Monthly Archives: August 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy

House of Mercy
By Erin Healy

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Beth Borzoi has a knack for healing; she loves animals and has plans to be a vet. But when someone tries to repay her for helping out and a tragic accident occurs, the domino effect of events following seemed out of control. She wonders if she is seeing things or if there really is a wolf following her around. Her father is in charge of a ranch where he takes in men who are having a hard time in life and helps them out.

Erin Healy has an ability to make you wonder what genre of book you are reading. Is it fantasy? Mystery? Speculative fiction? I am still not sure where this book falls on the genre scale, but I would say it might be a book where hurting people are seeking answers and they are not easily found.

I struggled with the attitudes that other family members had towards Beth when she was hurting and well as a slight confusion when it came to some of the legal issues. I guess I am an optimist when it comes to family as I have a great one!
This book grabbed my attention in spite of those things, especially when it came to figuring out who were the bad guys and hoping they would be caught.
– Martha

This book was provided for review by B&B media and the opinions expressed are solely my own.

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High Desert Haven by Lynette Bonner

High desert Haven
By Lynette Bonner

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Nicki makes an ultimate sacrifice for her family by helping them pay their debts in a very strange way. When a stranger comes and offers money for their oldest daughter, her father adamantly refuses, but Nicki sees no way out, and does not want to see her father die saving her. This is only the first loss that Nicki will face! After being married for only a short time, her husband passes away, leaving her with a run down ranch and a small toddler.
Nicki is facing serious decisions and decides to hire a foreman to help her whip the ranch into shape. She also has to decide what to do with a separate potential suitor on the wings as well!

I really enjoyed Ms. Bonner’s previous book in this series, and found this one to be engaging as well. I enjoyed how she tied in history of the area and time period into the story, incorporating a story of intrigue as well as love and romance, in the midst of sorrow. It takes a talented author to tie all those together into a good story!
I thought it was interesting the facts that she had portraying Nicki’s first husband, I thought he was going to be a jerk and instead, I guess, that was how he felt he could get a wife.

This book has a lot of sadness in it, but you will relate to the characters and live and laugh with them as well as cry.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!- Martha

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:

Lynnette Bonner via CreateSpace (DATE)
***Special thanks to Lynnette Bonner for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The daughter of missionaries, Lynnette was born and raised in Malawi, Africa. After graduating high school from Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya, she attended Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington where she met her husband, Marty. They married in 1992 and moved to Pierce, Idaho a few years later.

Marty and Lynnette have four children, and currently live in Washington where Marty pastors a church and Lynnette works as an administrative assistant.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Is Jason Jordan really who he says he is?
Everything in Nicki’s life depends on the answer.

Oregon Territory, 1887

When her husband dies in a mysterious riding accident, Nicki Trent is left with a toddler and a rundown ranch. Determined to bring her ranch back from the brink of death, Nicki hires handsome Jason Jordan to help. But when William, her neighbor, starts pressing for her hand in marriage, the bank calls in a loan she didn’t even know about, bullets start flying, and a burlap dummy with a knife in its chest shows up on her doorstep, Nicki wonders if this ranch is worth all the trouble.

To make matters worse, terrible things keep happening to her neighbors. When her friend’s homestead is burned to the ground and William lays the blame at Jason’s feet, Nicki wonders how well she knows her new hand – and her own heart.

A desperate need. Malicious adversaries. Enticing love.
Step into a day when outlaws ran free, the land was wild, and guns blazed at the drop of a hat.

Product Details:
List Price: $14.77
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher: Lynnette Bonner via CreateSpace
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477586482
ISBN-13: 9781477586488

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

        

 


High
Desert Haven
THE SHEPHERD’S HEART SERIES, Book 2
Copyright © 2012 by Lynnette Bonner. All rights
reserved.
Cover design by Lynnette Bonner, images ©
   http://www.istockphoto.com,
File: # 9303865 Cute Bride.
   http://www.fotolia.com,
File: Bringing in the Herd, Jeanne Provost #2658808.
   http://www.bigstockphoto.com,
File: Old Map of the US Pacific Northwest #5998922.
 Title-plate
created with Photoshop Swirls by Obsidian Dawn, http://www.obsidiandawn.com.
Author photo © Emily Hinderman, EMH Photography
Scripture taken from the New King James
Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All
rights reserved.
 ISBN:
978-1477586488
High
Desert Haven
is
a work of fiction. References to real people, events, establishments,
organizations, or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity
and are used fictitiously. All other characters, incidents, and dialogue are
drawn from the author’s imagination.
 Printed
in the U.S.A.

UV
TO
MY PARENTS:
DUANE AND SYLVIA STEWART

 A truer example of walking in God’s
Grace and Mercy would be hard to find.

UV
AND
TO MY SIBLINGS:
BETHANY AND HERB,
 JON AND PATTI,
 MELISSA AND KEVIN

 I love you all and am so glad I can call
you family twice—once through our own blood, and once through Christ’s.


Acknowledgments
UV

            Once
again, I owe much thanks to my English-teacher mother. I can honestly say I
wouldn’t be here, writing this sentence, if it wasn’t for her encouragement
along my writing journey.
Lesley, my crit-partner-extraordinaire,
thanks for all your input. I’m so thankful God brought you into my life. I
truly appreciate you (even when I’m grumbling through a rewrite).


Psalm 23
 A PSALM OF DAVID
UV
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul;
 He leads me in the paths of
righteousness For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil;
For You are with me;
 Your rod and Your staff, they comfort
me.
 You prepare a table before me in the
presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow
me All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

             


           
           
Prologue
 California
 July 1883
A
s Dominique Noel Vasquez
methodically scrubbed clothes in the tub of soapy water, she listened to the
quiet, strained tones of her parents who sat against the shady side of the
house.
            Scorching
afternoon sun shone on the hard-packed, earth yard of the small adobe hut. Heat
waves, radiating from every sun-baked surface, turned the landscape into a
shimmering sepia blur. Dead brown land lay in every direction; the only hint of
green life was the small scraggly plot of corn that would hopefully feed the
family for the year to come. Even the wheat struggling to grow added to the
dull brown vista. A solitary chicken, scratching for a meager meal, sent small
puffs of dust filtering across the yard and a lonely cow, the children’s only
source of milk, rested her head on top of her split-rail fence and let out a
low bellow.
            In
this heat everyone should have been down for a siesta, but on this day only the smallest children of the household
were resting. Tension rode the heat waves.
            Dominique
plunged harder and glared at the clothes. The creditors had come again this
morning. Last year Papa had been forced to borrow money for seed, and now for
the second season in a row the rains had failed them. There were no crops; they
were down to their last chicken; the one cow’s milk was needed by the children;
and the creditors were howling for their money like a pack of hungry wolves hot
on the scent of lame prey.
            Nicki
tossed an angry glance at the sky. “Lord, where are You when we need You?”
Sweat trickled down her temple and she rubbed it roughly across one shoulder as
she shook out a little skirt with more vigor than necessary and tossed it
across the line. Gentle conviction washed over her. She was throwing a bigger
temper tantrum than two-year-old Coreena did when Papa told her “No.”
            Nicki’s
anger eased. “Forgive me, Lord. You alone know and care about our plight. But
if there were anything I could do to help Mama and Papa, You know I would do
it.” She paused in her prayer, thinking, then continued, “What is there to do,
Lord? Show me what I can do to help.”
            Mama
called across the yard, interrupting her prayer. “Nicki, you work too hard.
Sit! Rest! We will finish the washing when it is cooler.”
            “Almost
done, Mama. Then I will rest.”
            “That
girl!” Mama turned to Papa but the rest of her words were drowned in a dry, hot
breeze.
            Nicki
smiled. Mama often castigated her for working too hard, but with twelve children,
nine of whom were still at home to feed and clothe, Mama needed and appreciated
all the help she could get.
            Silence
reigned for a time. The only sounds filling the afternoon air were the soft
swish, plunge, and gurgle of Nicki’s washing and the giggling of her two
younger sisters splashing each other with cool water by the well. Nicki gave
the last small shirt a snap and deftly flipped it onto the line where the
laundry was drying. Dumping the soapy water in front of the door, which helped
keep the dust down, Nicki hung the wooden bucket on its nail and moved to
carefully empty the contents of the rinse bucket on the one small rosebush at
the corner of the hut.
            “Girls,
please!” Juanita Vasquez called from the shadow of the house to Rosa and Juna,
who were getting a little wild and loud with their splashing game. “I have just
gotten Manuel to sleep. Quiet!”
            This
sent the girls into another gale of giggles. Their mother’s voice had been
twice as loud as theirs. But when Papa tipped his sombrero back and glared at
his two wayward offspring, the giggles ceased immediately.
            Nicki
shook her head fondly at her sisters’ wayward ways and sank to the ground next
to Mama, suppressing a groan of satisfaction as she leaned back against the
cool adobe wall. She was tired. All morning she had helped Papa haul water from
the well to carefully water their acre of wheat and corn. A large enough plot
to hopefully get them through another year. Later they would repeat the
process, because watering with buckets did not soak the ground like a good rain
would, and the crops needed plenty of water if they were to produce well.
            Nicki
closed her eyes, trying to ignore Mama and Papa’s furtive conversation.
            “The
chicken, Carlos?”
            “Mama,
the chicken will not bring in enough to get us through one day, much less pay
the money we owe.”
            “Yes.
You are right, of course, and it has stopped laying, so we don’t even have the
eggs from it anymore.” Mama sighed. “Ahhh, maybe we should have chicken
tonight, sí?”
            Papa
sighed at Mama’s little joke. “We could sell the cow.”
            “Papa,
she is the only milk for the children. I would like to keep her if we could.”
            Hot
tears pressed the back of Nicki’s eyes, and she leaned back against the wall.
What were they to do? Papa would be taken to jail if he didn’t come up with the
money by next week, and then they would all die for sure. The creditors would
take their meager crops to recoup as much of their money as they could. They
wouldn’t care that they’d be leaving a woman and her nine children to starve to
death. Where was Juan when they needed him? Were he here, he’d think of some
way to make the money they so desperately needed.
            A
slight breeze rustled the dried grasses, and Nicki pulled her skirt up around
her knees, not caring that Mama would chastise her for such an unladylike
action. The small breath of fresh air was worth it. Reaching up, she brushed at
the long wisps of black hair that had escaped her braid and rubbed the
perspiration from her upper lip. She wanted a drink of water but felt almost
too tired to get up and get it. Eventually the thought of the cold water won
out. She shifted forward. Mama and Papa could surely use a drink as well.
“Child, you don’t sit still for even a minute! What are you heading to do now?”
            “A
drink, Mama,” Nicki said lovingly. “Would you like one as well?” She pushed
herself up from the wall.
            Mama’s
voice turned tender. “What would I do without you, child?”
            Nicki
chuckled. She was hardly the child her mother kept insisting she was. At seventeen
she more than carried her weight, but Mama didn’t like to see her children grow
up. Nicki remembered Mama calling Roberto “my little man” on the day of his
wedding! Those had been happier times, Nicki thought as she walked to the well.
The rains had been good in those years, and debt had not hung over the little
adobe hut and its occupants.
            As
Nicki cranked the lever that would pull the bucket up from the depths of the
well, she scanned the horizon and stiffened. “Papa.” Her tone held a soft
warning. Someone was coming on the trail.
            Papa
rose and stood by her side. Nicki pulled the bucket toward her, filling the
dipper with cool water. If the creditors had come to take her papa away, he
would go having just drunk his fill from the chilled water of his own well. She
handed the dipper to her father. He drank, never taking his eyes off the rider
heading their way, then handed the dipper back. Nicki filled it and moved
toward her mother, who still sat in the shade, tears filling her eyes.
            “They
said not until next week.” Mama’s words stabbed a knife of pain through Nicki’s
heart. Whatever happened, Nicki knew Mama would die a slow death once Papa was
taken. Not from starvation, but because the love of her life would be gone.
            Fierce
determination filled Nicki as she marched with the empty dipper back toward the
well. Tossing back a gulp of water, she wiped the droplets from her chin and
pivoted to glare at the man coming into the yard.
            She
froze. He was not the man who worked for the bank.
            “Howdy.”
The man tipped back his dusty, black hat and smiled down at Carlos. The smile
didn’t quite reach his eyes. His gaze flicked past Papa and came to rest on
Nicki. Considerable interest flamed in their depths. He nodded to her, the
smile now reaching his eyes, and touched the brim of his hat in a one-fingered
salute. “Ma’am.” He ignored Papa and spoke directly to her. “I was thinking how
nice a cool drink of water would be. I’d sure be appreciating it if I could
light a spell.”
            Carlos
stepped between Nicki and the newcomer, effectively blocking his view. “Draw
fresh water, Dominique.” He stretched his hand toward the man, indicating he
could dismount. “Welcome.”
            But
Nicki could hear an edge in his voice. This man could mean trouble.
            “Obliged.”
He nodded and swung from his saddle. The man was tall, had graying hair, steely
blue eyes, and a wad of chewing tobacco stuffed in his cheek. He stretched his
hand toward Carlos as Nicki pulled up a fresh bucket. “Name’s John Trent.”
            Papa
took his hand. “Carlos Vasquez.”
            Mr.
Trent studied her over the dipper as he drank his fill. Nicki averted her eyes
but held the bucket for his next dipperful. She had received more than her
share of such looks and knew what he was thinking. For although this man would
say nothing to her in front of her father, the men down at the cantina showed
no such qualms whenever Mama found it necessary to send her there. The thought
of their suggestive remarks burned a blush across her cheeks. John Trent lifted
the dipper again and raised his eyebrows in amusement.
            Papa
made small talk about the long hot spell as Nicki pulled buckets of water from
the well for the man’s horse, but Nicki didn’t miss the looks John Trent kept
throwing her way.
            When
he mounted up to ride out, Mama, still seated in the shade, gave an audible
sigh. Nicki couldn’t deny she felt plenty relieved as well.
            Just
as he arrived at the crest of the trail, the man paused, and Nicki stiffened.
John Trent rubbed a hand across his face and said something to himself, then
swung his horse once again toward their adobe. His eyes raked her more boldly
this time as he pulled to a stop in their sun-baked yard.
            Leaning
his arms casually on the horn of his saddle, he spat a stream of tobacco into
the dust, turned toward Papa, and brazenly asked, “How much for the girl?”
            Nicki
and Mama gasped in unison.
            The
bucket in Nicki’s hands crashed to the ground, splashing water over her feet.
Quickly she bent and picked it up. She spun on her heel and marched toward the
well to return the bucket to its hook. The
audacity!
            Papa
spoke with authority. “The señorita is
not for sale.”
            John
Trent’s eyes scanned the small house and the scraggly field beyond, then
traveled pointedly to seven of Nicki’s brothers and sisters who had gathered in
a little clump to watch the goings-on. Then he stared into Papa’s face before
spitting another stream of brown sludge. “I think everything’s for sale as long
as the price is right.”
            “My
daughter is not for sale, Señor. I have to ask you to leave us now.”
            Ignoring
him, Trent reached into the pocket of his vest and pulled out a coin. He tossed
it to the ground near Papa’s feet.
            A twenty dollar gold piece! Nicki had
not seen Mama move, but the audible click of a cocking shotgun cracked into the
afternoon stillness. All eyes turned toward the door of the house to see her
there, the gun aimed squarely at John Trent’s chest.
            Nicki’s
eyes dropped to the money on the ground. That little piece of gold could save
Papa’s life. It would get him out of debt and even give them enough to start
over somewhere. Remembering her earlier prayer, she started to step forward.
            But
Papa beat her to it. Picking up the offensive gold, he threw it toward John
Trent as if it were too hot to touch. “She is not for sale!”
            Trent
deftly caught the coin, pulled two more pieces just like it from his pocket,
and tossed all three on the ground. “I want that girl. Now I am trying to go
about this in a civilized manner, but if I have to, I will take her by force.”
He sat up straight and casually rested a hand on his thigh near his gun.
            Nicki
felt dizzy from the sheer shock of this proposition. Her eyes flashed from
Mama, bravely holding an unloaded gun on the man insulting her daughter, to
Papa, stooping to pick up the offensive coins, to the hand of John Trent
inching toward his holster. She surprised even herself by what happened next.
            “Papa,
wait!” She stepped forward. Sixty
dollars!
“I will go with him.” Her hands trembled as she smoothed the
material of her skirt.
            “Nicki,
NO!” Mama screamed.
            “Mama,
por favor! The money! You will be
free from all this trouble! I will be all right. God, He will go with me, sí?”
            Dominique,
don’t do this.” Papa’s words were thick with restrained emotion. “We will work
something out with the bank. You take too much on yourself for one so young.”
            “Papa.”
Nicki wrapped her arms around his neck. “You are the one who taught me to be
strong, ? Take care of Mama and
make Rosa help her now.” Nicki pulled back, gazing deeply into his dark eyes,
so much like her own, and rested a hand on his stubbly cheek. “She would have
died without you, Papa.”
            She
spun toward her mother, throwing herself into her arms, before the threatening
tears could overflow. “Mama, te amo!” The
choked words were all she could squeeze past her constricting throat. Would she
ever see her beloved mama again?
            Nicki
hugged her brothers and sisters in turn, giving them each a piece of advice on
how to be helpful to Mama and Papa, drying their tears with her skirt and
promising she would see them again someday. Going into the house, she ran her
fingers across the baby-soft cheek of little Manuel, the only member of the
household still sleeping through all the commotion.
            And
then, head held high, she walked out into the searing sun and allowed herself
to be pulled up onto the horse behind John Trent’s saddle.
            “Wait!”
Mama ran toward her, carrying the family Bible. She pressed it into Nicki’s
hands, making the sign of the cross and blessing her daughter one more time, as
she had done every day since her birth.
            Nicki
didn’t let her family see her cry, but as she rode away from the only home she
had ever known, part of her felt like it died. She allowed herself the small
luxury of quiet tears.
            They
rode north for several days. Nicki was thankful that John Trent seemed to be a
kind man. A justice of the peace married them in his dusty office in a small,
one-street town that Nicki didn’t even know the name of. By evening, they were
moving north again.
            They
had been traveling for more than two weeks, making mostly dry camps at night,
when Nicki heard her husband utter an oath of awe. It was mid-afternoon and
Nicki, her forehead pressed into John’s back, was almost asleep when she heard
his exclamation. Lifting her head, she blinked into the sunlight, almost unable
to believe the sight before her.
            A
lush valley stretched before them. A small creek meandered through its center,
merging with the Deschutes River at one end. The Deschutes was normally
inaccessible due to its steep canyon walls, but here the descent to the river
was simply a long, smooth slope. Here and there a cluster of evergreen trees
could be seen, but the verdant meadow was what had drawn John’s eye.
            It
was like a vivid oasis dropped in the middle of the high-desert sagebrush they
had been traveling through for the last week. The swaying grass was belly high
to a good-sized horse.
            At
that moment, Nicki knew she was looking at her new home. The valley was a
rancher’s paradise, and John had talked of nothing else since their journey
began. He wanted to become a rancher. A rich rancher. And this was where he
would make his start.
            They
made camp early, and Nicki sighed in satisfaction as she waded into the creek
for her first bath in a week. She rolled her head from side to side, rubbing
her neck, working out the kinks of knotted muscle.
            John
waded in as well, and she stiffened as he slid his arms around her waist from
behind, pressing a kiss to her neck.
            Apparently
sensing her tension, he sighed. “I’m gonna make you a good husband. You’ll see,
Dominique. We’re gonna have one fine spread across this valley. One day you’ll
wake up and realize what a good life we’ve had, and you’ll no longer regret the
day you first met me.”
            Nicki
bit her lower lip, hoping he was right. She didn’t think she’d be able to live
with this dreadful despair all her life. She closed her eyes, missing Mama and
the family. Willing herself not to cry, she stepped out of his arms and turned
to give him a tentative smile, but her heart did not lighten.
            They
found the soddy later that evening. There was also a run-down barn, a partially
erected bunkhouse, and a corral all clustered on the lee side of a knoll just
tall enough for the soddy. But the spread had long since been abandoned. The
windowless house was dark, and when they lit John’s lantern, Nicki saw the
spiders scurrying to escape the light. She shivered and went in search of some
brush to use as a broom. Soon the room was cobweb-free, and they made a bed on
the floor for the night.
            It
was still dark the next morning when she heard John saddling the horse. She
roused herself and set about making coffee. He only took the time for one cup
before he rode out with a terse, “I’ll be back soon as I can.”
            He
was gone for two weeks. When he came back, he informed her they would be
staying.
           


1
 Shilo,
Oregon, in the Willamette Valley
 January 1887
T
he tepid January sun
struggled to warm the day, but this winter had been one of the Northwest’s
worst in a number of years. The temperatures barely reached the teens.
            At
the knock on the door, Brooke Jordan rose from scrubbing the kitchen floor and
dried her hands on a towel. Pressing a hand to her aching lower back and
resting one hand protectively on her rounded belly, she moved to see who it
was.
            “Who
do you suppose would be knocking on our door at this time of day?” she asked
the unborn child.
            It
had become her practice to talk to the baby during the day to ease the
loneliness of Sky’s absence. Since they had moved back to Sky’s childhood home
from the Idaho territory where they had met, Sky had gone to work as a deputy
sheriff for his father and was gone most of the day. She missed him terribly
but couldn’t bring herself to tell him, knowing how much he loved his new job,
even though it kept him away from home for hours at a time.
            Swinging
the door wide, Brooke gasped. “Jason!” She pulled the blond man, almost the
spitting image of her husband, into her cumbersome embrace. “Come in! Sky and I
were just talking about you last night, wondering where you might have gotten
to.”
            Jason
smiled as his eyes dropped to her midsection. “I see I’ve missed some news of
my own while I’ve been gone.”
            Brooke’s
grin broadened. “This isn’t the only news you’ve missed. Just let me send the
neighbor boy to call Sky, and I’ll be right in. Make yourself at home.”
            Brooke
waved him inside and headed for the house next door.
           
            Jason
entered the little house, noting the bucket on the kitchen floor and the line
delineating the clean side from the dirty. Hanging his black Stetson on the
back of a chair, he bent down and took over where Brooke had left off.
            “Oh,
Jason,” Brooke said as she came back into the house, “get up off that floor and
sit down!”
            He
grinned at her. “Not on your life. You just plant yourself in that chair right
there,” he pointed toward the dining table, “and start filling me in on all the
news I’ve missed.”
            Brooke
sank into the indicated chair. “First I want to know all about what you’ve been
doing. My, you’ve lost a lot of weight.”
            Jason
hated the heat he felt wash his face. “Most of my weight was due to the fact I
drank too much. Now that I’ve given that up, I can’t seem to keep the pounds
on.”
            Brooke
smiled tenderly. “We are so proud of you, Jason.”
            He
nodded but did not look up. His life had changed because of his relationship
with the Lord, not because he was so great a person. There was no reason for
Brooke to be proud of him, but knowing she hadn’t really meant the words
exactly as they sounded, he kept this thought to himself.
            “So
tell me what you’ve been up to,” she prodded.
            “Oh,
not much. I’ve punched a few cows here and there, but I thought it was time I
came home to see how all the family was doing. I’ve really missed Marquis,” he
said of his sister. “I would have stopped by there first, but your house was on
the way, so I wanted to stop and say hello.”
            “Well,
we’re all doing fine. As you can see—”
            The
front door opened. “Jason!” Sky strode in. “Where’ve you been? Brooke and I
were talking about you last night.”
            Jason
and Brooke exchanged amused glances.
            “Sky.”
Jason extended his wet, soapy hand, but Sky pulled him into a manly embrace.
Then the cousins stepped back and eyed one another.
            “How
are things?” Sky asked.
            “Fine.”
Jason grinned. It was good to be home.
            “I
mean with your relationship with the Lord,” said Sky.
            Jason
grinned at Brooke again. “He sure knows how to get to the point, doesn’t he?”
            Brooke
smiled in response, but her eyes held the same question.
            Jason
swallowed and fiddled with the scrub brush. “I’m doing good, Sky. I’ve had my
struggles, especially giving up the bottle, but I haven’t given in so far. God
has given me the strength I needed every time.”
            “Praise
God! We haven’t given up praying for you even for a minute.”
            “Thanks.”
The one word could never express his deep gratitude. He tapped the scrub brush
against his palm. “Brooke told me I’ve missed a bunch of news.”
            Sky
sat next to his wife and took her hand. “Have you ever.”
            Jason
bent to continue scrubbing the floor, curiosity filling him. “Well?” he asked,
waiting.
            “Let’s
see. First, you can see Brooke is expecting. We’ll have an addition to the
family sometime around the end of this spring.”
            “Hopefully
sooner than later,” Brooke said, reaching one hand to her lower back.
            Sky
continued, “Then there is Sharyah. She’s finished her schooling and plans to
find a teaching position for this fall.”
            Jason
rocked back on the balls of his feet, letting the scrub brush hang between his
knees. “Sharyah. Wow, I seem to only remember her as the little pig-tailed
beauty who drove all the boys at the church picnics crazy ’cause she only had
eyes for Cade Bennett.”
            Sky
smirked. “Well, she still drives all the boys crazy, but I don’t know about her
having eyes for Cade Bennett anymore. He’s been seeing a lot of Jenny
Cartwright.”
            “Oh,
honey!” Brooke voiced exasperation. Turning back to Jason, she rolled her eyes.
“Men are so blind! Of course she’s still in love with Cade, but he doesn’t have
a brain in his head where Sharyah is concerned. If he had a thimbleful of
wisdom, he would have snapped her up a long time ago!” She emphasized her point
with a snap of her fingers.
            Sky
chuckled. “As you can see, Brooke and my family don’t get along very well.”
            Giving
a mock frown, Jason agreed, “Yes, I can see that.”
            Sky
went on. “Rocky is still a deputy in town. He, Dad, and I keep the town running
criminal-free.” A twinkle leapt into his eyes. “And I guess that’s about all
that’s new.”
            When
Brooke spun, wide-eyed and incredulous, in Sky’s direction, Jason surmised that
Sky had been teasing her and the largest piece of news would be forthcoming. He
swiped his cheek against his shoulder and returned his concentration to the
last section of the kitchen floor. Someday,
Lord, if You’re willing, I’d like to have someone to love that way
.
            After
giving Sky a friendly punch, Brooke said to Jason, “Your cousin is deliberately
withholding information from you, but maybe we shouldn’t ruin her surprise.
You’d better go visit Marquis right away, though. She’d be terribly
disappointed if you heard the news from anyone else.”
            “Is
she all right?” Jason asked, tension crawling through his chest. “She’s fine,”
Sky assured.
            Jason’s
shoulders relaxed, but a niggling worry still clung to the back of his mind.
“Maybe I’ll mosey on over that way.” He stood and picked up the scrub water.
“Can I empty this for you somewhere, Brooke?”
            “Oh,
to one side out the back door is fine.” Brooke waved him through the kitchen.
            As
he made his way back to the front of the house, Jason grabbed his hat, trying
not to let his worry over his sister’s news show on his face. He’d always been
a little overprotective of her, since a childhood illness had robbed her of her
sight. He had been gone for several years when he headed to the Idaho territory
to exact revenge on a man that he blamed for their mother’s death. But he’d
known that, since Marquis was living with his grandmother, she was in good
hands. Since his return to the Lord, finding work had forced him away from his
family, but he had faithfully sent Marquis money every month. Now he wondered
what news Marquis could have that she wouldn’t have told him in her last
letter.
            “I’ll
head on over to Gram’s, then. It’s good to see you both…and congratulations.”
            Brooke
embraced him once more. “Thank you for stopping by. On Sunday everyone is
getting together at our place for lunch, so come on by and join us.”
            “I’ll
do that.” Jason settled his Stetson and headed down the street to Gram’s house,
which sat on the edge of the snow-bound little town.
UV
The Prineville bank was
stuffy and hot. The teller had obviously forgotten to turn down the damper on
the wood stove. The heat had felt nice to William Harpster for a few minutes
after coming in from the single-digit temperature outside. Now, sitting across
from the banker, Tom Roland, he frowned.
            Behind
his desk, Tom mopped his sweaty brow and tossed an occasional irritated glance
at the teller.
            William
paid no attention to the teller. His eyes were fixed solely on the short,
paunchy, balding Roland seated across from him. “I told you it would take some
time.”
            “It’s
been over two years!” The words were forceful but voiced low so as not to reach
the ears of the clerk. “The Association is going to be running us off if we don’t come up on the good
side of this deal. We guaranteed them we’d have the small-timers gone by next
month. You said you could get the job done!”
            William’s
eyes narrowed. “Do you think I don’t know that? You’re the one who said he was
the perfect man for our plan! It’s not my fault he’s welching on his end.” His
voice became a little too loud and drew a look from the curious teller.
            But
at that moment a patron entered the building, taking the man’s interest off
their conversation. When it was once again safe to resume, Tom’s pale blue eyes
flashed. “Keep it down, would you? This is not my fault. First,” the banker
held up one short finger, “his wife isn’t nearly as timid and withdrawn as you
said. She’s made friends with over half the country, for goodness’ sake!
Second, he’s no longer willing to go along with our plan. And now…” A third finger
joined the first two. “You’re telling me you think he might have a herd of
horses back in those hills that could pay off his loan?”
            William
rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t know. Things just don’t add up. He’s been
making his payments?”
            “Right
on time, every time.”
            William
sighed. There was only one way to ensure their plan would work. “We know what
the Association thinks. But how badly do you want your share of that land?”
                       
Tom Roland
dabbed at his glistening pate with a handkerchief. Then, leaning back, he lit a
cigar and blew a ring of smoke in William’s direction. He wanted that land. The
original owner had given up on ranching and moved back to Chicago, leaving the
land up for sale. Tom had been tempted to buy the land himself, but then John
Trent had walked into his bank. The only reason Tom had loaned John the money
was that he was almost assured the gambler wouldn’t be able to come up with his
payments. Then the land would revert to the bank, where Tom could discreetly
snap it up at a lower price. That and the fact The Stockman’s Association had
needed a scapegoat for their dirty work. But then John had developed a
conscience. And, on top of that, he hadn’t missed one payment.
            Tom
ran his handkerchief across the back of his neck. Five thousand acres of the
finest range land in central Oregon, and half of it was to be his. Well, maybe
more than half, but he was careful to keep that thought off his face. Yes. He
wanted that land very much. But a couple of things bothered him. “What about
his wife?”
            William
smiled sardonically. “Let me worry about the little woman. Once John is out of
the way, she’ll give up. There’s no way she’ll be able to make a go of it.
They’ve only got two hands.”
            “The
Stockman’s Association will break loose with all the fury of Hades if this
doesn’t pan out,” Tom warned. “They were plenty upset that I let him buy that
land in the first place. And if things don’t work out for me, you know they
certainly aren’t going to work out for you, right?”
            “Things
couldn’t be clearer. Have I ever let you down before?”
            Tom
blew another ring. “No, William, you haven’t. But let’s make sure this isn’t
the first.”
            William’s
gaze hardened. “Tom, this better be the last time you need my services. A man’s
patience can only be stretched so far.”
            “Just
do your job, William. Do your job and let the future take care of itself.”
            The
men glared at each other across the desk. Tom didn’t want to be the first to
look away. Finally William conceded the battle.
            Tom
looked down at his desk, pulling in a deep drag on his cigar. “Now, back to the
job at hand. I think we both know there is only one way to solve this little
problem.”
            The
two men’s eyes locked. A silent understanding passed between them.
           
            William
stood, straightened his cowhide vest with a tug, and placed his hat carefully
on his head. He shook Tom’s fleshy hand and said loud enough for the teller to
hear, “Thanks. You won’t regret making me this loan, Mr. Roland.”
            With
that, he moved toward the door, stepping out into the cold. He took a cleansing
breath of the refreshing air, then headed toward the livery, his boots thudding
loudly on the boardwalk. He had a job to do back home. And maybe, just maybe,
if he played his cards right, by the end of the year he’d be owner of some of
the finest range land in Oregon, not to mention the husband of one beautiful,
desirable Mrs. Dominique Trent. A smile lifted the corners of his mouth at the
thought. Yes, indeed, now that was a dream worth chasing.
 

 

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Cookie Bowling

What do you do at the end of a long summer day?
Cookie bowling?
You have never heard of this sport?

Neither had I…until tonight!

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Line them up…..

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You got them!!!

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Concentrate hard….

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Yay!!! They are all down!!

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So, if you ever have cheap store brand sandwich cookies that no one feels like eating, this sport can be for you!!

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An Ocean Away by Lisa Harris

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An Ocean Away
By Lisa Harris

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Lizzie MacTavis is devoted to southern Africa, where she lives with native people along the Zambezi River. Hippos, man-eating lions and tribal unrest are not enough to break her devotion for the land and people. But when Andrew Styles shows up with news of her aunt’s sickness and inheritance in New York, she finds herself conflicted about what is the right things to do.

Ms. Harris lives in Africa with her family, serving as missionaries and you can tell from this story. The scenes in Africa do not feel contrived, but realistic and well thought out. The low level mystery and thrill parts added into this story keep you intrigued. She does an excellent job of painting a confident heroine in Africa, while the same young woman would be out of place in New York City. The author ties in the culture of the roaring twenties in New York, with the simple life of a young woman raised in Africa, cooking over fires.

I really enjoyed reading this story! I had sort of a hiccup when I began it. I had checked it out from the library and when I got to page 59, discovered over 50 pages missing. Both of the copies the library owned were that way and they said the publisher was not replacing them. I struggled to believe that as in my dealings with publishers, a mistake like that would be quickly remedied. In contacting Ms. Harris, she graciously looked into the matter and sent me a complete copy! I so appreciated it! She also replaced the library copy!

This was an excellent story with adventure, deep thoughts on hurt and loss, as well as slight mystery wound in! I highly recommend it!

See below for the link to her website to check out her other books as well!

Lisa Harris’s website

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Through Rushing waters by Catherine Richmond

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Through Rushing Waters
By Catherine Richmond

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Sophia Makinoff is smart, beautiful and able to hold her own as a teacher in a women’s college in 1876. Her life is planned out, but when the man she expects to marry, proposes to her sloppy roommate, she tastefully finds another opportunity to move on with life. When she finds herself, in a remote Indian agency post as a missionary, instead of the romantic Chinese one she imagined, she is surprised, but like every other change in her life, she makes the best of it.
The people there that she comes to know and love, become a part of her heart and soul, while teaching school to the young indian native children, getting to know the others on the post, especially Will Dunn, the builder.
Love is far from her mind though, as they deal with intense problems with the leaders of the country whom are neglecting and abusing the native people. Starvation, lack of clothing and materials to build with, are just a few of the problems they faced.

I found the theme of “Through Rushing waters” throughout the book to be particularly inspiring. Sophia faces many hardships, and when she sees them as just rushing waters, it helps her to get through them and face them. Ms. Richmond weaves a tale of Native American history, along with background on how the Native people were acknowledged by the American government as people with rights, something I had not read much about before. The cruelty from others towards uneducated people whom thought nothing of treating a man or woman less than human because of their skin color appalled me and this book really brings that to life.

Sophia’s religion was interesting to me as well, seeing that she was Russian Orthodox, and a missionary. I found it interesting that in this story the board of Foreign missions sent her even when she was of a different faith. When there is Russian history ever included in a book, it fascinates me, seeing as I am part of a Russian family for the past 15 years. The Russian Orthodox people that I have come in contact with, did not have a relationship with the Lord, so that fascinated me as well, seeing the changes.

This book was one that I savored and was disappointed when it ended. I wished for more, especially at the end, wanting more details without skipping years of time, but that is the key to a good book!! Right? You never want it to end!

This book was provided for me for review by BookSneeze. The thoughts and review are my own.

I review for BookSneeze®

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The Crossing by Serita Jakes

The Crossing
By Serita Jakes

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Product Description (From book cover)

In 2000, a horrible unsolved crime is committed on a Texas school bus. At the time, Claudia Campbell was the beautiful head cheerleader, a hopeful girl who idolized her slain teacher. Now ten years later, Claudia’s secret life threatens to destroy her marriage and possibly her very life.
Casio Hightower, now a prominent member of the community and a police officer, was a superstar quarterback and tapped by several colleges as their next golden boy. Casio’s rages are tearing him apart and are close to landing him in jail.

The only way to move forward with their lives is to readdress the crime of their past, with the help of God and his perfect grace.

My Review:
When the students on a bus are witnesses to horrific murder in front of them on a school bus, it sticks with them. Now, many years later, when Claudia’s husband decides to look into the case, Claudia is torn up by the memories.
It was a hard story, showing how trauma can effect people differently in their lives. As each character deals with solving the mystery of the murder, will it turn out to be one of themselves?

I enjoyed this story, but it was a little hard to get into to begin, but once you started, you finished it!

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Hide and Seek by Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

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 authors are:

and the book:

B&H Books (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, Inc for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jeff Struecker was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted the US Army as an infantryman and retired as a Chaplain with over 22 years of active federal service. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of Ministry Development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. Throughout his career Jeff has attended numerous professional military schools and has received many awards and commendations. His combat experience includes participation in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait, Operation Gothic Serpent, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jeff holds a Master of Divinity Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, a Bachelor of Science Degree and Associate of Science Degree from Troy University in Alabama. Jeff and his wife, Dawn, have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia.
Visit the author’s website.

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 23 novels and 7 nonfiction works, as well as principle writer of 7 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies. He lives in central California with his wife.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Amelia Lennon no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon. An Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer, she’s negotiating a dispute with the Kyrgyzstan government that threatens to leave the U.S. without an airbase in that region. She traded her gun for the power of words, but now she needs both. While following her government contact-Jildiz Oskonbaeva, the lawyer daughter of Kyrgyzstan’s president-Amelia witnesses an attempt to abduct her. She manages to prevent the kidnapping, but now the two women are on the run in a city that’s erupting into chaos.

Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley is the Special Operations team leader tasked to rescue Amelia and Jildiz. With two new members in his unit-one with a secret that could endanger everyone’s life-J.J. must soldier his unit through crazed mobs intent on overthrowing the government. Back home, his pregnant wife is misinformed that her husband and the team have been killed. But before this is over, Bartley will find out that’s the least of his problems.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433671425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433671425
  • AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

    43.050278°N
    74.469444°E
    Transit
    C
    enter
    at
    Manas
    (formerly
    Manas
    Air
    Base),
    outside
    Bishkek,
    Kyrgyzstan
    June
    6

    The
    mess
    hall
    was
    deserted.
    M
    aster
    Sergeant
    J.J.
    Bartley
    sat alone
    at
    a
    long,
    well-worn
    table
    that
    had
    seen
    thousands
    of airmen,
    soldiers,
    and
    marines
    pause
    from
    their
    work
    long enough
    to
    pound
    down
    some
    grub
    before
    returning
    to
    their duties.
    On
    the
    table
    rested
    a
    chipped
    plastic
    coffee
    cup
    and two
    file
    folders.
    The
    expansive
    room
    seemed
    twice
    the
    size
    J.J. remembered
    the
    last
    time
    he
    passed
    through
    the
    air
    base.
    Of
    course
    the
    room
    was
    full
    of
    hungry
    service
    men
    then,
    many headed
    to
    Afghanistan.
    That
    was Manass
    primary
    role
    ov
    er
    the last
    decade:
    the
    jumping-off
    spot
    for
    troops
    headed
    to
    hostile country.
    As
    an
    Army
    ranger
    he
    did
    two
    tours
    of
    duty
    in Afghanistan before
    being
    hand-selected
    by
    Sergeant
    Major
    Eric
    Moy
    er
    to be
    part
    of
    a
    unique
    spec
    ops
    team.
    H
    e
    made
    several
    other
    missions
    into
    the
    country
    as
    part
    of
    that
    squad,
    including
    one
    he was
    sure
    would
    be
    his
    last
    moment
    on
    earth.
    As
    it
    turned
    out, a
    pair
    of
    F-18s
    came
    to
    the
    rescue
    of
    the
    six-man
    unit
    as
    they fought
    off
    ov
    erwhelming
    numbers
    of
    Taliban
    fighters
    advanc
    ing
    on
    their
    position.
    The
    jet
    jockeys
    saved
    their
    lives
    by
    drop-
    ping
    a
    pair
    of
    ICM
    bombs
    on
    their
    location.
    The
    (Improved
    Conventional
    Munition)
    bombs
    exploded
    fifteen
    feet
    above
    their
    heads
    leaving
    the
    ground
    littered
    with
    dead
    Taliban
    and
    a ringing
    in J.J.s
    ears
    that
    took
    a
    w
    eek
    to
    go
    away.
    That
    seemed
    a
    lifetime
    ago.
    Since
    then, as
    the sniper
    and
    explosives
    expert
    for
    his
    team,
    he
    traveled
    to
    a dozen
    different
    places
    on
    the
    planet,
    none
    of
    which
    he
    was
    allowed
    to
    name
    and
    carried
    out
    missions
    he
    was
    forbidden
    to
    speak about.
    Stare
    all
    y
    ou
    want,
    Boss,
    but
    that
    coffee
    ain’t
    going
    to
    do any
    tricks.
    J.J.
    didn’t
    have
    to
    look
    up
    to
    know
    J
    ose
    Doc
    Medina
    was approaching.
    He
    raised
    his
    gaze
    anyway
    and
    r
    eturned
    the
    med- ic’s
    smile. Jose
    was
    a
    solid
    man
    with
    a
    keen
    mind,
    quick
    humor,
    and
    a
    admirable
    steadiness.
    I
    f
    the
    sky
    were
    to
    rip
    in
    half
    and
    a million
    aliens
    ships
    from
    another
    dimension
    appeared
    ready
    to take
    ov
    er
    the
    world,
    J.J.
    was
    sure
    J
    ose
    would
    look
    up
    and
    say,
    Well,
    look
    at
    that.
    A
    man
    doesn’t
    see
    that
    every
    day.
    J.J.
    liked the
    man
    for
    another
    reason.
    In
    addition
    to
    his
    being a
    superior soldier
    he
    also
    saved
    J.J.s
    life
    after
    a
    gun
    battle.
    H
    e
    owed
    the man
    several
    pizza’s
    for
    that.
    Hey
    Doc,
    where
    you
    been?”
    They
    have
    a
    great
    rec.
    hall
    here.
    I
    was
    shooting
    pool
    with the
    Air
    Force
    guys.
    He
    pulled
    out
    a
    chair
    and
    sat.
    All
    in
    the
    name
    of inter-service
    fun,
    no
    doubt.
    J.J.
    lifted his
    cup.
    The
    coffee
    was
    cold.
    Of
    course.
    You
    know
    I believe
    we
    should
    respect
    all branches
    of
    the
    military,
    even
    the
    inferior,
    less
    skilled
    ones.
    How
    much?”

    Huh?”
    You
    heard
    me.
    Jose
    shrugged.
    Maybe
    a
    couple
    of
    twenties.
    Total?”
    “Each.
    Jose
    pretended
    to
    look
    guilty.
    How
    many
    airmen
    did
    y
    ou
    fleece?”
    Oh,
    who
    keeps track
    of
    such
    things?
    I
    was
    just
    killing time.
    J.J.
    narrowed
    his
    eyes.
    Okay,
    just
    four.
    My
    conscious
    was
    beginning to
    bother me.
    Lucky
    for
    them.
    He
    put
    the
    cup
    down.
    Seen
    Pete
    and
    Crispin?”
    Not
    since
    Crispin
    gave
    his
    little
    demonstration.
    H
    e
    did
    a good
    job.
    I
    was
    impressed
    and
    I’ve
    seen
    his
    tech
    kung-fu
    in
    the field.
    All
    those
    itty-bitty surveillance
    drones
    were
    a
    hit.
    Left
    the local
    tech
    boys
    drooling.
    Yeah,
    I
    was
    there,
    but
    I
    haven’t
    seen
    them since.
    Do
    y
    ou
    need
    them. Ill
    go
    round
    em
    up.
    Nah.
    J
    ust
    as
    long
    as
    theyre
    front-and-center
    when
    the
    new
    guys
    arrive.
    Ah,
    thats
    it.
    J.J.
    cocked
    his
    head.
    Whats
    it?”
    You
    look
    down,
    Boss,
    like
    you’ve
    lost
    your
    favorite
    girl friend.
    My
    favorite
    girlfriend.
    You
    know
    Im
    married.
    T
    ess
    won’t
    let
    me
    have
    girlfriends.
    Jose
    slumped
    in
    his
    chair.
    Wives
    are
    funny
    that
    way.
    My
    wife
    won’t
    let
    me
    date
    either.
    H
    e
    paused
    to
    let
    the
    quip
    die before
    establishing
    a
    more
    somber
    tone.
    “I
    miss
    them too.
    “I
    didn’t
    say
    anything
    about
    missing
    anyone.
    “I
    was
    listening
    to
    your
    face.
    Sometimes
    you
    confuse
    me,
    D
    oc.

    Jose
    chuckled.
    You
    know
    what
    they say
    about
    Hispanics:
    were
    inscrutable.
    “I
    thought
    that
    referred
    to
    Asians
    in old
    movies.
    Eh,
    Asians,
    Hispanics,
    whatever.
    Another
    pause.
    Youre
    thinking
    about
    Boss
    and
    S
    haq.
    Theyre
    home
    safe
    and
    sound.
    Im
    not worried
    about them.
    I
    mages
    of
    the
    team’s
    former
    leader
    and
    second-in-com- mand strobed
    in his
    mind. Last
    he
    saw
    them, they
    looked
    well
    and
    happy.
    H
    e
    could
    hardly
    tell
    both
    were
    severely
    wounded and
    the
    latter
    lost an
    eye.
    Both
    r
    etired
    shortly
    after the
    mission in eastern
    Siberia
    and
    took
    jobs
    with
    a
    civilian
    security
    firm.
    “I
    didn’t
    say
    you
    were
    worried
    about
    them.
    I
    think
    youre
    worried
    because
    theyre
    not
    here.
    You
    went
    from
    team
    mem
    ber
    to
    Boss
    in
    short
    order.
    Theres
    gotta
    be
    some
    psychological
    whiplash
    in that.
    Psychological
    whiplash?
    They
    teach
    y
    ou
    that
    at
    Fort
    Sam
    Houston?”
    Nope.
    Medic
    training
    taught
    me
    many
    things
    but
    not much
    psychology.
    Life,
    on
    the
    other
    hand,
    has
    taught
    me
    a ton.
    Okay,
    Doc.
    Whats
    eating
    me?”
    Jose
    sat
    up
    and
    leaned
    forward
    on
    the
    table.
    Nothing
    bad, Boss.
    Youre
    just
    being
    human.
    “I
    don’t
    think
    Ill
    ever
    get
    used
    to
    being
    called
    Boss.
    Every
    time
    someone
    calls
    me
    that
    I
    think
    of
    Moy
    er.
    You’ll
    get
    the
    hang
    of
    it.
    J
    ose paused.
    “Can
    w
    e
    talk
    like
    a couple
    of
    old
    buddies?”
    Thats
    what
    w
    e
    are,
    Jose.
    Well,
    at
    least
    in
    here.
    Anyone
    else
    walks
    in
    this
    r
    oom
    and
    Ill
    go
    back
    to
    being
    formal.
    The
    corner
    of
    J.J.s
    mouth
    inched
    up.
    You
    have
    a
    formal side?”
    “Im
    nothing
    if
    no
    t
    a
    mode
    l
    o
    f
    Arm
    y
    decorum.
    He
    inched
    closer
    to
    the
    table
    a
    s
    i
    f
    he
    were
    about
    to
    whisper
    a
    secret.
    His
    volum
    e
    remained
    the
    same.
    “Okay,
    here
    s
    how
    I
    see
    it.
    We
    are
    creatures
    o
    f
    training
    .
    We
    enlist
    an
    d
    sta
    rt
    a
    t
    th
    e
    lowes
    t
    rank.
    Time
    i
    n
    service
    and
    experience
    lead
    t
    o
    promotions.
    We
    have
    a
    good
    ide
    a
    ho
    w
    thats
    goin
    g
    t
    o
    progress
    .
    You’ve
    jus
    t
    bee
    n
    pushe
    d
    up
    the ladde
    r
    faster
    tha
    n
    expected
    .
    Th
    e
    vie
    w
    is
    differen
    t
    up
    there
    .
    True.
    So
    now
    you’ve
    be
    selected
    to
    take
    over
    for
    a
    man
    w
    e
    admire
    and
    respect.
    He
    s
    a
    one
    in
    a
    million.
    Hes
    got
    it
    all:
    brains, courage,
    loyalty,
    and
    a
    soldiers
    sixth
    sense.
    H
    e
    left
    under
    tough circumstances.
    Nearly
    lost
    his
    daughter
    to
    kidnappers
    trying
    to sway
    him
    in
    his
    mission.
    Took
    a
    beating.
    Nearly
    died.
    T
    o
    hear him
    tell
    it,
    he
    did
    die
    and
    came
    back.
    His
    cover
    was
    blown
    so his
    usefulness
    as
    field
    operative
    was
    gone
    and
    thats
    all
    he
    ever
    wanted
    to
    do.
    He
    is
    a
    great
    man.
    Taught
    me
    more
    about
    soldiering
    than basic,
    AIT,
    and
    Ranger
    training
    combined.
    A
    wave
    of
    sadness ran
    over
    J.J.
    “I
    can’t
    be
    E
    ric
    Moyer,
    Doc.
    In
    my
    mind,
    he
    will always
    be
    Boss.
    But
    hes
    not
    J.J.
    He
    was
    team
    leader.
    Now
    youre
    the
    man.
    No
    one
    is
    asking
    you
    to
    be
    E
    ric
    Moyer.
    The
    Army—the team—wants
    you
    to
    be
    y
    ou.
    Is
    that
    enough?”
    Jose
    straightened
    and
    stared
    into
    J.J.s
    eyes.
    It
    is
    in
    my book.
    Its
    not
    that
    Im
    afraid—”
    Youd
    better
    be
    afraid.
    I
    don’t
    trust
    a
    man
    who
    says
    hes
    not afraid.
    Such
    men
    are
    either
    liars
    or
    lunatics.
    J.J.
    raised
    an
    eyebrow.
    Really?
    And
    which
    am
    I?”
    Youre
    neither.
    I’ve
    seen
    you
    afraid
    and
    you’ve
    never
    been braver.
    You
    can
    do
    this,
    J.J.
    I got
    y
    our
    six.
    You
    know
    that.
    Pete
    danced
    a
    jig
    when
    he
    heard
    of
    your
    promotion.
    A
    t
    least I
    think it
    was
    a
    jig.
    The
    man
    has
    no
    rhythm.

    J.J.
    laughed.
    You
    got
    that
    right.
    F
    irst
    time
    I
    saw
    him
    bust
    a move
    I
    thought
    he
    was
    being
    electrocuted.
    Jose
    chuckled
    then
    the
    grin
    evaporated.
    Seriously
    J.J.,
    Im
    proud
    to
    follow
    you
    into battle.
    Don’t
    doubt
    yourself
    and
    don’t
    doubt
    us.
    Besides,
    if
    y
    ou
    screw
    up,
    Moyer
    will
    kick
    y
    our
    butt then
    turn
    on
    me
    for
    not
    straightening
    you
    out.
    Theres
    a
    terrifying
    thought.
    J.J.
    gazed
    into the
    black fluid
    in
    his
    cup.
    M
    ore
    than
    self
    doubt
    was
    eating
    at
    him
    but
    he endured
    all
    the
    pep
    talk
    he
    could.
    Jose
    seemed
    to
    sense
    it.
    You
    happy
    with
    the
    new
    guys?”
    The
    medic
    motioned
    to the
    personnel
    jackets.
    Yeah,
    as
    much
    as
    I
    can
    be.
    It
    s
    hard
    to
    judge
    a
    man’s
    char- acter
    from
    notes
    on
    evaluation
    forms.
    Both
    are
    experienced and
    decorated.
    S
    een
    lots
    of
    action,
    mostly
    in
    the
    last
    half
    of Iraq
    and
    in
    the
    wind
    down
    of
    Afghanistan.
    Both
    Rangers.
    One
    comes
    in
    at the same
    rank
    as
    me:
    M
    aster
    Sergeant.
    Hes
    got
    six months
    on
    me
    as
    well.
    Doesn’t
    matter,
    J.J.,
    youre
    team
    leader.
    He’ll
    know
    that.
    He’ll
    also
    know
    that
    I
    was
    frocked.
    I
    have
    the
    extra
    stripe
    but
    not
    the
    official
    promotion
    and
    pay.
    Its
    just a
    matter
    of time,
    J.J.
    You
    know
    once
    theres
    some head
    room,
    you’ll
    get
    the
    full
    promotion
    and
    maybe
    more.
    Its
    all
    a
    numbers
    game.
    There
    are
    scores
    of
    soldiers
    work-
    ing
    at
    a
    higher
    rank
    than
    the
    Army
    is
    allowed
    to
    give
    them. Functionally,
    youre
    the
    man,
    and
    Ill
    fight
    with
    any
    man
    who disagrees.
    Youre
    a
    pal,
    but
    you
    may
    want
    to
    hold
    on
    to
    the boast
    for awhile.
    Why?”
    You’ll
    see.
    The
    door
    to
    the
    mess
    hall
    opened
    and
    a
    skinny
    airman stepped
    into
    the
    dim
    space,
    saw
    them,
    then
    walked
    to
    the table.
    Master
    Sergeant
    Bartley.
    I’ve
    been
    asked
    to
    tell
    y
    ou
    the
    transport
    plane
    you’ve
    been
    waiting
    for
    has
    touched
    down.
    It
    s
    pulling
    to
    the
    tarmac
    now.
    J.J.
    glanced
    at
    the
    rank
    insignia
    on
    the
    man’s
    upper sleeve:
    one
    strip
    and
    an
    Air
    F
    orce
    star
    in
    a
    circle.
    Thank
    y
    ou,
    Airman. I
    would
    like
    to
    meet
    the
    plane.
    Can you
    get
    me
    there?”
    “I
    was
    told
    to
    have
    a
    v
    ehicle
    waiting.
    J.J.
    stood,
    lifted
    the
    cold
    coffee
    to
    his
    lips
    and
    drank.
    He
    grimaced.
    Where
    did
    the
    Air
    Force
    learn
    to
    make
    coffee?”
    The
    young
    airman
    remained
    straight-faced:
    From
    the navy.
    Figures.
    He
    set
    the
    cup
    down.
    Gather
    the
    team,
    D
    oc.

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    A little overwhelmed…

    It seems like summer barely started and here all of a sudden, everyone else is done with their canning…and I have not even started!

    I have accomplished many things this summer already, but different things than other years.
    – We went on a trip and a family vacation!
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    – I have been catching up on my reading and have read over 200 books so far this year. It is not as many as I would have liked, but I am hoping to get to 400 by the end of the year! This one is on my “to be read” pile right now!
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    – I have been exercising and staying in shape a lot this summer! I did about 50 miles in 4 weeks, which was good for me. My legs feel better and I missed it this week while I was sick! I hope I can get to 200 miles before the end of August!

    But for now….I have to go through schoolbooks, I need to clean out the garage. There is boxes of clothing full of dust and spiders, and they are not organized in any way. I need to get rid of them or store them properly so we can use them. There is tubs of shoes and boots, as well as boxes of books to sell or giveaway.
    I am so terrified of spiders though, so I refuse to do it! I did come up with a plan. I will empty the tubs out on the lawn, shake them out and that way we can sort them without risking spiders in the house!

    Canning….my garden has really not done so well, but I have gotten some cherries, strawberries and couple tomatoes with many more to come, as well as some peppers. My green beans, zucchini, carrots and beets all refused to grow or come up. I have a lone plant here and there…but bad! My cucumbers are consisting of two lone plants. My mint got attacked by a zealous weed eater..

    I need to go get stuff for canning salsa, pickles and see what I can find for cheap jam making!

    What is your August full of?

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    The Scarlet Cord by Joan Wolf

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    The Scarlet Cord
    By Joan Wolf

    Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

    This is a fictional tale of the biblical story of Rahab, and while many liberties were taken with the story, it is a good rendering of what the story of Rahab might have been like.
    Kidnapped from her family, Rahab is a feisty young girl, with a determination to survive and escape. By what seems like a coincidence, a Hebrew in hiding rescues her, and returns her to her family. Her family is eternally grateful, which later in the story, they have the chance to repay the favor!

    The mystery in our minds when we read the story of Rahab, is how did a harlot come, from another land come to know about God and serve Him? How did she become a wife to an Israelite and be part of the lineage of Jesus? This book is only one of the ways that it could have happened.
    Ms. Wolf weaves a tale of historical accuracy, which includes some reference to the wicked practices of the city of Jericho, but she is very light in her description, making it very tasteful, if there is a tasteful way to describe wickedness.

    As Rahab grows, her family is concerned about finding her a proper husband. They fear that the country may be lacking in proper or rich enough mates, but their time in the city ends up wrought with fear of the coming Israelites, and lustful men seeking with wandering eyes instead of potential mates? Will Rahab end up being used by wicked men or will she escape and be able to be with the man she loves, even if it is said it is an abomination? Can she learn to love the true God of the Hebrews or will she reject it in the face of rejection from her family?

    I found this rendering of the story of Rahab to be interesting. I don’t want to spoil the story, so I will not comment on all I found interesting, but I found great liberties were taken with the title she was given by Joshua “Rahab the Harlot”, in that she was not a harlot in the book. I loved how the history of these little known nations were woven through the tapestries of the story, spinning a tale that kept me reading and will intrigue you as well.

    This book was provided for me for review from BookSneeze.

    I review for BookSneeze®

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    The Scent of Rain by Kristen Billerbeck

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    The Scent of Rain
    By Kristen Billerbeck

    Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

    Daphne Sweeten has given up much for love. She left her dream job to marry the man she loves! But when her dreams for happiness and marriage seemed to crumble into dust when she is abandoned at the altar, she feels like everything in life is all wrong! Then something even worse happens…. her nose, her ticket to her job as a professional “nose” fails on her. Nothing tastes good, nothing smells right and she is left trying to figure things out.

    Pulling herself up by her bootstraps, or comfortable shoe straps…Daphne heads to her new job in Dayton, Ohio to create fragrances for household products. She hopes to regain her sense of smell before it ruins her life completely.

    Jesse Lightner, her new boss, a single parent, is attempting to run a good company. He is overwhelmed at just the prospect of trying to pay a professional nose, let alone dealing with one that can’t do her job right.
    Can Jesse and Daphne see past their traumas in their personal life before it messes up their professional lives?

    This book dwells a little on how emotional trauma can sometimes affect us physically, and it is sometimes not an easy fix. Daphne is faced with a lot of difficulty in a short amount of time. Daphne was a very likable character, you could really relate to her and her difficulties, while wanting to smash Mark for being such a dirt bag!
    The story has many lighthearted moments, which are skillfully mixed along with the heavier topics. This is likely one of the best books I have read by Kristen Billerbeck. I highly recommend it!

    This book was provided for review by BookSneeze.

    I review for BookSneeze®

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