Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Fear to Freedom" by Rosemary Trible

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:


Fear to Freedom: Victim to Victory - What if you did not have to be so afraid?

VMI Publishers (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Paula Krapf - Chief Operating Officer - Author Marketing Experts, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Rosemary Trible’s experiences as the wife of former United States Congressman and Senator Paul Trible provide fascinating insights into the challenges and opportunities of public life. During their twelve years in Congress, Rosemary’s involvement in the inner city of Washington gave her a fresh perspective of the need for reconciliation and the importance of the “power of love” over the “love of power.” Rosemary’s compassion for the poor led her to travel widely hosting mission trips around the world to places such as Cuba, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and India. While in Calcutta she was greatly impacted by the opportunity to work with The Sisters of Charity. Mother Teresa challenged Rosemary to “be a woman of prayer,” which continues to inspire her today.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: VMI Publishers (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935265091
ISBN-13: 978-1935265092

AND NOW...AN EXCERPT:


Chapter 18

Abiding In God’s Presence

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). These words invited me to draw near to God in my everyday life. I had felt such an incredible closeness to the Lord during my near-life experience and now my passion for living in God’s presence is greater than ever.

Jesus certainly knew the importance of dwelling in God’s presence. For him, prayer was a priority. Jesus taught, healed, preached, and then went away to spend time with his Father. Here he received the guidance, strength, and comfort he needed for each day. Likewise prayer strengthens our faith, helps us appreciate the joys of life, and brings us into the delightful presence of God.

St Augustine said, “For you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”1 What a difference prayer can make in our lives! Only here can our hearts find the true rest we long for.

I want to know God’s purpose for me and my family. To do this, I need to spend time with Jesus in the Word and in prayer. After all, the most strategic person I need to reach with the love of God is me. I have called my time of prayer an Appointment with the King since I heard Becky Tiarabassi use that expression at a woman’s retreat years ago. The pace of life today is full speed ahead, and the noise of life is so loud it can distract us from God, who is wooing us—inviting us to slow down, to sit and be still. What if we made an Appointment with the King for twenty minutes each day? We would still have twenty-three hours and forty minutes of our day left! We are so busy running and doing that we have lost what it means to just be still—to know that God is holy, faithful, and unfailing.

Elijah on the mountaintop did not find God in the storm or the wind or the fire but in a small whisper. God often whispers his love to us: “Come to me. Enter into my presence, and find rest for your soul. Come with no agenda but to be with me for you are my heart’s delight.”

I have come to believe that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. God is not concerned about our past except for the grace he gives to cover it. Today we can have a relationship through his son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. I am the way, the truth and the life, I am the good shepherd.” This is true for us today not in the past tense. I want to know Jesus now—I want to learn to walk like him, and forgive like him, and love like him.

Jesus is alive today. He is healing, forgiving, restoring, and loving today. I believe he wants us to be part of his transforming work, but this flows out of our time with him. Instead of being with Jesus to develop this intimacy, and seek his vision, we seem often to focus on the doing instead of being. If what we do is who we are, then who are we when we stop doing it?

I am comforted that Jesus did not run through Jerusalem! If we are always running throughout every day, checking off our to-do lists and responding to our e-mail and text messages, we become exhausted. We must find balance by spending time alone with the Lord. On my calendar there are many entries for every day, but my prayer time, my Appointment with the King, is my highest priority.

Find a time of prayer that works for you. After I went back to work, it was difficult to continue my regular morning time of prayer. God let me know, “That’s no problem. We’ll just meet in the middle of the night when we can be quiet together.” For the past eight years I am awakened sometime between three and four o’clock and have found this time to be the most precious part of the day. I enter into God’s presence when my mind is not already focusing on the days’ activities. If your heart’s desire is to be with God, you can find a time that is best for you.

A revelation from my near-life experience is the importance of living in his presence now. Jesus’ spirit lives in us and therefore we are never alone. Moment by moment, step by step, day by day, we can be one in Jesus as we open our lives to this transforming relationship. We are the ones who must open our hearts to the fullness of this love.

Billy Graham once said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.”2 Sometimes we do not know how to ask, what to seek, and how to begin to knock. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7–8). So keep knocking!

Moments With Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is a great example of this kind of radical devotion to love and prayer. Her life epitomized love, for she reached out to everyone who crossed her path—the rich and the poor, the powerful and those who were dying in poverty and filth. When people asked her how they could make a difference, she would often suggest to them, “Simply respond to what is right before you—love the person in front of you. You are called not to be successful but to be faithful.”

I first had an opportunity to meet Mother Teresa in February of 1994 when she was the speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast. Because I was helping with logistics that year, I visited with Susan Mendies, who traveled with Mother Teresa and helped make her arrangements. She indicated Mother Teresa would rather not sit at the head table, but have a simple chair placed for her behind the dignitaries.

While others were eating their breakfast, President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and his wife, Tipper, came behind the curtain to spend time with Mother Teresa. I watched from the wings of the stage as Mother Teresa reached her arms around these two couples while she prayed for them. The program was about to begin, but the most important event seemed to be the scene I was witnessing. Five people sitting in folding chairs as this humble woman prayed for them—the leaders of our nation and the world.

Mother Teresa was so small that we placed a box behind the podium so she could be seen when it was time for her keynote address. When she spoke, however, the authority of God seemed to come through her, and you could hear a pin drop in this crowd of five thousand who listened intently. She challenged the audience that represented some 146 nations to “Love until it hurts.” She said:

And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

You too must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.

We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world.

If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!3

I had another wonderful opportunity to be with Mother Teresa in the spring before her death September 5, 1997, when I traveled to Calcutta to work in the House of the Dying and the Orphanage of the Missionaries of Charity along with Susan Mendies. There I experienced Jesus as never before among the poorest of the poor.

Morning worship was in the Mother House at 6:00 a.m. Mother Teresa was in her wheelchair, and beside her was Sister Agnes in her wheelchair in the back of the crowded room. Sister Agnes was the first nun to join Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She was the contemplative nun who prayed while Mother Teresa was out serving. They were devoted friends who were paired in their lives in Christ. As Mother Teresa worked in the streets, her friend for forty-two years, Sister Agnes, kept a prayer vigil. Every morning the sisters repeated this prayer called “Radiating Jesus”:

Dear Jesus, help us to spread

Your fragrance everywhere we go.

Flood our souls with your spirit and life.

Penetrate and possess our whole being, so utterly,

That our lives may only be a radiance of Yours.

Shine through us, and be so in us,

That every soul we come in contact with

May feel Your presence in our soul. . . .4

After morning prayer, I knelt by Mother Teresa’s wheelchair and felt I was beholding Jesus face-to-face. Her dancing eyes twinkled with joy as her warm wrinkled hands, leathered from years of serving and loving, held mine. It was if I were looking into the eyes of unconditional love. Her challenge has stayed with me ever since: “Rosemary, be a woman of prayer.”

I love what she said about prayer: “Perfect prayer does not consist in many words, but the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. Love to pray. Feel the need to pray often during the day. Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.” Another of her favorite sayings I have engraved on a rock by my bed: “Do no great things, only small things with great love.”5

I thought often of Mother Teresa’s words as I worked in the House of the Dying. I saw all around me great love and felt blessed, in a small way, to care for those on the threshold of death. The hurt and pain was evident, but God’s peace and love was even more present.

On this weekend nuns from across the world had gathered to determine who would follow Mother Teresa as head of the Missionaries of Charity. To help with the daily jobs, teenage novices had come from another province to work that weekend. That made me the oldest person serving in the House of the Dying. The doctor asked if I would give out the medications to each woman. He paired me with one of the novices, who checked the name on the individual cups of pills and bottles of liquid to determine the medicine was going to the right woman.

My mother had recently died, so my heart was particularly tender when I was with these women in their last days. I held each woman in my arms and spoke softly about my own mother’s dying and how she had said, “Jesus is coming. He is coming for me.” I will never know if any of these dying women could understand what I was saying, but I felt a deep peace in the midst of this the dying. As I told them about my own experience in the vision of heaven, I looked into their eyes and felt somehow they at least knew they were loved and cared for.

I asked one of the nuns later, “How is this unusual peace possible?” She replied, “The peace comes from love. These women, many who have been picked up out of the gutters, now know they are loved. God loves them. They have been forgiven and may soon be free from their pain. She told me how one person had said, “I lived my life in filth, but I will die as an angel.”

The next day I was not expecting to see Mother Teresa. Then I heard tiny footsteps coming from behind me and there she was. Her eyes sparkled as she asked, “Do you have one of my business cards?” “No, I’d love to have one!” I replied in total surprise. I told her about my time at the House of the Dying and how the next day I was going to spend time in the orphanage. She asked, “Do you love children?” I replied, “Oh yes, I have two children who I adore.” “I’ll give you one!” Mother Teresa exclaimed!

My jaw must have dropped open. But before I could speak, the nuns had come for Mother Teresa and whisked her away. Her business card read:

The fruit of Silence is prayer.

The fruit of Prayer is faith,

The fruit of Faith is love,

The fruit of Love is service,

And the fruit of Service is peace.

Mother Teresa changed the world through her life of loving everyone. Whether a leper everyone despised, an abandoned baby, the pope or the president, each person was special to her and to God. She is buried, as was her request, in a simple pine box. This tireless and compassionate woman was loved by the poor and powerful alike. She lies in the Mother House where her last simple message reads, “From Mother—Love one another as I have loved you.”



I will post a review at a later date.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"No Greater Love" by Kathi Macias--New Hope Publisher's Amazon Blast!

Extreme Devotion

Release Date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 1-59669-215-4
ISBN-13: 978-1-59669-215-2
Retail Price: $19.99
Format: Hard Cover

Forbidden romance, an unlikely martyr and an even more unlikely hero. Orphaned four years earlier when their parents, active in the African National Congress (ANC) movement against apartheid, were murdered—16-year-old Chioma and her 15-year-old brother Masozi now live and work on an Afrikaner family’s farm.
When Chioma and Andrew, the farm owner’s son, find themselves attracted to one another, tragedy revisits their lives. Chioma escapes to join an ANC rebel band in her effort to survive and gain revenge for her family and culture. When cultures clash in life-or-death struggles, Chioma must choose between violence and revenge—or forgiveness and selfless love.
Loosely based on historical events and set near Pretoria, South Africa, in the violent upheaval prior to ANC leader Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990 and his ascendance to the presidency of South Africa, this story of forbidden romance produces an unlikely martyr who is replaced by one even more unlikely.

Kathi Macias
is a multi-award winning writer who has authored nearly 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

www.kathimacias.com

http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com

Purchase here. For multiple book orders, contact Kathi directly at ezyrtr@ca.rr.com.

Review and Giveaway: "Glaen" by Fred R. Lybrand

How do you find the right person to marry?

Glaen on Bottom

Glaen by Fred R. Lybrand

The Barnabas Agency February 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5/softcover/171 pages/$14.99

Website: www.glaen.com Blog: www.glaen.wordpress.com

Become a fan of Glaen on Facebook!

In a world where love is romanticized by vampires and far-off adventures of undying love-at-first-sight, audiences don’t always have the opportunity to read stories that reflect God’s design for love. Author Fred Lybrand takes an in-depth look into relationships and dating, plus a little common sense for the real day-to-day world, in his latest book, Glaen.

Lybrand has chosen a unique and effective way to present his knowledge of human relationships and romance by creating a story line that allows readers to walk alongside believable characters as they discover and explore an exciting and more effective way to relate to those with whom they will share life’s most intimate relationships. Having spent more than twenty-four years as a pastor, Lybrand is deeply involved in caring for people, and he wants others to know the freedom that can be found in relating to others truthfully and without pretense.

Glaen introduces the character of Annie Hughes just as she suffers the loss of one of life’s foundational relationships–her parents’ marriage. As a graduate student, Annie suddenly finds herself at a loss to understand how any relationship finds and maintains lifetime power, especially a relationship as intimate as marriage.

Then Annie meets her new writing professor, a rather unconventional teacher named Glaen (rhymes with rain), and her life is set upon a path of both self-discovery and the exploration of romantic relationships. She begins this class with the intention to help others, but quickly learns that she must first develop a teachable spirit, and her own faith proves to be the pivotal starting point for her journey. Annie then begins to honestly explore how men and women relate to one another as God designed them to do.

Lybrand’s character development of Annie allows him to outline several foundational truths. Using Annie’s ‘research’ and ‘journal’ entries as the vehicle to present thought-provoking ideas to the reader, Lybrand first uncovers the lies of a secular world-view and counters those lies with the truth of God’s design for the marriage relationship. These observations are made even clearer as the reader observes Annie’s interaction with other couples and friends who are in the process of dating and considering marriage. As she questions her friends’ choices, she also takes an honest look at the relationship she is developing within her own life.

Annie’s discoveries are both simple and profound–truth itself proves to be the foundation upon which all relationships hinge. The discovery that truth can only operate effectively within a relationship when people relate to one another without pretense and unrealistic expectations proves to be life-changing for the characters in many ways.

The life-changing principles found in Glaen are the gems Lybrand wants the reader to take from the story and experience in their own lives and relationships. Thus, Glaen is a book that demands a second reading as those who read its story will want to go through it again and highlight and examine the truths Annie uncovers throughout her journey. This book will serve as a great teaching tool for parents to use with their children as well as for church leaders guiding couples who are seeking a more satisfying marriage relationship.

Fred R. Lybrand attended the University of Alabama and majored in English Literature, with a double-minor emphasis in speech communication and fiction writing. He went on to teach the introductory speech communications class while also attending law school at Alabama. A hunger to understand the Word of God, however, led him to withdraw in order to pursue theological studies ad Dallas Theological Seminary. Lybrand graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1989 and received a doctorate from Phoenix Seminary in 2007.

In January 2020, Dr. Lybrand retired from a 24-year career as a pastor of two churches in TX. At Midland Bible Church he helped build a church which has launched ministries in several continents (church-planting efforts in Uganda), as well as serving as a founding board (and faculty) member for Midland Classical Academy high school. The school provides a “classical education” focused on teaching students through the Socratic Method using classical books, interactive science, and math, logic, fine arts, and the creative process–all built on the foundation of the Bible. At Northeast Bible Church (Evangelical Free Church) in San Antonio are, Dr. Lybrand helped redesign the church to grow as a disciple-making center for promoting the grace of God. Teaching and counseling in the church contest has been a long-term focus of Lybrand’s labors.

Lybrand is also the founding executive director and a past president of the Free Grace Alliance (www.freegracealliance.om), an organization committed to coordinating and connecting the various “free grace” leaders, organizations, and churches in the USA and abroad.

Fred Lybrand and his college sweetheart, Jody White Lynbrand, have been married for 27 years and have five children. Jody has a Master’s degree in early childhood education. All of their children have been home-schooled from birth to college. Fred has also recreated “The Writing Course,” a curriculum to teach kids to overcome every fear of writing on the way to writing well.

Trailer.

My review:

Glaen was one of the more unique ways I’ve seen to present information about the subject of relationships, particularly marriage. The ‘research’ and ‘journal’ notes of Annie are the principles that Lybrand expounds on. The relationships in the story are real, especially in today’s world, so the premise is extraordinarily realistic. You will come away with the truths of God’s way for a great, thriving marriage if you are willing to apply what you learn. The secular world-view ideas are contrasted against God’s views, and are pivotal in building a strong relationship. A definite recommendation to young people considering marriage and for marriages that could use a boost to their relationship.

Giveaway!!! Please leave a comment on a piece of advice you received about dating/marriage that helped you. One entry per person. Chances of winning will be determined by the number of comments. Limited to the USA.

Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc. provided a book for my review and a second copy to give away. I read/review to encourage Godly books for people to build their lives upon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Faith Path" by Mark Mittelberg

FAITH PATH: Helping Friends find their way to Christ

Faith Path (Workbook & DVD) by Mark Mittelberg

David C Cook

Workbook-ISBN: 978-1-4347-6513-0/softcover/128 pages/$12.99

DVD-ISBN: 978-1-4347-6514-7/$24.99

www.davidccook.com

Many Christians cringe at the thought of talking with non-Christians about faith. It’s almost like trying to explain music to a deaf person or a painting to someone who is blind. But one important thing any Christian can do is understand their friends–listen to them and consider how they think. Then it becomes possible to truly communicate God’s truth.

Now there is an exciting new resource for church groups and individuals with a heart to more effectively engage unbelievers in faith conversations. Based on Mark Mittelberg’s book Choosing Your Faith, the eight-lesson Faith Path workbook and Faith Path DVD, are designed to be used in a group and build on Mittelberg’s sensible, evenhanded approach to evangelism.

“Faith. Everybody lives by it–even skeptics and atheists! That’s right. Everyone you know trusts something they believe in but can’t prove or know absolutely. They take it on faith,” Mittelberg says. “If you want to talk to your friends about your faith, it helps to understand what they believe and how they got there. Because badgering people to change their minds just doesn’t work.”

DVD segments include teaching from Mittelberg, as well as short interviews with fascinating people talking about the faith paths they were on before they came to Christ. Approaches such as relativism, traditionalism, mysticism, authoritarianism, and others are explored. Interviews seen on the DVD are then discussed in a thought-provoking, enjoyable group format, as well as in workbook entries. Among other things, participants will learn to recognize the danger of paths that lead away from Christ and will deepen their own faith in Christ and reinforce their reasons for believing.

No other DVD/workbooks exist for Choosing Your Faith (workbook includes leader’s guide materials), so Faith Path–with live interviews–promises to set new trends for learning how to engage other in spiritual conversations.

“Relativists, traditionalists, mystics, authoritarians, and others…they’re all here. And after you understand how these folks think about faith, you can help them find a trustworthy pathway to truth,” Mittelberg says. “Because no matter what your friends believe, they still matter to God.”

Mark Mittelberg

Author Bio:

Mark Mittelberg is a best-selling author, sought-after speaker, and a leading outreach strategist. He is the author of Choosing Your Faith, co-author (with Lee Strobel) of The Unexpected Adventure, and co-author (with Bill Hybels and Lee Strobel) of the Becoming a Contagious Christian curriculum. He previously served as the evangelism director for Willow Creek Community Church and the Willow Creek Association. Mark earned a master’s degree in philosophy of religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Heidi, and their two teenage children.

My review:

I was intrigued with Mark Mettelberg’s explanation of the different faith paths: relativism, traditionalism, authoritarianism, intuitive, mystical, and evidential. His list of faith paths help to differentiate how people came to the basis of their faith, so that one can reason with them accordingly and lead them to Christ. He helped me to understand where I came from in my faith walk prior to receiving the Lord.

Along with this list of faith paths, he also addresses the “Arrows of Truth” that point to the sixth path, evidential, that help you clarify these truths. I found them to be helpful.

The last section helped me to understand the barriers people have to faith, and outlines how one can help their friends overcome them. Knowing these barriers, using the ‘arrows of truth,’ and knowing the different faith path one’s friend is on, in my opinion, is pertinent to pointing them to faith in Christ.

This is a very effective format for small groups or even larger Sunday School classes, to lead people to Christ. I did not read Mark’s book, Choosing Your Faith, but it’s one I think would be helpful with the discussions in this workbook and viewing the DVD. The only thing that was confusing to me was the lack of definition of some of the groups individually. They were clumped together in one chapter.

This workbook and DVD were provided free by Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my honest review. My purpose in reviewing is to encourage people to find good Christian materials to enhance their faith and pass it on to others. Thanks to Audra and B & B Media Group.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The Last Word" by Kathy Herman

Suspense that speaks to the heart!

The Last Word

The Last Word Book 2: Sophie Trace Trilogy by Kathy Herman

David C Cook/October 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6785-1/ 390 pages/softcover/$14.99

www.davidccook.com www.kathyherman.com

In The Last Word, heart-pounding suspense meets heart-challenging truth as best-selling author Kathy Herman returns to Sophie Trace in her new page-turner. Based on Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile,” Herman’s second installment in the Sophie Trace series triumphantly demonstrates God’s miraculous ability to heal the broken.

This theme comes to life in Vanessa Jessup, a twenty-year-old college student who becomes pregnant while having a secret love affair with her psychology professor and has to make a choice: either end the pregnancy or end the relationship. The Biblical truths she learned growing up prompt her to choose life and to go home to the refuge of her parents’ counsel and a right relationship with God.

When Vanessa arrives home, her mother, Sophie Trace Police Chief Brill Jessup, is stunned to see that she’s pregnant–and by one of her professors. While Brill is glad her oldest daughter rejected the father’s abortion ultimatum, she’s also hurt that Vanessa ignored her upbringing, and that the professor has disappeared without as much as a nickel of child support.

But that’s not all Brill’s got on her plate. One of her detectives has been killed, and the attacker has threatened to come for her next. When a second cop is wounded, public criticism mounts as Brill attempts to stay alive long enough to catch the perp. At the same time, she’s trying to find the deadbeat dad as Vanessa struggles to make decisions about her future.

In Spite of Brill’s best efforts to stay safe, the murderer finally kidnaps and threatens to kill her and then commit suicide. As her life hangs in the balance, Brill becomes concerned that her attacker is about to die and is not saved. She refuses to be silenced in her witness of God’s love for him. In a show of grace under pressure and fierce determination, Brill decides she will manage to have the last word, even if it kills her.

Chapter 1

Police Chief Brill Jessup pored over the department’s budget for the rest of the fiscal year and couldn’t see any way she could afford to hire another patrol officer without going to the city council. She sighed. The last time she asked those tightwads for additional funds she practically had to beg.

A strange noise interrupted her thoughts. She peered through the blinds on the glass wall into the bustling detective bureau and listened intently. There it was again.

A burly man appeared in the doorway. He bumped off either side, then staggered into her office. Face down. Hands dripping with blood, clutching his abdomen.

“What in the world …?” She jumped to her feet, frozen in place.

Detective Sean O’Toole looked up and stretched out his hand toward her, his eyes screaming with pain. He collapsed in front of her desk and hit the floor.

“Officer down!” she shouted. “I need an ambulance—now!”

She hurried around the side of her desk, grabbed the clean hand towel next to the coffeepot, and got down on her knees. She laid the towel over the bloody wound and applied pressure.

“Sean, talk to me. What happened?”

The detective’s face was ashen. “He c-came from behind … put me in a chokehold … stuck a knife in my gut … said he was coming after you—to f-finish the job.”

“You never saw his face?”

“No. Hairy arms. White guy. Navy-blue short sleeves. Smelled like c-cigarettes. Deep voice.”

“Where did this happen?”

“Hallway. Water cooler.”

Sean moaned, his face pallid and contorted with pain, his eyes slits of icy blue.

“Come on, Sean, stay with me.”

Detective Captain Trent Norris burst into her office. “I’ll take it from here, Chief.”

“How did he get from the water cooler to my office without someone in the DB seeing he needed help?

“I guess we were all focused on other things. It’s been crazy.”

Trent got down on the floor and swapped places with her, his palms pressed over the wound. “Hang in there, buddy. The paramedics are just down the block. They’ll be here any second. You’re going to be fine. Stay with me. Talk to me.”

Brill sprang to her feet and hurried over to the officers who crowded outside her door. “O’Toole was just stabbed by some lowlife who snuck up behind him at the water cooler. We’re looking for a white man wearing a short-sleeve, navy-blue shirt, possibly bloodstained.”

She locked gazes with Sean’s partner. “Detective Rousseaux, secure the scene and make sure it’s not compromised.

“Captain Dickson, lock down the building and search every corner of every room.”

“Sergeant Chavez, set up a containment for two blocks around the building.

“Sergeant Huntman, clear the route to St. Luke’s and make sure we have officers in radio cars ready to escort the ambulance. Come on, people, move it!”

The officers scrambled in all directions, and she ran out to the restroom.

She tore off paper towels until she had a stack, folded them in half and held them under the faucet, then pressed out the excess water and rushed back to her office.

She got on her knees and gently pressed the wet towels onto Sean’s forehead, all too aware he was sweating profusely and still bleeding despite the pressure Trent was keeping on the wound. “We need something to elevate his legs.”

She went over to the bookshelf and grabbed several thick books and put them under Sean’s feet, hoping he wouldn’t die of shock before the paramedics arrived.

Lord, don’t take him now. He’s young. He’s got a wife and three kids.

“Come on, buddy, talk to me.” Trent patted Sean’s cheeks. “What else do you remember about this creep?”

“Tell Jessica I love her. The kids, too. Promise me.”

“You’re not going to die,” Trent said. “The bleeding’s slowing down. Talk to me, Sean. We want whoever did this to you.”

“He’s coming after the chief. Going to kill her.”

“Who’s going to kill her?” Trent’s dark eyes shot Brill a glance. “Give us something else. You’re too sharp of a detective to have missed anything.”

“Had a mark. Top of right hand.”

“What kind of mark?”

“A tattoo. Or b-birth mark. Size of a quarter.”

Brill heard voices and heavy footsteps in the DB, and seconds later two paramedics glided through the door and asked her to stand aside with Trent.

She observed in disbelief as the pair worked to save her detective’s life, heartsick that she might have to tell his wife and children he’d been murdered on her watch—and just feet away from armed police officers.

She started to brush the hair out of her eyes and realized her hands were bloody. She shuddered with the realization that whoever thrust a knife into Sean O’Toole had threatened to finish the job when he got to her.

***

Five hours later Brill sat at the conference table in her office with Detective Captain Trent Norris, Detective Beau Jack Rousseaux, Patrol Captain Pate Dickson, and Sheriff Sam Parker trying to assess where they were in the case.

“It’s a miracle Sean made it through surgery.” Brill looked from man to man. “We could be sitting here planning his funeral.”

“He’s too stubborn to die,” Beau Jack said.

“Stubborn’s no match for a knife blade, Detective. I want this animal locked up.”

“Don’t forget he threatened to come after you,” Trent said. “How’d he get in here, anyway?”

Pate’s face turned pink. “One of my sergeants, Tiller, reported that a white man dressed in navy blue coveralls with the Miller’s Air Conditioning logo on the pocket was standing outside the door when he arrived this morning. The guy said was here to fix the AC. He had a toolbox and big smile. Dark hair and mustache. Big guy. Looked fifty to fifty-five.”

“So the sergeant just keyed in the combination and let him in without checking with maintenance?” Beau Jack said. “Real smart move.”

Pate stroked his chin. “Come on, Miller’s service people are in here all the time. The sergeant let down his guard. We’ve all done it.”

“Yeah, well, my partner nearly died because Sergeant Tiller let down his guard.”

“What’s done is done,” Brill said. “It’s not like we have a precedent for this kind of thing in the Sophie Trace PD.”

Beau Jack stuck a Tootsie Pop in his mouth. “I guess we do now.”

“We definitely need to tighten security,” Trent said. “Since we have no idea who this guy is, everyone we bring into the DB to be interviewed will be suspect.”

“I can’t spend the rest of my life in fear of this nutcase coming after me,” Brill said. “I have a job to do. Trent, you take charge of tightening security. All of us need to heighten our awareness of our surroundings. Anything or anyone that doesn’t feel right, check it out.”

Sam’s white eyebrows came together. “I can’t believe y’all were that trusting. My deputies would never let unauthorized individuals into a secured area. They’re trained to follow protocol.”

“So are my officers.” Brill forced herself not to sound defensive. “But those of you in the county sheriff’s department deal with a broader range of criminals. Until now, the Sophie Trace PD had no reason to fear an officer being attacked in a secured area.”

“I’ll cover it in each briefing,” Trent said. “From this day forward, no one gets in the secured area until he has clearance. I don’t care how inconvenient it is to check him out.”

Brill looked over at Pate. “Tell me about your search of the building.”

“No evidence was found in the building, ma’am. My officers searched every nook and cranny and checked the sinks for hair and blood. Doesn’t appear the attacker stopped to clean up.”

“How’d Chavez do with the containment?” she said.

“He contained a two-block area around city hall, checked license plates, and talked with pedestrians. That yielded one female witness who passed the suspect on the sidewalk around 10:45—just after O’Toole was stabbed. The suspect was headed down First Street at a pretty good clip. Our witness says he was overweight, average height, dressed in navy blue coveralls and a black windbreaker and carrying a gray toolbox. She said he was wearing sunglasses and did not have a mustache. She’s working with Tiller and our sketch artist. We ought to have something soon.”

“Did she see which way he went?” Trent said.

Pate shook his head. “Once he passed her, she didn’t give him a second thought until Chavez questioned her.”

“Well,” Brill said, “I’m eager to see the sketch. If this man has threatened to come after me, I’d sure like to see if I recognize him.”

***

A short time later, Brill sat at her desk and studied the artist’s sketch of the man who stabbed Sean O’Toole. Sergeant Tiller was the only one who saw the suspect’s eyes, and the female witness was the only one who saw his mouth without the mustache. He looked vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t put a name to the face or even explain what it was about him that looked familiar.

Her cell phone vibrated, and she read the display screen.

“There you are,” she said. “I guess you got my message?”

“Honey, I’m so sorry,” Kurt Jessup said. “I’ve been following the news. I’m glad Sean pulled through. Must’ve been horrible for you.”

“I thought we were going to lose him.”

She told Kurt everything that had happened from the time Sean O’Toole staggered into her office until the paramedics took him to St. Luke’s in an ambulance—except that the assailant told O’Toole he was coming after her to “finish the job.” Why get into that over the phone?

“Sounds intense. You must be emotionally drained.”

“I don’t think it’s caught up with me yet. It was surreal washing Sean’s blood off my hands, and I had to throw away my uniform shirt. Beau Jack lent me the extra shirt he had in his locker so Emily wouldn’t have to see the mess. Does she know about the stabbing?”

“Yes, but I made sure she’s not planted in front of the TV, listening to the gory details. It’ll just trigger thoughts of the hostage ordeal, and we both know she’s not over it.”

Are any of us? Brill glanced up at the clock. “I’ll be home in forty-five minutes. Is Vanessa there yet? I can hardly wait to see her.”

“She’ll be here between seven and eight. Said not to plan on her for dinner.”

“By the time I get home, it’ll be too late to cook anything,” Brill said. “And you know what Friday night is like. If we go out, we’ll have to wait forever, and I don’t want Vanessa to come home to an empty house.”

“I’ve got it covered, honey. I bought a baked chicken and quart of potato salad at the grocery store. We’ve got stuff here for a green salad. That should work.”

“What would I do without you?”

Kurt laughed. “I have no idea.”

“I’ll see you soon. I love you.”

“Love you, too.”

Brill hung up the phone and looked out the window. Through the leafy trees and beyond the ridges of hazy green foothills, the blue-gray silhouette of the Great Smoky Mountains dominated the early evening sky. She sat for a moment and just enjoyed the beauty and the calm.

Lord, thank you for letting Sean pull through.

Her office phone rang, and she picked it up. “Yes, LaTeesha.”

“Captain Donovan from the Memphis PD is on line one for you.”

“Thanks.” She pushed the blinking button. “Hello, John.”

“Hey. It’s great to hear your voice. Saw you on the news last fall. I figured you’d make a name for yourself, but I didn’t think you’d go to such extreme measures.”

She smiled. “Things got pretty crazy, all right. So are you enjoying my old office?”

“Not today. I’ve got bad news … Zack Rogers was stabbed night before last. Happened in his driveway. Some worthless piece of garbage came up behind him and stuck a knife in his gut, and said to tell District Attorney Cromwell he was coming after him. I didn’t call you because the doc said Zack was going to be all right. But his heart gave out …”—John’s voice cracked—“an hour ago. None one saw it coming. His kids are still in high school, and with their mother dead … well, it’s a tragic loss. I knew you’d want to know since you and Zack were partners for so long.”

Brill felt a wave of nausea sweep over her, a decade of memories flashing through her mind in an instant.

“The thing is,” John said, “we knew Zack was being targeted because one of my detectives was stabbed last week, and the perp told him he was coming after Zack. We offered Zack protection, but you know how independent he was—bound and determined he could take care of himself.”

Brill’s heart pounded so hard she was sure he could hear it. “John, one of my detectives was stabbed today just outside the detective bureau. The attacker told him he was coming after me, to finish the job. This can’t be a coincidence.”

There was a long moment of dead air, and she figured John was processing the implications.

“You and Zack helped put away lots of perps, Brill. And Jason Cromwell was district attorney during the time you two were partners. Did anybody ever threaten you?”

“Are you kidding? All the time. We blew it off.”

“Well, looks like one of them was dead serious. Anybody in particular stand out?”

“Sure, Bart and Sampson Rhodes. But they’re lifers and not eligible for parole. Zack and I busted them what, nine or ten years ago? If they had been serious about taking us out, they could’ve snapped their fingers and gotten it done in nine or ten minutes.”

“Maybe they’re patient,”

“Or maybe this is someone else,” Brill said. “Someone who was forced to wait a long time for the chance to get even—someone who served out his sentence. Someone who wouldn’t think of hiring a hit man, but rather delights in the systematic elimination of the people who put him away. Someone who enhances his enjoyment by first stabbing a person who is close to the intended victim and making sure that person lives long enough to tell the intended victim that he or she is next.”

“You’ve worked with the FBI profilers so long you actually sound like one.”

“Unfortunately, John, I think I’m right.”

Kathy Herman

Author Bio:

Best-selling suspense novelist Kathy Herman has written fifteen novels, including CBA bestsellers The Real Enemy, Tested by Fire and All Things Hidden, since retiring from her family’s Christian bookstore business. Kathy and her husband, Paul, have three grown children and five grandchildren, and live in Tyler, TX.

My Review:

This is my first introduction to Kathy Herman, but it won’t be my last! She delves deeply into the lives and hearts of her characters, revealing their personal thoughts and deep feelings throughout all the turmoil: Vanessa showing up at home pregnant and unmarried; Brill’s disappointment in her daughter’s lack of morals; her daughter’s indecisive decision-making about her future with or without her baby; her youngest daughter’s PTSD from a previous trauma (book one: The Real Enemy); her own marriage to her husband and his issues and concerns, finding the deadbeat father of Vanessa’s baby; and the safety of her family, her officers, and herself while the murderer is still at large.

Kathy’s fast-paced rhythm of suspense throughout the book keeps you gripping the pages of this novel till the end. Her use of personal prayers and Scripture makes the book special to me–faith in action. Many of her characters are well-grounded in Scripture and are living it out. For those who aren’t, there is always God’s grace. This is the type of Christian fiction that endears books to me.

I highly recommend you read this book, but encourage you to start with the first in the series, The Real Enemy. If The Last Word is any indication of her other writings, I’ll be reading more!

This book was provided free from Audra at The B & B Media Group, Inc., for my review and blog. I enjoy reading, and blog on books I can feel confident in highly suggesting. Thanks to Audra and B & B Media Group.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Revell Tour Blog: "In Harm's Way" by Irene Hannon

Intrigue, suspense, romance.

“In Harm’s Way” by Irene Hannon


By Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ISBN978-0-8007-3312-4 Softcover $14.99


Author Bio:

Photo by Laszlo Bencze

Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut.

Since then, she has written more than 35 romance and romantic suspense novels. Her books have been honored with a coveted RITA award from Romance Writers of America (the “Oscar” of romantic fiction), a HOLT Medallion and a Reviewer’s Choice award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full. She is happy to say she has no regrets! As she points out, leaving behind the rush-hour commute, corporate politics and a relentless BlackBerry that never slept was no sacrifice.

In her spare time, Irene enjoys hamming it up in community musical theater productions. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She also regularly performs with a six-person musical revue troupe and is a soloist at her church (where she does NOT ham it up!).

When not otherwise occupied, Irene loves to cook and garden. She and her husband also enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.


My Review:

Rachel Sutton is impatiently waiting for her take-out lunch at a fast-food restaurant before going back to her music classroom. On her way to her car, she sees a bright orange clump frozen in the icy snow. When her foot dislodges a chunk of ice, she finds a button eye staring up at her. Digging it out, she finds a Raggedy Ann doll, which she plans to place on the restaurant’s air conditioner so the owner might find it.

Problem is, when she held the doll, she got the shakes, a racing pulse and had difficulty breathing, much like a panic attack. The doll fell from her arms, and the episode ceased. She knew she had been tense and stressed, which she couldn’t seem to shake, with multiple sleepless nights for about a month.

Surely a doll couldn’t cause all this. To prove it wasn’t so, she picked it up again, and terror hit the pit of her stomach. Jarring, crashing sounds and a baby’s cry hit her. She opened her car door and slung the doll across the seat. The symptoms stopped, leaving her with a sense of anxiety.

Rachel told her friend Marta, who thought she was crazy and told her to dump the doll. But she couldn’t. She had to get it to the ‘right’ person, so she has Marta talk to her policeman husband. He recommended the FBI, though he thought they’d think her crazy.

Meanwhile, Claudia Burnes, a St. Louis tabloid writer, was listening in on Marta’s conversation with her husband at a restaurant and took notes. This could be her leap to the National Inquirer if she could connect this lead article of ESP or clairvoyance in crime fighting.

Rachel brings the doll in a bag to FBI Special Agent Nick Bradley, who seemingly listens to her, after seeing her reaction to the doll. He stumbles onto a link between a doll and an abducted child. His world and Rachel’s takes on a whole new realm when Claudia’s article reaches the papers. Someone wants her silenced. Why? She only found a doll. Is there a connection to the doll and the person(s) trying to silence her? Again…why?

This haunting suspense and light romance keeps you turning pages late into the night. A definite nail-biter!

This book can be purchased here.

This book was provided free by Revell for my honest opinion of the book. I do this for the purpose of sharing good Christian books for other to read. Thanks to Revell.

"Sworn to Protect" by DiAnne Mills


“Sworn to Protect” by DiAnn Mills from Tyndale Fiction
Sworn to Protect by DiAnn Mills: Book Cover

Author Bio:

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007, and she is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award for 2005 and 2007. She was a Christy Awards finalist in 2008.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

My Review:

McAllen, TX. Border Patrol Officer Danika Morales, the only female agent in the BP, took the oath to protect our borders at the Rio Grande River. Little did she know it would come with a great personal price–the death of her husband, Toby, leaving her to single parent her deaf daughter, Tiana.

Two years later, she has no intentions of leaving the Border Patrol, and is ever more vigilant in her job, so that she can also help solve her husband’s death, even though there is a price on her head.

She deals daily with drugs, gangs, terrorists, illegals, and human trafficking along the border. To make the situation even more desperate, there is a potential leak within the ranks of the Border Patrol, derailing their work. Attacks are being perpetrated on her and her co-workers in the field. Everyone in the operation is under suspicion.

When things get out of control on the home front, she turns to a local doctor, Alex Price, for help in finding the truth and help in protecting her daughter. Little does she know the relationship Alex had with her deceased husband.

Who’s behind it all? The men whom she captures know her by name. How? Why was her husband murdered? Where can she keep her daughter safe? Quick-turning twists keep you pushing the pages for answers into the wee hours of the morning!

This book gives you a healthy respect for the work of the Border Patrol on our behalf. It could easily have come off the pages of current newspapers, such as areas in TX.

In communicating with the author, I found she researched for a month on this book directly with McAllen, TX, Border Patrol to get the detailed information she writes about. She even ‘rode the line’ to get the feel of the danger involved. Be sure to get a copy and read this book! It’s worth your time!

Here is DiAnn’s trailer.

It can be purchased here and here.

This book was supplied by the author though Tyndale for my review. These are my own personal views of the book. Thanks to DiAnn and Tyndale for the opportunity. It’s a pleasure to post so you can choose good Christian books to read.