Monday, February 24, 2014

The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls

     Andy Kemp’s young life has been as ravaged as his scarred face. Disfigured by an abusive father, the teenager hides behind his books and an impenetrable wall of cynicism and anger.  As Andy’s mother struggles to reconnect with him, his Uncle Rip returns transformed from a stint in prison and wants to be a mentor to the reclusive boy, doing everything he can to help end Andy’s pain. When Andy begins hearing strange music through his iPod and making near-prophetic announcements, Rip is convinced that what Andy is hearing is the voice of God.  Elsewhere, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering in one of the poorest homes in town. She soon realizes that the masked prowler has left thousands of dollars in gift cards from a local grocery store.  As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy and Rip discover an enormous and well-kept garden of wildflowers that seems to have grown overnight at an abandoned steel mill.  Soon, they realize who the gardener is, and a spree of miracles transfigures this small town from a place of hopelessness into a place of healing and beauty.
As a blogger/reviewer/reader/bookguy, I tend to read a lot of books.  I tend to read a lot of books that I consider to be suspense or intrigue or thriller novels.  Sometimes, though, a book comes along that attracts me for different reasons, reasons that I can’t really put into words.  This book, “The Sinners’ Garden”, is definitely one of those books.
What do a teenager, his mother an ex-con and a cop all have in common?  Sounds like the beginning to a very bad joke doesn’t it?  In this case, these 4 individuals are showcased in their need for redemption.  Andy, the teen, has been abused by his father and stays hidden behind painful scars.  His mother has drifted mentally away and desperately wants to reconnect.  His uncle, Rip, is being released from prison and wants to thrust himself into the role of the male figure in Andy’s life in order to right the wrongs of his past.  And Heather, who is on her path of finding out who keeps breaking into the homes in town.  Throw in a seemingly out of place flourishing garden and the Master Gardener behind it all, and you have the makings of a book that will stay with you forever.  Do yourself a favor, GO BUY THIS BOOK!
I will admit that as a typical guy, sometimes the details of things escapes me.  I’m not always as interested in how things looked like or felt like or what direction you went, as long as I know that there was a mystery that needed solving and you solved it.  I do tend to skip or skim over text that goes into a lot of detail and there were times in this book that I found myself doing that.  It’s important to note, though, that that isn’t a slam on the author, it’s just not my style of reading.  Once I get the gist of what’s happening in a paragraph, if there isn’t dialogue, I move onto the next one.  I loved how deep and immersed that I became with the characters in the book, almost like they became friends of mine.  I would be interested in revisiting with these characters in the future to see how they’ve grown after this novel.  My other thought on this book centers around what I feel was a main component of this book, redemption.  I think there was a clear story line of redemption with these characters, but I think the author left out some great opportunities to wrap the redemptive qualities of Christ into this book.  As I’m sure he was going for an all-inclusive audience with his book, it may cause others to feel a little let down that he didn’t follow through with the whole story of redemption.
Is this a guy’s book?  This is not your typical shoot-em up, run-em down or kill-em novel.  I would venture to say that if you are into those books and only those books, then you should avoid this book.  BUT, if you are guy that can enjoy a book that reminds us of God’s love and attention, then you should definitely pick this book up to read.
About the author

Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows--some born of chance, some born of choice.  He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan. Visit his site at:

Meet William Sirls: Once a senior vice president in a large investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. The Sinners’ Garden is his second novel. William is celebrating the book's release with an iPad giveaway.

  One winner will receive:
  • A brand new iPad Mini
  • The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 1st. Winner will be announced March 3rd on William Sirls' blog.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by William’s blog on the 3rd to see if you won.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Friend Me by John Faubion

Scott and Rachel’s marriage is on the brink of disaster. Scott, a businessman with a high-pressure job, just wants Rachel to understand him and accept his flaws. Rachel is a lonely housewife, desperate for attention and friendship. So she decides to create a virtual friend online, unaware that Scott is doing the exact same thing. But neither realizes that there’s a much larger problem looming. . . . 

Behind both of their online creations is Melissa, a woman who is brilliant— and totally insane. Masquerading as both friend and lover, Melissa programmed a search parameter into the Virtual Friend Me software to find her perfect man, but along the way she forgot to specify his marriage status. And Scott is her ideal match. Now Melissa is determined to have it all—Scott, his family, and Rachel’s life. 

As Melissa grows bolder and her online manipulations transition into the real world, Scott and Rachel figure out they are being played. Now it’s a race against time as Scott and Rachel fight to save their marriage, and their lives, before it’s too late.

With the growth of the internet and all of the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, I guess it is only a matter a time before an actual site like the one mentioned in this book comes to fruition.  It is with that thought in mind, that I couldn’t wait to dive into this book.

Scott and Rachel have hit a rut in their marriage.  Rachel spends her day caring for their child and Scott spends his day at work supporting his family.  Both of them feel they are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing to make their marriage work, but they are both falling short of a fulfilling marriage.  Rachel finds a website that offers to “recreate” lost ones from the past and she sets out to “recreate” her friend Suzanne.  As she builds her best friend, the realism intrigues Scott.  Scott, though, creates someone to listen to him, a female companion.  After Scott starts building his friend, parameters within the software alert the programmer that her “dream guy” is looking for someone.  As she begins to sculpt herself into Scott’s virtual friend, the drama begins to spiral out of control.  Is Rachel’s virtual friend real?  Does Scott cross the line with his virtual friend?  Can their real marriage survive what’s happening in the virtual world?  Find out the answer to these great questions when you BUY THE BOOK!

This is the first book by John Faubion and definitely looks like it won’t be his last.  The tension and stress that he writes into his characters are so real allowing the reader the chance to “see” themselves or loved ones that they know in those roles.    He has created some memorable characters in Rachel and Scott.  Not because of some outlandish lifestyle, but because they came across as real people just like the rest of us.  The storyline flowed smoothly and while the author may have taken some creative freedom when it came to describing the technology behind the “friends”, I don’t think that the reality isn’t too far behind.

Is this a “Guy’s Book”?  This is a great book and should be read by anybody, man or woman.  This will hopefully open up some eyes to those that say, “it isn’t real, so who’s it really hurting?”

John agreed to answer a few questions for us to get a chance to know him better:

What is your favorite bible verse and why?
Interesting question, so I’ll attempt to give you a more-interesting-than-usual answer. I’ve attached a picture from my iPad with my current favorite Bible verse.
  • The Chinese is “耶和华啊,我的心仰望你。
  • The English (which I imagine most of your readers probably employ!) is “Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul. (Psalm 25:1).

The “why” is that believers need to yield themselves to the Lord every day, and usually more often than that. I’m no exception. I love the Psalms and Proverbs. They’re so rich.
I don’t have a regular “life verse” like most folks. Don’t know why – just the way it worked out. The bright side of this is that if someone asks me my favorite verse next week, it may be different!

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your books and why?
The theme is for Christians to see the need — the absolute need — of living a consistent, faithful Christian life. Focus on what’s real, not on imagined dreams, fantasies, and what-might-have-been.
Back to Friend Me’s epigraph, Phillippians 4:8, “Whatsoever things are true. . . think on these things.”

Besides writing, what are some of your favorite hobbies? 
I have an old 1949 Packard automobile that I love to work on and drive. I think I’ll attach a picture of that, too. My youngest daughter turns seventeen tomorrow. Before she found out how hard it was going to be to steer, she asked for a pickup truck to drive when she was old enough. I finished that up last year, a 1966 Ford F-100.
Looks like it’s going to be mine, after all! Maybe if I’d put in power steering…

What advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Be humble, and be patient with yourself. You don’t know nearly as much as you think you do. Just about everyone on earth writes better than you do right now. So give yourself time, ask for help when you need it, and don’t wear a lot of agents and editors out until you’re ready to give them something good.
Work hard, be faithful and persistent, and write a story in such a way that if you were the reader, you’d buy your own book on the spot.

Favorite memory from childhood?
Riding my bicycle really fast down the hill from Longmeadow into Forest Park (Massachusetts). I’d gotten a speedometer for Christmas (or maybe my birthday, I don’t remember), and I actually hit 45 MPH. Scared myself to death, but it sure was fun.
The next time I tried it I talked Bobby Roman into riding along with me on his bike. He wasn’t so lucky. He flipped over and skinned up his back real bad. Our moms were not too happy with me.
Favorite comfort food?
So here’s the easy question. There is nothing on earth better than cold buttermilk.


Suspense fiction writer.  I have a wife whom I love, and five children ranging from their teens to their forties.  I love each one.  I’ve worked a day job as a senior software developer for the last fifteen years.  Previous to that, I spent nearly thirty years as a foreign missionary in Vietnam and China.  Yes, I speak Chinese as a second language.

John Faubion is celebrating his debut novel, Friend Me, with a Kindle HDX giveaway!

One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Friend Me by John Faubion
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 22nd. Winner will be announced February 24th on John Faubion's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by John's blog on the 24th to see if you won.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Heart Failure by Richard Mabry, MD

When her fiancé’s dangerous secrets turn her work upside down, a beautiful doctor must choose between her own safety and the man she loves—and thought she knew. 
Dr. Carrie Markham’s heart was broken by the death of her husband two years ago. Now, just as her medical practice is taking off, her fresh engagement to paralegal Adam Davidson seems almost too good to be true . . . until a drive-by shooting leaves Carrie on the floor of his car with glass falling around her. 
When he confesses that Adam isn’t his real name and that he fled the witness protection program, Carrie is left with an impossible choice: should she abandon the fiancé she isn’t sure she really knows, or accept his claim of innocence and help him fight back against this faceless menace? 
While Carrie struggles to decide whether to follow her heart or her head, the threats against them continue to escalate. Her life—as well as Adam’s—depends on making the right choice . . . and the clock is ticking.

I guess I’m just a sucker for a good medical thriller, one that grips you from the start and never lets you go until the very last pages.  No one can do that better than Dr. Mabry, and I’m excited to have a new book by him to be able to offer you a review.

Dr. Carrie Markham has had her share of heart ache after the death of her husband several years earlier.  She has finally opened herself up to a new relationship with Adam Davidson and has a medical practice that is taking off.  In a single conversation, though, her life is turned upside down.  As Carrie and Adam are sitting in his car after a movie, shots ring out that shatter the windows of the car, and the tranquility of the night.  Adam confesses that he isn’t who she thinks he is, that he has a history that may be responsible for the attack on them.  Carrie isn’t sure she wants any part of his life, especially one that could get her killed.  As more attacks rain down on both Carrie and Adam, she decides to work with him to decide who is behind the attacks.  Can they find the shooter before more serious damage is done?  Will Carrie be able to overcome her hurt and forgive Adam?  Who is Adam and why are people shooting at him?  Your heart won’t fail you if you run and BUY THIS BOOK!
Dr. Mabry has again written a medical thriller that twists and turns from the start and throws so many red herrings at you that you don’t know which way is up until the book is done.  You feel for Dr. Markham as you understand the loss that she has endured with the loss of her husband and the feeling of hopelessness that she feels as she and Adam fight against the unknown.  You root for Adam as he struggles against trying to find out who the shooter is and keeping Carrie safe and in his life.  To me, the mark of a great author is one that can develop characters for you that you become invested in their lives and the outcome of what’s happening during the story.  Those are some of the best attributes that will keep Dr. Mabry writing and being read for years to come.

Is this a “Guy’s Book”?  It has its moments.  There is a mystery to be solved, there are shootings and evasive driving maneuvers, but there is still an element of romance as well.  But hey, who doesn’t need a little romance in their life?

Dr. Mabry agreed to answer a few questions for us to get a chance to know him better:
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Since my first novel was published only a few years ago, I feel as though I’m one of those “new” authors myself, certainly when you compare me with individuals who have written dozens of novels. I’m hesitant to give names of new authors who have impressed me, because I’d probably omit some very deserving ones. For me, the proof of the pudding is in how many people want to read the second or third book by that author. Or, as I used to tell my children, “We’ll see.”

What are your current projects?

My next book, Critical Condition, is scheduled for release on April 15, and that one is already written, edited, and ready for publication. Right now I’m working on my next book, Dead On Arrival. It begins when a man bursts into an emergency room, his gun to the head of a nurse who is pushing a wounded man in a wheelchair. The gunman says, “He’s been shot. Do something. If he dies, everyone in here dies!”

How are you the same/different from your main character, Adam/Keith?

Obviously I’ve never had the experience of being in the Witness Security Program and trying to escape from people who want to kill me. Likewise, Adam’s struggles, weighing his newfound love for Carrie against his instinct for self-preservation, aren’t choices I’ve faced. Nevertheless, I hope that Adam’s actions are the ones I or another Christian would take.

Why do you feel you had to tell this story?

Interestingly enough, the story sort of told itself. I read a newspaper article about the Witness Security Program and Alton Gansky’s favorite question jumped into my mind: “What if?” In this case, I wondered what would happen if a widowed doctor met and fell in love with a man, only to learn that he’s not really the person she thinks he is. After I populated the story, the characters sort of told me where to go from there.

You were just given a new Yacht, what would you name it?

After a few moments’ thought, I decided to use the name of my first car: Flattery (because Flattery will get you anywhere). And my first trip on the yacht would be a cruise of the Greek islands.

If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
It would be the Scripture verse with which I sign all my novels, Psalm 139:1-5. “O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel
 and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”

In addition to the practice of medicine, my past includes a stint overseas in the US Air Force, several periods as an interim music minister, and an all-too-brief experience as a semi-pro baseball player. In other words, there’s more to me than “M.D.” covers. Let me share a little about myself.

      My BA is from the University of North Texas (which was North Texas State University at the time). I graduated with an MD degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, then obtained my specialty training in otolaryngology (that’s “ear, nose, and throat” to most folks) at two major teaching hospitals in Dallas: Parkland and the VA Hospital.
Air Force:
       I served for almost three years as a Captain in the US Air Force at Lajes Field, in the Azores, a Portuguese possession in the middle of the North Atlantic. I’ve forgotten most of the Portuguese I learned there, but will never forget the friendships I made. Because I was involved in saving the life of a little Azorean girl whose airway was obstructed by a coin, I was written up in Stars and Stripes and received the Air Force Commendation medal. When there’s a recognition on Veteran’s Day, I’m proud to stand beside all the others who’ve served. 

      I’ve been a Christian for six decades. For almost forty years, I was a Deacon in the Baptist church, serving as a Sunday school teacher and singing in the choir. After a recent move across the city, I’m proud to be a member of the Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, where I get to hear Dr. Chuck Swindoll preach regularly.

      During the 36 years I spent in medicine, I wrote or edited eight textbooks, authored over a hundred professional papers, and was an invited guest speaker all over the world. I held the presidency or vice-presidency of three professional societies, and was privileged to receive a number of awards and honors. But if you asked my greatest reward in medicine , it would be in seeing patients get better under my care.


      Primarily golfing, usually once a week with the same golf partner for the past ten years or so. We don’t keep score (heresy to purists, I suppose) and we enjoy the fellowship. I’m also a voracious reader, mainly fiction, although I do read non-fiction books.