Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Action Storybook Bible Contest by David C Cook


Now is your chance to have DC and Marvel illustrator Sergio Cariello make your child's dream come true!


David C Cook is proud to introduce the newest book in the Action Bible collection: The Action Storybook Bible (coming October 2017). Pre-order The Action Storybook Bible from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com to reserve your copy today. Plus click the graphic below to enter to have a chance to win an illustration of your child as a super hero by Action Bible artist Sergio Cariello (who has also illustrated comics for DC and Marvel!).

The giveaway is open until September 11, 2017, 5:00pm MST. Your entry must be received by then to be eligible. Five winners will be chosen at random from eligible entrants.

Families see the Bible in motion and put their faith into action! The Action Storybook Bible invites families with young children to explore God's redemptive story together. An entry point into the world of The Action Bible, it tells of the amazing creation story, powerful kings who reigned over ancient Israel, God's miraculous gift of eternal life through Jesus, and more! God's promise for the world is displayed throughout every page. Discover your family's place in God's incredible story and together put your faith into action! Interactive features include:
  • Fifteen key episodes from God's Word-each one loaded with several stories along with over 350 brand-new illustrations throughout.
  • Short and easy readings-for children ages eight and under with rich, colorful images.
  • Life, Faith, Action! features-conclude every episode and invite families to talk about how God moves in the stories, how to see God in life today, how to put faith into action, and how to easily talk to God with a suggested prayer.
  • Hall of Fame visual index-the place to look up favorite Bible characters by discovering their icon connections and finding them in the stories.
Learn more and purchase a copy here.

The copy for this post was provided by Litfuse. I have not read this book myself. This post is for contest purposes only and is not a review nor an endorsement.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Sacred Mundane by Kari Patterson

I like this book. I like the message and I like Patterson's writing style. I like how she has invited readers along on her own journey of growth. I can tell she shares her heart when she writes.

We might think that we need to go to a special seminar or retreat to see spiritual transformation happen. Patterson shows us that transformation happens in the ordinary stuff of life, the sacred mundane. She reminds us that our success with transformation starts with belief, not behavior. We compare our thoughts and emotions to Scripture. Her explanation of the difference between reading the word and receiving it was enlightening.

Patterson writes, “The mundane is where ministry happens, where worship happens, where transformation happens.” (91) I really liked her exploration of hupomone, endurance. It has been one of my favorite words too. I was surprised to read her claim that “God purposely disappoints us.” (141) She gives Scripture examples to back that up and explains the process. She helps us see how “trials work worship into our lives.” (141) God wants to build faith and trust in us, she says, rather than fulfill our wishes.

I highly recommend this book. It helped me understand how God works in the every day moments of life to transform me spiritually. There is an extensive Small Group Study Guide included in the book. There are personal assignments for six days and then discussion questions for the seventh. This would be a great book to use for a group study or with a trusted friend.

Food for thought: “When Christ is Lord, nothing is secular.” (79)

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Kari Patterson is a popular speaker and blogger. She is a pastor's wife, homeshool mom, Bible teacher and mentor. She has a master's degree in pastoral studies from Multnomah Seminary. You can find out more at www.karipatterson.com.

Kregel Publications, 214 pages.

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Every Piece of Me by Jerusha Clark

Clark explores the seven “I am” statements of Jesus with the aim of showing that He is the answer to all we need and it is in Him alone we find our true identity. Questions for personal reflection are given at the end of each chapter as are a couple of books for additional reading.

Clark is refreshingly honest about her struggle with depression and an eating disorder. She faced postpartum depression twice, was diagnosed Bipolar II, and suffered a subsequent breakdown. This is an encouraging section for women who struggle with issues, realizing that Christians don't always get victory over every issue. Clark encourages readers to allow their weaknesses to be used for God's glory.

Clark has good teaching on several issues particular to women. She writes about shame and feeling excluded. She has a good section on hearing from God. I found her section on spiritual dissonance particularly interesting. We can know much about God yet not experience the truths nor live in them.

She writes like a teacher might teach. I felt like I was in a lecture hall while reading the book. Clark teaches truth to readers rather than inviting us along on her transformation journey. Because of that writing style, I had difficulty connecting with her teaching.

There was one aspect of the book I found disconcerting. Before investigating the "I am" statements, Clark reminds readers that it is important to explore the context of Scripture and to whom the words were spoken. (Loc 567/3723) I found it rather odd that Clark began her book with an extensive teaching on Isaiah 43. She applied to women today what God clearly said to the Israelites through Isaiah centuries ago. She did not explain the context of the passage nor why she applied those descriptions to people other then to whom they were originally directed.

This is a book specifically for women. There are topics discussed, such as sexual issues, that make this book inappropriate for men.

My rating: 3/5 stars.

Jerusha Clark is the author or coathor of a dozen books. She and her husband, Jeremy, pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church, have two daughters. You can find out more at www.jandjclark.com.

Baker Books, 240 pages.

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

Friday, August 18, 2017

Out of Darkness by Erynn Newman Giveaway

To purchase your copy, click here.

About the Book

Book title: Out of Darkness  
Author: Erynn Newman  
Release date: May 18, 2017  
Genre: Romantic suspense

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life–until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare.

As Best Man at the wedding, Gabriel Di Salvo promises Drew–his best friend and CIA partner–he’ll look after Elisabeth, but he never dreams it will become necessary so soon. As Elisabeth struggles to put the pieces of her life back together without Drew, Gabe becomes her rock, and as they share their grief and begin to heal, their friendship gradually deepens into something more.

Three years later, Gabe and Elisabeth are planning a future together when he receives a shocking call from the one man who can upend his happiness: Drew. Suspecting someone at the CIA is behind his abduction, Drew refuses to come home. Instead, he asks Gabe to bring Elisabeth to him. Now Gabe just has to figure out how to let her go. 

Drew and Elisabeth race across Europe, dodging international arms dealers and attempting to reclaim what was stolen from them. But years of captivity and torture have left their mark on Drew. He is no longer the same boy Elisabeth fell in love with, but he is still her husband, and she’s determined to build something new and leave her relationship with Gabe in the past, if her heart will get the memo. 

When their enemies close in and the threat of a terrorist attack escalates, Gabe may be the only person they can trust. Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe are thrown into a fight for their lives–one that will test their loyalties to God, country . . . and each other.

My Review:

This is a good debut novel. It emphasizes character development yet is interspersed with action and suspense. I read the prequel and I really like the intense love Elisabeth and Drew have for each other. It was very interesting to see how Elisabeth handled it when Drew was suddenly gone from her life. She struggled with letting go of his place in her heart, even years later.

Drew was struggling too, to stay alive and sane in the midst of torture and other mistreatment. Even when Drew manages to escape, he knows there is a traitor in the CIA. He and Elisabeth are not safe. There was plenty of action included as Drew and Elisabeth try to stay one step ahead of those who want him dead.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a good deal of suspense woven into a story of love and commitment. You'll find a clear message about saving faith in Jesus Christ and how that changes a life.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Erynn Newman is a pastor’s kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. Since earning her degree in Christian Studies, she has traveled the world and served as a missionary, a counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. Though she has never worked with the CIA, her DVR contains a veritable Who’s Who of international spies. She is a Carolina girl, a wife, and Mama to a very busy little boy, two cats, and a gaggle of characters that live inside her head.

20 Facts About Out of Darkness

  1. I write novels while the rest of the house sleeps. That’s also when I do most of my editing work and social media stalking. During the day, I get to hang out with an awesome 4-year-old who is the reason I get up in the morning (both because he’s my heart and because he’s staring into my soul asking me to make pancakes).
  2. I don’t like wine or coffee. My writer fuel is partially frozen Cherry Pepsi.
  3. It took me a long time to realize I was a writer. I thought that everyone made up imaginary people and back stories for them and imagined the lives they lived and sometimes talked to them in traffic. Turns out no. Fortunately other writers found me and helped me figure it out.
  4. My greatest nemeses are also my greatest inspirations. Facebook and Netflix. Finding the balance of hanging out with other writers and readers and being inspired by great story telling and actually doing the work is the hardest thing for me.
  5. I am obsessed with casting characters. Finding the perfect actor/actress or model who embodies my characters is one of my favorite parts of the process. I also do this for every single book I read.
  6. So, of course now you want to know who I chose for Drew, Elisabeth, and Gabe. I’m glad you asked.
    • Drew is based on Matt Bomer’s portrayal of Bryce Larkin in the show Chuck (there are quite a few nods to this show hidden throughout Out of Darkness).
    • Elisabeth is partially based on a character from a show I watched when I was in college (also a waitress and artist), but she looks like this model.
    • Gabe is based not that loosely on (young) Anthony DiNozzo from NCIS.
  7. Our house has a really great office with a nice desk and comfortable chair that looks out on our wooded back yard. But I work almost exclusively while sitting on the couch with my laptop propped up on the back of it. My uniform is yoga pants and an old t-shirt. The author life is G.L.A.M.O.R.O.U.S.
  8. I got my start writing fan fiction. Most of it has been obliterated from the interwebs, but there may still be a few Star Wars stories floating around out there (I owe this to my love for Ewan MacGregor and my hatred of Annakin Skywalker). Fan fiction is also the way I found my very first critique group. And our leader, Susan Kaye Quinn, best-selling author and real life rocket scientist, helped me realize I could be a real author. And later she taught me how to publish. I want to be her when I grow up.
  9. Speaking of fan fiction, the original idea for Out of Darkness was a fan fiction based on that character from that show I talked about above. The waitress/artist who lost her first love and then fell for someone else. And then when her love returned, he was… recast. And terrible. And she forgot who she was and made every wrong decision. And everyone was miserable ever after. And I was like, what even IS this show?!?! So I started writing my version of how it should have gone. But then a surprising thing happened. My characters took on lives of their own, and I fell in love with ALL of them, and I knew I had to tell their story. So I started creating a different back story for them (and I introduced them to Jesus), and then they became their own characters and started telling me what to do. And I’m a little insane now, but I’m not even mad because I love what this story has turned into (and turned ME into).
  10. I started writing Out of Darkness in its earliest form in 2006. I stopped and restarted several times. I wrote other things that may or may not ever see the light of day. I learned that I was writing all wrong, and I ripped it apart, started over and stitched it back together piece by piece. In fact, my original chapter one is now chapter FOURTEEN. And all of that is after the first fifty pages that now comprise First Light, the prequel novelette that tells the story of how Drew and Elisabeth met and fell in love.
  11. Of all the exotic locations mentioned in Out of Darkness: Venice, Italy; Paris, France; Cordoba, Spain; Trim, Ireland; and even Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, I have been to two—Baltimore and Paris. Google Maps Street View and Wikipedia are an author’s best friends.
  12. Music inspires me to write, but I can’t write to music. I often hear a song that makes me think of a scene or helps me get the emotion right. And I add those to my play list, but when I write, I prefer quiet (or instrumental music).
  13. I want the Gospel to be front and center in every story I write (including my own), but there were two scenes in particular that I really felt like the Holy Spirit guided me in writing. One is when Drew finds his Bible in the backpack Gabe packed for them, and the other is Gabe’s argument with God when he decides to let Elisabeth go. In both instances, I feel like God really led me to the right Scriptures and gave me the words in a way I didn’t experience with any other scenes.
  14. The hardest scenes were all of the ones with Drew and the gas. Both because I don’t like to torture my characters (contrary to what you may believe) and because the science behind the weapon is way above my head. I worked with a couple of microbiologists to get it at least to plausible/possible, but I’m sure there are still some issues with my science there.
  15. I cried several times while writing this book. Elisabeth and I grieve much the same way, so I saw a lot of myself in her moments crying out to God—especially in the ones where she just wanted to feel Him and couldn’t. I cried when Drew fell apart reading his Bible, and I cried at the end when I wasn’t sure who would live or die.
  16. Gabe was the biggest surprise of the writing process. He was supposed to be out of the picture after chapter sixteen. He was just supposed to be a supporting character in the first half of the book, but at every turn he was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “there’s so much more to my story.”
  17. A few scenes didn’t make it into the final book. Two of them are in the outtakes section of my website, but don’t read those until after you’ve read the book. Seriously.
  18. After being told by one agent that Out of Darkness would never sell because it didn’t fit neatly into a genre category, I signed with my current agent in 2012, and we submitted it to several publishers. I received lots of compliments on my writing, but ultimately, people didn’t seem to like the fact that both of my leading men were good guys, and there was no one to root against. One even suggested that I make Gabe complicit in Drew’s abduction. And one suggested I kill Drew (again!) so Elisabeth and Gabe could end up together. Both interesting ideas, but neither were the story I wanted to tell. In the end, I decided to indie publish, which has been really challenging, but I’m so happy with the way everything turned out. We all got the ending we were supposed to have.
  19. Speaking of endings, the one in the final version is very different from the original. I’ll try not to be too spoilery, but let’s just say that the original ending was far less happy, but I felt like it was the only way out. One of my characters made a choice that I couldn’t see any way around. And I thought that a happy ending would be too fake. I didn’t want to tie everything up with a pretty pink bow and say “they all lived happily ever after,” because after everything they’d been through, that wouldn’t be real life. But a very good friend of mine convinced me that I could instead tie everything up with a frayed knot. It’s still messy and difficult and a little raw, but I think it’s real… and full of hope and possibility.
  20. So what’s next, you ask? There’s more to explore here perhaps, but I honestly don’t know what comes next for these characters. That’s something I’m still thinking about. The story I’m working on right now also begins in D.C. but takes place mostly in the Pacific Northwest. It’s the story of an ex Army Ranger who has to protect his three little brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder. And there may also be a girl involved.

Blog Stops

August17: Genesis 5020
August 19: Fiction Aficionado
August 21: Blogging With Carol
August 22: Faithfully Bookish
August 22: Mommynificent
August 24: 100 pages per hour
August 25: Carpe Diem
August 26: J.E. Grace Bog
August 26: Karen Sue Hadley
August 27: Back Porch Reads
August 28: Daysong Reflections
August 29: Remembrancy
August 30: Henry Happens


To celebrate her tour, Erynn is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of Out of Darkness, a signed copy of First Light, The Joy Eternal~A Sweet and Bitter Providence CD, a $10 Starbucks gift card, and Italian Chocolate Hazelnut Creme Cookies.!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

First Light by Erynn Newman

This is a rewarding short novella and is a good combination of young love and tragedy. Drew and Elizabeth meet when, as a young teen, she takes a pie to his house to welcome them to church. It is love at first sight. Short snippets of their lives in the ensuing years see their romance develop. Drew has graduated from college and is ready to spring the question when tragedy strikes his family. His faith and future is in doubt, as is his relationship with Elizabeth.

This is a short story but it was well crafted. We get a sense of the main characters even in only a few scenes. And it is a good prequel for the full length novel to come.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Erynn Newman is a pastor's kid, raised in churches all over the Eastern Seaboard. She has been creating imaginary worlds since childhood. After earning a degree in Christian Studies, she traveled the world and served as a missionary, counselor, an ESL teacher, and a nanny. She is passionate about God's glory and story telling. She is a Carolina wife and mother. You can find out more at www.ErynnNewman.com.

About 45 pages.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novella through Celebrate Lit. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Abridged by Alana Terry

I know from reading the previous novels in this series that Terry does not shy away from hot topics. In this novel, Kennedy is confronted with the whole issue of women's roles in the church, in the home, and at the university.

What women can and cannot do in the church according to the Bible is a touchy subject. Kennedy's pastor and friend, Carl, is conservative. No women are allowed to pray up front, take offering, be on the church board, etc. That doesn't sit well with many in the university community. When Kennedy defends the right of the pastor's wife to be a stay at home mom, she catches the ire of students and faculty alike. She experiences the cost of not being politically correct on a liberal east coast university campus.

The large issue of the place of women in the church includes the parallel one of where we get our identity. Feminists on campus think being a stay at home mom is the same as slavery. They see valid worth for a woman only in a profession. The issue even comes home to a man in the book, who saw his identity in his occupation. Terry does a good job of exploring these issues in the novel.

Terry also does a great job in character construction. My favorite character depiction is Woong, Carl and Sandy's adopted son. He talks a mile a minute. His vocabulary and sentence structure are unique, as are that of Willow, Kennedy's roommate.

There is a good balance of character development and action. Throw in a physical attack and a kidnapping along with the Kennedy's musing and you have a well plotted novel. We readers are left hanging at the end of this novel. Is Kennedy's future at the university in jeopardy? Bring on the sequel! (It will be released fall of 2017.)

This novel is the seventh in the Kennedy Stern series. You can read my reviews of the earlier books in the series: Unplanned, Paralyzed, Policed, Straightened, Turbulence, and Infected.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Alana Terry is a pastor's wife, homeschooling mom and award winning Christian suspense author. She and her family live in rural Alaska. You can find out more at www.alanaterry.com.

Firstfruits Publishing, 195 pages.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Kerfuffle by Kristin N. Spencer Giveaway

Click here to purchase your copy.

About the Book

Book title: Kerfuffle  
Author: Kristin N. Spencer  
Release date: June 1, 2017  
Genre: Young Adult

Olive’s best friend needs her now more than ever, but can she piece together everything in time to help him? When an anonymous email circulates through Normandie High, everything Olive knows about her family, church, and friends will change. In the midst of controversy, Olive finds she has been entrusted to protect her best friend and his secrets, though revealing them would make her life much easier. Meanwhile, she struggles to figure out what the Bible teaches about homosexuality while the members of Revive church lobby accusations back and forth, threatening to cause a church split. In a twist that even Olive couldn’t anticipate, family relationships waiver as Olive tries to decode her mother’s mysterious behavior. When the past stirs up new accusations against Olive’s family, she learns that some secrets are more painful to reveal than others. Though a helpful guy in Spanish class has her attention, Olive realizes that boy problems are the least of her worries. Can she balance drama, schoolwork, and still be the supportive friend and daughter God wants her to be?

My Review:

This book got off to a slow start for me but then, wow! This book packs a wallop. I thought it was going to be a book for teen girls and the typical trials of high school, makeup, clothing and boys. But about a quarter of the way into the book, serious issues invaded the plot.

Teens today are confronted with issues I never dreamed of when that age. Sexual abuse at a young age is one. Another is same sex attraction. Another is disagreement in a church and the real possibility of a church split. Spencer did a good job of addressing these issues in the context of a teen novel. We experience the anxiety of a teen being confronted with such issues through the eyes of Olivia, a high school freshman.

I really appreciate how the issue of SSA is explored, particularly the response of Christians and the church as a community. There is much meat for readers to chew on that topic. I also liked the teaching on the desirability of remaining single. To paraphrase one of the characters, “Being single isn't popular in the church today but that doesn't change what the Bible says.” (1 Cor. 7:8 and Matt. 19:9-12) I also appreciated the insight Spencer offers about Christians lashing out at others. Fear and lack of understanding often makes Christians very uncomfortable, hence the reaction.

This is a good book for teens. There is enough about boys and clothes and makeup to keep teens interested. There are also some serious issues explored in the book. I recommend this book to teens and suggest that parents read it too. There is much to discuss in it.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

About the Author

Kristin N. Spencer is an American expat living in a 68 square meter flat with her husband and three kids near the Aegean Sea. When she isn’t wifing, mothering, counseling, discipling, or writing, she enjoys sewing cosplay costumes for her family, baking, and hanging out with other geeks. She writes whatever she wants, including Non-Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy. Her favorite person is Jesus and her favorite X-men character is Jean Grey. Kristin studied Comparative World Literature at California State University, Long Beach and received a Bachelors, which she fondly calls a degree in reading.

Guest Post from Kristin N. Spencer

Retrospective thoughts are so powerful, aren’t they? Now that I’m an adult I often look back on my adolescence and think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” As a YA author, I read a lot of books in my own genre, and I’ve noticed a pattern. Though many of the secular YA authors are brave enough to talk about the tough stuff, not many Christian authors go after the real world difficulties that face our young people. The passage of time constantly rips through generations creating new problems and situations. The world that my children are growing up in is very different from what I experienced, and the challenges that they face as Christians are also different. The Desires & Decisions series was born out of the need for me to able to address these controversial topics with my own children. Olive, a teenage girl growing up in Southern California, serves as the lens of perspective as we see almost everything from her point of view. Her world provides a safe, fictional place for Christians to flesh out these thoughts and think through what the Bible teaches about topics like racism, bullying, loving one’s neighbor, what real love is, and addiction.
Kerfuffle specifically explores the complex emotions associated with the Church and the temptation of same sex attraction. We get to experience the conflict Olive feels and also witness the varied reactions from different generations through Olive’s parents and other members of Revive Church. This issue isn’t going away, and as a Church we must be able to talk about it without alienating ourselves from those that struggle with this temptation. There is hope for every person through the blood of Jesus Christ, whether you struggle to love those who experience same sex attraction or you struggle with that temptation yourself. I hope Kerfuffle encourages you as you seek to walk closer to Christ.

Blog Stops

August 15: Bukwurmzzz
August 18: Blogging With Carol
August 20: Carpe Diem
August 21: A Reader’s Brain
August 22: Remembrancy
August 25: Baker Kella
August 27: The Power of Words (Spotlight)


To celebrate her tour, Kristin is giving away a grand prize of all three of her books: Newfangled, Flummoxed, and Kerfuffle and a T-shirt of your choice from the WritersLife Artist Shop ( https://writerslife.threadless.com)!! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale Giveaway

The Church of the Holy Child

by Patricia Hale

on Tour August 15 - October 15, 2017


A woman with a history of domestic abuse is missing. Her sister hires private investigators Cole and Callahan.
When the woman is found dead, her husband is charged but when a second body appears showing the same wounds, questions arise and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. The case goes to John Stark, a veteran cop and close friend of Griff Cole.
The bodies are piling up, and one person knows where the killer is. Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child, listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the vows that bind him to secrecy.
The case takes an unexpected and personal turn when Cole’s ex-wife goes missing and a connection to her past points to the killer.

My Review:

I enjoyed this mystery. The plot was well done. Hale had me wondering who the murderer was right along with the detectives. She did a good job of revealing information about the murderer without giving away the identity. I like the characters of Cole and Callahan too. I look forward to seeing how they interact in future mysteries.

The novel deals with a tough issue. I am not Catholic but I can imagine the weight a priest must bear when he hears a confession that involves a crime. He has made a commitment to confidentiality, regardless of what he hears. Experiencing the struggle of conscience right along with the priest was enlightening.

I recommend this novel to those who enjoy a well plotted mystery with characters that you'll want to follow in future novels. I look forward to their next adventure.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Intrigue Publishing LLC
Publication Date: August 15th 2017
Number of Pages: 259
ISBN: 1940758599 (ISBN13: 9781940758596)
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Inside the wooden confessional there’s a man who talks to God. At least that’s what my mother told me the last time we were here. But a month has passed since she disappeared so today I’ve come to the church alone. I no longer believe that she’s coming back for me like she said. Instead, I’ve become her stand-in for the beatings my father dishes out. That’s what he calls it, dishing out a beating, like he’s slapping a mound of mashed potato on my plate. He swaggers through the door ready for a cold one after coming off his seven to three shift, tosses his gun and shield on our kitchen table and reaches into the refrigerator for a Budweiser. I cringe in the corner and make myself small, waiting to hear what kind of day he’s had and whether or not I’ll be his relief. More often than not, his eyes search me out. “’C’mere asshole,” he says, popping the aluminum top, “I’m gonna dish out a beating.” If anyone can help me, it has to be this guy who talks to God. I open the door of the confessional with my good arm and step inside.
Twenty-three years later
His breath was warm on my neck, his lips hot and dry. His tongue searched the delicate skin below my ear. Heart quickening, back arching, I rose to meet him.
The phone on the nightstand vibrated.
“Shit,” Griff whispered, peeling away from me, our clammy skin reluctant to let go. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and flashed me his bad-boy, half-smile. “Cole,” he said into the phone.
At times like this, cell phones rate right alongside other necessary evils like cod liver oil and flu shots. I leaned against his back and caressed his stomach, damp dunes of sculpted muscle. Not bad for a guy north of forty. Griff still measured himself against the hotshots in the field. But in my book he had nothing to worry about; I’d take the stable, wise, worn-in model over a wet behind the ear, swagger every time.
He pried my fingers from his skin and walked toward the bathroom still grunting into the phone.
I slipped into my bathrobe and headed for the kitchen. I have my morning priorities and since the first one was interrupted by Griff’s phone, coffee comes in a close second.
Twenty minutes later he joined me dressed in his usual attire, jeans, boots, tee shirt and sport jacket. Coming up behind me, he nuzzled my neck as I poured Breakfast Blend into a travel mug. Coffee splashed onto the counter top.
“Gotta run,” he said taking the cup from my hand.
“What’s up?”
“Not sure yet. That was John. He said he could use a hand.
“Sobering up?
Griff flinched like I’d landed one to his gut.
“Sorry,” I said. “Cheap shot.”
“Woman found dead early this morning.”
“When’s he going to admit that he can’t run the department with a pint of scotch sloshing around in his gut?”
“The job’s all he’s got left, makes it hard to let go.”
“I’m just saying that he shouldn’t be head of CID. Not now. I’m surprised Haggerty has put up with it this long.”
“There’s a lot going down at the precinct. Internal Affairs is having a field day after that meth bust.
They’ve got so many guys on leave right now that a bottle of Dewar’s in John’s desk is the least of Haggerty’s problems.”
“I just don’t want you to get sucked into CID.”
He slipped his hands inside my robe and nuzzled my neck. “No chance of that. Nobody on the force feels like this.”
I pushed him away halfheartedly.
I’ll call you when I know what’s going on.”
The door closed behind him.
I sank onto a kitchen chair and flipped open the People magazine lying on the table. Griff and I had just finished an investigation for an heiress in the diamond industry whose sticky handed husband had resorted to blackmailing her brother as a way around their pre-nup. The ink on her twenty-thousand-dollar check made out to Cole & Co. was still wet. And being that I was the & Co. part of the check, I’d earned a leisurely morning.
The phone rang just as I was getting to the interview with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell on the secrets of a long-term relationship. Caller ID told me it was Katie Nightingale, our go-to girl at the office. Katie kept track of everything from appointments to finances to take-out menus.
I lifted the phone and hit ‘answer’.
“Britt?” Katie spoke before I had a chance, never a good sign.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Missing woman.”
“Since when?”
“Last night.”
“What makes her missing? It hasn’t even been twenty-four hours.”
“The woman who called said her sister was leaving an abusive husband and was supposed to let her know when she was safe by ringing the phone once at seven-thirty. The call never came. Now she can’t get hold of her. She said her sister carries your card in her wallet.”
“What’s her name?”
“The woman who called is Beth Jones. Her sister is Shirley Trudeau.”
I nodded into the phone. I can’t remember every woman I encounter, but Shirley’s name rang a bell. Since giving up my position as a Family Law attorney with Hughes and Sandown, I’d been offering free legal aid for women who needed advice but couldn’t afford it. Mostly I worked with wives trying to extricate themselves from abusive marriages. Given the reason I’d abandoned my law career, it was the least I could do. Shirley hadn’t been living at the women’s shelter, but she’d spent enough time there to have Sandra, the shelter’s director, hook her up with me.
“And Beth thinks Shirley’s husband found her?”
“That’s what it sounded like once she’d calmed down enough to form actual words.”
“I’m on my way.”
I set the phone down, making a mental note to call Sandra. She’d upgraded from a caseworker in Connecticut to Director in Portland, Maine a few months ago. I’d stopped by her office to introduce myself when she started and left my business cards. Our paths didn’t cross that often but we respected each other’s work and always took a few minutes to chat. I knew she’d been on the swim team in college and that she could bench-press her weight. We were close in age and like minded when it came to the politics of non-profits. No doubt Beth Jones had called her too.
After a shower and a quick clean up of last night’s wine glasses, Chinese takeout containers and clothes that we’d left strewn around the living room, I locked the apartment door and began my fifteen-minute trek to our office on Middle Street. I savored my walk through the Old Port, the name given to Portland, Maine’s waterfront. The summer heat that a month ago had my shirt stuck tight against my back was a thing of the past and the snow and ice that would make walking an athletic event had not yet arrived. The cool, crisp air was like a shot of espresso. As long as I didn’t let my mind wander to what nature had in store, I could enjoy the rush.
I hit “contacts” on my phone and scanned the names for Sandra’s.
“Sandra, it’s Britt,” I said when she answered. “I wish this was a social call, but it’s not. Shirley Trudeau is missing.
“I know. Her sister called this morning. I’m on my way in now. How did you find out?”
“Her sister hired us to find her. “Was someone helping her leave?”
“She had a caseworker, but I wasn’t in on the plan. I’ll know more once I get to my office and talk to the person she was working with.”
“Okay if I call you later?”
“I don’t know how much I’ll be able to tell you. You know the rules. If she was on her way…”
I stopped mid-stride and lowered the phone from my ear. Sandra’s voice slipped away. That dead body that Griff went to look at… my gut said, Shirley Trudeau.
Excerpt from The Church of the Holy Child by Patricia Hale. Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Hale. Reproduced with permission from Patricia Hale. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Patricia Hale received her MFA degree from Goddard College. Her essays have appeared in literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book in her PI series featuring the team of Griff Cole and Britt Callahan. Patricia is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writer’s of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two dogs.

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Monday, August 14, 2017

God's Crime Scene for Kids by J Warner and Susie Wallace Giveaway

Join your children in learning how to determine the most reasonable cause for everything we see in creation with a real-life detective! In God's Crime Scene for Kids, J. Warner Wallace shows kids ages 8 to 12 what skills are needed to solve Jason's mystery. Jason uncovers a mystery in his grandmother's attic. He and his friends, Hannah, Daniel and Jasmine, enlist the help of Detective Jeffries at the Jr. Detective's Academy. Your kids will look at evidence in the universe that demonstrates God is the creator and ultimately learn how to make their own case for God's existence. 

Help your kids become detectives who investigate creation for signs of God and His creativity by entering to win the Mystery Investigation Kit!

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 31. The winner will be announced September 1 on the Litfuse blog

My Review:

Wallace has taken his expert way of investigating truth and made it available to readers age 8 to 12. The story includes a group of kids, one of whom has found a mystery in his attic. Detective Jeffries help them solve the mystery while instructing them on investigative techniques. He then helps the young detectives apply those techniques to understanding the origin of the universe.

I like how Wallace helps young detectives learn how to think through issues rather than telling them what to think. The kids learn skills like making a reasonable inference, asking the right questions, evaluating information, and more. He helps them come to the point where they can trust their conclusion.

Some serious issues are tackled in the book too, such as why God allows bad things to happen. There is also a good salvation message included in the book. The illustrations are great, as are the sidebar boxes with definitions and extra investigative ideas.

I recommend this book to young people who want to learn to think like a detective does. It's a great book for parents to read right along their their kids. You can find out more about this book and the others Wallace has written for kids at http://www.casemakersacademy.com/cold-case-christianity-for-kids/.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

My rating; 4/5 stars.

J. Warner and Susie Wallace have been training young people in the church for over a decade. J. Warner is a cold case detective who has been featured on Dateline, Fox News, TruTV, and other crime related television shows. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity, God's Crime Scene, and more. He has a master's degree in theology and is the founder of http://coldcasechristianity.com/. Susie has a master's degree in speech pathology and co-writes and edits all the kids' books in this series. They have four children and live in Southern California.

David C Cook, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary galley of this book through Litfuse. My comments are an independent and honest review.