Lone Witness – a novel

Lone Witness #2

Prosecutor Sophie Dawson’s first job in the White Collar division of the Fulton County D.A.’s office is to build a case against a local bank employee who may be cheating clients. But when circumstances beyond her control leave her as the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang, her world is turned upside down.

Former Atlanta police officer turned private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to ensure that Sophie is kept safe. But as threats escalate, they don’t know who they can trust.

Sophie is determined not to back down, but her bank case gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from testifying. Sophie wants to take a stand for what’s right–but can Cooper, who is determined not to be distracted by their growing attraction, keep her safe so that she can finish her pursuit for justice?

Action packed suspense with romance too!  What an unusual turn of events when a prosecutor working on one white collar case is the lone witness to a double murder by a gang member.  The stakes are high for both cases – and Sophie must keep her wits about her to bring justice for both cases.  I never knew who was good and who was bad as I read this novel!

I so enjoyed reading this novel!  It’s the second in the Atlanta Justice series but, except for a couple of characters reappearing – they are friends – this stands alone.  I loved how the characters go to church and talk about the importance of their faith and even wrestle with faith “I’m trying to have faith that God has it all under control, but right now it’s hard.”

This is a great book and I recommend it!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:  Rachel DylanRachel Dylan was a litigator in one of Atlanta’s most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of Deadly Proof and four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids–two dogs and three cats.. She is active on social media and you can visit her website at www.racheldylan.com.

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Together Forever – a novel

Together Forever (Orphan Train, #2)

 

Marianne Neumann has one goal in life: to find her lost younger sister, Sophie. When Marianne takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York, she not only hopes to give children a better life but seeks to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children–firm but tender and funny. Underneath his handsome charm, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden. As the two team up placing orphans amid small railroad towns in Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

I’ve heard talks about the Orphan Trains – some say they were good things as they took children from the overcrowded slums of New York and allowed them to grow up in the Midwest.  Others view the Orphan Trains as negative as the children were merely taken in as indentured servants, exchanging the hard life of New York for the challenging life of a midwestern farmer.  In this novel, Jody Hedlund brings to life both sides – some of the children become beloved children of the childless while others are mistreated.  I loved how the author made it real – it wasn’t easy, yet as Marianne discovers, “Maybe she wouldn’t be able to find them all homes and parents like _____, but if she helped even a few of the children find happiness, wasn’t the pain and heartache worth it?”

Honestly, I can’t imagine taking on a job like Marianne did – riding on a train for several weeks, responsible, with the help of only 1 other adult for 30 children, from babes to teens, and hoping to find good homes for all the kids before returning to New York and doing it all over again.  But it was wonderful to read about her experience and I highly recommend it!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:  Jody Hedlund:  Winner of 2016 Christian Book Award for fiction and Christy Award for historical romance, best-selling author Jody Hedlund writes inspirational historical romances for both youth and adults.

Jody lives in central Michigan with her husband, five busy children, and five spoiled cats. Although Jody prefers to experience daring and dangerous adventures through her characters rather than in real life, she’s learned that a calm existence is simply not meant to be (at least in this phase of her life!).

When she’s not penning another of her page-turning stories, she loves to spend her time reading, especially when it also involves consuming coffee and chocolate.

Blind Betrayal – a novel

Blind Betrayal by Nancy Mehl

 

After two years at the St. Louis U.S. Marshals Office, Casey Sloane is tasked with escorting a reporter to Washington to testify before a grand jury. The reporter’s research on an up-and-coming environmentalist who suddenly disappeared is now even more vital than anticipated.

At first, Casey’s assignment seems routine. But a dangerous attack on the Marshals Office puts everyone on high alert. When Casey and two other Marshals–one a man from her past–are forced on the run with the reporter, they’ll do whatever it takes to protect their witness and make it out alive.

So intense!  What a gripping story!  I never knew what would happen next as the US Marshals try to get their witness safely to Washington DC.  From the beginning I was hooked and literally did not put this book down until it was finished!

I loved how the characters struggled with not knowing what to do next but always knowing they had to do their job, even if it came with a high cost.  And with bombs, kidnappings, car accidents and a lunatic terrorist on the loose, it was a very safe read!  But I loved it and recommend it.  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:  Nancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She’s authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy’s novels have an added touch – something for your spirit as well as your soul. “I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing,” Nancy says. “It’s a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I didn’t believe that this is what He’s called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can’t overcome with His help.”

You can find out more about Nancy by visiting her Web site at: http://www.nancymehl.com. She also is active on the Suspense Sisters: http://www.suspensesisters.blogspot.com and on FaceBook!

Defeating Dementia – A review of a health and wellness book

Defeating Dementia by Richard Furman

Dementia. It’s one of the most dreaded conditions we face as we age. Many people claim they would rather be diagnosed with cancer than dementia or Alzheimer’s. What many don’t realize is that dementia is not a forgone conclusion as we get older. Our own lifestyle choices and habits can have a significant impact–for good or ill–on our chances of developing the disease. And that means there’s hope.

Drawing from the latest medical research, Dr. Richard Furman helps readers understand dementia and Alzheimer’s and shows them how to make three powerful lifestyle changes that can help decrease the probability of developing this disease. He explains how eating the right foods, exercising, and sustaining an ideal weight can dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing dementia in the first place, and even how it can slow the progression of the disease in someone who has already received a diagnosis.

Wow!  What an informative yet easy to read book!  The author intersperses medical information with stories and observations made of his own mother-in-law as she progressed through the stages of Alzheimer’s over the course of 15 years.  The book is easy to read and understand – much harder to actually practice in real life!  But read it does give hope on how to ward off dementia.

As I read the book there were several things that struck me – like “What is good for the heart is good for the brain.”  And a high LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and being overweight would increase the chances for getting Alzheimer’s.  “Run from (red meat, cheese, butter, cream and fried foods) like your mental performance depends on it, because it does.”  “So many people attribute everything to their genes.  But even if you inherit some bad genes, you can still decrease your odds of developing Alzheimer’s.”

Powerful, helpful words!  This book is just a wealth of knowledge and I so highly recommend it!  And, I just read that the author is donating the proceeds from this book to Samaritan’s Purse to help with mission hospitals overseas – how cool is that!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:Richard Furman, MD, FACS, spent more than thirty years as a vascular surgeon. The author of Prescription for Life and Your Cholesterol Matters, Furman is past president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, past president of the North Carolina Surgical Society, and a two-term governor of the American College of Surgeons. He is cofounder of World Medical Mission, the medical arm of Samaritan’s Purse, and is a member of the board of Samaritan’s Purse. He lives in Boone, North Carolina.

Thief of Corinth – a novel

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First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption―the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future―and very lives―hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

I cannot begin to say how wonderful I thought this book was!  I loved everything!  Tessa Afshar is a wonderful writer and historian, fleshing out details of ancient life and bringing it to life!  Ancient medical practices and foods and clothing and even bathroom/toiletry habits are all woven into the story – as well as a little suspense and romance and Christian teaching.  I loved how she gave the apostle Paul his own words but in the story context with a loving tone.

From experience I know that when I pick up a book by Tessa, I will enjoy it –  this exceeded the expectation and I loved it!  I highly recommend it and look forward to the next one!  I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:71ECfis7JBL._UX250_  Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of historical and biblical fiction. Her novel Land of Silence was voted by Library Journal as one of the top five Christian fiction titles of 2016 and was nominated for the 2016 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Inspirational Romance. Harvest of Gold won the prestigious 2014 Christy Award in the Historical Romance category. Her book Harvest of Rubies was a finalist for the 2013 ECPA Book Award in the fiction category. In 2011, after publishing her first novel, Pearl in the Sand, Tessa was named New Author of the Year in the FamilyFiction-sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards. Tessa was born in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She then moved to England, where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, before moving to the United States. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale Divinity School, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship. She now serves on the staff of one of the oldest churches in America. But that has not cured her from being exceptionally fond of chocolate. Contact Tessa at tessaafshar.com

Pelican Point – a novel

Pelican Point: A Hope Harbor Novel

A crumbling lighthouse is not part of the inheritance Army doctor Ben Garrison expects to claim when he journeys to Hope Harbor. Fresh out of the service, he wants only to unload the tower of bricks, decompress from years of treating battlefield trauma, and prepare to launch his civilian career.

Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber has other ideas. She may not be a Hope Harbor native, but the small Oregon seaside town has become home–and she’s determined to save the Pelican Point landmark.

Sparks fly as the two go head to head over the fate of the lighthouse. But when they start to cooperate, a different kind of fire ignites. And as they work together, might Hope Harbor heal the hearts of these two romance-wary souls?

Bestselling author Irene Hannon invites readers back to their favorite town for a story that will light a beacon of hope within their hearts.

Great book!  The characters drew me in and I found it soo hard to like Ben Garrison, the Army doctor who inherits a lighthouse and, since he doesn’t want it, is willing to sell it to a developer planning on tearing it down.  Made me dislike him right away!  But I did enjoy reading the book – especially as feisty Marci springs into action to save the lighthouse!  This novel has so many neat elements – a lighthouse, a suffering war veteran, a woman with a fear-filled past.  Will God redeem these things and create a beautiful future?

I so enjoyed this story – a fun romance, a little bit of suspense and a taco guy who dishes sage advice! I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I am freely writing a review – all thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

The Author:Irene HannonIrene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including One Perfect SpringHope HarborSea Rose Lane, and Sandpiper Cove, as well as Dangerous Illusions and the Private Justice and Men of Valor suspense series.

Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full time. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing.  A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.  Learn more at http://www.irenehannon.com.

Israel and Jordan!

20180220_161334.jpgThe good part about traveling standby is it is cheap and sometimes you get to travel First Class!  But the bad part is you never really know if you’ll make it on the plane – or when.  Recently my daughter and I wanted to travel to Israel via Newark, NJ.  As soon as she got home from one of her trips we raced to the airport and caught a flight to Newark – she made it just as they were about to close the doors.  But then, we waited and waited for the de-icing of the plane since an unexpected snow storm was causing snow to build up on the plane.  Eventually we made it to Newark, and then waited an hour to get a gate and get off the plane (they were having the same freak weather as we had in DC).  We weren’t worried – we had plenty of time before our flight to Israel!  At the gate, we got boarding passes for our flight (this was great – we had seats!) but then… our flight got delayed a little while, then a little more, and more.  At 2am it got CANCELLED – but we still had hope as they talked about getting a new plane for in the morning.  We realized at 4am, when the flight from Tel Aviv (back to Newark) was cancelled, that there would be no new flight – now all 300 passengers would be scrambling to get on the next several flights and as standbys, we didn’t have a chance!  So instead of waiting 2 days, we decided to travel to San Francisco at 6am – a 6 hour flight that we just barely made it on – Kate had to sit in the jump seat and I got the last available seat, which happened to be in First Class!  We arrived early in the day there and then had a whole day to kill in the airport as the flight didn’t leave until 10pm.  I spent the day chilling, just reading books and catching up on Facebook, wondering if we would make it on the flight that night and deciding we would just return home if we didn’t!  At the appropriate time we made our way to the gate – and waited and waited.  Would someone miss the flight so we could get on the plane?  Yup! Fortunately for us some people missed the flight, so we were the last 2 to get on – way back in the back!  Getting to the Promised land wasn’t easy!  After 13 hours in the air, with children screaming, the sun rising and setting, and me “returning”  my food (fortunately there wasn’t a line at the bathroom when I dashed there 3 times!), we landed – only to discover our ride wasn’t expecting us so we needed to find our own way to Jerusalem (not too difficult when expected but daunting without sleep for the last 48 hours).  Finally, we made it –  49 hours after we started, the hardest trip by far!

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ISRAEL!!!  We made it!  What to see, what to see???!!!!  We knew we didn’t have much time (and then we lost a day!) so we wanted to make the most of it.  After scouring lists and lists on line of the top things to see, we came up with our must sees:

  • Hezekiah’s Tunnel – I had heard about this but had never visited. Hezekiah’s tunnel is a water tunnel carved underneath the City of David in Jerusalem in ancient times.  It’s named as such as it is believed to be the tunnel King Hezekiah had built to prepare for an expected siege by the Assyrians. We put on our shorts and watershoes and began our trek.  Within a few feet the water had risen to the tops of our thighs!  But that level didn’t last long and then it stayed mid-calf.  The tunnels weren’t wide and without our flashlight, completely dark – we could see where the torches would have been placed thousands of years ago!  For a third of a mile we kept going and going until suddenly we were at the pool of Siloam.  (To get back up to the starting point we chose, instead of taking the shuttle back, to walk through a different tunnel on an ancient street far underground from today’s street.

     

  • The Southern Wall (of the Temple Mount) – Some of this has changed so much since John and I last visited 20+ years ago. The Southern wall had been just a pile of rubble – now it has been excavated and we not only see the wall but also could climb the steps to the Huldah Gate.  (The gate was blocked when the Mosque was built) We saw many mikvahs (ritual baths) because when thousands came to Jerusalem to sacrifice at the temple, they all had to purify themselves.  We also walked on top of part of the ancient city wall. (This was all part of the Davidson Center where they also had a brief movie explaining about the area) 20180220_115626
  • Western Wall and Western Wall Tunnel – I used to know this as the Wailing Wall. It says Jerusalem to me.  We visited – and I learned that people, after saying their prayers at it, walk away from the wall backwards so they don’t turn their backs on God. 20180220_124413
  • 20180220_211607.jpg For the tunnel, we fortunately were able to get a last-minute tour (you have to have a tour).  There our guide explained so much about the Wall.  Before the 6 days war the Wailing Wall was just an alley way, with houses all around and just feet from the wall.  At the end of the war, a plaza was cleared out, making the area much larger.  But then excavations were done below the street level, all along the wall of the Temple Mount.  These excavations go all the way down to the end of the wall, where the wall incorporates the actual mountain which the Temple was built upon.  She explained how the ground level raised – from the Romans throwing the temple stones over, to why the Western Wall is the place to pray (as opposed to the Southern or Eastern) because it is the closest spot to where the Temple Holy of Holies was located (the Jews even have a prayer wall inside the tunnel, even closer than the outside wall).  Fascinating tour and I do highly recommend it!20180220_210031
  • Mount of Olives – What a great place for a view of Jerusalem. We went late in the afternoon and it was almost completely empty of tourists! (The first picture of this post was taken from there).
  • Garden of Gethsemane – Those olive trees are so very old! And they still harvest them and give the money proceeds to the poor.  The church there is lovely.20180220_163257.jpg
  • Garden Tomb – Located just outside the Damascus city gate, this is just a beautiful place! Unfortunately for us, every tour seemed to show up there on Saturday morning, so it wasn’t a very serene place.  But, it was neat to hear different groups singing praises to God in several different languages.  As we walked around the garden we always had music!  And the best part? The tomb is EMPTY!  He is RISEN!
  • Church of the Holy Sepulcher – If we thought the garden tomb was busy, this was worse than Costco on the Saturday morning before Christmas! It really reminded me of the story of Jesus overturning the money changers’ tables as we saw people with crosses and rosaries putting them on various places in the church to make them “special”.
  • Caiphas’ House at the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu – Unknown for certain, and of course, archaeologists don’t agree on this (after the sacking and burning of Jerusalem in 70AD, Josephus says very little was recognizable) but thought to be the place Peter denied Christ. Underneath the church, and house ruins, is a dungeon where Christ is thought to have been kept for the night before his crucifixion.  There is a small opening for the prisoner to be lowered through and a small peephole for the guard to peer in through.  All of this is carved out of the bedrock – and they have since opened another hole so visitors can walk in.  I found it very sobering to think of what Christ went through that night.  Outside the church excavations have uncovered steps, part of the ancient road, going down from Mount Zion – so Christ most likely did walk on them that night to get from the last supper to the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Masada – the mountain Herod build his palace on and the last holdout where the Jews resisted the Romans. We took the cable car up – just 3 minutes versus the 45-minute hike up the snake path.  There our guide explained the ruins, the water system (pretty ingenious to divert mountain water down the aqueducts to cisterns in the side of the mountain) and the story of the rebellious Sicarii Jews.20180223_115750

In 66 AD the Sicarii Jews overtook the Roman fort Masada.  For 3 years they held it as a holdout to the Romans conquering their land.  The Romans built a ramp but when they made it onto Masada, they discovered death and destruction.  The leaders had drawn lots, and rather than be captured and enslaved or tortured, had killed everyone.  The last man had killed himself (thus 950 died but only 1 committed suicide, the unpardonable sin).  However, 2 women and 5 children had hidden and thus lived to tell the tale.  So, Masada represents Jewish heroism and courage.  A visit to Israel would not be complete without visiting it.  And – it has a great view of the Dead Sea!20180223_121146.jpg

  • The Dead Sea – Again, what would a trip to Israel be without swimming floating in the Dead Sea! Actually, we weren’t sure about getting in since just an hour earlier we’d been comfortable in our jeans and jackets but we couldn’t miss the opportunity! On arrival, we put on our swimsuits and hiked the long way down to the water (the Dead Sea is drying up and the shoreline keeps dropping).  Kate wasn’t sure about putting the mud on her body but eventually did and then was amazed at how her skin felt afterwards.  We then relaxed and floated in the water – what a unique experience!

That summed up our list from Israel because we just ran out of time! Because we had a 2-day trip planned for…

JORDAN!

Our 2-day trip was absolutely amazing!  A van picked us up in Jerusalem, the driver told us how to cross the Sheikh Hussein Bridge border and then we met our guide and bus for Jordan.  We had 4 stops.

  • Jerash – a Roman city with amazing ruins! It is one of the 10 cities of the Decapolis and is one of the best preserved Roman towns in the world.  The theater still has a spot where if you stand and speak, your voice projects through out (so also do the bagpipes as they have a guy playing bagpipes all day, hoping to get tips – Jordan was once a British controlled area so, yes, bagpipes!).20180221_12335420180221_123209.jpg
  • Amman – the capital of Jordan and the most populous city of the country. It also has an ancient citadel overlooking the city with beautiful ruins – large pillars from the temple to Hercules.  We got there shortly before sunset, so the pictures were fun!20180221_160812
  • 20180221_16173620180221_161842Bedouin Camp – Sounded exotic so we chose this over the hotel option! It was beautiful as we drove in as they have soft lights (candles?) in the hills surrounding us and paths going around the site.  We had our own tent with 2 beds, with lots of blankets on the beds.  Which was good since there was no heat and the outside temperature dropped to about 40.  Our guide told us that electricity would go off around midnight (so get our phones charged before then!) so, at 3am I wasn’t surprised that it was dark and cold outside when I had to get out of my bed, get dressed and use my phone as a flashlight to make my way to the toilet house.  But, I was surprised that it was raining and that the toilets don’t work when the electric water pump gets turned off!

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  • PETRA! 20180222_091223We arrived early in the morning and our guide told us all about the area as we walked in.  He showed us carvings done in the walls and then had us walk backwards at a certain point – only to have us turn around and see the Treasury at Petra.  It was incredible.  What you don’t realize before going though is that there is lots to see in Petra – and it is quite spread out.  After the Treasury the ground opens to great wide spaces – and temples and amphitheaters and more.  20180222_093715

    The Monastery is located more than a mile away and up a steep mountain, but we decided to go for it.  It was just as impressive – with fewer people making the trek!  20180222_103839On our return we decided to cut off some time walking and give our legs a break– by taking a camel!  After bargaining and bargaining, we struck a deal with a camel owner and rode back to the treasury by camel.  And, by the way, it was a cool experience but riding a camel is not really very comfortable.20180222_120321

 

We also had some absolutely great food on our trip!  We ate shawarma at every opportunity we could!   Grilled chicken in a pita pocket with humus and garlic sauce and veggies – Yum!!  And in Jordan our guide stopped the bus in Amman and went and bought us Kanafeh, a traditional pastry made of goat cheese, crunchy noodles, honey and a sprinkle of pistachios of top.  Sounds kinda weird but oh, it was so good!

 

So, with 1.5 days in Jerusalem, 2 days in Jordan and a day at Masada/Dead Sea, it was time to pack up and return to the States.  We caught dinner in Tel Aviv with some old friends – homeschooling moms reunite – and have lives after homeschooling!  20180224_185251

Then, unlike our trip over, we had no problems getting back!  We left at 10pm from Tel Aviv, flew to Newark and caught the first plane back to DC.  At 8am I crashed in my bed at home!  What a fantastic trip!

Bonus pictures:

 

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