Monday, December 10, 2007

Evidence of Grace by Teresa Slack

Everyone in Jenna’s Creek seems to have a high opinion of Noreen Trimble. No one has a bad word to say about her, and yet she is in prison after confessing to the murder of her best friend. It was a confession that came almost thirty years after the fact, a minor detail that didn’t help her case very much. But now a mysterious call has come late at night to her former boss, Noel Wyatt, claiming that there was an eyewitness to the murder. The eyewitness said it was self-defense. Unfortunately, the caller will not identify himself or the witness. Is this a hoax or real?

Meanwhile, Christy Blackwood has had her whole world cave in thanks to the treachery of a man she trusted and loved. As a result of her misplaced trust, she has lost her job and may never find another one to equal it. She also lost her apartment, her savings, and her bank account. With too much pride to return home to Jenna’s Creek, she sets out on her own and ends up with even more tragedy. Unable to turn to any one else, she has to call her mother in spite of the anger and lack of forgiveness she feels towards her.

This is the third in the Jenna’s Creek series. As I have not read the other two, I don’t know if any characters or situations carry over from one book to another. However, whether they do or not, this story can stand alone quite well. I didn’t feel like I had missed anything. While the main intrigue has to do with the murder of Sally Blake and the guilt or innocence of Noreen Trimble, there are several side stories with loose connections. Christy’s problems, a case of adultery resulting in a baby, a missing will and the harbored resentments of a family over its possible contents, regrets over marriage decisions long ago, and families torn apart. Greed, bitterness, jealousy, and lack of trust all show themselves in the people of Jenna’s Creek. The issues are real ones faced by many today, set in a small fictitious town in Ohio. Several real places are mentioned, such as University Hospital in Cincinnati, giving the setting more credibility. Surprisingly, the year is 1976, allowing for a slight distance between the reader and the story. The themes of forgiveness and grace are uppermost in this novel on both human and divine levels.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable story. I wasn’t sure what to expect in the end, and some of the events weren’t quite what I had anticipated. That’s always good for a suspense novel. I came to feel a certain compassion for some of the characters, enough that I wanted to know what would happen to them. My only complaint is that some of the climax happened a bit abruptly, so much so that I thought I had missed some pages.

Although it deals with some adult situations in a tactful way, I would suggest that parents read it first to determine whether or not to hand it to their teenagers. In my opinion, it is written mainly for adult women. If you like contemporary (or near contemporary) suspense, this book should be right up your alley.

Evidence of Grace
Teresa Slack
2007 Tsaba House
Reedley, CA
Paperback: 340 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1-933853-48-2
You can visit Teresa or read more about her books at

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Excerpt from Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell

Just for a sample, here's an excerpt from the beginning of Wind Follower. The chapters alternate between Loic and Satha, each telling his or her Point of View of events. This is how Loic, the male main character, beings his tale.

Wind Follower

These are the words of Loic tyu Taer and Satha tya Monua which they spoke to our ancestors on the day the Angleni gathered us to this place. How briefly that bright light shone -yet how powerfully! But all is not lost. Tell your children this prophecy, and let your children tell their children, and those children must tell the future generations - because the prophesied time will come. In the last days, the light will shine again with power and permanence. Use these memories as a beacon, my children, for the time will come when the Great Chief will return our land and all that is ours to us.


The Reaping Moon -- First Harvest Moon

I will tell you first how Krika died.

Okiak, his father and the chief shaman of our clan, brought Krika before the elders at the Spirit Shrine, the sacrificial mound we called Skull Place. My friend was bound hand and foot, and the skin of his face had been flailed away so that all the muscles and bones beneath his right eye glistened. He was weeping then and crying out for mercy, choking on his tears. This surprised me, but I forgave it. --who could bear such searing pain without weeping?

Okiak lifted the shuwa, already reddened with his son's blood, and there, surrounded by bones and burnt flesh, remnants of the monthly sacrifices, he shouted, "My son has not obeyed me. I have warned him time and times to pay obeisance to our spirits, but he has refused."

The spirits had ordered his death. I stood far off, struggling with my father and Pantan. Their hands held me fast and kept me from racing to Krika's side.

Nevertheless, I called out. "Are the spirits so puny and helpless they must force people to worship them?"

All eyes rebuked me, yes, all the elders of the Pagatsu clan, and Father yanked me backward by my arm. "Tread lightly, son," he said, "lest the spirits also demand your life."

I glared at him. "And if they did, would you be so weak as to comply?"

He turned away. "The spirits have not asked for your life. Why contemplate unasked demands?"

I hated him for that. Yes, although I loved him with all my heart, but from that moment, I despised him for those words.

Krika continued pleading for his life. Okiak aimed the shuwa and let it fly through the sky towards his son. Krika's wail sounded over the fields and the low-hanging willows and past the Great Salt Desert. But no one spoke for him, not my father, not the other shaman, and not the Creator. He died, battered beneath a hail of stones; all eyes but mine witnessed his last breath. Father had pulled my face into his chest, and I hated my weakness for allowing it. My tears soaked his tunic. He gently stroked my head and played with my braid, and told me that I should forget, forget, forget, for death - however it comes- is the lot of all men.

They left Krika's body where it fell. Unburied, he was to be devoured by wild wolves and bears. But worse, his lack of a burial meant he could not enter the fields we desire. He could not hunt with the Creator. Thus, his father damned him to eternal grief.

Krika had been my age-brother, taught with Prince Lihu as I was. While he lived, his presence colored my life as a wolf's continuous howl or a woman's singing might color the night. He seemed at once to rage against the spirits while yet singing to the Creator. This was a strange thing, for at that time no one in the three tribes sought the Creator; we thought those shadow gods were his servants. Even I, who was suspicious of the spirits from my birth, had never warred against them as Krika had.

That night, as the sun set over my father's Golden House, I escaped to the shrine. There lay Krika, crumpled on the ground. With many shuwas I warded off the wolves and lions who had sniffed out my friend's blood. But the spirits fought against me, calling from the east, west, north, and south, all creatures of earth and air. How black the field and night sky grew with their descending shadows. In the field, only two men: Krika and me, one living and one dead. All my father's so-called Valiant Men were nowhere to be seen, for although they had battled mightily against the Angleni, on the night of Krika's death, they hid in the compound trembling in fear of the spirits. Then, all at once, I understood the spirits had arrayed themselves in battle against me. That I would battle them alone, for I had no, not one among my clan.

As you can see, this is setting up for a spiritual battle from the very beginning. For more about Mrs. McDonnell and her book Wind Follower, check at As well as daily blogs this week, there are links to other blogs who are featuring this novel in the tour.

Wind Follower is available through,, and the publisher,

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Imagine--Book Trailer for Wind Follower

I think the book trailer for Carole McDonnell's book,Wind Follower, is thought-provoking and kind of fun to watch as well. Perhaps it will help to give you a better idea about this tale.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wind Follower: Fantasy, Folklore, Romance of the Ages

These are the words that Loic tyu Taer and Satha tya Monua spoke to our ancestors on the day the Angleni gathered us to this place. How briefly that bright light shone—yet how powerfully! Nevertheless, all is not lost. Tell your children this prophecy ,and let your children tell their children, and those children must tell the future generations—because the prophesied time will come. In the last days, the light will shine again with power and permanence. Use these memories as a beacon, my children, for the time will come when the Great Chief will return to us our land and all that is ours.”

I wanted to quote the preface because it sets up the tone for Wind Follower: an oral history passed on by a husband and wife who know it better than anyone else. Like the Jews of the Old Testament, they are to pass down the truth from generation to generation.

Loic and Satha trade off telling their stories, which are both a powerful love story and a true story about the God who came to seek those who looked for Him. Satha was a very moral young woman whose mother berated her for being so dark-skinned that no man would want her. However, one day Loic, the son of the First Captain of the King’s soldiers, saw her and instantly fell in love with her. Satha is from the Theseni tribe, but Loic is from the Doreni tribe; this means she must learn how to run a household Doreni style, cook Doreni style, and dress Doreni style. In a few short chapters we see that there are great differences in the customs and beliefs of these two tribes. The rites and ceremonies of a wedding are given in detail. There are clashes between Satha’s bossy mother and some of the Doreni women, but these seem to improve. But there always underlying hints of treachery and hate. Taer, Loic’s father, has greater problems than seen at first blush, thanks to an adulterous wife and a former friend, Noam, who sought vengeance against Taer. After the beautiful wedding and a home of her dreams, Satha should be living happily ever after. And for a while it seems that she is, but one horrible day, when the men of the household are gone for a royal funeral, Noam strode in, demanding hospitality. That night he raped the very pregnant Satha, killing the baby in the process. His intention is to start a war with Taer. Much more than that ensues, and for a while the reader wonders how, or if, things ever become right again. Something is lost, but something is gained as Loic and Satha must endure different paths of heartache and maturing before they find the truth that both of them had been seeking.

I haven’t touched on the spiritual side yet, but it underlies the whole story and is essential to it. The Theseni tribe is very moral, but their scriptures only hint at the truth of the “Good Maker.” The Doreni are more pragmatic but given to feuds and wars. They believe in a Creator, but they, like the Theseni, have traditions steeped in worship of ancestors and spirits, A third tribe, the Ibeni, are quite immoral. All three try to appease the Arkhai, the demons who really rule them. But in the Doreni prophets a Lost Book is spoken of. Loic openly rebels against the spirits, determined to worship only the Creator and to find this Lost Book, even if he must go to the invading Angleni.

I could go on and on, just setting up the background to this rich fantasy, a fantasy that is almost a history with anthropological and sociological treasures. It is quite violent at times, and there is some rather brutal abuse of women. There are customs described that have been a part of several cultures over the ages, including stoning, taking over the wives of a defeated enemy, marrying more than one wife. It is not always a pretty story, but neither is the Old Testament. One section reminded me of the story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael. In some ways it made parts of the Old Testament come alive for me. especially Genesis and I and II Kings. Early in the novel, when Satha is looking at the constellations and remembering the stories behind them, I was reminded of the passage in Romans 1 where Paul wrote that the heavens declare the creation of God, so that “they” are without excuse; instead they have made things of wood and stone to worship in His stead.

When I wrote to Carole McDonnell, she told me she had two verses in mind when she began to write Wind Follower: "He was wounded in the house of his friends," and "He has put eternity in their hearts." From there she wove a tapestry of the strands of hospitality as an extreme priority in a culture and a strand of a guest who betrays his host by wounding him. The ultimate wounds were those given to Jesus.

This review is a good deal longer than I wanted to write, but I couldn’t see making it any shorter. I must give this book a high rating, but with a warning for the faint of heart: don’t take any preconceived notions of culture with you, and leave some of your sensitivities at the threshold. If you do, you’ll be better able to grasp the full richness and the deep lessons of Wind Follower.

Wind Follower is being featured this week at Christian Fiction Review Blog ( A list of other reviewers is available at this site, as well as daily blogs on Carole McDonnell and her book for the week of December 2, 2007.

Wind Follower by Carole McDonnell


ISBN-10: 0809557797

ISBN-13: 978-0809557790

Paperback: 248 pages; $12.95

Publisher: Juno Books (August 15, 2007)

Available through Amazon, or Juno