The Telling by Mike Duran

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

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

Today’s Wild Card author is:


 and the book:

 The Telling

Realms (May 15, 2012)

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



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

Visit the author’s website.


A prophet never loses his calling, only his way.

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

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

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

His words unlocked something deadly,

And now the silence is killing them.

Product Details:

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


He used to believe everyone was born with the magic, an innate hotline to heaven. Some called it intuition, a sixth sense; others called it the voice of God. Zeph Walker called it the Telling. It was not something you could teach or, even worse, sell- people just had it. Of course, by the time their parents, teachers, and society got through with them, whatever connection they had with the Infinite pretty much vanished. So it was, when Zeph reached his twenty-sixth birthday, the Telling was just an echo.

That’s when destiny came knocking for him.

It arrived in the form of two wind-burnt detectives packing heat and a mystery for the ages. They flashed their badges, said he was needed for questioning. Before he could object or ask for details, they loaded him into the backseat of a mud-splattered Crown Victoria and drove across town to the county morgue. The ride was barely ten minutes, just long enough for Zeph Walker to conclude that, maybe, the magic was alive and well.

“You live alone?” The driver glanced at him in the rearview mirror.

Zeph adjusted his sunglasses. “Yes, sir.”

“I don’t blame you.” The detective looked at his partner, who smirked in response.

Zeph returned his gaze to the passing landscape.

Late summers in Endurance were as beautiful as a watercolor and as hot as the devil’s kitchen. The aspens on the ridge showed gold, and the dogwoods along the creeks had already begun to thin. Yet the arid breeze rising from Death Valley served as an ever-present reminder that beauty always lives in close proximity to hell.

They came to a hard stop in front of a white plaster building. The detectives exited the car, and Zeph followed their cue. A ceramic iguana positioned under a sprawling blue sage grinned mockingly at him. Such was the landscape decor of the county coroner’s building. The structure doubled as a morgue. It occupied a tiny plot of red earth, surrounded by a manicured cactus garden complete with indigenous flora, bison skulls, and birdbaths. Without previous knowledge, one could easily mistake the building for a cultural center or art gallery. Yet Zeph knew that something other than pottery and Picassos awaited him inside.
The bigger of the two detectives, a vaquero with a nifty turquoise belt buckle and matching bolo tie, pulled the door open and motioned for Zeph to enter. The man had all the charm of a cage fighter.

Zeph wiped perspiration off his forehead and stepped into a small vestibule.

“This way.” The cowboy clomped past, leaving the smell of sweat and cheap cologne.

They led him past an unoccupied desk into a corridor. Bland southwestern prints adorned sterile white walls. The stench of form- aldehyde and decay lingered here, and Zeph’s stomach flip-flopped in response. The hallway intersected another where two lab technicians stood in whispered conversation. They straightened as the detectives approached. After a brief nod from one of the white-jacketed men, Zeph’s escorts proceeded to an unmarked room.

“We got someone fer you to ID.” The cowboy placed his hand on the door and studied Zeph. “You don’t get sick easy, do ya?”

He swallowed. “Depends.”

“Well, if you’re gonna puke, don’t do it on these.” He pointed to a set of well-polished eel-skin boots. “Comprende?”

“No, sir. I mean—yes! Yes, sir.”

The detective scowled, then pushed the door open, waiting. Zeph’s heart was doing double-time. Whose body was he about to

see? What condition was it in? His mind raced with the possibilities. Maybe a friend had suffered a car accident. Although he didn’t have many friends to die in one. Perhaps the Hitcher, that mythical appari- tion who stalked the highway in his childhood, had claimed another victim. More likely Zeph’s old man had finally keeled over. However, he was convinced that his father had stopped living a long time ago.

Zeph drew a deep breath, took two steps into the room, perched his sunglasses on the top his head . . . and froze. In the center, framed under a single oval swath of light, lay a body on a autopsy table—a body that looked strangely familiar.

“Take a good look, Mr. Walker.” The detective’s boots clicked with precision on the yellowed linoleum. He circled the rolling metal cart, remaining just outside the reach of the fluorescent light. “And maybe you can help us figger this out.”

Zeph remained near the door, hesitant to take another step.

“Go ahead.” The second detective sauntered around the opposite side, gesturing to the body. “He ain’t gonna bite.”

The detectives positioned themselves on either end of the table. They watched him.

A black marble countertop, its surface dulled by a thin blanket of dust, ran the length of one wall. In front of it sat a single wooden stool. The low-hanging lamp bleached the body monochrome. Zeph had seen enough procedurals and CSI knock-offs to know this was not an autopsy room. Perhaps it was used for viewings, maybe occa- sional poker games. But as the detectives studied him, he was starting to wonder if this was an interrogation room. Scalpels, pincers, saws. Oh, what exotic torture devices one might assemble from a morgue! Nevertheless, this particular room appeared to have not been used in a long time. And by the fevered sparkle in their eyes, these men seemed inspired about the possibility of doing so.

Zeph glanced from one man to the other, and then he edged toward the corpse.

Its flesh appeared dull, and the closer he got, the less it actu- ally looked like skin. Perhaps the body had been drained of blood or bleached by the desert sun. He inched closer. Sunken pockets appeared along the torso, and he found himself wondering what could have possibly happened to this person.

The head lay tilted back, its bony jaw upturned, cords of muscle taut across a gangly neck. A white sheet draped the body at the chest, and just above it a single bloodless hole about the size of a nickel notched the sternum. He crept forward, trying to distin- guish the person’s face. First he glimpsed nostrils, then teeth, and then . . . something else.

That something else brought Zeph to a standstill.

How could it be? Build. Facial features. Hair color. This person looked exactly like him. There was even a Star of David tattooed on the right arm, above the bicep—the same as Zeph’s.

What were the chances, the mathematical probabilities, that one human being could look so identical to another? Especially in a town the size of Endurance.
“Is this . . . ” Zeph’s tone was detached, his eyes fixed on the body. “Is this some kinda joke?”

The detectives hunkered back into the shadows without responding.

Goose bumps rose on Zeph’s forearms as the overhead vent rattled to life, sluicing cool air into the room. He took another step closer to the cadaver until his thigh nudged the table, jolting the stiff and bringing Zeph to a sudden stop. He peered at the bizarre figure.

Their similarities were unmistakable. The lanky torso and append- ages. The tousled sandy hair. Thick brows over deep-set eyes. This guy looks exactly like me!

However, it was one feature—the most defining feature of Zeph Walker’s existence—that left him teetering in disbelief: the four-inch scar that sheared the corpse’s mouth.

Zeph stumbled back, lungs frozen, hand clasped over the ugly scar on his own face.

“Darnedest thing, ain’t it?” The cowboy sounded humored by

Zeph’s astonishment. “Guy’s a spittin’ image of you, Mr. Walker.” Zeph slowly lowered his hand and glanced sideways at the man.

“Yeah. Except I don’t have a bullet hole in my chest.”

The detective’s grin soured, and he squinted warily at Zeph. “Indeed you don’t.” The second man stepped into the light. “But the real question, young man, is why someone would want to put one there.”


The Telling is one of those books that can easily keep you up until the wee hours because you can’t put it down but then you NEED to check all the doors and windows and turn on all the lights.  In this unique tale of good versus evil, grandma Annie, a member of “the remnant” feels that it is critical that she find out why so many people around her are suddenly not themselves. As the phenomenon continues to spread, her investigation leads her to some startling conclusions that puts the lives of herself and other members of the remnant in danger as they rush to stop an event that could threaten the entire world. Their only hope is Zeph Walker, a former child prophet, whose tragic background has caused him to turn away from God and his gifting.

The Telling is a beautifully written story that grips the imagination and causes the reader to consider the invisible spiritual realm that surrounds us. Not only is it a great story but it should inspire  readers to look deeper into themselves to reveal some important truth about their own lives . Some questions that came to my mind were:

  • What has God called us to do and what gifts has He given to help us fulfill those purposes?
  • Have we allowed circumstances in our lives to detract us from our calling or to even turn our backs on it?
  •  Is it possible for God to use skeptics to fulfill His purposes?

Each of these questions is covered within the pages of The Telling as they apply to some of the primary characters. Each of the primary characters has a mission from God in this story and each has his own unique gift to help the cause. One character has allowed events from his past to feed his spirit with lies that deter him from his calling. Another is skeptical of everything but ends up playing a major role in the mission.

All in all, I found The Telling to be both entertaining and thought provoking. I would highly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian supernatural suspense but warn that it could cause nightmares in some.


Rebel by Linda Windsor

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
David C. Cook; New edition (June 1, 2012)
Linda Windsor

Linda Windsor makes her home at a restored and “growing” late 18th century home on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Above the Windsor front door hangs a sign saying “Fort Necke, assigned 1684, established 1830,” which means the land grant is older than the current building. She purposely left off the ageing brought on by the restoration to her mind and body – not enough space to accommodate the number. Chronologically, she admits to celebrating another birthday, just like the rest of us, each year on July 8th — which also happens to be the anniversary of the day the Liberty Bell cracked.

Amid the often chaotic “country inn” atmosphere, Windsor has written quite a collection of historical and contemporary romances as both Linda Windsor and Linda Covington. Windsor’s historical novels are known for her distinctive voice and flair for incorporating history with romance and adventure, while her contemporary romantic comedies are guaranteed to warm the heart, lift the spirit, and tickle the funny bone. Windsor insists that nothing is more entertaining than life itself, be it past or present.

With a degree in education from her local university, one of the greatest rewards to the innate teacher in Linda was hearing from readers that her Irish Gleannmara series was approved for some middle school English book reports as well as being used in home-schooling. To Windsor, entertaining, or keeping the pages turning, while educating is as much as any historical novelist can ask for.

Learn more about Linda and her books on her Website.


With Merlin dead, the succession undecided, and the Celtic church on the defensive from Rome, intrigue sweeps the court of the High King Arthur. But it’s battlefield news that consumes Queen Gwenhyfar’s young scribe, Kella O’Toole: her fiancé is dead and her father gone missing.

Determined to find him at all costs, Kella defies the queen’s orders and sets out for Pictish territory. Her foster brother Alyn, a disillusioned priest who questions his calling, agrees to help her. The journey itself is perilous. But it’s their secrets that land Kella and Alyn in a viper’s nest of treachery that threatens both their lives and the future of Albion.

Can they summon the love and faith they need to find their way not only out of danger, but into happiness? Brilliantly researched, vividly imagined, and movingly written—a memorable climax to the Brides of Alba series.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Rebel, go HERE.


Although I had not read the previous two books in The Brides of Alba series, I had very little problem jumping right into the middle of Rebel. At times I did wish I knew a bit more of the back story but even that did not negatively affect my enjoyment of the novel.  I would, however, like to go back and see what I missed because Rebel was that good.

I have read and enjoyed other Arthurian era novels, most notably the Stephen Lawhead series. Linda Windsor takes her readers on an entirely different adventure where King Arthur and the other better known characters from the Arthurian legend play a minor role and the focus is on Kella, a scribe to the queen and Alyn, Kella’s foster brother who accompanies her on a search for her missing father. As they are surrounded by danger on all sides, Alyn and Kella are forced to depend upon each other and their faith in order to survive and soon find their lives inextricably bound.

Rebel is beautifully written and obviously well researched with historical facts so skillfully woven into the fantastic plot that it is difficult to separate them. Characters are well developed and the communication between them is natural and believable. The plot moves at a rapid pace with lots of action, drama, suspense, and an exceptional love story. I also enjoyed the historical section at the end of the book that includes numerous facts that relate to the Arthurian legend.

I have always enjoyed Linda’s contemporary novels but Rebel is her first historical for me. I can now say it won’t be the last. If you enjoy novels based on the Arthurian legend, be sure not to miss Rebel or the other novels in The Brides of Alba series.

Glamorous Illusions by Lisa T. Bergren


“Glamorous Illusions” totally lived up to the promise of its beautiful cover that hinted of elegance and a bit of mystery. The story is presented from the points of view of both primary characters Cora Diehl/Kensington and Will McCabe and the reader gets to know each of them and their inner thoughts well by the end.

Raised on a farm in Montana, Cora is suddenly confronted with the reality that everything she has known in life is not exactly what she believed it to be. Whisked off the farm by a birth father she has never known to spend months in Europe on a grand tour with half brother and sisters she was unaware of, Cora’s mixed feelings about the situation left her more than confused. Trying to live up to everyone’s expectations as well as attempting to gain the acceptance of her new siblings left Cora feeling rejected and in a constant state of stress. Her only lifeline was her friendship with Will who helped her through the difficulties and offered her many words of wisdom along the way. As a guide in training, Will was also mostly unwelcome in the same circles as the other Kensington young people but found Cora to be a refreshing and unspoiled change from the other young women. Unfortunately he also knew that a relationship with her was off limits no matter how they felt about each other.

Although there is a touch of romance, “Glamorous Illusions” focuses more on Cora’s journey of self-discovery. Her character is portrayed so well that it was easy to understand her inner conflicts as she found herself both loving the unaccustomed luxurious lifestyle yet feeling uncomfortable and guilty about it at the same time. I loved her boldness, honesty, and her determination to always do the right thing. Will was also a wonderful character whose own morals led him to do what was proper.

With excellent descriptions of the lifestyles, fashions, and customs of the early 1900’s, “Glamorous Illusions” takes the reader back to an era that most can only imagine. The story is filled with lots of interaction between the characters and has its share of drama, a smidgen of humor, and even some action and suspense thrown in for good measure. My only complaint is that I have to wait until next spring for the next installment, “Grave Consequences”, to find out what happens with Cora, Will, and all the rest. It will be difficult to wait but rest assured, that is one book that will be on my must read list.

This book was provided for review by LitFuse Publicity.

It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father’s health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.

Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement.

As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King-a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.

See what other bloggers have to say about “Glamorous Illusions” HERE.

Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs.

For more information on Lisa and to view other books written, please visit her website.



What is our “true” identity? Join the conversation at Lisa Tawn Bergren’s Author Chat Facebook Event Page. On the evening of 6/27 we’ll gather to talk about our spiritual journey, share our stories and a few laughs.

In the meantime, celebrate with Lisa by entering her Glamorous Illusions Giveaway!

One “glamorous” winner will receive a “Glam Prize Pack”:

  • A $350 Visa Cash Card (Oh … think of what you could do: treat yourself to a mani/pedi, a fabulous new dress, dinner for two, or even a
    two-night escape in a lovely hotel – you’re only limited by your imagination!)
  • Glamorous Illusions (by Lisa Tawn Begren)

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 6/26/12.
Winner will be announced at Lisa’s “Glamorous Illusions” Facebook Party on  6/27
{Fun begins at 5pm PDT / 8pm EDT}

Lisa will be hosting an evening of meaningful chat, fun trivia, laughter, and encouragement – bring your friends! She’ll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack! (Ten copies of the book for your small group or book club and a live chat with Lisa via video or phone.)

So grab a few of your friends and your copy of Glamorous Illusions and join Lisa on the evening of June 27th for an evening of fun.

Don’t miss a moment of the fun. RSVP TODAY and tell your friends via
FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.
Hope to see you on the 27th!


Mary’s Blessing by Lena Nelson Dooley – CFBA

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Mary’s Blessing
Realms (May 15, 2012)
Lena Nelson Dooley

Award-winning author, Lena Nelson Dooley, has more than 675,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and president of the local chapter, DFW Ready Writers. She’s also a member of Christian Authors Network, CROWN Fiction Marketing, and Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

Lena loves James, her children, grandchildren, and great grandson. She loves chocolate, cherries, chocolate-covered cherries, and spending time with friends. Travel is always on her horizon. Cruising, Galveston, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, Mexico. One day it will be Hawaii and Australia, but probably not the same year. Helping other authors become published really floats her boat, with fifteen signing their first book contract after her mentoring. Three of her books have been awarded the Carol Award silver pins from American Christian Fiction Writers and she has received the ACFW Mentor of the Year award at their national conference. The high point of her day is receiving feedback from her readers, especially people whose lives have been changed by her books. And she loves chocolate, especially dark chocolate.


When her mother dies, Mary Lenora must grow up quickly to take care of her brothers and sisters. Can love help her to shoulder the burden?

Mary Lenora Caine knows she is adopted. As she was growing up, her mother called her “God’s blessing.” But now that she’s gone, Mary no longer feels like any kind of blessing. Her father, in his grief, has cut himself off from the family, leaving the running of the home entirely in Mary’s hands.

As she nears her eighteenth birthday, Mary can’t see anything in her future but drudgery. Then her childhood friend Daniel begins to court her, promising her a life of riches and ease. But her fairy-tale dreams turn to dust when her family becomes too much for Daniel, and he abandons her in her time of deepest need.

Will Daniel come to grips with God’s plan for him? And if he does return, can Mary trust that this time he will really follow through?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Mary’s Blessing, go HERE.


Mary’s Blessing  is the second book in the McKenna Daughters series by Lena Nelson Dooley and features Mary Lenora Murray, one of the McKenna triplets who had been adopted by another family when her mother died in childbirth. Approaching marriageable age, Mary is so busy taking care of the household responsibilities and her younger siblings that she has very little hope that life will ever be any different. Daniel Winthrop has other ideas. He is very aware of how hard Mary works and would like nothing better than to marry her and make her life easier. When she accepts his request to court her, Daniel begins to make big plans for their future. Unfortunately life does no always cooperate with the best laid plans and Mary’s father suffers a serious accident that puts both Mary and Daniel to the test.

Although at first glance Mary’s Blessing appears to be much like other novels of this genre, it has a lot to recommend it. At the beginning of the story, both Mary and Daniel are obviously immature and not nearly as ready for marriage as they think they are. Mary’s dad has been so immersed in his grief that he doesn’t realize the burdens he has placed on Mary. And Mary’s younger sister is mostly self-centered and uncooperative much of the time. I liked how each of the characters progressed naturally as a result of their trials, especially the way the younger ones matured and grew in their faith.

Mary’s Blessing is not always an easy story to read because it depicts difficult and sometimes heartbreaking situations. But such is life and Dooley’s characters are so real-to-life that the reader will quickly grow to care about each one of them and rejoice with them as they manage to overcome the obstacles in their paths. I am looking forward to the third installment of the series and hope to see the triplets reunited.

(Also reviewed on an earlier blog tour)

Trauma Plan by Candace Calvert


“Trauma Plan” is Candace Calvert’s latest medical drama/romance and was definitely worth the wait. Riley Hale just wants to go back to work but injuries she suffered when brutally attacked have not healed as quickly as she had hoped. The ER director is just not ready to take a chance on her again. Dr. Jack Travis runs a clinic for those unable to afford traditional medical services and is known locally as a renegade, among other less than complimentary descriptions. Although the first meeting between Riley and Jack was less than amiable, once Jack heard her story, he offered her a job at his clinic. Desperate to prove herself, Riley accepted despite her reservations about the controversial doctor.

“Trauma Plan” is one of those books you don’t want to put down once you begin reading it. In addition to Jack and Riley, both strong characters who quickly find their way into your heart, there is a wonderful group of supporting characters who add warmth, wisdom, humor, and even a few tears. The story is filled with descriptions of medical events that are usually described from a human viewpoint rather than a technical one.  The plot contained numerous challenges that tested Jack and Riley’s faith and strength. “Trauma Plan” has more than enough action, drama, suspense, and romance to hold most anyone’s attention. If you enjoy medical drama, it should definitely be on your reading list.

This book was provided for review by The Tyndale Blog Network.


Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to her former duties as an ER nurse. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

Read the first chapter of Trauma Plan HERE.


Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, she makes her home in northern California.

Please visit her Web site at