Thursday, July 29, 2021

Mysteries of the Messiah by Rabbi Jason Sobel

Are you settling for half the story? Highlighting connections that have been hidden from non-Jewish eyes, Rabbi Jason Sobel will connect the dots between the Old and New Testament, helping you see the Bible with clarity as God intended. Most people—even people of faith—do not understand how the Bible fits together. Too many Christians accept half an inheritance, content to embrace merely the New Testament, while Jewish people may often experience the same by embracing only the Old Testament. But God has an intricate plan and purpose for both the Old and the New. In Mysteries of the Messiah, Rabbi Jason Sobel reveals the many connections in Scripture hidden in plain sight. Known for his emphatic declaration “but there’s more!” he guides us in seeing the passion and purpose of the Messiah. Mysteries of the Messiah: Uncovers connections between the Old and New Testaments Connects the dots for readers with details about Jesus, the Torah, and biblical characters Written with the unique perspective of a rabbi with an evangelical theological degree No matter how many times you have read the Bible, Mysteries of the Messiah will bring fresh perspective and insight. God’s Word, written by many people over thousands of years, is not a random selection of people and stories. Rabbi Jason Sobel connects the dots and helps us see with clarity what God intended. About the Author Raised in a Jewish home in New Jersey, Rabbi Jason Sobel dedicated much of his life in pursuit of a spiritual connection with God. After years of seeking and studying, he encountered God and found his true destiny as a Jewish follower of Yeshua (Jesus). Suddenly, all the traditions Rabbi Jason grew up with took on new depth and meaning as God connected the ancient wisdom of the Torah with the teachings of the Messiah. Rabbi Jason received his rabbinic ordination from the UMJC (Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations) in 2005. He has a B.A. in Jewish Studies (Moody) and an M.A. in Intercultural Studies (Southeastern Seminary). He is a sought-after speaker and has made multiple appearances on national television, including the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Daystar Network, and the Dr. Oz Show. Rabbi Jason is the author of Breakthrough: Living a Life That Overflows, Aligning with God's Appointed Times, and Mysteries of the Messiah and he is also the coauthor of New York Times bestseller The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi with Kathie Lee Gifford. You can learn more at www.rabbisobel.com. Read an Excerpt As a young Jewish boy growing up on the streets of New Jersey, I encountered many things that influenced me. My parents and their faith were my heritage, but my friends and their ways were different. It was a little challenging to reconcile everything. But while I became fluent in the culture, even learning how to “rap with my homies,” I remained faithful to our Jewish tradition. Not just because I had to but because I wanted to. Yet I often felt there was something more. At the age of sixteen I found myself one day in a state of meditation. This was something I did regularly as I attempted to figure out things in the midst of a world that was constantly pulling me away from spiritual things. It was an ordinary day but a truly extraordinary experience in that I had a personal encounter with Yeshua. This was the first time I’d ever felt as though the Lord was speaking directly to me. It was so unbelievable and yet so real, and I will never forget His words. He said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” In my innermost being I knew exactly what he was saying, but I needed to ask, “Lord, am I chosen?” He sweetly smiled and replied, “Yes.” I was overcome by the peace and presence of God— energized and in awe of the experience. I felt as if I were in a state of euphoria. This filling, which was much like an indwelling, kept me in a state of deep contentment. I ran down the steps and into my front yard. Not caring who was watching, I jumped up and down, screaming at the top of my lungs, “I am called to serve Him! I am called to serve Him!” At this same moment my mom pulled into the driveway and saw her good little Jewish son running around in circles like a crazy man for all the neighbors to gawk at. Surely she thought I was mashugana (a Yiddish term describing a person who is nonsensical or silly). I didn’t care; I was so elated by the fact that God, the God who created the universe, wanted to use me. Although she did not understand what was happening to me, my mother did not want to rain on my parade. There was only one problem. I wondered, What does it look like for a nice Jewish boy to begin serving Yeshua? I had no clue. My best friend was John. I met him as part of a wannabe Filipino gang. We became close, practicing martial arts together and discussing spiritual things. By this time, John had become a believer in Yeshua and talked about it with me as often as possible. One day he called and asked, “You went to Hebrew school as a child, right? Do you think you could tell the difference between the Old and New Testaments if I read you some passages?” I said, “Sure.” He read me a passage about this guy dying on a cross and asked if it was from the Old or New Testament. I said, “Obviously it’s from the New Testament because it’s talking about Jesus.” He read another passage: “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. . . . He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.” Then he asked, “Is this from the Old or New Testament?” I said, “It must be from the New Testament because it sounds like it’s talking about Jesus.” John paused, then said, “It’s from the Old Testament, from Isaiah 53 (vv. 5, 7 niv). Isaiah was a Jewish prophet who lived seven hundred years before the Messiah was born.” That got my attention. After our conversation I agreed to go with John to the messianic synagogue led by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who would later write the highly acclaimed and bestselling book The Harbinger. During the service, Rabbi Cahn talked about being “born anew,” but I didn’t think a good Jewish boy should ever do that. However, when he gave the invitation, I stood up. Rabbi Cahn led me in a prayer to receive Yeshua. My friend had prayed to lead one Jewish person to faith in Messiah Jesus, but he never thought it would be me. After the service I was given the first New Testament I had ever seen. I took it home, not quite sure what had just happened, and hid it in my room— God forbid my parents should find it. Of course, Mom did find it and confronted me: “What is this? Don’t tell me you’re a Jew thinking about believing in Jesus!” By then, I had read the New Testament and believed that Jesus was the One that Moses and the prophets had foretold. He was the One who spoke the words of eternal life. My mom was concerned and called our rabbi to meet with me. I knew I needed to verify for myself that Yeshua was the Messiah of the Hebrew Bible. As I studied in preparation for my meeting with the rabbi, I made a list of all the messianic promises and prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures that I could find. I wanted to make sure I clearly understood and could articulate what I believed about the Messiah based on the Hebrew Bible and Jewish sources. The rabbi asked me how I had come to believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, and I read all the passages that had impacted me. I believe that by discovering the connections between the Old Testament and New Testament, your life can be transformed like mine. I liken it to experiencing your faith in high definition. When you “see” Jesus and the Bible in HD, you enjoy greater richness, sharpness, and clarity of details that you would have otherwise missed. Taken from Mysteries of the Messiah: Unveiling Divine Connections from Genesis to Today by Rabbi Jason Sobel. Copyright 2021 by Rabbi Jason Sobel. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Song of All Songs by Donna Dechen Birdwell

 

Long after the apocalypse, Earth has repeopled itself. 

Twice.





By Donna Dechen Birdwell

Title: SONG OF ALL SONGS: EARTHCYCLES BOOK ONE
Author: Donna Dechen Birdwell
Publisher: Wide World Home
Pages: 375
Genre: Science Fiction

BOOK BLURB:

Long after the apocalypse, Earth has repeopled itself. Twice.

Despised by her mother’s people and demeaned by her absent father’s legacy, Meridia has one friend—Damon, an eccentric photologist. When Damon shows Meridia a stone he discovered in an old photo bag purchased from a vagrant peddler, she is transfixed. There’s a woman, she says, a dancing woman. And a song. Can a rock hold a song? Can a song contain worlds? Oblivious of mounting political turmoil, the two set out to find the old peddler, to find out what he knows about the stone, the woman, and the song. But marauding zealots attack and take Damon captive, leaving Meridia alone. Desolate. Terrified. Yet determined to carry on, to pursue the stone’s extraordinary song, even as it lures her into a journey that will transform her world.





The old man picks his way through the darkened hallway of the columbarium. A scent of burnt wood stains the stale air as he listens for the chirps and hums and breathy purrs. The three stones in his pocket pulse warm against his hand, indicating that he’s drawing near to another of their kind. He passes his hand along the seal of the niche and opens it, smiling at the bright turquoise that winks at him from among the ashes inside the urn. He cradles the stone in his hand, relishing the notes it sends coursing through his body, the longing for home and family. But this isn’t the stone Abél is looking for. He puts it back into the urn and replaces the urn in its chamber. With a single syllable, he re-seals the niche.

Humming softly in harmony with some of the stones, in counterpoint to others, Abél moves on. Day is coming and he knows he must get well away from the temple grounds before the sun rises. He’s been accused of theft before. He knows he’s not the thief. A sigh of regret sifts through his head as he turns toward the space outlined in sepia light. The way out.

A sudden buzzing between his brows draws him up short. The stones in his pocket quiver and squeal, directing his attention to a chamber to his left. A purple glow emanates from within it. This one is newly sealed and easy to open. The urn inside is particularly elaborate—unusual for these austere days. Is that real gold outlining the figure on its lid? The figure looks like a tree in flames.

Abél looks back at the cover stone he removed from the niche and squints hard at the writing on it, trying to make sense of the letters. A name comes into focus.

“So it’s you,” he mutters. “And this is how they try to own you?” The little stones resound to the silken clarity of his voice. He lifts the lid from the urn and is overwhelmed by a steady brilliance. The purple stone fills the palm of his hand. It’s warm to his touch and resonates with more colors deep in its core.

He knows this stone. Not long ago, it was his own.

But something is wrong. He places the stone in his pocket and reaches back inside the urn, digging into the ashes. He digs deeper and lets the ashes run through his fingers. And then he knows. These are wood ashes. There are no remains here.

“This one has continued,” Abél whispers. The space between his eyes pulses and his throat constricts around the unvoiced words. This one is still among us. 




















When Donna Dechen Birdwell was about ten years old, she became obsessed with the idea that if she was thinking with her brain, she ought to be able to think how it works! She’s been trying to wrap her mind around reality (and how humans experience it) ever since. She made a career out of anthropology—that utterly boundless science of humankind and how we got here—and then sidestepped into Buddhist philosophy and then art and photography and writing stories that tend to fall somewhere in the neighborhood of speculative and/or science fiction. She’s a big fan of Ursula LeGuin and N.K. Jemisin.

In her EarthCycles series, Donna imagines a far, far future world in which pockets of survivors of a global apocalypse have evolved new ways of being human. “Not altogether new,” she says. “More like rearrangements of certain aspects of our inherent human potential.” The first volume of EarthCycles, Song of All Songs, received the 2020 silver medal from Self Publishing Review. The book introduces a mixed-race main character making her unique way through a deeply conflicted world. The second book in the series, Book of All Time, is set for release in August of 2021.

Donna’s first trilogy (Recall Chronicles) is set in a hauntingly familiar 22nd-century world in which nobody grows old, an achievement that turns out to be not nearly so utopian as one might expect. Each volume tells the story of a different character’s experience of that world, but the stories are intertwined and some of the same characters turn up in all the books.

A stand-alone contemporary fiction book, Not Knowing, explores intergenerational PTSD in the life of an archaeologist working in Belize. Donna worked as an ethnologist in Belize for many years, so there’s a lot of her heart in this one.

Before anthropology, Donna worked as a newspaper reporter, and beyond anthropology she studied Buddhist philosophy (and practice) and then became an artist and photographer. Her paintings are done in acrylics on handmade Nepali lokta paper. Her primary photographic interest is in Miksang contemplative photography.

Donna earned her Ph.D. in anthropology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and previously taught at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas.


Website: https://donnadechenbirdwell.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/donnadechen/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wideworldhome/








Sponsored By:

My Take: This was a good post apocalypse story. There was a human against almost human conflict. I can't wait to see what happens in the sequel. This is the first book in the Earthcycles series and the world in this series is very good and I was very interested which I have a hard time getting into fantasy. I would recommend this book if you like fantasy books or even if you don't because like I said I don't really get into fatasy books. I received a review copy of this book from Pump up Your book tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Laurel's Marvelous Kingdom by Monique Roy and Illustrated by Lauren Curtis

 



A story that teaches important life lessons of kindness, love and believing in doing what is right...



By Monique Roy

Title: LAUREL’S MARVELOUS KINGDOM
Author: Monique Roy
Publisher: Writer’s Republic
Pages: 36
Genre: Children

BOOK BLURB:

When the wicked witch of the land snatches up Princess Astrid, her sister, Princess Laurel, realizes it will take more than her plant-growing superpowers to rescue her. With the help of a handsome prince, Laurel rides deep into the dark forest in search of the witch’s den.

To her horror, Laurel discovers that Astrid is jealous of her superpowers, and has teamed up with the witch to weaken Laurel’s powers. Now, Laurel must convince Astrid to abandon her evil ways and return to goodness — before the witch and Astrid shed harm onto the kingdom.

This fairy tale story will enliven the imagination of children with a little witchy fun in between. The story teaches children about what makes us unique, appreciating your special characteristics, and doing what you love.

PRAISE

This short meaningful story took us on a wonderful journey teaching the messages of kindness to others, fortitude and determination to do what is right and the beauty of unconditional love. There’s forces of good and evil at play. The colorful writing Monique penned brings imagination to life. A perfect book for the young reader. – Amazon Reader




A young, beautiful princess named Laurel lived in a marvelous kingdom where steep, gray mountains touched the clouds and a long, zigzagging river flowed around forests. 
 She was more than a pretty princess who dwelled in a giant castle. Laurel possessed a magical power—with a single touch of her hand or a single tear from her eyes, she could make trees grow, flowers blossom, and plants flourish. Her name signified the beauty all the trees, plants, and flowers gave to the Earth. She was greatly admired by all, except a few who were jealous and evil.

 


















Monique Roy’s passion for writing began as a young girl while penning stories in a journal. Now she looks forward to deepening her passion by creating many unique stories that do nothing less than intrigue her readers.

Monique holds a degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and is the author of a middle-grade book Once Upon a Time in Venice, historical fiction novel Across Great Divides, historical fiction novel A Savage Kultur, and children’s book Laurel’s Marvelous Kingdom.

Monique was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and her grandparents were European Jews who fled their home as Hitler rose to power. It’s their story that inspired her to write Across Great Divides, her first historical novel.

Historical fiction lets you escape to another time and place; and Monique likes to explore the past so that we can potentially better understand the future.

Monique resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and son. She also works as a freelance writer.

WEBSITE | TWITTER



 






Sponsored By:

My Take: This is a great story for kids who are pre teen and younger who like fairy tales. This is a story about a young girl her sister and the Prince of course. There is also a wicked witch to spice things up a bit. I can't wait to read this to my grandsons the next time they come over. The granddaughters may also like it but I think mine are a bit too old for this story. The story is cute and has all the tyical fairy tale features. I received a review copy of this book from Pump Up Your book tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Woman In Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks

Woman in Shadow

by Carrie Stuart Parks

July 12-23, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks combines her expertise as a forensic artist with her ability to craft a gripping story in this page-turning web of light and shadow.

A woman off the grid.

Darby Graham thinks she's on a much-needed vacation in remote Idaho to relax. But before she even arrives at the ranch, an earthquake strikes—her first clue that something is amiss. Then when a cabin on the edge of town is engulfed in flames and problems at the ranch escalate, Darby finds herself immersed in a chilling mystery.

A town on fire.

A serial arsonist sends taunting letters to the press after each fire. As a forensic linguist, this is Darby’s area of expertise . . . but the scars it’s caused her also the reason she’s trying to escape from her life.

A growing darkness.

As the shadows continue to move in, the pieces of the town around her come into sharper focus. Can she trust the one man who sees her clearly?

Praise for Woman in Shadow:

“Unique, witty, and hilarious, Carrie's voice shines throughout Woman in Shadow. The perfect mix of intrigue, mystery and danger, this is most definitely a book for my keeper shelf.”
Dani Pettrey, bestselling author of the Coastal Guardians series

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery/Suspense
Published by: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: July 13th 2021
Number of Pages: 336
ISBN: 0785239847 (ISBN13: 9780785239840)
Series: Woman in Shadow is not a part of a series.
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Targhee Falls, Idaho

“Why are those dogs barking?” I pointed across the wooden picnic table toward two obviously upset canines yelping nearby.

A man staring at a clipboard didn’t look up. “They’re dogs. That’s what they do. Are you Darby Graham?”

“Yes.”

The man checked something on his clipboard. “Good. You’re all here.” He had to speak up to be heard over the commotion.

Before I could ask about the dogs again, he turned and strolled toward the nearby general store.

Although the man seemed unmoved by the dogs’ distress, the other people seated around me on Adirondack chairs or at picnic tables had stopped speaking to each other and were staring. The dogs—a black Lab cross with hound-length ears, and a huge Great Dane mix—both had their tails tucked between their legs and were howling.

The picnic table trembled.

I lifted my hands off the rough pine surface but could still feel the movement under my body. A flock of birds burst from the treetops. Pinecones dropped to the ground from the towering ponderosas.

Earthquake.

I was seated near the general store, just below a plate-glass window. The glass rippled, then rattled.

Heart thudding, I dove under the table. The ground rolled under me like ocean waves. A low rumbling was followed by car alarms going off from the parking lot on the other side of the store.

The black Lab flew under the table and landed in my lap. I wrapped my arms around the quivering dog, feeling the prominent bones of her spine and rib cage. “It’s okay there, girl. You’re safe. Your big buddy isn’t so scared—”

The second quaking dog joined us, his large body pressing against my back.

The earthquake ended.

“All over.” I reached around and scratched the Dane’s chest, feeling more bones. Didn’t anyone ever feed these dogs?

Both dogs seemed content to stay put, but the weight of the Lab—even though she was too thin—was still more than my leg was used to and it was rapidly going to sleep. “Come on, sweet girl, time to get up,” I whispered.

Both dogs took the hint.

On the other hand, here under the table seemed a nice place to stay. Tucked into the shadows, I didn’t need to worry about anyone staring at me. I had room to stretch out and could smell the cut grass. I’d be prepared should another earthquake come. And my assignment was to maintain a low profile. Sitting on the ground under a table seemed to be as low profile as I could get.

Two legs appeared next to me. “Miss Graham?”

Flapperdoodle. Mr. Clipboard found me.

I crawled between the bench and table, sliding onto the seat, then glanced around. Several other people had taken similar action. Only Clipboard had noticed my reluctance to leave my hiding place.

One by one, the car alarms stopped. The slight breeze stirred the fragrance of fallen pine needles.

Mr. Clipboard stared at me for a moment, then turned toward the others. He was holding a number of fabric bags imprinted with Mule Shoe Ranch. “Don’t be worried, folks. The town of Targhee Falls is less than fifteen miles from Yellowstone. The national park routinely has between one and three thousand quakes a year—”

“Excuse me, but I’ve heard most of those quakes aren’t noticeable,” a gray-haired woman in a denim shirt said.

“Obviously some are.” The man gave her a rueful half smile and started handing out the bags after checking the attached name tags. “I’m Sam, owner of the general store over there.” He nodded toward the building featuring a two-story false front and wooden sidewalk. The peeling sign said Sam’s Mercantile. “I provide Mule Shoe with transportation, supplies, and assistance during team-building exercises. Inside these bags you’ll find a great deal of information about your stay at the ranch. The owner, Roy Zaring, wanted you to have these while you’re waiting for your transportation—”

“When will that be?” asked a handsome teen with flawless olive skin and a thick lock of black hair. “I’m not getting any cell service here.” He held up his phone. An impeccably dressed man and woman sitting at the same table gave each other sideways glances.

Sam finished handing out the bags, turned, and looked at the youth. “Those your folks?” His gaze flickered to the two people sitting with the young man.

“Yeah.”

“And I’m guessing your mom? Dad? Both? Told you they were here to take a team-building—”

“Watercolor workshop.”

“A five-day art class in the wilds of Idaho, right?”

“Yeeeaah.”

“Son, the Mule Shoe Dude Ranch is a primitive facility. No Wi-Fi. No cell reception. No television, radio . . . no electricity. You’ll have a cabin with a fireplace, a composting toilet, and a lantern at night.”

The color drained from the young man’s face. “What?” he whispered.

“That reminds me,” Sam said. “I’ll collect your cell phones and will keep them here and charged for when you return.”

I reached into my purse, took out my phone, and placed it on the table for Sam to collect. Whose brilliant idea was it to send me on assignment to a primitive facility when they know I need my computer and electricity? And five days with all these strangers? I wouldn’t even need to unpack.

“Don’t worry.” An attractive older woman sitting on a wooden Adirondack chair grinned at the boy. “There’s plenty of hot water for showers, courtesy of the natural geothermal environment. The water’s gravity fed and the food is world-class.” She looked around at all of us. “I’ve had an interest in the Mule Shoe and was here last summer, although I have to admit, I prefer to visit this time of year. Late September is perfect. You all are going to love it.”

The young man’s lips compressed into a thin line, and he seemed loath to let go of his cell. Sam kept tugging the phone until the youth relinquished it. “But what is there to do?” he asked no one in particular.

“Most of us are here for the art lessons.” Denim Shirt reached into her bag, pulled out a piece of paper, and held it up. “Listen.” She read from it. “‘You’ll find trail rides, fishing, canoeing, gold panning, mineral collecting, archery, photography, hiking, campfires, swimming—’”

“That’s what I mean.” The young man ran his hand through his hair. “There’s nothing to do.”

I tugged out the same brochure. Welcome, honored guests. We look forward to serving you during your stay with us. Your experiences here will be unforgettable for all the right reasons! You should bring to Mule Shoe your mindset for success.

Yeah, right. I’d like to set my mind on getting in, getting done, and getting home. “Sam, you mentioned transportation . . .”

“Horse and wagon.”

I was afraid of that. “Do you have a regular timetable?”

This time Sam actually focused on me. “No. The horse and wagon are available on an as-needed basis, mostly to transport new groups and supplies.”

From bad to worse. I was stuck. Now would be a good time to find a bathroom. Riding a bumpy, horse-drawn wagon would be uncomfortable enough without a full bladder. Besides, if I left now, no one would notice my slight limp. I normally wanted to be invisible, to disappear into a crowd. When Scott Thomas, my counselor, told me not to stand out, to blend in, he didn’t have to say it twice. Your final assignment before leaving us here in Clan Firinn is to check out Mule Shoe Ranch. We’ve heard rumblings that something’s not right. You’ll be registered as a guest. I’ll tell you more once you get there.

I was irritated at being sent out like this with no idea of what was expected. I now know why. Had I known I wouldn’t be able to use my computer programs or the internet, I would have put my foot down. I was fortunate to have a good memory for words.

I’d heard through the Clan Firinn grapevine that those getting ready to leave—“graduate” as they called it—would have a project that would test their progress toward wholeness. I figured they’d find out soon enough that I wasn’t ready to leave.

I rose, picked up my purse, and made my way to the general store. A cowbell jangled as I entered. “‘I got a fever,’” I muttered. “‘And the only prescription is more cowbell.’” The line made me smile. Why worry about earthquakes, lack of electricity, and the inability to do my work when the world needed more cowbell?

“What?” A young, freckle-faced woman with a smear of dirt on her nose stopped replacing items on the shelf.

“Iconic Saturday Night Live line—more cowbell?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” The interior had old oak floors, a tin ceiling, and a long counter with a glass display case. The sun through the window spotlighted twirling dust motes. Various cans still littered the floor, courtesy of the earthquake.

“Just let me know if ya need something.”

“Powder room?”

“Huh?”

“WC?”

“I think we’re sold out.”

“John? Head? Loo? Restroom?”

“Toilet?” She nodded to her right.

Fortunately, the primitive conditions did not include the store bathroom. Returning to the store, I picked up a can of soup that had rolled near me. “Do you know anything about those two dogs?” I handed her the can.

“Why are ya asking?” The woman placed it on the shelf.

“They just seem thin, that’s all.”

“Yeah, well.” She adjusted the display. “Sam’s been feeding ’em, but that’s gonna stop.”

My neck tingled. “I don’t understand.” I gave her a steady gaze.

She paused her work and looked around. We were alone in the store, but she dropped her voice to just above a whisper. “He’s just waitin’ for all of you to leave to the ranch.”

The tingling grew to an itch. My years of training as a forensic linguist kicked in, even though I was rusty. I grew very still and waited, listening for more clues in her language.

She gave up straightening the cans. “It’s like this: The dogs were owned by an old lady. I bet she was, like, at least forty.”

“Positively ancient. One foot in the grave.” I gave her a slight smile.

“Right. Her name was Shadow Woman. That’s what everyone called her. Well, that’s the nice name anyway. She was, like, a hermit, but a pretty good artist.” She jerked her thumb at a drawing on the wall behind the cash register.

Were owned, was. Past tense. I widened my smile to encourage her. “Why did everyone call her Shadow Woman?”

The clerk gnawed on a hangnail for a moment. “I guess ’cause she was weird, ya know, like she lived in the shadows. Creepy. Always showed up here at the store at dusk or when it was dark. Sam said she could sneak right up next to you in the shadows and you’d never see her. And her face was weird.”

“Weird how?”

“Like, really weird.”

“Ah, that clarifies it. Where did she come from?”

“Sam said she ran away from a group home near Smelterville.”

“I can’t imagine why.”

“Right, you know? No one wanted her. Anyway, she owned Holly—that’s the Lab mix—and Maverick, the Anna-toolian sheepdog.”

“Anatolian? From Anatolia in Asia Minor?”

“Yeah, that’s what I said.”

“Of course. I thought the big dog was half Great Dane, half mastiff.”

“Nope. Sam looked it up. Anna-whatevers are super-expensive livestock guard dogs from Turkey or France, I forget which.”

“They are such similar countries,” I murmured.

“Right. So anyway, Sam was surprised that Shadow Woman had one.”

Sam looked it up. Looking for value? Surprised that Shadow Woman had one. Not just a hermit but poor? Broke? “I see.” I leaned slightly against the shelving unit. “You mentioned Shadow . . .”

“Right. Um . . . so Shadow Woman came to town like once a month with her mule, like I said, always after sunset, and bought stuff, like Spam. She’d usually pay her bill about every other month. The dogs always came with her. Six months ago, you know, she stopped coming.”

“Let me guess. She owed Sam a lot of money.”

“Right. Boy-howdy was he steamed about it. Then he, you know, got a check and note from the old woman to pay her bill, but the check bounced higher than a buckin’ bronco.”

“Did anyone follow up, call the police?”

“Not right away ’cause the dogs moved in, first Holly, then Maverick. So, you know, Sam started to feed them. And . . . I think someone changed his mind on what to do with the dogs.”

Cluster of you knows. Sensitive topic. I kept my gaze on her and nodded again.

She glanced down and plucked a piece of lint from her sleeve. “Sam always said he’d get his pound of flesh from her, whatever that means.”

“I’m sure it originated in Turkey or France.”

“Right. Foreign-like. Um . . . Sam finally got close enough to Maverick to see he’d been spayed.”

“Neutered?”

“What?”

“Never mind.” A neutered dog was of zero value, and Sam stopped feeding them. I made an effort to unclench my hands. “How have the dogs survived?”

“You know, folks around town feel sorry for them . . .”

The cowbell jangled.

The clerk straightened and glanced in that direction. Her cheeks flamed and her tongue flickered out to moisten her lips.

I turned.

A sheriff’s deputy charged to the bathroom, disappeared for a few moments, then reappeared and sauntered toward us, replacing fallen items on the shelves. His ordinary brown hair was the only average thing about him. He was otherwise a walking modern-day Adonis, his face chiseled by a master carver. He finally looked up and smiled at the clerk, exposing more teeth than the Osmond family, and seemed to enjoy her reaction to his arrival.

My hand automatically reached to fluff my hair. I stopped and squared my oversized glasses instead.

He looked at me, his eyes widening. “Hello there. I’m Bram White.”

“I’m—”

“Leaving,” the clerk said. “Goin’ to Mule Shoe. She’s a guest.”

“Darby Graham.” I glanced at his holstered pistol, then out the window at the two dogs lying under a tree. Check bounced. Sam’s been feeding ’em, but that’s gonna stop. Pound of flesh.

Deputy Bram glanced at his watch.

My neck was crawling with reasons to scratch it.

“Can I get you a Coke or somethin’?” she asked me. “It shouldn’t be long.” The clerk moved toward an ancient cooler. “I’d bet the wagon got slowed down by the earthquake.”

The two dogs began barking.

“See? I told ya. Betcha that’s the wagon now.” The clerk moved toward the front of the store, brushing past Bram. “Excuse me,” she said. At the window, she glanced out, then looked at the officer. “Yep. The wagon’s here.” Without taking her eyes from Bram, she said to me, “You can go now.”

Sam stuck his head in the door. “Miss Graham? Time to leave.” He spotted Bram and gave the man a quick nod.

I gave in and scratched my neck. This was none of my business. No need to get involved. No reason to draw attention to myself. Low profile. Right. I straightened. “I think I’ll wait here. Catch the next wagon.” The words came out without my thinking, but they seemed right.

Sam moved into the store. “I’m sorry, Miss Graham, there won’t be a next wagon. It’s quite a distance to the ranch and it’s getting late. You’ll need to leave now.” He wiped his hands on his slacks, glanced at the clerk, then at the deputy.

The itch was now a full-scale conviction. “Your clerk here—”

“Julia?” Sam glared at the clerk.

“Was telling me about Shadow Woman. And her dogs.”

Bram folded his arms.

Sam opened the door behind him and waved for me to exit. “Miss Graham, I really see that as none of your business.”

Go now. Run. You have nothing to offer. Well . . . almost nothing. I slowly walked over to the counter. “I know Shadow Woman’s check bounced. How much money did she owe you? And how much to cover all the dog food?” I opened my purse.

“How many times have I warned you to keep your piehole shut!” Sam said to Julia.

“I didn’t say nothin’!” Julia crossed her arms. “She figured it out on her own.”

Sam closed the door and approached me, both hands held out as if to show goodwill. “I don’t know what it is that you figured out, Miss Graham, but—”

“Please don’t try lying to me, Sam.” I pulled out my checkbook. “You figured the Anatolian dog would pay Shadow Woman’s bill, but when you saw he was neutered, he had no more value to you. The minute I leave, you’re going to have Deputy White here shoot both dogs. Your pound of flesh.” I stared into his eyes. “I intend to stop you.”

***

Excerpt from Woman in Shadow by Carrie Stuart Parks. Copyright 2021 by Carrie Stuart Parks. Reproduced with permission from Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy, multiple Carol, and Inspy Award–winning author. She was a 2019 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mainstream mystery/suspense and has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Catch Up With Carrie:

www.CarrieStuartParks.com
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BookBub - @CarrieStuartParks
Instagram - @CarrieStuartParks
Facebook - @CarrieStuartParksAuthor

Or Join the Conversation on Twitter - #CarrieStuartParks

 

 

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My Take: I really liked this book, I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I even told my husband to read it on Audible( alas I didn't marry a reader but he does enjoy audio books), I liked all of characters until the ed when the true bad guys were revealed. I was interested in the effects of PTSD and how it effects our main characters life. This was truly a suspensful read and it had me on the edge of my seat and turning pages as fast as could while reading to see what was going to happen next. I liked how the author weaved in what she does with forensic art into the story. It was really interesting. I would highly recommend this book. I received a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime book tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Life and other Complications by Heather Mullaly

This is my post during the blog tour for Life and Other Complications by Heather Mullaly. Life and Other Complications is a new young adult contemporary book by Heather Mullaly in which a 17 year old girl can't bring herself to tell her friends the truth about how she contracted HIV so she writes to the one person who might understand, a girl she's never met. This blog tour is organized by Lola's Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 5 till 18 July. See the tour schedule here: http://www.lolasblogtours.net/blog-tour-life-and-other-complication- by-heather-mullaly Life and Other Complications By Heather Mullaly Genre: Contemporary Age category: Young Adult Release Date: 5 July, 2021 Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Aly Bennett has been in love with her friend Luke for years. She hasn't told him how she feels for two reasons. 1) She's the girl with HIV. 2) She lied about how she got it. Aly never meant to lie. The words just slipped out on her first day of a support group for kids living with life-threatening conditions. It was the day she met Luke and Caroline, who would become her best friends and the closest thing she has to a family. After so many years, Aly doesn’t know how to tell her friends the truth. So she paints and she runs and she tries not to think about the future she can’t have. But when a Boston prosecutor asks Aly to testify in a trial—and her relationship with Luke intensifies—things become complicated. If she testifies, Luke and Caroline will learn the truth —that Aly has been lying to them for most of a decade. If she doesn’t, a monster could go free, again. Links: - Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57737582-life-and-other-complications - Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/life-and-other-complications-by-heather-mullaly - Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091FVTRP1 - Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/life-and-other-complications - Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/life-and-other-complications-heather- mullaly/1139415382?ean=9781736477366 - Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/life-and-other-complications/id1566250651 - Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Heather_Mullaly_Life_and_Other_Complications ?id=oEwtEAAAQBAJ - Target: https://www.target.com/p/life-and-other-complications-by-heather-mullaly- paperback/-/A-83325096#lnk=sametab​ About the Author: Heather Mullaly is a passionate believer in the power of story. When she isn’t writing them, reading them, or listening to them, she can usually be found baking something that involves chocolate, thinking up new story ideas before she’s finished the two she’s currently writing, or hanging out with her family, who happen to be even more fantastic than the characters in her head. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their three teenagers. Author links: - Website: http://www.heathermullaly.com - Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/106508034343528 - Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/heather-mullaly - Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Heather-Mullaly/e/B091MCSFY2 Giveaway There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Life and Other Complications. Three winners will win an $10 Amazon gift card. For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway My Take: This is book is filled with emotion and I really felt for the main character as she has to choose between letting a monster go free and her two best friends. If she chooses the monster then her friends will know that she has lied to them since the beginning of their friendship. I don't envy her decision. I sure am glad that I am no longer a teenager when everything felt sooo important and life or death (literally or figuratively). I would like to think that I would be mature enough to forgive but .... I would recommend this book. I recieved a review copy of this book from Lola's tours and was not required to write a positive review.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Something Fishy by Lois Schmitt

Something Fishy

by Lois Schmitt

June 1-30, 2021 Tour

Synopsis:

Something Fishy by Lois Schmitt

When attorney Samuel Wong goes missing. wildlife magazine reporter Kristy Farrell believes the disappearance is tied into her latest story concerning twenty acres of prime beachfront property that the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium hopes to purchase. Sam works for multi-millionaire land developer Lucien Moray who wants to buy the property for an upscale condominium. The waterfront community is divided on this issue like the Hatfields and McCoys with environmentalists siding with the aquarium and local business owners lining up behind Moray.

Meanwhile, a body is found in the bay. Kristy, aided by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers deep secrets among the aquarium staff--secrets that point to one of them as a killer. Soon the aquarium is plagued with accidents, Kristy has a near death encounter with a nine foot bull shark, and a second murder occurs.

But ferreting out the murderer and discovering the story behind Sam's disappearance aren't Kristy's only challenges. When her widowed septuagenarian mother announces her engagement, Kristy suspects her mom's soon to be husband is not all he appears to be. As Kristy tries to find the truth before her mother ties the knot, she also races the clock to find the aquarium killer before this killer strikes again.

Book Details:

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Published by: Encircle Publications
Publication Date: July 15th 2019
Number of Pages: 244
ISBN: 1948338793 (ISBN13: 9781948338790)
Series: A Kristy Farrell Mystery #2 || Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Encircle Publications | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

“Something bad happened to Sam. I know it.”

Katie Chandler’s sea green eyes filled with tears. A sea lion trainer at the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium, Katie had been my daughter’s college roommate.

“Maybe Sam worked late and forgot to call,” I said.

Katie shook her head, her chestnut hair flying in the bay breeze. “No. He hasn’t answered my texts or phone calls. I stopped by his house twice too. No one’s home.”

Silence. I tried thinking of something helpful, or at least hopeful, to say.

“I called the police, Mrs. Farrell. The officer said being stood up for a dinner date isn’t enough for a missing persons case—that maybe it was Sam’s way of breaking up.”

I shifted my gaze to the whitecaps on the bay while Katie’s statement sank into my brain. Perhaps the officer was right. I knew from my daughter Abby that the relationship between Katie Chandler and Samuel Wong had hit a rough patch.

The conflict: Katie, who served as executor of her late grandmother’s charitable trust, was donating six million dollars of this money to the aquarium’s expansion project, which included the acquisition of twenty acres of adjacent land. Sam worked as executive assistant to multi-millionaire developer Lucien Moray who wanted to buy the bay front property for luxury condominiums. What started off as friendly bantering between Katie and Sam had escalated into explosive arguments that had become increasingly personal.

But Katie and Sam weren’t the only ones embroiled in this controversy. The community at large had become like the Hatfields and McCoys. Environmentalists wanted the property to go to the aquarium where it would be used for breeding grounds for endangered species, an aquatic animal rehabilitation center, and a research camp for marine scientists. Local business owners sided with Moray, hoping high end condo owners would bolster the area’s economy. I was writing an article on this for Animal Advocate Magazine. That’s why I was at the aquarium today.

Katie continued, “No matter what happened between us, Sam would never stand me up. He’s my fiancé not someone I picked up a few hours ago at a bar. Besides, Sam came around to my point of view. He had it with Lucien Moray. He hadn’t told anyone but me yet, but he was quitting his job at the end of the year.”

“I’ve an interview later this morning with Moray,” I said. “I’ll check around and see what I can find out. Someone in Moray’s office may know Sam’s whereabouts.”

“What if no one does?”

“Let’s take it one step at a time.” I glanced at my watch, then pushed myself off the rock where I’d been sitting, a task that would have been easier if I were ten years younger and twenty pounds lighter. “Speaking of interviews, my appointment with your aquarium director is in five minutes, so I better head inside. I’ll call you tonight.”

Katie sighed. “Thanks. I should get back to my sea lions too. We’ve a show at eleven.” She rose and stretched her small wiry body. “After the show, I’ll stop at Sam’s house again.”

Katie, shoulders slumped, wandered off in the direction of the outdoor sea lion amphitheater. I stood for a moment, inhaling the salt air while watching a seagull dive into the bay and zoom back to the sky with a fish in its mouth. As the autumn wind sent a sudden chill down my spine, I wrapped my arms around my body, thinking back to when Katie and my Abby attended college. Abby often acted impulsively, out of emotion, but Katie had always been levelheaded, never someone to jump to conclusions. What if Sam is really in trouble? The thought nagged at me as I trekked up the sandy beach and stepped into the building that housed the indoor exhibits.

I made my way down a long corridor, surrounded by floor to ceiling glass tanks housing ocean life from around the world. I paused at the shark tank and marveled at the grace and beauty of these fearsome predators gliding silently through the water, causing hardly a ripple. I would be back here soon. In addition to my article on the land expansion, I was writing a story on ocean predators.

I veered down the administration wing. When I came to a door marked DIRECTOR, I glanced again at my watch. Ten-thirty. Right on time. I knocked.

“Enter,” a booming voice responded. I pulled open the door and stepped inside.

Standing in front of me was a man who appeared to be in his mid-fifties. Noting his polished wingtips, sharply creased trousers, navy blazer, crisp white shirt, and perfectly knotted tie, I wished I’d dusted the sand off my shoes.

We stood face to face. Actually, it was more like face to chest. I was only five feet tall and this man towered over me by at least a foot and a half.

“Commander Conrad West,” he said, extending his arm. His handshake was firm and strong. “You must be Kristy Farrell, the reporter from Animal Advocate Magazine.”

Conrad West stood ramrod straight, probably a throw-back from his military training. A former naval commander—the youngest African American to be appointed a commander in the navy’s history—he had started his career as a medical corpsman. He had been director of the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium since his retirement from the navy last year.

He walked behind his desk and positioned himself in a large swivel chair.

“You may sit,” he said, pointing to a straight back chair facing him.

I slid into the chair, suppressing the urge to playfully salute.

He went straight to the point. “I understand you’re writing about the land acquisition. Have you seen our expansion plans?”

“Yes, and they are impressive. But how will the aquarium come up with the money to buy this land?” I asked, fumbling through my bag for my pad and pen. “You’re competing with the bottomless pockets of Lucien Moray.”

Commander West leaned forward, his hands clasped in front, as if praying that what he was about to say would come true. “The current property owner, Stuart Holland, is a business man who’s not about to forgo a profit. But he’s also an active conservationist and a lifelong resident of this area who would like to see the land used in an environmentally friendly manner. He’s kept it vacant until recent financial loses forced him to put it up for sale.”

The Commander leaned back. “There’ll be no bidding war. He set a price—ten million dollars. The land is worth more, but Stuart wants it to go to us, so he set a price he feels we can reach. If we can raise the money by next summer, the land is ours.”

“Ten million is a high goal.”

He nodded. “More than half of the funding will come from a trust set up by Alicia Wilcox Chandler. We also have one million in reserve that we accumulated during the past few years. Of course, we’re still three million short, but our new development officer is planning an aggressive fundraising campaign with—”

A loud knock on the door interrupted the conversation.

Commander West scowled. “Enter.”

A plump woman with a bad case of acne barged into the room. She wore jeans and a light blue shirt with an aquarium patch on the upper left pocket identifying her as Madge.

“Commander,” she said, slightly out of breath. “We have a problem. The sea lion show is in ten minutes, and Katie just ran out.”

“What do you mean she ran out?”

The woman shrugged. “She took a call on her cell phone, then flew out of the amphitheater.

“Didn’t she say anything?” The scowl hadn’t left his face.

The woman paused, furrowing her eyebrows as if deep in thought. “Oh, yeah. But I don’t know if it had to do with why she left.”

“What did she say?” He appeared to be talking through gritted teeth.

“She said two fishermen found a body floating in the inlet.”

***

Excerpt from Something Fishy by Lois Schmitt. Copyright 2021 by Lois Schmitt. Reproduced with permission from Lois Schmitt. All rights reserved.

 

 

Author Bio:

Lois Schmitt

A mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew, Lois Schmitt combined a love of mysteries with a love of animals in her series featuring wildlife reporter Kristy Farrell. She is a member of several wildlife and humane organizations as well as Mystery Writers of America. Lois worked for many years as a freelance writer and is the author of Smart Spending, a consumer education book for young people. She previously worked as media spokesperson for a local consumer affairs agency and currently teaches at Nassau Community College on Long Island. Lois lives in Massapequa with her family which includes a 120 pound Bernese Mountain Dog. This dog bears a striking resemblance to Archie, a dog of many breeds who looks like a small bear, featured in her Kristy Farrell Mystery Series. Lois was 2nd runner up for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award for Something Fishy.

Catch Up With Our Author:
LoisSchmitt.com
Goodreads
Twitter: @schmittmystery
Facebook: @LoisSchmittAuthor
Instagram: @loisschmittmysteries

 

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Lois Schmitt. There will be TWO winners. TWO (2) winners will each receive (1) Amazon.com Gift Card of varying amounts. The giveaway begins on June 1, 2021 and ends on July 1, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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My Take: This is a cosy mystery that has a bit of a different main character. Kristy Farrell is a wildlife magazine feature writer. This is the second in the series but can be read as a standalone. Kristy is on assignment writing about the Long Island Clam Cove Aquarium. A dead body is found in the local marina and Kristy and her daughter Abby ,a veternaian, try and solve the mystery. This was a good cosy mystery and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes these kind of mysteries. I recieved a review copy of this book from Partners in Crime tours and was not required to write a positive review.