Saturday, 28 May 2011
About the Book:
Local Detectives Close In On Serial Killer!
Just as Noah open his mouth to respond, the passenger window beside Kit ruptured, glass flew, and Noah yelled. Kit gasped, “Noah!” Kit felt something hit her arm then pain radiated upward toward her neck. “The shooter is on the roof, I’m going for that parking garage,” Noah gritted. “Noah? I think I’m gonna pass out.” Kit’s eyes shut and this time she couldn’t shove the blackness away.
A Killer Among Us (ISBN: 978-08007-3371-1, $14.99, May 2011) is the latest thriller in the Women of Justice series from author Lynette Eason. In the conclusion of this series, A Killer Among Us is full of the heart-stopping suspense and gritty realism that fans of television shows like NCIS or CSI enjoy. Eason brings to life the lives of a negotiator and a detective hunting down a killer in the streets of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Kit Kenyon is a first-rate hostage negotiator. Noah Lambert is a good detective with excellent instincts. The new partners have hardly had time to get used to each other when they are thrown into this grisly murder case. As evidence mounts and more victims are found, Kit and Noah realize they are on the hunt for a serial killer. The problem is he's hunting one of them...but which one?
The pace never slows in A Killer Among Us as the story offers up clever plot twists, and hint of romance. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as this page-turning suspense keeps readers up late trying to discover who the killer is--and whether Kit and Noah will live to tell about it.
About the Author:
Lynette Eason is the author of Too Close to Home, Don't Look Back, and thirteen other romantic suspense novels. She is a member of American Fiction Christian Writers and Romance Writers of America. A homeschooling mother, she has a master's degree in education from Converse College. She lives in South Carolina.
Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.
I couldn't even begin to describe how anxious I was to read and review the 3rd and final book in the "Women of Justice" Series ~ "A Killer Among Us!" Lynette Eason has quickly become one of my Favorite Christian Suspense Authors for sure! While this book is the last in the series it easily would read as a stand alone however, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read the other two ~ "Too close to Home," and "Don't Look Back." A Killer Among Us introduces us to Kit and Noah. Kit is a High Profile Negotiator and Noah is a Detective with not only excellent instincts, but a godly man, and an example to all of those around him.
When these two come together as partners, they both have to learn how to best work with one another. Noah's previous partner had a fatal accident and he still carries the burden and feels responsible. Kit is a strong woman and an excellent negotiator, yet harbors so much pain from her past. Together, these two make an amazing team and the more time they spend together, the more they realize they are attracted to one another. Noah prays Kit can find forgiveness and that God can work in her heart. As they continue to work on the case, they quickly learn they are dealing with a serial killer and may be hunting not just the innocent lives of the law students, but quite possibly, Kit or Noah as well!
I have loved this series. A series about Family, and finding God, despite difficult situations and hurts in your past. I love how Lynette weaves forgiveness and healing into the lives of not only Kit and Noah but Jake, Samantha, Connor, and Jamie! If you like Suspense and Fast paced Action these are the books for you! The only thing that could make this the full package is to add a good romance in and Lynette has done that perfectly!
If you are a CSI fan, or Criminal Minds strikes your fancy then don't walk to your nearest bookstore.....RUN! Grab the Women of Justice Series and a glass of sweet tea and enjoy these books!! You WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!
THANK YOU Revell, a Division of Baker Publishing Group for allowing me this complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥'s INDEED!
For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.
Thursday, 26 May 2011
About the Book:
RICKY BRADSHAW has never sailed the Caribbean Sea, searched for buried treasure or battled pirates on the deck of a Spanish Galleon. He’s never fallen through the floor of Davy Jones’ locker or watched an old fisherman morph into a porpoise. All Ricky knows is his lonely life with his widowed mom in a tiny apartment overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. But all that changes on a snowy Christmas Eve when Ricky’s apartment building burns down and he suffers a seizure, falling into the chilly waters. Suddenly Ricky finds himself thrust into a world where there is surprising beauty on every island, danger around every corner and great honor and glory ahead of him—if only Ricky can summon the courage to survive the curse of Captain LaFoote.
The Author Eddie Jones:
EDDIE JONES has authored four non-fiction books, one young adult novel, and written over a hundred articles that have appeared in over 20 different publications. He is co-founder of Christian Devotions Ministries and a contributing writer for, CBN.com, Common Ground Christian News, The Ocracoke Observer, and Living Aboard Magazine. He’s a three-time winner of the Delaware Christian Writers Conference and a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Boating Writers International. Eddie sails, surfs and writes in North Carolina. For more information see: http://www.captainlafoote.com/.
Check this out:
The Curse of Captian LaFoote is geared towards the Young Fiction Audience ~ young teen or middle school age! I wanted to make sure that I was comfortable before handing it over to my Son to read. Eddie Jones has a passion for telling Pirate Stories and does a Fabulous job with this book! As is common with any Pirate story or movie, there are battles, buried treasure and a whole lot of adventure! Because I have a 14 year old Son who loves to read and loves pirate stories, I know this is going into his summer reading pile for sure!
Thanks KCWC for allowing me this complimentary book in exchange for my honest review! OH WAIT ........
There is also a contest for this going on...Here are the goodies for the chosen winner:
I will draw one name for any and all comments on this post On Saturday June 4th, to go into the grand prize drawing through KCWC.
8 – 9″ party plates
8 – 9-oz. cups
16 luncheon napkins
16 pc. blue cutlery set
1 red plastic table cover
2 rolls of streamers, 1 blue and 1 red
12 each of blue and red balloons
2 pkgs. of confetti, 1 blue and 1 orange
4 yds. deluxe creepy cloth
12 pirate swords with eye patch
72 pirate tattoos
8 dessert plates
16 beverage napkins
8 treasure chest-shaped filled treat boxes
1 10 ft. pennant
12 child-size pirate hats
1 photo door banner
1 pinata and toy and candy asst.
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
we are pleased to announce the 2011 IRCA Finalists
Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes (Tyndale)
The Six-Liter Club by Harry Kraus (Howard)
Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio by Serena Miller (Summerside)
Tender Mercies by Mary Manners (White Rose)
White Roses by Shannon Taylor Vannatter (Barbour)
Rodeo Redemption by Teri Wilson (White Rose)
The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund (Bethany House)
Abbie Ann by Sharlene MacLaren (Whitaker House)
A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin (Revell)
Walker's Wedding by Lori Copeland (Harvest)
The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean (Steeple Hill)
A Matter of Character by Robin Lee Hatcher (Zondervan)
The House on Sugar Plum Lane by Judy Duarte (Kensington)
Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart (FaithWords)
Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson)
Too Close to Home by Lynette Eason (Revell)
Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze (Waterbrook)
Nightshade by Ronie Kendig (Barbour)
The Snowflake by Jamie Carrie (Broadman and Holman)
Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Anita Higman (Summerside)
A Bodine Family Christmas by Marta Perry (Steeple Hill)
Congratulations to the finalists!
I have read and reviewed quite a few of these! I am so excited for these authors! Very Well Deserved!!
NEED A SUMMER BOOK?? Great List to Choose From!!
I have WONDERFUL MEMORIES of spending HOURS at the Bowling Alley! My Mother worked part-time in the nursery at some point of my childhood and then my parents were also in a bowling league so to say I spent a good amount of time at a bowling alley would be right on :)
I can remember carrying Barbie suitcases loaded with Barbies, clothes for her and Ken, and anything else that would fit in there! I would string it all out and just play play play. Listening to the pins being hit by the bowling balls, people yelling SSSTTTRRRIIKKE!! and every so often you would hear the yell of someone frustrated knowing they must have come so close to making that strike yet the ball must have curved at the very last moment :) One of the best memories I have is when my Mom picked up an unbelievable SPLIT! I am thinking it was a 4-10 split and she nailed it!! It was soo exciting :) EVERYONE was squeeling, high - fiving and just overall amazed at her shot!
Bowling is a fun family activity to say the least! So when I found out about an opportunity with the ONE2ONE Network and AMF bowling I was thrilled to sign on! If you and your family love to go bowling be sure to check out this link and find out which bowling alleys are offering Free Bowling in your area! This is an excellent activity to spend some good family time or just getting the kids out of the house, away from TV or video games :)
The Summer Bowling Program for:
KIDS 16 & Under:
At select AMF centers, two free games of bowling per day for kids 16 and under. (Shoe rental not included, but they’re worth paying for.)
Time: open until 8:00PM, 7 days a week.
Dates: Monday, May 30 (Memorial Day) through Monday, September 5 (Labor Day).
Parents go to http://bit.ly/AMFfree to select a participating center and complete a simple registration form.
Free game coupons emailed every Sunday starting May 29 for the following week – it’s that simple!
Over 200 participating locations across the US!
For those 17 & UP:
AMF Summer 17 Plus Pass
• For families of registered kids, a one-time payment of $27.95 buys 2 games per day for 4 people all summer long (same dates and times as above.)
• Less than $7 per person for 2 games everyday all summer.
• Available online at http://bit.ly/AMFfree.
Soooo....What are you waiting for?? Summer is Upon us.....and the bowling pins await!
Monday, 23 May 2011
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned 10 legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel, Directed Verdict. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"—part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children.
Visit the author's website.
Clark Shealy is a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line: his wife's life. He has forty-eight hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm—an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption.
Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist: she and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. After a life-changing trip to the professor's church in India, the couple also has the key to decode it.
Now they're on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.
An adrenaline-laced thrill ride, this retelling of one of Randy Singer's most critically acclaimed novels takes readers from the streets of Las Vegas to the halls of the American justice system and the inner sanctum of the growing church in India with all the trademark twists, turns, and the legal intrigue his fans have come to expect.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (April 25, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
THE LONGEST THREE DAYS of Clark Shealy’s life began with an expired registration sticker.
That was Clark’s first clue, the reason he followed the jet-black Cadillac Escalade ESV yesterday. The reason he phoned his wife, his partner in both marriage and crime . . . well, not really crime but certainly the dark edge of legality. They were the Bonnie and Clyde of bounty hunters, of repo artists, of anything requiring sham credentials and bold-faced lies. Jessica’s quick search of DMV records, which led to a phone call to the title holder, a Los Angeles credit union, confirmed what Clark had already guessed. The owner wasn’t making payments. The credit union wanted to repo the vehicle but couldn’t find it. They were willing to pay.
“How much?” Clark asked Jessica.
“It’s not worth it,” she replied. “That’s not why you’re there.”
“Sure, honey. But just for grins, how much are we passing up?”
Jessica murmured something.
“You’re breaking up,” Clark said.
“They’d pay a third of Blue Book.”
“About forty-eight four,” Jessica said softly.
“Love you, babe,” Clark replied, doing the math. Sixteen thousand dollars!
He ended the call. She called back. He hit Ignore.
Sixteen thousand dollars! Sure, it wasn’t the main reason he had come to Vegas. But a little bonus couldn’t hurt.
Unfortunately, the vehicle came equipped with the latest in theft protection devices, an electronically coded key supplied to the owner. The engine transmitted an electronic message that had to match the code programmed into the key, or the car wouldn’t turn over.
Clark learned this the hard way during the dead hours of the desert night, at about two thirty. He had broken into the Cadillac, disabled the standard alarm system, removed the cover of the steering column, and hot-wired the vehicle. But without the right key, the car wouldn’t start. Clark knew immediately that he had triggered a remote alarm. Using his hacksaw, he quickly sawed deep into the steering column, disabling the vehicle, and then sprinted down the drive and across the road
He heard a stream of cursing from the front steps of a nearby condo followed by the blast of a gun. To Clark’s trained ears, it sounded like a .350 Magnum, though he didn’t stay around long enough to confirm the make, model, and ATF serial number.
Six hours later, Clark came back.
He bluffed his way past the security guard at the entrance of the gated community and drove his borrowed tow truck into the elegant brick parking lot rimmed by manicured hedges. He parked sideways, immediately behind the Cadillac. These condos, some of Vegas’s finest, probably went for more than a million bucks each.
The Caddy fit right in, screaming elegance and privilege—custom twenty-inch rims, beautiful leather interior, enough leg room for the Lakers’ starting five, digital readouts on the dash, and an onboard computer that allowed its owner to customize all power functions in the vehicle. The surround-sound system, of course, could rattle the windows on a car three blocks away. Cadillac had pimped this ride out fresh from the factory, making it the vehicle of choice for men like Mortavius Johnson, men who lived on the west side of Vegas and supplied “escorts” for the city’s biggest gamblers.
Clark speed-dialed 1 before he stepped out of the tow truck.
“This is stupid, Clark.”
“Good morning to you, too. Are you ready?”
“All right. Let’s do it.” He slid the still-connected phone into a pocket of his coveralls. They were noticeably short, pulling at the crotch. He had bought the outfit on the spot from a mechanic at North Vegas Auto, the same garage where he borrowed the tow truck from the owner, a friend who had helped Clark in some prior repo schemes. A hundred and fifty bucks for the coveralls, complete with oil and grease stains. Clark had ripped off the name tag and rolled up the sleeves. It felt like junior high all over again, growing so fast the clothes couldn’t keep up with the boy.
He popped open the hood of the wrecker, smeared his fingers on some blackened oil grime, and rubbed a little grease on his forearms, with a dab to his face. He closed the hood and walked confidently to the front door of the condo, checking the paper in his hand as if looking for an address. He rang the bell.
Silence. . . . He rang it again.
Eventually, he heard heavy footsteps inside and then the clicking of a lock before the door slowly opened. Mortavius Johnson, looking like he had barely survived a rough night, filled the doorway. Clark was tall and slender—six-three, about one-ninety. But Mortavius was tall and bulky—a brooding presence who dwarfed Clark. He wore jeans and no shirt, exposing rock-solid pecs but also a good-size gut. He didn’t have a gun.
Clark glanced down at his paper while Mortavius surveyed him with bloodshot eyes.
“Are you Mortavius Johnson?”
“You call for a tow?”
Mortavius’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. The big man glanced at the pocket of Clark’s coveralls—no insignia—then around him at the tow truck. Clark had quickly spray-painted over the logo and wondered if Mortavius could tell.
Clark held his breath and considered his options. If the big man caught on, Clark would have to surprise Mortavius, Pearl Harbor–style, with a knee to the groin or a fist to the solar plexus. Even those blows would probably just stun the big man momentarily. Clark would sprint like a bandit to the tow truck, hoping Mortavius’s gun was more than arm’s length away. Clark might be able to outrun Mortavius, but not the man’s bullet.
“I left a message last night with the Cadillac dealer,” Mortavius said.
The Cadillac dealer. Clark was hoping for something a little more specific. “And the Cadillac dealer called me,” Clark said, loudly enough to be heard on the cell phone in his pocket. “You think they’ve got their own tow trucks at that place? It’s not like Caddies break down very often. If everybody could afford a Caddie, I’d go out of business.”
Clark smiled. Mortavius did not.
“What company you with?” he asked.
“Highway Auto Service,” Clark responded, louder still. He pulled out the cell phone, surreptitiously hit the End button with a thumb, then held it out to Mortavius. “You want to call my office? Speed dial 1.”
Mortavius frowned. He still looked groggy. “I’ll get the keys,” he said.
He disappeared from the doorway, and Clark let out a breath. He speed-dialed Jessica again and put the phone back in his pocket. He glanced over his shoulder, then did a double take.
Give me a break!
Another tow truck was pulling past the security guard and heading toward Mortavius’s condo. Things were getting a little dicey.
“I left some papers in the truck you’ll need to sign,” Clark called into the condo. But as soon as the words left Clark’s mouth, Mortavius reappeared in the doorway, keys in hand.
Unfortunately, he glanced past Clark, and his eyes locked on the other tow truck. A glint of understanding sparked, followed by a flash of anger. “Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.
“I told you . . . the Cadillac place.”
“The Cadillac place,” Mortavius repeated sarcastically. “What Cadillac place?”
“Don’t remember. The name’s on the papers in my truck.”
Mortavius took a menacing step forward, and Clark felt the fear crawl up his neck. His fake sheriff’s ID was in the tow truck along with his gun. He was running out of options.
“Who sent you?” Mortavius demanded.
Clark stiffened, ready to dodge the big man’s blows. In that instant, Clark thought about the dental work the last incident like this had required. Jessica would shoot him—it wasn’t in the budget.
A hand shot out, and Clark ducked. He lunged forward and brought his knee up with all his might. But the other man was quick, and the knee hit rock-solid thigh, not groin. Clark felt himself being jerked by his collar into the foyer, the way a dog might be yanked inside by an angry owner. Before he could land a blow, Clark was up against the wall, Mortavius in his face, a knife poised against Clark’s stomach.
Where did that come from?
Mortavius kicked the door shut. “Talk fast, con man,” he hissed. “Intruders break into my home, I slice ’em up in self-defense.”
“I’m a deputy sheriff for Orange County, California,” Clark gasped. He tried to sound official, hoping that even Mortavius might think twice before killing a law enforcement officer. “In off hours, I repo vehicles.” He felt the point of the knife pressing against his gut, just below his navel, the perfect spot to start a vivisection.
“But you can keep yours,” Clark continued, talking fast. “I’m only authorized to repo if there’s no breach of the peace. Looks like this situation might not qualify.”
Mortavius inched closer. He shifted his grip from Clark’s collar to his neck, pinning Clark against the wall. “You try to gank my ride at night, then show up the next morning to tow it?”
“Something like that,” Clark admitted. The words came out whispered for lack of air.
“That takes guts,” Mortavius responded. A look that might have passed for admiration flashed across the dark eyes. “But no brains.”
“I’ve got a deal,” Clark whispered, frantic now for breath. His world was starting to cave in, stars and pyrotechnics clouding his vision.
The doorbell rang.
“Let’s hear it,” Mortavius said quietly, relaxing his stranglehold just enough so Clark could breathe.
“They’re paying me six Gs for the car,” Clark explained rapidly. He was thinking just clearly enough to fudge the numbers. “They know where you are now because I called them yesterday. Even if you kill me—” saying the words made Clark shudder a little, especially since Mortavius didn’t flinch—“they’re going to find the car. You let me tow it today and get it fixed. I’ll wire four thousand bucks into your bank account before I leave the Cadillac place. I make two thousand, and you’ve got four thousand for a down payment on your next set of wheels.”
The doorbell rang again, and Mortavius furrowed his brow. “Five Gs,” he said, scowling.
“Forty-five hundred,” Clark countered, “I’ve got a wife and—”
Ughh . . . Clark felt the wind flee his lungs as Mortavius slammed him against the wall. Pain shot from the back of his skull where it bounced off the drywall, probably leaving a dent.
“Five,” Mortavius snarled.
Clark nodded quickly.
The big man released Clark, answered the door, and chased away the other tow truck driver, explaining that there had been a mistake. As Mortavius and Clark finished negotiating deal points, Clark had another brilliant idea.
“Have you got any friends who aren’t making their payments?” he asked. “I could cut them in on the same type of deal. Say . . . fifty-fifty on the repo reward—they could use their cuts as down payments to trade up.”
“Get out of here before I hurt you,” Mortavius said.
Clark glanced at his watch as he left the parking lot. He had less than two hours to return the tow truck and make it to the plastic surgeon’s office. He speed-dialed Jessica.
“Highway Auto Service,” she responded.
“It didn’t work,” Clark said. “I got busted.”
He loved hearing the concern in her voice. He hesitated a second, then, “Not a scratch on me.”
“I told you it was a dumb idea,” Jessica said, though she sounded more relieved than upset. “You never listen. Clark Shealy knows it all.”
And he wasn’t listening now. Instead, he was doing the math again in his head. Sixteen thousand, minus Mortavius’s cut and the repair bill, would leave about ten. He thought about the logistics of making the wire transfers into accounts that Jessica wouldn’t know about.
Pulling a con on pimps like Mortavius was one thing. Getting one by Jessica was quite another.
This is my first book by Randy Singer and WOW ~ What a great introduction!
False Witness is action packed, inspirational, and thrilling! As you read False Witness, you may think to yourself, "AHA, I think I've got this figured out" ~ Just keep reading because chances are YOU DON'T!! Clarke Shealy is notified that his Wife has been kidnapped! He has 48 hours if he ever wants to see her again he must find an Indian Professor who holds the extremely valuable algorithm that could change Internet technology forever. This is just the first portion of the book :)
Later in the book you meet 3 Law students who are working at a legal aid clinic. They become involved with a man in the FBI Witness Program named "David Hoffman." The quirky students find themselves in for a wild ride to say the least!
If you like John Grisham, you will LOVE Randy Singer's legal thrillers! I recommend this book and give it ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥'s
Saturday, 21 May 2011
As the kids got older we no longer had the locks on the cabinet doors keeping them away from harmful chemicals, or the tabs in the electrical sockets to keep their little fingers from shocking themselves. However, all of that changed when we became GRANDPARENTS!! It is amazing how many products have changed, making a parents job much easier! I especially love it when something comes out that is so simple, yet provides safety and independence for small children! You can't beat that can you!
Let me share with you the AWESOME Kid Switch
The #1 Child Safety Product 3 Years in a Row!! WOW!
To learn more about the Kidswitch please visit Dandy Giveaway
Thank you "
Thursday, 19 May 2011
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
CreateSpace (March 24, 2011)
Mike Hamel is the author of a dozen books and a cancer survivor who lives and writes in the shadow of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs.
Visit the author's website.
Stumbling Toward Heaven is about my struggle with cancer in particular and life in general. It describes in detail what the disease has done to my body and what life before and during treatment has done to my mind, which has never been very stable in the first place. It follows my physical and spiritual journey toward the Valley of the Shadow of Death and beyond. It’s written for everyone who has been impacted by life-threatening catastrophes.
This book is also meant for those who find themselves spiritually “off the reservation” as novelist and cancer survivor Kinky Friedman would say. For a long time I’ve been “out where the (church) buses don’t run”—another Kinkyism—and it’s surprising how many people have wandered out here for one reason or another.
On May 16th, TV News 5 (Colorado) ran a story about Mike. Click HERE to see the interview!
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 270 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 24, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
July 2, 2008
“I have good news,” Dr. Dillon said, leaning forward on his elbows. “You have cancer. The biopsy shows the lump in your abdomen is Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and not an omental tumor as the initial scan suggested.”
Lymphoma is good news indeed. The first time I’d seen the good doctor a few weeks earlier he’d said, “You have a nonspecific mass in your omentum.”
“I didn’t even know I had an omentum,” I replied.
“It’s a fatty covering in the abdomen.”
“How big is the mass?” (“Mass” sounds more benign that “tumor.”)
“About the diameter of a grapefruit,” he said, making a circle with thumbs and forefingers. “The nearby lymph nodes are also enlarged.”
Dr. Dillon had no idea how long the tumor had been growing. I got introduced to it in the spring of 2008. I was getting low-grade cramps after sitting at my computer all day, which I put down to poor posture. Then I woke up two nights in a row with abdominal pain I couldn’t blame on posture or indigestion. That’s when I first felt the hardness in my gut.
The cramps went away about the time I made an appointment with my family physician but the lump remained. I remember kneading my gut on the way to the doctor’s trying to rekindle the pain that had caused me to make the appointment in the first place. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about wasting the doctor’s time; he could feel the abnormality and wouldn’t buy my glib explanation that it was my abs of steel.
“It’s only hard on one side,” he pointed out.
“Okay,” I conceded, “How about ab of steel?”
“How about you get a CT scan,” he countered.
The scan revealed a mass large enough to warrant an immediate trip to a surgeon/oncologist, which is how I wound up at Dr. Dillon’s.
Larry Dillon is a personable man with salt-and-pepper hair, an open face and straightforward manner. During our first visit he had explained to my wife, Susan, and me that the normal course of treatment is a complete surgical resection of the omentum. Before we left he warned about doing research on the Internet because the information on solid omental tumors “will scare you silly.”
He got that right.
I had no problem finding authoritative articles on omental masses. I had hoped it was something Catholics attended during Lent, but no such luck. An article on eMedicine clinically stated that, “Patients with primary malignant tumors of the omentum have a median survival time of only six months. Only 10-20% of patients are alive two years after surgical excision.”1
The word that popped out at me was “survival,” a stark concept for a fifty-six-year-old who had seldom been sick and who had only been in a hospital as a visitor. Till now my closest brushes with mortality had been conducting funerals as a pastor. All that was about to change. Since then I’ve been in and out of hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. I have gone from a high-energy to a high-maintenance lifestyle; from avoiding even aspirin to popping up to twenty pills a day and having lethal doses of toxic chemicals injected directly into my chest.
Scan This, Biopsy That
The transition from diagnosis (determining what’s wrong with a person), to prognosis (discerning how a disease will progress), is facilitated by a plethora of tests. It was a CT scan that sent me to Dr. Dillon. He in turn ordered a biopsy of the mass in my abdomen.
Computed Axial Tomography, aka CAT or CT scan, was invented in 1972 by a British engineer and a South African physicist, both of whom later received Nobel Prizes for their contributions to medicine and science. Tomos is Greek for “slice” and graphia means “without a knife.” The CT scan uses X-rays and computers to examine the body in 3-D, which sure beats exploratory surgery! It allows radiologists to see diseases and abnormalities that, in the past, could only be found by surgeons—or coroners. Thankfully, the procedure is painless, unless you count drinking the contrast solution, which tastes like banana-flavored chalk.
I reported to Memorial Hospital on June 26 for my tumor biopsy. I remember talking to a nurse named Tammy while on the examination table and the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room an hour later. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine and the skills of top-flight professionals, I can truly say the process was painless.
As I looked at my stomach after the biopsy, I noticed the “x” they made before the procedure was an inch below the actual cut. I pointed this out to Tammy, who explained that they’d marked me while I was holding my breath during the scan. Once I was under, I relaxed, hence the change in location. There went my hopes of a malpractice suit. Actually, I was impressed at how personable and professional the medical personnel have treated me) an observation that has held true throughout my treatment).
All I have to show for the biopsy the next day is a small bruise and a slight soreness. I feel pretty upbeat but I’m careful not to get too exuberant or else I’ll pay the price. To an extent, I believe Newton’s Third Law also applies to emotions: “For every feeling, there is an equal and opposite feeling.” Like other natural forces, emotions come finely balanced on a shifting fulcrum.
The hardest part of this ordeal so far has been telling family and friends and hearing the concern and tears in their voices. The possibility of a shortened life hasn’t registered on me yet. I’m not trying to suppress my feelings; they just haven’t gotten too worked up.
Obviously God has entered my thoughts but this crisis hasn’t suddenly cured my inability to pray. For a few years now I’ve suffered from the loss of a sense of God’s presence and shed my evangelical worldview. I’ve been adrift in a spiritual Sargasso Sea, which may have contributed to my getting sick. More on this later.
* * *
“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.”
I lost my Father to Cancer in Dec. 2009. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in May 2009. He was treated @ the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Mayo Clinic is one of the best Cancer Treatment Centers, but regardless of how much wisdom, knowledge, or latest treatments the doctors had, I still lost my Daddy in 7 very short months. Cancer changes everything. Watching my Daddy go through chemo and radiation, and hearing the doctors say over and over how healthy he was despite the massive tumor in his chest was just one of the many frustrating things we experienced. Today, I still find myself dealing with so many emotions.
When I read about Mike Hamel and his cancer journey, I felt strongly this was a book not only that I WANTED to read, but that I NEEDED to read. Mike's journey is very honest, he shares his struggles, both physically and emotionally too. For me, walking through cancer with my Dad I recognized some things very similar in Mike's story. While they may not be exact, I loved the way my Daddy sought to gain wisdom and understanding for the place he was in at that very moment. I feel this is very true about Mike. Mike teaches along the way and has such an open heart and shares straight from his heart. Seeing the gift in the situations, yet wrestling with them too.
Stumbling Towards Heaven is one I am very thankful to have read. It has helped me work through some of my grief of losing my Daddy. Thank you MIke, for sharing your journey with us. For being so honest, and for making me laugh too! You are an amazing man Mr. Hamel!
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Tying the knot may be the toughest thing Nick Polchak has ever tried to do.
Nick Polchak is comfortable with bugs. Their world is orderly. He knows where he stands and exactly how to interpret the signs they give him. But a fiancée and an upcoming wedding? Not so much.
That's why—a mere four days before the nuptials—Nick finds himself driving to Philadelphia for the monthly meeting of the Vidocq society. Being among a group of forensic professionals consulting on cold cases will surely allow him to feel useful and normal.
But while there he discovers that a close friend has been murdered . . . and in classic Nick style, begins to follow the trail of evidence rather than returning to his fiancée. Fearing that his one-track mind won't lead him home by Saturday, Alena and three of her dogs go to track him down.
When she finally finds him, nothing is as Alena expected . . . because the twists in this case will surprise even the most dedicated Bug Man fans.
Tim Downs is one of the most interesting authors! This is my 2nd book to read by Mr. Downs. His entertaining style of writing will find you laughing out loud and just shaking your head at how he comes up with such interesting story lines!
This is the "Bug Man" series and although I haven't read any of the previous books I still enjoyed this very much! Join Nick and Alena as they prepare to be married. Do they make it? Will they find the Murderer?
This is quite the story full of humor, suspense and a great mystery!
Thanks BookSneeze Program for this complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review
Monday, 16 May 2011
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
Heather Munn was born in Northern Ireland of American parents and grew up in the south of France. She decided to be a writer at the age of five when her mother read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books aloud, but worried that she couldn’t write about her childhood since she didn’t remember it. When she was young, her favorite time of day was after supper when the family would gather and her father would read a chapter from a novel. Heather went to French school until her teens, and grew up hearing the story of Le Chambonsur-Lignon, only an hour’s drive away. She now lives in rural Illinois with her husband, Paul, where they offer free spiritual retreats to people coming out of homelessness and addiction. She enjoys wandering in the woods, gardening, writing, and splitting wood.
Lydia Munn was homeschooled for five years because there was no school where her family served as missionaries in the savannahs of northern Brazil. There was no public library either, but Lydia read every book she could get her hands on. This led naturally to her choice of an English major at Wheaton College. Her original plan to teach high school English gradually transitioned into a lifelong love of teaching the Bible to both adults and young people as a missionary in France. She and her husband, Jim, have two children: their son, Robin, and their daughter, Heather.
When had God ever stopped a war because a teenager asked him to?
For fifteen-year-old Julien Losier, life will never be the same. His family has relocated to southern France to outrun Hitler’s menace. But Julien doesn’t want to run. He doesn’t want to huddle around the radio at night, waiting to hear news through buzzing static. Julien doesn’t want to wait.
Angry, frustrated, and itching to do something, Julien finds a battle everywhere he turns.
Soon after his family opens their house to a Jewish boy needing refuge, Julien meets Nina, a young Austrian who has fled her home by her father’s dying command. Nina’s situation is grave and Julien suddenly realizes the enormity of having someone’s life or death depend on… him.
Thrown together by a conflict that’s too big for them to understand, these young lives struggle to know what to do, even if it is not enough. Is there a greater purpose in the shadows of this terrible war? Or will their choices put them in greater danger?
“The Munns have written an engrossing historical novel that is faithful to the actual events of World War II in western Europe during the tumultuous year 1940. But How Huge the Night is more than good history; it is particularly refreshing because the reader sees the conflict through the lives of teenagers who are forced to grapple with their honest questions about the existence and goodness of God in the midst of community, family, and ethnic tensions in war-ravaged France.”—Lyle W. Dorsett, Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
“Seldom have the horrors of war upon adolescents—or the heroism of which they are capable—been so clearly portrayed. I loved this coming-of-age story.”—Patricia Sprinkle, author of Hold Up the Sky
“The book expertly weaves together the lives of its characters at a frightening moment in conflicted times. As we read of their moral dilemmas and of their choices, we too wonder, Would I do has these in the story have done?”—Karen Mains, Director, Hungry Souls
List Price: $14.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (March 9, 2011)
AND NOW...AN EXCERPT:
Thursday the power came back on. They sat in the living room, around the radio that crackled with static; they looked at each other, and then away. The room grew quiet as the announcer began to speak.
“Since Mussolini’s declaration of war on France two days ago, Italian troops are pushing west—”
Mama was on her feet. “The thief!” she hissed. “The backstabber, the coward!” Her face was red. Everyone was staring. She sat down.
Papa looked at her. “Saw his chance, I guess.”
“He’s a shame to his nation,” Mama snapped. Julien stared. Then they heard the shift in the announcer’s voice and turned sharply to the radio.
“German troops are approaching Paris at a rapid pace. As we speak, the vanguard is reported to be fifteen kilometers from Versailles. This will be our last broadcast for a while.”
They did not look at each other. The silence was total.
“Today Paris has been declared an ‘open city.’ Our military will not defend it. This decision was made to avoid bombardment and the great destruction and loss of life that it entails. . . .”
Julien realized he had not been breathing. It was an amazing thing, breathing. Tears shone in Mama’s eyes.
“They won’t bomb Paris,” said Papa quietly.
“They won’t bomb Paris,” Mama whispered.
Benjamin stood, his face very still. He walked slowly to the door and took the stairs.
Julien waited, breathing, seeing Paris; seeing Vincent and his mother look up out of their second-floor window at a clear blue sky. He waited until the news ended, until they had read a psalm that said The Lord has delivered.
Then he followed Benjamin.
Benjamin’s door was closed. Julien hesitated, biting his lip, and went into his own room.
He looked out the window in the fading light. They wouldn’t defend it. This was it, then. What Pastor Alex said was true. German tanks would roll down the Champs-Elysées for real in just a couple days. Then the boches would come here. And they would stay.
He pulled Vincent’s last letter out from under his nightstand. I can’t believe you almost died, it said. That’s crazy. He got up, and went and knocked on Benjamin’s door.
“Benjamin? You all right?”
Julien opened the door. Benjamin turned quickly, scowling.
“Did I say you could come in?”
“Well sorry,” Julien growled. How am I supposed to help when he’s like this? “Just wanted to say good night.”
“Good night then.”
“Look, it’s not as bad as it could have been, okay? They could have bombed the place to shreds like Ro—” He bit his tongue.
“You’re right,” said Benjamin, looking away. “That’s good for your relatives. I’m glad.”
“And your parents!”
“Nothing’s good for my parents.” His voice was toneless. “Look, Julien, we can talk about this in the morning. I need to go to bed.”
Julien knew when to quit. He turned away. “Sleep well.”
But he couldn’t. He turned and turned in his bed, twisting the sheets.
He got up and looked out at the crescent moon and the stars high over Tanieux, so white, so far, always the same; they would still be there when the Germans were here; they would still be there all his life. They were still there over Rotterdam, too. It didn’t make any difference.
When he finally slept, he dreamed: Paris on the fourteenth of July, the fireworks, bursts of blue, of gold, of red above the city. A whirling rocket going up with a hiss and a bang. Then a louder bang. Then a bang that threw up a great shower of dirt and stones, and people screaming, people running as the shells began to fall—
He woke, and lay shivering. He got up to close the window. The stars shone down like cold eyes.
He heard a faint scratching. Mice maybe. A floorboard creaked. He listened.
And he heard it. Very slow, stealthy footsteps going down the stairs.
He sat up slowly. Magali or Benjamin. Tiptoeing down the stairs to the kitchen, wishing there was something to eat. . . . He got out of bed and leaned out the window, watching for the faint light that would come through from the kitchen. No light came.
But on the ground floor, the heavy front door opened, and a dark shape slipped out into the street. A shadow with a suitcase in its hand.
He ran across the hall and threw open Benjamin’s door. A neatly made bed, a letter on the pillow. He grabbed it, ran back to his room, jerked his pants on over his pajamas, and ran downstairs in his socks. He’d catch him. Benjamin was on foot. He had to catch him. He scrawled on the flip side of the note, I’ve gone after him, pulled on his shoes and jacket, and flew down the stairs and into the dark.
He raced down the shadowed street and stopped at the corner, heart pounding, looking both ways. North, over the hill: the road to St. Etienne. A train to Paris, like he’d said? There were no trains now. Or south—south to where? Oh Lord if I choose wrong I’ll never find him.
Think. What would he do if it were him? He’d go south—north was suicide, but—he didn’t know, he didn’t know Benjamin. Who did? Nothing is good for my parents, he’d said—he didn’t seem to even care that Paris wouldn’t be bombed—
Because his parents weren’t in Paris.
Julien turned, suddenly sure, and ran.
The Kellers had left Germany because of Hitler and his people. Would they stay in Paris and wait for them? “Let’s walk south,” Benjamin had said—and that stupid map—he should have guessed.
He ran, breathing hard, his eyes on the dark road ahead. Oh God. Oh Jesus. Don’t let me miss him please—please—
He broke free of the houses; the Tanne gleamed in front of him under the splintered moon, cut by the dark curve of the bridge. He froze. He ducked into the shadows and breathed.
There on the bridge was a slender figure leaning on the parapet, looking down at the dark water.
Oh God. Oh Jesus. Now what?
Benjamin turned and took a long, last look at Tanieux. Then he adjusted his backpack, picked up his suitcase, and walked away.
Julien slipped out of the shadows and up to the bridge, his heart beating help me Jesus help me, his mind searching for words. Come home. And if he said no? Drag him? Help me Jesus. He was across the bridge, ten paces behind Benjamin; he broke into a silent run on the grassy verge of the road. He caught up to him. Laid a hand on his arm.
Benjamin whirled, eyes wild in the moonlight. They stared at each other. “Why.” said Julien. “Tell me why.” His voice was harder than he meant it to be.
“Let me go.”
“No.” He tightened his grip on Benjamin’s arm.
Benjamin tried to pull away. “Julien, let me go. You have no idea. You have no idea what they’re like.”
“The boches?” This time his voice came out small.
“The Nazis, Julien. Ever heard of them? Yeah, you heard they don’t like Jews—I don’t think any of you people understand.” The sweep of his arm took in the school and the sleeping town. “Your parents are great, Julien—offering shelter and all—they really are. But they don’t know. Yet.”
But they do. They know. “Know what? What’ll they—do?”
“I’m not waiting around to find out.” His face was white and deadly serious. “Trust me on this, Julien. They are coming here and when they do, it’s better for you if I’m long gone.” I believe it is very dangerous to be a Jew in Germany. And soon—
Julien stood silent. The night wind touched his face; the hills were shadows on the horizon where they blotted out the stars. Suddenly he felt how large the world was, how huge the night, how small they stood on the road in the light of the waning moon. Ahead, the road bent into the pine woods, and in his mind, Julien saw Benjamin walking away, a small form carrying a suitcase into the darkness under the trees. His fingers bit into Benjamin’s arm.
“I don’t care,” he said savagely. “Where would you go?”
Benjamin said nothing; the moonlight quivered in his eyes as they filled with tears. He turned his head away. “I don’t know.” His voice shook.
Julien caught him by the shoulders, gripped him hard. “Well I do,” he said fiercely. “You’re coming home.”
How Huge the Night by Mother/Daughter team Heather & Lydia Munn is an amazing read! Geared towards Young Adult Readers, it is definitely one to add to the summer reading list! The story will captivate you and take you back to Europe during WWII. Julien, a 15 year old boy, is adjusting to the war and all that comes with it. I love how he learns to truly rely on God, as well as what it means to listen to HIM too. You also meet Nina and Gustav, Jewish siblings who are running and hiding from the Nazi's. After the death of their Father, the struggles they face as they journey from Austria to France seem overwhelming and at times more than they can handle.
How Huge the Night is based on real events and the Authors' research is flat out astounding. So is the Authors note explaining the true Historical events!
For those who love to read Historical Novels or books based on WWII this is a MUST READ! It is excellent for teens and would be awesome for those who desire to learn more during this time in our History. Book clubs, Homeschool Families or those who have kids who just love to read stories based on WWII ~ This is Definitely one you will want to add to your Home Library!
Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Have you Heard about the LifeBook Movement? Are you interested in spreading Gods Word to today's youth? Well, here is an amazing opportunity to help do just that! Share the news with others/ with your church or Youth Pastors in your community!
The Life Book Movement has big plans for the 2011-12 school year.
Printing is underway for 1.2 million Life Books, and half of those have already been spoken for. Don’t miss your chance to let the churches in your area know how they can get involved in this fall.
What is the Life Book Movement? Founded by The Gideons International, The Life Book Movement is an innovative strategy to reach high school students with the Word of God. The movement is a Christian mission centered on The Life Book, a unique presentation of Scripture designed to engage high school students with the truth of God’s Word, created by Carl Blunt, president and CEO of The Life Book Movement. The Life Book presents a brief overview of the Old Testament and the Book of John using an interactive format with honest student comments and real-life questions in the margins. Readers are drawn into the only story that can change their lives forever.
The Life Book Movement works with churches throughout the country by providing free copies of The Life Book for students to give as gifts to their friends and classmates during school. Blunt’s organization brilliantly takes advantage of a student’s freedom to distribute religious literature by getting The Life Book into the hands of Christian high school students and having them pass the books out to classmates at school—a practice that is acceptable, as long as the books are not distributed by school staff or other adults. In less than two years since the Life Book Movement got it’s start, over half a million Life Books have been distributed and the movement is growing by leaps and bounds.
Summer is almost here, but now is the time to think about mobilizing your students to reach their classmates this fall. Don't miss out! 1.2 Million students will be reached with God's Word in the coming school year and we want Christian students in your area to reach them. If you wait until the fall, you may be too late - books are being spoken for every day.
Watch the promo video here.
A full online version of The Life Book is available for you to take a closer look at by clicking here.
www.thelifebook.com – www.twitter.com/carlblunt – www.facebook.com/carlblunt
Senior Media Specialist
The B&B Media Group
Wednesday, 4 May 2011
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
StoneHouse Ink; 1 edition (March 24, 2010)
Chris Conrad has spent most of his life in Oklahoma where he still lives in rural Sequoyah County. He was influenced at an early age by great children’s authors and aspired to someday write the kind of stories he loved as a child. Now he offers his own unique style, mixing his love of God with his love of writing.
Thirteen year old Brian is what other students call a brain. Physical challenges keep him in a wheelchair while his mind isn't challenged enough. But when a strange dream the night before a field trip becomes reality, he isn't so sure of himself. A local park he’s only visited in his sleep becomes a crime scene. A teen is found unconscious. He’s in a coma and giving no answers as to how he got there or why. Is he victim or thief? Brian’s father, an FBI agent, doesn't think the case is important but the dream and mysterious emails seem to say otherwise. Are the scriptural messages actually from God? One of his friends thinks so but the other isn't so easily convinced. Is one of the teachers at his new school a criminal? His mother is principal but how well does she know the people she works with? Can he solve the case before another crime is committed? Brian follows the clues by the facts and by faith to get to the truth.
List Price: $2.99
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 232 KB
Publisher: StoneHouse Ink; 1 edition (March 24, 2010)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Now he was in the driver’s seat of that car with the steering wheel in his hands. Trees and buildings passed by. Was he actually driving? How was that possible? His feet dangled high above the pedals. Who was talking to him? Was it Mom or Dad? No, it was that guy--that guy from...from the old television show about...
What was he saying? He couldn’t understand. It was all garbled. Something about his dog? Yes, that was it. Brian’s dog was sitting on the front end of the car like a hairy hood ornament, barking out directions.
Did ‘woof’ mean left or right?
Before he could decide, the car careened around a corner without even slowing down. He tried to control the wheel but it spun wildly and he was thrown against the door. Somehow the dog stayed glued in place but the TV guy was crushing him! His cologne was nauseating.
Wait a minute. Why would the TV guy smell like...?
Mrs. Felcher, his second grade teacher, was now the one sitting beside him. They straightened out again and she was telling him...what? He was going to be late? Late for what?
It was so hard to understand and the dog wouldn’t stop barking.
She pointed a bony finger forward. The sun’s glare from her horn-rimmed glasses was almost blinding. He looked ahead and saw the school building in the distance. But even as the car seemed to speed up the building moved farther and farther away.
He was going to be late for school! He tried to run but his legs wouldn’t move.
Suddenly he was perched on the hood of the car and the dog was driving. Mrs. Felcher said it was okay though because...
“Ow!” Did they hit a pothole? Had he fallen off the car? Why was it so dark?
The familiar red numbers on his clock/radio brought him back to reality.
“Stupid dream,” he mumbled groggily. “I don’t even have a dog.”
Brian felt around and found the foot rests on his wheelchair and folded them up out of the way. With a little help from his legs he pulled himself up into the seat. His fingers fumbled around on the night stand for the touch lamp until the room flooded with light.
There was a quiet knocking on his open bedroom door. Chandra Cole, his physical therapist, stood there squinting, her straw colored hair looking like a lopsided haystack. She clutched her pink flannel housecoat tightly around her and tied the belt.
“I thought that sounded like a thirteen year old hitting the floor,” she rasped, helping him straighten blankets back onto the bed. “Another bad dream?”
“The usual,” he replied groggily. “Just weirdness.”
“Why didn’t the chair stop you? Wasn’t it against the bed?”
“I guess I rolled over onto the switch. I hope the noise didn’t wake up Mom and Dad.”
“I doubt it. Besides, they know if something’s wrong I’ll handle it.” She smiled weakly. “You want help getting back in or is nature calling?”
“Calling, emailing, texting, faxing...”
She gave a dismissive wave and turned to go.
“Sorry you had to get up for nothing.”
“It’s okay, kid,” she yawned. “All part of the job. Just glad you’re okay. Goodnight then.”
Her slippers shuffled along the hardwood floor to her own room across the hall.
Brian belched. He could taste the pizza from dinner. No wonder he’d been having such weird dreams. They were eating so much takeout because of the craziness of moving into the new house in rural Sequoyah County. He knew no one had time to cook though. His parents had already been there a week, trying to get his mom settled into her new job as principal at his new school. He and Chandra had stayed in Tulsa until the new house was wheelchair friendly and all that. The twenty-two year old had only been with them for a few months since finishing her college courses to become a licensed nurse. She was nice, if a little odd sometimes, and he was glad she’d decided to make the move with them. Maybe when she was through getting the house squared away she could start making real meals again.
His stomach was gurgling like crazy. He’d drank too much before bedtime also. Pushing the toggle switch on the armrest, he sent the wheelchair into motion and headed for the bathroom. The familiar clicking and whirring of the electric motors helped to distance his mind from the silly dreams. But why did thinking he could run seem so natural in the dream when he’d never even walked right in real life? The muscular problems in his legs sent him from crawling, as an infant, straight into a wheelchair.
A picture of Jesus stared at him from the end of the dimly lit hallway. God only knew the answer to those kinds of questions, and so far He wasn’t talking.
As he wheeled into the bathroom a motion sensor turned on the lights.
His dad was making a huge transition as well, he considered, transferring to a new FBI office in Fort Smith, Arkansas, just across the state line. For several weeks he’d driven back and forth from Tulsa to make the switch. Maybe he could get a little more rest now.
As long as they had to move though, Brian was glad they’d decided to stay in Oklahoma. He’d be going to a school where his mom worked too, so at least he’d know one person there. After all, his old friends were a hundred miles away now.
Back in bed he tried to relax. Maybe he could get a little more sleep before it was time to get up. And maybe he wouldn’t have any more crazy pizza dreams. Maybe...if he could just…relax. Maybe he would...
Brian was in a parking lot. There were no cars but he could see the stripes on the pavement. Woods to the left. A small cemetery to the right behind a chain link fence. Black cows grazed beyond the tombstones.
Nothing looked familiar but somehow he knew he was facing south. Straight ahead twin wrought-iron gates blocked the only opening in a brown rock wall. A light breeze made them stir a little, creaking and moaning their resistance. Suddenly a gust forced them open with a horrible rusty groan. A large sign on the left blurred as if his eyes simply refused to read it. The view ahead was clear though; a stone walkway stretching beyond, half buried in dead leaves.
The breeze tossed his hair about and he could smell autumn. Falling leaves danced on the wind around his chair, many suspended in a sort of swirling motion. More and more joined in and gathered momentum. Soon he was in the eye of a small storm of them, weaving a colorful curtain around him.
What did it say? He listened more intently.
Another whisper and then another. Others blended in, stronger and louder. The whirlwind of leaves tightened, moving even faster, the voices more insistent. He could feel the pressure growing from all directions.
What were they saying? It sounded so foreign. What did they want? He couldn’t understand. The pressure was terrible!
As quickly as it had begun, it stopped. Only a faint whisper of leaves brushed across his body and a weak spiral of them played out on the asphalt between his chair and the gates. The only sounds left were from a few errant ones skittering aimlessly here and there across the pavement.
Suddenly, without knowing how, he was sitting just inside the entrance. The trees still had some leaves but there were so many more on the ground like a carpet of orange and yellow, brown and red. He knew there were various buildings to either side but they were just a blur like the sign. For some reason he could only see clearly forward. A small structure spanned the walkway in the distance. It wasn’t a building, but more like a little wooden carport covering the largest kettle he’d ever seen.
He thought he heard the whispers again. Or was it just the wind? Small gusts skipped across the tops of the leaves, twisting them up in little tufts.
Another whisper in his ear.
Instantly he was right next to the huge black iron kettle. It looked like a Halloween witch’s cauldron or something out of an old movie about cannibals.
There was the sound of running water nearby but he couldn’t see it.
A large stone building sat to the right of the walk a short distance beyond the kettle. The structure was sandstone like the wall and the walk and its windows were far too high to see inside. What could be in it? It seemed important somehow, the whole place, like maybe it was some sort of park. Yes, that was it. Manicured lawn stretched out past the building to another part of the rock wall further south.
He heard the water sounds again and started to wheel around the kettle but found he was suddenly there already. A sandstone fountain sat to his right, between the giant kettle and the building. Water bubbled over a plaque into a basin pool, the words on it swimming in the flowing water. He tried harder to read it but it only made his vision worse.
Then he noticed one of the corner blocks on the building about three feet up. There was another whisper and leaves brushed across the back of his head. At once, he was sitting directly in front of the block. It was a square stone, bright gray and smooth, so different from the rough ones around it. There were inscriptions but he couldn’t make them out. Only a symbol on the right face was visible. It looked like a diamond. In its center was the letter “G.”
What did it mean?
The walkway branched off to the right and disappeared around the building. To the left, near the main walk, sat a statue facing away from the building among some small trees. It was very dark, maybe cast iron like the kettle. No, a statue would be bronze, darkened from weathering. It looked like a man sitting on a tree stump, looking upward.
No sooner had he wished for a closer look than the breeze stirred and his chair was sitting right next to it. The turban clad head was turned away toward the eastern sky but his body faced Brian. A big thick book sat at the man’s feet and a powder horn and long stemmed clay pipe lay on top of it. He was dressed in buckskin and held another book or tablet on his lap, a quill pen poised above it. Perhaps then the horn was for ink instead of powder.
Suddenly a tight twist of leaves shot up high into the air behind the statue’s head. In that instant Brian found himself looking down into the bronze figure’s face. He was flying again, like in the pizza dream. But this was different, wasn’t it? It was so clear to all his senses! How could it not be real?
He was circling high above like one of the leaves. And he could hear the whispering voices again.
The statue’s features softened and suddenly it looked more like a real man. It seemed aware of what the voices were saying and began to write.
He couldn’t believe it. The statue was moving!
The man looked up time and again as the leaves, Brian with them, swirled around him.
The whispering grew more intense and the man’s scribbling more fervent. Brian and the leaves moved lower and began to circle faster. There were more whispers in the strange tongue, growing louder and more insistent.
Lower and closer and faster. More whispering. Around again. Lower, closer, faster. Tree limbs flying past--the building beyond--the kettle--the man writing.
He was very close now, just above the man’s head, coming around the back again. Lower, closer, faster. The voices were still like whispers but together they were so loud!
Then silence. The statue’s head snapped up into its original position, quill freezing in midair above the tablet.
Like a shot, Brian came around, only inches from the face. The center of the statue’s nearest eye became a gaping void that pulled him in against his will. Just before darkness swallowed him whole, he finally heard something he understood.
“God is watching.”
This is a GREAT BOOK for kids! Not only did I love this book but the author is a fellow Okie so I totally knew where Brian was most of the time :) His references to many of the areas around the state of Oklahoma completely captured my attention and I felt so connected to this story. If your kids like a good mystery they will LOVE Secret of the Talking Leaves! This is book 1 in the Series. What a great way to start out summer reading with your kids!
Tuesday, 3 May 2011
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
OakTara (March 15, 2011)
Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. Catherine and her husband live on the beautiful island of Bermuda, with their two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of Romance Writers of America, and American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a founding member of International Christian Fiction Writers. Catherine’s debut novel Yesterday’s Tomorrow, will release in 2011, through Oak Tara Publishers.
Visit the author's website.
Independent, career-driven journalist Kristin Taylor wants two things: to honor her father's memory by becoming an award-winning overseas correspondent and to keep tabs on her only brother, Teddy, who signed up for the war against their mother's wishes. Brilliant photographer Luke Maddox, silent and brooding, exudes mystery. Kristin is convinced he's hiding something.
Willing to risk it all for what they believe in, Kristin and Luke engage in their own tumultuous battle until, in an unexpected twist, they’re forced to work together. Ambushed by love, they must decide whether or not to set aside their own private agendas for the hope of tomorrow that has captured their hearts.
List Price: $18.95
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: OakTara (March 15, 2011)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Didn’t they know they were shouting so loud the neighbors could hear?
Kristin Taylor huddled in bed, drew her knees to her chest and clapped her hands over her ears. Through the thin wall she heard Daddy’s voice rise and Mom burst into tears. It was past ten o’clock. She was supposed to be asleep, but they woke her. Kristin gritted her teeth and began to hum her favorite song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
A moment of peace settled over the brownstone apartment. Kristin smiled and wiped her eyes. It worked every time, even if she couldn’t hit the high notes.
Dad started yelling again. She groaned, pulled the covers over her head and squeezed her eyes shut. They were going to be a while.
Something smashed against the other side of her wall and shattered. More yells. No way to sleep with this racket going on. She sat up and turned on her bedside table lamp.
Kristin hopped off her bed and pushed her arms through the sleeves of her thick flannel robe. Cold air chased her as she quick-stepped across the faded rug to her dresser. She ran her fingers along the stack of books squashed between two hand-carved wooden bookends. The frayed bindings of Heidi, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice and the Bible she’d received at her confirmation shared space with all the Agatha Christie novels Kristin could get her hands on. Every once in a while Mom came in to clean, found them, and threatened to throw them out, but Daddy wouldn’t let her.
“The child has an inquisitive mind, Val. We should encourage that.”
“And you do a fine job,” Mom retaliated. “She’s only twelve years old! She should be reading something more…genteel…what’s wrong with The Brontë sisters?”
Kristin remembered the Ian Fleming book hidden under her bed and grinned. Dad snuck it in to her room a couple of nights ago. She’d start it now. Hopefully she could finish the whole story before Mom got her hands on it.
Her eyes landed on the silver framed black-and-white image of Daddy getting his Pulitzer two years ago. They said he was probably the youngest journalist to ever receive the award. She should be proud. She was, but Mom didn’t seem so happy about it. Everyone wanted Daddy to go all over the world now.
As their shouts died down again, she heard the distinct sound of drawers being pulled open and slammed shut. So, he was leaving. Her stomach tightened but she ignored disappointment and tried to imagine her father’s exciting world beyond their brownstone apartment. As she waited to see if they’d start up again, a faint cry reached her ears.
Kristin crept down the hall to her brother’s room. The lamp on the dresser shed a soft glow over Teddy’s round face. He sat up in his bed, fists curled into balls held against his chest. His eyes were scrunched tight—as if that would make it stop. He opened one eye as she entered the room, probably afraid she’d make fun of him for being a crybaby.
Not tonight. Tonight she wanted to cry too.
She skipped over Lincoln logs and Tinkertoys and scrambled up onto the bed beside him, eager to get her cold feet under the covers. “Scooch over.”
Teddy’s bottom lip quivered but he made a supreme effort to stop crying, and shifted his small frame to give her room in the twin bed. She put an arm around his trembling shoulders and squeezed.
He let out a long sigh matching her own. “Is…Daddy…gonna leave again?”
Hot tears pricked her eyes and told her she wasn’t so brave after all. But she couldn’t give in. Teddy needed her. Later, Mom probably would too.
“I don’t know. I heard them talking earlier. His editor wants to send him to Vietnam.”
“Vietnam?” Teddy looked up at her, fresh tears pooling. “Where’s that?”
Kristin rolled her eyes but guilt nudged off impatience. He was only ten for crying out loud. Well, almost ten. She couldn’t expect him to know everything. “Some place far away.”
“Why do they want him to go there?”
“Because the French and the Vietnamese are fighting a big war and they want him to check it out.” Because their Dad was the best war correspondent that ever lived. Kristin ran her tongue over her bottom lip. “He has to go talk to some important people and write a story about it.”
Teddy shook his head and tugged on his blanket. “Why can’t somebody else do it? I want Dad to stay here. Tomorrow’s my birthday. We’re going to the ice rink, remember?”
“Yeah. I remember.”
He shivered and leaned against her shoulder. “But he’ll come back, right?”
Kristin screwed up her nose. Couldn’t he figure something out for himself for once?
“He’ll come back, right? And then we’ll go skating?”
She tried to smile but her heart pounded too fast. “Of course he’s coming back. He always comes back, dummy.”
She hesitated a moment. What if Dad didn’t come back? What would they do then? “I promise. Now can you go back to sleep? It’s getting late.”
Mom and Dad were yelling again. Their voices seemed louder, closer. Kristin scrambled off Teddy’s bed and went to the door. She poked her head out in time to see her parents brush past her. Daddy held a suitcase in one hand, his battered leather briefcase in the other. And his coat was slung over one arm. Would he go without saying goodbye?
Kristin glanced back at Teddy, about to tell him to stay put, but her brother was already behind her, standing barefoot in blue cotton pajamas.
She grabbed his hand. “Come on.”
With Teddy squeezing her fingers so hard she thought he might pull them off, she ran down the stairs and drew up short at the entrance to the living room. The French doors were open. Teddy slammed into her and jumped back with a yelp. Mom and Dad turned their way.
Mom let out a little cry and shook her head, then put her mad face on. “What are you doing out of bed?”
“We couldn’t sleep.” Kristin pushed hair out of her eyes and stuck out her chin. “You were making a lot of noise.”
Mom threw up her hands and huffed as she sank onto the couch. Kristin couldn’t remember ever seeing her wear her hair down, but tonight it fell around her cheeks and curled on her shoulders. She would have looked pretty if her face wasn’t so red and her eyes all puffy.
“I would’ve woken them anyway, Val.” Dad’s voice was gruff, but he didn’t sound angry anymore.
Mom glared at Dad, pulled at the belt around her green woolen dress and kicked off her high heels. “All yours then, Mac.”
Dad set his bags down and released a sigh from somewhere deep inside. His lips stretched apart in a feeble attempt at a smile. Dark circles lined his brown eyes and stubble covered his jaw. He looked from her to Teddy as if he didn’t know what to say.
The air suddenly got sucked out of the room, like someone untying the knot of a balloon. Kristin shook her head and yanked the sash of her robe as tight as it would go. Dad dropped to one knee in front of them and held out both arms. “Come here.”
Teddy ran to him. She knew he would. And he’d probably start blubbering again. Kristin folded her arms and pushed her toes into the rug. The goodbyes were the worst part. Try as she might, in the end she never could keep from crying.
Dad concentrated on Teddy. Her brother always believed everything.
She stood there, like playing statues in gym class, listening while Dad gave his excuses. Teddy would be satisfied with promises of season tickets to the Red Sox and a long train-ride from South Station to Grand Central and back, but she didn’t need bribes. She understood his job. Sort of.
Kristin blinked through her tears as her brother threw his arms around Dad’s neck and hugged him tight. Then Mom took Teddy by the hand and led him back upstairs.
Kristin shifted, her feet like ice. She should have put on her slippers. Dad’s knees creaked as he rose and made his way toward her. He reached for her hand but she tightened her arms. A tear escaped and rolled off down her cheek. Kristin lowered her head.
“Oh, Kris.” Dad knelt before her. His hands warmed her arms through the sleeves of her robe. “Sweetheart, look at me.”
Kristin slowly raised her chin until she made eye contact. “Sorry.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “What do you have to be sorry for?”
She shrugged, but couldn’t think of a thing.
Kristin noticed for the first time a few streaks of gray in his hair. His white starched shirt sat open at the collar, his thin black tie slightly askew. Dad’s eyes were bright, sad. His mouth lifted in a grin as he wiped a tear from her cheek with the base of his thumb. When she sniffed, moisture shot up her nose. She gave a small involuntary shiver.
“Are you going to Vietnam to write about the war?”
His mouth twitched, like he was surprised she was so smart. Then something chased off the sad look and he smiled. “You’re going to make a fine journalist one day, young lady.”
Kristin raised her shoulders again and pushed out her bottom lip. “Mom won’t let me.”
“Sure she will. By then you’ll be all grown up. Making your own decisions. Leaving your old man in the dust.”
“We could write stories together,” she offered. “Taylor and Taylor.” Her grin faltered as she watched his eyes moisten. Kristin sucked in a breath. Dad never cried.
He pulled her to him and rested his lips against her forehead for a moment. “Sounds good to me.” He sat back on his heels, solemn. “Look after your brother.”
“I always do.”
“And don’t fight with your Mom.”
Kristin looked down, studying the scuffs on his normally shiny shoes.
“Okay. I won’t.” She met his eyes again and the lump in her throat got bigger. Her skin prickled. He’d left before. Lots of times. But this felt different. “You’re coming back, right?”
His face cracked in a funny sort of smile. “Of course I am. But you’ll pray for me, every night, just like always?”
“Yeah.” She tried to smile back. “God will keep you safe, Dad. He always does.” Kristin rested her head against his shoulder as he hugged her. She inhaled by habit. Tobacco and coffee mingled with the cologne he always wore. She could never remember the name of it, but they got a bottle for his birthday every year. He said he didn’t mind, but maybe this year they should do something different.
A flash of headlights chased dust across the room. Dad stood, his smile gone. “There’s my cab.”
Mom came forward and Dad took her in his arms.
“I’m sorry,” they whispered at the same time. Mom stepped back, rested her palm flat against Dad’s face. Her cheeks were streaked with tears. His hand came over hers and their eyes met as he pulled her closer and kissed her, a long kiss that seemed to go on forever. Kristin almost felt she shouldn’t be watching. But she was glad she was.
“Why does it have to be tonight?” Mom asked.
Dad shrugged, tucking a strand of her hair behind her ear. “War doesn’t wait on birthdays, Valerie.” Dad pulled on his coat, gave Mom a final kiss and picked up his bags. “I’ll call when I can.” He turned to Kristin. “Bye, kiddo. I love you.”
The little girl in her wanted to run back into her father’s arms and beg him not to go. But she wasn’t a little girl. She would turn thirteen this year. “Bye, Dad. Love you, too.”
Mom walked with him to the door. Kristin raced to the window at the front of the room, pressed her nose against the cold glass and watched him get into the waiting cab.
A light snow swirled around the soft yellow glow of the streetlamp outside their building. Maybe it would storm and his flight wouldn’t be able to leave Boston. Kristin pushed harder against the windowpane. It wouldn’t matter. He’d get another one. His job was very important. More important than anything else.
The taxi pulled out onto the deserted street and Kristin squinted through the window. Her breath made it fog up and she wiped furiously, seeing Dad raise a hand in her direction. She waved back just in time before he drove away.
“The past cannot be erased, nor forgotten. Flash photography; hellish images carved into our minds, emblazoned in our hearts forever. Golden threads hold yesterday together and form the foundations for tomorrow.
But what of today?”
Kristin Taylor - Yesterday’s Tomorrow: Vietnam – My Story. 1974.
February 1967, Saigon, Vietnam.
Kristin shuffled along in the line of travel-weary passengers as they exited the plane. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the daylight, shook off sleep and gripped the handrail of the metal steps. When her shoes hit the tarmac of Tan Son Nhut airport, her hand went to the intricately carved cross that hung around her neck. She rubbed the thick gold between her thumb and forefinger and took in her surroundings.
The early morning sun’s rays jack-knifed off the tarred surface. A stifling heat sliced through her sneakers, raced through her and smothered her in its welcoming embrace.
Teddy was right. It was hotter than hell.
The pungent smell of gasoline flooded her senses and stung her eyes. Kristin pulled on dark sunglasses, tried not to breathe too deeply and looked down the runway. She stepped aside to let others pass as she surveyed the area, the slow thumping of her heart picking up its pace as she began taking mental notes.
Aircraft of varying description lined the blacktop. Everything seemed larger in real life, from helicopters to small fighter jets to the Pan American Boeing 707 that had brought her here. Gray, green and brown flying machines blended together in an impressive show of US military power.
It was impossible to imagine jumping aboard any of them. Or jumping out.
Army personnel moved smoothly around the aircrafts, refueling and working on engines. Rows of enlisted men lined up to board a larger plane also being loaded with cargo. Soldiers sweating in the heat heaved supplies on to the plane’s cave-like interior. Commanding Officers barked like dogs to be heard over the noise as they rounded up their companies. She scanned the groups of soldiers and searched their faces. Some looked anxious, their eyes shifty even as their bodies remained stiff, while others seemed impassive, stone-faced and resolute as they stood between the world they knew and a world gone crazy.
During a lull in the activity on the tarmac, a low rumbling somewhere off in the distance reached her ears. Her throat tightened as she turned toward the outline of mountains beyond the airstrip.
The sound of war needed no introduction.
Kristin caught up with the rest of the arrivals and moved along through Immigration, then pushed through the crowded airport to retrieve her bag. Vietnamese men and women dressed in colorful pajama-like clothing darted in and out of the maze of olive-green and khaki uniforms. Strong scents of heady perfume, spicy tobacco and rancid body odor made a tactile assault on her already queasy stomach.
Her eyes tracked the Vietnamese signage while her ears captured the quickly spoken foreign tongue on every side of her. Relief cheered her on as she spied the doors that led out of the airport. She put her passport back into the green canvas knapsack on her shoulder and headed for the exit. Her eyes began to water as her body revolted against her present surroundings. She didn’t have a clue what lay beyond those doors, but she needed air.
The four journalists she met on the flight stood outside on the pavement and she nodded their way. They’d been in Hong Kong for R&R and had been quite happy to chat with her. Their stories fascinated her. Scared her a little, although she wouldn’t admit it. The Frenchman’s tales seemed a bit too dramatic. He wore a teasing look the whole time. Caroline, the only female in the group, hailed from England. She worked for a small newspaper that Kristin had never heard of.
Kristin confessed she wasn’t working for anyone. Yet. This didn’t seem to bother them and they gave her plenty of tips on how to find work.
“Ah, Kristin, chèrie.” There was an odd comfort at the sound of her name being called in the midst of this foreign chaos. The Frenchman, Jean Luc, lumbered over, carrying two large cases. “Have you got your stuff?”
“This is it.” She tugged on a beat-up brown duffel bag. It weighed a ton thanks to her typewriter. But she refused to leave that baby at home. Sweat formed on her brow and a drop rolled down the side of her face.
“You have got a place to stay, oui?”
Kristin swiped sweat out of her eyes. “No, actually, I don’t.” This adventure slowly inched out of her control. “It’s okay. I’ll find a place.”
Jean Luc took a step back and hissed out air. “Oy.” His suitcases hit the ground with a thud and he ran a hand through his slick black shoulder-length hair. A sudden image of him tooling around Provence on a Peugeot made her smile. “Let me talk to my friend.” He put two fingers in his mouth and let out a shrill whistle aimed at the group gathered on the far side of the terminal building. “Caroline, sweetie, a minute please…”
The English girl looked their way. Jean Luc pulled a faded red bandana from the chest pocket of his Safari shirt and wiped his brow as he pointed a finger at Kristin. “You don’t move, oui?”
“Oui.” Not moving sounded pretty good.
He met Caroline halfway and they engaged in a lively debate. She was fluent in French apparently, hand motions and all. Kristin let her bag slide off her shoulder and positioned herself on the top of one of Jean Luc’s large leather cases. Maybe quitting her job at The Daily and hopping a plane to Vietnam wasn’t the smartest thing she’d ever done. But, despite the sheer exhaustion and more than a little trepidation tailing her, it was arguably the most exciting.
Kristin glanced at her watch and calculated the time back in Boston.
Mom would be pacing the living room, holding the letter Kristin left for her or ripping it up. Either way, the next time they saw each other would not be cool.
The worst of it was that her mother actually agreed with Kristin’s chauvinist pig of an editor. Former editor.
Vietnam was no place for a woman.
And then she’d pulled the old religious guilt trip. Had Kristin prayed about it? How did she know it was God’s will for her to go to halfway around the world, into a war zone no less?
What a joke. God didn’t care one way or another. She’d stopped consulting him a long time ago—the day they got the news that Dad had been killed in Vietnam.
Kristin pulled her hair into a ponytail, sweat stinging her eyes. She longed for a cold drink and a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, but refused to allow her mind to go there. She needed a plan, a way to get out beyond the city and do what she’d come here to do. Report on the war. Find the truth, whatever it was.
And tell it to anyone who would listen.
Jean Luc returned, his sizeable schnozz glowing like Rudolph’s. “Okay. We have got a plan.”
Caroline stood beside him, a tall leggy blonde with a face so flawless she could be a model, but the wariness in her eyes betrayed the confident smile. “Jean Luc says you need a place to stay.”
Kristin nodded. “That’s right.”
The Grace Kelly lookalike raised a thin eyebrow, lit a cigarette and blew smoke over Kristin’s head. “My roomie’s gone back to New Zealand. It’s a one-bedroom flat, two beds, small kitchen and bathroom, a block away from The Caravelle, a hotel where a lot of the press guys stay. I’m in and out of the city. It’s not The Ritz, but if you’re interested…”
Interested was an understatement. But her savings would last a month or two at best until she got work. “Um. How much…I…”
Caroline smiled. “Oh, that’s right. You don’t have a job, do you…what was your name again?” She ground her half-smoked cigarette onto the pavement with the heel of her boot, taking along Kristin’s last shred of hope.
“Kristin Taylor.” She pushed herself to a standing position. Although they were probably around the same age, Caroline gave off an air of superiority she hadn’t picked up on earlier. She crossed her arms and shook off insecurity. “I plan to get work as a stringer. I’ll have the money.” For all she knew, the woman could be psychotic. Kristin ran her tongue over dry lips. The alternative was…well, there wasn’t one.
“You know you’ll need press credentials if you want to get anywhere outside the city. I’m sure something will come up though. Listen, why don’t you go have a look at the place? I’ve got to get to a meeting with my boss, but here…” Caroline foraged in her shoulder bag and came up with a notepad and pen. She scribbled, then handed over a piece of paper.
Kristin squinted at the barely legible writing. “Thanks, where—”
“Righto, I’ve got to run. Oh, here’s the key, but the apartment should be unlocked. Madame Dupont, my landlady, does laundry for me. She always forgets to lock the door. Just ignore the mess. I’ll stop by the flat later and we can chat. Cheerio.” Caroline marched off to rejoin her comrades, leaving Kristin to suck air in her perfumed wake.
Jean Luc clapped his big hands together. “Voilà! We can share a cab, oui?”
“Sure. As long as you know where I’m going.” Kristin picked up her bag and allowed a smile. She had a place to stay. Next, a job.
The drive to the apartment building in Saigon turned in to an interminable journey of stopping and starting. The odors inside the beat up blue Renault taxi were almost worse than the airport. Jean Luc grinned and pinched his nose. Kristin leaned a little closer to the open window, seriously wondering about body hygiene in this country.
Men, women and children jostled for space along narrow sidewalks. Peddlers in brightly colored tunics and trousers and large conical shaped hats bowed under the weight of a wooden bar balanced across their shoulders on which a straw basket hung from each side. Avocados piled high in some, while other baskets held bright oranges and some other fruit she didn’t recognize.
Her own heavy duffel bag no longer seemed significant.
Tall trees lined the city sidewalks, their lush branches giving much needed shade from the blistering sun. It was odd to see these massive trees in the city, but then again, she hadn’t known what to expect. They passed rows of concrete buildings, some almost comparable to what she’d left back in Boston, but no skyscrapers. The architecture, especially the churches and the larger houses, appeared French in design, which made sense given the country’s history. The painted shades of blue, peach, pink and yellow put on a happy façade.
She snapped a few photos as they drove. It was tempting to pretend she was merely a tourist on vacation. But this was Vietnam. A place of death—the place her father died—the place where countless others fought for freedom out there beyond the confines of the city. At this very instant men were losing their lives.
Tomorrow she hoped to be taking very different pictures.
As they veered off onto smaller side streets, shops of every description almost sat on top of each other. Striped awnings overhung many of them. They passed a large market where she spotted fruit and vegetable stalls and…oh... Kristin covered her mouth with her hand. What was that?
“You don’t eat from there. Ever.” Jean Luc pointed at the hanging animal carcasses and made a horrible face.
Kristin looked beyond the vile sight and shook her head. “Thanks for the tip, Jean Luc.”
As they drove further along, burnt out shops and dilapidated structures here and there revealed the ravages of war, and its toll on the city. She turned to him, spider legs crawling up her spine. “I thought Saigon was relatively safe.” Her palms were moist against the ripped leather seat of the cab.
The Frenchman grinned and lit a cigarette. “What is relative, chèrie?”
Kristin nodded. “You’re right.” No wimping out. She’d come here to do a job, once she got one, to cover the war. Of course it would have been much easier if her Dan the Pig had just given her that chance. Instead, they’d chosen to send Joe Hines, twice her age and overweight. Joe wouldn’t last a week here.
Kristin stared out the window again. The number of vehicles on the roads startled her. Cars, military jeeps and trucks jammed every bit of the asphalt. Pedal-bikes and motorcycles zipped on by, weaving in and out of the traffic. Gasoline fumes took fresh air prisoner and made breathing a chore. The cab inched along until there was a break in the traffic.
Men pushing pedicabs ran along the side of the road. Kristin flinched each time they passed one, thinking the cab would surely hit it, and send the runner and his passengers flying.
Heat emanated through her pores. She hated the cold, but hadn’t anticipated the oppression of this sauna-like atmosphere. She should listen to her brother more often. Her fingers slipped into the pocket of her jeans and felt for the thin envelope, his last letter to her before she’d left the United States. She wiped sweat from her brow and frowned. He hadn’t revealed his location of course, but she knew he was a combat medic. He could be anywhere. Hopefully she’d find out where and be able to get in touch. After leaving Mom in her wigged-out state, being able to tell her Teddy was alive and well would be the least she could do.
The cab pulled up outside a large white five-story building with a rounded front. The words Hotel Caravelle in large black lettering teetered at the top of the building.
“This is me.” Jean Luc gathered his gear and grasped her hand. “Later, chèrie. Come for a drink, okay?”
“Cool. Thanks.” Kristin watched her only friend in Vietnam disappear through the glass doors of the hotel and fiddled with the cross around her neck. Suddenly she was back in junior high on the first day of a new school, riding the bus for the first time. Alone.
About ten minutes later, the cab shuddered to a stop. Kristin squinted up at the three-storey building in front of her. Distinctly French in architecture, pink paint crumbled in places where the cement had shifted. Two sorry-looking potted palm trees sat sentry on either side of a weathered wooden door. A small brass nameplate read: La Maison Dupont.
Good enough. She paid her driver and made her way inside, entered a small living room area and glanced around. There wasn’t much to see. The worn wallpaper looked like it had once been pink. A tattered Persian rug curled at the edges lay on the floor in front of the reception desk. Two faded rose-patterned easy chairs were positioned in front of a fireplace. Kristin almost laughed at the sight as sweat dripped down her back.
She peered over a raised wooden desk into a miniscule office. “Hello? Madame Dupont?” Nobody answered except a black cat that jumped down from the counter and prowled around her legs. Kristin cringed and moved aside. “Stay out of my way, cat, and we’ll get along just fine.”
She called out again but the place appeared deserted. The smell from the full ashtray on the counter tickled her nose but jogged a sudden memory of her father and served up a fresh shot of courage.
Kristin turned toward the only set of stairs in view. Caroline said her flat was on the second floor, first door on the left. She heaved her bag to her other shoulder and went to the darkened stairway, pushing thoughts of Psycho from her mind.
The stairs creaked under her. A thin carpet runner proved more of a hindrance, bare in spots and easy to trip over. Nails stuck out of the wood and slowed her down as she picked her way over them. At the top, a long dark hallway stretched out into blackness. Where was the light? Two bare bulbs hung from the ceiling. Finding the switch, she flicked it upward. Nothing.
Kristin squinted at Caroline’s instructions in the semi-darkness. Even if she could see the writing, she probably couldn’t read it. She stumbled toward the door on the left. Tried the knob and sure enough, it was open.
She found the switch on the wall and thankfully this time the overhead light came on. Kristin let out a low whistle. This was more than just the mess Caroline had warned her about. A hurricane had ripped through the small apartment. That, or her new roommate was a total slob.
She stepped over piles of clothes and magazines. A large pair of muddy combat boots sat in one corner near the door. She didn’t bother to pull up the blinds as she poked through the boxy rooms—a tiny kitchen and one bedroom with two twin beds. She dumped her bag and looked around. One bed was unmade, sheets tangled every which way. The second bed was covered in a light mauve bedspread, what looked to be freshly folded sheets sitting on the single pillow. Heaven.
The battered-looking dresser was cluttered with newspapers, camera film and notebooks. A cramped bathroom tiled in white lay off the bedroom. A shower just big enough for one thin person, a cast iron claw-foot tub and toilet took up most of the space. She didn’t dare pull back the shower curtain. Towels lay strewn across the floor. Judging by the musty smell that filled the room, they’d been there a while. But the small circular tiles on the wall sparkled and coaxed a smile. Perhaps she could just live in the bathroom.
Thirst scratched her throat as she retraced her steps to the kitchen. Her hand shook as she turned the tap. It squeaked and sputtered, then spat out a slow stream of water. Kristin frowned at the brown tinge. She washed her hands but decided not to drink it. She’d have to boil water to keep in the fridge. Assuming there was one.
A brief scan of the room revealed a cubic four by four, almost hidden behind the door. Bits of rust showed through the white paint. She pulled the handle, opened the door and quickly shut it again, gagging as the odor of sour milk reached her nose.
Back in the living room Kristin surveyed the mess. Ear-splitting honks from the street below startled her. Closing the window would be out of the question. An upward glance showed her a ceiling fan, and she tugged the cord. The groan and shudder it gave made her jump out of range, but the blades began to move and warm air circled around her. Better than nothing.
Kristin went back into the bedroom, her muscles aching. Maybe she could take a nap while she waited for Caroline to show up. She stretched her arms over her head and yawned. The empty bed looked inviting. Another yawn overtook her. And suddenly sleep was the only thing that made sense.
Luke Maddox entered his apartment, chucked his duffel bag across the living room and shuddered as a yawn escaped him. Jonno sauntered in after him.
“Holy cow, what happened in here? Looks like a tornado hit the place, man.”
Luke ignored his friend’s observations and made for the kitchen. He yanked on the rusted fridge door, scanned the contents and quickly stepped back. Whatever he’d left in there had died a slow and painful death. Moldy cheese, maybe. Combined with milk—yellow milk, and…well, he didn’t know what that was. Something green and slimy, definitely not edible. Only a jug of boiled water hiding on the bottom shelf remained safe. Madame came in to refill it every morning.
He shut the door and let out the breath he’d been holding. “There’s no grub. I haven’t been home in a while. Sorry.” He returned to the living room to find Jonno already stretched out on the couch.
“Too tired to eat anyway. I’m just gonna…sleep.” Jonno turned on his side, pulled an issue of Time from under his head and dropped the magazine to the floor.
“Okay.” Luke pushed his fingers through his hair and frowned. Dirt was embedded in his pores. He knew if he looked in the mirror his face would be covered in the red soil they’d ripped over for half the night. He’d shower and get some sleep too.
If he could shut his mind off long enough.
He clenched his jaw and strode over to the window, pulled the camera strap over his head and set the Nikon down on the round table. Photographs covered almost the entire wooden surface. He poked at the black and white prints with a grimy finger.
Glancing over his shoulder, Luke saw Jonno’s eyes flutter closed. He turned back to the table, pushed the pictures out of the way and retrieved a small leather wallet hidden beneath them. He never took it with him. Couldn’t risk losing it.
He flipped it open and allowed his eyes to rest on the familiar smiling images. Melissa’s two year-old cheeky grin tugged at his heart. The dull ache in his chest returned.
“Y’all get any good shots yesterday?” Jonno’s Southern drawl drifted across the room.
A smile inched up one corner of Luke’s mouth and he pushed the wallet back under the other pictures. “Thought you were asleep.”
Silence. Another yawn from Jonno.
“What?” He placed his palms flat on the table and drew in a breath. He blinked a couple of times. Couldn’t remember when he’d last slept.
“Do you ever wonder if…if it’s the right thing to do?”
Luke pulled at the collar of his damp t-shirt and squared his shoulders. It wasn’t that he couldn’t answer the question. He did answer it, every day, each time he went back out there and stepped into hell. But lately his answers weren’t as consistent as they used to be.
His pulse throbbed through a tendon in his jaw and he rubbed the bruised spot. He couldn’t bring himself to turn around. “I can have you transferred to somebody else. Just say the word.”
“Nah.” Jonno grunted. “Don’t sweat it. I’m cool.”
“Okay. Sleep. I’m going to shower.”
Kristin stirred from deep slumber. Still in her jeans and t-shirt, she glanced around the darkened room, getting her bearings. She stretched her arms above her head and yawned. Then bolted upright.
‘You’re listing to Armed Forces Radio, Vietnam. Current time is 9.0.0. We’re looking for a high of ninety-eight degrees today, folks. Now, here’s a little Rolling Stones to get you going this fine morning. ‘It’s Not Easy’. You all stay safe out there…’
The radio. Kristin ran a hand down her face and let out her breath. Caroline must have
arrived. Male laughter filtered through the closed door. And brought some friends back with her.
She worked the kinks out of her neck, pushed herself off the bed and wandered barefoot across the threadbare carpet out into the next room.
Kristin jumped back and stared down the barrel of a small pistol.
I will be very honest ...Choosing a book set during a War is NOT something I would normally read, let alone "choose to read."
This book has changed that for me and I am sooo thankful that I did not stay in my book reading comfort zone :)
Yesterday's Tomorrow is an EXCELLENT READ! Set during the Vietnam War, we meet Kristin Taylor, a young very determined journalist. Her father was a journalist as well and died in Vietnam doing what he loved. Seeking truth. Kristin longs to honor her father and hopes to learn more about Vietnam and all the soldiers who fight for freedom. She meets Luke, a photographer, and Jonno, a soldier in this war. Together they work sharing about this war, life in Vietnam. The good, the bad, and the very ugly.
Kristin is slow to trust and befriend Luke, especially after their initial meeting when Luke overreacts just a bit! Luke is quite a mystery to Kristin but being the journalist she seeks to find answers. Their relationship grows into friendship and I hoped this would blossom into more! Let's just say...I was NOT disappointed! Not only did I love the story of Kristin, Luke and Jonno but I felt as if I spent some time in Vietnam. The intricate detail in which Mrs. West writes makes one feel as if they are right there!
The emotions on the battle field, and for those who help the soldiers Or maybe write about them, how do they deal with it all?
This is an outstanding book. One of my favorites to date for sure! I have to say a personal thank you to Mrs. Catherine West for allowing me an e-book version. She went above and beyond the norm in making sure I was allowed a review copy and for that I am soo very thankful. It did not in any way sway my opinion of the story. I will recommend this to everyone ~ men and women alike. This book offers something for all! Thank you Catherine for sharing your gift of writing with all of us!