Tried for Murder; Served Her Time. Still Guilty?

Deb’s Dozen: Tried for murder, served her time. Despised by many, looking for justice.

Trace of Doubt by DiAnn Mills fascinated me. Unlike most of her other books, we meet the criminal at the onset. But this murderer, Shelby Pearce, served her time for the crime of shooting her brother-in-law and had been paroled. Coming to the small town of Valleysburg, she finds some will not allow her to peacefully start over.

One of the people most against her parole is FBI Special Agent Denton McGuire—a rookie when she was tried and convicted he investigated her case. But the murder, in his mind, was not her only crime. He suspected, but had been unable to prove, she had embezzled five hundred thousand dollars from her brother-in-law’s account—money earmarked to be sent to African orphans.

Shelley begins to receive death threats; Denton finds he cares for her and decides to help protect her. And the drama takes over, with twists and turns to the very end. Mills writes her characters with care to ensure they come alive in the readers’ imaginations. You will be intrigued by Shelby and come to admire her. You will agonize with Denton as he finds his heart and his job at cross purposes. Although not the most complex of Mills’s books, Trace of Doubt will capture you and keep you reading. I loved the story. Four and a half stars.

Suspense and mysteryDiAnn Mills, a prolific author who has been awarded many honors—two Christy Awards and finals for the RITA, Carol, Golden Scroll, and awards—as well as placed on the CBA and ECPA best-seller lists. She loves coffee, quite the aficionado, and roasts her own beans. She and her husband live in Houston, Texas.

Tyndale Books gave me a copy of Trace of Doubt, but did not require me to write a review.

A Christmas Miracle for Idaho

Deb’s Dozen: An angel teardrop, a creature fashioned from snow—blessed by Jesus himself.

Seldom have I seen a book as beautiful as Christmas in Idaho by Ray Downing. The presentation, the artwork, the paper, and the cover are stunning. In addition, the book comes with a CD containing a reading of the story by Eric Conger and the beautiful art animated as well. You will want to keep a copy of this story to read every Christmas—be you a child or a child at heart.

You see, Idaho got his name from a burlap sack Molly and Josh used as his vest when they fashioned him from snow. Little did they know the last handful of snow they patted upon his chest contained an angel’s tear. That tear caused Idaho to live and think and want to learn, especially about Christmas.

The pages that follow Idaho’s realization he was alive tell a wonderful tale. He endeavors to learn why Christmas holds such an honored place in their household. Idaho learns the story of Christmas. He meets the woodland creatures and finds a robin that perished in the cold. Sad, Idaho tears off a piece of burlap to wrap it in and carries the robin with him. One of the things he learns tells him when spring arrives, snow melts and he will disappear. So he sets out to find out as much about this world as he can before that time comes.

You will definitely want to get his book and read Idaho’s story. I am sure you will find amazement and sadness and joy within. I cannot recommend this book more highly—I wish I could award more than five stars.

Digital artist Ray Downing, Emmy winner and creator of “The Real Face of Jesus” for the History Channel, in this book, through his interests in art, science, and religion created an emotionally charged and lavishly illustrated Christmas story—a journey of discovery which questions our understanding of time and explores the possibility of immortality.

Ray graciously gave me a copy of Christmas in Idaho, but did not require me to write a review. To purchase, go to

Trapped in a Runaway Balloon!

Deb’s Dozen: Sister and brother, aloft in a runaway balloon. What will they do?

Mark Wainwright wrote a delightful middle-grade story about Jenny, thirteen, and her brother, Cole, nine, and according to Jenny, a rotten brat. Jenny and Cole fought like typical brother and sister, but when Cole tossed away a piece of jewelry precious to Jenny, she had had it!

Flying in a hot air balloon? What fun! The kids felt excited and stood in the basket of the balloon while their parents and Mr. Weber finished up on the preparations for launch. Cole, showing off, accidentally hit the lever that turned the burner on. The balloon filled with more and more air and started to lift off. Jenny and Cole, terrified, watched in horror as the balloon tore loose from the moorings and went higher and higher, quickly lifting out of the reach of their parents. They flew alone in a runaway balloon!

I loved how Mr. Wainwright wrote Jenny and Cole. At times, I wanted to send both of them to a time-out corner. Jenny was so mad at Cole and rehearsed how bad he’d been. Cole was just plain scared. You’ll enjoy getting to know the children and reading about their very scary adventure.
A great story to read aloud or for older kids to read on their own. Five stars.

Mark Wainwright traveled to over thirty countries and had adventures of his own. He homeschooled through the Abeka Academy when his parents were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. No electricity in the village meant he watched his school videos on a solar-powered TV. Now he uses the adventures he had as fodder for the stories he writes. Trapped in a Hot Air Balloon came out of a flight  at age twelve at a balloon festival. Mark and Kari (his wife) have two children. Megan, 6th grade, and Tyler, 5th grade.

The author gave me a copy of Trapped in a Runaway Balloon, but he did not require me to write a favorable review