GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Hunter’s Moon by Don Hoesel



From the Bethany House website:

Bestselling novelist CJ Baxter has made a career out of writing hard-hitting stories ripped from his own life. Still there’s one story from his past he’s never told. One secret that’s remained buried for decades.

Now, seventeen years after swearing he’d never return, CJ is headed back to Adelia, NY. His life in Tennessee has fallen to pieces, his grandfather is dying, and CJ can no longer run from the past.

With Graham Baxter, CJ’s brother, running for Senate, a black sheep digging up old family secrets is the last thing the family and campaign can afford. CJ soon discovers that blood may be thicker than water, but it’s no match for power and money.

My Opinion:

I am not sure where to begin with this one, I couldn’t finish it and so I am going to try to do an honest review on this book. I had never heard of Don Hoesel although he has written one other book and several articles for a print journal. However, I just couldn’t find myself getting engrossed in this story. There seemed to many characters and it was hard to keep them all straight – usually this isn’t a problem for me – but for some reason having started this book twice I just couldn’t seem to keep them straight.

I won’t totally say I wouldn’t recommend this book however if you are looking for a book that would be relaxing or for simply mindless reading then this book would not be that. Like I said I started this book twice and both times I was unable to get past the first few chapters. I think there are qualities that could make it a good book and an enjoyable read, but for me a busy homeschooling mom I didn’t have time to keep the characters and their details in mind.

**I was provided a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. For full disclosure policy see the disclosure tab.

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FIRST tour: "Deadly Disclosures" by Julie Cave


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:

Julie Cave

and the book:

Deadly Disclosures

New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (February 15, 2010)

***Special thanks to Stacey Drake of New Leaf Press for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Julie first heard a creation science speaker at her church when she was just 15, igniting her interest in creation science and sparking an enthusiasm for defending the Bible’s account of creation. She has obtained a degree in health science, and is currently completing a degree in law. Julie is married with one daughter and lives on the east coast of Australia.

Visit the author’s website.

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: New Leaf Publishing Group/Master Books (February 15, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0890515840
ISBN-13: 978-0890515846

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Thomas Whitfield climbed out of the Lincoln Towncar and stood in the snappy, early morning fall air, breathing deeply. The temperature had fallen a few more degrees overnight, signaling that winter was truly on its way.

Thomas glanced up and down the wide street. There was nobody around at this early hour, and he took a moment to drink in the sights of his beloved city. The graceful willows, their branches arching over the street, were turning gold and red and, in the gentle yellow morning light, threw off highlights like burnished copper. This street was like many others in the center of DC — wide and tree-lined, with magnificent government buildings standing one after the other. That was another thing that Thomas found so delicious about this city — so much of it hinted at the enormous wealth and prosperity of the country, and yet only a few streets behind these world-famous landmarks, the seedier side of American poverty flourished. It was a city of contradictions, Thomas thought.

His gaze fell finally to the building right in front of him — the main complex of the Smithsonian Institution. Enormous stone pillars flanked the entryway into a marble lobby, and behind that were laid out the evidence of mankind’s brilliance. Everything about the institution was testament to the scientific and anthropological advances of man over the pages of history — the inventions, the discoveries, the deductions, the sheer radiance of a human being’s intelligence at its finest.

Thomas Whitfield had always been immensely proud of this place, and everything it showcased. He had boasted about it, defended it, nourished it, and protected it, the way a proud father would his prodigious child.

He was the secretary of the Smithsonian, after all, and he felt a strange kind of paternal relationship with the buildings and their contents.

He stood for a moment longer, a slender whippet of a man dressed immaculately, with highly polished shoes gleaming, thinning dark hair cut short, and a gray cashmere scarf to ward off the cold. Then he purposefully strode down the path and into the main building, scarf fluttering behind him.

To the malevolent eyes watching him through high-powered binoculars down the street in a non-descript Chevy, he presented a painfully easy target.

Thomas settled in his large office with the door shut, turned on the computer, and shut his eyes briefly as he contemplated what he would do next. The course of events he had planned for this day would change everything, and the impact would be felt right up to the president himself. Courage, Thomas, he told himself silently. What you are about to do is the right thing to do.

He began to type, slowly and decisively, feeling within himself a great sense of conviction and purpose. He was so lost in concentration that he was startled by the door suddenly swinging open.

“What are . . . ?” he exclaimed, almost jumping off his seat. Then he recognized his visitor and he glanced at his watch.

“What are you doing here?” Thomas asked. “It’s a little early for you, isn’t it?”

“I wanted to be sure I caught you,” his visitor replied, moving closer to the desk. “Without any interruptions.”

“I see. What can I do for you then?” Thomas asked, trying to hide his irritation. He hadn’t wanted to be interrupted during this most important task.

“What are you working on?” the unannounced guest asked, ignoring him and moving around the side of the desk and trying to look at Thomas’s computer screen.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” Thomas answered with a falsely airy tone. “It’s just a family project. Nothing to do with work. Is there something I can help you with?”

Thomas was suddenly aware that his visitor was standing close by him. He felt uncomfortable, and tried to roll his chair away to maintain some space.

“You see,” his visitor said in a quiet voice, “there are people out there who don’t agree with you. They think the project you are working on could be very dangerous. In fact, I believe they have already tried to warn you about continuing with this project.”

Thomas now felt distinctly uncomfortable and a little afraid. He decided to assert his authority. “Listen here,” he said, in a voice that betrayed his anxiety. “What I am working on is none of your business. The subject is certainly not up for discussion with somebody like you. I suggest you leave my office immediately.”

The visitor managed to fuse sorrow and menace into his words as he said, “I’m afraid I can’t do that. You will have to come with me.”

Thomas retorted, “I’m not going anywhere with you. In fact, I. . . .” He broke off abruptly as he saw the small handgun in the visitor’s hand, pointing directly at him. There was no sorrow or pity on his face — only menace.

“Do I need to force you to come with me?” the visitor wondered, his tone like flint.

Thomas leapt to his feet, his eyes darting about wildly. He needed to get out of here, to try to get away from this situation that had so rapidly gotten out of hand. A hand shot out and grabbed Thomas by the collar with surprising strength. Thomas was shocked as he strained to get away from the man, who was intently staring at the computer screen.

“You traitor!” Thomas spat. “I should’ve known you were nothing more than a trained monkey!”

The visitor chuckled heartily. “That’s ironic, Thomas.”

The visitor, much younger and stronger than Thomas, began to drag him out of the room. Thomas was determined not to go down without a fight, and drove his heel backward into the visitor’s shin. There was a yelp of pain, but the unrelenting grip did not lessen around Thomas’s arm. Instead, a thick arm curled around Thomas’s throat and squeezed, applying pressure to the carotid artery. It took only a few seconds for Thomas to fall limply into the arms of his abductor as the blood supply to his brain was cut off.

That was the last anyone saw of the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute.

• • • •

Dinah Harris woke with a scream dying in her throat, the sheets twisted hopelessly around her legs. Her nightgown was damp with panicked sweat, her heart galloping like a runaway horse. She stared, blinking, at the pale dawn light streaming through the window, while the shadowy vestiges of her nightmare slithered from her memory.

As she lay in bed, joining the waking world from sleep, the familiar blanket of depression settled over her, dark and heavy as the Atlantic winter. The dread she felt at facing another day was almost palpable in the small bedroom. Dinah glanced across at her alarm clock, where the flashing numbers showed 6 a.m.

She threw aside the sheets and stumbled into the tiny bathroom, where she purposefully avoided looking at herself in the mirror. She was only in her mid-thirties and had once been relatively attractive. Certainly not beautiful, but with what her first boyfriend had once told her — a pleasant face and athletic body. Now her eyes were always underscored by dark bags, her skin pale and paper-thin, and the weight fell off her in slow degrees without ceasing. She dressed in her trademark dark pants suit, pulled her black hair from her face in a severe ponytail, and washed her face.

She made strong coffee and sat in the kitchen as she drank the bitter liquid. The dining alcove was still stacked with moving cartons, filled with books and music that she couldn’t face opening. The gray light of morning lent no color to the apartment, which suited Dinah just fine. Her world didn’t contain color anymore.

Though traffic often seemed at a standstill in the mornings, Dinah always arrived early to the J. Edgar Hoover building. She turned directly to the teaching wing, avoiding the eye contact and morning greetings of many she knew in the building. She knew what they whispered about during after-work drinks and at the water cooler. Her fall from grace would go down as one of the most spectacular in FBI history.

So she kept up the ice-cool veneer until she arrived at her desk, checking her e-mails and teaching schedule for the week.

She didn’t look up as an imposing shadow fell across her desk.

“Special Agent Harris, how are you?” boomed the voice of her former colleague, David Ferguson. He was a big man, six-four and two hundred pounds, with a loud, booming voice and a penchant for pork rinds. He stood above her, his hand resting easily on the holstered gun at his hip; the twin of a gun Dinah no longer wore but kept underneath her pillow.

“Ferguson,” she replied. “Fine, how are you?”

“Feel like a coffee?” he asked.

“Don’t you have a killer to catch?” Dinah asked, dryly.

He waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, they can wait. Come on.”

He took her to a tiny Italian café a block away from the FBI headquarters. While they ordered, Dinah wondered at his ulterior motive for bringing her here. It certainly isn’t for my sparkling wit and charm, she thought. Rumor had it that the freshman criminology classes were afraid of her.

“So I’m just wondering if I could get your opinion on something,” Ferguson began, tentatively testing the water.

She scowled at him. “You know I don’t get involved in cases.”

He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Okay, calm down, Harris. I just want your opinion. I know you’ve given up your real talents to teach some snotty freshmen.”

His comment stung her, but she narrowed her eyes at him and pretended she hadn’t even noticed. “So get on with it already.”

“I don’t remember you always being this prickly,” complained Ferguson, draining his macchiato. “Anyway. What would you say if I told you the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution had gone missing?”

“Missing?” Dinah raised her eyebrows and slurped her latte. “In what context?”

“As in, turned up for work at six this morning and disappeared off the face of the earth shortly thereafter.”

“How do you know he turned up for work at six?” Dinah asked.

“Security cameras have him arriving in the lobby and heading for his office. After that, who knows?”

“So he’s an adult, maybe he took a trip to get away from work stress or his wife has been giving him grief or his kid is in trouble.” Dinah frowned. “Why are we even involved at this early stage?”

Ferguson paused. “It’s due mostly to his rather prestigious position. It wouldn’t do for the secretary of the Smithsonian to simply disappear. Congress is rather anxious.”

Dinah knew of political influence that ran high in this city but didn’t press the issue. “Is there evidence of homicide?”

“Not really, although I haven’t been to his office yet.” Ferguson made it sound like a confession, and he looked at her sheepishly.

Dinah stared at him. “What do you really want, Ferguson?”

He gathered up his courage. “I need you to work this case with me, Harris.”

Dinah opened her mouth to respond indignantly, but Ferguson held up his hand and continued with a rush. “You know I’m not good with sensitive cases. I. . . .”

“Or complex ones,” interjected Dinah, bad-temperedly.

“I’m operating on a hunch that this is a bad case, that it involves people in the White House.” Ferguson must have needed her very badly to allow her comment to go unheeded.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I have a heavy teaching workload,” she said. “So I’ll have to limit my involvement to opinions only.”

Ferguson didn’t say anything but looked even guiltier.

“What have you done?” Dinah demanded.

“I may have cleared your schedule so you could work with me.” Ferguson examined his fingernails with great concentration.

Dinah waited for a beat. “I see. You’ve spoken to my superiors?”

He nodded. “They’ve agreed to lend you to me for as long as the case takes.”

Dinah stood abruptly. “Thanks for the coffee.” She walked angrily from the café.

Ferguson stared at her as she walked off, then slapped down some crumpled notes and heaved his bulk out of the chair. “Where are you going?” Ferguson asked, struggling to keep up with her.

She wheeled around and glared directly at him. “Who do you think you are? Do you think I’m lesser than you so you can sneak around behind my back?”

“Dinah, we really need you back in the field. You were — are — brilliant.” Ferguson spoke softly, hoping to calm her down.

“My field days are behind me, with very good reason,” snapped Dinah. I can’t see a dead body anymore. I can’t feel desire to catch the person who did it. I just want to lie down beside the body and feel the same endless peace of sleep.

“Please, I’m begging you. I need you back,” Ferguson said. Then it hit her. Dinah realized that this situation was very serious. Ferguson was the last person on the planet to beg anybody.

“I don’t really have a choice, do I?” she said dully. She knew that this case could break her.

Ferguson didn’t reply, and his answer was in his silence.

• • • •

The Smithsonian Institution was bustling with tourists and school kids as if nothing had gone wrong. Dinah and David strode into the main lobby, trying unsuccessfully to look casual. When they flashed their badges discreetly, they were allowed into the inner sanctum, where Thomas Whitfield’s personal assistant was fielding phone calls.

The secretary was young and pretty, with thick, dark hair waving gracefully to her shoulders, startlingly blue eyes, and a creamy olive complexion. Her only downfall was the thick eye makeup, applied to make her eyes stand out but which had the effect of making her look like a scared raccoon. “I’m afraid Mr. Whitfield simply cannot be interrupted at present,” she snapped into the phone. “I’ll have him call you back if you’d leave a message.”

She glanced up and saw the two agents standing at her desk. She gave them a wave to acknowledge their presence, repeated the details of the caller, scribbled furiously, and then hung up.

“Good morning,” she said, jumping to her feet. “If you caught the end of that conversation, you’ll know that Mr. Whitfield is in an extremely important meeting and. . . .”

“Save it,” interrupted Dinah, showing the secretary her badge. The young woman blushed. “We’re here to investigate the disappearance of Mr. Whitfield. What is your name?”

The secretary sat down hard, looking relieved. “I’m Lara Southall. I’m so worried about Mr. Whitfield.”

Ferguson flashed his partner a frown and took charge. “I’m Special Agent David Ferguson and this is Special Agent Dinah Harris. You’ll have to excuse her; she’s been out of the field for some time and has forgotten how to relate to people.”

Dinah opened her mouth to reply with outrage, but Ferguson continued, “Can you tell us about this morning?”

Lara Southall regarded Dinah with a mixture of amusement and fear, which Dinah filed away for future reference. “I got to work at eight o’clock as usual,” she replied. “Mr. Whitfield always arrives before me. I usually turn on my computer, get settled, and then get us both a coffee. When I opened his office door to give him the coffee, the room was empty.” As the girl spoke, she tapped perfectly manicured fingernails together absently. Dinah hated manicured fingernails: they reminded her of her distinctly unattractive, chewed-to-the-quick fingertips.

“Mr. Whitfield was due to give a presentation at eleven o’clock,” Lara continued. “So I didn’t really start worrying until about ten-thirty. He hates to be late, and he had to come back to get his presentation and make it uptown in less than half an hour. At eleven, I started to make some calls.”

“Has he ever been absent from the office before?” Ferguson asked.

“Sure, he often has meetings or goes out into the museum to talk to visitors. The thing is, I always know what he’s doing. That’s part of my job. He never goes anywhere during the day without letting me know.”

“So you started making calls at eleven. Who did you call?” Dinah asked impatiently.

Lara ticked off her fingers as she remembered. “I called his cell phone, and I called the other museums. I thought maybe he’d just forgotten to tell me he had a meeting. Nobody had seen him and his cell just rang out. So I called his home. His wife told me he’d left for work at about five-thirty and she hadn’t seen him since. Then I called some of the senior executives. I thought they might’ve had an emergency. But nobody had seen him.”

“Did the people you called — his wife, the executives — seem concerned about his whereabouts?” Ferguson asked.

“Yes, they did. It’s so unusual for Mr. Whitfield to act this way that everyone I spoke to was concerned. I think his wife is actually here somewhere at the moment.”

“So then you called the police?” Dinah said.

“No, one of the directors came over to look at the security tapes. She specifically told me not to call anyone until she’d viewed the footage. I thought that Mr. Whitfield might’ve had an accident on the way to work. Mrs. Whitfield was calling the hospitals when Ms. Biscelli — the director — came back from security.”

“What did the tapes show?” Dinah asked.

“They showed him arriving at six-thirty or so. That’s all I know.”

“Did any of the tapes show him leaving?”

“Not as far as I know.”

“Right. So what then?”

“I called the police.”

Ferguson nodded. “What did they tell you?”

“Basically they won’t do anything until he’s been missing 24 hours.” Lara stopped clicking her nails together and started twisting her hair with one finger. “So I told Ms. Biscelli, and she wasn’t happy with that. I think she must’ve pulled some strings, because here you are.”

Dinah and Ferguson both raised their eyebrows at her in confusion.

“The FBI,” explained Lara. “You guys wouldn’t normally get involved, would you?” She may have been a very pretty secretary, but Lara Southall was an intelligent girl. She’d asked the very question Dinah had been mulling over all morning.

“We’re going to look in his office,” Ferguson said, ignoring the question. He handed her his card. “Please call me if you think of anything else that might be helpful.”

She nodded and picked up the ringing phone. “No,” she said, sounding very weary. “Mr. Whitfield is in a meeting at the moment and can’t be disturbed.”

• • • •

Ferguson opened the door to the office while Dinah waited to get the log-on details for Thomas Whitfield’s computer. Dinah stood in the doorway, looking into the impressive room, and felt the thrill of the chase wash over her like a wave. It had been a long time since she had felt anything.

The office was furnished with heavy cedar furniture that consisted of a large desk, a leather-bound chair, a couch, and two armchairs grouped around a glass-topped coffee table and one entire wall of built-in bookcases. The floor was covered with thick burgundy carpet, and the drapes at the picture window were also burgundy. The walls contained portraits of several great scientists and inventors — Dinah recognized Charles Darwin, Thomas Edison, and the Wright Brothers — as well as photos of the secretary with the president, the queen of England, and other dignitaries. The room itself was clean and uncluttered, likely symbolic of the man himself, Dinah thought.

Ferguson was moving around the room, muttering to himself, as was his habit. Dinah had forgotten how intensely annoying she found this habit. She preferred silence so that she could concentrate.

Having received the log-on details from Lara, Dinah strode to the desk and pulled on her latex gloves. The top of the desk was shiny and would be a great medium to obtain fingerprints. She was careful not to allow herself to touch the desktop while she turned on the laptop.

“By the way, Harris,” Ferguson said from the wall of bookcases, “I forgot to mention that if something has happened to Mr. Whitfield, the media scrutiny is likely to be intense.”

Dinah scowled at the screen of the laptop. She hated the media, and it was a long-term grudge she held from the last case she’d been involved in. “You can handle it,” she said. “I want nothing to do with those vultures.”

Ferguson glanced over at her. “Of course I’ll handle it. But I can’t guarantee that they’ll leave you alone.”

Dinah tapped her foot against the leg of the desk impatiently as the laptop struggled to come to life. “Sticks and stones, Ferguson,” she said tightly. “Words can never hurt me.”

She could see that Ferguson didn’t buy the lie, but he’d decided to let it go. He at least knew not to push too far.

“This whole office is giving me a weird vibe,” he said after a moment. “It’s too . . . organized.”

Dinah logged onto the laptop. “I’m listening.”

“Look at the desk,” Ferguson mused. “No files or paperwork. Not even a pen or a Post-It note. No diary.”

“Maybe he’s just really neat,” Dinah said, opening Outlook on the laptop.

Ferguson went back to his muttering as he continued drifting around the room. Dinah frowned as she clicked through the folders in Outlook. Then she opened the other programs on the computer and looked through the folders there.

“That’s odd,” she commented at last. Ferguson looked up and came over to her.

She clicked through the inbox, sent items, and calendar of the e-mail program. There were no entries in any of them. “They’re completely clean,” she said. “The calendar is the strangest. You’d think the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution would have at least a couple of meetings a week.”

“Maybe he uses a paper diary,” suggested Ferguson.

“Certainly a possibility,” agreed Dinah. “But couple the empty calendar with the fact that he’s neither received nor sent an e-mail from this computer and something isn’t right.”

Ferguson opened the desk drawers and started looking through them.

“Also,” added Dinah, “there is not one single saved document in any other program — no letters, articles, presentations, anything. The entire computer is as if it’s never been used.”

Ferguson sat back on his heels. “You think someone has wiped his computer?”

“Well, the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is: did Thomas Whitfield wipe his own computer before disappearing or did someone else wipe his computer before abducting him?” Dinah began to shut down the programs. “After all, there is no evidence to suggest that he has been abducted. There’s no sign of a struggle in here or blood stains, is there?”

Ferguson shook his head. “No, there isn’t. But there is something off about this office. Nobody, least of all a man in his position, can get through a working day without sending an e-mail or doing paperwork of some kind.” He gestured at the desk drawers. “There’s absolutely nothing in them.”

“I agree,” Dinah said. She closed the laptop and picked it up. “I’m going to have the lab look at the hard drive. What else?”

“I’ll call in crime scene to lift some fingerprints and check for blood.” Ferguson paused, thinking. “I’d like to talk to Ms. Biscelli, and I’d like to talk to his wife.”

Dinah nodded. “If Mr. Whitfield has been abducted, what do you suppose is the motive?”

Ferguson considered. “I don’t know. Money? Fame? Half the time I think these loonies go around killing people just so they can get their name in the news.”

Dinah stared at him. “Do you think Thomas Whitfield is dead?”

He shrugged. “Right now, Harris, I know nine-tenths of absolutely nothing. Let’s talk to Ms. Biscelli. Maybe she’ll know what happened and we can solve this case before dinner time and I’ll get a decent night’s sleep.”

Flippancy, Dinah remembered, was just Ferguson’s way of dealing with the intensity of this job and the horror they’d witnessed over the years.

My Opinion:

WOW! I could not put this book down, I read through it in almost 1 day – I did have to put it down but believe I didn’t want to! Full of Biblical (and scientific) statistics for a Biblical account of Creation (AKA Young Earth Creationism), this book makes a fascinating read for Christians who alreday believe in YEC or for those who are skeptical. While the factual information is put into a fictional book the information is nonetheless true and well researched I might add. Julie Cave has a wonderful book in Deadly Disclosures and I find myself looking forward to the fall of 2010 so that I can read the next book.

With well developed characters and plot this book makes for a fascinating read. Intrigue and suspicion abound but so does faith in God and a leaning on Him – the read will find this especially true with Dinah Harris as she struggles with her inner demons before allowing God to take control of her life. I have found Master Books (who has published Julie’s book) only puts out the finest in Christian literature and this book is no different – it will definitely be a book you’ll want to put on your list for this year!

Yes, there are murders – unfortunately we live in a fallen world and those who live in darkness and evil will set out to destroy those who promote the Truth and Light of the Lord and this at times, will include murder. If you want to stay away from things like this then don’t read this book but if knowing that in the end, Truth wins, then pick up this book and get reading (you may want to wait closer to fall so you don’t have to wait as long!) – I don’t think you’ll regret it.

**See my full disclosure policy at the top of my blog page.

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Farraday Road by Ace Collins


Book descripition from Zondervan’s website:
It’s just another quiet evening out for Lije and Kaitlyn Evans. But somewhere along the way, it becomes something more sinister and a murder takes place. In the aftermath, a small-town attorney sets out to find his wife’s killers and uncovers a deadly conspiracy. A suspenseful mystery with a twist of faith.
About Ace Collins (also from Zondervan):
Ace Collins is the writer of more than sixty books, including several bestsellers: Stories behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Stories behind the Great Traditions of Christmas, The Cathedrals, and Lassie: A Dog’s Life. Based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, He continues to publish several new titles each year, including a series of novels, the first of which is Farraday Road. Ace has appeared on scores of television shows, including CBS This Morning, NBC Nightly News, CNN, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and Entertainment Tonight.

My Opinion:
I have never read Ace Collins before and I must say I didn’t know what to expect from someone I hadn’t read before, but as before, I was estatic that I did read this book. I will say at first I was leery, murder, suspense, and conspiracies – well not exactly what one would think of as a Christian book. My husband doesn’t understand either how these go together but I will say this having come from a place where I used to read these type of secular books but with more risque situations and language this one was much more Christian.
I was drawn in from page one – and didn’t want to put it down, I found it hard to put it down and was glad when my husband allowed us a snow day in our homeschool. Instead of the usual one dimensional, see through characters of most suspense books Ace Collins does a wonderful job of drawing you in to the character’s and make you feel attached to them. I could hear the fear in their voices, the sadness of grief, and other emotions through out this book. God and faith were a strong overtone in this book, even if not outrightly spoken – Lije struggles with his faith after loosing his wife, while another character has total faith in God because she knows that faith is not based on seeing.
I would suggest this book especially if you are coming from a place in your life where you are used to secular suspense but want something cleaner and with more Faith involved. Definitely a must read, but for those who don’t want to read about murder then this definitely wouldn’t be the book for you even with the Christian aspect of it.
**I was provided a copy of this book through Zondervan in exchange for my honest review.
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Green by Ted Dekker



Book Description from Thomas Nelson’s website:

At Last . . . The Circle Reborn

The story of how Thomas Hunter first entered the Black Forest and forever changed our history began at a time when armies were gathered for a final battle in the valley of Migdon. Green is a story of love, betrayal, and sweeping reversals set within the apocalypse. It is the beginning: the truth behind a saga that has captured the imagination of more than a million readers with the Books of History Chronicles.

But even more, Green brings full meaning to the Circle Series as a whole, reading as both prequel to Black and sequel to White, completing a full circle. This is Book Zero, the Circle Reborn, both the beginning and the end. The preferred starting point for new readers . . . and the perfect climax for the countless fans who’ve experienced Black, Red, and White.

My Opinion:

Like Ted Dekker’s other books, Green, pulls you in to the story as soon as you begin reading. The characters will be remembered from the previous books and some new ones which keeps the storyline going and progressing. Mr. Dekker has a great ability for storytelling and weaving in Christian values and beliefs into his book, including Green. I will admit that while the book does pull you in, it took me longer to actually read this one since I had to re-aquaint myself with the characters and plot, it had been awhile since I last read Black, Red and White, but it wasn’t hard to get back into the storyline.

It has always amazed me at how an author can weave so many genre’s and still make it flow smoothly with any weird or unusual plot lines. This is what I think makes Green so great, is that the flow at reading this book from the others just goes seemlessly together making it a great read that will lead you on twists with the suspense, love for Elyon and even hatred. I truly feel this book encompasses a lot of themes that fit well for Ted Dekker’s usual writing style.

**I was provided a copy of this book through Thomas Nelson’s review program in exchange for my honest review.

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FIRST Tour: Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur **updated w/review 12/27/09**


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:

Randall Arthur

and the book:

Wisdom Hunter

Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)

***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Randall Arthur is the bestselling author of Jordan’s Crossing and Brotherhood of Betrayal. He and his wife have served as missionaries to Europe for over thirty years. From 1976 till 1998, he lived in Norway and Germany as a church planter. Since 2000, he has taken numerous missions teams from the United States on trips all over Europe. Arthur is also the founder of the AOK (Acts of Kindness) Bikers’ Fellowship, a group of men who enjoy the sport of motorcycling. He and his family live in Atlanta, Georgia.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (September 20, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590522591
ISBN-13: 978-1590522592

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

PART 1: 1971-1972

Jason cleared his throat. His wife knew what was coming next, and the pain within her rose again. At every evening meal for the last five hundred and fifteen days he had prayed aloud for their daughter, always working his way slowly through the prayer, emphasizing each word as if to prove his sincerity.

“0 God,” he said tonight, “wherever Hannah might be right now, we ask that she’ll know your protection. Thank you for watching over her. And thank you even more that one day you’ll honor our faith and bring her home.”

He paused, as if to arrest the Almighty’s attention, then continued with a faltering voice. “Just-just make it soon. We miss her… “

LYING ON THE living room couch, Hannah Freedman proudly realized once again that she was the reason Cody had emerged from his loneliness. He was absolutely consumed by her-and the thought was enthralling. Admiring her diamond-studded wedding band, she gratified herself with the reminder that Cody always treated her like a princess, as if by royal decree she had somehow granted him a new life.

At this very moment, alone in their suburban Miami home, she could feel his infatuation. It lingered in every room, echoing in the easy recall of Cody’s loving words and embraces.

Hannah turned heavily upon her side, the baby in her womb preventing her from rolling all the way over onto her stomach. She smiled. It was like a fairy tale. She and Cody had met only ten months ago-she a runaway, not yet eighteen; and he a well-bred, 25 year-old professional. Now they were together forever. How could it be real? How could they have it so good?

She reached over her head, retrieving from behind her a framed photograph of Cody that sat alone on the end table. The picture had been taken only weeks before she met him. It was the same handsome face, the same green-eyed, ash-blond man who was now her husband-but he had been so different then. There was a smile on the face, but it was hiding a sense of loss that had governed his life ever since the death of his parents in a plane crash two years earlier. From that seemingly unshakable disorientation, she had rescued him. Likewise, Cody had taken her from a miserable existence and placed her on a lofty pedestal of fulfillment beyond her wildest dreams.

Her spirit soared with gratefulness as she pressed the photograph to her chest. Lost in blissful thoughts, she relived for the thousandth time the nonstop passion of the last ten months. First, the explosive romance-the instant chemistry, like gunpowder contacting fire. Then came the unplanned but welcomed pregnancy, followed by the exchange of wedding vows seven and a half months ago. Every day had been glorious. If she could live all of it over, she would not change a single detail.

A wall clock across the room began to chime the hour, and Hannah closed her eyes and stilled her thoughts to listen: Four o’clock. It was four o’clock, Friday afternoon, December 15th. The “Christmas spirit” with its commercialism was in full swing-and she, Hannah Freedman, had everything in life a woman ever dreamed of: a large and beautiful home, a flaming love life, and emotional security. In only forty minutes her lover would be home from a day’s work at his veterinary clinic, ready for their usual early and intimate dinner together. And in only fourteen days, according to the doctor’s calculations, she and Cody would cuddle their first child.

She lifted the photograph and contentedly stared through tears at Cody’s picture. For the first time in her eighteen years, she knew what it was to live and to love.

She slowly reached over her head and carefully returned the photograph to its place. She contemplated getting up from the couch. But due to an early morning burst of energy she had already put in a full day of cleaning house and baking Christmas cookies, and the work had left her exhausted. Her small frame, now carrying an extra twenty-six pounds, simply refused to rise.

AT 4:40, CODY came in the back door. He slipped quickly through the kitchen, moving his six-foot-three, 170-pound athletic body with the fluidity of a cat, and began singing: “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to live with a blue-eyed Georgia girl, hey!”

On the living room couch Hannah awoke from her light sleep, and broke into a smile as Cody continued singing heartily off-key: “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh what fun it is to love my blue-eyed Georgia girl!”

When Cody poked his head around the corner, Hannah was applauding. “Coe,” she said, extending tired but inviting arms, “you can love this blue-eyed Georgia girl anytime you want to.”

Like a moth to a flame, Cody was drawn into her arms. Kneeling on the plush gray carpet beside her, he kissed her full, moist lips as if he had been starving for her for weeks. When he finally withdrew, he looked into her eyes and said with intensity, “Hannah, you’re so beautiful-even when you’re tired”

So often before he had told her she was beautiful-and had never stopped, even after her pregnancy began showing. Spreading her arms playfully like wings, Hannah nodded toward her body. “You like it, huh?”

Cody smiled his reply, then ran his fingers slowly through her long, thick auburn hair. “Hannah,” he moaned in earnest, “I’m missing you, bad.”

“How much?” she asked with delight.

“You really want to know?”

“Yeah.”

Cody grinned. “Well, I’ll tell you. I accidentally gave overdoses of antibiotics to four different dogs today and killed them all,” he joked, “simply because I couldn’t get my mind off you. All I’ve done today is dream about being with you.”

Feeling aroused, Hannah slowly pulled him into another fiery kiss.

It took every ounce of self-control Cody could muster to keep from going further. When Hannah finally released him, he fell reluctantly to the floor and stretched out on his back. “Just you wait,” he said with gusto, “till we’re able to be together again. I’m going to make it unforgettable.”

Hannah laughed seductively. “Are you sure you can hold out until then?”

With surprise, she watched Cody’s mood turn sober. He rose to kneel beside her again, and took her hands in his. “Hannah, if I had to, I’d be willing to wait the rest of my life for you.”

There was no doubt in Hannah’s mind that he meant every word. She felt his sincerity as certainly as if it were rain pouring down on her. Instinctively she pulled him into another tight embrace.

“Cody,” she confided in his ear, “this will be the best Christmas I’ve ever had. And the reason is you…”

AFTER DINNER Cody raved as Hannah placed the tray of Christmas cookies on the dining room table beside him. “Better looking than Mother’s used to be,” he said. Taking a bite, he nodded, “And every bit as good!”

An LP of instrumental Christmas music was playing softly in the background. Hannah sat down to hear Cody finish telling her about his day: setting a German shepherd’s broken leg, diagnosing an old tomcat that was refusing to eat, bobtailing a four-day old boxer, and giving an array of shots.

“And Mrs. Gravitt brought in her Dalmatian again,” he said, then paused.

“And?” Hannah asked.

“And it should be the last time!” he smiled with satisfaction. “He’s fully recovered, and Mrs. Gravitt is as happy as any client I’ve ever had.”

“She should be,” Hannah reassured him. “That dog was nearly dead two months ago when she first brought him to you. It was a miracle anyone could save him. But what can I say? You’re the best!”

“Well, maybe not the best… But…”Cody tucked his thumbs beneath imaginary suspenders, in a mocking pose of greatness. They both erupted into laughter.

“Say,” he said after finishing another cookie, “I called Reed’s Travel Agency this morning. They promised they could reserve the cabin-“

Before he could complete the sentence, he saw Hannah suddenly gasp for breath, tense in her chair, then let out a low groan. Cody was immediately face to face with her, gripping her shoulders. “Are you all right?” he demanded.

She finally began breathing, then looked him in the eye and gave the most surprisingly beautiful smile he had ever seen. “I think so… I… uh… yeah, I’m okay,” she answered. “My water just broke.” She could feel the warm fluid puddling around her buttocks and running down her leg. For a moment she was embarrassed, but the feeling was quickly overcome by an acute surge of pain.

Still trying to figure out what to do, Cody saw Hannah tense again. He gripped her hand in silence, stunned by the piercing hurt locked on her face.

Several seconds later, Hannah relaxed and took a deep breath. “I’m not positive,” she said, “but if that was my first contraction, we may be mommy and daddy two weeks earlier than we thought.”

Elated, Cody held her in a big hug and said, “Can you believe it?” He started dancing around the table. “We’re going to be a family!” he shouted, as Hannah laughed.

THEIR CELEBRATION was soon tempered by the quickly recurring pains, and the rush to leave for the hospital. Within twenty-five minutes from the time Hannah’s water had broken, she was seated beside Cody in their Ford station wagon. He was timing her contractions, which now came at less than three-minute intervals. The quickly paced labor pains, coming so soon, made Cody nervous. He tried to relax, but it was all so new. And this was his wife, his baby.

This is happening too fast, he thought, calculating that the trip to the hospital would normally take twenty-five to thirty minutes. This time, he decided, it would have to be less than twenty. No stranger to speeding, he was confident he could meet the challenge.

He glanced at his wristwatch-5:51-just as they were leaving their residential area and approaching the nearest main road. One look ahead quickly confirmed a rising worry: It was rush hour. Traffic on the main road was packed, moving at only a fraction of the normal speed.

For the first time, Cody felt panic. To hide it, he forced a grin and said to Hannah, “I love adventure, but this is a little too much of the good stuff.”

She smiled briefly, before yielding to the start of yet another contraction.

Soon the eruptions of pain were less than two minutes apart. Hannah bravely fought back. Everything’s under control, she kept telling herself. Be strong, be strong. Impossible as it seemed, each contraction hurt worse than the last, worse than anything she had ever felt in her life.

“Just hang in there, babe,” Cody said. “I’ll get you there.”

The line of cars crept forward to an intersection which he realized was approximately their halfway point to the hospital. The flow of traffic halted again as he saw the same set of stoplights change to red for the second time. With mounting fear he looked at his watch: 6:16.

Suddenly, Hannah leaned forward, grabbed the dashboard with both hands, and screamed. Cody reached out and touched her shoulder. He was now almost beside himself with panic. “Are you going to make it?”

When her pain had passed its peak, she found her breath and shot back, “I don’t know… Just hurry!”

He knew then what he had to do. And on impulse, as if the adrenaline surging through him had switched on a machine, he did it.

Trying to take charge of this desperate situation, he lurched the station wagon out of their traffic lane. Sounding his horn and flashing his headlights, he charged through the intersection and down the avenue, straddling the middle line.

Hannah did little more than flinch. The thought of how crazy it all seemed flashed in and out of her mind.

“I’ll get you there,” she heard Cody say again.

My Opinion:

WOW! There are books that are good and then there are the books that make you think about what you think is true, this is one of those books! Having never read Randall Arthur before I wasn’t sure what to expect from his writings but I was so happy to realize that his style gets you involved in the character’s life. These aren’t one dimensional characters in “Wisdom Hunter” but characters that may seem like you know them in real life!

I appreciate a book that comes from an author who isn’t trying to convince you that you are wrong but want to stretch you and your Faith. I found myself growing and streching while reading this – I think that the Holy Spirit was using this book to make me think about things that I needed to ponder. Even though the main character realizes that the rules he forced on his church such as women not working, women only wearing dresses, what positions the men could hold, etc were legalistic in the light of him controlling his congregation the author doesn’t want the reader to feel that everyone with those convictions are legalistic. This book is one that can help the reader grow wether you are a baby Christian or have been a Christian for years – “Wisdom Hunter” is a wonderful read for Christians.

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"Offworld" by Robin Parrish


Having never read Robin Parrish before and having the chance to do so through Bethany House book reviewer program (I was provided a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review) let me delve into a genre I normally wouldn’t have gone near. I was hooked on this book from the time I first picked it up until I finished it two days later.

We begin offworld with four astronauts from NASA who are on the first manned mission to Mars in the year 2032 as they are begining their trip home. What they don’t know is they are in for a big surprise when the finally do get back to Earth – no one is there to welcome them! With surprising twists and turns Mr. Parrish really does a great job in weaving a story of suspense, science fictions and drama. While there isn’t a whole lot of talk about God or even having faith in Him – one could see the allegory that could be made from reading this book. There is the word c**p used once, which I really could have done without but the character who used it also wasn’t a Christian but as a Christian reading the word it did offend me.

Overall, despite the use of the above word and lack of the characters having a solid faith in God it was a good read if only for entertainment rather than inspirational value. So while I can’t say I would whole heartedly recommend this to my Christian friends, because I know they too would be offended by that word (I consider it a curse word – again my opinion) I also know it was a good and thrilling read that takes the reader into another world – which I enjoyed being able to be ‘transported’ to.

Purchasing information can be found on Bethany House’s website.

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Last Breath by Brandilyn Collins and Amberly Collins


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:

Brandilyn & Amberly Collins

and the book:

Last Breath (Rayne Series #2)

Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Lindsey Rodarmer of ZONDERKIDZ for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn and Amberly Collins are a mother/daughter team from northern California. Brandilyn is a bestselling novelist, known for her trademarked “Seatbelt Suspense”. Amberly is a college student in southern California. She and her mom love attending concerts together.

Visit the author’s website.

Here’s a video about the first book in the Rayne Series:

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Zondervan; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310715407
ISBN-13: 978-0310715405

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Your father sent me.

The last words of a dying man, whispered in my ear.

Were they true? What did they mean?

Your father sent me. The stunning claim drilled through my head, louder than the crowd’s screams.

Guitars blasted the last chord of Rayne’s hit song, Ever Alone, as Mom’s voice echoed through the Pepsi Center in Denver. The heavy drum beat thumped in my chest. With a final smash of cymbals the rock song ended. Multicolored laser lights swept the stadium, signaling the thirty-minute intermission.

Wild shrieks from thousands of fans rang in my ears.

I rose from my chair backstage. Tiredly, I smiled at the famous Rayne O’Connor as she strode toward me on high red heels. In the lights her sequined top shimmered and her blonde hair shone. She walked with confidence and grace, the picture of a rock star—until she stepped from her fans’ sight. Then her posture slumped, weariness creasing her beautiful face. Mom’s intense blue eyes usually glimmered with the excitement of performing, but now I saw only the wash of grief and exhaustion. How she’d managed to perform tonight, I’d never know. Except that she’s strong. A real fighter.

Me? I had to keep fighting too, even if my legs still trembled and I’d probably have nightmares for weeks.

Your father sent me.

I had to find out what those words meant.

“You’re a very brave young lady,” a Denver detective had told me just a few hours ago. I didn’t feel brave then or now.

“You okay, Shaley?” Mom had to shout over the screams as she hugged me.

I nodded against her shoulder, hanging on tightly until she pulled back.

The crowd’s applause died down. A heavy hum of voices and footsteps filtered from the stadium as thousands of people headed for concessions and bathrooms during the break.

Kim, the band’s keyboard player and alto to my mom’s lead vocals, stopped to lay a darkly tanned hand on my head. A strand of her bleached white-blonde hair was stuck to the gloss on her pink lips. She brushed it away. “You’re an amazing sixteen-year-old.”

I shrugged, embarrassed. “Thanks.”

Mick and Wendell, Mom’s two remaining bodyguards, approached without a word. I gave a self-conscious smile to Wendell, and he nodded back, sadness flicking across his face. His deep-set eyes were clouded, and the long scar across his chin seemed harder, more shiny. At five-eleven, Wendell is short for a bodyguard but every bit as muscled. Tonight his two-inch black hair, usually gelled straight up, stuck out in various directions. He hadn’t bothered to fix it since the life and death chase he was involved in just a few hours ago. Seeing that messed-up hair sent a stab through me. Wendell was usually so finicky about it.

Mick, Mom’s main personal bodyguard, folded his huge arms and stood back, waiting. Mick is in his forties, ex-military and tall, with a thick neck and block-shaped head. I’ve rarely seen emotion on his face, but I saw glimpses of it now. He and Wendell had been good friends with Bruce, Mom’s third bodyguard.

Bruce had been killed hours ago. Shot.

And he’d been trying to guard me.

My vision blurred. I blinked hard and looked at the floor.

“Come on.” Mom nudged my arm. “We’re all meeting in my dressing room.”

Mick and Bruce flanked her as she walked away.

Usually we don’t have to be so careful backstage. It’s a heavily guarded area anyway. But tonight nothing was the same.

Kim and I followed Mom down a long hall to her dressing room. Morrey, Kim’s boyfriend and Rayne’s drummer, caught up with us. He put a tattoo-covered arm around Kim, her head only reaching his shoulders. Morrey looked at me and winked, but I saw no happiness in it.

Ross Blanke, the band’s tour production manager, hustled up alongside us, trailed by Stan, lead guitarist, and Rich, Rayne’s bass player. “Hey.” Ross put a pudgy hand on Mom’s shoulder. “You’re doing great.” He waved an arm, indicating everyone. “All of you, you’re just doing great.”

“You do what you have to,” Stan said grimly. His black face shone with sweat.

Narrowing single file, we trudged into the dressing room. Mick and Wendell took up places on each side of the door.

Marshall, the makeup and hair stylist, started handing out water bottles. In his thirties, Marshall has buggy eyes and curly dark hair. His fingers are long and narrow, deft with his makeup tools. But until two days ago, he’d been second to Mom’s main stylist, Tom.

“Thanks.” I took a bottle from Marshall and tried to smile. Didn’t work. Just looking at him sent pangs of grief through me, because his presence reminded me of Tom’s absence.

Tom, my closest friend on tour, had been murdered two days ago.

Mom, Ross, Rich and I sank down on the blue couch—one of the furniture pieces Mom requested in every dressing room. Denver’s version was extra large, with a high back and overstuffed arms. To our left stood a table with plenty of catered food, but no one was hungry. I’d hardly eaten in the last day and a half and knew I should have something. But no way, not now.

Maybe after the concert.

Stan, Morrey and Kim drew up chairs to form a haphazard circle.

“All right.” Ross sat with his short, fat legs apart, hands on his jeaned thighs. The huge diamond ring on his right hand was skewed to one side. He straightened it with his pinky finger. “I’ve checked outside past the guarded area. The zoo’s double what it usually is. The news has already hit and every reporter and his brother are waiting for us. Some paparazzi are already there, and others have probably hopped planes and will show up by the time we leave.”

Is Cat here? I shuddered at the thought of the slinky, effeminate photographer who’d bothered us so much in the last two days. He’d even pulled a fire alarm in our San Jose hotel the night before just to force us out of our rooms. Now by police order he wasn’t supposed to get within five hundred feet of us. I doubted he’d care.

My eyes burned, and my muscles felt like water. Little food, no sleep, and plenty of shock. Bad combination. I slumped down in the couch and laid my head back.

Ross ran a hand through his scraggly brown hair. “Now at intermission folks out there”—he jabbed a thumb toward the arena—“are gonna start hearing things. Rayne, you might want to say a little something when you get back on stage.”

Mom sighed, as if wondering where she’d find the energy to do the second half of the concert. “Yeah.”

I squeezed her knee. If only the two of us could hide from the world for a week or two.

Make that a whole year.

Rich frowned as he moved his shaved head from one side to the other, stretching his neck muscles. His piercing gray eyes landed on me, and his face softened. I looked away.

Everyone was so caring and concerned about me. I was grateful for that. Really, I was. But it’s a little hard to know you’ve been the cause of three deaths. Under all their smiles, did the band members blame me?

Ross scratched his hanging jowl. “We got extra coverage from Denver police at the hotel tonight. Tomorrow we’re supposed to head out for Albuquerque. It’s close enough for Vance to drive the main bus without a switch-off driver, and the next two venues are close enough as well. But that’s just logistics. We’ve all been through a lot. Question is—can you all keep performing?” He looked around, eyebrows raised.

“Man.” Morrey shook back his shoulder-length black hair. “If three deaths in two days isn’t enough to make us quit …” His full lips pressed.

I glanced hopefully at Mom. Yeah, let’s go home! I could sleep in my own bed, hide from the paparazzi and reporters, hang out with Brittany, my best friend—who was supposed to be here with me right now.

But canceling concerts would mean losing a lot of money. The Rayne tour was supposed to continue another four weeks.

Mom hunched forward, elbows on her knees and one hand to her cheek. Her long red fingernails matched the color of her lips. “I almost lost my daughter tonight.” Her voice was tight. “I don’t care if I never tour again—Shaley’s got to be protected, that’s the number one thing.”

I want you protected too, Mom.

“I agree with that a hundred percent,” Morrey said, “but at least the threat to Shaley is gone now that Jerry’s dead.

Jerry, one of our bus drivers—and a man I’d thought was my friend—killed Tom and Bruce, and then came after me earlier that night. A cop ended up shooting him.

Kim spread her hands. “I don’t know what to say. I’m still reeling. We’ve barely had time to talk about any of this tonight before getting on stage. I feel like my mind’s gonna explode. And Tom …”

She teared up, and that made me cry. Kim had been like a mother to Tom. Crazy, funny Tom. It was just so hard to believe he was gone.

I wiped my eyes and looked at my lap.

“Anyway.” Kim steadied her voice. “It’s so much to deal with. I don’t know how we’re going to keep up this pace for another month.”

Mom looked at Ross. “We can’t keep going very long with only Vance to drive the main bus.”

Ross nodded. “Until Thursday. I’d have to replace him by then.”

“With who?” Mom’s voice edged.

“I don’t know. I’ll have to jump on it.”

“You can’t just ‘jump on it.’ We need time to thoroughly check the new driver out.”

“Rayne.” Ross threw her a look. “I did check Jerry out. Completely. He had a false ID, remember? That’s what the police said. I couldn’t have known that.”

“You might have known if you’d checked harder.”

Ross’s face flushed. “I did—”

“No you didn’t! Or if you did it wasn’t good enough!” Mom pushed to her feet and paced a few steps. “Something’s mighty wrong if we can’t even find out a guy’s a convicted felon!”

What? I stiffened. “How do you know that?”

Mom waved a hand in the air. “The police told me just before we left the hotel.”

We’d huddled in the manager’s office after the policeman killed Jerry.

I stared at Mom. “When was he in jail?”

Mom threw a hard look at Ross. “He’d barely gotten out when we hired him.”

Heat flushed through my veins. I snapped my gaze toward the floor, Jerry’s last words ringing in my head.

Your father sent me.

How could my father have sent Jerry if he was in jail?

“Rayne,” Ross snapped, “I’ve told you I’m sorry a dozen times—”

“Sorry isn’t enough!” Mom whirled on him. “My daughter was taken hostage. She could have been killed!”

Rich jumped up and put his arms around her. “Come on, Rayne, it’s okay now.”

She leaned against him, eyes closed. The anger on her face melted into exhaustion. “It’s not okay.” Mom shook her head. “Tom’s dead, Bruce is dead. And Shaley—”

Her words broke off. Mom pulled away from Rich and hurried back to the couch. She sank down next to me, a hand on my knee. “Shaley, you’re the one who’s been through the most. What do you want to do?”

My throat nearly swelled shut. Go home! I wanted to yell. But I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair. This wasn’t my tour. I didn’t have to pay the bills.

I glanced around at all the band members. Morrey was holding Kim’s hand. Stan and Rich watched me, waiting. A canceled tour wouldn’t just affect them. Rayne had three back-up singers, one of them Carly, who’d been such a help to me. Plus all the techs and roadies. They’d all lose money.

Wait—maybe Mom would let me go home and stay with Brittany. Now that Tom’s and Bruce’s killer was dead …

“Shaley?” Mom tapped my leg.

“I don’t … I can’t stop the tour.”

Ross exhaled. “Rayne?”

Mom looked at the wall clock and pushed to her feet. “We can’t decide this now. It’s only fifteen minutes before we have to be back on stage. I still need to change.”

Stan stood. “I say we figure on doing Albuquerque, and then we can decide about the rest.”

“Yeah, me too.” Rich got up, along with everyone else. I could see the business-like attitude settle on all their faces, including Mom’s. Soon they had to perform again. Every other concern must be pushed aside. In the entertainment world the saying was true: the show must go on.

Within a minute everyone had left except Mom, Marshall and me. Mom threw herself into a chair by the bright mirrors so Marshall could adjust her makeup. When he left she changed into a steel blue top and skinny-legged black pants.

I sat numbly on the couch, four words running through my mind. Words, I sensed, that would change my life.

Your father sent me.

Mom didn’t know what Jerry had whispered to me as he died. I needed to tell her.

But how? Like me, she was running on empty. It would be one more shock, another scare. I wasn’t sure she could take anymore and still perform.

Had Jerry told me the truth? Had the father I’d never known—the man my mother refused to talk about—purposely sent a killer to join our tour?

I needed to know. I needed to find out. Because if it was true—the danger was far from over.

My Opinion:

Brandilynn Collins has done it again and with her daughter, Amberly by her side. Dropped into the world of rock star Rayne and her daughter Shaley you need not worry of starting with book 2 in The Rayne Tour series – book 2, “Last Breath” gets the reader up to date quickly. The story is expertly woven and pulls you into it as soon as you begin and until the last page – at which point you want more.

Like all of Collins’ books there are no risque scenes or graphic crime desciptions. Of course there are scenes that are described in the book like a car accident or reference to someone being murdered but there are no stomach turning descriptors. Overall another wonderful hit in the book world by Brandilynn Collins and the mother daughter team adds to the great writing that is trademark of her books!

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A Dream to Call My Own by Tracie Peterson


There are some series when you know that it’s going to end but you don’t want it to because the characters have become friends. This is the case in the Brides of Gallatin County book 3 entitled A Dream To Call My Own by Tracie Peterson and published by Bethany House. What a great series it has been and it was great meeting the Gallatin sisters.

This book is the story of Lacy Gallatin, the third and youngest of the Gallatin sisters. She is strong willed and not at all like women of her day and she has a mission – to find her father’s killer. Dave Shepard has been one to tell Lacy how unfeminine she is and it drives Lacy crazy – to the point where she and the deputy sheriff for Gallatin crossing bicker and fight. Neither are prepared for their feelings and are even more unprepared for what happens later.

This story is one of suspense, as the unsavory characters want to ruin Gallatin Crossing and have plans to take over the town for their own immoral and illegal happenings, regardless of who gets hurt – or killed. The characters become even more real as they have grown in the past two books in their faith in God and realize they must rely on Him and Him only for them to survive. The suspense is woven throughout the entire book, making it one that is hard to put down, at the same time though you don’t want to leave the characters.

A Dream to Call My Own is also a love story, one of imperfectness, as all love is. A story of learning, truthfulness and communication. The characters realize that failure to learn can mean that they won’t grow, either in their Faith or in their own personal lives such as becoming a lady. The characters emerge strong and it isn’t your usual sappy love story – although I will say the kissing scenes would be inappropriate for a unmarried, young lady to read since the two kissing are not married – but the characters know when to say when because not only do they fear for their own reputations but they worry more about what God would think – much more important.

Kudos go out to Tracie Peterson for once again weaving another wonderful story! I’d love to see an addition telling her readers what happens to the Gallatin sisters, their town, children and husbands. Wouldn’t it be nice to drop in again and see your friends to see what they have been up to?

My reviews for the first two books can be found at this post.

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Exposure by Brandilyn Collins


About the Book:

Kaycee Raye, a popular syndicated newspaper column writer makes fun of her own fears to help others get over their fears. Is her paranoia and fear making her ‘see’ things that aren’t there or are the images and items that seem so real but then disappear really real? Is she crazy? Is she sane? Christian faith blended to make a thrilling ride of suspense that makes one wonder if Kaycee will survive.

My opinion:

Brandilyn Collins has written another great book. Exposure is a nerve tingling ride that you will be hard pressed to put it down, at least I was. The constant twists along with just enough terror to not overdo it, will keep you guessing. I was proven wrong a couple of times as I continued to guess who done it? Kaycee’s fears are real and one would think staying alive through her way of helping others.

While some may seem leery of a Christian book having terror, murder and fear in it, it is definitely Christian. Kaycee’s constant crying out to God in her prayers to get her through a dark, lonely night at home while waiting for whoever is stalking her, is the only thing that gets her through the night. Kaycee and the other characters rely consistently and constantly on God and their Christian faith. There is nothing inappropriate insofar as cussing, nudity and overt romance. It never ceases to amaze me that what we see in Hollywood today can be wrong with inappropriateness but a Christian fiction writer can write suspense without all the nudity and cussing and make it a great form of entertainment while still having characters grounded in Christian faith.

I would recommend you take a look at Zondervan’s product page for more information on how to purchase the book. The only thing I wouldn’t recommend is don’t read it alone at night, unless you have every light on your house on and the curtains tightly closed!

**Picture of book cover taken from Zondervan’s website.

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