Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wounded in the Church by Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward Giveaway


To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book


Book title: Wounded in the Church  
Author: Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward  
Release date: March 14, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction

Church should be a safe place, right? Then why do so many get hurt there? Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward combine their years of ministry experience to address head-on the elephant in the room: church members and church leaders hurt Christians. All the time. And the long-lasting effects—rejection, shame, despair, loneliness, fear—can be devastating. The authors have witnessed the rise of the “dones,” those who are just done with God thanks to scars from church. With first-person stories of hurt and loss, this book is a wake-up call for any who deny woundedness in the church but is also a redemptive message for any who hurt from church wounds. Leaders and laypeople alike will learn how to grieve over abuse, to leave unhealthy attitudes and patterns that cause pain, and to trust in God’s real, delivering work through churches that build up, not tear down. Thanks to the grace of God, there is always hope beyond the pain.


My Review:


This is a great book for anyone who has been wounded in a church experience. It validates that emotional hurt does happen by giving many personal accounts. Some of the stories were just heart breaking. But the authors don't leave the reader hurting. They go further and offer healing help to the wounded.

I was impressed with the extensive exploration of being wounded. They look at rejection, shame, legalism, control, dogmatism, neglect, and more. They include a good section on how to identify spiritual abuse and give practical help for spiritual warfare.

I really liked that they provide insights into what to look for before being wounded. An example would be a demand for submission or loyalty.

They give good suggestions on how to respond when wounded, including good teachings on forgiveness, releasing judgment to God, and establishing our identity in Christ.

They also add a section on how to identify a church that has real biblical leadership and one that is healthy in general.

Having been wounded myself by an overly authoritative church leader, I really appreciated this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who has been wounded in a church experience. Your hurt will be validated, you will have good suggestions on what to do, and will receive insight in what to look for in a healthy church. I also recommend this book to church leaders as the authors include insights from the pastor's perspective.

You can watch the trailer at http://woundedinthechurch.com/.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


About the Authors


Ray Beeson is the director of Overcomers Ministries, a teaching ministry with a special emphasis on spiritual warfare and prayer. Ray teaches seminars on spiritual warfare, prayer, and Christlike living and is the author of numerous books including Signed in His Blood (Charisma House, 2014) and The Hidden Price of Greatness (Overcomers, 2000). Ray and his wife, Linda, live in Ventura, CA. Chris Hayward has had over thirty-six years of pastoral ministry and is currently serving as president of Cleansing Stream Ministries, a discipleship ministry that works with the local church around the world. He is also the author of God’s Cleansing Stream (Chosen Books, 2004) and The End of Rejection (Chosen Books, 2007). Chris and his wife, Karen, live in Castaic, CA.


Guest Post from Ray Beeson & Chris Hayward


When we tell people we’ve written a book entitled “Wounded in the Church,” many nod knowingly. Sadly, the pain and heartache that happens in churches is all too common. Collectively, the two of us have spent more than 70 years in ministry. During that time we have seen neglect, tactlessness, and blatant insensitivity fostered by some leaders and congregations resulting in the wounding of others. We realize it is not prolific in every church, but the wounding is significant and it needs to be exposed. That is why we wrote this book – we share real stories of real people who were wounded in church, a place that should be a shelter of God’s love and peace. Sometimes people are abused by leaders or church members. There are also times when leaders are abused by people within the congregation. As you read, perhaps you’ll identify with some of the situations described. If so, be assured you are not alone. If you have been wounded, it is our hope and prayer God uses this book to facilitate healing. Because of Jesus Christ, there is hope beyond the pain.

Blog Stops

Giveaway


To celebrate this tour, Whitaker House is giving away
Grand Prize: Kindle Fire and Wounded in the Church by Ray Beeson and Chris Hayward
First Place Prize: Walking by Faith mug with matching pen OR Bouquet of Blessings mug and Wounded in the Church Second Place Prize: Walking By Faith pen and Wounded in the Church
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bb6f

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My review is an honest and independent one. The rest of the copy in this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Manuscript for Murder by Chautona Havig Giveaway


Click here to pick up your copy.

About the Book


Book title: Manuscript for Murder  
Author: Chautona Havig  
Release date: October 13, 2012  
Genre: Mystery Alexa Hartfield.

Author, local celebrity, fashion connoisseur. She chose Fairbury for its close proximity to Rockland, its small town atmosphere, and its low crime rate. Then someone made her life a literary cliché. A mysterious accident with a light bulb sparked an interesting idea for her latest novel—and for Fairbury’s new serial killer. The first replication infuriated her. The second left an even worse taste in her mouth. The third blasted more than her self-confidence, and the fourth beat her down so far she’s considering giving up writing completely. Who is killing Fairbury’s citizens, and furthermore, why and how are they using her novels to do it?


My Review:


Alexa is a larger than life character with her fondness for vintage clothes. Her quirky character is the force that keeps the narrative moving. In that sense, the novel is a character driven mystery. The motive for the murders and the murders themselves center on her. The murders would not be nearly as interesting had they not revolved around Alexa and her work.

There was quite a bit of halting romance woven throughout the narrative. I felt that aspect of the novel was a bit of a distraction from the mystery aspect. Another reason to definitely describe this novel as character driven.

The most interesting aspect of the novel for me was the discussion about Christians and the reading or writing of murder mysteries. I am an avid reader of mysteries and appreciated Alexa explaining why she, as a Christian, wrote novels about murder.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a character driven mystery that has as much potential romance as it does mystery emphasis.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and five of her nine children. Through her novels, she hopes to encourage Christians in their walk with Jesus.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig


How Arrows & My Obsession with Vintage Clothes Inspired Murder
 A swath of fabric cut across my bedroom at an odd angle but that angle ensured that I could stretch it all out. With painstaking precision, I pinned every last piece to the fabric, disgusted at the enormous waste stretching out before me. The pattern called for three and a half yards. I’d crammed it into two at most. Just as I picked up the scissors for the first cut, Mom popped her head in the door to see how I was doing. I pointed out the waste. “Grandma said patterns always told you to buy way too much, but I’ve got enough to make another dress!” Mom stepped closer. I want to say a cigarette hung from her lips, but let’s face it. No way would Mom ever allow the ashes to drop on the carpet. But it felt like one was there, nonetheless. Mom pointed. “Chautona, I don’t know anything about sewing, but I think those arrows are there for a reason.” And with that, she turned away. I stared down at the pattern. My arrows zig-zagged all over the place. A glance at the directions showed all arrows going exactly the same direction. Straight up and down the fabric. You know, if I’d been doing this for the first time in 2017, I could have just zipped on over to “the Google,” as Mom calls it, and looked up why. Instead, I grabbed a thick sewing manual I’d bought for a buck at Pick-N-Save and flipped through it until I found a section on laying out patterns. A couple of minutes later, I flew down the stairs. “The book says that the long, smooth edges are called selvages. The arrows are supposed to run parallel or the dress might hang wonky.” Here, I can guarantee Mom took a puff of that cigarette. Man, I hated those things. “Well, like I said. I don’t know anything about sewing, but they looked important.” She blew a puff of smoke. That’s when I suspected that Mom knew more about sewing than she’d let on. What does this little sewing lesson have to do with mysteries and murder? Well, see. This was a test dress. I’d only decided to learn to sew because I’d also decided that I wanted Nancy Drew’s wardrobe. In 1982, you couldn’t buy trim, neat clothing from the 50’s. I had Gunne Sax skirts and preppy tops with ruffles that my parents hated. When they found out I wanted a sewing machine to make clothes like that, they got me one. Yep. I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew and didn’t stop there. I read all the youth mysteries—Bobsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Hardy Boys, Meg Duncan (she was a fave, too), and when I got a little older, Phyllis Whitney. I loved the challenge of seeing events play out—and figuring out why. Why told me who. You get to where you can figure out things rather easily. But if you make me doubt my ideas, that’s good enough. I love that. Is it any wonder that one of the first books I conceived was a mystery? I’d never put the ideas together until I began working on this post, but really… is it any wonder that I gave that author a love of vintage fashion? Too funny. But those arrows on that pattern? They taught me pretty cool lessons as a kid. Like Mom said: “Those arrows are there for a reason.” Isn’t that what God’s directional arrows in His Word are like? They’re there for a reason. They keep us from getting all wonky. It’s why Alexa writes the kind of books she does. I never could, but as she says when she describes telling someone why she writes horror/suspense, “I tried to describe a world where we never see justice—where sin surrounds us, but the only response we see is a sweet romance or a heartwarming tale of doing good to our neighbors… And God is a God of more than love and mercy. [He’s also a God of] justice.” Alexa writes what she does to help people sort out those crossed arrows and see that there is a point to it all—that eventually justice and mercy converge paths into one rather than criss-crossing all over the place, trampling each other. She doesn’t write Christian fiction, but I don’t know how a Christian can write fiction without some part of faith shining through. In Alexa’s, and I hope in mine as well, there’s an overarching theme that illustrates that the Lord hasn’t forgotten the people He created.

Blog Stops

Giveaway


In honor of her Manuscript for Murder Celebration Tour, Chautona is giving away a mystery prize package worth over $100. Enter here: https://promosimple.com/ps/bc16

Would you like to know what’s in it? Find the first clue within the giveaway image below, then hop on over to Chautona’s website to begin the search for more clues and you might find a special giveaway just for clue hunters! Can you find all the clues before Augusta Septemus does?


I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My review is an honesty and independent one. The rest of the copy in this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Anything But Simple by Lucinda J. Miller

You've probably read a novel about the Amish or Mennonites as those books are very popular. But are they accurate? Miller shares an open and honest memoir of what it is really like being Mennonite.

I was impressed with the honesty in Miller's account. She tells of her struggle with the dilemma of wanting to cultivate the Mennonite tradition yet also being a little ashamed of being part of a people thought to be socially backward. She explores the idea of keeping a simple lifestyle. She wonders about being bound by outward appearance, knowing that one could look perfect on the outside but be worldly within. Would losing that separateness on the outside mean losing that consecrated heart on the inside?

I was surprised to read that the Mennonite community is just about like any other Christian community. They have their church splits. They have their conservatives and liberals, differing on the methods used to enforce guidelines.

Miller shares her experiences of joining church, communion (twice a year), and foot washing. She also shares her discovering the reward of putting feelings to words and her desire to achieve fame as an author. She takes us through her dreams, dashed and then reborn.

There is a question and answer section at the end of the book. In it, Miller shares many facts about clothing, history, difference between Amish and Mennonites, use of modern technology, and the suggestion to find out more from bloggers listed at https://themennonitegame.com/.

I recommend this memoir to those who want to get a realistic account of one person's experience of growing up Mennonite. Her writing style is not sophisticated but does give readers an enlightening account of being a single and Plain Mennonite woman today.

You can watch the book trailer here.

My rating: 4/5.

Lucinda J. Miller is a writer, teacher, blogger, and member of a conservative Mennonite community in Wisconsin. She teaches elementary school at Sheldon Mennonite Church, and her writing has appeared in Daughters of Promise and Red Cedar Literary Journal. Her children's book, The Arrowhead, is forthcoming from Christian Light Publications. You can find out more at http://lucindajmiller.com/.

Herald Press, 196 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Coffee the World and Jesus by Ron DeMiglio

DeMiglio's career has been in coffee. He shares his travels and how Jesus, people, cultures, other world views have transformed his faith.

I enjoyed this book. I appreciate the many spiritual lessons DeMiglio finds in everyday events. It made me realize how much I might be missing by not paying attention to what God is saying moment by moment. I also like learning about the countries to which he traveled. We read about the plight of women in Saudi Arabia and the language of the South Koreans. His comments about mission trips to Guatemala were very enlightening.

DeMiglio's writing style is unique. He is a no nonsense kind of guy who tells it like it is. He also has a quirky sense of humor. This would be a good book for men as his writing is not super sensitive. He describes death as becoming an all-you-can-eat worm buffet. (33) And he says of a woman, “Her countenance was as warm as a drill bit.” (74) That writing style is much more suitable for men than women, I would think.

I do recommend this book to men who enjoy reading about experiences and the insights gleaned from them. You'll read about some interesting travels and get many spiritual lessons in the process.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Ron DeMiglio is former president and owner of Eko Brands, LLC. The past twenty-five years of his life have centered around coffee as he traveled the world for business. He lives in Snohomish, Washington and Phoenix, Arizona. You can find out more at http://www.rondemiglio.com/.

Kregel Publications, 176 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Last Breath by Karin Slaughter Giveaway

Last Breath

by Karin Slaughter

on Tour July 24 - August 4, 2017

Synopsis:



Protecting someone always comes at a cost.

At the age of thirteen, Charlie Quinn's childhood came to an abrupt and devastating end. Two men, with a grudge against her lawyer father, broke into her home—and after that shocking night, Charlie's world was never the same.
Now a lawyer herself, Charlie has made it her mission to defend those with no one else to turn to. So when Flora Faulkner, a motherless teen, begs for help, Charlie is reminded of her own past, and is powerless to say no.
But honor-student Flora is in far deeper trouble than Charlie could ever have anticipated. Soon she must ask herself: How far should she go to protect her client? And can she truly believe everything she is being told?
Razor-sharp and lightning-fast, this electrifying story from the #1 international bestselling author will leave you breathless. And be sure to read Karin Slaughter's extraordinary new novel The Good Daughter—available August 8, 2017.


My Review:


This is the first I've read from Slaughter and I loved it. The characters were well crafted and the plot was amazing. Charlie is a very realistic main character. We wonder, as she does, what is really going on. The plot was very well crafted. The layers of deceit and manipulation were so well designed, Slaughter had me wondering what was going on until the very end. I am looking forward to reading the full length novel featuring Charlie, coming out soon.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date: July 11th 2017
Number of Pages: 192
ISBN: 0062742159 (ISBN13: 9780062742155)
Series: Good Daughter 0.5
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One
“Come on now, Miss Charlie.” Dexter Black’s voice was scratchy over the jailhouse payphone. He was fifteen years her senior, but the “miss” was meant to convey respect for their respective positions. “I told you I’m’a take care of your bill soon as you get me outta this mess.”
Charlie Quinn rolled her eyes up so far in her head that she felt dizzy. She was standing outside a packed room of Girl Scouts at the YWCA. She should not have taken the call, but there were few worse things than being surrounded by a gaggle of teenage girls. “Dexter, you said the exact same thing the last time I got you out of trouble, and the minute you walked out of rehab, you spent all of your money on lottery tickets.”
“I could’a won, and then I would’a paid you out half. Not just what I owe you, Miss Charlie. Half.”
“That’s very generous, but half of nothing is nothing.” She waited for him to come up with another excuse, but all she heard was the distinct murmur of the North Georgia Men’s Detention Center. Bars being rattled. Expletives being shouted. Grown men crying. Guards telling them all to shut the hell up.
She said, “I’m not wasting my anytime cell-phone minutes on your silence.”
“I got something,” Dexter said. “Something gonna get me paid.”
“I hope it’s not anything you wouldn’t want the police to find out about on a recorded phone conversation from jail.” Charlie wiped sweat from her forehead. The hallway was like an oven. “Dexter, you owe me almost two thousand dollars. I can’t be your lawyer for free. I’ve got a mortgage and school loans and I’d like to be able to eat at a nice restaurant occasionally without worrying my credit card will be declined.”
“Miss Charlie,” Dexter repeated. “I see what you were doing there, reminding me about the phone being recorded, but what I’m saying is that I got something might be worth some money to the police.”
“You should get a good lawyer to represent you in the negotiations, because it’s not going to be me.”
“Wait, wait, don’t hang up,” Dexter pleaded. “I’m just remembering what you told me all them years ago when we first started. You remember that?”
Charlie’s eye roll was not as pronounced this time. Dexter had been her first client when she’d set up shop straight out of law school.
He said, “You told me that you passed up them big jobs in the city ’cause you wanted to help people.” He paused for effect. “Don’t you still wanna help people, Miss Charlie?”
She mumbled a few curses that the phone monitors at the jail would appreciate. “Carter Grail,” she said, offering him the name of another lawyer.
“That old drunk?” Dexter sounded picky for a man wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. “Miss Charlie, please can you—”
“Don’t sign anything that you don’t understand.” Charlie flipped her phone closed and dropped it into her purse. A group of women in bike shorts walked past. The YWCA mid-morning crowd consisted of retirees and young mothers. She could hear a distant thump-thump-thump of heavy bass from an exercise class. The air smelled of chlorine from the indoor pool. Thunks from the tennis courts penetrated the double-paned windows.
Charlie leaned back against the wall. She replayed Dexter’s call in her head. He was in jail again. For meth again. He was probably thinking he could snitch on a fellow meth head, or a dealer, and make the charges go away. If he didn’t have a lawyer looking over the deal from the district attorney’s office, he would be better off holding his nuts and buying more lottery tickets.
She felt bad about his situation, but not as bad as she felt about the prospect of being late on her car payment.
The door to the rec room opened. Belinda Foster looked panicked. She was twenty-eight, the same age as Charlie, but with a toddler at home, a baby on the way and a husband she talked about as if he was another burdensome child. Taking over Girl Scout career day had not been Belinda’s stupidest mistake this summer, but it was in the top three.
“Charlie!” Belinda tugged at the trefoil scarf around her neck. “If you don’t get back in here, I’m gonna throw myself off the roof.”
“You’d only break your neck.”
Belinda pulled open the door and waited.
Charlie nudged around her friend’s very pregnant belly. Nothing had changed in the rec room since her ringing cell phone had given her respite from the crowd. All of the oxygen was being sucked up by twenty fresh-faced, giggling Girl Scouts ranging from the ages of fifteen to eighteen. Charlie tried not to shudder at the sight of them. She had a tiny smidge over a decade on most of the girls, but there was something familiar about each and every one of them.
The math nerds. The future English majors. The cheerleaders. The Plastics. The goths. The dorks. The freaks. The geeks. They all flashed the same smiles at each other, the kind that edged up at the corners of their mouths because, at any time, one of them could pull a proverbial knife: a haircut might look stupid, the wrong color nail polish could be on fingernails, the wrong shoes, the wrong tights, the wrong word and suddenly you were on the outside looking in.
Charlie could still recall what it felt like to be stuck in the purgatory of the outside. There was nothing more torturous, more lonely, than being iced out by a gaggle of teenage girls.
“Cake?” Belinda offered her a paper-thin slice of sheet cake.
“Hm,” was all Charlie could say. Her stomach felt queasy. She couldn’t stop her gaze from traveling around the sparsely furnished rec room. The girls were all young, thin and beautiful in a way that Charlie did not appreciate when she was among them. Short miniskirts. Tight T-shirts and blouses opened one button too many. They seemed so frighteningly confident. They flicked back their long, fake blonde hair as they laughed. They narrowed expertly made-up eyes as they listened to stories. Sashes were askew. Vests were unbuttoned. Some of these girls were in serious violation of the Girl Scout dress code.
Charlie said, “I can’t remember what we talked about when we were that age.”
“That the Culpepper girls were a bunch of bitches.”
Charlie winced at the name of her torturers. She took the plate from Belinda, but only to keep her hands occupied. “Why aren’t any of them asking me questions?”
“We never asked questions,” Belinda said, and Charlie felt instant regret that she had spurned all the career women who had spoken at her Girl Scout meetings. The speakers had all seemed so old. Charlie was not old. She still had her badge-filled sash in a closet somewhere at home. She was a kick-ass lawyer. She was married to an adorable guy. She was in the best shape of her life. These girls should think she was awesome. They should be inundating her with questions about how she got to be so cool instead of snickering in their little cliques, likely discussing how much pig’s blood to put in a bucket over Charlie’s head.
“I can’t believe their make-up,” Belinda said. “My mother almost scrubbed the eyes off my face when I tried to sneak out with mascara on.”
Charlie’s mother had been killed when she was thirteen, but she could recall many a lecture from Lenore, her father’s secretary, about the dangerous message sent by too-tight Jordache jeans.
Not that Lenore had been able to stop her.
Belinda said, “I’m not going to raise Layla like that.” She meant her three-year-old daughter, who had somehow turned out to be a thoughtful, angelic child despite her mother’s lifelong love of beer pong, tequila shooters, and unemployed guys who rode motorcycles. “These girls, they’re sweet, but they have no sense of shame. They think everything they do is okay. And don’t even get me started on the sex. The things they say in meetings.” She snorted, leaving out the best part. “We were never like that.”
Charlie had seen quite the opposite, especially when a Harley was involved. “I guess the point of feminism is that they have choices, not that they do exactly what we think they should do.”
“Well, maybe, but we’re still right and they’re still wrong.”
“Now you sound like a mother.” Charlie used her fork to cut off a section of chocolate frosting from the cake. It landed like paste on her tongue. She handed the plate back to Belinda. “I was terrified of disappointing my mom.”
Belinda finished the cake. “I was terrified of your mom, period.”
Charlie smiled, then she put her hand to her stomach as the frosting roiled around like driftwood in a tsunami.
“You okay?” Belinda asked.
Charlie held up her hand. The sickness came over her so suddenly that she couldn’t even ask where the bathroom was.
Belinda knew the look. “It’s down the hall on the—”
Charlie bolted out of the room. She kept her hand tight to her mouth as she tried doors. A closet. Another closet.
A fresh-faced Girl Scout was coming out of the last door she tried.
“Oh,” the teenager said, flinging up her hands, backing away.
Charlie ran into the closest stall and sloughed the contents of her stomach into the toilet. The force was so much that tears squeezed out of her eyes. She gripped the side of the bowl with both hands. She made grunting noises that she would be ashamed for any human being to hear.
But someone did hear.
“Ma’am?” the teenager asked, which somehow made everything worse, because Charlie was not old enough to be called ma’am. “Ma’am, are you okay?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, thank you. You can go away.” Charlie bit her lip so that she wouldn’t curse the helpful little creature like a dog. She searched for her purse. It was outside the stall. Her wallet had fallen out, her keys, a pack of gum, loose change. The strap dragged across the greasy-looking tile floor like a tail. She started to reach out for it, but gave up when her stomach clenched. All she could do was sit on the filthy bathroom floor, gather her hair up off her neck, and pray that her troubles would be confined to one end of her body.
“Ma’am?” the girl repeated.
Charlie desperately wanted to tell her to get the hell out, but couldn’t risk opening her mouth. She waited, eyes closed, listening to the silence, begging her ears to pick out the sound of the door closing as the girl left.
Instead, the faucet was turned on. Water ran into the sink. Paper towels were pulled from the dispenser.
Charlie opened her eyes. She flushed the toilet. Why on earth was she so ill?
It couldn’t be the cake. Charlie was lactose intolerant, but Belinda would never make anything from scratch. Canned frosting was 99 percent chemicals, usually not enough to send her over the edge. Was it the happy chicken from General Ho’s she’d had for supper last night? The egg roll she’d sneaked out of the fridge before going to bed? The luncheon meat she’d scarfed down before her morning run? The breakfast burrito fiesta she’d gotten at Taco Bell on the way to the Y?
Jesus, she ate like a sixteen-year-old boy.
The faucet turned off.
Charlie should have at least opened the stall door, but a quick survey of the damage changed her mind. Her navy skirt was hiked up. Pantyhose ripped. There were splatters on her white silk blouse that would likely never come out. Worst of all, she had scuffed the toe of her new shoe, a navy high-heel Lenore had helped her pick out for court.
“Ma’am?” the teen said. She was holding a wet paper towel under the stall door.
“Thank you,” Charlie managed. She pressed the cool towel to the back of her neck and closed her eyes again. Was this a stomach bug?
“Ma’am, I can get you something to drink,” the girl offered.
Charlie almost threw up again at the thought of Belinda’s cough-mediciney punch. If the girl was not going to leave, she might as well be put to use. “There’s some change in my wallet. Do you mind getting a ginger ale from the machine?”
The girl knelt down on the floor. Charlie saw the familiar khaki-colored sash with badges sewn all over it. Customer Loyalty. Business Planning. Marketing. Financial Literacy. Top Seller. Apparently, she knew how to move some cookies.
Charlie said, “The bills are in the side.”
The girl opened her wallet. Charlie’s driver’s license was in the clear plastic part. “I thought your last name was Quinn?”
“It is. At work. That’s my married name.”
“How long have you been married?”
“Four and a half years.”
“My gran says it takes five years before you hate them.”
Charlie could not imagine ever hating her husband. She also couldn’t imagine keeping up her end of this under-stall conversation. The urge to puke again was tickling at the back of her throat.
“Your dad is Rusty Quinn,” the girl said, which meant that she has been in town for more than ten minutes. Charlie’s father had a reputation in Pikeville because of the clients he defended—convenience store robbers, drug dealers, murderers and assorted felons. How people in town viewed Rusty generally depended on whether or not they or a family member ever needed his services.
The girl said, “I heard he helps people.”
“He does.” Charlie did not like how the words echoed back to Dexter’s reminder that she had turned down hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in the city so that she could work for people who really needed her. If there was one guiding ethos in Charlie’s life, it was that she was not going to be like her father.
“I bet he’s expensive.” The girl asked, “Are you expensive? I mean, when you help people?”
Charlie put her hand to her mouth again. How could she ask this teenager to please get her some ginger ale without screaming at her?
“I enjoyed your speech,” the girl said. “My mom was killed in a car accident when I was little.”
Charlie waited for context, but there was none. The girl slid a dollar bill out of Charlie’s wallet and finally, thankfully, left.
There was nothing to do in the ensuing silence but see if she could stand. Charlie had fortuitously ended up in the handicapped stall. She gripped the metal rails and shakily pulled herself up to standing. She spat into the toilet a few times before flushing it again. When she opened the stall door, the mirror greeted her with a pale, sickly-looking woman in a $120 puke-spotted silk blouse. Her dark hair looked wild. Her lips had a bluish tint.
Charlie lifted her hair, holding it in a ponytail. She turned on the sink and slurped water into her mouth. She caught her reflection again as she leaned down to spit.
Her mother’s eyes looked back at her. Her mother’s arched eyebrow.
What’s going on in that mind of yours, Charlie?
Charlie had heard this question at least three or four times a week back when her mother was alive. She would be sitting in the kitchen doing her homework, or on the floor of her room trying to do some kind of craft project, and her mother would sit opposite her and ask the same question that she always asked.
What is going on in your mind?
It was not contrived to be a conversation starter. Her mother was a scientist and a scholar. She had never been one for idle chitchat. She was genuinely curious about what thoughts filled her thirteen-year-old daughter’s head.
Until Charlie had met her husband, no one else had ever expressed such genuine interest.
The door opened. The girl was back with a ginger ale. She was pretty, though not conventionally so. She did not seem to fit in with her perfectly coifed peers. Her dark hair was long and straight, pinned back with a silver clip on one side. She was young-looking, probably fifteen, but her face was absent of make-up. Her crisp green Girl Scout T-shirt was tucked into her faded jeans, which Charlie felt was unfair because in her day they had been forced to wear scratchy white button-up shirts and khaki skirts with knee socks.
Charlie did not know which felt worse, that she had thrown up or that she had just employed the phrase, “in her day.”
“I’ll put the change in your wallet,” the girl offered.
“Thank you.” Charlie drank some of the ginger ale while the girl neatly repacked the contents of her purse.
The girl said, “Those stains on your blouse will come out with a mixture of a tablespoon of ammonia, a quart of warm water and a half a teaspoon of detergent. You soak it in a bowl.”
“Thank you again.” Charlie wasn’t sure she wanted to soak anything she owned in ammonia, but judging by the badges on the sash, the girl knew what she was talking about. “How long have you been in Girl Scouts?”
“I got my start as a Brownie. My mom signed me up. I thought it was lame, but you learn lots of things, like business skills.”
“My mom signed me up, too.” Charlie had never thought it was lame. She had loved all the projects and the camping trips and especially eating the cookies she had made her parents buy. “What’s your name?”
“Flora Faulkner,” she said. “My mom named me Florabama, because I was born on the state line, but I go by Flora.”
Charlie smiled, but only because she knew that she was going to laugh about this later with her husband. “There are worse things that you could be called.”
Flora looked down at her hands. “A lot of the girls are pretty good at thinking of mean things.”
Clearly, this was some kind of opening, but Charlie was at a loss for words. She combed back through her knowledge of after-school specials. All she could remember was that movie of the week where Ted Danson is married to Glenn Close and she finds out that he’s molesting their teenage daughter but she’s been cold in bed so it’s probably her fault so they all go to therapy and learn to live with it.
“Miss Quinn?” Flora put Charlie’s purse on the counter. “Do you want me to get you some crackers?”
“No, I’m
Excerpt from Last Breath by Karin Slaughter. Copyright © 2017 by Karin Slaughter. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 36 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her sixteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

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Tour Participants:

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Giveaway:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Karin Slaughter and William Morrow. There will be 3 winners of one (1) ebook copy of Last Breath by Karin Slaughter! The giveaway begins on July 24 and runs through August 8, 2017.
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I received a complimentary egalley of this book through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. My comments are an independent and honest review. The copy for the rest of this post was provided by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Barnett's new series, historic novels featuring national parks, is off to a good start. This novel about Mt. Rainier is entertaining, informative, and very timely.

I really like Margie. The daughter of a senator, she'd rather be in the alpine woods of Mt. Rainier than at one of her parents' parties. She gets to spend a summer at Paradise, giving nature talks. She soon finds that she has met her match in a certain park ranger.

The plot is timely. Margie's real nemesis is a childhood friend. He's her former fiance and is pushing through grand plans for the national park. Plans that include a ski resort and dance halls. Margie is desperate to preserve her beloved mountain. She wants to maintain the pristine ridges and valleys of God's creation for the enjoyment of the many and not let them be destroyed for the commercial gain of a few.

I recommend this novel to those who would enjoy a well written novel centered on the preservation of a part of God's beautiful creation. You'll learn a bit about the park, its history and its flora and fauna. You'll read about a spunky woman who learns to cross a ravine on a downed log. You'll get a little romance too.

And just in case you've never been to Mt. Rainier, here is a photo I took of it last fall. Yes, Mt. Rainier is really that beautiful. No wonder Margie felt it so important to keep the mountain the way God created it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Karen Barnett is an award-winning author of four novels. She draws on her experience as a naturalist, a former park ranger, and outdoor educator to transport readers to America's national parks. She lives in Oregon with her husband and children.

WaterBrook, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Healing Love by Jennifer Slattery

Slattery has crafted an entertaining, informative and thought provoking novel. The plot centers around the short term mission trip a youth group makes to El Salvador, a developing country still recovering from a devastating hurricane and a bloody civil war.

I liked the main character, Brooke. She goes on the trip as an adult chaperone with her teen sister's church youth group. What Brooke experiences in El Salvador changes her life forever.

There are many great aspects to this novel. One is that it really gives the reader an idea of a short term mission trip. We read about the feelings some El Salvadorans may have regarding the visitors, that they come with money and a save-the-world attitude and leave making promises they never keep. On the other hand, we read about the sacrifices the teens are willing to make to go on this mission trip.

Another aspect of the novel is the exploration of feeling called by God to do a certain task or ministry. How does one know for sure? How does one respond to the critical comments of others who do not understand? How does one evaluate a profitable career against the call of God?

There are other issues for readers to think about too. What is the purpose of a short term mission trip, to change the person going or change the people being visited? What about dating someone from an entirely different culture? How do we feel about our extravagant lifestyles when others live in hovels with not enough food to eat?

The only thing missing in this novel was more description. I would have liked to be able to better visualize people and places in El Salvador.

I recommend this novel to teens and young adults who are interested in the impact of short mission trips. The characters you meet will tug at your heart. While you may not be able to change the world, you will be challenged with the possibility of changing one life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Jennifer Slattery is the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, helping women embrace and live out who they are in Christ. She is a frequent speaker on topics women face in our busy world. She is the author of several novels and is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com. She serves as the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light women's fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. You can find out more at https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com/. You can connect with Slattery on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 306 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the author. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Crazy About Alaska by Shannon L. Brown Giveaway



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About the Book


Book title: Crazy about Alaska  

Author: Shannon L. Brown  
Release date: June 30, 2017  
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance  

Can she trust love? Holly has her eye on a handsome state trooper. Not on her boring, oh-so-serious, former professor, Adam. Having her toes curl when she’s near Adam must be ignored. Holly just wants a great dad for her twin girls. She’s going to find one, write a novel to fulfill her dreams, and create a happy life. Falling in love isn’t part of her plan.

My Review:


Brown has given readers a fun romance set in Alaska. The characters are not complex, nor is the plot. I appreciated Holly's plight, trying to make a living as the single parent of twins. She had been abandoned by the man she thought would be a lifelong spouse so she is hesitant to love again. Adam is an okay character put his personality is not strongly developed. He did not have any great obstacle to overcome to love. By far, my favorite characters were Holly's preschool twins. They added life to every scene they were in and I wish there had been more of them.

The typical romance plot is girl and guy fall in love. A huge obstacle appears. Girl and guy overcome obstacle to have lasting love. There were little obstacles in this novel but nothing major. In that respect, I didn't feel Holly and Adam really had to work much to achieve their love.

I liked the Alaska setting. Readers travel along by land, water, and air and get a sense of the scenery of the southern region of the state. Brown's descriptions of the area were not captivating but did give an idea of why people love to live there.

I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy a straightforward romance. You'll meet some good characters living in a beautiful state. You'll get a little drama and a little humor but mostly pure romance. This is the only book I've read in this series and think it can be easily read and enjoyed on it's own.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author


Writing books that are fun and touch your heart Even though Shannon L. Brown always loved to read, she didn’t plan to be a writer. She earned two degrees from the University of Alaska, one in journalism/public communications, but didn’t become a journalist. Years passed. Shannon felt pulled into a writing life, testing her wings with a novel and moving on to articles. Shannon is now an award-winning journalist who has sold hundreds of articles to local, national, and regional publications. Shannon was born and raised in Alaska so she enjoyed writing the books in the Alaska Dream Romance series. “The Feather Chase” was her first published book and began the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. The eight-to-twelve-year-olds in your life will enjoy this contemporary twist on a Nancy Drew-type mystery. Shannon lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat.

Guest Post from Shannon Brown


Open Doors When a character opens the door and steps from her world into mine, writing about her is easier. Holly Harris in Crazy About Alaska is a real estate agent, and I was once one. I’ve driven clients around and shown them houses only to have them go a different direction. My husband and I bought a new house a few years ago, so I have tales to tell from that experience too. (Readers may think the purple shower is made up. Think again.) I chose to bring a college professor into her life as a love interest. I’m married to one. Some of myself always finds its way into a story. Sometimes, it’s just something I might like to do. Holly’s sister Jemma rehabs furniture in Falling for Alaska, book one in the series. The idea for her business came while I was watching HGTV’s Flea Market Flip. Taking trash and making it beautiful sounds like something I’d like to try. Jemma also dislikes coffee and drinks tea. (Here I am again.) But she is not exactly me. She’s cooking challenged, and I’m a good cook. Does the story become about the author when she inserts herself into it? Reality is only a fun fraction of the book. Holly has two men vying for her affections. That never happened. (It might have been fun if it had!) She also has five-year-old twins. I never experienced that. By far the most challenging of the sisters in the series was Bree in book two, Loving Alaska. She’s a doctor, and my knowledge of the medical profession comes from sitting on the exam table, not from doing the exam. I spoke with doctors I knew and brought her to life. But Bree isn’t all made up either. She despises being in nature, especially camping. I’ve camped on a frozen river, beside a lake after canoeing or boating in, and many more places, but I’m with Bree and hotels are greatly preferred. There I am in the story again. Reading the books I’ve written helps you know who I am. I’m a woman with a big imagination who enjoys bringing stories to life. Oh, and that slightly sarcastic sense of humor you may notice with Jemma and Holly? That might be from me as well.


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Giveaway

To celebrate this tour, Shannon Brown is giving away a grand prize of a book lovers gift basket – a basket filled with book-related things!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/bb35


I received a complimentary digital copy of this book through Celebrate Lit. My review comments are an independent and honest review. The rest of the copy in this post was provided by Celebrate Lit.