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Saturday, July 30, 2011

First WildCard Tour Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War by Nancy French, David French

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card authors are:


and the book:


Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War

Center Street; Original edition (July 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Sarah Reck, Web Publicist | FaithWords & Center Street for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:



Nancy French is a columnist for the Philadelphia City Paper, a weekly alternative newspaper (readership of 460,000), in which she addressed issues like politics, religion, and culture with a light, humorous touch. She also the cofounded and maintains the blog re:formation which has a large following and focuses on a discussion of today's conservative Right.

David French is a captain in the United States Army Reserve. In his civilian life, he is a senior counsel of the Alliance Defense Fund and is the director of its Center for Academic Freedom. In Iraq he served as the Squadron Judge Advocate for the 2d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment in Diyala Province, Iraq. At the conclusion of his tour, he was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service in combat operations.

Visit the authors' Facebook.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

David French picked up the newspaper in the comfort of his penthouse in Philadelphia, and read about a soldier - father of two - who was wounded in Iraq. Immediately, he was stricken with a question: Why him and not me?

This is the story of what happens when a person - rather a family - answers the call to serve their nation. David was a 37-year-old father of two, a Harvard Law graduate and president of a free speech organization. In other words, he was used to pushing pencils, not toting M16s.

His wife Nancy was raising two children and writing from home. She was worrying about field trips and playdates, not about her husband going to war.
HOME AND AWAY chronicles not just a soldier at war, but a family at war - a husband in Iraq, a wife and children at home, greeting each day with hope and fear, facing the challenge with determination, tears, and more than a little joy.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Center Street; Original edition (July 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1931722900
ISBN-13: 978-1931722902

Click "Browse Inside this Book" to read the first chapter:


My Review: I enjoyed reading this very true story. What a sacrifice David and Nancy French made for their country.
Their lives are led by God and when David felt he was being called to serve in his Countries War effort, he decided he had to go to Afghanistan. This is the story of how their lives changed and their experiences during this time.
The chapters in this book are written by David and Nancy and their experiences during this Chapter in their lives.
I highly recommend reading this book!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Treasuring Emma (Middlefield Family, #1) by Kathleen Fuller

Treasuring Emma (Middlefield Family, #1)Treasuring Emma by Kathleen Fuller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a book that you want to get to the end to find out what happens, but you never want it to end! It is Emma's and Adam's story, along with a lot of family! The book opens at the home of Emma and her Grandmother, just after burying Emma's Mom Mary.
Adam has left being Amish and was embracing the English life, or was he? When Leona, Emma's Grandmother, writes him to tell of Mary's passing and that his Mom Carol has not been well, he decides to come home for a visit.
Emma is trying to figure out what to do now that he Mom has passed, and she has a lot of bills to pay. Her sister Clara, now wants to turn her Grandfather's shed into a Fabric Shop. Adam was her "lost Love", her heart is torn in so many directions. Makes you wonder if things are ever going to work out? Enter Clara and Peter's cousin Mark, who appears to have taken an interest in Emma?
There is a lot of suspense and scary things going on, you will not be able to put it down.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.



Winner The Promise of an Angel (Heaven On Earth #1) by Ruth Reid

I have a winner...Using Random.Org

Mozi Esmé said...

I'm in the mood for a sweet, uplifting summer read!
Congratulations!! Thank you all for entering!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Amish Nanny (The Women of Lancaster County) by Mindy Starns Clark, Leslie Gould

The Amish Nanny (The Women of Lancaster County)The Amish Nanny by Mindy Starns Clark

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I enjoyed reading the second book in this series, the first The Amish Midwife started this series. This books starts where the first one ended, and loved that we continued on with the previous characters. You did not have to read the first one to enjoy this one, everything is explained.
What an enchanted book this one is, hard to put down! Ada Rupp has really had a hard life, she never really had a childhood, as she has an inherited blood disorder. Since finding her sister Lexie, she now has new meds and is now relatively healthy.
This Amish girl ends up doing a lot of traveling, such fun, and lots of chuckles! She has a bit up spunk for having had a lonely life up to now. She wants Will Gundy, a widower with 3 children. She has admired him since she was a young girl, but now she fears her rival Leah will win his heart. With a twist of fate
she ends up traveling to Switzerland with Alice, Will's Grandmother, and Christy, his daughter. On the trip she meets Daniel Hart, a young Mennonite, who takes a real liking to Ada.
There are a lot of twists and turns to this story, but so very enjoyable.
I was provided with a copy of this book by Harvest House Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.




Friday, July 22, 2011

God Gave Us You (Board Book) by Lisa Tawn Bergren

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:


God Gave Us You (Board Book)

WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker, WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity, for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling author of eight novels, three novellas, and two gift books, with more than a half-million books in print. God Gave Us You is her first children’s book. As an editor during the week and a writer on weekends, she makes her very-messy-but-cozy home in Colorado with her husband, Tim, and their daughters, Olivia and Emma.

Visit the author's website.


ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:


Laura J. Bryant attended the Maryland Institute of Art, where she received a strong foundation in drawing, painting, and print-making. Illustrating children’s books has provided her with both a rewarding and creative career. Laura’s clients have included Simon & Schuster, McGraw Hill, and Stech-Vaughn publishers, among others. She currently lives among the tidal rivers on the eastern shore of Maryland with her loving husband and curiously cantankerous cat!

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



Filled with playful, winsome illustrations by an artist who specializes in polar bear images, this four-color, read-to-me picture book will build children’s self-esteem through the tale of a mama bear who reassuringly explains where her cub came from and affirms Mama and Papa’s great love for her.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Reading level: Baby-Preschool
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1578563232
ASIN: B002PJ4LHM

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


To Liv, Emma, and Jack—
Words cannot express how glad
we are that God gave us you.
—L.T.B.



To Ron and Shirley—
Who have an endless supply of love and generosity.
—L.J.B.




“Good night, sweet child,” Mama said as she tucked Little Cub in.

But Little Cub wasn’t quite ready to go to sleep.

“Mama, where did I come from?” she asked.



“From God,” her mother answered. “Your papa and I were alone, and we wanted
a baby.”

“And you got me?” Little Cub asked, her voice muffled by the covers.

“Yes, my special child. God gave us you.”



My Review: Lisa Tawn Bergren has written a delightful Christian book for a toddler. The book kept my little ones attention right to the end. Really sweet way to explain how the little bear came to live with his folks. The illustrations are darling, and show a loving family really wanting what God has chosen to give them.
I highly recommend this wonderful book!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery by Gayle G. Roper

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:


Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery

Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)

***Special thanks to Laura Tucker of WaterBrook Multnomah Publicity for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Gayle Roper, a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, is the multi-award-winning, best-selling author of Fatal Deduction and more than forty other books. She teaches and leads mentoring clinics at writers’ conferences across the country. Gayle lives in eastern Pennsylvania.


Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin.

When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, leaving only cryptic clues in her Sudoku book, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all too present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.

Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (July 19, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1601420846
ISBN-13: 978-1601420848

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


So Bill punched him in the nose, Carrie!” Andi Mueller swung an arm to demonstrate and nearly clipped me. “He was wonderful!”

I leaned back and held up a hand for protection. “Easy, kiddo.” I smiled at the girl and her enthusiasm.

Andi giggled like the smitten sixteen-year-old she was. “Sorry.”

“Mmm.” I rested my elbows on the pink marble counter that ran along one wall of Carrie's Café, located two blocks from the boardwalk in the center of Seaside, New Jersey. I was the Carrie of the café's name, and Andi was one of my servers, in fact, my only server at the moment. She'd been with me almost two months now, taking up the slack when the summer kids left to go back to college or on to real jobs.

“Let me get this straight,” I said. “On Saturday night Bill, who is your true soul mate, punched Jase, our Jase, for paying too much attention to you at a party.” I didn't think my voice was too wry, but soul mates at sixteen made me both cynical and scared, teen hormones being what they were.

Andi just grinned with delight of the even-mentioning-his-name-givesme-the-vapors kind and nodded as she sat on a stool at the counter. “Isn't it romantic?”

I was hearing this tale today, Monday, because now that the season was over, Carrie's was closed on Sundays. My staff and I had earned our day of rest over a very busy and marginally profitable summer. We might be able to stay open for another year if nothing awful happened, like the roof leaking or the dishwasher breaking.

Listening to Andi made me feel ancient. I was only thirty-three, but had I ever been as young as she? Given the trauma of my growing-up years, I probably hadn't. I was glad that whatever her history, and there was a history, she could giggle.

“How do you expect to continue working with Jase after this encounter?” I was very interested in her answer. Jase was one of three part-time dishwashers at the café. All three were students at the local community college and set their schedules around classes. Jase worked Tuesdays and Saturdays from six in the morning until three, and the last thing I wanted was contention in the kitchen between Andi and him.

Andi looked confused. “Why should I have trouble with Jase? I didn't punch him. Besides he's an old--” She cut herself off.

I wanted to pursue her half-thought, but the door of the café opened, and Greg Barnes walked in, all scruffy good looks and shadowed eyes. His black hair was mussed as if he hadn't combed it, and he had a two-day stubble. He should have looked grubby, but somehow he didn't. He looked wonderful.

All thoughts of Bill and Jase fled as my heart did the little stuttery Snoopy dance it always did at the sight of Greg. Before he could read anything in my face, assuming he noticed me as someone other than the person who fed him, I looked down at the basket of fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon-swirl muffins I was arranging.

Andi glanced from me to him and, much too quick and clever, smiled with a knowing look. I held my breath. She wasn't long on tact, and the last thing I wanted was for her to make some leading remark. I felt I could breathe again when all she did was wink at me. Safe for the moment, at least.

Greg came to the counter and slid onto his favorite stool, empty now that the receding flood of summer tourists left it high and dry this third week in October, a vinyl-covered Ararat postdeluge.

“The usual?” I asked, my voice oh-so-casual.

He gave a nod, barely glancing my way, and opened his copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Press of Atlantic City waited. I turned to place his order, but there was no need. Lindsay, my sister, partner, and the café's baker, had been listening to Andi's story through the serving window. She waved her acknowledgment before I said a word. She passed the order to Ricky, our short-order cook, who had stayed with us longer than I expected, long enough that he had become almost as much of an asset to Carrie's as Lindsay was.

My sister gave me a sly smile, then called, “Hi, Greg.”

He looked up from his paper and gave Lindsay a very nice smile, far nicer than he ever gave me.

“The sticky buns are all gone,” he said in mild accusation, nodding toward the glass case where we kept Lindsay's masterpieces.

She grinned. “Sorry. You've got to get here earlier.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Or you could make more.”

“I'll take the suggestion under advisement,” she said agreeably.

“Haven't you heard the adage about making your customers happy?”

“Yeah. So?”

He laughed and turned a page in the paper. I brought him a glass of OJ and a cup of my special blend.

“How're you doing?” I asked, just as I did every morning.

He gave me a vague smile. “Fine.” Just as he said every morning.

But he wasn't. Oh, he was better than, say, a year ago, definitely better than two years ago, but he wasn't well. Even three years after the tragedy that had altered his life, he was far from his self-proclaimed fine. If you looked closely--as I did--you could see the strain never completely left his eyes, and the purple stains under them were too deep and dark, a sure sign that a good night's sleep was still little more than a vague memory for him.

But he was sober. More than two years and counting.

“Keep talking, Andi,” Lindsay said as Ricky beat Greg's eggs and inserted his wheat bread in the toaster. “This is better than reality TV. It's really real.” She walked out of the kitchen into the café proper. “Bill bopped Jase,” she prompted.

“Our Jase,” I clarified.

Greg looked up. “Your dishwasher?”

I nodded.

“Hmm.” And he went back to his paper.

“And Jase went down for the count.” Andi's chest swelled with pride at her beloved's prowess.

I flinched. “Don't you think knocking a guy out for talking to you is a bit much?”

Andi thought for almost half a second, then shook her head. “It wasn't for just Saturday. He knows Jase and I work together, and he was staking his claim.”

I'd seen Jase and Andi talking in the kitchen, but there never seemed to be any romantic overtones. “Jase is a nice guy and a good worker. I don't want to lose him because of your boyfriend.”

“He is, and I don't want him to go either,” Andi agreed. “I like talking to him.”

“Me too.” Lindsay rested an elbow on the counter and propped her chin in her palm. “I think he's sad.”

“What do you mean, sad?” But I'd sensed he was weighed down with something too.

“He's funny and open most of the time,” Lindsay said, “but sometimes when no one's talking to him, I see this look of sorrow on his face.”

I nodded. “All the more reason to hate that he got punched.”

“Yeah.” Lindsay got a dreamy look in her dark brown eyes. “But there's something about a guy defending you, even if what he's defending you from isn't really a threat.” She sighed.

“Lindsay!” I was appalled. “Get a grip.” Though if Greg ever wanted to defend me, I was pretty sure I wouldn't mind. Of course, that presupposed he'd notice I was in trouble. I glanced at him bent over his paper. Not likely to happen. I bit back a sigh.

“Tell me, Andi. Does Bill plan to punch out any male who talks to you?”

“Come on, Carrie,” Andi said. “Don't be mad at Bill. You know how guys can be when they've had a few beers.”

I did know how guys could be, beers or no beers. “What were you doing at a party where there was drinking?”

She became all prim and prissy. “I did not drink.”

“I should hope not, but you shouldn't have been there.” Good grief. I was sounding more and more like her mother--or how her mother would have sounded if she weren't missing in action somewhere. Part of that history I didn't know.

“Order up,” Ricky announced as he walked to the pass-through. “The food is never better than when I plate it.”

You'd have thought he was Emeril or Wolfgang Puck or one of Paula Deen's sons, not a stopgap cook who couldn't find any other job after graduating from college with a psychology degree and who stayed around because he had a crush on the baker.

I grabbed Greg's scrambled eggs and wheat toast and served them. He accepted them with a nod and a grunt.

“So what happened to Jase?” I asked Andi. I found myself hoping Bill had bruised a knuckle or two in his violence, though I was pretty sure it meant I was a terrible person too. I didn't wish for a broken hand or anything that extreme, just something to remind him that punching wasn't the way to handle a perceived rival.

Andi waved her hand vaguely. “Bill and a buddy carried Jase to his car. They only dropped him once.”

I imagined the thunk of poor Jase's head hitting the ground and flinched in sympathy. No such thought bothered Andi. She was too busy being thrilled by Bill, who rode in like her shining knight, laying waste to the enemy with knuckles instead of the more traditional lance.

“How much older than you is Bill?” Lindsay asked.

Good question, Linds.

Andi studied the cuticle of her index finger. “He's nineteen.”

Lindsay and I exchanged a glance. Those three years from sixteen to nineteen were huge.

I couldn't keep quiet. “So he shouldn't have been drinking at this party either.”

Andi slid off her stool. If looks killed, Lindsay'd be sprinkling my ashes in the ocean tomorrow morning.

“What does Clooney think of you and Bill?” Lindsay asked. Clooney was Andi's great-uncle, and she lived with him.

Andi cleared her throat. “We don't talk about Bill.”

“Does he know about Bill?” Lindsay's concern was obvious.

Andi stared through long bangs that hung over her hazel eyes. The silky hair sometimes caught in her lashes in a way that made me blink but didn't seem to bother her. “Of course Clooney knows. Do you think I'd keep a secret from him?”

“I didn't think you would.” Lindsay smiled. “I'm glad to know I was right.”

So was I. Sixteen could go in so many different directions, and I'd hate for this pixie to make wrong choices--or more wrong choices.

“Is he going to college?” I asked. “Bill?”

“He was, but not now.” Her fingernail became even more absorbing. “He dropped out of Rutgers at the end of his freshman year.”

Uh-oh. Dropped out or failed out? “Does he plan to go back? Try again?”

She shrugged. “He doesn't know. Right now he's happy just being. And going to parties. And taking me.” By the time she was finished, she was bouncing at the excitement of it all, her strawberry blond ponytail leaping about her shoulders.

Greg looked up from his newspaper. “So this guy took you, a very underage girl, to a party where there was lots of drinking?”

Andi looked at him, eyes wide, acting as if he'd missed the whole point of her story. “Don't worry about me, Mr. Barnes. Or any of you.” She included Lindsay and me with a nod of her head. “I can handle any problems that might develop at a party. Believe me, I've dealt with far worse.”

I was intrigued. I'd stared down plenty of problems in my time too, and I wondered how her stare downs compared to mine.

She grinned and waved a hand as if she were wiping away her momentary seriousness. “But I'd rather talk about how great Bill is.”

“So how great is he?” Lindsay asked. “Tell me all.” At twenty-seven, she was an incurable romantic. I wasn't sure how this had come to pass, since she had every reason to be as cynical as I, but there you are.

I frowned at her. “Stop encouraging the girl.”

Lindsay just grinned.

I looked at Andi's happy face and had to smile too. “So what's this wonderful guy doing if he's not in school?” Besides being and partying.

“Uh, you mean like a job or something?”

“Yeah.” Lindsay and I exchanged another glance. Greg looked up again at Andi's reluctant tone.

“Well, he was a lifeguard over the summer. He's got this fabulous tan, and it makes him so handsome.”

Soul mate stuff if I ever heard it. I half expected her to swoon like a nineteenth-century Southern belle with her stays laced too tightly. “What about now? Postseason?”

“And he was the quarterback on the high school football team two years ago when they won the state championship.”

“Very impressive. What about now?”

“He was named Most Valuable Player.”

“Even more impressive. What about now?”

She began making sure the little stacks of sugar and sweetener packets in the holders on the counter were straight. “Right now he's just trying to figure it all out.”

Being. Figuring. And punching guys out while he thought. “You mean he's trying to decide what he wants to be when he grows up?”

She glared at me. In her mind he was grown up. She turned her back with a little sniff and went to clean off a dirty table.

Lindsay swallowed a laugh. “Your sarcastic streak is showing, Carrie.”

Mr. Perkins, another regular at Carrie's Café and at eighty in better health than the rest of us put together, rapped his cup on the pink marble counter. He'd been sitting for several minutes with his eyes wide behind his glasses as he listened to Andi.

“No daughter of mine that age would ever have gone to a party where there was drinking,” he said. “It's just flat out wrong.”

Since I agreed, I didn't mention that he was a lifelong bachelor and had no daughters.

He rapped his cup again.

“Refill?” I asked, not because I didn't know the answer but because the old man liked to think he was calling the shots.

He nodded. “Regular too. None of that wimpy decaf. I got to keep my blood flowing, keep it pumping.”

I smiled with affection as I topped off his cup. He gave the same line every day. “Mr. Perkins, you have more energy than people half your age.”

He pointed his dripping spoon at me. “And don't you forget it.”

“Watch it,” I said in a mock scold. “You're getting coffee all over my counter.”

“And a fine counter it is.” He patted the pink-veined marble slab. It was way too classy and way too pricey for a place like the café. “Did I ever tell you that I remember when it was the registration counter at Seaside's Grand Hotel? And let me tell you, it was a grand hotel in every sense of the word. People used to come from as far as Pittsburgh, even the president of U.S. Steel. Too bad it burned down. The hotel, not U.S. Steel.”

“Too bad,” I agreed. And yes, he'd told us the story many times.

“It was in 1943,” he said with a faraway look in his eyes. “I was thirteen.” He blinked back to the present. “It was during World War II, you know, and people said it was sabotage. Not that I ever believed that. I mean, why would the Germans burn down a resort hotel? But I'll tell you, my father, who was an air-raid warden, about had a seizure.”

“I bet he was convinced that the flames, visible for miles up and down the coast, would bring the German subs patrolling offshore right up on our beaches,” Lindsay said with a straight face. “They might have attacked us.”

I glared at her as she repeated word for word Mr. Perkins's line from the story. She winked unrepentantly.

Mr. Perkins nodded, delighted she was listening. “People kept their curtains drawn at night, and even the boardwalk was blacked out for the duration, the lights all covered except for the tiniest slit on the land side, so the flames from the fire seemed extra bright. All that wood, you know. Voom! ” He threw his hands up in the air.

Lindsay and I shook our heads at the imagined devastation, and I thought I saw Greg's lips twitch. He'd heard the story almost as many times as we had.

Mr. Perkins stirred his coffee. “After the war some investor bought the property.”

“I bet all that remained of the Grand was the little corner where the pink marble registration counter sat.” Lindsay pointed where I leaned. “That counter.”

Again she spoke his line with a straight face, and this time Greg definitely bit back a grin.

Mr. Perkins added another pink packet to his coffee. “That's right. The buyer decided to open a restaurant around the counter and build a smaller, more practical hotel on the rest of the property.”

Even that hotel was gone now, replaced many years ago by private homes rented each summer to pay the exorbitant taxes on resort property.

I walked to Greg with my coffeepot. “Refill?”

He slid his mug in my direction, eyes never leaving his paper.

Be still my heart.



2

The café door opened again, and Clooney sauntered in. In my opinion Clooney sauntered through life, doing as little as possible and appearing content that way. I, on the other hand, was a bona fide overachiever, always trying to prove myself, though I wasn't sure to whom. If Clooney weren't so charming, I'd have disliked him on principle. As it was, I liked him a lot.

Today he wore a Phillies cap, one celebrating the 2008 World Series victory. His gray ponytail was pulled through the back of the cap and hung to his shoulder blades.

“You work too hard, Carrie,” he told me frequently. “You'll give yourself indigestion or reflux or a heart attack or something. You need to take time off.”

“If I didn't want to pay the rent or have insurance or eat, I'd do that very thing,” I always countered.

“What you need is a rich husband.” And he'd grin.

“A solution to which I'm not averse. There just seems to be a shortage of candidates in Seaside.”

“Hey, Clooney,” Andi called from booth four, where she was clearing. She gave him a little finger wave. Clooney might be her great-uncle, but try as I might, I couldn't get her to call him Uncle Clooney. Just “Clooney” sounded disrespectful to me, but he didn't seem to mind.

“Hey, darlin'.” Clooney walked over to Andi and gave her a hug. Then he came to the counter and slid onto the stool next to Greg. He did not take off his cap, something that drove me crazy. I've developed this manners thing, probably because my childhood was so devoid of anything resembling pattern or politeness. I know people thought me prissy and old-fashioned, but I am what I am, a poor man's Miss Manners.

Clooney pointed at a muffin, and I placed one on a dish for him. He broke off a chunk, then glanced back at Andi. “She tell you about that fool Bill?”

I grinned at his disgruntled expression. “She did.”

“What is it with girl children?” he demanded. “I swear she's texted the news around the world.”

“She thinks it's a compliment--her knight defending her.”

Clooney and Greg snorted at the same time.

“Slaying a dragon who's threatening the life of the fair damsel's one thing,” Greg said, actually looking at me. “Decking a kid for saying hi to a pretty girl is another.”

“Your past life as a cop is showing,” I teased.

He shrugged as he turned another page of the paper. “Old habits die hard.”

The door opened again, and in strutted the object of our conversation. I knew it had to be him because, aside from the fact that he looked like a very tanned football player, he and Andi gazed at each other with love-struck goofy grins. I thought I heard Lindsay sigh.

Andi hurried toward the kitchen with an armful of dirty dishes from booth four. She squeaked in delight as Bill swatted her on the rump as she passed. Clooney stiffened at this unseemly familiarity with his baby. Mr. Perkins tsk-tsked his disapproval.

“Can I have breakfast now?” Andi asked when she reappeared empty- handed.

The wait staff usually ate around ten thirty at a back booth, and it was ten fifteen. We were in the off-season weekday lull between breakfast and lunch, and the three men on their stools were the only customers present. I nodded.

Bill looked toward the kitchen. He appeared overwhelmed at the prospect of food, unable to make a selection. He draped an arm over Andi's shoulder as he considered the possibilities, and she snuggled against him. Clooney's frown intensified.

Bill was a big guy, and it was clear by the way he carried himself that he still thought of himself as the big man on campus in spite of the fact that he was now campusless and unemployed. As I studied him, I wondered if high school football would end up being the high point of his life. How sad that would be. Clooney drifted through life by choice. I hoped Bill wouldn't drift for lack of a better plan or enough ability to achieve.

Careful, Carrie. I was being hard on this kid. Nineteen and undecided wasn't that unusual. Just because at his age I'd already been on my own for three years, responsible for Lindsay, who was six years my junior…

Bill gave Clooney, who was watching him with a rather sour look, a sharp elbow in the upper arm and asked, one guy to another, “What do you suggest, Clooney? What's really good here?”

Clooney's relaxed slouch disappeared. I saw the long-ago medal-winning soldier of his Vietnam days. “You will call me 'sir' until I give you permission to call me by name. Do you understand, boy?”

Bill blinked. So did I. Everyone in Seaside, no matter their age, called him Clooney.

“Stop that, Clooney!” Andi was appalled at her uncle's tone of voice.

“Play nice,” I said softly as I realized for the first time that I didn't know whether Clooney was his first name or last. I made a mental note to ask Greg. As a former Seaside cop, he might know. “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, darlin'.” Clooney gave Andi an easy smile. He gave Bill a hard stare. “Right, Bill?”

Bill blinked again. “Y-yes, sir.”

Andi took her beloved's hand and dragged him toward the back booth. “Ignore my uncle. He's having a bad day.” She glared over her shoulder at Clooney, who grinned back at her.

“She's got spunk, that one,” he said with pride.

“How'd she end up living with you?” I'd been longing to ask ever since Clooney showed up with Andi just before Labor Day and asked me to give her a job. I did, and I guess I thought that gave me the right to ask my question.

Clooney disagreed because he said, “I think I'll have one of your amazing Belgian waffles with a side of sausage.”

“I'm on it.” Lindsay headed back to the kitchen before I said a word. “Got it, Ricky?”

“Got it.” Ricky tested the waffle iron with a flick of water. He smiled as the water jumped and evaporated. He was a handsome kid with dark Latino looks of the smoldering kind, a young Antonio Banderas. Unfortunately for him, his smoldering looks appeared to have no effect on Linds.

Another victim of unrequited love.

Andi came to the counter and placed an order for Bill and herself. I blinked. We could have served the whole dining room on less.

Mr. Perkins eyed me. “Are you going to make him pay for all that? You should, you know.”

True, but I shook my head. “Job perk. He's cheaper than providing health benefits and not nearly as frustrating.”

“So say you.” Clooney settled to his waffle and sausage.

I watched the parade of laden plates emerge from the kitchen and make their way to the back booth, making me reconsider the “cheaper” bit. Andi took her seat and stared at Bill as if he could do no wrong in spite of the fact that he leaned on the table like he couldn't support his own weight. Didn't anyone ever tell the kid that his noneating hand was supposed to rest in his lap, not circle his plate as if protecting it from famished marauders or little girls with ponytails?

“Look at him,” Clooney said. “He's what? Six-two and over two hundred pounds? Jase Peoples is about five-eight and one-forty if he's wearing everything in his closet.”

“Let's forget about Jase, shall we?” Andi's voice was sharp as she came to the counter and reached for more muffins. “The subject is closed.”

I grabbed her wrist. “No more muffins. We need them for paying customers. If Bill's still hungry, he can have toast.”

“Or he could pay.” To Mr. Perkins a good idea was worth repeating.

Andi laughed at the absurdity of such a thought.

Ricky had left his stove and was leaning on the pass-through beside Lindsay. “Four slices coming up for Billingsley.”

“Billingsley?” I looked at the big guy as he downed the last of his four-egg ham-and-cheese omelet. With a name like that, it was a good thing he was big enough to protect himself.

“Billingsley Morton Lindemuth III,” Ricky said.

“I should never have told you.” Andi clearly felt betrayed.

“But you did. And you got to love it.” Laughing, Ricky turned to make toast.

“He hates it,” Andi said.

I wasn't surprised.

Greg drew in a breath like you do when something terrible happens. We all turned to stare at him.

“What's wrong?” I asked.

He was looking at the front page of The Press of Atlantic City. “Jase Peoples.”

“What?” I demanded.

Clooney grabbed the paper and followed Greg's pointing finger.

I could see the picture and the headline above it: “Have You Seen This Man?”


My Review: I enjoyed this book. It has romance and mystery...along with a murder. Things keep changing and keeps you guessing. Most of the Characters have a strong faith in God..it's what keeps them facing life challenges. There is also a Cult thrown in...and you see how easy it is to be deceived.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sleight of Hand Ebook By Deanne Blackhurst ebook

Is it possible to con your way out of hell? Fifty-two year old Daniel Cabrero thinks so and why wouldn’t he? That’s how he spent his entire life. But Jonah his spirit guide has reasons of his own for making sure Daniel pays for all the suffering and misery he’s caused others. Still sometimes people can change, even in hell. And maybe Daniel can keep his son from following the same path.





Deanne Blackhurst has been writing for over ten years. She is the author of two published novels with several more in the works. Website: http://www.deanneblackhurst.com


My Review: 3 out of 5
As I'm reading this book it comes to mind what a very evil man Daniel is. What I believe is that repentance is made before one dies, not after. By that time it is to late.
Daniel does seem to have a conscience, especially after he has died, when he is shown all the evil deeds he has committed.
The Author has weaved a really good story, and keeps your interest right to the end. Although I don't agree with the outcome. If you read this as a book of fantasy, it is very good! As a Christian, I have problems with the precept that you can change your outcome after death, but as an entertaining story, this book can fill the spot!
The book was given to me by the Author, and I was not required to give a positive review.

Note: Until the 31st of August, blog readers can get the book for just $1.99. Here is the code for them to do that: MX73D! http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/19020

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Second Chance Brides (Texas Boardinghouse Brides #2) by Vickie McDonough

Second Chance Brides (Texas Boardinghouse series, #2)Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Fans of The Anonymous Bride, will feel for Shannon O'Neil and Leah Bennett who are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women's lodging at the boardinghouse, but will the brothers' idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Will Shannon choose to marry just for security? Will Leah reject love when the challenges mount?
I really enjoyed this quick read. This is the second book in the Texas Boardinghouse Series. Shannon O'Neil a beautiful Irish orphan, and Leah Bennett a lovely woman who has been mothering children since she was a little child. They are the leftover brides from the first book, and the Corbett brothers are now responsible for their lodgings.
Loved the twist and turns of this story. Some of the happenings will bring you chuckles and others you will need tissues. What all of the characters have to learn is to trust in God. They need to have forgiveness for others and for themselves. They need to follow their hearts and accept the paths the Lord has chosen for them.
You can read this book without reading the first book, things are explained enough that you won't feel you are missing something.
I was provided a copy of this book by the Publisher Barbour Publishing, I was not required to give a positive review.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Look to the East (The Great War #1) by Maureen Lang

Look to the East (The Great War, #1)Look to the East by Maureen Lang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a really good book based on the First World War. The story takes place in Northern France, in a small Village Briecourt. I felt like I was at the Village, with the pictures Maureen Lang presented. Maybe sitting at the Well, and smelling the scents coming from Uncle Guys Bakery...sounds like a lovely place to live back in the early 1900's. The feud that has been going on as long as anyone can remember separates the villagers...the Toussaints and the de Colvilles...it didn't sound like anyone even remember why, but it still existed.
The character of Julitte Toussaint was like a breath of fresh air, she was willing to do whatever the Lord put on her heart. Loved how she shared her God with all who were willing to receive Him.
The story does offer some great surprises,a beautiful Love story, and is a delightful read.
I was provided with a copy of this book by the Publisher Tyndale, and was not required to give a positive review.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Beyond All Measure (Hickory Ridge Romance #1) by Dorothy Love

Beyond All Measure (A Hickory Ridge Romance)Beyond All Measure by Dorothy Love

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book. Set in Hickory Ridge TN just after the Civil War, with the ongoing problems of living after a war had torn apart the country. Ada Wentworth is from Boston, MA, and moves into the Southern reconstruction. Wyatt Caldwell, a man who fought for the South in the War, now owns a Wood Mill, and is prospering.
Ada has come to be a companion to Wyatt's Aunt Lillian, or so she thought, not only is she a companion, but the cook, cleaner and chauffeur. The job certainly wasn't what she expected, and Aunt Lillian is kind of caustic.
As time goes on she ends up repairing one of Lillian's hats, and now others want an original Ada creation. Neither Wayatt or Lillian like that Ada is doing a side business, but Wayatt tends to really like Ada. Both Ada and Wayatt need to trust on the Lord, and he has answers to their prayers
This is a sweet romance, and a very quick read...you will have a hard time putting this book down.

I received this book from the publisher Thomas Nelson, I was not required to give a positive review.




View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Someone to Watch Over Me by Michelle Stimpson

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:


Someone to Watch Over Me

Dafina; 1 Original edition (June 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Michelle Stimpson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Michelle Stimpson is an author, a speaker, and an educator who received her Bachelor of Science degree from Jarvis Christian College in 1994. She earned a Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002. She has had the pleasure of teaching elementary, middle, and high school as well as training adults.

In addition to her work in the field of education, Michelle ministers through writing and public speaking. Her works include the highly acclaimed Boaz Brown, Divas of Damascus Road (National Bestseller), and Last Temptation. She has published several short stories for high school students through her educational publishing company, Right Track Academic Support Services, at www.wegottaread.com.

Michelle serves in the Discerning Hearts women's ministry at her home church, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship. She also ministers to women through her online newsletter: www.womengrowinginchrist.com.

Michelle tours annually with the Anointed Authors on Tour. She regularly speaks at special events and writing workshops sponsored churches, schools, book clubs and other great organizations.

Michelle lives near Dallas with her husband, their two teenage children, and one crazy dog.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Tori Henderson is on the fast track in her marketing career in Houston, but her romantic life is slow as molasses and her relationship with Christ is nonexistent. When her beloved Aunt Dottie falls ill, Tori travels back to tiny Bayford to care for her. But when Tori arrives, she's faced with more than she bargained for, including Dottie's struggling local store, a host of bad memories, and a troubled little step-cousin, DeAndre. Worse, the nearest Starbucks is twenty miles away...

Just as Tori is feeling overwhelmed, she re-connects with her old crush, the pastor's son, Jacob, who is every bit as handsome as to remembers. As the church rallies for Aunt Dottie's recovery, Tori realizes that she came to Bayford to give, but she just might receive more than she dreamed was ever possible for her.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.00
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Dafina; 1 Original edition (June 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758246889
ISBN-13: 978-0758246882

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


I crossed my fingers in hopes they would name me Top Quarterly Producer for my department. I mean, every single one of my clients had experienced website traffic and sales above the projected estimates, and I had even received two letters from pleased customers. “Tori’s expertise made all the difference in our product launch,” one had commented. “We’ll be using NetMarketing Results for a long time to come!” Planning and implementing online marketing campaigns came with its own sense of fulfillment. After all, depending on who you asked, the Web pushes America’s economy even more than a good old-fashioned mall.

But even as we stood around the conference room waiting for the announcement, I felt queasy. What if they didn’t name me? One look around the room sparked another dose of apprehension.

Lexa Fielder was recently hired, yet she’d already managed to land a pretty impressive list of new customers for the company, though it was rumored she did quite a bit of work on her back.

Brian Wallace was one of the older marketing representatives, but he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Every once in a while, he pulled off a last-minute record-breaking month for one of his clients and caught management’s eyes.

There were only four eyes I wanted to catch, and all of them belonged to Preston Haverty. Okay, he really only had two eyes, but he did wear a set of insistently thick glasses that took on life of their own at the center of his slight facial features. Every time I saw him, I felt like I was in a scene from The Emperor’s Clothes. Like, why won’t somebody tell Preston that those glasses are ridiculous and we do have technology to free us from such spectacles? Probably the same reason no one talks to Donald Trump about that comb-over.

Anyway, Preston was good people, glasses and all. I appreciated his “hands off” management style – he didn’t really care where or how we worked, so long as we got the job done. I only hoped that I’d done a good enough job to add to my collection of blue and green plaques given to outstanding employees. Lexa and Brian aside, I appreciated being appreciated. And God knows I’d put in enough woman-hours to earn this recognition.

“And February’s project manager of the month is…”—Preston announced as everyone in the room beat a drum roll on either the 16-foot table or some spot on the surrounding walls—“Tori Henderson!”

My cheekbones rose so high I could barely see in front of me. Is that what it’s like to be Miss America? Everybody applauding, confetti flying, the runners-up on the sideline clapping wildly to distract themselves from their jealousy and impending mental meltdowns after the show?

Okay, maybe it wasn’t that serious, but I sure felt like a pageant queen. My fellow co-workers, probably twenty-five people or so, cheered me on as I walked toward the front end of the table to receive my plaque. “Good job, Tori!” “You go, girl!” Their affirmations swelled inside me, feeding my self-esteem. If only my mother could see me now. Then maybe she’d forget about 1996.

I shook Mr. Haverty’s hand and posed for the obligatory picture. In that moment, I wished I’d worn a lighter-colored suit. Black always made me look like a beanpole. Gave no testament of all my hours at the gym and the donuts I’d passed on to keep the red line on my scale below one hundred and twenty-five.

I wasn’t going to pass on the sweets today, though. Jacquelyn, the lead secretary, retrieved a towering pink-and-white buttercream frosting cake and brought it forward now to celebrate my achievement.

Preston offered, “Tori, you get the first piece.”

“Get some meat on those bones, girl,” from Clara, the Webmaster.

But the mention of meat and the sight of the cake suddenly made me nauseous. To appease the group, I took the first piece. Then Jacquelyn got busy cutting and distributing pieces as everyone stood around milking the moment before having to return to work.

I sat in one of the comfy leather chairs and took and ate a bite of my celebratory sweetness. Almost instantly, my stomach disagreed with my actions. My hand flew to my abdomen, lightly stroking the panel of my suit. People were so busy devouring the cake they didn’t notice me catching my breath. Whew!

I pushed the plate away from me, as though the pink mass had the power to jump onto my fork and into my mouth. This was clearly not the cake for me. I thought for a moment about how long it had been since I ate something so densely packed with sugar. Maybe this was like red meat—once you stop consuming it, one backslidden bite tears you up inside.

No, that’s not it. I’d eaten a candy bar the previous week, before my monthly visitor arrived. Renegade cramps? I rubbed my palm against the aggravated area again. No. The pain was too high in my torso for female problems. This had to be some kind of bug. Whatever it was, it didn’t like strawberry cake so, I quietly tossed my piece in the trash on the way back to my desk.

An hour later, I felt like I could throw up so I sat perfectly still at my desk because…well…any movement of my torso sparked a pain in my side that might trigger this upchuck. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to go through the process of throwing up. I would never tell anyone this, but I find vomiting an altogether traumatic experience. Such a nasty feeling in one’s throat. And the aftertaste, and the gagging sounds. Not to mention getting a close-up look at the toilet seat. It’s just not humanlike and should be avoided at all costs, in my opinion.

Thank God I made it all the way to my apartment before I finally had to look at the inside of a porcelain throne, only this time I hadn’t even eaten anything. Bile spewed out of me, but the pain in my side was probably up to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Now that I’d done the unthinkable and temporarily lost all self-respect, perhaps my body would relent. I could only hope the worst of whatever this was had passed (albeit out of the wrong end).

I managed to thoroughly brush my teeth and gargle a great number of times, assuring myself it was safe to swallow my own spit again. The image staring back at me in the mirror was normally me after a good workout—kinky twists dampened slightly at the base by my sweat, light brown face glowing in the accomplishment of burning hundreds of calories. Today, however, my sagging eyelids told the story of a woman who’d…vomited. I tried smiling, elevating my cheekbones even higher. No use. Maybe my mother was right when she’d told me, “You’re not that pretty, Tori, but you can keep yourself skinny and, when you turn fifteen, I’ll let you wear makeup. Fourteen if you’re really ugly by then.”

I closed my eyes and pressed fingers onto my temples, reminding myself that people told me I was cute all the time. One time, I went to this women’s empowerment event my client was hosting and I won a T-shirt that read I’M BEAUTIFUL with some Bible verse on it about being beautifully and wonderfully made. I wore that shirt to Wal-Mart and a total stranger walked up to me and said, “I agree.” So why did the only voice ringing now belong to my ever-beautiful, timeless Margie Carolyn James who bragged of still being carded at age 40?

My side still ached enough for me to call off the evening’s kickboxing class. Good thing Kevin was out of town working. He probably would have called me a wimp and dared me to run at least two miles. And I probably would have at least attempted to make him eat his words, despite the pain now radiating through my stomach.

After downing a dose of Advil, I trudged to my bedroom, changed into a night shirt and gently lay across the bed. I didn’t have the energy to answer my landline when it rang. I could only listen for the message.

“Hey, I’m gonna layover tonight. My flight comes in at seven, I leave out again tomorrow morning at eight. See ya.”

I was hoping that by the time he got home, I would have awakened from a refreshing nap, totally healed and ready to finish up some of the work I’d had to bring home with me in light the unproductive afternoon I endured. Yet when Kevin returned, he found me hunched over the toilet seat again.

“What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing? Uuuuck!” The wretching produced another plop of bile into the commode.

“Are you okay?”

“Perfect.”

“What’s going on?”

“I’m pregnant,” I quipped, though the hint of mockery escaped my tone thanks to the reverberating bowl.

“Oh my God, Tori, you’re kidding, right? You know how I feel about kids,” he yelled. “How could you—”

“Stop freaking out. I’m joking.”

He balled up his fist and exhaled into the hole. “Don’t give me a heart attack.”

“I ate some cake today at work and got sick.”

He backed out into the hallway. “Let me know if you need me.”

I rested an elbow on the toilet seat and looked up at Kevin. Six foot one looks even taller from my bathroom floor perspective. His deep sandy skin contrasted perfectly with his ivory teeth and hazel eyes which, according to him, had won over many women back in the day. I wasn’t one of those eye-color crazy girls, but I was definitely a sucker for track star legs, and Kevin had those for miles and miles. Watching him unveil those limbs when he undressed was definitely the greatest benefit of moving into his condo eighteen months earlier. Well, the legs and the free rent. And the sex, when my mind cooperated.

Kevin was the modern, metrosexual type when it came to clothes, but he had some pretty old-fashioned ideas about finances. Who was I to argue with him? He paid the major bills. I handled groceries, the housekeeper, dry cleaning, and all things communication-related since I needed high-speed everything for my job. I often wondered if he was just being chivalrous or if he never obligated me to a substantial bill because he still thought of the condo as his place.

At first glance, our living quarters resembled a bachelor pad. Simple furniture, mix-and-match bath towels. Not one picture of us on display, though I had plenty on my computer and stored on my camera waiting to be downloaded someday.

Either way, I’m no fool. Thanks to our financial arrangement, I had a growing stash of rainy-day money I’d earmarked to start my own business after an early retirement.

My stash was chump change compared to Kevin’s anyway. I’d seen a few of his paystubs lying around the condo from his work in telecommunications sales. Made my college degree seem like a huge scam to keep the masses from getting rich, maybe.

Thoughts of my master plan to retire well and get rich later compelled me to hoist myself from the floor to a semi-standing position and shuffle back to bed. Sick or well, I needed to get some work done.

Kevin did check on me, but only be default as he changed into his running clothes.

There went those strong, milk chocolate legs again.

“I’m going for a jog at the track. Might head over to Cameron’s after to watch the game.”

I gave my best big-brown-doe-eyes routine. “But you’re leaving again first thing in the morning. Can’t we spend time together?”

He held up a cross with his fingers. “I don’t want to catch whatever this is you’ve got. You looked pretty distraught in that bathroom there a minute ago.”

“Thanks so much, Kevin.”

“Any time, any time,” he smirked. “I do feel bad for you, if that helps.”

“It doesn’t.”

“You need me to get you anything while I’m out?”

“A new stomach.”

“No can do, babe. How about Pepto-Bismol or Sprite? That’s what my mom used to give me when I was sick,” he recommended.

I scrunched my face. “Didn’t your mom also make you swallow Vicks VapoRub?”

“Yeah,” he supported the madness, “makes you cough the cold up. Worked every time. If you’re getting a virus, you might want to give it a shot.”

My stomach lurched at the thought. “No. I don’t want anything else coming up out of me tonight. Just…call and check on me.”

He detoured to my side before walking out of the room. A gentle kiss to my forehead was his first affectionate gesture since he’d walked into the place, despite more than a week’s passing since we’d seen each other last. I suppose it would have been hard for him to kiss me since I was engulfed in the commode earlier. Still, I wanted him to rub my back or something. What I really wanted was for him to stay home and…I don’t know, watch me suffer. Hover like they do when women are giving birth in those old movies. Put a damp towel on my forehead and encourage me, “You can do it! You can do it, Tori!”

Who was I kidding? Kevin would hire a birthing coach before he’d subject himself to my labor. Not that I’d ever find myself in a position to give birth so long as Kevin stubbornly refused to father a child. I held hope, however, that things would change after a few of his friends settled down. Sometimes guys are the only ones who can convince other guys to grow up. It’s a sick reality.

I decided to put the suffering out of my head for a moment. The Advil had taken the edge off the pain, so I carefully reached onto the floor and pulled my laptop bag onto the bed. The sweet challenge of work carried me into a trance that dulled the pain for a while.

I tapped on the mouse to wake my computer and then resumed toggling between the open programs on my computer desktop, making sure my client’s newsletter matched the updated blog content precisely. Next to update their social media networks with useful information about the company’s new products.

With reviewing several press releases still on my agenda, I really didn’t want to stop working. But the pain in my midsection returned with new vigor, biting into my concentration. I powered down my computer for the night and made my way back to the restroom for another bout with bile and a double-dose of Advil.

If the pain wasn’t any better by tomorrow, I’d have to miss a little work so I could visit the doctor.

Kevin rolled in a little after eleven to assess me again. He slipped a hand beneath the comforter and rubbed my backside. “You all right now?”

“No,” I groaned.

He nibbled on my ear, a sure indication of his intentions. “Mind if I make you feel better?”

“That won’t help.”

“Marvin Gaye says sexual healing is the best thing for you.”

“Marvin Gaye never felt this bad. Besides, I might have germs.”

Kevin tried again, lapping my neck with his tongue. “I don’t care. I miss you.”

Now he doesn’t care about the germs.

His hand moved around to my stomach, warranting a stern reaction. “Kevin, I cannot do this tonight. Move your hand.”

He jumped up from the bed. “Fine. Fine. I understand. I’ll be on the couch.”




My Thoughts: This was truly a story of a person finding themselves, and giving their life to the Lord. Loved how Tori's whole opinion of DeAndre turns around. She doesn't do children? She does appreciate all that Aunt Dottie has done for her. You'll love the response of the whole town on how they feel about Aunt Dottie!
Tori has to decide whether or not to continue her relationship with Kevin, or spend her time in Bayford TX. She is really good at her job in Houston, and seems to be enjoying her life? A chance encounter sets her mind thinking...she is told that when she dies her fellow employees will come to her funeral and then go out to lunch. Their lives go on, she is done?
I enjoyed this book and would have given it a 5 star except, after Tori became a Christian she spent the night in bed with Kevin. She should have gone to a hotel.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour County #1) by Laura V. Hilton

Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour County, #1)Patchwork Dreams by Laura V. Hilton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a delightful Amish story. A real insight into the Amish Culture. Jacob Miller is set to live with his distant cousin Daniel, where he learns the blacksmith trade. He comes from PA to Seymour, Missouri he thinks to appease his father. He is dating Suzie and has every intention to return in a few months and marry her.
At the door to Daniel's place he meets Becky. Does he believe in Love at first sight? Can't be there is Suzie? The Amish in PA are trading some young men with MO, in order to help with some of the birth defects that are common in each Community. Jacob hopes to return when the others arrive, if not before.
Both Becky and Jacob need to accept God's Grace and forgiveness. They are now thrown together along with Suzie.
I recommend this book...what a great Summer read.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Rescuing Slaves of the Watchtower by Joe B. Hewitt

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:


Rescuing Slaves of the Watchtower

Hannibal Books (May 20, 2011)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Nelson, PR Specialist, Hannibal Books for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Formerly a third-generation Jehovah’s Witness, Joe B. Hewitt has dedicated himself to exposing the Watchtower’s false teachings and to helping Jehovah’s Witnesses ascend from mental bondage into Christian liberty. He has served as a pastor, evangelist, and missionary, and has received a bachelor of divinity and a master of arts in biblical studies. His first book, I Was Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, sold 45,000 copies in the English edition and was also translated and published in Chinese.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Learn how to rescue Jehovah's Witnesses from their slavery! Though its members represent one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, the Jehovah's Witnesses remain one of the most enigmatic and puzzling groups to many people today. Few people never have been visited by a "Witness", but what exactly do these determined people actually believe? What makes them so different from other Christian denominations?

In this spellbinding look at the Watchtower Society, Joe B. Hewitt, formerly a third-generation Jehovah's Witness who was indoctrinated by his mother and grandfather with Watchtower teachings, pulls back the curtain of mystery and exposes lies, the mind control, and the glaring contradictions of biblical truth behind the organization that has sent those smiling faces to your front door. His book contains heartbreaking stories of former adherents, including himself, who were betrayed by the JW's. Joe says instead of evangelizing others, the Witnesses themselves need to be rescued from the cult-like organization. The book describes how people who know the real truth of Christ's love can rescue the Watchtower's slaves from intellectual and emotional bondage.



Product Details:

List Price: $14.95
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Hannibal Books (May 20, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1613150067
ISBN-13: 978-1613150061

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




Rescue Is Possible

JW’s Drop Out because of Physical and Mental Exhaustion

As one trained from childhood by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I can show you how people fall under the complete control of the Watchtower and also how they can be rescued from the hold the Watchtower has on them.

As one of the early disciples of Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society before the turn of the 20th century, my maternal grandfather trained my mother in Watchtower doctrines. In turn my mother trained me.

In countries in which Jehovah’s Witnesses are active, almost every family suffers because one or more members are under control of the Watchtower Society. These individuals seem almost to be locked up in a prison—not a prison of stone but one of mind control even more oppressive than that of a dungeon.

According to Watchtower statistics almost seven million Jehovah’s Witnesses exist worldwide; each year the organization adds a quarter-of-a-million or more new members. Yet the net growth is nowhere near that much. So what happens to hundreds of thousands of active Jehovah’s Witnesses who each year slip through the statistical cracks?

People escape from the Watchtower by the thousands. During one decade alone—1975-1985—nearly one million JW’s dropped out or were tossed out.
JW’s Drop Out because of Physical and Mental Exhaustion

Becoming a Jehovah’s Witness takes about six months of study. The newly baptized JW eagerly attends five meetings a week and spends at least 10 hours a month knocking on doors and witnessing to people. But that soon grows old; exhaustion replaces enthusiasm. Most of the JW’s emotional and physical energy is devoted to the theocratic ministry. The person has little time or strength left for family or work. The individual just can’t keep up the pace, so he or she drops out.

Like being out on parole the exhausted ones escape physically from the Watchtower, but emotionally they are the walking wounded. Part of their training sensitizes them to guilt. JW elders try to manipulate them back into the fold by pushing the guilt-buttons of the exhausted ones. The exhausted one feels as though she is an utter failure. She believes she has failed Jehovah God. Instead she has failed the Watchtower, Jehovah’s Earthly Organization. The guilt is overwhelming.

Then to make matters worse, the exhausted person is bombarded with telephone calls from and visits by JW friends to get her to return. These drive her deeper and deeper into depression. Of any religious group Jehovah’s Witnesses have the highest incidence of mental illness and suicide among their membership.

Out of service for the Watchtower, the exhausted one’s mind still is captive; he or she still is convinced the Watchtower doctrines are true and that the Watchtower Society is Jehovah God’s earthly authority. She feels she herself is the evil one—the failure. While an active JW she never measured up. She always failed, according to the impossible standards set by the Watchtower. So she damns herself an admitted, utter failure who is doomed to die in the sudden destruction of Armageddon which she believes will occur any day.

The exhausted one lives a miserable existence. She may try to get back into good standing at the Kingdom Hall, the meeting place of JW’s. She can stand before the congregation and repent, confess her failures, and beg for reinstatement. She then may be put on probation and be allowed to sit on the back row. Nobody talks to her. After about a year she asks for reinstatement and goes before the board of elders. If she’s accepted back, she usually finds that she is marked and treated with suspicion. She lives with guilt and futility. Or she learns to lie to herself and convinces herself she really does measure up and joins the ranks of the self-righteous.

However, once a person has dropped out, most fail a second time and then a third. Finally the person gives up and adopts the attitude: If I’m doomed to die in Armageddon anyway, I might as well do as I please and leave God out of my life altogether. Emotionally and spiritually he still is locked up in the stone-cold Watchtower.

If on the other hand the JW is male and has not dropped out, he has the opportunity to progress through the ranks of publisher (a baptized JW in good standing), a servant, (equivalent to deacon), and perhaps even elder (member of the congregation’s governing board).
JW’s Are Kicked Out

The Watchtower Society would have you believe that all those kicked out are disfellowshiped for immorality. Not so. Many have been kicked out for smoking. Back when hippies distinguished themselves with wire-rimmed glasses and beards, JW’s were disfellowshiped for wearing those glasses, which the Watchtower considered worldly attire. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower, wore a long beard, but that apparently made no difference. JW’s still have been disfellowshiped for wearing beards.

JW’s also are kicked out for participating in independent Bible study, for questioning Watchtower dogma, for associating with a former JW whom they are supposed to shun, and for many other reasons ordinary people would find trivial or grossly unfair.

JW’s Leave in Disgust over Immoral JW Leaders

Some Jehovah’s Witnesses leave the organization when they see hypocrisy and double standards among members of the leadership. The most serious example is sexual molestation of children followed by organized cover-up. This blatant hypocrisy has pierced the hard shell of many JW’s and has caused them to leave the organization in disgust.

As with other religious organizations, child molesters flock to the JW’s, in which they can work themselves into positions of trust and have access to children. A familiar pattern has emerged. For years a priest sexually abuses children Somebody blows the whistle; more victims present themselves. The offending priest finally goes to jail. If he doesn’t go to jail, at least he is hauled off to a monastery in which he no longer has contact with children.

A pedophile becomes trained as a children’s worker or youth director in a church. He sexually abuses children. A child tells on him. The parent reports to the police; the pedophile goes to jail. After he gets out of prison, he is labeled and tracked as a sexual predator.

The JW’s, however, deal with sexual-abuse problems differently. They will disfellowship a person who disagrees with Watchtower dogma, who smokes, who wears skirts too short, or who engages in the catch-all transgression—worldly activity. But the Jehovah’s Witnesses protect child molesters in a cocoon of impossible rules and in an attitude that often punishes the victim.

If a child reports to an elder that she has been sexually molested, the elder will confront the accused. If he denies it, the elder tells the family that two witnesses must exist; otherwise, nothing can be done. The family members then insist that something be done about the child molester. They are told to wait on Jehovah. If they refuse to keep the matter quiet, the elders accuse the family of causing dissension in the congregation. If the family members persist, they are kicked out of the congregation, branded as troublemakers, and shunned. The child molester continues his dirty deeds but is careful to do nothing in front of two witnesses.

Another typical scenario is one in which a person of influence in the congregation is guilty of sexually abusing a child. Typically the child’s parents report the crime to the elders. The elders call the accused in to a judicial hearing. If no witnesses to the offense are produced, the elders refuse to believe such a charge against him and hush it up. Because of their power, influence, and role, the elders can do what they want. They may believe the influential offender is being persecuted; they may turn on the complaining parent. Usually the parents will continue to ask justice from the elders. As far as the elders are concerned, the case is closed, because no witnesses exist. If the parents persist, the elders have the authority to order the parents onto the carpet for a judicial hearing and accuse them of causing dissension among the brethren. This punishment of the victim often causes the parents to quietly leave the congregation. If they go and later unite with another congregation of JW’s, their file containing a record of judicial hearings and accusations goes there also.

An Australian JW congregation disfellowshiped Jan Groenveld because she blew the whistle on pedophiles and wouldn’t hush it up. She insisted that the elders do something about an abuser in the congregation. They refused. She went to the press. The JW elders declared her dead; she was shunned. The child abuser remained under the elders’ protection.

Because of so many cases of sexual molestation of children, including those by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Internet websites are devoted to telling the heartbreaking stories of victims and their families. Two of these websites are www.silentlambs.org and www.lambsroar.org.

The Love and Norris law firm of Fort Worth, TX, specializes in cases involving Jehovah’s Witnesses and sexual molestation of children. The firm says, “If you are a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a perpetrator in a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, we may be able to help you. Consistently, the Watchtower Society and Jehovah’s Witnesses congregations have responded to an abuse outcry with concern for the organization’s loss of reputation or prestige, rather than concern for victimized children.

“Statistically, a known pedophile WILL abuse again. By failing to acknowledge the problem, investigate vigorously, and cooperate with criminal law enforcement authorities, the Watchtower Society has failed to protect its own children from sexual predators. By harboring pedophiles, the Society potentially becomes responsible for the damage suffered by abused children.” Google on the Internet lists 65,200 sources under “Sex Abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

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A July 12, 2002, BBC report included a story about Bill Bowen, a JW elder in Kentucky for nearly 20 years. He said the Watchtower keeps a secret list of 23,720 sex offenders in the organization. The organization is well-aware of the problem but doesn’t want the public to know about it, according to Bowen. The Society reasons that by covering it up, only one person is hurt; by letting out the information, the image of the entire organization is hurt. The JW’s will take action against the sex offender only if two witnesses are produced or if the offender confesses. Even if a member of the congregation is convicted of child abuse, they keep it secret, Bowen told the BBC interviewer.

Bowen said when a sexual-abuse report is turned in, elders are instructed to call the Watchtower Society’s legal department. He said on one occasion he phoned the legal desk and asked how he should deal with a suspected case of abuse in his congregation. The Society’s representative told Bowen to ask the suspect again if the accusation was true. If the accused said, “No,” then

Bowen was to “walk away from it. Leave it for Jehovah. He’ll bring it out.”

The BBC report also contained the story of Alison Cousins, a young JW from Scotland. She reported to the elders that her father had sexually abused her. She later learned that he had abused her sister as well. The elders listened but did nothing. They sent her back home. For three years her father continued the abuse. Finally in desperation Alison went to the police. Her father was tried and convicted. The police had been the last to know about the abuse. It had been well-known in the Kingdom Hall but kept secret.

JW’s Escape Only to Plunge into Spiritual Limbo

I was one of those who left the Jehovah’s Witnesses and went into spiritual limbo. Starting at age 10 I began my long journey. I stood on street corners in Wichita, KS, with the canvas strap of a book bag over my shoulder. I held up a copy of The Watchtower magazine and called out to passersby, “The Watchtower, Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.”

Most people just ignored me. Others would look askance at the little kid and his canvas bag of magazines. A few were hateful and rude. “If you don’t like this country, why don’t you leave?” Others pointed a finger and shouted, “Nazi” or “Jap”. In my mind I would repeat what I had been taught. They persecute us just like they persecuted Jesus. It shows that we are doing Jehovah’s will, I told myself over and over, but the unkind words still hurt.

I trained in the Theocratic Ministry in the Kingdom Hall on the second floor of an old Wichita downtown business building. At age 11 I made my first public talk to an audience of 200. I faithfully went from door to door and distributed the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society’s magazines and books.

The Society helped enable kids like me to go door-to-door. Usually I went with an adult, but often, to get my 10 hours in, I would go alone. My equipment was a book bag with Watchtower and Awake magazines, a few booklets, and the newest hardbound book, a windup phonograph, and a yellow laminated testimony card. The testimony card introduced me as an ordained minister of the gospel and asked whether the person would listen to a three-minute phonograph message from Judge Joseph

Rutherford.

Before I went out in the field service, I visited the Territory Servant’s window at the Kingdom Hall and checked out a territory card. One side showed a map of the area, usually two or three square blocks; the other side had addresses and blanks on which to record attitudes of the residents. If one was interested enough to listen and perhaps to accept a piece of literature, that person received the highest rating—“Good Will”. If a person reacted rudely or tried to rebut the Watchtower teachings, we were instructed to write “Goat”. That person, we believed, would be separated on Judgment Day from the righteous “Sheep” and would be consigned to destruction.

Some doors slammed in my face. A few rude people shouted at me, “Get off my property.”

Some cursed me. One man turned water sprinklers on me. But all that made me feel justified. I was persecuted as Jesus had been. To be kind many people accepted the literature. People typically said, “I’m a Catholic. I’m not interested.” Or, “I’m a Baptist” or “Methodist” or “Presbyterian” or just plain “I’m not interested.” I had been taught that all those church folks worshiped Satan because they didn’t pray to Jehovah. If they prayed to “God”, Jehovah would not accept their prayers, because Satan, too, was a god, so Jehovah would send their prayers to Satan. I did what I was told. I did not realize I was on my way to a spiritual limbo.

Obvious Double Standard Encourages JW’s to Defect

I went to the five meetings a week required of publishers. I prayed daily to Jehovah. I tried to think moral thoughts and to behave as expected. Of course I failed and felt continuous guilt. Yet I saw other JW kids my age who didn’t measure up as well as I did who apparently weren’t bothered by guilt. Some, especially children of the elders and other leaders in the congregation, were downright mean and could get away with anything. The double standard existed among the children, too.

My Uncle Al Gordon rose to be one of the most prominent leaders in the Kingdom Hall. He claimed membership in The Elect, the 144,000 who held exclusive tickets to heaven. Ordinary

JW’s looked up to him with awe. To me Uncle Al was as mean as a snake. He expressed kindness to my mother, his youngest sister, but I never saw him show kindness to anyone else. He was rude to his wife and daughter and heaped verbal abuse on his step-granddaughter. He kept the 16-year-old step-granddaughter so cowed, she moved in nervous jerks. She was afraid to speak or move.

I saw the double standard among influential JW’s and in Uncle Al’s hypocrisy. Those contradictions bothered me but not enough to make me doubt the Watchtower Society, Jehovah’s earthly organization.

I have talked to many ex-JW’s who told me the same story. They saw double standards and hypocrisy that started weakening the cold stone of the Watchtower. Without consciously realizing it, this realization enabled them to begin their escape. Some escape the Watchtower and go immediately into Christian liberty. Others, as I did, go out into spiritual nothingness.
After Reading the Bible in Context JW’s Begin Their Escape

A violent beating led to my reading the Bible in context without Watchtower aids.

Kids in my school knew that I refused to salute the flag. When people asked why, I had a canned response. “We respect the flag and what it stands for, but the Bible tells us we should not bow down to any graven image.” That meant the flag was an image; to salute it would be the same as to bow down to an idol and worship it, according to the Watchtower Society, our official interpreter of what things meant.

One sunny afternoon when I was 15, a group of six boys surrounded me in the gravel driveway of the neighborhood convenience store, at which we hung out and drank sodas. On a stick one boy held a dirty little U.S. flag. “You’re going to salute this flag,” he said as he held the flag in my face.

They all shouted at me, “Salute this flag.” My little canned speech made no difference. They continued to shout and started shoving. I was surrounded by flailing fists and kicks. I would have let them kill me before I would salute the flag; for a while I thought they might. They beat me down to the ground. I’ll never forget the taste of blood and gravel in my mouth as they kicked me. I never knew what caused them to quit kicking and leave. Too groggy to get up I lay there awhile. Beaten and bloody I slowly rose. I hurt all over.

As I limped the half-mile home, my heart hurt more than my beaten body did. Again I questioned God. I knew the boys had done wrong. No justification existed for their rage. But still I had a dilemma. I loved my country; I loved God. Why couldn’t I be loyal to both? My faith needed to be strengthened.

At home I went to my Bible. At that time JW’s used the King James translation. I looked up the Scripture I had quoted, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight” (John 18:36).

Then I read the whole verse in context. It didn’t say at all what the Watchtower claimed. Jesus explained why His disciples didn’t fight His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, “. . . if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews . . ..”

Suddenly, the possibility that I had been lied to hit me harder than did the boys’ kicks in the head.

The realization that the Society had lied to me began my escape from the Watchtower.

In an attempt to strengthen my faith as a Jehovah’s Witness I had gone to the Bible. I didn’t consult anyone. I did it on my own. If I had asked my mother or stepfather or one of the congregation leaders, they would have given me Watchtower literature and books and would have assured me that this literature contained answers to my dilemma.

Physically and emotionally I was hurting. For a change I didn’t use the Watchtower sieve as a filter for what the Bible said. I just believed what the Bible plainly said.

For sure I had been lied to. The Watchtower had misquoted Jesus, taken His words out of context, and applied them to something entirely different. The Watchtower told its young men to refuse military service. If they already were in military service, the Society instructed them to refuse to salute officers and obey orders.

I looked in the Bible to see what Jesus said about soldiers. Jesus had contact with soldiers but never told them to desert. He never told them to refuse to salute their officers. Jesus never told anyone to refuse military service.

I decided to see what some of the disciples said about military service. In the concordance in the back of the Bible I looked up John the Baptist.

John the Baptist likewise never encouraged soldiers to rebel against their superior officers, shed their uniforms, and refuse to serve. Rather John told the soldiers to be honest in the discharge of their duties and to be content with their wages.

The apostle Paul likened Christians to soldiers. He spoke favorably of their dedication to duty. Paul never told Christians to refuse military service. He did not tell soldiers to quit obeying orders and to go to prison; rather Paul told Christians to obey civil authority.

If I had announced to the Witnesses my discovery and told them that I believed a Christian was permitted to serve in the Armed Forces, even if I accepted all the other Watchtower doctrines, I would have been disfellowshiped and consigned to death in Armageddon. On no point of doctrine can a Witness disagree with the Society.

I studied further the apostle Peter’s attitude toward military service. He went to Caesarea to see Cornelius, a centurion and officer in charge of 100 men in the Roman Imperial Regiment. The Bible calls Cornelius devout and said he was a man who feared God, gave generously to those in need, and prayed. Peter preached to Cornelius, some of his soldiers, and his household. They became Christians and were baptized.

If Peter had been a JW elder, he would have told them all to quit the army and go to prison or worse. Peter did no such thing. Rather, according to history, Christianity spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire largely because so many soldiers believed in Christ and shared their faith as they were transferred to other posts.

Then I decided to examine the rule against saluting the flag. I looked more closely at Exodus 20:3-5, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

I could not see how it could apply to the flag. If it applied to a flag, it also would apply to a photograph, a painting, or a map.

The Witnesses thought photographs, paintings, and maps were OK. But they taught that to salute the flag was to bow down to an image. I could love my mother without worshiping her. I could have a picture of my mother without worshiping it. I could love my country without worshiping it. I could salute the flag, which stood for America, without worshiping the flag.

But I didn’t salute the flag. I kept these new convictions a secret. I still went to the Kingdom Hall. I gradually quit the Witness Work. That was obvious because my weekly reports turned in at the Kingdom Hall showed no time spent in field service.

I continued to read the Bible with an open mind. I read in the New Testament that people who heard the gospel and became converted were joyful. This wasn’t the same picture I saw in the Witnesses. New Believers in the New Testament time seemed as though they were people who were released from bondage. New Jehovah’s Witnesses seemed as though they were those who went into bondage.

After the Watchtower Society lied to me and other JW’s, we repeated those lies.

Many different things cause JW’s to begin to read the Bible in context. For me a beating spurred me on. For Helen Ortega suspicion and mistreatment by fellow JW’s influenced her to start with Bible-reading.

I met Helen Ortega at one of the Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses for Jesus conventions in New Ringgold, PA. A lifelong Jehovah’s Witness, Helen had a good reputation as an active publisher in the Kingdom Hall and was highly regarded as theocratic (an active, moral, and obedient JW). In private, however, Helen started something forbidden. She read the Bible on her own without the Watchtower’s guidance. She became increasingly interested in what the Bible had to say. The idea of heaven fascinated her.

Even the Watchtower’s Bible, the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (NWT), for the believer contains promises of eternal life in heaven. The JW guide, however, will explain that heaven is only for The Elect, the Little Flock, the 144,000. Still, Helen couldn’t get heaven out of her mind. After months of private Bible study and prayer Helen found only one answer for her deep feeling about heaven. She must be one of The Elect.

At Passover time when Kingdom Halls around the world celebrate The Lord’s Evening Meal, Helen attended but not as usual. At this most important meeting of the year JW’s try to get all their members there; they even invite visitors—those they consider to be people of good will studying with JW’s. As usual the elders passed the bread and wine. As usual no one partook. The bread and wine were only for The Elect. In the vast majority of Kingdom Halls none of The Elect show up. But that evening Helen took the bread and wine. Gasps arose from the congregation. What is Helen doing? If she is of The Elect, someone must have fallen. Afterward members and elders surrounded Helen and fired questions at her. She explained her convictions about heaven and that she now believed she would go there. After that event her lifelong friends began to regard her with suspicion. Some avoided her. The elders confronted her. They demanded to know: Is she really of The Elect? She explained how she had understood the Scriptures about heaven, which revealed to them that she had been reading the Bible on her own. They ordered her to quit reading the Bible on her own. Rather than obey them she read the Bible more and more. Eventually she decided the doctrine that only 144,000 could go to heaven was not scriptural. When she told the elders about her conclusion, they disfellowshiped her, branded her as an apostate, and shunned her. Even her family turned against her.

She continued to read the Bible. She realized that salvation is by grace alone; she trusted in Jesus Christ and claimed His promise of a home in heaven. After months of emotional conflict with her family members who remained loyal JW’s, they eventually saw her Christian joy and sense of liberation from the Watchtower; they, too, trusted in Christ.

Helen Ortega was willing to accept, believe, and live by all the Watchtower dictates except one. The elders chose to reject her.

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In 1983 Paul Blizard, a third-generation JW, phoned me from Brady, TX, He had read my book, I Was Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, and recently left the Watchtower. Paul had become a Christian. He told me the heartbreaking story of his betrayal by the Witnesses.

At insistence of the elders, who believed Armageddon would arrive in 1975, Paul dropped out of high school to devote full time to the witness work. A bright young man, he rose quickly in the local congregation. Then he was promoted to the prestigious position of a Bethelite—honored to work without pay in the printing plant at Watchtower Headquarters in Brooklyn.

After several years in Bethel he left and married a JW and former missionary. Paul and Pat had two boys and longed for a girl. Finally in 1980 Pat gave birth to their daughter, Jenny. The baby had a blood disorder and became so anemic, doctors said she had to have a blood transfusion.

The Blizards refused to allow the transfusion. They sadly surrendered their beloved child to die. However, the medical team notified authorities, who took legal guardianship of Jenny. Because JW’s, to prevent a blood transfusion, routinely took children away from hospitals, a judge issued a restraining order that would not allow the Blizards to take the child away.

Paul and Pat secretly felt great relief that their baby would be saved. Their consciences were clear. They had done everything they could to obey the Watchtower dictates, but now the situation was out of their hands. JW elders didn’t agree.

In the hospital the elders approached the Blizards and presented a plan to slip into the hospital and kidnap Jenny. Paul and Pat refused to disobey the court order; they knew to do so would doom their daughter to death. Paul explained that if he pulled the plugs on devices that kept his daughter alive and if he removed her from treatment, he might be charged with homicide. The elders told him he would have to take the chance. At any cost he had to prevent the child from taking blood.

Fed up with their callous disregard for his daughter’s life, Paul ordered the elders to leave. As they left, one elder called back, “I hope she gets hepatitis from the blood.”

Paul Blizard was willing to accept, believe, and live by all the Watchtower rules with only one exception—the prohibition of a blood transfusion. He objected to that only in special circumstances. Too bad. The elders still regarded him as an outcast.

Years earlier Paul and Pat had obtained a New American Standard Bible, which they studied in secret lest a JW report them to the elders. Paul knew well about the network of informers in the Kingdom Hall. He had been one himself; he thought part of his theocratic duty was to root out weak and straying members.

Paul’s own father had turned him in. The elders convened a judicial hearing and found Paul guilty. With the threat of excommunication looming over his head Paul repented of his unauthorized

Bible study and confessed.

The JW’s make a big deal out of confessing and use it not only to purge an individual’s conscience but also as a subtle weapon to implicate other people by mentioning their complicity in the repentant person’s wrongdoing.

After Paul’s trial and confession, he promised to obey all the Watchtower rules. The elders stripped him of all duties at the Kingdom Hall. Now Paul had a record. His file, with all that damning information, would follow him to any Kingdom Hall wherever he went.

After the hospital showdown, Paul and Pat remembered their secret Bible studies and the humiliation that followed. They had disobeyed the Watchtower and were personas non grata anyway, so they went back to studying the forbidden Bible. Paul also remembered another forbidden book, Thirty Years a Watchtower Slave by William J. Schnell. Possession of that book or my book, I Was Raised a Jehovah’s Witness, means immediate expulsion from Jehovah’s Witnesses. Years earlier Paul secretly had read Schnell’s book and discarded it as apostate propaganda. (Jehovah’s Witnesses consider as an apostate any ex-JW who speaks against the Watchtower.) After the traumatic experience with

Jenny and the elders in the hospital, Paul’s mind searched back for pieces of the puzzle. He remembered what Schnell in his book had said. Paul, too, had been a Watchtower slave. The pieces fit. The truths he had read in the New American Standard Version (NASV) of the Bible returned to him. They fit as well.

In the Bible Paul and Pat learned that Jesus is The Truth and trusted in His grace. When the elders learned about Paul and Pat’s decision to trust in Jesus Christ, they disfellowshiped them; Paul and Pat then were shunned by old friends and family. But they rejoiced in their newfound Christian liberty.

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When I flew in for the first Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses for Jesus convention in New Ringgold, PA, Alex DeMayo of Runnemede, NJ, picked me up at the Philadelphia airport. On the ride we got acquainted and traded accounts of how we got out of the Watchtower.

For 18 years Alex was a faithful Witness. Several people reported to the elders that his daughter’s skirts were too short. Elders forced him to stand “on the carpet” before them and be reprimanded. The humiliation hurt his pride, but he continued on as an obedient JW. Later, after he had forgotten that incident, for no particular reason he bought his wife a dozen roses. He just wanted to express his love for her. He didn’t realize Mother’s Day was just a few days away. Someone informed the elders that Alex celebrated Mother’s Day. Elders summoned him to another judicial hearing. The elders accused him of worldliness because they said he had celebrated a pagan holiday. The callous cruelty of the elders made Alex, for the first time, realize that just maybe the Watchtower could be wrong in some instances. He began to think for himself and with an open mind began to read the Bible in context.

Now believing that the Watchtower possibly could be wrong, he accepted an invitation to attend a Christian church and hear Bill Cetnar speak on the errors of the Watchtower. Just to set foot in a church was a major move, because the Society taught that to do so would mean he immediately would be demon-possessed.

Bill Cetnar had been a high official in the Watchtower organization and had escaped. He knew the innerworkings of the Society and the duplicity, hypocrisy, and manipulation of volunteer labor that went on at Bethel (the Watchtower headquarters in Brooklyn). Bill Cetnar talked about Jesus, Who claimed to be ego aime—the I AM. That prompted Alex to delve more deeply into independent Bible study. Soon he escaped from the Watchtower’s domination and accepted Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior.

“For 18 years I knocked on doors and witnessed to people. During that time I failed to bring one person into the Jehovah’s Witnesses, no matter how hard I tried,” Alex told the people gathered for the convention. In the two years since his conversion to real Christianity, he had helped several people, including his wife and daughter, trust Christ as savior.

People do escape from the Watchtower. The way of escape is like a big funnel. The big end is a crisis of belief brought on by unjust actions or lies by the Watchtower or congregational leaders. These accumulate in the big end of the funnel and are concentrated toward the little end. There the Word of God corrects the theological errors and provides a way of escape.



My Opinion: I enjoyed reading this book and learning of the trials experienced by Joe. His account of the life in and out of the Witnesses is extremely interesting. When he spoke to his Grandfather about his witnessing always, he found that his Grandfather was afraid if he died and hadn't witnessed that day, he would not go to heaven. His Mother suffered needlessly from Shingles, from lack of treatment. Reading of all the unnecessary suffering that went on, makes one very sad. You want to shake them with the truth.
Loved how he spoke about trying to witness to the Witness, they are trained excessively to react to what we have to say! Also if you belong to the Catholic Church, that is called Satan's Church by this Religion!
How freeing, and feeling alive it must be to get away from a cult such as the Witnesses! The Author speaks of his meetings after getting free. They attend conventions, talking with people who are now saved.
I really recommend this eye opening and enjoyable read.