Friday, April 19, 2019

Sheila Lowe Pens Proof of Life, Second in New Series--Beyond the Veil--Out May 7th!

Click on the Sidebar to Read Review of First in Series
What she Saw

I've been a fan of Sheila Lowe since the first book in her handwriting analysis series,  (search "Sheila Lowe" to find all of her books here on my blog.) all of whick I've greatly enjoyed as part of my interest in all things forensics...

But, I have to say that her new series, Beyond the Veil, is perfect for my love of paranormal mysteries. And her first book revealed a more mature writer moving into a new genre that allows her to fly high in freedom and excitement for readers. I loved her new book, set to be out May 7th, Proof of Life!

Despite the noise in her head, the cottage was too quiet. Shaking off the unhappy memories, Jessica scrolled through the music on her laptop for a UB40 album. The staccato off-beats of Reggae seemed to do a better job of muffling the whispers than some other genres.

With Red Red Wine playing in the background, she rummages through her supplies and decided on a 12 x 12 wooden frame for the display case. The bed and cafe table and chair she would cut the display case. The bed and cafe table and chair she would cut from small rectangles of hard foam. Striped sateen pink and white from rectangles would be turned into the bed cover.
She added other items she would need, a lump of modeling clay and her sculpting tools, then made notes based on the email" Tufted canopy bed, pillow, bedspread. Shabby chic night stand, cafe table and chairs. Loveseat, Pink Shaggy rug. Plush animals,  Bookshelf, books. Anything else she would add along the way.
Starting with the itsy-bitsy bed, she carved the Styrofoam with thin wire to make the canopy frame. Soon, she was engrossed in the task, singing along with Gregory Isaacs, Night Nurse.

Oh, the pain it's getting worse...I don't wanna see no doc. I need attendance from my nurse worse... I need attendance from my nurse around the clock...
Threading a fine needle, she sewed a tiny pink pillowcase, with what had to be the smallest stitches in the world, and stuffed it with tufts of cotton from a swab. She thought of her nieces with a thrum of renewed anger at her sister. She would have loved to show them what she was making, but Jenna had decided she was demon-possessed, so she didn't get to. It infuriated her. Most little girls would be enthralled to see the sateen bedspread she had just hemmed, and the tablecloth for the little round table.
Jessica sewed until the music ran out, concentrating on keeping the stitches in a straight row and tamping her emotions back down where her sister's comments could no longer hurt her. She had been at it for a couple of hours when her vision began to blur. She reached up to rub her eyes. Her hands and feet began to tingle.
Was she having an episode? Is so, it was unlike any of the others. She looked around for her phone, then remembered that she could not call Jenna. Who, then? Zach? Dr. Gold? Claudia? And disturb them in the middle of the night, for what? She would never ask them to come and take care of her.
Something was happening to her vision. Wavy lines hovered at the edges of her line of sight, bending the light oddly, so that it seemed as if she was under water.
Then the lamp flickered. Off/on. Off/on. Off/on. Off/on. The pact of her breathing picked up. What was happening?
Was it the wind, wreaking havoc with the electricity? Jessica shivered. She should climb back into bed and hide under the warmth of the comforter, pretend that her head wasn't humming with dead people's thoughts.
An ice-cold breeze blew straight through her. She leapt up, poised to run.
But Jessica did not run. She found herself paralyzed by a loud shriek that swelled to an agonized scream.

Jessica Mack had been killed instantly in a car accident. But through the haze she looked for her husband to make sure he was helping Justin, or her?Instead, still drunk and still involved in his road rage, jr was struggling up the hillside... She then saw a light and, while Justin's body still sat strapped in, a bright light was there to ensure his spirit reached Heaven. She called to him, "Wait for me..." though no sound was heard.

She watched as Justin disappeared, wondering whether she was really dead, but then noticed a presence there with her. Assuming that she would follow Justin. Instead, she heard "You must go back." While she was then wrapped in the warmth of unconditional love, she soon felt the pain of having been hurt in the accident... back in her body...before she fell into a coma...

It was two weeks before she woke up...The whispers had been there waiting... She lived with them constantly and had told nobody. Sometimes she heard one that she could help and met the request. But there were just so many, she mostly worked to keep her mind busy, like singing upbeat songs, that muffled the sounds...

But then the murders started...It seemed she was going to be part of learning what was happening. Could she...would she be able to handle being involved in crimes?

Jessica is making her living as a miniatures artist now and enjoying the fun of getting specific orders for, say, a little girl's bedroom! She would have loved to have her nieces see what she was doing...but when Jessica had finally shared what was happening with her twin sister Jenna, Jenna had cut her off immediately. 

Then, only her doctor and a former lover, a homicide cop, knew she was seeing dead people.  Nevertheless, when the murders started, Zack Smith realized that she might be able to help in the investigation... And when one night he came to ask, he was astounded by what he discovered! The murder scene in one of her shadowboxes!

What's wrong?"
"I don't even know what to say." His gaze roamed back and forth between her and the shadowbox on her worktable as if seeing her through new eyes. "How did you know?...
Jessica couldn't help staring at him. Zach was the most laid-back person she knew, but the energy bristling off him now was making her nervous...She set the mug back on the kitchen counter and joined him at the worktable.
And saw it...
Vomit rushed into her throat...Hogtied on its side was a nude female figure, shocking in its realism. A tiny butcher knife protruded from the sculpted clay back...

Wow! I'm so excited about this new series! The second book shows Jessica Mack accepting her ability to see the dead, learning how to control her personal time with them and certainly helping in solving crimes. But before long, Zack has asked her to try to help find a little boy, hopefully still alive! Quite a difference between finding a living child and talking to the dead...

Jessica's gifts are expanding, along with her ability to consider how to find ways around her limitations, including having her son, Justin, involved! While Lowe, I hope, will continue her handwriting analysis series, but if I had to choose, I'd advise diving deep into the Beyond the Veil mystery series to get it established! The main character is strong enough to move forward into many, many escapades into the unknown and she meets a romantic interest, Sage, who complements her completely in whatever may come.

Lowe has outdone herself in this second novel. When I read What She Saw, I declared it a winner. The Beyond the Veil series may well top anything she has been writing in her long professional career. The concept is based on the fact that she had died and was headed for Heaven, only to be told to go back! In a true "God only knows" situation of what she might get into, I'm already looking for the next in series! 

Intriguing, great characters, unique supernatural experiences with a double-whammy dose of romantic interest from Zack and Sage...well, I can't help but add it as a personal favorite for 2019. DON'T miss this!


The mother of a tattoo artist and a rock star, Sheila Lowe lives in Southern California with Lexie the Very Bad (sometimes evil) Cat, where she writes the award-winning Forensic Handwriting series. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose, she's a real-life forensic handwriting expert who testifies in court cases. Sheila writes "medium boiled," books (definitely not cozies) that she think of as psychological suspense. In other words, she puts ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and makes them squirm. 

She writes non-fiction books about handwriting, too. Her latest are Reading Between the lines: Handwriting Decoded; Advanced Studies in Handwriting Psychology; Personality & Anxiety Disorders, How They May be Seen in Handwriting. Sheila also authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and Handwriting Analyzer software. 

Stop by and sign up for notices:
Contact Sheila at
For information about handwriting analysis, please visit
twitter: @sheila_lowe

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

How Should Christians View Capital Punishment? Spotlighted Author Sylvia Bambola Responds...

How Should Christians View 
Capital Punishment?

by Sylvia Bambola

This is a tough one.* There are sincere Christians on both sides of this issue. I think the reason is because Christians are generally tenderhearted and believe in redemption. They want everyone to have a “second chance.”

Before diving in, I’d like to share three Scriptures. In Isaiah 55:9 God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Our minds are incapable of grasping the mind of God. His way of thinking is not ours and may often seem out of line. But we should understand that God does all things well, and His ordinances, His commands are only for our good. 

The second Scripture is from Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Our job is to trust God and not our own understanding. His is to direct our paths. 

And finally, when we don’t, when we, instead, follow our own inclinations, the path is disastrous. Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

From the above, I think it’s safe to say we don’t always know what’s right or best, but God does. And when we try to figure it out independently of Him, we can get into trouble or make a mess. I believe this applies to the issue of capital punishment. Our opinions will differ because we come from different backgrounds, have learned different life-lessons, and carry our own share of misconceptions and faulty thinking. That’s why it’s always necessary for Christians to defer to the Bible.

So, the important question is, what does God say about this issue? I don’t believe the Bible can state God’s position on capital punishment any clearer than in Genesis 9:5-6. He commands that if a beast or man takes the life of a man, the blood of that man or beast will be required. He then states His reason. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Only blood was payment for blood because man was made in God’s image.

But this command is repeated throughout the Old Testament, including in the sixth command which states, “Thou shall not kill.” That word in the Hebrew is ratsach and literally means, “to dash in pieces, to murder, the shedding of innocent blood.” This does not include the killings in war, in self-defense or in an accidental killing (manslaughter). The Old Testament dealt with the last two cases by creating six cities of refuge in order to protect the killer from the “blood avenger”. But in the case of murder--the willful taking of innocent blood--the blood avenger was required to take the life of the murderer.

In Exodus 20:13, Exodus 21:12-15, Leviticus 24:17 and Numbers 35:6-21, God, Himself, gives Moses the ordinances regarding capital punishment. Moses represents authority/the law/the head of a nation/the government. In other words, God is instructing the governmental authority to keep this law. And what He is says is, “he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”

God also warns, in Numbers 35:29-34, what will happen if these murderers are not put to death. “So, these things shall be for a statue of judgment unto you throughout your generations in all your dwellings. Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witness: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die (Here the criteria was set up that it must take at least two witnesses to convict a murderer) Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction (ransom) for the life of a murderer guilty of death; but he shall surely be put to death . . . So, you shall not pollute the land wherein you are: for the blood it defileth the land; and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein among the children of Israel.” So, here we understand that if we don’t put murderers to death, we pollute and defile our land.

God also cautions us in Deuteronomy 19: 11-13 and Deuteronomy 19:18-21,“Thine eye shall not pity him (the murdered—God calls us to walk, not in sentimentality, but in His ways, His laws) but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel that it may go well with thee.” Again, if the murderer is not made to pay with his blood, it will not go well with that nation!

So, we know that 1) God Himself instituted the death penalty. 2) That only blood could pay for the shedding of innocent blood. 3) That if a murderer does not pay with his blood the land becomes defiled and polluted, and it will not go well for that nation. 4) We are not to pity the murderer. 5) A murderer must be convicted by at least two witnesses. 6) If a witness falsely testifies against someone charged with murder, that witness must forfeit his life. 7) The execution of a murderer will serve as a deterrent against further evil.

Ah, but that’s the Old Testament. Surely, Jesus doesn’t expect us to execute murderers today! Well, murder is still forbidden in the New Testament (Matthew 19:18, Romans 13:9, 1Peter 4:15, 1 John 3:15) and since “God changes not”(Malachi 3:6) and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrew 13:8) and He said that if you see Him you see the Father (John 14:9), we can correctly deduce that God the Father is also the same yesterday, today and forever, and thus assume that the same blood criteria applies to murder in the New Testament.

In addition, Jesus spoke these sobering words in Matthew 5:17-19, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Oh, dear!

As we delve more into the New Testament, it’s important to remember that the Old Testament Scriptures regarding murder were Scriptures in which God was speaking to Moses—who represented the law/authority/government, and as such He was laying a pattern. In other words, God was establishing national law for Israel and all future Godly nations.

Opponents of capital punishment often use Matthew chapter 5 to build their case. But here Jesus is talking to the multitudes. (Matt 5:1 “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain . . . and said”) Jesus is not speaking to the lawmakers, authority, government. He was speaking to the masses, the common man. The substance of what He said also makes it clear that He was addressing two very distinct groups of people: the law breaker or criminal and the victims of crime.

First, let’s look at what He said to the “criminal,” the breaker of God’s law. Jesus said that in the “old time” under the law of the Old Testament, the law says, Thou shalt not kill. However, under the “new” Testament Jesus is now coming down even harder. He said if you’re even angry with your brother without cause or if you speak evil of him, you’re in danger of judgment. Jesus has raised the bar. He is now saying that hatred and slander are akin to murder! He is saying that the standards are even stricter than they had previously thought! Who hasn’t heard an angry person assassinate someone’s character with his words! And 1 John 3:15 further confirms this, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.”

Now, let’s look at the second group—the victims of crime. He said it used to be an eye for an eye (a punishment that fits the crime). But now He says don’t look for revenge or retaliation, but forgive, forgive, forgive! If someone steals your shirt, give him your coat too (forgive, forgive, forgive) and if someone forces you to go a mile with him, don’t just stop there, go two. Jesus is saying that the victim’s attitude (NOT the state’s attitude or the law’s attitude or the government’s attitude) toward the criminal must now be one of forgiveness, meekness, and forbearance.

Having said that, is there no way out for murderers other than the death penalty? Hasn’t a “new” dispensation come with the “new” covenant? That answer is both yes and no. Here’s why. Remembering that sinners are saved by grace and that the blood of Jesus covers our sins, then one can say with assurance that if someone murders (sheds innocent blood) and comes into the saving knowledge of Jesus and repents and puts that sin under Jesus’ blood, then the blood requirement of the blood avenger is fulfilled. Jesus’ blood, in that instance, is the perfect fulfilling of the law. It becomes the substitute for the blood of the actual murderer. It appeases the outcry of the innocent blood that was shed. And Jesus’ blood appeases God the Father’s sense of justice. 

That’s why I wanted to see Carla Fay Tucker pardoned by then Governor of Texas, George Bush. Carla had come to the Lord (I’m not talking about a shallow “jail-house” conversion that sometimes happens because a prisoner wants the benefits for appearing “reformed” like early parole, etc.). Carla had repented, and she had put her sins, though serious and horrible, under the blood of Jesus. But she was not pardoned and went home to be with the Lord.

However, when a murderer has NOT come to the Lord, has not put his murder under the blood of Jesus, then the blood requirement still stands. That person is, in effect, under the Old Testament law and his blood is required. If that blood requirement is not met, then it contributes to the defilement of the land.

I know our court system is not perfect; that sometimes the poor don’t get the representation they deserve; that mistakes are made; that two witnesses (DNA, eye-witnesses, etc.) are NOT used, and circumstantial evidence will convict someone, which I don’t believe is scriptural. These issues need to be dealt with. However, just because they exist, they do not negate the validity of capital punishment. Capital punishment is an established law of God. A law valid throughout both the Old and New Testament.

Do Christians have a role in ministering to prisoners, even murderers? Yes. We can pray for them and/or minister God’s love to them. And that especially includes ministering God’s word so they can come into the saving knowledge of Jesus, which means that even if they are executed, like Carla Fay, they will be with our Lord for all eternity. But trying to keep a convicted murderer—who has not repented and accepted the Lord and put his sin under Jesus’ blood—from being executed, is not scriptural and is in fact—wrong.

God will never contradict Himself (His Word). If something in His word sounds contradictory the fault lies with us, not Him. We simply don’t understand the Scripture and need to spend time studying it. No one has all the answers, nor will we until we get to heaven and then we can ask the One who does. But knowing the Word of God as much as possible will help prevent us from being misled or deceived.

According to God’s Word, I don’t think we have any choice, as believers, but to acknowledge that capital punishment was instituted by God and is scriptural. Line up a hundred people and all of them may give you differing opinions. But we are not to hinge our convictions on the prevailing opinions of the majority or even our own opinions. In the end, the only opinion that matters is God’s.

*Based upon her book, which included the issue of Capital Punishment, I asked author Sylvia Bambola to provide a full article on this important issue. Many of us have had mixed feelings about Capital Punishment. I believe this article provides a solid basis to provide God's answer...

Note that the color highlights are mine, inserted as I read her response to my question. For me, it answered all that I needed to know...

And...thank you so much, Sylvia Bambola, for speaking to us through your book and this additional article! God Bless you and your future writings!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Spotlight Author, Sylvia Bambola, Pens First Non-Fiction, Following the Blood Trail from Genesis to Revelation!

Sylvia Bambola was born in Romania but lived her early years in Germany, a Germany still reeling from the devastation of World War II. At age seven she relocated with her adopted military family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in Germany lingered and was the inspiration behind her novel, Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist.
Life as an “army brat” gave her the opportunity to live in several states, including Hawaii. Then came nursing school in New York after which she married and began a family. Raising two children and being the wife of a business executive made for a busy life. So did working in marketing for a telecommunications company, then a medical software company.
Her first novel, A Vessel of Honor, written under the pen name of Margaret Miller, garnered a Small Press Editor’s Choice Award and was seriously considered for production as a television movie.
Bambola is the author of six published novels, lives in sunny Florida and has two grown children. She’s been a guest speaker at Women’s Aglow and various church functions, is a Bible study teacher at her church, and is learning to play the guitar.

Following the Blood Trail From
 Genesis to Revelation:
Why Jesus Had to Die and What it Means for Us

By Sylvia Bambola

We are all living in a timeline, 

a timeline set by God, Himself, 

and one that will last
 only until His full plan is accomplished; 
the plan to reconcile both heaven and earth
 back to his perfect order;
 the plan to uphold His holy name and character.

And it involves blood.

The first nonfiction book by author Sylvia Bambola is more than I could have hoped for. The title obviously gives what will be reviewed. It implies a full scriptural analysis of how Christ came to die on the cross for all of us.

The key difference for me was that, I felt that it was Jesus who had brought salvation to us. That if we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, we would be saved.  As I finished the book and write these words, a scripture came to me:

1 Corinthians 13:11...11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

It wasn't that the book presents new information--rather, what Bambola has done is present the "entire story." As a child I had accepted Jesus...Now I was being led, through Sylvia Bambola's book, to consider and learn God's Full Plan! Wow!  Again, nothing new, except that God had surely inspired the author to tell us the whole story, not just parts that we have heard preached for many years, or not just Sunday School lessons that we studied at various times.

Or, perhaps, for me, it is just that Sylvia Bambola's book was published at a time when there is much chaos and divisiveness--that people are looking differently toward those who we once called neighbors, friends, family.... and are being incited to do so...

Many are now saying what is happening today is part of a plan...and they are working diligently, perhaps without seeking God's  guidance, to ensure that it moves forward...  My first experience with The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey years ago when we were to expect the Second Coming, which never happened, of course, had led me to believe God was the maker of the schedule, not man.  

And I needed to have confirmed that God does indeed have a plan and a timeline for what will happen... But not necessarily that told by some people.

Bambola starts by an overview of the beginning...through Biblical reference and through analysis for context. Although the beginning is provided in Genesis, further reference reveals, as some may have already known, that earth had been populated prior to the story of the Garden of Eden and the creation of Adam and Eve.
Apparently, Satan had charge of the earth prior to his fall. He was the watchman. This may explain why he was still in the Garden of Eden after his fall and after the six-days of creation, and why he wanted to tempt Eve to sin in order to regain his authority.
The author also explores what I learned was called the "Gap Theory" which, essentially, was the conclusion I had long ago reached. Essentially, this refers to the possibility, the probability that time elapsed between various Biblical references; e.g., between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  After reviewing various issues, including scientific study of the earth itself, she then states: Based on the Gap Theory, we can understand how both can be true. There is no contradiction. I was feeling better that, perhaps, I really wasn't still in childhood, rather I just hadn't known the words, the whys and how it happened as a complete unique story that...followed...the...blood... My thank you to the author!

Chapter 2 then begins the review of the Blood Trail through both the Old and New Testament, with, I believe, a clear statement that Blood sacrifices must continue, even though Christ died for us. Many of the references will be shown: the Passover, the story of Cain, the sacrifice of Isaac--and many more. Reading them sequentially, to see the trail, is surely a wonderful learning experience revealing the omnipotence of God and His words on the power of innocent blood...

For me, this was an important part of the Trail we followed, because the issue of Capital Punishment came to the forefront. (See additional article by the author, tomorrow, here at BRH.)

You see, I believed in Capital Punishment, but had always heard arguments against that were not satisfactory. How could children and adults be murdered, especially for sexual or human trafficking reasons, etc., and not require that the individual be also killed?  Bambola concludes that it does "involve blood!"

So, we learn in Numbers what happens when we do not put murderers to death. We pollute and defile our land. And Deuteronomy 19:13 warns us that “Thine eye shall not pity him (the murderer) but thou shall put away the guilt of innocent blood..."
This is a book that needs to be on your personal library shelf. It is effortlessly read (and reread) and referenced, providing sufficient information and research to feel confident that the writer has acted to present and support the book on behalf of God's Word. I understand she plans on continuing this effort and look forward to similar reference books, while at the same time, hoping her fictional stories will also continue.  This book has both a glossary and a list of questions for book clubs or study groups!

Sylvia Bambola has proven to me to be an outstanding writer and an individual who I feel truly writes inspired books. If you are looking for an author that effectively and honorably pulls God's words into her writings, do read her books! 

And, for this latest nonfiction book, it is a must-read for those who seek to learn more about the Words of God in the Bible...


Friday, April 12, 2019

Continuing spotlight on Sylvia Bambola, with The Daughters of Jim Farrell!

...From this perch on “their” hill, Kate saw a billowing cloud of sooty-looking smoke that made her heart plummet. The last time she saw something this large the William Penn mine had exploded, killing five. Many claimed that Pennsylvania coal country took one anthracite worker a day, through injury or death. But here, in Schuylkill County, home of the most dangerous anthracite mines in the world, she knew the number was often higher. 
When she opened the window the deafening shriek of the breaker whistle filled the room. “Is it the Sherman?” Mrs. Clayton repeated. 
Kate put her arm around the trembling woman. Only yesterday, Widow Clayton told everyone how her grandson was promoted to fire boss at the Sherman Colliery. 
“No. The smoke is further west. It’s got to be the Mattson.”
“I think you’re right,” Virginia said, wiping her wet hands on a rag. “The Miner’s Journal has been predicting trouble for weeks, ever since the railroad took over the Mattson. And a few days ago some of their coal cars were derailed and the mine boss got a ‘coffin notice’.” 
“Could just be fire damp,” said Colonel Smyth, a retired Union officer who had distinguished himself at Vicksburg. “The miners are always grumbling about the marsh gas at the Mattson.” 
“Or maybe it’s a cave in,” said Miss Rodgers, the spinster piano teacher who, some say, was once a famous stage personality. 
“Aren’t most mining accidents caused by falling roofs?”
“It’s no cave-in. And not fire damp, either,” said Clarence Thumbolt, a retired railroad man. “It’s the Mollies. Who else would send a coffin notice? It was a warning there’d be trouble. And no one can conjure up more trouble than that bunch. This is their doing, mark my words.”

“If it is, perhaps they have a reason,” returned Jasper Wright, the new dentist from Philadelphia who seldom left the boardinghouse before ten to open his office. 
“And what would you know about these troublemakers? Being an out-of-towner and all,” demanded Thumbolt. 
“I’ve been associated with these parts for more than thirty years and could tell you stories that would curl your hair. Why, just a few years back didn’t the Mollies assassinate Patrick Burns, foreman of the Silver Creek Colliery? A good man, too. Killed him because he caught them stealing from the company. And two years ago it was poor Morgan Powell. The Mollies killed him just for being a Welshman! You don’t want to get on the wrong side of that bunch. Believe me, they could bring down a whole mine if it suited them.” 
Jasper Wright jutted his chin as he secured one of the small pearl buttons of his gray waistcoat. “Sometimes bad conditions produce bad men, sometimes."
“Whatever the cause, it’s sure to be serious.” Mother said, ending the conversation. “Kate, get my ointments and some clean rags. We need to go.” “I’ll come, too,” Virginia said. 
“No, just Kate. Her stomach isn’t as queasy as yours. No telling what we’ll see. You stay and finish scrubbing the knives with brick dust, then make that sassafras solution for Charlotte.” She lowered her voice. “And see that Charlotte washes down all of Mrs. Clayton’s furniture.”

2016 READERS' FAVORITE BRONZE AWARD WINNER for Christian Historical Fiction

The Daughters of 
  Jim Farrell

By Sylvia Bambola

Many of my relatives have worked in the coal mines--one uncle, I remember, had to crawl in to his work area and stay on his knees during the time he was working... I learned from this significant historical story that they were called Monkey Holes at that time and were assigned to those less in favor... We learn that the Irish workers were often chosen for these jobs and trouble was stirring...  The Molly McGuires was a secret organization of Irish coal miners in Pennsylvania and in other areas. We learn that many of the things that happened were often blamed on the Mollies... I enjoyed having the opportunity to read about those early times in my home state...

But there is so much more complexity to the novel than expected. The basic thrust of the mystery which will be solved is that the father, Jim Farrell, of an important family, was charged and hanged for murder. His wife and daughters were forced to convert their home into a boarding house, with his wife, moving quickly to convert as many rooms as possible into living quarters for renters. Even the daughters had given up their own bedrooms. Much of the book shares about how hard they worked to maintain and provide quality service for those who now lived in their previous home.

But none of the daughters were happy in the change of their circumstances--they were now looked down upon and rejected by the elite of the town. Only Charlotte had maintained some connection since she had been involved with the son of one of the important families. But his mother made it quite clear to Charlotte that she was working to break off their arrangement! In the meantime, it took all of them to clean, cook, and serve meals.

Kate, the oldest daughter had never gotten over her father's death, nor the shame that came with the family now being social outcasts. Her mother had requested that they move on and live as best they could. But Kate wanted to find out who had actually killed the man for whom her father had hanged. And she wanted to clear the unwarranted shame from their family name. She wanted to hire a Pinkerton Detective... and was asking her sisters for money. Charlotte finally gave her the $10 she'd been saving for her trousseau but Virginia was not quite so willing to give up her savings to purchase a printing press, since she planned to start a town newspaper...

The sight of both sisters so downcast pricked Kate’s heart. Love is patient, love is kind, love doesn’t seek its own way, she heard her mother’s voice drone in her head. Oh, why was she always trying to get her way? 
Why was she so headstrong? Her sisters were right, she was a bully. That would explain why it was so easy for her to overlook their feelings: Charlotte’s broken heart and Virginia’s dashed dreams. Oh what a wretch I am. And was Mother right too? In saying Kate had allowed a root of bitterness to take hold? 
What did bitterness look like, exactly? Did it look like tall gallows, and the bound and hooded body of her father dangling at the end of a rope? She closed her eyes. Was it so wrong to seek justice? 
“I’m sorry about Mrs. Gaylord,” Kate said, opening her eyes and looking at Charlotte. “And I’m sorry about your newspaper,” she added, turning to Virginia. 
Life had been much simpler when Father was alive.

The Pinkerton Agency had already earned national attention. Kate felt they needed to go out of town for help, since the railroads, the mine owners and business owners in town seemed to be in control of everything. 

Joshua Adams arrival to town was not a happy one...First of all, he wasn't the respectable-looking older man who could be trusted and depended on... Instead, his appearance was startling to the entire family!

He carried a bulging, scruffy carpetbag and wore a brown, wide-brimmed felt hat that only countrymen or farmers wore. His black, double-breasted frock coat had sloping shoulders and opened to reveal a rumpled, beige waistcoat with notched collar. Around his neck was a black silk cravat, loosely tied. His beige trousers flared at the bottom and only partially covered his boots. Flared trousers had gone out of style years ago; so had sloping shoulders; and a farmer’s hat . .
Joshua was not the man they had expected--that they had given up their hard-earned savings to hire. None were happy, but Kate felt they had to proceed since he was assigned to their case... Then Joshua made it worse, by telling the four women that he wanted them to say he was a visiting cousin so he could work incognito. That really separated him further, since as good Christian women, they did not lie and were upset that he had even asked...

But none of them wanted to forfeit their money...The investigation began... While the life of the community continued, with the four women busily working to serve their boarders... Except, lots of different activities started affecting each of the daughters. Kate was being proposition because of her lowered status... Charlotte was afraid of never marrying into the type of social family where she was most comfortable, while Virginia started writing articles for a newspaper that upset people in town...  

Of course, the three daughters each had to deal with the romantic side of their lives... It was interesting to watch as each of them moved forward into finding their lives as women, independent, and able to make their own decisions. One character I particularly found compelling was a young boy whose hand and part of his arm had been ripped off as a breaker boy. We meet him because the only thing he could do to work was to do errands for the town's people...and one of the sisters in particular.

The investigation keeps readers guessing and relationships tend to result in dangerous or uncomfortable situation for the daughters, until one was actually kidnapped...

Bambola inserts mining terminology into the narrative with no difficulty and readers learn much about actual mining operations...and accidents that have occurred for various reasons. The Christian aspect is not as prominent in this novel as in others--but rather, inserts moral issues and decisions as they are relevant to the story itself. The murder mystery merged within the takeover of independent mines by the railroad is extensive and reveals the various ways by which criminal actions are peripheral to the dirty, dangerous, and hard work of those who actually work the mines, together with those family members who care for them and constantly pray that they will see them come home at the end of each day.

For me, this was historical fiction at its finest, combined with a mystery as well as romantic suspense. I could have been happier with a different ending, but, then, that apparently was not what God had planned for the three daughters of Jim Farrell. Read this author! She's a fantastic writer, with a different story to tell in each book. Her variety of topics brings a new adventure and I find I keep going back to read more...So, do check out all my reviews by searching on the author's name. All are definitely recommended 

Watch for my review of her first nonfiction book on Monday, with a followup article by the author...


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Bulwark Anthology - Three Separate Stories and Authors from New Series!

Bulwark: a wall or stockade that protects or sometimes hides the truth from the outside world...

It started with sharing the small town of Bulwark with the world!
The truth had been hidden from the outside world, until
Brit Lunden shared her first story--BULWARK!
Do check out the trailer above and my review by clicking the sidebar
before you continue reading...

It may help...or not...

A Bulwark Anthology

One thing I especially liked about this anthology is that they are separate books, which can be read and reviewed as the reader wishes...
Today, I'm reviewing Books 1, 2, and 8...
Three different stories, all related to that little town Bulwark...

When he spotted her walking through those corridors, all sights and sounds faded, making his feel that they were alone in the world, as if  no one else existed.

Everything muted to a gray blur, and he knew instinctively she'd been waiting for him and had been for a long time.
His well-ordered life had been turned upside down, and nowhere was safe.
He couldn't fight the feeling that he knew her. She felt as familiar as his hand or his face when he looked in the mirror. Common sense told him that was ridiculous, but something his grandmother had told him years ago gave it substance.
Even though he felt the very idea was impossible...

Ever since I've loved The Ghost and Mrs. Muir in its first version, I've loved time travel or ghost stories that connect two people in some way. In The Knowing. two students from different sides of town are attracted to each other to the extent that they feel like they've known each other for a very long time.

But JB lives on a farm, and probably will continue there after school, while Ellie is from a wealthy family. Neither would have seemed a possible match under normal circumstances... JB's granny had explained the feeling once when they talked about deja vue  or seeming to know somebody as if they had met before. Granny just smiled and explained, "It's the Knowing--that feeling when you know you're going to meet someone special. But JB was realistic enough to not dwell on that, living in Bulwark as he was. Still, Ellie's wealthy family did move to Bulwark which was very strange in itself, since few ever moved into their town.

Still, they decided to try--they would meet secretly so that there would be a chance for them to get to know each other better. But when flashes of both of them being at a civil war battlefield came to them, they realized that maybe there really was something strange happening... The soldiers were located near Bulwark and several were known to be town residents. Ellie was there too...they had both had the same dream...!

Life changed as to be expected...but were they really destined to be together?
This second book by Brit Lunden was quite different from her first book, in a delightful, wonderful way...and is just as enjoyable! Check it out!

Without warning, she yanked his mouth away, panting and she grabbed the spot on her neck where he had bitten her. She turned to look at him, but he was backing away from her now, his eyes wild and crazed, holding his throat.
He stared at her face in disbelief--he was the one who was afraid now. She stood frozen, unsure of how to react to this change in circumstance when he started to run down the walkway. He didn't get far before he stumbled, tripping over his own feet. Savannah stood glued on the walk, unsure of what to do. She knew one thing though, letting him get away scott-free wasn't an option.

I don't know, if I were a vampire, thinking I was hungry and looking at somebody who looked available, I'd be there, biting into her neck quick as could be... 

So, what happens when that bite seems not to phase the individual, but, in turn, actually leads to my own death...

Savannah had that happen one night as she was headed for a rare party, since he had decided to enjoy a night off from studying...But when she was knocked down by a skateboarder, there was instantly a dark stranger there to help her up... When he bit her, backed away and started to run...and then died, with his clothes left on the sidewalk, well, Savannah was just as surprised as the vampire, you and me! Cool, right?!

Well, after that, Savannah decided to bypass the party and just wait for her boyfriend, Marshall, to head home. Only to learn, that, instead of a spring break alone, Marshall's cousin had called and asked to come over with his girlfriend, while they were in town. Savannah was not happy... But neither she nor Marshall was prepared for the fact that they would need to be "asked in" in order to visit...

With the magic that exists in the surrounding area near Bulwark, vampires had started to congregate there, and feed on the community... And that is where Marshall's cousin and his girlfriend were headed...with Marshall as their captive...

Savannah to the rescue! Yes, she had now learned about why that first vampire had died...but she'd need more to ensure she was able to free Marshall before he was turned, if it wasn't too late.

It's a fun book by R. L. Jackson who normally writes romance/romantic suspense...but, hey, she's created an excellent story that fits right in to the series locale of Bulwark. Enjoy!

"You make me feel safe," he said, his voice low.
"WTF?" I wanted to shout. Trust me, some of my mom's southern manners took control and I just sat back with a shocked look on my face. "What?" I said instead.
"This place.'s strange. I don't feel safe."
"Bulwark is the safest place in America," I retorted, "I would be scared in your big cities up north."
Christopher shivered as if he were chilled. I leaned forward taking his hand within mine. "Tell me."
He looked around, as if to confirm we were alone. "It's my locker."
OMG, you could have knocked me over with a feather. His locker. His locker! I didn't know how to answer. My mother's voice filled my head with her admonition of being careful what you wish for, but I smothered those thoughts when I looked at his shamed face. Whatever was troubling Christopher, it was as real as the trees around us.

Britney Leigh pens the last, 8th, book in the Bulwark Anthology. It is also her debut book, and is, perhaps, the only YA novel in the least so far... Leigh shares her story as the writer of a personal diary. 

In her September 15th entry, she talks about living in Bulwark, and proceeds to talk about school and community activities. But, even then, she admits that there is "something more, something darker..." And, further, that she is an individual who is curious...about secrets and anything else. Sophia is the school reporter, so is on top of most things happening...At least she thought she was...

But when a top athlete, Christopher, asked for her help in English in order to get a needed passing grade, and they became closer, he also revealed to her a mystery that, at first, sounded crazy... It was his locker at school--it smelled, and smoke came out of it some time. Sophia shared what he'd said with Chloe, her BFF and the school photographer. Chloe admitted she had the same problem, but had never shared it with anybody...

The four students, adding Christopher's friend, Scott, agreed to work together to research and discover exactly what was happening... They already knew students were disappearing and one of them was also Christopher's friend. The sleuth foursome started their research and, the first discovery was that the school was built on ancient Native American burial grounds!

Kudos to debut author Leigh for a really suspenseful mystery that kept everybody stumped...until... Well, let's just say, it was spooky, scary, and lots of fun--being the reader that is!  I'd guess it's suitable for 6th grade on to adults!