Reviews of Vanished

Happy Friday! I hope everyone’s week has gone well, but if it’s been a long one, may your weekend be longer, and way more fun!

Today I just wanted to post a couple of reviews for, Vanished. For those of you who have already read and reviewed it, my most heartfelt, “Thank you!”

I hope some of you will consider grabbing your copy . . . purchase links are posted below (available in paperback and ebook). Fifty percent of the proceeds from the sales of my book are donated to help victims of human trafficking.

So what’s it about, Bierman?

How about a quick teaser?

Tragedy… heartache… how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest… yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger… risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those. Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

Thank you so much, LaShane Arnett  , Lauren Scott , and Itssandrini for these great reviews!

5.0 out of 5 stars What Kind of Hero Would You Be? – LaShane Arnett

It would seem that on the most basic level of humanity children should be protected, nurtured and loved. It’s a concept most find little to no argument with. But this isn’t always the case. Vanished a debut novel by Mark Bierman is the story of John and Tyler (father and son-in-law) who travel to Haiti to help build an orphanage, and in turn find solace after the recent loss of their wife/daughter.

Things take a turn when the daughter of a friend is kidnapped. The two missionaries from America find themselves quickly learning a harsh reality, children in this poverty stricken part of the world are not safe. Child trafficking is a huge issue. One in which, sadly, the local authorities seem indifferent to. Despite the obvious disadvantages of being in a foreign country and a language barrier, John and Tyler take it upon themselves to find her. They embark on a very exasperating journey with great opposition.

Mark Bierman is very good at creating multiple storylines which read as separate but come together to tell a very well crafted story. One which delves into the scourge of humanity from all angles. I was instantly drawn in (especially with the plight of Janjak). Vanished is fast paced, and heart-wrenching. A very well written journey into the lengths mankind will take to preserve what is right and good in the world, against those who fight just as hard to maintain the evil.

I really love this book, it is an eye opener. It makes one contemplate what they would be willing to do in order to keep their loved ones and society safe. I highly recommend it.

An edge-of-your-seat read! – Lauren Scott

Mark Bierman’s Vanished is a work of fiction, but the story propels us to the scene of the violent 2010 earthquake in Haiti. John, and his son-in-law, Tyler, volunteer to assist with an orphanage months later following the devastation. Their relationship is strongly convincing as they cope with the passing of Tyler’s wife, Joy (John’s daughter). They hope to channel their grief by aiding others, which will help them through the various stages.

Little do they know what lies ahead on their journey. When a little girl disappears out of the blue, John and Tyler are transported into the horrific world of human trafficking and child slavery. Her mother spirals into a frenzy of fear, imagining her daughter’s possible impending plight. These appalling crimes are so common, though, that no effort is enforced to finding this little girl, but morally, John and Tyler can’t just look the other way. They embark on a quest riddled with danger lurking around each corner.

In addition to John and Tyler, supporting characters seize the spotlight, and their stories and struggles are just as intense and page-turning. I was really impressed with the manner in which Mark’s clever writing intertwines all roles. Sympathizing with the abused while loathing the abusers comes effortlessly. Most importantly, holding onto hope with a strong grip is significant as the rescue mission continues. At first, I was reluctant to read this book because of the unthinkable topics. Mark’s novel may be a work of fiction, but the subject matter is not only horrifying and heartbreaking, it’s very real. There are moments in the book where I held my breath, and one scene especially had me feeling a little claustrophobic. Regardless, I couldn’t put this book down because of Mark’s excellent writing and delivery. The story is fast-paced and gripping, an edge-of-your-seat read. I give this book 5 stars. Highly recommended!


5.0 out of 5 stars
 Tense heart rending thought provoking thriller! – Itssandrini

Wow!! Edge of your seat dramatically exciting dark read.
While the book is completely fiction the subject matter of human trafficking is a very real occurrence.
He really brings the plight of these unfortunate people of which most are children to light.
Quite a challenging read as he tells the story of children being snatched up from the streets never to be seen again.
The author takes us to the underbelly of Haiti in The Dominican Republic.
This complex plot takes us on a roller coaster of a ride as the story progresses.
Tyler & John have gone on a mission trip, to Haiti, to help with construction work, on a children’s orphanage.
They put themselves in extreme danger as they get embroiled in a rescue operation for one of the children.
They have no idea what they have got themselves into as they face violence & danger on a whole new other level.
They are principled men & cannot walk away no matter how hard it gets.
This fast paced thrilling read although upsetting & heart rending is a real page turner.
A thought provoking read. 📖
The author also donates 50% of his sales from the book to help agencies that help the victims of human trafficking.

Have I caught your interest?

Website – Read a few sample chapters and grab one!

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

iBooks

LuLu.com

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Review of, They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher, by Pete Springer

It’s Monday morning, and as night slowly emerges into day, I’m thinking back to a great weekend. Great because I was able to have an in person visit with some family members for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

As no doubt you’ve “guessed” from the title, I’m starting off the week with a book review. I hope you have a great day!

What’s it about?

Here’s the first paragraph from the book that sums it up nicely:

How did I get here? It seems like an odd question. I’m not just learning about the birds and the bees as I approach age sixty. It is more of a question of reflection as I look back at an incredible thirty-one-year career in education. The staff I worked with are some of the best people I know in the world. The students I taught motivated me to want to be a better teacher and person. I have a lifetime of happy memories to draw on that have inspired me.

My Thoughts:

I have to be honest, when I first picked up this book, I was expecting the pages to be filled with anecdotes. Please don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of these within the pages that complement the overall theme of the book. I’m not sure why I had originally come to this conclusion, when the very title suggests otherwise.

I want to stress that I was NOT disappointed by this realization. Not by a long shot. Pete does an excellent job of sharing wisdom, insight, and common-sense approaches to the struggles and rewards of this noble profession. It was an eye opener for me, and I’ve come to possess a new appreciation for those who work in the education field. It is very apparent that Pete was and remains, very dedicated and passionate about his calling as a teacher.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who works, or is thinking about a career, in the education field. As a parent, it was certainly a behind the curtain peek at an often misunderstood and underappreciated profession.  

Meet Pete Springer and grab your copy:

I’m a retired elementary teacher (31 years) who will always be a strong advocate for children, education, and teachers. My favorite thing to do as a teacher was to read to my students, and now I’m following my heart and writing children’s books for middle grades.

Amazon.com

Photos With Captions To Make You Smile And Think

I’m back with another round of photos from daily life. My, things have changed both inside and outside since my last post. Outside, we’ve acquired some white groundcover, love or hate it, winter’s here. Personally, I’ve got mixed feelings about winter; I hate the shorter days, but love skiing and the fact that the cold kills off a lot of nasty bugs. Meanwhile, indoors, it’s looking a lot like Christmas, and much earlier than usual this year.

Let’s get this picture show in the air! Onwards Rudolph, Dasher, Blitzen, Prancer, Crasher, Comet, Vixen, Cupid, Dancer, and Donner! Did you spot the extra reindeer?

“Can’t say for sure, Jeb, but I’m sensing a pattern.”

When you answer, “Sure.” to, “Can I borrow your camera, Dad?”

Not even the pouring rain could snuff their evil glow!

My prayer for you, today.

Spotlight #NewRelease and #Giveaway “Saddled Hearts” by Jan Sikes

Yes, we all know what today is, but in this post, I want to highlight another big event. I have the privilege of spreading the word about a new novel! Saddled Hearts, has just been released by good friend, and fellow author, Jan Sikes.

It has a paranormal twist, perfect for a late night read, once the miniature goblins and ghouls have finished their visitations. All you have to do is click on the link below to purchase.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to enter for the chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

A Word From Jan Sikes

Thank you, Mark, for offering to host me on this blog tour to promote my new book, Saddled Hearts! I am deeply grateful!

Every story has side characters, and in Saddled Hearts, one of the most loved is Hank Griffin, the Double L Ranch foreman.

There is an air of mystery surrounding Hank, and Colt finds himself wondering if Hank is even his real name. I enjoyed creating Hank and could visualize him as a grizzled cowboy, maybe in his early fifties. He is loyal and trustworthy, but he has secrets, something he’s running from.

I’ll share a couple of short excerpts:

The men made small talk as they covered the miles. Colt knew very little about Hank. He’d showed up a few months back with calloused hands and chaps thrown across his shoulder, asking for work. Said he had experience with ranching. He hadn’t lied about that. And he’d stuck around. Colt made him foreman after a few weeks and trusted him to keep things running smoothly.

His many years on the rodeo circuit taught Colt not to ask too many questions. As long as Hank did the work, he didn’t pry.

A man’s business was his own.

***

Hank fell in beside him while Mattie and Sheila ran ahead.

“There’s a man in town I need to pay a visit, and I hate to ask, but would you mind riding along with me? I’d feel better if I have a witness in case he tries anything.”

“That Tompkins fellow?”

“Yeah. That’s the one.” Colt related the diner incident.

Hank let out a whistle. “Sounds like some dirty shit going on, for sure. I’ll ride along, but I can’t afford to get in any trouble.”

Colt studied his foreman’s set jaw in the dim light emanating from the barn. Hank had secrets. No doubt about it. “There won’t be any trouble. You have my word. I just want to get to the bottom of this and move on.”

***

Hank pulled to a stop in front of the ranch house and got out, tossing Colt the keys. “Again, I’m sorry, boss. If you want me gone, just tell me.”

Colt stared at the cowboy before answering slowly. “No, Hank. I don’t want you gone. I need you here. Don’t worry. I won’t say anything.”

Hank scuffed the toe of his boot in the dirt. “Thanks.”

“Goodnight.”

The cowboy trudged toward the bunkhouse, his shoulders sagging. Hank had troubles, and Colt hated that he’d brought it all to the forefront.

Universal Purchase Link HERE!

Let’s go on a scavenger hunt! Hidden within the blog posts are clues you will need to look for.

The theme is “Things You’d Find On A Ranch.”

When you find these clues, email your answers to me at

SaddledHearts@gmail.com

With CONTEST

In the subject line.

The person with the most correct entries will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The runner-up will receive an eBook of Saddled Hearts!

It Pays To Play!

Connect with Jan Sikes here ~

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub | Instagram | Amazon Author Page

Liberty

Jeff tripped on a rock, stubbing his toe, and almost dropping Liberty.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you,” he promised the Bold. “I’m sorry but it’s time for you to go. The fog’s rolled in and that will help you escape Crusher. Please don’t cry, don’t be afraid. Liberty will take you far away. She’s a great ship. My Grandpa and I made her.”

The lump in Jeff’s throat felt bigger than a jawbreaker candy. He should know because he almost swallowed one, once. It was one of the scariest things in his life, almost as scary as Crusher.

Jeff reached the edge of Pine Grove Bay, and gently slipped the driftwood ship into the still water. He took the yellow nylon rope and watched as a gentle breeze pushed against the cloth sails, carrying the good people towards the bigger waters of Gull Lake. He smiled and waved, hoping that it would calm them down, as they begged him not to let go of the rope.

Wherever they ended up, it would be better than here. Better than the everyday meanness from Crusher. That monster loved to torment the Bold. He hated their art, said it was just as ugly as they were, just before he would wreck it. He took their money so they couldn’t buy food and threatened a beating should they tell anyone. Jeff had to make sure that he’d never let the beast see Liberty.

Jeff knew what the word ‘bold’ meant, but he was too afraid to stand up against Crusher, who was a lot bigger than him. He’d felt ashamed and after a while, he’d gone to the King and Queen to plead for help for the Bold.

But the King said that The Crusher was really just a coward and that it was up to Jeff to fight him off. The Queen said that sometimes there are just monsters, and they build something called character.

Jeff didn’t see it that way. He let the rope go and plugged his ears against the cries of the Bold. His eyes blurred with tears as he watched them go. One of the Bold jumped overboard, he was splashing in the water . . . no, drowning!

Jeff ran into the cold water, not worried about getting his clothes soaked. He scooped up the little man who immediately yelled, “What about Princess Carlan? She’ll help! She believes in us!”

“Um, I don’t know—”

“Yes! Princess Carlan! Take us back, Jeff! We don’t want to go!” The Bolds on the ship yelled.

Jeff was frightened but he thought that this might be the right thing to do, so he grabbed the rope and brought Liberty back to shore. Everyone cheered!

Jeff went back to the palace. The Queen wasn’t happy to see him soaking wet. She told him that he’d be late for school and that Miss Carlan would not want such a mess in her classroom.

Jeff quickly changed and set Liberty back on his dresser. He grabbed his backpack while his stomach twisted into knots.

He hurried down the sidewalk, his legs feeling evermore like cooked spaghetti with each step. But Princess Carlan was so nice. She’d always said he was smart, a good artist, and that his stories took her places, whatever that meant. She would help, he had to believe that.

The open doors to Gull Lake Elementary were bigger than a Blue Whale’s mouth, but at least there was no sign of Crusher.

Jeff closed his eyes and took a deep breath. It was time to be brave; it was time to ask his teacher help.