Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Thank you to all who have served.

 

On this holiday, I wanted to pay to tribute to those who’ve served in our military. Without their sacrifices, the freedoms we take for granted could be lost. These young men and women don the uniform of their military branch, leave their families behind, and often go into foreign lands to fight.

Flag

Many men and women have sacrificed for our freedoms over the years. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

I’ve had the unique honor to hear three American Heroes speak. Their stories are inspirational and heart-wrenching at the same time.

Lt. Scott O’Grady, the pilot on whom the movie Behind Enemy Lines was based. I heard Mr. O’Grady speak, then watched the movie, which was nothing like the true story. If he is ever speaking near you, I urge you to attend and hear this unique story of survival.

Chad Williams, he served on Seal Teams one and seven for five years. He has a book out, Seal of God. His story is very inspirational and worth the time to hear.

Keni Thomas, he served as a Ranger in the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations packages called Task Force Ranger. This unit became engaged in an eighteen hour fire-fight. Nineteen Americans died and 78 were wounded. Keni was awarded the Bronze Star of Valor for his actions that day. The book and movie, Black Hawk Down was based on the battle of Mogadishu.


In addition to speaking engagements, Keni is also an accomplished Country Music artist.

Soldier

 

Wall

Since our country our began, soldiers have fought and died both here and abroad to keep us free. May God bless and protect all who currently serve in our military and comfort the families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. I pray the wounded warriors will find peace and purpose. May we never forget the sacrifices made for our freedom.

Cemetary

 

 

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Disneyland

Disneyland

Earlier this year we went to Disneyland on a family trip. My stepson, Eric, loves anything Disney. His favorite character is Mickey Mouse, and he often tells me he wants to go to work at Disney (it doesn’t matter to him if it’s Disneyland or Disney World) as Mickey Mouse. He can’t think of a job more fun than dressing up like the famous rodent and greeting children all day.

His joy in the parks is contagious. It doesn’t matter which ride we’re on, at that moment, it’s his favorite. He loves the scary rides like Tower of Terror and the scenic rides like It’s a Small World. No matter how long we’re in the park, he never complains about his feet hurting or about being tired.

My goal is to have that contagious joy in my daily life without complaining, yet I often fall way short. I want people to see the hope, joy, and love of Christ when they look at me, but all to often, I’m not lovable or loving. As Paul said in Acts: “18 I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can’t. 19 I don’t do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don’t want to do. 20 I do what I don’t want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.”

As Christians, we are still human. We’re going to mess up. At times we will do the things we don’t want to do and not do those we want to do. Does that mean we’re hopeless? No, but maybe when we find ourselves being judgmental, unloving, or even downright hateful, we’ll turn from it, ask forgiveness, and forgive ourselves. On the flip side, when others hurt us, maybe we’ll realize we are all sinners and all do hurtful, sinful things, and we’ll be very quick to forgive those who hurt us.

 

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Review of Table for Two

Table for Two

Book Description:

Mandy Seymour always books a table for one. So the pretty food critic is stunned when she captures the eye of dashing chef Leo Romano. Leo’s good looks and fabulous cooking are swoon-worthy, but it’s his tender care of his ailing father and affection for his warm Italian family that really touch her heart. A broken engagement has made Leo cautious. And as he grapples with his dad’s illness he’s skeptical about starting a new relationship, even with a woman as compelling as Mandy. But as he spends more time with Mandy, Leo starts to realize maybe the last thing he should give up is love.

Review of Table for Two:

In Table for Two, Brandy Bruce weaves a sweet, romantic tale of a food critic and a chef. Mandy Seymour, the food critic, has issues with self-confidence because she’s never felt good enough to please her overly critical mother. Leo Romano, the chef, is skeptical of love after having his heart broken by his fiancé.

Mandy and Leo are drawn to each other, but there are many obstacles in the way. They must learn to depend on others and to trust each other. While the characters were very likable and endearing, Mandy’s mother could’ve been a little more developed since she played such an important role. I felt like the drastic turnaround in her was a little clichéd and didn’t come across as natural. HOWEVER, that slight issue doesn’t detract from the sweet novel in a major way. It’s still a fun, quick read that won’t disappoint.

About the Author:

Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than nine years–editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s a graduate of Liberty University and works as a part-time book editor for a publishing house. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Colorado with their two children, Ashtyn and Lincoln. When Brandy isn’t editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book. You can contact her through her blog at http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

Visit the author’s website: http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

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First Wild Card Tour – Brandy Bruce’s Table for Two

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, nonfiction, 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:

 

Brandy Bruce

 

and the book:

 

Table for Two
Heartsong Presents (April 28, 2014)
***Special thanks to Brandy Bruce for sending me a review copy.***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BrandyBruce

Brandy Bruce has worked in book publishing for more than nine years–editing, writing, reading, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s a graduate of Liberty University and works as a part-time book editor for a publishing house. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Colorado with their two children, Ashtyn and Lincoln. When Brandy isn’t editing manuscripts or writing novels, she loves spending time with her family, baking any kind of cheesecake, watching movies based on Jane Austen novels, or curling up with a favorite book. You can contact her through her blog at http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

Visit the author’s website: http://brandybruce.blogspot.com.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
cover

Mandy Seymour always books a table for one. So the pretty food critic is stunned when she captures the eye of dashing chef Leo Romano. Leo’s good looks and fabulous cooking are swoon-worthy, but it’s his tender care of his ailing father and affection for his warm Italian family that really touch her heart. A broken engagement has made Leo cautious. And as he grapples with his dad’s illness he’s skeptical about starting a new relationship, even with a woman as compelling as Mandy. But as he spends more time with Mandy, Leo starts to realize maybe the last thing he should give up is love.

Product Details:List Price: $4.99

Publisher: Harlequin/Love Inspired

Language: English

ISBN-13: 978-0-373-48703-5

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Mandy Seymour held up one hand to hold off traffic as she dashed across the crowded
street, wincing as the “Walk” sign changed to “Stop” before she could reach the
other side.

“Sorry,”she muttered as the sound of horns honking followed her. She pushed
through the revolving door of the Hyatt Regency hotel and rushed past the front
desk. Taking a quick moment to look down at the brochure in her hand, Mandy
took the next left and sighed with relief when she saw that the double doors to
the conference room directly ahead of her were still open. She slid into the
last row of seats and turned her attention to the speaker at the front of the
room. Gabriel Romano. The Gabriel Romano. Owner of two four-star restaurants,
one in Denver, the other in Los Angeles.
Mandy’s mouth watered at the very thought of his infamous tiramisu.

She caught the end of Mr. Romano’s introduction as she shuffled through her purse,
looking for a pen and a notepad.
How can I not have a pen? I always have
pens—but of course, when I need one, there are none to be found.

Mandy ignored the disapproving voice in the back of her mind that always sounded just
like her mother. Mandy, why are you so disorganized? Mandy, when are you going to be more responsible? Mandy, isn’t it
time you got yourself together?

“Here, take this.”
Mandy looked up in surprise at the voice whispering next to her. A man in a blue
tailored suit with a silver tie handed her a pen.

“Thanks,” Mandy whispered back, accepting the pen, her gaze lingering just a little too
long on the man. His dark wavy hair, jet-black eyes, and olive skin were a nice
combination.
Don’t even think about it, Mandy. He’s probably married.
Was that her voice or her mother’s in her head? Mandy shook away the question and settled in her seat, eager to be swept into Gabriel Romano’s rise-to-success story, beginning with learning to cook from his grandmother during summers spent in the Italian countryside.

“So, why are you here?” the guy leaned over and whispered again.
Mandy barely glanced at him. Okay, I know you’re cute, but I’m here to hear Gabriel Romano so stop talking!
Mandy shrugged. “The same reason everyone else is—Gabriel Romano,” she whispered, hoping her annoyance would register with the guy.

“So you’re another admirer,” he said.
It obviously didn’t register with him.

“I’m a food critic,” Mandy whispered in a rush. “I’m going to the new Romano’s on 15th Street tonight and doing a review, so I thought I’d come hear his story.”

A woman in front of them looked back, holding her finger to her lips. “Shh!”
Mandy’s face burned with embarrassment. The guy next to her seemed unaffected.

“What time will you be there?”

“What?” Mandy asked, forgetting to whisper. The woman in front turned around again, glaring this time.
The guy leaned closer.

“What time will you be at Romano’s tonight?”
Mandy blinked, caught for a moment by those dark eyes of his. Why did he want to know? She looked back down at the notepad on her lap without answering.

“I’m Leo, by the way,” the guy whispered.
Mandy sneaked another look over at him. He had a nice smile. But that didn’t mean anything. There could be a lunatic lurking behind that nice smile.

“I’m Mandy Seymour.”
What happened to the lunatic theory? I’m now having a conversation with a complete stranger—missing out on the speech that I
came to hear!

Leo nodded. “Nice to meet you. What time will you be at Romano’s tonight, Mandy?”

Mandy licked her lips and gripped the borrowed pen in her hand.
“8:00.”

Leo winked at her. “Maybe I’ll see you there,” he whispered with a smile before leaving the conference room. Mandy watched him go, wondering where he went and wishing she had asked him why he was there.

Leo Romano typed the name Mandy Seymour into his phone and waited for the search engine to give him what he needed. Within seconds, the first page of hits came on the screen and Leo scrolled through, clicking on the third link.

 

Mandy Seymour, respected food critic for Denver Lifestyle magazine, recommends the Coffee
and Crepes
delicatessen off 23rd and Mountain View. Mandy was quoted as saying, “The service was impeccable and the breakfast quiche exceeded my expectations . . .”

Leo clicked off his phone and shoved his hands in his pockets. Even from the hallway, he heard his father’s voice booming through the conference room. He could quote verbatim his father’s speech, and while it was usually inspirational for the audience, Leo could only stand to hear it so many times.
He stepped closer to the open door, scanning the back row where Mandy Seymour sat, scribbling on her notepad. She’d rushed into the conference room, late, juggling a purse and shoulder bag; then she’d furiously rummaged through her purse until Leo had given her his pen. He’d been amused by her effort to ignore him and her frustration at his attempt at conversation. Wisps of brown hair had escaped the knot tied at the nape of her neck. Leo doubted that Mandy knew her scarf was haphazardly dragging on the floor when she’d rushed in. Everything
about the woman shouted scatterbrained.
Still, scatterbrained or not, when Mandy dropped her pen and then scrambled to find it under her chair, Leo smiled without warning from where he stood watching.
She’s charming. In a clumsy, disheveled sort of way. Leo watched her sit back up and blow a stray hair from her face while she continued taking notes. Not like Carol Ann. Those are two words that could never describe her.
Leo’s neck stiffened at even the thought of Carol Ann Hunt. It had been more than six months since she’d broken off their engagement and moved back to her parents’ home in Chicago.
Leo leaned against the wall near the doorway and closed his eyes, sending up a quick prayer for just a little more endurance.
Please help me get the new restaurant off the ground, Father. It’s so important to my dad. He can’t do this without me.
And I can’t do this without You.

The sound of laughter coming from the conference room broke the moment of reverie and Leo looked up, glancing at his watch and knowing that the speech would be over soon. His father’s voice echoed through the corridor and Leo couldn’t avoid hearing the highlights of his father’s life story. He listened as Gabriel Romano talked about discovering his passion—and talent—for cooking, marrying the love of his life and raising a family in Los Angeles, struggling financially to get his first restaurant off the ground. But through hard work, determination, and a stellar reputation for good food, that first Romano’s eventually thrived.

Gabriel told the audience that he hired his brother to be the manager and overseer of the restaurant while he concentrated on cooking, and a few years later he decided to move his family to Colorado. With the success of the Los Angeles Romano’s, the opening of a second restaurant proved to be much easier. The restaurant on Franklin Street in Denver turned into an overnight success.
As the speech came to a close, Leo noted that his father hadn’t mentioned that Leo would be the head chef, running the kitchen at the 15th Street location. He knew his father wanted to create more buzz by keeping the new chef’s identity a mystery until the restaurant opened. That suited Leo just fine; he had enough on his plate without enduring the press and questions about his new role as head chef, along with the inevitable comparisons that would be made to his father.
As the crowd filed through the double doors, Leo moved back. From a distance, Leo could see Mandy Seymour make her way back down toward the lobby. Knowing she would be at the grand opening tonight, Leo would make sure everything from the food to the service to the lighting would be perfect.

Mandy took her time walking down the street back toward Union Station. She planned to headd tried the week before. It was one of the things she loved most about herway place right outside of Denver that served amazing meat loaf or that tiny diner off Mosely Street that had the best cherry pie and homemade ice cream.
Not that Romano’s could ever be described as a little hole-in-the-wall type place; with its marble flooring, an outdoor fountain, stone fireplaces, textured walls, and magnificent murals—it was more than impressive. Mandy had been to the restaurant on Franklin Street a number of times. The Italian restaurant stood as practically a landmark in the area. But this latest Romano’s promised new items on the menu, created by a new chef—someone with Gabriel Romano’s obvious stamp of approval.

Mandy tightened her pea coat around her and picked up her pace as the wind brushed across her face. She wished she’d thought to wear a more substantial coat. It had been a mild January for Denver, but as a lifelong Coloradan, Mandy knew how unpredictable the weather could be. The sounds of downtown Denver competed with the brisk wind as Mandy reached Union Station. She loved the energy of being in
the mile-high city. She thrived on the lights, the noise, the crowds; living in a place bustling with people helped with the loneliness of living on her own.
Within seconds of finding a seat on the train, Mandy’s cell phone rang. Just the sound of the Shirelle’s singing Mama Said told Mandy all she needed to know. Claire Seymour was nothing if not predictable. Mandy held the phone to her ear.
“Hi, Mom.”
“Mandy, are you still downtown?”
“No, Mom. I’m already on my way back home. Why?”
“I thought you said you’d call me on your way back to the Tech Center.”
“I’ve only been on the train for about two minutes. I was going to call you once I’d been on the train for three minutes.”
“There’s no need to be snippy, Mandy.”
Mandy watched the city fly by as the train moved. “Sorry.”
“Good. Now, I’m cooking pot roast tonight, and I want you to come over for dinner. Your brother and his wife are coming, too. Six o’clock.”
“Mom, I already told you that I have plans tonight. I have to visit that new restaurant and then start my review. So I can’t make it. But please tell Brian and Samantha that I said hello.”
“I’m making pot roast!”
“Next time, okay?”
“Sunday dinner. I won’t take no for an answer. I expect you in Evergreen by 4:00.”
“Fine. Sunday. 4:00. I’ll be there.”
“And I certainly hope you’re wearing your good coat! It’s freezing outside!”
“I know it is. See you Sunday.”
Mandy clicked her phone off and leaned her head back against the cold window, ignoring the familiar wave of defeat that came over her whenever she talked to her mother.
As the train rattled to a stop, Mandy jumped up, swung her bag over her shoulder and braced herself for the cold wind. She allowed herself a little time to think about the mysterious Leo.
He’s Italian, obviously. Aren’t Italian men famous for flirting? Or maybe that’s Greek men . . . Anyway, he probably didn’t
mean anything by it. And I’m sure he won’t be at Romano’s tonight. He’s too good-looking to be interested in me.

Without a doubt, that last thought had her mother’s tone.
Don’t think about Mom. I’ve proved her wrong, so far, haven’t I? Here I am, living in the city with a job I love . . .
I haven’t turned out to be the failure she feared I would be. Okay, so I’m not married to a dashing, successful man and I’m not the size-six,
fashion-conscious, top-executive she’d wanted me to be—there are worse things in life.

Mandy’s shoulder bag fell to the ground, its contents scattering. Mandy sighed.
Like being a walking disaster.

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Down & Out Wordle

Down & Out Wordle

Chapter OneWordle

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First Wild Card Tour – Marcy G. Dyer

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: Marcy G. Dyer

 

 

and the book:

 

Desert Breeze Publishing December 2013
***Special thanks to Marcy G. Dyer for sending me a review copy.***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Marcy G. Dyer is a Registered Nurse and suspense author. Like so many other writers, she began writing at a very young age, but never took herself seriously as a “real” writer until about ten years ago when she began taking courses and learning the craft of writing.
She currently has two novels from the Desert Winds Series available: Down & Out and Out for Blood
In addition to writing, Marcy is a freelance editor. She does editing for individuals, Desert Breeze Publishing, and Prism Book Group.
Marcy is an alumnus of the Christian Writer’s Guild and long-time member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She hosts a small critique group for ACFW and is involved in two other critique groups. For anyone seriously interested in becoming an author, she recommends a strong, diverse critique group to help authors hone crafts.
In addition to maintaining her website,http://www.marcydyer.com, Marcy hosts a blog to help those with autoimmune diseases. While many autoimmune diseases aren’t visible, they still cause chronic pain and disability. If you would like more information, please visit http://ragimp.blogspot.com
As followers of Jesus Christ, Marcy and her family are active members of Crossroads Fellowship in Odessa, Texas. Sermons are carried live via the web at our online campus – http://crossroadsodessa.tv/ at the following times on Sundays – 9:30 & 11:00 and 5:00 & 7:00 central time.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION: Going home again can be deadly.Suddenly jobless, enterprising Candace Downs returns to the parched and dusty oil-town of Odessa, Texas as a trainee for her cousin’s towing company.Rejecting the romantic obsessions of a maniacal stranger intent on capturing her heart throws her life into a terrifying spiral downward.

As the clock ticks, and her hunter ups the ante, the charismatic, handsome security consultant, Josiah Bradley, is determined to keep her alive – at any cost.

Will they win this harrowing cat-and-mouse game? Or will the unrelenting stalker bury them both deep in the desert?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sqO8LewZ1Q

Product Details:

List Price: $8.99/$3.99

Paperback:

Publisher: Desert Breeze

Language:English

ISBN-13:9781612522708

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Chapter OneCandace climbed out of the rattletrap old VW Bug. The car had faded to a pinkish orange, the floorboards had rust holes peeking up at her, and the seat covers had long ago cracked, but the engine ran. Thanks to Ric. What would she do without him?
Her life had gotten so far off track. Would she ever find her way back? She didn’t have time to dwell on that right now. Her new illustrious career waited. Oh, brother.
Sucking in a breath, she strode through the side door at Tow Masters. The round black clock on the dingy white wall indicated it was ten till seven. Now if she could find her cousin. Carl had to still be here. He couldn’t expect her to just jump in feet-first with towing and repos.
She started into Carl’s office and stopped in her tracks. The most beautiful man she’d ever seen sat behind the old gray metal desk. “Uh…” she murmured. “You aren’t my cousin.”
The guy behind the desk grinned, revealing straight, white teeth. “No, ma’am.” He stood and extended his hand. “I’m Josiah Bradley. You must be Carl’s little cousin.”
Candace just stared at the man. She had to look up to see him, not something she often did even when she wasn’t wearing heels. Blond hair peeked out from his white cowboy hat, and his ice-blue eyes twinkled. She’d missed seeing cowboys when she lived in New York. Something about a handsome man in a western hat and tight Wranglers.
After a few seconds, she glanced down at his hand still in hers. Great, the guy would think Carl’s cousin was a loon. She let go.
“Sorry,” she stammered. “I… I expected Carl to be here.”
“Carl contracts with my company, Viper Security, to provide security, and when he hires a newbie, he usually has one of us spend a couple of weeks working with ‘em. Safer than having his staff work doubles.”
“Oh.” Boy, did she sound intelligent.
His eyes roved over her from top to bottom, making her thankful she’d worn the black Donna Karan skirt and Steve Madden heels. Then, after a few seconds, he shook his head. “Excuse me, ma’am, but you’ve never worked in this business, have you?”
“No. Why?”
“Well….” Josiah said with a chuckle. “I don’t think you want to wear that outfit.”
Her cheeks burned. “What should I wear?”
“Jeans, T-shirt, and tennis shoes would be good.”
“Ahem. Excuse me.”
Candace turned to find a short, chubby, red-headed woman standing behind her. The woman shoved her hands on her ample hips and shook her head. “Great. I’ve gotta call Carl. He can’t stick me with the dark-haired Barbie here and expect this to work out.”
Josiah rounded the desk and placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder. “Beth Anne, give her a chance. She’s never worked for a towing company before.”
“Humph.”
In his Wranglers, boots, and oxford shirt, he looked like he’d be more at home on the rodeo circuit than anywhere else. Either that, or onstage, crooning out an old country song.
Nausea rolled through Candace’s gut. Why did she think she could do this job? She didn’t even have a clue how to dress. When she got home in the morning, Carl would get a piece of her mind. He should have warned her. Of course he did tell her she’d be going out on repos, but what did she really expect? Working the night shift dressed like a banker?
“Why don’t you run home and change into some jeans.” Josiah shuffled through some papers on the desk. “Then come back, and we’ll get started.”
Candace’s cheeks flamed. “I — I don’t have any jeans.”
Beth Anne rolled her eyes. “So, Barbie, just what kind of clothes do you have?”
“Please stop calling me that. I have dresses and heels.” No way was she telling this leprechaun she’d had to reduce her entire life to one suitcase, so she’d kept what she thought of as work clothes and a couple of tattered sweats.
Josiah stifled a laugh. “What do you wear in your leisure time?”
“I haven’t had leisure time in over two years. I was a publicist. When I wasn’t working, I was sleeping.”
“It’s okay.” He smiled. “Beth Anne, I’m taking her to get some appropriate clothes, and we’ll return soon.”
“Fine. Just don’t take too long. I don’t want to get stuck working by myself tonight.”
“You’ve got my cell number. If you get a job, call me.”
Beth Anne threw her hands in the air and spun on her heel. “Whatever.”
Candace’s spirit dropped to the soles of her inappropriate shoes. Josiah thought she was too dumb to buy her own clothes, and Beth Anne… Beth Anne already hated her.
She would not cry.
Swallowing back embarrassment, she walked with Josiah to his black Ford dually. He opened the door and helped her inside, and she settled into the leather seats. How would she pay for the clothes? If she charged them, would the bill come in before she got paid? All of the money she had in savings went to pay for her rattlebug and her minuscule apartment.
When they arrived at a small western store, Candace’s heart plummeted. She would never be able to afford clothes in a place like this. How could she tell Josiah she needed to go to Wal-Mart without sounding like a whiny girl?
Josiah took her by the hand and grinned. “Hope you don’t mind, but since you’re back in Texas, you need to look the part.”
“That’s fine, but…Wal-Mart is more my price range.”
“Don’t worry about the money. Can’t have my best friend’s cousin looking so outta place, now, can I?” He winked. “Besides, Carl didn’t tell you how to dress, and since he hired me to train you, I’ll add the cost to his bill.”
She’d pay Carl back. Someday. Buying clothes with a strange man felt wrong, but evidently she couldn’t work in the ones she had.
Fine. She’d make the best of a bad situation and head for the sale racks. No sooner were they inside than a teeny, perky blonde flashed a big smile at Josiah. “Jojo. How can I help you?”
He put a hand on Candace’s shoulder. “My friend here just moved back from New York City. We need to get her some real clothes, boots, hat, and tennis shoes.”
“Sure thing.” She took a quick look up and down Candace. “What size?”
“I’m not sure. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn jeans.” No way would she tell this munchkin how big her behind was. Not in front of Josiah.
“No worries. Come with me, and we’ll see what we can find.”
By the time they left the store, Candace had several bags of clothes — not that she knew what she’d do with half of them. Where in the world would she ever wear a cowboy hat? And did she really need all of these clothes? Had she stepped into the Twilight Zone?
They arrived back at the shop to Beth Anne’s glare. It did soften a bit when she saw their shopping bags.
“Well at least now you can run if you have to,” she muttered. Then she turned to Josiah. “You and Barbie come on, we’ve got a tip on that repo from the gang-banger.” The woman pulled a gun out of her purse and stuck it into the back of her jeans as she sauntered down the hall toward the exit.
A gang-banger and guns? What had she gotten herself into?*****

As they climbed into the flatbed truck, Josiah grinned. The girls would give him a laugh or two over the next couple of weeks. Just seeing the look in Candace’s brown eyes when she had to put on the jeans was worth every penny he spent. He would eat the cost of the clothes for the entertainment factor. Why had Carl hired such a girly-girl?
Carl mentioned she hated leaving the City. Her thick black hair and curvaceous figure sure made her nice to look at, but he pitied any guy who got mixed up with a chick like her, who liked the bright lights of the big city. Of course, maybe some men liked that. Not him. He loved his little ranch and calm life.
They pulled up in front of a dilapidated house with peeling paint. An old sofa with stuffing peeking out of multiple holes sat on the porch. A mangy mutt lounged on it.
A crack house? Josiah maneuvered the truck in front of the SUV up for repo. Beth Anne hopped out and checked the VIN. “Lower it, and I’ll start the hook-up. We gotta grab it and run.” Candace followed Beth Anne.
After he had the flatbed tilted, Josiah helped the girls get the Escalade hooked up and pulled onto the flatbed. As he lowered the bed back down, a young Hispanic man came running toward them.
A stream of colorful names for Josiah flowed out of his mouth. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He screamed another stream of curse words. “That’s my ride.”
Josiah pulled a clipboard out of the truck. “Who are you?”
“Dude, I’m Roach. El Jefe.” The man had a blue bandana tied around his head. He wore a white “wife-beater” tank top, and his pants sagged so low his entire silk-boxer-clad butt hung out. Talk about a stereotype.
“El Jefe, is your name Ramon Gabaldon?”
“Si, this is my ride, man. If you want to live, you’ll put her back.” Gabaldon’s eyes narrowed to slits. “One word, and my posse will take you down.”
“I have a repossession order from your lien holder.” Josiah pulled a copy of the order off the clipboard and handed it to the man. “If you settle things up with them, then once they notify us, you can pick up your vehicle at the yard.”
“No. I don’t think you understand.” Roach pulled out a switchblade and flicked it open. “You’re going to leave my ride alone.”
Josiah pulled out his Glock and leveled it at the man’s head. “No, Jefe, you don’t understand. I’m taking the Escalade, and you’re going to back off.”
Roach laughed, but put the blade up and took a step back. Josiah jumped into the truck, and as he put it in gear, Roach yelled for his gang. What was Carl thinking having two women work the night shift? Beth Anne could pretty well hold her own but from the look on Candace’s face, she was about to pee her panties.
“I’m afraid we have trouble.” Josiah glanced into the rearview mirror. “They’re following us.” If they got out of this alive, he was going to have a long talk with Carl. This was no job for his debutante cousin. Maybe she could push papers or something in the office.
One of the guys roared up to the passenger side on a custom Harley and pointed a pistol at the window. Josiah stuck out his hand and pushed on Candace’s shoulder as he swerved toward the man. “Get down.”
She slid into the floorboard, and Josiah gunned the engine. The big truck would be no match for men on bikes.
“Just keep driving, I’ll call 911.” Beth Anne yelled from the back.
Josiah moved lane to lane as quickly as he could without wrecking the truck and ran a couple of the guys off the road. As they pulled into the tow yard, several gang members roared up and surrounded the truck.
Candace hunkered down in the floorboard of the truck. Why had she taken this job? She really didn’t need to eat. Maybe if she had to do without food for a while she could fit into smaller jeans, like the munchkin at the western store wore.
A gunshot rang out, and Candace vomited.
“Great. Barbie just tossed her cookies.” Beth Anne sighed.
Enough was enough. She wouldn’t put up with the leprechaun’s taunts any longer.
“I’m sorry if I don’t live up to your standards, Dumpling,” she snapped. “I’ve never had anyone shoot at me.”
“Dumpling? You little–”
“Enough, you two. Quit acting like spoiled junior-high girls. If you haven’t realized it, we’re in a little bit of a mess here.”
And if she ever got out of it, Candace would tell Carl he could shove his job. Everyone told her how dangerous New York would be. Right. She never got shot at there.
More shots rang out, and her hands shook. “Thank goodness we’re in the truck. If they don’t shoot the windows, we should be okay. Right?”
Josiah barked out a short laugh. “Don’t know much ‘bout guns, do ya, doll?”
“Not really. I know gun safety, and I’m a good shot, but that’s it.”
“A bullet can go through the metal of the door.” Beth Ann’s tone grew snarkier with each word. “It may or may not have enough force to come all the way inside depending upon the caliber. There’s your education for today, Barbie.”
“Thanks for nothing, Dumpling.”
Sirens sounded in the distance, and Candace prayed the police would arrive in time to save them. She couldn’t die like this, hunkered down in the floor of a flatbed truck with a puke-covered seat. At least she hadn’t peed her pants. Yet.

div>

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Human Trafficking and Street Children

Human Trafficking and Street Children

DancerMy husband and I have been to the beautiful country of Ukraine twice. The first time, I won a trip with International Cooperating Ministries, and the second time, we went with Doxa Kids Street Children’s Ministry. Doxa Kids helps at-risk children in Ukraine and Kenya, with plans to expand to other countries. The goal of this organization is to provide these children and teens with a shelter—a safe place to stay. If they children aren’t living on the streets—in sewer tunnels and dumps, they won’t be as lucrative of a target for traffickers.

Ukraine, along with Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Albania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, China, Thailand, and Nigeria, is one of the high-risk source nations for trafficking. High-risk destination countries include Belgium, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey and the United States.

After learning a little about street kids and human trafficking, I decided to write a novel based on human trafficking. I’m currently in the plotting stage and have been doing extensive research into this modern-day slave trade.

Victims are often recruited by other victims or even someone they trust in their own communities. The trafficker lures with promises of a better life, a modeling career, job opportunities, and in some cases, the victim is kidnapped. When the trafficker recruits slaves for other countries, they often use forged passports for the victim. If a real passport is used, the trafficker then keeps the victim’s passport and identification.

The trafficker holds victims hostage by physical and emotional abuse. Often he tells the victim they entered the country illegally and will go to prison if they leave him. Most, whether sold into the sex trade or not, are raped, gang-raped, starved, and beaten as part of the conditioning process.

Approximately 80% of trafficking is for the sex industry which contributes to the spread of HIV. Eighty percent of sexual slavery victims are under twenty-four with some as young as six. Often they are working in the streets or in places of business that offer commercial sex acts –massage parlors, escort services, adult bookstores, modeling studios, bars/strip clubs.

Often times the traffickers advertise via the internet. One teenage US victim indicated her captor held her in an apartment and men came to her by the droves. They moved often in order to not capture the attention of law enforcement.

There are currently more slaves in the world today than ever before in history. These slaves are men, women, and children around the world. Most are branded with tattoos representing their owners. Many have bar-code tattoos that can be scanned with a smart phone so the person may be returned to their “owners”. While sex trafficking, prostitution, exotic dancing, is the by far the most common, humans are trafficked for forced labor – street peddling, housekeeping, child care, construction, restaurants, factories and landscaping, etc.

Our most vulnerable population around the world, children, are trafficked into the sex industry and as child soldiers. According UNICEF estimates there are 300,000 child victims forced to serve in armed conflicts world-wide. Also, UNICEF estimates over the past thirty years there have been over thirty million children sexually exploited through trafficking.

While modern-day slavery is a pervasive, it largely remains a hidden crime. However there are many groups and organizations dedicated to helping victims and ending slavery. The first step in ending this horrendous crime begins with education and awareness.

 

Works Cited

11 Facts About Human Trafficking; ND http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-human-trafficking

55 Little Known Facts About Human Trafficking; January 2, 2011; http://facts.randomhistory.com/human-trafficking-facts.html

Human Trafficking: An Intelligence Report; June 2006 http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2006/june/humantrafficking_061206

Human Trafficking: The Facts; ND; UNICEF; http://www.unglobalcompact.org/docs/issues_doc/labour/Forced_labour/HUMAN_TRAFFICKING_-_THE_FACTS_-_final.pdf

What Is Modern Slavery?; ND; http://www.state.gov/j/tip/what/index.htm

What is Human Trafficking?; August 16, 2012; http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr/resource/about-human-trafficking#overview

INK 180; ND; http://ink180.com/the-ink180-story/

http://www.humantrafficking.org/combat_trafficking

http://www.unicef.org/protection/57929_58022.html#CT

http://www.unodc.org/toc/en/crimes/human-trafficking.html

Human Sex Trafficking; ND; By Amanda Walker-Rodriguez and Rodney Hill; http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/march_2011/human_sex_trafficking

http://www.freeforlifeintl.org/

 

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First Wild Card Tour – Janalyn Voigt

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:

 

Harbourlight Books (December 31, 2013)
***Special thanks to Janalyn Voigt for sending me a review copy.***

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Janalyn Voigt’s unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams.

Janalyn is represented by Sarah Joy Freese of Wordserve Literary. She serves as a literary judge for several international contests and is an active book reviewer. Her memberships include ACFW and NCWA.

When she’s not writing, Janalyn loves to find worlds of adventure in the great outdoors.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Elcon, an untried youth, assumes his duties as High King. But as trouble stirs between nations and rebellion threatens Faeraven, his position is far from secure. Can Elcon trust that the Elder youth accompanying Kai is the DawnKing, sent by the High One to deliver his people? Or has something gone horribly wrong?

Driven to prove himself, Elcon embarks on a peace-keeping campaign into the Elder lands, where he meets a beautiful Elder princess. But Aewen is betrothed to another, and Elcon has promised to court the princess, Arillia, upon his return. Declaring his love for Aewen would shame them both and tear apart the very fabric of Faeraven.

Elcon’s choices lead him into the Vale of Shadows, where he learns that to deliver his people, he must find redemption himself.

My Review:

Janalyn has a way with words. She’s created an incredible fantasy world with mystical creatures and intriguing characters. The allegory to Christianity is embedded throughout the story, but it’s not preachy in the least.

The first book centered around Shae and Kai and Shae’s calling to release the Dawn King. Wayfarer centers more around Elcon and his ascent to High King of Faeraven. As I read, the character of Elcon drew me into the story. He’s real and he’s flawed just like us.

While fantasy isn’t the normal genre I read, I did love the book. It’s a great read for a mature teen or adults.

 

 

Product Details:

List Price: $15.99

Paperback: 298 pages

Publisher: Harbourlight Books (December 31, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1611162920

ISBN-13: 978-1611162929

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Part One: The Bridegroom
1
Return to Torindan
An indrawn breath alerted Kai. Unsheathing his
sword, he peered into the shadows beneath a weilo tree’s curling tresses.
Nothing stirred.
“Show yourself!” His challenge rang through the
vale.
No response.
He stepped closer.
Kai. His
name sighed in a sudden wind that ruffled the waters of the weild. Morning
mists eddied above the river, but the leafy canopy over his head remained still
and silent.
Impossible! And yet he knew that voice. “Shae?”
With his heart beating in his throat, he pressed forward.
Beneath the weilo a many-hued light shimmered,
swirled, and took shape. Shae stood before him, her eyes closed as if in
prayer. Her unbound hair cascaded in burnished curls to her waist. Beneath her
scarlet cloak, she clutched something at the end of the fine chain encircling
her neck. The glint of silverstone between her fingers told him she wore his
locket. She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Kai.”
But he backed away. “Are you some dryad come to
enchant me?”
“Please.” She held out her hands imploringly. “Stay.”
“Why should I trust you?”
“You have nothing to fear. It’s me—Shae.”
He shook his head. “I saw you vanish from this
world. Do you return by another gateway than Gilead Riann?”
“Gilead Riann is the only Gate of Life, but there
are soft places like this one where I can look into Elderland, if only for a
time. When I saw you near, I called to you over and over.”
Even as a spark of hope flared, he hesitated. “I
heard your voice once only, borne on the wind.”
She clasped her arms about herself and smiled,
although tears glistened in her eyes. “And yet you answered my call.”
“I love you, Shae.”
“No. Release yourself.” Her voice broke on the
whispered words.
The longing to take her into his arms left him
weak. “You ask more than I can give.”
“I can’t bear to see you suffer.”
“Then you must not look.”
Shae’s image shimmered like a reflection in wind-stirred
waters. “I release you.”
“Wait!” As he rushed toward her, she dissolved
into glimmering light that melted into shadow…
Jerking heavy lids open, Kai blinked against the
weak light tilting through swishing weilo leaves. His dream had seemed so real.
A moan sprang to his lips but died behind gritted teeth. Short, swift breaths
relieved the tightness in his chest. His mind, however, knew no ease.
He turned his head and met a pair of dark, rounded
Elder eyes. He let his lids close to shield himself from their penetrating
gaze.
“Kai.”
Emmerich’s murmur called him back from the edge of
thought. He rolled onto his side and pushed to a sitting position. His
companions, their shapes little more than shadows in the gathering mists of
morning, bent over their bedrolls. Behind them the canyon walls of Doreinn
Ravein rose into obscurity.
At the expression of pity on Emmerich’s face, Kai
balled his hands into fists and rode out a surge of heat. Shae might stand
beside him now, but for Emmerich.
As soon as the unworthy thought came, he pushed it
away and forced his hands to unclench. Shae had willingly traded places with
Emmerich at Gilead Riann. She’d sung her own death song by choice. And he, to
his joy and sorrow, had urged her on.
He glanced sideways at Emmerich. “Sometimes, when
the wind blows, I think I hear her calling.”
Emmerich’s eyes gleamed. “Perhaps she does.”
Kai waited until he could trust himself to speak
again. “She comes to me in the land of dreams.”
Emmerich tilted his head, and a lock of dark hair
fell across his brow. “Does she speak to you?”
Without answering, Kai bent and rolled up his
bedding.
Emmerich waited.
Kai sighed and looked away. “She tells me to wait
for her no more.”
“I see. And will you heed her?”
He dusted off his hands, lingering over the task,
and then glanced sideways at Emmerich. “At odd moments I expect to see her, to
hear her voice. I can’t stop hoping for a sight of her—looking for her return.”
The words wrenched from him in a rush. “I can’t release myself from loving her.
I don’t know how.”
“Patience does not spring from sorrow with ease.”
All at once, Kai laughed. “You have both wisdom and youth—a fearsome combination.”
“Those with ready ears often hear wisdom, even from
a youth.”
****
“Steady, Fletch.” Kai touched the neck of the
winged horse beneath him and looked out over the frothing weild, which fell to
rapids here. Sudden memory caught at him. He could almost see Shae combing her
hair on the flat-topped rock at water’s edge.
At a restive movement from the other wingabeasts,
Fletch shuddered in sympathy. Kai turned away from the wraith of memory and
gathered his wits before facing his companions. “Thank you for your faithful
service. Each of you went beyond duty. Although we–” He heaved a breath. “Although
we return without Shae, our quest succeeded. In that we can give thanks to Lof
Yuel, the High One, who has kept us in His care.”
He signaled Fletch, and wings rose to enfold him
like a feathered curtain. As the great wings lowered and they lifted on
invisible currents to the top of the canyon walls, draughts rippled across him.
At this height the mists thinned but would still hide their movements from any
stragglers from Freaer’s forces retreating from the siege of Torindan.
How would Lof Shraen Elcon, Faeraven’s new high
king, react when Kai returned without Shae? He put the thought from him and
focused, instead, on navigating the twists and turns of the canyons. They
emerged into a flat land as the horizon blushed and the shadows lengthened to
stain the eastern desert purple.
The ground folded and rose beneath them, and then
crested a rise. In the distance, past the broken peak of Maeg Streihcan,
swelled the hills that Kai’s people, the Kindren, called Maegren Syld. The
Elder nation knew them as the Hills of Mist. To the west, the kaba forest
stretched to meet sandy shores where the tides of Maer Ibris ebbed and flowed.
Torindan, fortress of Rivenn, perched on an arm of
rock thrusting into Weild Aenor, the wild river of legend. Kai caught his
breath at the sight. How long ago it seemed since they had left.
****
Raena Arillia stepped toward Elcon in the dance,
jewels and eyes aglitter. Her figure had softened since he’d seen her last, and
the luster of her golden hair echoed the glow of her skin. He captured her by
the hand and waist and turned her toward him. When she smiled at him, he forgot
everything but her beauty.
He clapped his hands in tempo, and Arillia swayed
in a circle that brought her back to him. Dainty, light on her feet, and quick
to smile, she reminded him of Shae.
Shae.
Elcon’s hands stilled, and his smile died. He’d
tried and failed to reach his sister with the shil shael, the hereditary soul
touch they shared. He could only hope she still lived.
Arillia’s smile faltered. “Are you well?”
Without replying, he offered his arm to her. She
took it without hesitation, and he guided her out of the crush of dancers
toward the leaping fire in the nearest of the great hall’s three large hearths.
Arillia’s parents smiled down upon them from the
dais at the end of the long chamber. Shraen Ferran and Raelein Annora had conspired with Elcon’s
mother to thrust Arillia and Elcon into one another’s company all of their
lives. No formal marriage pact existed, but he and Arillia knew they were
expected to wed. As children, they’d laughed at the notion many times.
With a tug on his arm, Arillia brought him up
short. “What ails you?” Such trusting eyes she turned on him, eyes of palest
gray. She knew him well, but he thought she did not guess he used her company
as a balm. In her presence, he found ease for the worries that tormented his
rest.
Her gaze probed his, but he glanced away, out the
tall window behind her to the fieldstone paths that cut through the lush sward
to the inner garden.
Ah, the garden. They’d often whiled away entire
afternoons gathering the roses that nodded beneath twisting strongwood
branches. Side by side, they’d dropped bright petals into the silken waters of
the pool and watched the water cascade in glinting ribbons from the tiered
fountain.
Elcon pushed away his memories and looked down
into Arillia’s troubled face. “Naught but shadows.”
Her expression registered her disbelief, but he
offered nothing more. For Shae’s safety, he couldn’t claim her as his sister.
And how could he explain to Arillia the feeling of doom that weighted him?
And yet, when he looked into the cool depths of
her eyes, he could almost persuade himself she understood. The thought should
draw him to her, but it only made him uneasy. Perhaps he and Arillia shouldn’t
spend so much time together.
“As you please, Elcon.” Irritation edged her
voice. “It’s clear you mean to keep your thoughts private.” Arillia stepped
closer to the fire and gazed into its depths as silence stretched between them.
“But I still wish—”
Elcon took her by the elbow. “Forgive me. I must
return you to your parents.”
Her eyes widened, but as he pushed her through the
crowd toward the dais, she didn’t resist. His perfunctory bow to her parents
included Arillia. He caught the glint of tears trembling on her lashes and
hesitated, but then hurried across the great hall. Arillia, and all the
confusing emotions surrounding her, would have to wait.
By the time he reached the main archway, Weilton,
the second guardian of Rivenn, had joined him. In Kai’s absence, Weilton had
assumed his duties as Elcon’s personal guard. Elcon answered the question in
Weilton’s light gray eyes. “I saw from the window a company of wingabeasts
approaching from the south. Kai and Shae return.”
****
Kai sent Flecht into a spiral and touched down
beside his companions on the arched bridge outside Torindan’s barbican.
Although they could have flown into Torindan, protocol and good sense called
for the guardians to land their wingabeasts outside all strongholds, even their
own, and obtain entrance in the usual manner.
“Who goes there?” A guard called from the parapet
above the barbican.
“Kai of Whellein and a company of weary travelers,
all friends of Torindan.”
With a rasp and screech of metal, the drawbridge
lowered over the moat’s dark waters and the barbican’s timbered metal doors
swung open.
As they passed beneath the iron fangs of the
portcullis, Aerlic drew his silver wingabeast, Argalent, abreast of Kai. Just
behind, Emmerich rode Ruescht while Guaron and Dorann brought up the rear. They
had barely passed through when the doors thudded shut and the bar clanged back
into its rests. Chains clanked, and the portcullis dropped with a squeal and a
thump, sealing them into the treacherous “walls of death.”
Fletch’s hooves clattered on the wooden
floorboards and rang when they found trapdoors above pits. As Kai guided his
wingabeast onward, bars of light penetrating through arrow slits in the outer
walls fell over him. With much clanking and screeching, a second portcullis
gave way, and they emerged before the inner gatehouse.
Kai, blinking in the sudden light, answered
another round of salutations. A small drawbridge lowered across a second
channel of the moat. More doors opened, and they passed beneath twin turrets
into a short corridor.
Footsteps, light and fleet, approached from the
outer bailey. With his eyes adjusting again to dimness, Kai halted Fletch and
his companions gathered around him. Two figures entered by the archway from the
outer bailey. “Kai. You return.”
Kai’s vision cleared, but he’d already recognized
Elcon’s voice.
One of the guardroom doors along the corridor
flung open and Craelin, First Guardian of Rivenn, stepped out, the lines around
his eyes crinkling from the force of his smile. Beside him strode Eathnor,
dressed in the green and gold of the high guard.
Kai dismounted and bowed before Elcon. “I’ve
returned, but without Shae.”
“Rise.”
Kai obeyed.
Elcon looked him over. “You’re too thin, and I’ll
warrant, weary. You look like a strong wind would knock you over. Still, I’m
glad to see you. Has Shae stayed behind with her sister in Graelinn?”
Kai swallowed his surprise at Elcon’s response. “Forgive
me, but I should explain in private.”
“Tell me where she is.”
Kai flinched. “She remains within the gateway of
Gilead Riann.
Elcon’s eyes narrowed. “What madness is this?”
“Only the truth, I promise. Shae went through the
gateway of her own will.”
“Why would she do such a thing?”
“So that Shraen Brael could enter Elderland.”
“The DawnKing of prophecy has entered Elderland?
But where is Shae?”
Craelin stepped forward. “If I may suggest,
whatever news Kai brings might better be given in private, Lof Shraen.”
Elcon opened his mouth as if to speak but closed
it again. “Yes. Yes, of course.” His glance slid past Kai and landed on
Emmerich, just dismounting. “Tell me, Kai, why you ride with this Elder. Has he
strayed from his path so far it brings him among the Kindren?”
Emmerich lifted his head. “I know well my path,
Elcon, Shraen of Rivenn, Lof Shraen of Faeraven. I follow it to you.”
“I don’t understand.”
“That is the simple truth.”
Elcon paced before Emmerich, his gaze a challenge.
“Who are you?”
Emmerich stood without flinching. “Are you certain
you wish to know?”
Elcon stared at him, but then looked to Kai. “Bring
him to my meeting chamber, and we’ll discuss these matters at length.” At the
archway to the outer bailey, Elcon shot a final piercing glance at Emmerich. “I
look forward to that conversation.”
Elcon went through the archway with Weilton behind
him. In the small silence that followed his departure, Kai drew his hands into
fists at his side. After all they had suffered and sacrificed, would Elcon now
reject Emmerich?
“Are you all well?” Craelin said near Kai’s ear.
Kai considered the question. “Well enough. We
sustained injuries besides the ones you knew, but most have healed. Some take
longer than others.” And some never heal.
“How did you and Eathnor fare on your return to Torindan?”
A smile lit Craelin’s face. “Well enough, also. We
reached Torindan in advance of Freaer’s charge and just managed to take away a
small group of messengers. We rode like the wind to summon the loyal Shraens of
Faeraven but had to dodge welke riders to save our own lives.”
“Ah.” An
image of dark riders pursuing through the mists of morning came to Kai. “We had
a bit of trouble with them ourselves.”
“If not for Eathnor’s skill as a tracker we would
not have survived to spread the alert.”
Kai nodded to Eathnor. “Well done. And so you have
joined the ranks of the guardians. I commend Craelin’s choice in you.”
Eathnor clasped Kai’s hand. “Thank you. I hope to
prove myself worthy of the company I keep.”
Dorann dismounted in one leap, and the two
brothers gazed upon one another with eyes that shone. At last, Eathnor dipped
his head. “You’ve healed.”
Dorann put a hand to his once-blackened eye as a
slow smile spread across his face. “In truth, I’d forgotten it.” He took in the
garb his brother now wore as part of the lof stapp. “Green suits you.”
Eathnor laughed. “That it does.”
With Eathnor beside him, Dorann led his dark gray
wingabeast, Sharten, through the archway into the outer bailey, where the
stables lay.
“Welcome back.”
At Craelin’s greeting, Kai smiled for the first
time since entering Torindan. But he also felt like weeping. “Thank you. I’m
glad to see you.”
The bright blue eyes nested more deeply in Craelin’s
face. “And I, you.”
Kai cleared his throat. “We should hurry, although
I dread facing Elcon again.” With slumped shoulders, he led Fletch after the
others into the outer bailey, where smoke hung heavy and the stench of charred
meat fouled the air. Dogs snarled and yipped, fighting over a bit of offal
thrown to them. A scarred wooden door hung open in a doorway, through which
emitted the clash and clang of cooking.
With Craelin keeping pace beside him, Kai took the
side path to the stables, which squatted across the sward from the kitchens.
Waiting for a groomsman at the stable door, he breathed in the heavy scent of
hay. Thudding hooves, soft whickerings, and calming voices drifted to him. A
lump formed in his throat. He’d forgotten what it meant to come home.
Craelin touched his arm. “Give it time, Kai. None
but a fool would think you gave less than your all for Elcon or Shae.”

 

Kai wanted to shout that his all hadn’t been
enough. He’d failed Shae, and he had failed Elcon.
Posted in Christian Fiction | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Review of DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt

DawnSinger

Review of DawnSinger by Janalyn Voigt

 

Shae always wonders why she’s not more like her sister who always seems to do and say the correct things. Her brother, Kai, must come to her rescue time and again when her adventurous spirit lures her into trouble.

When the dying queen of Faeraven summons Shae to her side, Kai accompanies her on the long journey fraught with peril, as her protector.

Once at Faeraven, Shae encounters a musician who reaches out to her in her dreams with an almost otherworldly touch. While trying to understand her fascination with this man, Shae learns Kai is not her brother as she believed. Kai perpetuated the ruse in order to protect Shae from certain death because of a prophecy that only she can fulfill.

Kai and Shae must travel through dangerous lands in order for Shae to meet her destiny and release the Dawn King. In their travels they encounter wild beasts, and supernatural creatures all while Shae tries resist the musician’s call.

In DawnSinger, Janalyn weaves a tale of love, honor, duty, and betrayal. The story is well-written with imaginative creatures and creative lands.   While the story is considered Christian fiction and has undertones of Christianity and Biblical allegory, it doesn’t come across preachy in the least.

The novel is the first in the series and worth the time to read. It’s geared toward adults, but mature teens would enjoy it also. I did have trouble keeping all of the names straight. At times, it felt as though I was learning a new language with all of the beasts, characters, and every day items used.

Overall the novel was a great read and I look forward to the next in the series.

To purchase DawnSinger, or the other titles in the Faeraven series, visit Janalyn Voigt’s website: http://janalynvoigt.com/

 

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Revolutionary Love


Mark 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Bibles, Crossway (2012-01-23). The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (without Cross-References) (p. 849). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
 

Revolutionary Love

Love the Lord and love others. It sounds so simple, yet as Christians we often fall short. When Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves, he wasn’t talking about our literal neighbors – those who live on either side of us. He was talking about those we come in contact with.

Most of us would say, “Of course I love others…” but what about the man who cut us off in traffic earlier? Or the woman who told lies about us? What about the friend who divulged our secrets? What about the tattooed stranger? What about the woman with the purple Mohawk? What about the gay couple who live next door? What about the atheist who ridicules our faith? What about the radical Muslim who wants us dead? What about the leader of the opposing political party? What about the TV executive who gives the ax to a Christian program? What about the store clerk who refuses to say “Merry Christmas”? What about the person who hates Christians and wishes we would all just curl up and die? I could go on, but you get the picture. Sometimes it’s difficult to love others – much less love others as we love ourselves.

What would happen if we, as Christians, left religion behind, focused on Jesus and mirrored his radical, revolutionary love? One line in the song above says “the whores all seem to love him.” Jesus went to those who were lost and hurting, and he loved them with abandon.  If we loved others – even those we see as enemies – like Jesus loves them, what would happen?

A revolutionary love would change our world. Jesus died for us – if that’s not a revolutionary love, I don’t know what is. If we stepped out and blessed those who curse us, loved those we see as unlovable, we could make a real difference in our communities.

What does revolutionary love look like?

If it’s the gay couple next door, reach out and make friends with them. Love them. Treat them with respect and kindness. Chances are they’ve never had a Christian treat them with love and kindness.

The girl with the purple Mohawk? She may be the nicest young woman you could ever meet, but you won’t know that until you take the first step to reach out and treat her with love. She may need a genuine friend who will love her without judgment.

An atheist who ridicules you? Invite him to dinner – it will really confuse him. If we stop butting heads with those who don’t believe like we do, put feet to our faith, and treat them with love, they won’t know what to think.

What about the woman who told the awful lies about us? Forgive her. I’m not saying to keep going back for more, but forgive and keep quiet about it. Don’t try to get even by telling everyone what she did. Give her to the Lord. My young cousin taught me a tremendous lesson on this. A girl she went to school with spread some awful, painful lies about her. To the point that my cousin wanted to quit school.

After the dust had settled, and the lies had died down, the girl needed a ride to a game, and if she didn’t find a ride, she wouldn’t get to play. My cousin asked her mother to take the girl. She had forgiven her, and she treated the child with love in spite of the horrible pain the girl had caused. How loud did those actions speak to that child? I know they spoke very loudly to me. If a junior high girl can show a revolutionary love to a “mean girl”, then why can’t we as adult Christians show love to those who hurt us?

Instead of protesting and fighting others at every turn, why don’t we try something radical? Love them. Just as they are – without trying to change them. If we love them as we love ourselves, then we might show them a smidgen of the love that Jesus has for them.

Let’s start a revolution! One fought with love…

 

 

 

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