Review of FALLOUT by Carrie Stuart Parks

This is a suspense thriller with action from beginning to end and credible, likable characters. Samantha Williams is an art teacher when her life goes crazy with a runaway car, shootings, car chases and other things that endanger life and limb. There is a hint of romance that adds to the story but it is not totally evident until near the end. The plot is wild, with research that makes it believable and scary at the same time. Carrie Stuart Parks writes with a fast pace and twists throughout that make this book one not to be missed and haunting in its scope of reality. This is a dynamically written page turner that had me on the edge of my seat and reading fast to get to the satisfying conclusion. This book offers an insightful look at motives for murder and is thought-provoking, with a foundation of faith that the main character relies on. I loved Sam’s “Sneetches” that she seemed to blurt out whenever some common sense and wisdom needed to be inserted. This brilliantly written and complicated novel was so clever, with a tight plot and head-spinning layers that had me guessing who could possibly be so evil as to wreak so much havoc. I guessed incorrectly multiple times, so the big reveal was an eye-opening surprise. Fans of mystery, suspense and thrillers will enjoy the complexities of the novel and get lost in the heads of a strong female protagonist who is as smart as she is talented.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author via BookFunnel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

This is clean Christian fiction with intense content, so I would recommend a rating of PG.
Carrie Stuart Parks is Christy, Carol, and Inspy award-winning author, an award-winning fine artist, and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity. Photo and Bio from the author’s page on Goodreads. Link below.

Social Links: › CarrieStuartParksAuthor

Answers to Questions:

When and how did you know that she wanted to be an author? 

My first books were how-to art books and illustrations. I wanted to share how I taught people to draw and paint in watercolor. When our neighbor and friend, Frank Peretti, offered to mentor me and teach me how to write, I fell in love with the process.

What is your writing process like?

I first brainstorm a book, usually having only the location roughly worked out. Then 3 x 5 index cards with different ideas on each one. Then I arrange the cards into something like a story and move this to some kind of mind mapping program (I use several.) I order any books I need to research the topic, download articles, and move to James Scott Bell’s program “Writing the Knockout Novel” to hone the details and get to know the characters. I find photos of the area, the house(s) layout, what the characters look like, elements in a scene, etc. I’m usually still researching during the actual writing (the story will have a note in red that might say, “look up how Washington State handles skulls” or “what does this really look like?” I have the story worked out on paper and in my head, but it’s still open to changes as I write. I don’t usually have to do a lot of re-writing if I do this correctly. Editing, yes. Re-write, no. I write 500-1000 words a day.

What special research did you have to do to write FALLOUT?

I read 5 books on the area and Handford, interviewed a number of people, drove to La Crosse and looked around, drove to Pullman and did the same, and downloaded a number of articles.

What would be your advice to new authors?

Have a teachable mind and learn the craft.

If you could have a luncheon with a group of authors, whom would you invite and why?

LOL. I’ll be doing just that at ACFW! I’d invite my buddies Colleen Coble, Lynette Eason, Roni Kendig, Robin Miller, (and a bunch more!) Then have afternoon lattes with Frank Peretti and his dear wife, Barb. In fact, I’d book a week or two of lunches and pork out with a bunch of other authors I don’t know but would love to meet.


This fascinating book is available for pre-order now and releases on 9-13-2022! Purchase Links:


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This is one of the best books that I have read this year, so I encourage you to buy a copy and enjoy the escape into the world of Samantha Williams!








God Gave Us Today

“This Is the Day that the Lord Has Made”

Every day is a new day with God. Forget yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow. Just grab hold of today and be glad that you are God’s child!
We are blessed to be part of God’s family!
God does not pick and choose the ones He loves. He loves all of us because He made all of us. How can we do any less than worship Him?

May your day be filled with blessings from the Lord that you can clearly see and acknowledge. Every day is a gift!

A Word about Words

Communication consists of putting words together into thoughts and then speaking them to others. Over and over again, we are warning in the Bible to be careful what we say with our mouths because we are either speaking death or life. I try to be aware of what I am saying and to whom I am saying it, but oftentimes, my emotions get ahead of my tongue and it just follows along that path of spewing what I’m feeling instead of thinking before I speak.

I don’t mean to or want to crush another person’s spirit, but I have seen it happen. I watch the person’s face change from happy delight to see me to overwhelming disappointment that they did. I must say that once I notice, I apologize, but wouldn’t it have been better to think first? I’m getting better at this skill, but I have not perfected it yet.

Maybe one of the reasons people walk around just looking down or with such sour faces is because of all of the ungracious words that have been spoken into their lives all day. I was very aware of what I said to my students when I was teaching because I wanted to point out that what they had done was a poor choice but that did not make them a bad person. In today’s world, we think nothing of going online and attacking someone’s character, whether we know them personally or not or whether they truly deserve the attack or not. Since I have not reached a state of perfection yet and God has not made me a judge over anyone except myself, it is much better for me to pray for a person who is in error than for me to take on the duty of pointing out how wrong they are about something, attacking their character because it doesn’t suit me. No one is served when the attack of words begins. The person you attack begins to avoid you and you lose a possible friend and you lose the witness to the Lord that you are supposed to be at all times.

I have seen this on line, many years ago and reminded my students of it when they were talking to each other. High school students especially seem to think that they become a bigger person if they can tear another person down. What I told them is that cutting people up with your words is not building yourself up but rather tearing yourself down in the eyes of others who watch what you do and say and lose trust in you. We would do well to follow this acronym when posting online.

I always enjoyed Audrey Hepburn movies and I had no idea that she had such wisdom as this quotation demonstrates. She was considered a beautiful and poised woman. Perhaps this motto was a real part of her life and that is why she was so lovely.

Anyone can make one of these graphics by using a site called Wordle. I happened to find this one online and each time I looked at it, a different word stood out. What strikes you as an outstanding word here? Words mean something, on paper and out loud. We have to remember that. We can take back words and apologize for them, but we cannot heal broken or damaged hearts. That takes a loving God and a person ready to forgive.

May each of us be more aware this day of the effects of our words on others and speak words of life and love into the needy world. Have a blessed day!

Faith in What We Don’t See

I remember that when I was very young, I would get up from my bed in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, but I wouldn’t turn on any lights. I knew the way because I had done the same trip so many times and was confident that I could make it into the bathroom, two doors away, just by walking straight. Then there was the night that I heard my father whooping in the bathroom and my mom asking him if he “got it yet.” Got what? It seems that there was a big rat (yes, a rat) in the bathroom tub and daddy was intent on killing it with his boot. That night ended my dark rambling to the bathroom because now I had an absolute belief that there was possibly, maybe, likely could be, a rat between me and the bathroom and I wanted to see it before it saw me. Or at least that was my thought. So, instead of walking confidently in the dark, I turned on my bedroom light, the hall light and the bathroom light before I would go in, use the facilities and return to bed.

Faith is like me before my father found the rat, only the confidence isn’t supposed to go away. You believe because you know in your heart that God is taking care of you and will work it all out. Stepping into a dark room or stepping out in faith? With God walking before you and providing a rearguard too, we have nothing to fear.

The last week has been a test of faith since our grandson got injured. On Thursday, Tyler went to the orthopedist to have his fractured clavicle checked. We had prayed for good test results and fully expected that would be the case. But…the doctor said that his clavicle is not aligned correctly, put him into a brace and a new sling and said he had to return in three weeks to be checked again to see if he will need surgery. Oh, dear! That was not what my faith was expecting, so just like the child turning on the lights, I started wondering what I could do to change the outcome. However, there are no lights to turn on, no place to run and hide. There is God and my belief that He has the situation under control That is what I was praying this morning as I awakened and showered, for God to work things out for Tyler and his family. Now, I wait for the answer.

God’s promises didn’t stop when Tyler got injured. Tyler is still his beloved child and He is still watching over and caring for Him. I anticipated that the orthopedist would tell him a few months in the sling and he would be as good as new. I have no doubts that he will one day totally heal, but I have to wait for the news that it has happened. Just as my mom was saying in the hallway, “Got it yet?” Well, good things may take a while but God’s timing is perfect. I have no idea what God’s plan is in all of this. I know that Tyler is going to go back to college this week and has to make some major adjustments in order to be able to attend classes and do his work. For example, he has to have help taking off and replacing the brace when he showers. That requires dependence on a helper and Tyler is not one to ask for help easily. (Isn’t that true of most of us?) He cannot carry a backpack, so he will need someone to carry it for him. He may have difficulty taking notes in class, so again, he will need a helper. He can’t carry a tray in the cafeteria…help. So much that he has been used to doing alone, now he will require assistance. My prayer is that the Lord will prepare the way before him and have the helpers there that he needs when he needs them. I just have to wait to see how everything works out. My daughter, his mom, has done all she can to clear the path for him, calling student services and alerting them to his needs. Now, we wait.

Waiting is not easy, but it is necessary. Abraham anticipated that God would provide a sacrifice instead of Isaac, so he waited. I suppose he could have gone off into the bushes and looked for a ram or a lamb to sacrifice, but that is not what God had told him to do. So, he believed in God’s provision, knowing that no matter what God had the situation under control. I am not sure how that would have felt, climbing up the hill with the understanding that at the destination, your only child is to be sacrificed. And yet Abraham climbed the hill anyway. I would like to think that I would do likewise, but I just don’t know how big my faith is until I get to the point that it’s the only thing holding me up.

That’s where I was last week when we first heard that Tyler was in an accident and seriously injured. He was unconscious, with blood pouring out of his ear. I could only cry out to God for mercy and grace, asking that his brain and skull be okay. And you know what? After multiple tests, the physicians declared that there was no brain bleed, no fractured skull, no injury to his brain at all other than being shaken around and concussed. Good news! Now, as a loving grandmother who is trying to have faith take over instead of doubt, I am trying to believe and anticipate that God will take care of Tyler’s clavicle, his ear drum and his needs at college. I’m anticipating all of the great testimony that Tyler will have about God’s provision and healing. Do I know with one hundred percent certainty that all will be just as I would like it to? No, of course not! But I trust God absolutely. That means that I am absolutely certain that He will take care of Tyler, heal him in the way that is best for him and take care of him on this arduous journey. God promised and I believe! He loves Tyler much more than I ever could and He has the best plan for him. I can’t see down the road that far, but I know wherever the road takes him, God is already there.

May each of you be blessed today with a faith that hopes, anticipates and even waits if necessary.

Fixing Our Eyes

I try to wake up each morning with praise on my lips, just thanking God for a new day and for the fact that I’m alive. Sometimes, though, my mind immediately goes to errands I have to run or appointments to keep. I have to wrestle my thoughts back into the corral of praise and focus on God and His goodness. Sometimes, that battle for control of my mind is harder than others. I have found that if I just roll over and lie quietly, focusing on God is easier for me. His love for me overwhelms me and my thoughts are naturally fixed on Him.

This was one of the verses in my devotional this morning. It’s hard to realize that as I look around, everything I see will one day be gone. Even I shall return to dust. However, if I look with my spiritual eyes, I see the promise of a bright eternity with God, with all things new, no sorrow, no pain and no sin or temptation. That kind of vision is one that can give us hope in spite of all that we see around us.

God’s promise is that His salvation and righteousness will last forever. He has bestowed on each believer the righteousness that His Son bought for us on the cross. It is not a fleeting gift or one that wears out, soon forgotten in the back of a closet or drawer somewhere. His righteousness is a robe that we put on daily, as we awaken and thank Him for His mercy and love and for His free gift of salvation. Fixing our eyes on God is not just so that we can have the right vision to start the day; rather, it is the way that we should go through each hour of every day, with the knowledge that this world is passing away but what we do with and for God is eternal.

Have a wonderful day and be blessed with the knowledge of His love for you that never fails!

Of Worry and Shoes

My husband and I are approaching our fiftieth year together and when people see us joking around and laughing together, they usually ask how long we have been married. When we tell them, they want to know our secret. Well, our first secret, which isn’t so secret after all, is that we have built our marriage on the Lord. He has always been our foundation and we have taken our vows before Him seriously. That is not to say that there have not been times when I wanted to throw in the towel, walk away and start a new life without Harry in it. But God just wouldn’t let me do that. He knew that the feelings were fleeting but the commitment was forever.

As I read my devotionals this morning, I realized that one of the reasons that we have been together for so long is that we bear each other’s burdens. When Harry was working on his Master’s degree and having difficulty writing his papers, I had him write them longhand and then typed them for him, editing the grammar errors as I read aloud to him and changed the wording so that his meaning was clear. I did that for two years, complaining some but also realizing that I was helping to make things better for both of us and for our family. Then, many years later, when I had a stroke, Harry took over all of the cooking duties and has continued that to this day. I can still cook and do so when the urge hits me, but my loving husband shouldered the responsibility to make sure that I am getting the nutrition I need for my brain to function as well as possible. We have been partners in raising three children, partners in our many moves and in finding churches. We encourage each other and when one is down or upset about something, we can tell the other and know that we have immediate understanding, concern and prayer.

We know each other well and can sense when something is not quite right and when the other person needs prayer, some time together or an encouraging word. Just a smile helps sometimes. You know, it works for strangers, too, the people you meet out in the world who just need a smile and an encouraging word. I try hard to notice what people are doing well when we are out doing errands and make it a point to compliment them about something, no matter how small. People in the service industry especially get a lot of flack and grief from customers, but I don’t think they hear a lot of positive feedback. It only takes a few seconds to notice how carefully someone is bagging your groceries or how attentive they are to putting in the right cost or even how friendly they are in spite of how tired they must be. Take time to comment and watch how their face lights up, from the inside, because you touched their hearts.

I always used to tell my own children and then my students to be careful not to judge others by the standards we set for ourselves because we don’t know what they are going through. That is another reason that Harry and I have been together for so long. We understand how difficult life is for each other and have worked together to lighten the load instead of adding to it. We have shared our history before we met and we know each other’s story for the last five decades. The hard times…we were there to hold each other up. The fun times…we were there to laugh together. Laughing, crying, embracing, always together. What about those you meet briefly? Do you instantly dislike them because of an outward appearance of a first impression? Do you judge them because of the way they live or the car they drive? Maybe we should all just take a step back and realize that where that person is now is perhaps not where they want to be, but neither is it where they once were. Instead of walking away and being glad that we are not like them, maybe we need to imagine if we were like them and be more compassionate towards them. Jesus never met a stranger that He did not seek to understand their needs and to show them love. How can we not choose to do likewise?

Yes, almost fifty years have passed. Actually, we met on my birthday fifty years ago and got married the following April. But the time seems short to get to know each other, to walk in each others’ shoes and to encourage each other. There are many whom I meet for only a few minutes who need me to understand, to look them in the eyes and to appreciate them for the unique creation that God has made them to be. Why have we been together for almost fifty years? Because of sharing worries and shoes.

Review of WOULD YOU RATHER by Allison Ashley

With the theme of friends to lovers, this is a romance book that has an original twist to it. Mia needs a kidney transplant so has to keep a job that she doesn’t really like but she is willing to continue to sacrifice her own happiness in order to have medical insurance. Her best friend Noah, an ever-present boy since her childhood, is the boss’s son who wants Mia to be happy. In his quest to help her, he offers to marry her (fake it) so she can go back to school and finish the degree that she has been longing for. The story itself is almost magical in Noah’s unselfishness as he is willing to lose status in his dad’s company rather than have Mia give up her dream. Both characters are well-developed and relatable, and I especially enjoyed the office pranks they played on each other. There is even an unlikable (on purpose) guy named David who wants to usurp Noah’s role in the company and expose his marriage as fake, so it becomes very important that the new couple convince others of their true love for each other. The real romance starts over halfway through the book even though I kept anticipating it as Noah was already committed to Mia and she was stubbornly resisting. Her reasons for resistance are almost altruistic as she doesn’t want anyone saddled with her health issues and costs. The plot moved along well with a lot of humor and a few clever twists. This book presents a compelling dilemma at the same time that it gives insight into the challenges of leaving the past behind and reaching for a new future together. The dialogue between Mia and Noah was flirty and fun while that between David and the other characters was terse and demanding. In other words, the characters fit their roles perfectly. Fans of light romance with some steam building will enjoy this story from beginning to end because getting to know the couple involved is entertaining as well as thought-provoking at times. The theme of sacrifice and true love is one that resonated with me and I think will be enjoyable for those looking for something a little deeper in a rom-com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements in Advertising.”

Rated PG-13 due to content
Author Bio: Allison Ashley is a science geek who enjoys coffee, craft beer, baking, and love stories. When she’s not working at her day job as a clinical oncology pharmacist, she pens contemporary romances, usually with a medical twist. She lives in Oklahoma with her family and beloved rescue dog.
Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @AllisonAuthor
Facebook: Author Allison Ashley
Instagram: @authorallisonashley

This unique Rom-Com is available now! Purchase Links:

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Many thanks to HTP Books for including me in the Summer 2022 Rom-Coms Blog Tour! I enjoyed the laughter and the fun of reading new books by new-to-me authors and I’m delighted to share my pleasure with you.

God Works Things Out

I know that I know that God is working things out, but like other humans, I have a tendency to keep pestering Him and asking that old question, “When, God? How long is this going to take?” I have learned that what I should be asking is “What lesson can I learn from this?”

As some of you on the prayer team know, our grandson was severely injured in an accident on his one-wheeler last week. He was rushed unconscious to the ER, underwent numerous tests and is banged up pretty good. His diagnosis is concussion, fractured clavicle and ruptured ear drum. I was blessed to hear that he had no brain damage and was happy that he could go home, be watched by his mom and go see specialists this week. Well, yesterday, he went to the ENT and it seems to be a “hurry up and wait” scenario since he was sent home to wash out his ear with hydrogen peroxide since there is too much blood present for the specialist to see well inside his ear. He goes back next week for another exam. Meanwhile, he is wearing a sling for his broken clavicle and has an appointment with Ortho on Thursday. Tempted to ask how long my beloved grandson must suffer before the healing comes, God has slowed me down and reminded me to ask what I can learn from this situation. For one, I am learning to pray and trust and to know how quickly things can change. I am learning that God knew what happened long before I did, had His hand on Tyler and is continuing to heal him, even if I don’t see much progress. Finally, I am learning that not all healing that has to be done is happening in Tyler. All of the family was affected by this accident that suddenly disrupted our lives, so I am learning to pray for each family member to get the takeaway that they need from it.

The Lord was not caught unaware or surprised by this event. He is always the same and continued on in His calming and loving way. He embraced us in our panic, gave us Scriptures to quote, friends to pray with and an overwhelming sense of peace because He is in control. Always in control and always working. That’s my God!

May your day be blessed with the assurance of God’s love and His always acting on your behalf to work things out in a way that glorifies Him.

Fully Committed

What does it mean to be fully committed to God?

The Scripture today is from 2 Chronicles when King Asa was double-minded about his commitment to God. He asked God for deliverance from his enemies, received that deliverance and then the next thing you know, without consulting God at all, he was making alliances with another enemy. Fully committed to me means not turning back or looking to other things or people, but to God as the Lord of our life and the one who deserves all of our praise and worship. It means when things get tough, we don’t deny God but we run to Him.

I am fully committed to my relationship with God and I don’t want to do anything that would make others think less of Him. Proclaiming to be a Christian means that I carry His name with me wherever I go, in the long line at checkouts as well as in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. People are always looking, just as God is. People seem to be waiting for us to fall, but God is looking to see if we are fully committed. God has high expectations for us, and I, for one, don’t want to disappoint Him. So, sometimes I have to bite my tongue more than once to keep myself from replying in kind to rude comments. Sometimes I have to even get out of line and wander around the store again until I have control of myself and my tongue. Whatever it takes to show others that I am not a Christian who takes my confession of faith lightly. Representing God to an world that is increasingly hostile to Him is not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do. One day, we may all have to stand up for our faith and face real persecution as others in the world have already done. That is full commitment, being ready to face whatever the world throws at us and still standing for the Lord. He stood for each of us on the darkest day of His life, separated by sin from His Heavenly Father and suffering for all of us. Can we do any less than be fully committed to Him?

May your day be blessed with the knowledge of God’s presence in your life and the peace that comes from knowing that He is fully committed to bringing you to Himself safely and helping you finish whatever work He has given you on the earth to complete.

Going to Church

My husband and I really missed attending church during the pandemic. We hardly went out except for shopping or errands, so church was our way to see friends, to associate with other believers and to get spiritually fed. In my devotional on Sunday, I read a quotation that I want to share with you that made me think deeply about the motivation for attending church.

The question we should ask is not ‘What am I getting out of church?’, but ‘What am I giving out at church?’ They did not come just to receive but also to help others.~Nicky Gumbel, One Year Bible, August 21, 2022

Giving instead of getting is an awesome responsibility, but it is the real reason to attend church or to meet with other believers.

If we meet together with an attitude of encouraging each other, then we end up being encouraged ourselves.

The hearts of the believers in the first church were happy just to be meeting together. This gives me reason to think. Is church a chore or duty or is it the place where I am happy and I am there to spread happiness to others?

May your day be richly blessed as you encourage others the way you would like to be encouraged.