or my sister’s, friends’, family’s, or acquaintances’, and not recognize the course life took because of our decisions.

Some would argue that God is the reason. God is in the illnesses or forces of nature that strike hard and uproot your core existence, forcing your hand in strength and causing your tomorrows to change. Everything else? Well, that is due to an abuse of God’s gift of free will. I cannot look back at my life and ignore the fact that free will, on my part or the part of others in my life, led to life-altering circumstances.

What it comes down to is the reaction.

How do I respond? How do I move forward? What do I internalize? To whom do I turn?

When a stranger among the 1.2 million Catholic Young Adults that had gathered for the 2005 World Youth Day festivities in Köln, Germany called me by name, I didn’t have time to respond, react, or internalize. I only knew that I needed to go and listen.

Once I heard the message, I could no longer feel sorry for myself or throw out blame. I was called by name, and it was about time I reacted.

Why me? Why not?

The ‘Nothing’  Child

Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it (Mark 10:15)

In the beginning, under the watchful eye of an enormous thunderbird, wings outstretched, in the barren, blistering city of El Paso, outlined with white rock alongside Coronado Mountain, our family of six struggled against the clashing waves of good and evil. At the age of seven, far too young to comprehend the very real but incomprehensible battle, I was sucked into the undertow.

Perched like a vulture on the arm of the couch, with her bronze legs folded up to her chest, my thirteen year old sister Carrie smirked and said, “I’m not your sister.” My older brother, Kyle, who was only seventeen months younger than Carrie, sat beside her and laughed, “Yeah! We’re not your brother and sister!”

“Yes. You. Are!” I protested each word sharply and with great calculation. Carrie and Kyle were inclined to gang up on me, when all I longed for was to be accepted and involved in everything my siblings did and invited to every place they went.

“Nope,” Carrie said. “Daddy is not my daddy.”

My undeveloped mind could not grasp what she was trying to say. Of course Daddy was her daddy! We had the same sandy hair. My face was a little more round than theirs, but they were all I knew as family. No one was supposed to look alike anyway. In a flash of a moment, the world I knew to be predictable and safe was shaken and unrecognizable.

I ran to Mom, who was busy in the utility room sewing a dress for one of us girls, flung my arms around her waist, and wailed, “Carrie says she’s not my sister!” Carrie and Kyle, who had been running close behind me, stopped short and nearly toppled on top of us when they reached the door. My sobs were muffled in Mom’s lap, but I could still hear the disappointment in her voice.

“She is your sister, and that is not nice to say.”

My head shot up in a flash. “See! You’re lying!”

“No we’re not!” Kyle insisted. “Dad is not our dad, Mom.”

Mom sighed a long, slow, “the weight of the world had just been dumped on her shoulders” sigh. I looked into her green eyes, and for the first time I really saw her. She had jet black hair that was cropped and straight—completely the opposite of my waist-length, wavy mop– and a beautiful, small oval face with a smile that radiated warmth and love. We looked nothing alike.

Fear came alive within me. “Am I adopted?”

“No, Shannon,” she sighed again, “but your daddy did adopt Carrie and Kyle.”

“See,” Kyle said as he tapped my shoulder. “I told you so.” He and Carrie started to laugh, and I wailed louder.

Mom called for my father. “Tom!”

“What?” he shouted from the living room.

Mom pulled me up with her as she stood. “Let’s all go into the TV room. We need to have a family talk.”

Within the sanctity of my home, amidst those closest and dearest to me, who I knew to be my family, I was prematurely stripped of the honor young children have to be naïve and carefree.

Tears began to build at the corner of Mom’s serene eyes as she explained the details of her first marriage in a way that my young mind could comprehend. It wasn’t until I was in college, struggling through my own personal trials, that I finally understood the story and became privy to the rest of her secrets.

Mom’s first marriage was sad, abusive, and short-lived. It began soon after high school and ended when her husband returned home from Vietnam. The demise of her innocence, however, began much earlier.

Mom’s earliest memory goes back to when she was still in her crib, and it is the first of ten years of memories of a stolen childhood and loss of innocence. The eldest of five, she was the only one to claim the pink bow in her testosterone filled home. “Thank God,”  she’d say. If her brothers had been girls, they, too, would have suffered at the perverted hands of her father.

Like many girls who suffer in silence, to the outside world my mother seemed to have it all. She was captain of the cheerleading squad, bubbly, bright, and envied by her friends. At home, she was envied by her mother. But my mother did not ask for the kind of attention she got from her father. Instead, she spent her teen years pushing every memory of him into a tiny black box in the corner of her mind, and began seeking after the love her young soul craved.

Pregnant too young and married too young, Mom entered into a new world of abuse, orchestrating a spiraling descent that eventually led her into recovery. The box was opened, and she wanted to heal, help, and forgive.

As a seven-year-old, I couldn’t help but wonder where this past marriage left me. Where did I fit in? Was this why Carrie and Kyle were always giving me a hard time, when all I wanted was to be with them?

My mind reeled as I realized the obvious gap that had formed between us as children. Carrie and Kyle were so close in age, and they were five and six years ahead of me. Morgan and I were three years apart. Morgan was the baby. She was cute and entertaining, and I felt like an annoyance. The divide between us created a festering knot of insecurity.

“I’m nothing!” I wailed, perched on Dad’s lap with my head tilted back dramatically.

Giggling, Dad mustered a serious tone. “You are too something. You’re my little girl.”

“No!” With great zeal, I shook my head and added, “Carrie’s the oldest, Kyle’s the only boy, and Morgan’s the youngest! What am I? Nothing!” For my young mind, this was the truth.

One afternoon, Carrie changed course with a simple gesture of kindness. Desperate for her acceptance, I jumped at the opportunity.

“Hey, Shannon, come here for a sec,” Carrie called as she walked past my room and into her own.

“Is this a trick?” I thought. Fueled by excitement and honor, I jumped up from the floor. She never asked me into her room, but, after hesitating, I stepped in.

“Hey, come here,” she said. “I want to show you something.” She was on her stomach with her legs fanned out on the bed.

Without hesitation, I hopped up onto her bed and sat Indian style beside her. Her profile was magnetic, and in that moment I couldn’t help but stare. As far as I knew, my time in her room and presence was limited. But the more I stared, the sadder I felt. Carrie was a classic beauty. Her eyes were a petite almond shape and tortoise green. Mine were round as quarters and mint blue. The slope of her nose finished into a defined and delicate tip, and mine formed a small but not so delicate round ball. Everything about Carrie was distinct and defined yet feminine at the same time, and, even though I was still a young girl, everything about me was unusual. I had big round eyes, full lips, and a widow’s peak that came to a dramatic point in the middle of my forehead.

She held a shiny piece of paper that looked like a small poster. I looked over her shoulder to see what held her attention. It was a list including photographs of pills in all shapes, sizes, and colors, with their names below them.

“I’ve done this one, and this one . . . and this one,” she said, smiling with a strange satisfaction as she pointed out the various medications she had taken. That was what I thought, at least—that they were just pills. Medicine. I never understood why she was pointing out pills, and giggled as she did so, but then again, I was in her room and she was paying attention to me. That was all that mattered.

Of course, I knew nothing about recreational drugs. I knew there was a big scare about not accepting stickers from strangers because there was some kind of poison called LSD on the backs of them. I knew not to talk to strangers or take anything from them. Carrie was not a stranger.

That wasn’t the last of the invites into her room. No longer was I nothing. Instead, I felt like something, because Carrie, the most beautiful, funny, and perfect girl was finally taking notice of me, her bratty half-sister.

For months I trailed behind Carrie and her new boyfriend, Jose. I sat in on their conversations and make-out sessions, being sure not to be seen but staying close enough to be there if she needed me for anything. It was fascinating to witness the same girl who would sometimes rant and practically spit bile at my parents become giddy when this boy was around, often to the point of being taken over by hysterical laughter. The medications she had pointed out in her room were never seen. I was unsure if she was taking anything. If anything, this boy was a cure for whatever had made her sad and angry.

I noticed that the more Jose was around, the more Mom and Dad would yell at night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I would hear the door to Carrie’s room slam, and I would press my ear up to the wall that separated us and listen to her muffled cries and curses. Sitting on the corner of my bed, I would pray to God, asking him to make my parents leave her alone. All I knew of God was that he was our protector and I needed him to protect her.

One night, I gathered up the courage to leave the safety of my room and enter Carrie’s without her permission. She was sitting in the corner, scratching on her desk with the tip of a ballpoint pen. “What do you want?” she grumbled.

“Are you okay?” I whispered, afraid that if my parents heard me in her room she would get in more trouble.

She shrugged her shoulders with little effort. “They don’t get it. They are so stupid.”

“Yeah,” I said in bogus agreement. I didn’t think my parents were stupid, but I was desperate for Carrie’s approval.

Her face softened when she turned to look at me, and she stopped tormenting her desk. I smiled because I knew I had said the right thing. I am not sure what she saw in me at that moment, or if she ever truly considered me a friend, but I was the only one around who was eager to listen. A sense of trust began to develop between us.

Weeks and months passed, and I became more knowledgeable about what Carrie was doing as I listened in on various conversations of her sexual prowess, hearing words that made no sense, and feeling the air around me thicken with sounds and moans that sounded as if she were being wounded. And during her last years in our home, I unintentionally witnessed these acts that were beyond my years and understanding.

When it came to Carrie, nothing ever felt right. She was like an injured animal that had lost trust in the ones who wanted to help her most. When I was sucked into this vortex, spinning uncontrollably as Carrie whirled around in the air above, battling the unfair tactics of parents and social propriety, I hadn’t even reached puberty. She was beyond reach, and although I had become so immersed in her teenage world, I was still a helpless child, looking up and desperately trying to save her.

None of us were aware. My mother’s demons had entered into my sister’s world wreaking this havoc in our family.  Carrie was only six when her innocence was stolen. Mom thought she could protect us by keeping a watchful eye and she took a chance by taking us with her to attend a family reunion. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s disease was never cured. Tainted by someone she loved and trusted, my sister did not know how to create that tiny black box in the corner of her mind to block the sickness of what he did to her. Instead, she retaliated against the pain she held inside never sharing her dark secret. Like my mother, she, too, sought after love and healing, but never through healthy means or relationships.

In many ways, he hurt me, too—not physically, but through Carrie’s retaliation and through her search for the love that his disease created. All I did was love my sister. All I wanted was to see her happy and be able to witness God’s protection. I wanted to finally rest inside, because I knew she would be OK. Instead, my hope faded with each passing day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa Tawn Bergren @Litfuse

Glamorous Illusions (Grand Tour Series #1)
by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Published June 1st 2012 by David C. Cook
ISBN: 9781434764300
Paperback, 416 pages

Cora returns home from Normal School to spend the summer with her family and helping on the farm. When something happens to someone close to her, she finds that all her love and help won't change things. Then someone from her past appears on her doorstep, and her life is changed forever...

"Glamorous Illusions" is a wonderful story of a woman who has to face her past and can either learn from it or run from it. Her faith in everything she believed in has been shattered, but through it all, God is there and she has to rely on Him for her strength as she faces these challenges alone.

Lisa Bergren has done it again! She has written an amazing first book of the Grand Tour Series and I cannot wait for the next one to come out. Her characters are very realistic and easy to connect with and her story line is one that you can imagine really could happen.

This novel held me captive from the very first page, not so much with action, but the account of a woman's life and the challenges she faced. There were a few times that had me on the edge of my seat and had me turning the pages faster and faster to see what would happen next, and when it ended I was totally disappointed that I would have to leave the world of "The Grand Tour" to return back to my mundane life. It is going to be difficult to wait for the next in the series to come out! I NEED to know what happens next!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!





See what others on the tour have to say about "Glamorous Illusions".

ENTER NOW!!!!

Win a $350 “Glam” Visa Card Prize Pack from @LisaTBegren & RSVP for 6/27 Facebook party!


What is our "true" identity? Join the conversation at Lisa Tawn Begren's Glamorous Illusions Author Chat Facebook Event Page. On the evening of 6/27 we'll gather to talk about our spiritual journey, share our stories and a few laughs.

In the meantime, celebrate with Lisa by entering her Glamorous Illusions Giveaway!


One "glamorous" winner will receive a "Glam Prize Pack":

  • A $350 Visa Cash Card (Oh ... think of what you could do: treat yourself to a mani/pedi, a fabulous new dress, dinner for two, or even a two-night escape in a lovely hotel - you're only limited by your imagination!)
  • Glamorous Illusions (by Lisa Tawn Begren)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 6/26/12. Winner will be announced at Lisa's "Glamorous Illusions" Facebook Party on  6/27 {Fun begins at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT}. Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of Glamorous Illusions and join Lisa on the evening of June 27th for an evening of fun.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 27th!



Join the Flock! LitFuse Publicity Group blogger 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for this tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How does a new book make you feel?

This fantastic video from Hachette Australia addresses the question, "How does a new book make you feel?"


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Telling by Mike Duran

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:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mike Duran was a finalist in Faith in Fiction's inaugural short story contest and was chosen as one of ten authors to be published in Infuze Magazine’s 2005 print anthology. He is author of the short story “En Route to Inferno,” which appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner: Back from the Dead edition, and received the Editor’s Choice award for his creative nonfiction essay titled “The Ark,” published in the Summer 2.3 Issue of Relief Journal. In between blogs, he also writes a monthly column for Novel Journey and has served as editor on the Midnight Diner’s editorial team. Duran is an ordained minister and lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California.
Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.

On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalith—asacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.

But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell?

His words unlocked something deadly,
And now the silence is killing them.





Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386940
ISBN-13: 978-1616386948



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


He used to believe everyone was born with the magic, an innate hotline to heaven. Some called it intuition, a sixth sense; others called it the voice of God. Zeph Walker called it the Telling. It was not something you could teach or, even worse, sell-  people just had it. Of course, by the time their parents, teachers, and society got through with them, whatever connection they had with the Infinite pretty much vanished. So it was, when Zeph reached his twenty-sixth birthday, the Telling was just an echo.
That's when destiny came knocking for him.
It arrived in the form of two wind-burnt detectives packing heat and a mystery for the ages. They flashed their badges, said he was needed for questioning. Before he could object or ask for details, they loaded him into the backseat of a mud-splattered Crown Victoria and drove across town to the county morgue. The ride was barely ten minutes, just long enough for Zeph Walker to conclude that, maybe, the magic was alive and well.
"You live alone?" The driver glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
Zeph adjusted his sunglasses. "Yes, sir."
"I don't blame you." The detective looked at his partner, who smirked in response.
Zeph returned his gaze to the passing landscape.
Late summers in Endurance were as beautiful as a watercolor and as hot as the devil's kitchen. The aspens on the ridge showed gold, and the dogwoods along the creeks had already begun to thin. Yet the arid breeze rising from Death Valley served as an ever-present reminder that beauty always lives in close proximity to hell.
They came to a hard stop in front of a white plaster building. The detectives exited the car, and Zeph followed their cue. A ceramic iguana positioned under a sprawling blue sage grinned mockingly at him. Such was the landscape decor of the county coroner's building. The structure doubled as a morgue. It occupied a tiny plot of red earth, surrounded by a manicured  cactus  garden complete  with


2   | Mike Duran


indigenous flora, bison skulls, and birdbaths. Without previous knowledge, one could easily mistake the building for a cultural center or art gallery. Yet Zeph knew that something other than pottery and Picassos awaited him inside.
The bigger of the two detectives, a vaquero with a nifty turquoise belt buckle and matching bolo tie, pulled the door open and motioned for Zeph to enter. The man had all the charm of a cage fighter.
Zeph wiped perspiration off his forehead and stepped into a small vestibule.
“This way.” The cowboy clomped past, leaving the smell of sweat and cheap cologne.
They led him past an unoccupied desk into a corridor. Bland southwestern prints adorned sterile white walls. The stench of form- aldehyde and decay lingered here, and Zeph’s stomach flip-flopped in response. The hallway intersected another where two lab technicians stood in whispered conversation. They straightened as the detectives approached. After a brief nod from one of the white-jacketed men, Zeph’s escorts proceeded to an unmarked room.
“We got someone fer you to ID.” The cowboy placed his hand on the door and studied Zeph. “You don’t get sick easy, do ya?”
He swallowed. “Depends.”
“Well, if you’re gonna puke, don’t do it on these.” He pointed to a set of well-polished eel-skin boots. “Comprende?”
“No, sir. I mean—yes! Yes, sir.”
The detective scowled, then pushed the door open, waiting. Zeph’s heart was doing double-time. Whose body was he about to
see? What condition was it in? His mind raced with the possibilities. Maybe a friend had suffered a car accident. Although he didn’t have many friends to die in one. Perhaps the Hitcher, that mythical appari- tion who stalked the highway in his childhood, had claimed another victim. More likely Zeph’s old man had finally keeled over. However, he was convinced that his father had stopped living a long time ago.
Zeph drew a deep breath, took two steps into the room, perched his sunglasses on the top his head . . . and froze. In the center, framed under a single oval swath of light, lay a body on a autopsy table—a body that looked strangely familiar.
“Take a good look, Mr. Walker.” The detective’s boots clicked with precision on the yellowed linoleum. He circled the rolling metal


th e  te ll i n g       | 3


cart, remaining just outside the reach of the fluorescent light. “And maybe you can help us figger this out.”
Zeph remained near the door, hesitant to take another step.
“Go ahead.” The second detective sauntered around the opposite side, gesturing to the body. “He ain’t gonna bite.”
The detectives positioned themselves on either end of the table. They watched him.
A black marble countertop, its surface dulled by a thin blanket of dust, ran the length of one wall. In front of it sat a single wooden stool. The low-hanging lamp bleached the body monochrome. Zeph had seen enough procedurals and CSI knock-offs to know this was not an autopsy room. Perhaps it was used for viewings, maybe occa- sional poker games. But as the detectives studied him, he was starting to wonder if this was an interrogation room. Scalpels, pincers, saws. Oh, what exotic torture devices one might assemble from a morgue! Nevertheless, this particular room appeared to have not been used in a long time. And by the fevered sparkle in their eyes, these men seemed inspired about the possibility of doing so.
Zeph glanced from one man to the other, and then he edged toward the corpse.
Its flesh appeared dull, and the closer he got, the less it actu- ally looked like skin. Perhaps the body had been drained of blood or bleached by the desert sun. He inched closer. Sunken pockets appeared along the torso, and he found himself wondering what could have possibly happened to this person.
The head lay tilted back, its bony jaw upturned, cords of muscle taut across a gangly neck. A white sheet draped the body at the chest, and just above it a single bloodless hole about the size of a nickel notched the sternum. He crept forward, trying to distin- guish the person’s face. First he glimpsed nostrils, then teeth, and then . . . something else.
That something else brought Zeph to a standstill.
How could it be? Build. Facial features. Hair color. This person looked exactly like him. There was even a Star of David tattooed on the right arm, above the bicep—the same as Zeph’s.
What were the chances, the mathematical probabilities, that one human being could look so identical to another? Especially in a town the size of Endurance.


4 | Mike Duran


“Is this . . . ” Zeph’s tone was detached, his eyes fixed on the body. “Is this some kinda joke?”
The detectives hunkered back into the shadows without responding.
Goose bumps rose on Zeph’s forearms as the overhead vent rattled to life, sluicing cool air into the room. He took another step closer to the cadaver until his thigh nudged the table, jolting the stiff and bringing Zeph to a sudden stop. He peered at the bizarre figure.
Their similarities were unmistakable. The lanky torso and append- ages. The tousled sandy hair. Thick brows over deep-set eyes. This guy looks exactly like me!
However, it was one feature—the most defining feature of Zeph Walker’s existence—that left him teetering in disbelief: the four-inch scar that sheared the corpse’s mouth.
Zeph stumbled back, lungs frozen, hand clasped over the ugly scar on his own face.
“Darnedest thing, ain’t it?” The cowboy sounded humored by
Zeph’s astonishment. “Guy’s a spittin’ image of you, Mr. Walker.” Zeph slowly lowered his hand and glanced sideways at the man.
“Yeah. Except I don’t have a bullet hole in my chest.”
The detective’s grin soured, and he squinted warily at Zeph. “Indeed you don’t.” The second man stepped into the light. “But
the real question, young man, is why someone would want to put one there.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Spring Hope by Martha Rogers (Seasons of the Heart (Book 4))

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:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Martha Rogers’ novel Not on the Menu debuted on May 1, 2007, as a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Her series Winds Across the Prairie debuted in 2010 with Becoming Lucy, Morning for Dove, Finding Becky, and Caroline’s Choice. Her other credits include stories in anthologies with Wayne Holmes, Karen Holmes, and Debra White Smith; several articles in Christian magazines; devotionals in six books of devotions; and eight Bible studies. Martha served as editor of a monthly newsletter for the writer’s organization Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, for whom she writes a weekly devotional. Martha and her husband are active members of First Baptist Church.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Can runaway Libby Cantrell finally get a new start?

Libby Cantrell’s life has gone from bad to worse since her mother’s death. After working in a brothel to support her abusive father, she sees no hope for her future until one cold winter night when she finds the courage to escape.

When she collapses in Portersfield, Texas, exhausted, ill, and hungry, Sheriff Cory Muldoon finds her and takes her to the doctor. Against Cory’s better judgment, Seth and Erin Winston take her in and offer her a job as a nanny for their young son. As a minister, Seth sees it as his duty to take care of her. As a deputy, Cory needs to know the truth about her even as he is attracted to the waif of a young woman.

As Cory’s feelings for her grow and winter becomes spring, will he be able to accept her as she is now and truly forget and forgive her sordid past?



Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386185
ISBN-13: 978-1616386184



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Porterfield,  Texas
February 1891


THE COLDEST NIG!IT  of winter thus far chilled Deputy Sheriff Cory Muldoon to the bone as he made his rounds in the alleyways of Porterfield. Cold wind howled around the corners of the buildings now closed up for the  night. Most  everyone in Porterfield had gone home  to their  families  and  warm  homes. This  was all the  winter he cared  to experience, and  even this would be only a few days, as the weather in Texas could change in a heartbeat, summer or winter.
Lights and music from the saloon rang out and mocked the dark  silence  of its  neighboring buildings. Friday  nights  found cowboys and lumberjacks both squandering their  hard-earned money  on  liquor  and  women. Tonight would  be no different


despite the cold, near freezing temperatures. Most likely at least one or two of them would end up in the jail for a spell.
Cory turned up the collar of his sheepskin-lined jacket and shoved his hat farther down on his head. When he rounded the corner of the livery, the gentle nickering and snorts of the horses boarded there broke the quietness of the night.
A cat skittered out from behind the general store, and a dog barked in the distance. Ever since the bank robbery last fall, he or the sheriff had roamed the alleys behind the main businesses every  night to  make sure everything  remained locked tight and secure. So far he’d seen only a typical Friday night, with everything as routine as Aunt Mae’s  boarding- house meal schedule. Of course, being Friday the thirteenth, anything could happen.
They already had two men put up for the night back at the jail. Sheriff Rutherford took the night duty to keep the jail cells warm so Cory could have Saturday  off for his Aunt Mae’s wedding. Ole Cooter probably got drunk and disorderly just so he’d have a warm place to sleep tonight and not have to go out to his shack. Cory held no blame on the man for that. Durand, the saloon owner, caught the other man cheating at cards and had him arrested. Maybe the card shark would move his game on to some other town.
He shivered despite the warm coat and hoped Abigail and Rachel would have dinner waiting for him back at the board- inghouse. What  with Aunt Mae’s  wedding tomorrow, those two women had taken over mealtimes until his aunt returned from her wedding trip.
What appeared to be a pile of trash sat outside the back
door  of Grayson’s  mercantile. Ordinarily the  store owner


wouldn’t leave a heap out in the open like that. Cory hesitated in making an investigation, but the snuffling and nickering of a horse grabbed his attention. His hand caressed the handle of his gun. No one and no animal should be here this time of night.
The horse, a palomino, stood off to one side. He wore a saddle, but the reins dangled to the ground. Cory went on alert, his eyes darting about the alley in search of a rider. He reached for the reins and patted the horse’s mane, then ran his hand down its flank. “Whoa, boy, what are you doing out wan- dering around?” No brand on his hindquarters meant he didn’t belong to a ranch around here, and Cory didn’t recognize the horse as belonging to any of the townspeople.
Then the pile by the back door moved, and along with the movement, a moan sounded. With his hand on his gun, Cory approached the mound. An arm flung out from the heap, and another cry. This was no animal. He knelt down to pull back what looked like an old quilt.
When the form of a young woman appeared, Cory jumped as though he’d  been shot. Every nerve in his body stood at attention as he reached out to remove more of the cover. A woman lay huddled under the quilt, and her body shook from the cold while a cough wracked through her chest, followed by another cry.
On closer inspection he realized she was younger than he first thought. Her smooth, unlined face and tangled hair were that of a young woman. She couldn’t be more than twenty, the same age as his sister Erin.
He bent over her to pick her up, and she started to scream,
but another coughing spell prevented it. When her blue eyes


peered up at him, they were so full of fear that they sent dag- gers of alarm straight to his soul. This girl was in trouble.
“Don’t be afraid. I’m the deputy sheriff. I won’t hurt you, but tell me your name and let me take you to the doctor.” He pointed to his badge in hope of reassuring her.
Instead her gaze darted back and forth as she pulled the blanket up under her chin. Her ungloved hands trembled with the cold. He removed his glove and reached out a hand to touch her forehead then yanked it back. She burned with fever. “You’re sick. We need you to get you to Doc Jensen’s right away.” He slid his hands beneath her to scoop her up into his arms. He almost lost his footing as he rose, thinking she’d be a heavier burden than she was. Light as a feather meant she was
probably malnourished too.
She moaned against his chest. “I’m so cold.”
Her voice, weak and hesitant, touched a nerve in him. He had to get her warm. Cory made sure the blanket covered her then grasped the horse’s reins. A low whistle brought his own horse closer. “Follow us, Blaze. We’re going to the infirmary.”
He held the girl tight to his chest to transfer some of his warmth to her. The quicker he could get her to the doctor, the quicker Doc could warm her up and treat that cough.
No time to worry about drunken cowboys or lumberjacks tonight.


The man who called himself a deputy carried her in his arms. With his gentle touch and voice, this man wasn’t like others she had known. Her body burned with heat then turned ice


cold with shivers.  So much pain racked her body that she didn’t have the strength to resist him anyway.
The man cradled her to his chest. “We’ll be at Doc Jensen’s in just a few minutes. Hang on, little lady.”
Little lady? Little, maybe, but certainly no lady by his stan- dards. Another cough wracked her chest and set her throat afire with pain. Her thin jacket and the quilt had been no match for the cold, especially after she’d crossed the river. Not enough heat in the day to dry her clothes before chilling her to the bone and causing this cough. She’d lost count of the days since she left home and had no idea how far she’d come. She’d avoided towns as much as possible, only entering long enough to pick up food at a mercantile.
Pa had to be on her trail by now, or he’d  have  others searching for her. Either way, she didn’t plan to get caught and be dragged back to Louisiana. Even now the memory of all that she had endured because of Pa made her stomach retch. She’d die before she let anyone take her back to that.
The man called for someone named Clem to go get the doc, and he’d meet him at the infirmary. Maybe he was a sheriff after all since he was sending for help. She didn’t dare open her eyes, lest he’d see her fears again. Until she could be absolutely certain he meant her no harm, she’d stay still and quiet.
She inhaled the masculine scent of horses, sweat, and leather. He smelled like hard work and not a trace of alcohol. Unusual for a man, even a lawman. In the background raucous music came from a saloon. She’d  recognize the tinny sound of saloon piano anywhere. It disappeared in the distance, and they proceeded down the street and up what felt like stairs or
steps onto what must be a boardwalk or porch.


He set her on her feet, and she peeped with one eye while he fumbled in his pocket then pulled out a ring of keys. In the next minute he had the door open and strode through it, car- rying her once again.
Antiseptics, alcohol, and carbolic acid greeted her nose. This must be the doctor’s  office. Not until he laid her on a hard surface did she open her eyes, half expecting him to be leering over her. Instead he had walked away to light a lamp, which filled the room with flickering shadows dancing on the walls. A glass door cabinet stood against the wall, and another bed sat a few feet away from where she lay.
He returned to stand beside her, and she almost shrank in fear at his size. Well over six feet tall, he’d removed his hat to reveal a mass of dark red hair curling about his forehead. His hand caressed her forehead, but she did not flinch, even though every inch of her wanted to. No need for him to know her fears.
“I see you’re awake. The doc will be here in a minute. He’ll fix you right up.”
Instead of resisting, her body relaxed at the gentle tone of his voice. He certainly didn’t  fit her idea of a lawman or a cowboy. No one but her ma had ever treated her so kindly. Most people treated her like trash under their feet and didn’t care whether she was well or sick. Still, he was a man. She had to be careful.
A woman’s voice sounded, along with another man’s. She turned her head to find a beautiful red-haired woman and an older man entering the room.
The one who must be the doctor stepped to her side.


“Well, Cory, what have we here?” His eyes held only concern and kindness behind his wire-rimmed glasses.
“I found  her in the alley behind the general store. She must have come in on horseback and fallen there.”
The woman brushed hair from Libby’s face. “Can you tell us your name?”
Her heart thumped. What if Pa came looking for her? But if she lied and stayed here, she’d have to keep lying. Another fit of coughing had the woman holding her upright and rubbing her back. When the spell ended, Libby whispered her name. “Elizabeth Bradley.”
The woman helped her lie back down. “Hello, Elizabeth. I’m Kate Monroe, the doc’s nurse, and this fellow who brought you in is my brother, Cory. He’s deputy sheriff in town.”
Just  having her there gave  Libby a sense of safety she needed with two men in the room. Her kind eyes, a green color that reminded Libby of the fake emeralds some of the saloon girls wore, had a tender look to them.
The doctor listened to her chest with a funny-looking bell on something hanging from his ears. He frowned then pulled the contraption down around his neck.  “I hear a lot of conges- tion in your lungs, young lady. How long have you been out in the cold?”
“I don’t know. I think it’s been several days. I left home in the middle of the night on Tuesday.” The days and nights had run together as she lost all track of time.
The doctor shook his head. “This is Friday night, so you’ve been out at least three days. No wonder your lungs are so con- gested.” He turned to the one called Kate. “Get a bed ready for
her. She’s staying the night and maybe longer.”


Libby tried to sit up but began coughing again. She couldn’t stay here. Pa would find her. Her plan had been to head west then south, where the winter temperatures were not as severe. She’d lost all sense of direction after the first night and had no idea which way she’d come.
Kate’s warm hands pushed her back down gently but firmly. “Lie still, Elizabeth. The doctor is right; you have to stay here.”
Tears welled in Libby’s eyes, and she squeezed them tight to keep the tears from falling. Though hard, this bed was so much better than the ground where she’d slept the past nights. Hospitals and doctors cost money. That’s why Pa wouldn’t go for the doctor until Ma was too sick to recover.
The doctor gave  her something that  tasted bitter, but she swallowed it and then lay back against the pillow Kate had placed beneath her head. The low murmur of voices ran together in a blur. One of the men said he’d stay, but the other one said something about a wedding. Who was getting mar- ried? Maybe they’d forget about her.
The tension ebbed from her body as the medication took over. Someone, most likely the deputy since the doctor was an old man, picked her up and took her into another room, where he laid her on the bed. She almost sighed at the cotton softness of the mattress beneath her. So much better than pine straw and hard-packed dirt.
Kate’s  voice followed  behind then shooed the man from the room. “I’m going to help her get settled for the night, so she doesn’t need you. Go on back to the boardinghouse. I’m sure you’ll find Abigail has something for you to eat.”
A few minutes later Kate had removed Libby’s still damp
and dirty clothes and slipped a warm gown over her head.


When Libby slid her arms into the sleeves, she realized it was her own gown. “How did you get this? It’s mine.”
“Cory  brought in the satchel you carried on your horse, and I found the gown in it. I warmed it by the wood stove in the other room.”
That warmth, along with the medication earlier, eased away the pain, and Libby let her eyes drift closed. Perhaps this was the place she should stay after all. She pulled up the covers and turned on her side. She’d think about that tomorrow. Tonight she’d sleep warm and dry for the first time in too many days
to count.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"All the Broken Pieces" Cover Reveal With Exclusive Excerpt



All the Broken Pieces: a Gothic mystery
Author: Cindi Madsen
Imprint: Entangled Teen;
Audience: Young Adult;
Novel length: 304 pages;
Format: Trade paperback and eBook;
Publication Date: December, 2012.
Available for pre-order on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble.
Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads!

What if your life wasn’t your own?

 Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember. Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?


 Exclusive Excerpt:


Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?
“Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”
Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”
Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”
Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.
“I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”
“…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”

Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.
Sick.
You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.

Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.
Brains are more important than looks.
That’s what ugly people say.
Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”





Be sure to connect with Cindi at:

http://www.facebook.com/CindiMadsenBooks
https://twitter.com/#!/search/cindi%20madsen
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1029223.Cindi_Madsen
http://cindimadsen.com/

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chameleon by Jillian Kent

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:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Jillian Kent has been a member of American Christian Fiction Writers for several years. She has also been a member of Romance Writers of America for 20 years and a member of The Beau Monde, Kiss of Death, and Faith, Hope, and Love specialty chapters of RWA. With a master’s degree in social work, Jillian is employed as a counselor for nursing students, which reflects within the pages of her first novel, Secrets of the Heart, which won the 2009 Inspiration for Writers contest and was a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier; the Noble Theme; and Faith, Hope, and Love’s Touched by Love contests.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:







Lady Victoria Grayson has always considered herself a keen observer of human behavior, but when she finds herself involved in a sinister plot targeting the lords of Parliament she is forced to question how much anyone can really know about another human being.





Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616384964
ISBN-13: 978-1616384968



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character.
-HENRY DAVID THOREAU

London, 29 March 1818

ST. JAMES PARK loomed in front of them, shrouded in a heavy mist that created difficulty for horse and driver as the coach and four maneuvered its way into the park.
Inside the vehicle Victoria leaned toward the window, straining to see the outline of trees. "Such a disappointment," she sighed. "This is not what I expected my very first morning in London. I'd so hoped to see more on the ride through the park, something exciting to tell Devlin when we get to his home."
"Don't despair, my lady." Nora, her maid, pulled a heavy shawl tighter about her shoulders. "'Tis sure to be the same mist that abounds in Yorkshire. This nuisance will lift eventually. It always does."
Victoria patted the sleek head of her dog. "Even Lazarus grows bored." She marveled at her best friend, a behemoth of a mastiff, as he lowered his bulk to the floor of the coach with a loud groan and laid his head across her slipper-covered feet, creating a comfortable warmth. He'd been with her for years, and she couldn't leave him behind. The poor dear would cry himself to sleep every night.


Victoria allowed the clip-clop of the horses’ hooves and Nora’s penchant for humming songs to lull her into a light sleep. Nora’s humming had comforted her all those years she’d been sick at Ravensmoore. While everyone else lived their busy lives out around her, she’d done little but survive, taking comfort in the small things that brought her joy.
A sudden crash caused the coach door to vibrate. Victoria screamed and bolted upright as Lazarus pressed his nose and giant paws against the carriage window. A low growl rumbled in his throat.
She grabbed the dog by the collar. Heart pounding, she turned to
Nora. “What was that?”
“Highwaymen!” Nora’s hand crept to her neck, and fear filled her eyes.
The coachman drew the horses to a halt and opened the top hatch. “I fear I may have run someone down, my lady, but in this fog I can’t tell.”
“We must find out at once. Someone may be hurt.” Victoria threw open the door, and Lazarus bounded into the mist. “Lazarus! Find!” She called after him, but he was already well on his way. She stepped from the coach, nearly tripping in her haste.
“Wait, my lady,” Nora cried. “’Tis not safe. Come back!”
The driver’s voice echoed through the mist. “You’ll lose your way, my lady. Stop where you are.”
But the warning wasn’t necessary. Victoria could hear Lazarus snuffling the ground someplace nearby. She bit her lip and told her- self to be brave, even as her heart slammed against her chest.
At the same time Lazarus let out a warning bark, the mist shifted. Victoria’s hand clamped over her mouth.
A man lay on his side only a few feet in front of her.
She shouted back to the coach. “I’ve found him! I need help.” She dropped to her knees and touched his shoulder. He didn’t move.


2


She touched his arm and gently shook it. “Sir, are you conscious? Are you injured?” But before she could investigate further, strong arms lifted her and turned her away from the sight. She assumed it was Mr. Smythe, the carriage driver.
“This is not something a lady should see,” the man said.
But as he turned her from the body, she caught a glimpse of the man’s head. She gasped. There was just enough light to see streaks of blood upon one deathly pale cheek.
“We hit him,” she cried. “The coach—” She lifted her head expecting to see the kind eyes of Mr. Smythe and met the warm, brilliant, gray eyes of a stranger. “Who . . . who are you? Who is he? Did we kill him?” She buried her face in her rescuer’s shoulder to rid her mind of the sight.
“It does not appear so, my lady,” he said, his voice low and comforting.
He deposited her inside the coach. Before she could speak, Lazarus bounded in next to her, rocking the vehicle precariously. She patted his head to calm him, and when she looked up at the man again, she saw only icy gray eyes and a rigid jaw line.
She studied those eyes momentarily and heard Nora say, “You poor dear. What is it that you saw?”
“Not the sight any young woman should witness, miss,” the stranger said. “But I believe I prevented her from viewing the worst of the man’s injuries.” He hesitated, then added, “This was no fault of the driver. Take care of this young woman. I’ll get help for the gentleman. Carlton House is nearby.”
“Nonsense,” Victoria whispered. “Use the coach. Our driver will take you.”
He nodded and bowed. “You’re very kind.”
She wondered if it had been her imagination or if his eyes fre- quently switched from an icy gray coolness to a warm molten gray


3


in only moments.. She wondered what this meeting might have been like under different circumstances.
“Be still,” Nora said. “You’ve had a shock.”
She heard the stranger and Mr. Smythe lifting the injured man to the driver’s seat. “God have mercy,” the driver said.
“I’ll show you to Carlton House through this heavy fog. He can get the help he needs there. Who am I indebted to?”
“I’m taking Lady Victoria Grayson and her maid to the lady’s brother.”
“And that would be?” “Lord Ravensmoore, sir.”
They approached Carlton House a few minutes later. Victoria clutched the edge of the seat, attempting to recover from what had happened and what she’d witnessed. As if he understood, Lazarus licked her hand. The coach came to a halt.
The fog still lay heavy on the ground. Victoria could barely make out the two figures moving toward the door and into the palace. But even as their images faded, her thoughts returned to the stranger who’d lifted her away from the bleeding man and carried her back to the coach. The stranger with strong arms and fascinating gray eyes.
Victoria found her strength as the fog lifted and patches of sun- light appeared through the trees, dappling the ground with their shadows. London came alive. Though her curiosity remained keen, she turned her thoughts to her brother and kept her mind on the joy it would be to see him again. He’d only been absent from their home at Ravensmoore for two months, but it seemed far longer.
She stared in unabashed awe at the sea of activity that sur- rounded them as their coach merged with others, making its way through the muddy, rutted streets. The crowded sidewalks teemed with people of all classes. Women in brilliant gowns of color swirled


4


past street urchins and beggars, meshing into an ever-shifting tap- estry of humanity.
She’d stepped into a world bigger than York, a world she’d only dreamed about. Victoria leaned back against the banquette and sighed. “Now that I can see it properly, London is magnificent.”
“I think it best if you have your brother examine you when we arrive, my lady Victoria. You know how he worries. You know how I worry. ’Tis a blessing to have a brother who is both a lord and physician.”
Victoria turned away from the window and assessed her maid. “I am no longer an invalid, Nora, and well you know it.” She lifted her chin a notch. “I’m stronger than either you or my brother realize.” Nora met her gaze, her brow furrowed with worry. Victoria lifted her hand to dismiss the words of warning she knew were sure to come. But Nora, having been her constant companion the past eleven years and knowing her so well, caught Victoria’s hand.
“Child, you’re pale and weary from our travels and that horrid incident in the park. ’Tis a good thing we’ve made this journey, but I think your brother will agree with me that you need to rest.”
“I’ve been resting my entire life. It’s time to live and catch up on the adventures that God has in store for me. How many times did you read Jeremiah twenty-nine, eleven to me throughout the years? Did you not believe those words yourself?”
Nora nodded, keeping her lips firmly pressed together in an obvious effort to curb her tongue. A difficult feat, Victoria under- stood and appreciated.
As if sensing the tension and hoping to break up an ensuing argument, Lazarus nuzzled and nudged Victoria’s attention away from her maid and back toward the window to watch a group of young boys chasing each other down the street. He barked and strained against the coach door. Victoria couldn’t move him from his place of entertainment if she’d tried.


5


“Such a window hound you are, Lazarus.” Victoria rubbed her hand over his big, sleek head, ruffling his ears. “If you wanted my attention, you would more readily share your window.” She smiled and turned her gaze toward the window on the opposite side. Men and women hawked their wares and called to them in hopes of making a profit. “You can do no wrong in my eyes, Lazarus. If you hadn’t been with us earlier, that poor man might still be lying in the park.” She tried to shake off the sense of dread that seeped through her pores. She refused to allow the upset of the morning to ruin her reunion with her brother.
“I’m sorry, Nora.” She studied the dark-haired, blue-eyed woman who was eleven years her senior. Nora had always seemed more of an aunt to her than a maid and companion.
“You’re forgiven.” A smile quirked the corners of her mouth. “You really are too pretty to continue caring for me much longer.
Why is it you haven’t yet married?”
Now Nora chose to gaze out the window to escape further inquiry. “I will when the time and the suitor are right.”
Victoria ended that line of questioning, and they rode in com- panionable silence the rest of the way, each lost in thought.
The busy streets gave way to quieter and more prestigious ave- nues as they made their way to Grosvenor Square and her brother’s London townhome. The quality of the air improved as they moved farther from the central streets and into the areas of the upper crust. The coach slowed and then pulled to a halt in front of number three, Devlin’s home.
“I cannot wait another moment.” Grabbing the handle of the coach door, Victoria stepped out onto the curb. Lazarus bounded out after her and onto the street.
“Good heavens! It’s a bear,” an elderly woman said, clinging to her husband.
Victoria smothered a grin. “He’s quite harmless.”


6


The couple hurried away from the dog.
Nora bolted from the coach and grabbed Lazarus by the collar, holding him fast as he strained to make chase.
“Thank you, Nora. Just in time.”
Victoria gathered her blue velvet traveling skirts and ran up the five steps to the entrance. She reached for the gilded knocker, hesi- tated, and then, after adjusting her gloves, started to grab the handle instead. But the door opened before her hand reached it.
Devlin’s butler appeared. A smile lit his face when he saw Victoria. “Lady Victoria,” he said, and then executed a most noble bow. When he straightened, his pleasure at seeing her was still apparent. “Welcome to London.”
“Henry!” Victoria said. “It is good to see you. Do you mind taking Lazarus? He adores you almost as much as I do.”
“For you I would take Lazarus on a walk to the ends of the earth,”
he said with cheerful amiability.
“Who is it that you are taking for a walk, Henry?” Devlin appeared in the doorway, tall and handsome with that brotherly smile of his and assessing green-eyed gaze. “Ah, there she is. My favorite imp. What took you so long? I expected you yesterday.” He held out his arms. “Are you well?”
“I believe so. We stopped at a nearby inn last evening. The rain made travel a bit difficult.” Victoria burrowed deep into her brother’s warm, comforting embrace. “I’ve missed you, Dev,” she whispered into his chest and squeezed him tight. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“And I, you.” Devlin held her at arm’s length. “It’s good to see you. Now, come in and tell me all about your journey and how my wife is doing at home without me.” He looked up at Nora. “Has she behaved herself on this trip, Nora?”
Her companion grinned. “Nothing out of the ordinary for Lady
Victoria, yer lordship.”


7


“That speaks volumes.” Devlin gently pinched his sister’s cheek. “Henry, I believe Nora would love to hear about town.”
“Of course, yer lordship. Welcome to London, Nora. Would you care to accompany me? And allow me to take Lazarus off your hands.”
“Bless you for that, Henry. He wears me down too quickly.” “Come along, Lazarus.” He accepted the leash from Nora and
quickly fastened it to the dog’s collar.
Nora nodded. “It will help me find my balance again after a long, bumpy, and perilous ride in the coach. I’ll catch you up with all that’s happened back at Ravensmoore.”
Devlin started to enter the house with Victoria and then turned back to Henry. “And Henry,” he called, “don’t forget to feed the beast before you return him to Victoria.”
“Feed him, sir? And just who should be the sacrifice? Lazarus has a shine to his eyes, and I’m thinking it is for me.”
“Get creative, man. Start with Cook.”
“Now, there’s a right smart answer,” Henry said and laughed. “Mrs. Miller will faint dead away.”
Devlin grinned, a wicked glint in his green eyes. “If Cook has the nerve to faint, let Lazarus nibble at her.”
“Devlin!” Victoria feigned horror. “What an outlandish thing to say.” She covered a grin. “That would bring her around faster than smelling salts.”
She turned to watch Lazarus leading Henry and Nora down the street. Her thoughts fled to what might be happening at Carlton House. A shudder crept up her spine. She decided to wait to tell Devlin of her experience in the park. Guilt niggled, but she just wasn’t ready to divulge that bit of information. After all, her freedom was at stake. One thought of her in danger, and Devlin would ship her back to York before she got settled in. No doubt


8


Nora would reveal all if she didn’t stop her maid when she returned from the walk.
“Are you cold?” Devlin asked, assessing her carefully. “Come in. You must be exhausted.”
“Not really. The ride was but a couple of hours.” “No adventures during your journey, Snoop?”
She loved his pet name for her. She was more than a bit curious about everything life had to offer, and Devlin used her nickname more often than her given name. “Adventures? What could possibly happen on a two-hour ride into town?” She swallowed hard, hoping her expression didn’t give her away. She would tell him when the time was right.
“Knowing you, just about anything.”
“I promise to give you a full report.” Eventually. And as she stepped into her brother’s townhome, she wondered how she could discover more about her gray-eyed stranger and the bloodied man he’d taken to Carlton House.





Jonathon Denning, Lord Witt, nearly collided with the guard on duty while carrying Lord Stone into Carlton House.
“Send for the regent and his physician immediately,” he ordered. “There’s been an accident. I need a place where Lord Stone can be treated, and privacy is a must. Not a word of this leaves your lips. Do you understand?”
The guard nodded and headed toward one of the pages standing nearby. “You heard Lord Witt. Be off with you, and hurry, Thomas.”
Witt watched as the page fled down a long corridor.
“Follow me, Lord Witt. We’ll take him upstairs to the guest lodg- ings. Allow me to carry him.”
“I can manage,” Witt muttered. “Go, man. Lead the way, and make sure you choose a room that is not easily found.”


9


The guard wasted no time, and after climbing to the second floor, Witt lay Stone on a four-poster bed surrounded by green drapes. Out of breath, Witt collapsed into a chair, mentally taking stock of all that had happened in the period of a mere half hour.
The guard paled when he saw the severity of Lord Stone’s wounds. “Not a word. Remember that, or I’ll have your post. Now draw those drapes and leave. Send a decanter of brandy. I need a drink.
Better yet, send two.”
Witt sat in a chair near the bed and tried to think about what to do next, as the regent was sure to ask his opinion. He’d been a valued spy during the war, and the regent frequently asked his advice. He sat forward and rested his head in his hands. He’d simply gone out for an early morning walk before Parliament, heard the coach approaching, and scrambled to get out of the way before he was run down.
The muffled sounds of an obviously disturbed dog had fired him to action. He ran a short distance through the mist and then had come upon a well-dressed lady, her massive dog, and Lord Stone. One look at the huge dog had almost caused him to retreat, but he couldn’t leave a young woman to deal with what he’d seen of Stone’s face.
The driver had said the woman was Ravensmoore’s sister. Ironic, since he’d been keeping an eye on the “Lord Doctor” at Prinny’s request.
Prinny, as the regent was known amongst the ton, didn’t know if he liked the idea of one of his lords working as a physician. A nobleman working a trade drew suspicion. What was the point? Although Ravensmoore’s reputation had been spotless when he’d come into his title, it was anticipated that he would leave the study of medicine to manage his estate. Instead he’d pursued this obses- sion that he referred to as a calling and allowed his man of affairs


10


to run his estate when he was forced to be absent. Prinny wanted to know if there was more to it or if Ravensmoore was simply eccentric.
He heard the unhappy growling of the regent and his doctor as they neared the suite of rooms. Witt steeled himself.
“What in the name of all that is reasonable has caused this incon- venience?” roared Prinny when he burst through the outer sitting room. He was still steaming as he entered the bedroom with his physician in tow.
Witt stood. “Your Royal Highness.” He bowed. “Lord Stone has been attacked. I found him in the park. He needs your physician’s immediate attention.”
The overstuffed physician huffed. “I’ll decide what necessitates immediate attention, Lord Witt.”
“Then I suggest you make the determination.” Witt nodded toward the bed. The physician hesitated.
The regent said, “Get on with it. I’m busy today. For the love of good food, Parliament reconvenes this afternoon.”
The physician huffed again and went to the bed, grabbing the drapes and pulling them back. “Great heavens. What’s happened to the man?” He opened the black bag he carried with him. “I’ll need a nursemaid.”
Prinny then stepped closer to evaluate Stone’s condition himself. He sucked in a breath. “The poor devil! Get on with it, doctor. Do everything you can to save him.” The regent, visibly shaken, looked at Witt. “Tell me everything. What happened? We must find out who did this to Stone.”
“Your Majesty.” The physician turned from the bed with a bloody missive in his shaking hand. “I found this pinned to his waistcoat. A warning.”
“Who dares?” He snatched the paper away and read it. “Lord
Witt, today’s session of Parliament must be canceled.” Witt arched a brow.


11


Prinny handed him the blood-stained parchment.
Witt read the note aloud. “‘You have been found guilty of con- spiring with sinful men for sinful purposes. I will now handle the situation as I see fit. Stone is only the first. Repent, you lords of par- liament.’ And it’s signed, ‘Lord Talon.’”
“Curse this Lord Talon.” Prinny looked to Witt for direction. “We must decide the best course of action, and soon. No one has dared attack a member of Parliament since Bellingham assassinated our prime minister, and that was six years ago.”
Ravensmoore came to mind, but Witt faltered for just a moment. No doubt the man was the best there was, and his skills badly needed. But his sister had only just arrived in London, and this sit- uation could put her and her brother in danger. An edge of uneasi- ness rippled down his back.
“Witt,” the regent said. “What is your recommendation?”
Witt took charge. “We must proceed with caution. Tell no one about the note. Not yet. And don’t say anything to anyone about the signature of this Lord Talon. I suggest we ask Lord Ravensmoore to join us immediately. Having a physician who is a peer can prove most helpful.”
The regent paced and mumbled to himself, seemingly in a struggle to make a decision. Finally he said, “Send for him.”


12

Friday, June 15, 2012

Treasures of Healthy Living by Annette Reeder & Dr. Richard Couey

Treasures of Healthy Living
Author: Annette Reeder & Dr. Richard Couey
Publisher: Pleasant Word-A Division of WinePress Publishing
ISBN-13: 978-1414115702
Paperback: 368 pages

About the Book:
Did you know you can find the answers to many health problems in the pages of Scripture? Think of God's Word as a treasure map that leads straight to the healthy life you've always dreamed of. It reveals how you can move from a sickly, lackluster life to one that is full of energy and hope. This practical Bible study will reveal the truth about the foods you eat and provide simple tools to begin improving your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You won't believe how much your life can change when you grab hold of the treasures God has provided for you.




My Thoughts

When I received this book, I did not realize that it was to be used in conjunction with the "Healthy Treasures Cookbook". However, there is so much information packed into "Treasures of Healthy Living" that I wasn't disappointed, but instead, want to get the cookbook now!

This 12 week study takes you on a journey to make your life better through diet, exercise and your spiritual well being. It covers such topics as fruits, vegetables, meats, toxins, and exercise and even discusses how things like GMO's affect your health and well being.

This book is filled with so much information that I really want to go back and linger and do a more intensive study. I will say that I don't totally agree with all subjects/points of view, but it is such a great approach to scripture and food, that it is definitely worth a second look!

About the Authors:

Annette Reeder, a Biblical Nutrition Consultant, is leading people all around the country on an adventure with the power of food to change lives one meal and prayer at a time. Annette is a graduate of Liberty University and Huntington College Health Sciences and the founder of Designed Healthy Living a nutrition consulting ministry.

Dr. Richard "Dick" Couey-Professor Emeritus of Health Sciences at Baylor University. Dr. Couey has spent nearly fifty years studying the physiology of the cell. He has especially studied how nutrition, exercise, and stress affect the cell's biochemistry and physiology. Dr. Couey's students praise how Dr. Couey can make the complexities of the cell seem understandable.



I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher for this tour. I was not required to write a positive review, but instead, one that gives my honest opinion.

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