Wednesday, June 27, 2012

CALICO JOE by John Grisham

Must admit I'm no baseball fan, but do typically enjoy John Grisham novels, so I decided to give his newest book a try. In spite of my naiveté about the sport, I did recognize the names of some baseball legends of that era.

This is the story of a young man's love of baseball. The novel is not a thriller, yet it moves right along at a brisk pace and was over before I knew it. It's a quick, easy read. Very much enjoyed the characters, and the interaction between father and son, although I'd like to have had move development of the boy's father.
Forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation all occur in this book. If you're only enamored of his legal thrillers, this one may strike out for you. Sorry, pun intended. It’s not filled with his usual tension, however, the back and forth story from the 1970's to present day works well and captures the essence of both periods. Worth reading for pure and simple entertainment.
—Gail Lewis

Product Details:
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; 1st Printing edition (April 10, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385536070
ISBN-13: 978-0385536073

Thursday, June 21, 2012


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

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

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Realms (May 15, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson | Publicity Coordinator, Charisma House | Charisma Media for sending me a review copy.***


Mike Duran was a finalist in Faith in Fiction's inaugural short story contest and was chosen as one of ten authors to be published in Infuze Magazine’s 2005 print anthology. He is author of the short story “En Route to Inferno,” which appeared in Coach’s Midnight Diner: Back from the Dead edition, and received the Editor’s Choice award for his creative nonfiction essay titled “The Ark,” published in the Summer 2.3 Issue of Relief Journal. In between blogs, he also writes a monthly column for Novel Journey and has served as editor on the Midnight Diner’s editorial team. Duran is an ordained minister and lives with his wife and four grown children in Southern California.
Visit the author's website.


A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

Disfigured with a hideous scar from his stepmother, Zeph Walker lives his life in seclusion, cloistering himself in a ramshackle bookstore on the outskirts of town. But Zeph is also blessed with a gift—an uncanny ability to foresee the future,to know peoples’ deepest sins and secrets. He calls it the Telling, but he has abandoned this gift to a life of solitude, unbelief, and despair—until two detectives escort him to the county morgue where he finds his own body lying on the gurney.

On the northern fringes of Death Valley, the city of Endurance is home to llama ranches, abandoned mines, roadside attractions...and the mythical ninth gate of hell. Now, forced to investigate his own murder, Zeph discovers something even more insidious behind the urban legends and small-town eccentricities. Early miners unearthed a megalith—asacred site where spiritual and physical forces converge and where an ancient subterranean presence broods. And only Zeph can stop it.

But the scar on Zeph’s face is nothing compared to the wound on his soul. For not only has he abandoned his gift and renounced heaven, but it was his own silence that spawned the evil. Can he overcome his own despair in time to seal the ninth gate of hell?

His words unlocked something deadly,
And now the silence is killing them.

Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616386940
ISBN-13: 978-1616386948


He used to believe everyone was born with the magic, an innate hotline to heaven. Some called it intuition, a sixth sense; others called it the voice of God. Zeph Walker called it the Telling. It was not something you could teach or, even worse, sell- people just had it. Of course, by the time their parents, teachers, and society got through with them, whatever connection they had with the Infinite pretty much vanished. So it was, when Zeph reached his twenty-sixth birthday, the Telling was just an echo.
That's when destiny came knocking for him.
It arrived in the form of two wind-burnt detectives packing heat and a mystery for the ages. They flashed their badges, said he was needed for questioning. Before he could object or ask for details, they loaded him into the backseat of a mud-splattered Crown Victoria and drove across town to the county morgue. The ride was barely ten minutes, just long enough for Zeph Walker to conclude that, maybe, the magic was alive and well.
"You live alone?" The driver glanced at him in the rearview mirror.
Zeph adjusted his sunglasses. "Yes, sir."
"I don't blame you." The detective looked at his partner, who smirked in response.
Zeph returned his gaze to the passing landscape.
Late summers in Endurance were as beautiful as a watercolor and as hot as the devil's kitchen. The aspens on the ridge showed gold, and the dogwoods along the creeks had already begun to thin. Yet the arid breeze rising from Death Valley served as an ever-present reminder that beauty always lives in close proximity to hell.
They came to a hard stop in front of a white plaster building. The detectives exited the car, and Zeph followed their cue. A ceramic iguana positioned under a sprawling blue sage grinned mockingly at him. Such was the landscape decor of the county coroner's building. The structure doubled as a morgue. It occupied a tiny plot of red earth, surrounded by a manicured cactus garden complete with

2 | Mike Duran

indigenous flora, bison skulls, and birdbaths. Without previous knowledge, one could easily mistake the building for a cultural center or art gallery. Yet Zeph knew that something other than pottery and Picassos awaited him inside.
The bigger of the two detectives, a vaquero with a nifty turquoise belt buckle and matching bolo tie, pulled the door open and motioned for Zeph to enter. The man had all the charm of a cage fighter.
Zeph wiped perspiration off his forehead and stepped into a small vestibule.
“This way.” The cowboy clomped past, leaving the smell of sweat and cheap cologne.
They led him past an unoccupied desk into a corridor. Bland southwestern prints adorned sterile white walls. The stench of form- aldehyde and decay lingered here, and Zeph’s stomach flip-flopped in response. The hallway intersected another where two lab technicians stood in whispered conversation. They straightened as the detectives approached. After a brief nod from one of the white-jacketed men, Zeph’s escorts proceeded to an unmarked room.
“We got someone fer you to ID.” The cowboy placed his hand on the door and studied Zeph. “You don’t get sick easy, do ya?”
He swallowed. “Depends.”
“Well, if you’re gonna puke, don’t do it on these.” He pointed to a set of well-polished eel-skin boots. “Comprende?”
“No, sir. I mean—yes! Yes, sir.”
The detective scowled, then pushed the door open, waiting. Zeph’s heart was doing double-time. Whose body was he about to
see? What condition was it in? His mind raced with the possibilities. Maybe a friend had suffered a car accident. Although he didn’t have many friends to die in one. Perhaps the Hitcher, that mythical appari- tion who stalked the highway in his childhood, had claimed another victim. More likely Zeph’s old man had finally keeled over. However, he was convinced that his father had stopped living a long time ago.
Zeph drew a deep breath, took two steps into the room, perched his sunglasses on the top his head . . . and froze. In the center, framed under a single oval swath of light, lay a body on a autopsy table—a body that looked strangely familiar.
“Take a good look, Mr. Walker.” The detective’s boots clicked with precision on the yellowed linoleum. He circled the rolling metal

th e te ll i n g | 3

cart, remaining just outside the reach of the fluorescent light. “And maybe you can help us figger this out.”
Zeph remained near the door, hesitant to take another step.
“Go ahead.” The second detective sauntered around the opposite side, gesturing to the body. “He ain’t gonna bite.”
The detectives positioned themselves on either end of the table. They watched him.
A black marble countertop, its surface dulled by a thin blanket of dust, ran the length of one wall. In front of it sat a single wooden stool. The low-hanging lamp bleached the body monochrome. Zeph had seen enough procedurals and CSI knock-offs to know this was not an autopsy room. Perhaps it was used for viewings, maybe occa- sional poker games. But as the detectives studied him, he was starting to wonder if this was an interrogation room. Scalpels, pincers, saws. Oh, what exotic torture devices one might assemble from a morgue! Nevertheless, this particular room appeared to have not been used in a long time. And by the fevered sparkle in their eyes, these men seemed inspired about the possibility of doing so.
Zeph glanced from one man to the other, and then he edged toward the corpse.
Its flesh appeared dull, and the closer he got, the less it actu- ally looked like skin. Perhaps the body had been drained of blood or bleached by the desert sun. He inched closer. Sunken pockets appeared along the torso, and he found himself wondering what could have possibly happened to this person.
The head lay tilted back, its bony jaw upturned, cords of muscle taut across a gangly neck. A white sheet draped the body at the chest, and just above it a single bloodless hole about the size of a nickel notched the sternum. He crept forward, trying to distin- guish the person’s face. First he glimpsed nostrils, then teeth, and then . . . something else.
That something else brought Zeph to a standstill.
How could it be? Build. Facial features. Hair color. This person looked exactly like him. There was even a Star of David tattooed on the right arm, above the bicep—the same as Zeph’s.
What were the chances, the mathematical probabilities, that one human being could look so identical to another? Especially in a town the size of Endurance.

4 | Mike Duran

“Is this . . . ” Zeph’s tone was detached, his eyes fixed on the body. “Is this some kinda joke?”
The detectives hunkered back into the shadows without responding.
Goose bumps rose on Zeph’s forearms as the overhead vent rattled to life, sluicing cool air into the room. He took another step closer to the cadaver until his thigh nudged the table, jolting the stiff and bringing Zeph to a sudden stop. He peered at the bizarre figure.
Their similarities were unmistakable. The lanky torso and append- ages. The tousled sandy hair. Thick brows over deep-set eyes. This guy looks exactly like me!
However, it was one feature—the most defining feature of Zeph Walker’s existence—that left him teetering in disbelief: the four-inch scar that sheared the corpse’s mouth.
Zeph stumbled back, lungs frozen, hand clasped over the ugly scar on his own face.
“Darnedest thing, ain’t it?” The cowboy sounded humored by
Zeph’s astonishment. “Guy’s a spittin’ image of you, Mr. Walker.” Zeph slowly lowered his hand and glanced sideways at the man.
“Yeah. Except I don’t have a bullet hole in my chest.”
The detective’s grin soured, and he squinted warily at Zeph. “Indeed you don’t.” The second man stepped into the light. “But
the real question, young man, is why someone would want to put one there.”
The Telling is well-written and worth a read. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. Mr. Duran weaves a unique and thought-provoking story in an imaginative way. The characters are likable and make you want to cheer them on. It’s one of the most entertaining novels I’ve read. The fast-paced plot moved quickly and I found myself flying through the book’s pages. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

LUCY COME HOME by Dave and Neta Jackson

This is the first book I’ve read by Dave and Neta Jackson, but it won’t be the last. I read a lot of fiction, both Christian and otherwise. Christian fiction is often tepid and disappointing. Lucy Come Home is not tepid or disappointing. It’s well-written, yet easy to read and had me hooked from the beginning.. I loved it.

It wouldn’t be easy to create a believable story about the life of a feisty woman who makes it on the streets as a homeless person, and still keep her likeable. This book does that. I particularly liked the tension created with the back and forth from an elderly woman today to who she was in her youth.  It is well done.

I was drawn to this book after reading Water For Elephants. A book about an elderly woman who looks back on her life with carnivals and amusement parks sounded similar and I was eager to read it. It didn’t disappoint and I highly recommend it.

I’m grateful to have received this copy of Lucy Come Home compliments of Litfuse Publicity Group for an honest review.
—Gail Lewis

Paperback: 424 pages
Publisher: Castle Rock Creative, Inc. (June 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0982054432
ISBN-13: 978-0982054437

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alert: PROMISES eBook Free on Now!

Head's up: PROMISES, by E.G. Lewis is free in its eBook version at today and tomorrow until midnight PST. Enter "Promises, E.G. Lewis" to find it, or click this link:

A brave, moral female lead character. Sexy romantic suspense, not erotica. It gets better and better as she overcomes difficult teen years to become a successful model and get even with an ex-husband who almost destroys her career. Lots of humor as well as suspense. An entertaining and fun read.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


The concept of a thorough analysis of the facts and foibles leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is an enticing one. Mr.Shirley clearly did a lot of research and many of the facts and insights relating to the news media of the day are interesting. However, his execution fell short of his stated goal and the book is marred by its obvious lack editing and proof reading. Facts change from page to page and there are glaring spelling errors. The book opens with great expectations that dwindle away halfway through. Though interesting, the later portions of the book have the feel of a slapdash effort thrown together under pressure of an impending deadline.

Disclaimer: We received a review copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
-E G Lewis

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Shattered Identity is the sequel to K. Dawn Byrd’s popular novel, Mistaken Identity. The earlier novel’s two main characters, Eden Morgan and Lexi Branson reprise their roles as the level-headed friend who’s there when the going gets tough (Eden) and the well-meaning, but free-spirited dreamer (Lexi) who, at times, becomes her own worst enemy. 

Lexi’s love life takes a turn for the worst when her newest dream boat, Zack, turns out not to be as nice as Lexi imagined. In fact, the Zack she’s dating bears little resemblance to the guy she fell in love with. She’s made a wrong turn and now things can only go from bad to worse. Trapped in a dangerous situation and struggling to find a way out, Lexi turns to ex-boyfriend, Jeremy, for help. So will she finally recognize true love now that it’s staring her in the face?

 Shattered Identity is a well-plotted novel with plenty of realism and a strong message of hope. Digital version is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or through the publisher, Desert Breeze Publishing.
-E G Lewis

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Phil Callaway’s book, To Be Perfectly Honest, comes with an irresistible hook. What would life be like if we always told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God? Set in a diary format, Callaway embarked on a year of truthful living and survived to tell about it.

 He relates the ups and downs of such a lifestyle in a fun and entertaining way. In so doing he addresses such problems as — When your wife asks if a particular outfit makes her look fat, is it a lie to say no? Or How do you respond when an old friends asks, “Hey, don’t you owe me ten bucks?” And, what do you tell the pastor when he asks if you liked the sermon?

An old adage says that honesty is the best policy, and in John 8:23 we’re told that “the truth will set you free.” No one knows this better than Phil Callaway. After all, he spent an entire year being Perfectly Honest. The book is a fun read…entertaining, yet thought-provoking. We highly recommend it.
- E G Lewis

 Disclaimer: We received a review copy of this book from Multnomah Books in exchange for an honest review.

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1590529171