Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prepare Him Room

As the lyrics to a favorite Christmas hymn say, “Let every heart prepare him room.”

Our pastor has been talking about the arrival of Christ. And what our response to that should be. I think sometimes we as believers and followers of Jesus push this idea aside. We think that we have already let him into our hearts and lives and so it does not apply to us. This is the wrong perspective.

How many of us, if Jesus physically walked into our homes, would be uncomfortable, shuffling things we are ashamed of into closets or cupboards, straightening our clothes and wondering how long he was going to stay so we could get back to normal?

We can’t pretend the clutter is not there. We can’t shove things behind the sofas of our hearts and expect Jesus not to see them. Every nook and cranny is his to search and to transform. Are we allowing him access to the very depths of us?

How are we allowing Christ room in our lives? Not just now in the holiday season, but every day? His will is for us to be conformed to his image, to do good works, to go and make disciples, to be holy. The list goes on.

What one thing can you give Jesus more access to in your walk with him? Something that perhaps you have not brought to him in prayer because you didn’t want to deal with it. Some area that causes unrest or guilt but that brings too much pleasure to lay entirely at his feet. Some sacrificial gift with which he will be pleased.

Think about it. Make more room for him in your life. He deserves it.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

CFBA presents: Dark Pursuit, by Brandilyn Collins

I'm sorry to say I haven't had a chance to read this one yet, but I'm sure I will at some point. Brandilyn is always interesting, but usually not scary enough for me. :)


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)

by

Brandilyn Collins



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


ABOUT THE BOOK

Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks...

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.

Monday, November 17, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour presents: Shade, by John B. Olson





Fairly recently, before I knew this tour was coming up, I read and reviewed Shade. I really, really enjoyed this novel. Here's the link to my review:
Suspense Zone review

I hope some of the other participants interviewed him. If so, please visit those sites. John is a super nice guy who answered a bunch of my questions about the book via e-mail. Unfortunately, I can't share those questions and answers here, because we talked about too many plot points.

However, I can say that there will be a second book in the series called Powers that should answer some of our questions and relieve some of our confusion. Sounds good to me!

The Book Link
John Olson's website

Participants' links:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Magma
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Robert Treskillard
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Spotlighting TitleTrakk.com--A Must See Website

Welcome to the 1st ever
TitleTrakk.com Blog Tour!


This week we're chatting about:



The Fantastic Fall Giveaway Contest!


Just in time for the holidays, you could win over
$335 worth of books, cds and dvds!

Sponsored by our friends at:


The Grand Prize Winner will receive:

BOOKS:

Whispers of the Bayou by Mindy Starns Clark
Rachel's Secret by BJ Hoff
Beach Dreams by Trish Perry
Playing God by Michelle McKinney Hammond
White Soul by Brandt Dodson
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Finding Marie by Susan Paige Davis
The Power of Praying Through the Bible by Stormie Omartian
A Man After God's Own Heart by Jim George
Evidence for Faith 101 by Bruce Bickel & Stan Jantz

CDS:

Wake Up! Wake Up! by Everyday Sunday
Rock What You Got by Superchick
Sunday by Tree63
Houston We Are Go by Newsboys (Live CD/DVD)
Nothing Left To Lose by Mat Kearney
I Am Free Worship Collection
Salvation Station by Newworldson
Not Without Love by Jimmy Needham
Pages by Shane & Shane
Colors and Sounds by Article One

MOVIES:

Love's Unfolding Dream
The Ten Commandments Animated
Between the Walls

But that's not all!
We're giving away even more!


During this blog tour (November 10th - 16th) we'll be drawing 2 winners daily from the contest entries to win an additional free book or cd!

Visit the TitleTrakk.com Contest page today to enter the contest and place yourself in the running to receive the Grand Prize, plus all the daily prizes! Deadline to enter is November 17th.

About TitleTrakk.com:
Founded in 2006 by Tracy & C.J. Darlington, TitleTrakk.com is an interactive website spotlighting Christian books, music & movies. Updated weekly, we feature author and musician interviews, album and book reviews, music videos, movie reviews and interviews, book excerpts, surveys, polls, and fun contests. Learn more: http://www.titletrakk.com/about.htm

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today, Glass Roads PR features THE ROOK, by Steven James

Recently on this blog, I featured my review of The Rook. James has one of the best writing styles, imho, of any author I've ever read. And I've read hundreds if not thousands of novels. Of course, it doesn't hurt that my favorite genre is suspense. I think James is destined to acquire a huge following. I know I'll be reading everything he releases.

Check out the link below and read what I have to say about this book.



Happy reading!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It's Finally Here! Eric Wilson's Field of Blood



A little bragging here: I've had this book for quite some time, but now it's available to the general public! So read my review and then go out and buy it. You won't be disappointed.

I can honestly say I’ve never read a novel anything like this one. It’s really hard to put into words everything Field of Blood is. Suffice it to say that it’s a must read.

The ancient site where a traitor’s blood was spilt two millennia ago is a potential breeding ground for vile, unearthly spirits who wait to be freed from their vaporous wanderings. In 1989, their hopes are granted when excavators accidentally disturb tombs outside Jerusalem. The Collectors inhabit bodies of the dead, feeding on the blood of the living, and often infesting them with thorny brambles on which they feast.

For Gina Lazarescu, life in Romania as an almost twelve-year-old is hard work. Her mother is overprotective, her father dead. After a handsome stranger holds a secretive conversation with her mother, she is whisked away with them away from the home she has always known to avoid impending revolution and other unnamable dangers. She will not forget the man’s promise to watch after her and find her again one day.

Gina is special, and she’s in danger, but so are many others. Each person must make the choice as to which side they will be on, and take responsibility for those choices. I’ll stop there with the plot so as not to reveal too much.

True to form, Wilson digs deep into history and human nature to produce the mother lode of supernatural fiction. Blood sucking vampires aside, Field of Blood isn’t overly weird or “out there.” Everything that happens is connected and has a reason. Lots of things are hidden just enough to cause confusion (at least for me), but I’ve been promised by the author himself that those things will be explained in the next book.

I give Wilson points for creativity galore, a satisfyingly complex plot line, adequate suspense, and the flowing style I’ve come to love in the course of his writings. He effectively portrays the sickening and the beautiful, exalting true life. Life is in the blood, after all…whose blood flows through your veins?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Marcher Lord Press in the spotlight

CSFF proudly promotes Jeff Gerke's new independent publishing venture, Marcher Lord Press. Believe me when I say this is a good thing for speculative fiction. No, it's a great thing.

Here's a definition of MLP from the site itself:

"Marcher Lord Press is the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction.

Whether it's fantasy you love, or science fiction, time travel, chillers, supernatural thrillers, alternate history, spiritual warfare, superhero, vampire, or technothriller—if it's speculative and it comes from the Christian worldview, Marcher Lord Press is your publisher.

Marcher Lord Press is a small, independent press that bypasses the traditional Christian publishing industry to get Christian speculative fiction directly into the hands of the fans who devour it."


Here is the MLP link: Marcher Lord Press

The brains behind the site is Jeff Gerke (pen name Jefferson Scott). If you've never heard of Jeff, then you just don't read good fiction.

Check out his website here for a comprehensive list of speculative fiction at your fingertips: Where the Map Ends

Congratulations, Jeff! We look forward to the launching of your new site!

Be sure to visit the other tour participants' sites for more info and fun:


Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Kameron M. Franklin
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise
Tina Kulesa
Jason Waguespac

Friday, September 12, 2008

THE ROOK, by Steven James



I can't say enough about this author or this series. Steven James knows how to craft a story. He has admitted that he doesn’t want to get bored with what he’s writing, and the complex plot structure in The Rook only serves to prove that he’s serious about creating a page-turner. Believe me, there’s absolutely no time to get bored with James’ stories.

Patrick Bowers is again on the case, one which involves a serial arsonist. When he accidentally stumbles across a wacked out homeless man committing suicide, Patrick knows there is more to the incident than meets the eye. Clues lead in unexpected directions, like to an aquarium, shark research, and stolen technology with global implications.

While embroiled in the puzzlement of his job, Patrick must also build a relationship with his angst-filled teenaged stepdaughter. Between girl and woman, she longs for freedom, yet makes unwise choices that force Patrick to monitor her activities. Can he protect her from the world while letting her grow up? Might she be entangled in his investigation like she was during the last case?

One of the first things I noticed about this novel, second in the Patrick Bowers series, was the lack of creepiness. Yes, the villain(s) is/are still evil, but the tale has a different feel. The author, in an interview you can hear HERE, states that he wanted The Pawn to feel more like a psychological thriller and The Rook to feel more like a techno-thriller. I say he was successful. It’s really incredible how involved the story becomes up until the very end, when, as all good books do in my opinion, the reader experiences a big twist.

Whether for personal entertainment, a book club, or a gift, be sure to pick up this electrically-charged action-lover’s dream. I can’t wait for the third installment, The Knight. I wonder if the series will have to end after James uses up all the chess pieces (only 3 more!). That will be a sad day.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In the Shadow of Lions, by Ginger Garrett

This book is one I unfortunately have missed. I thoroughly enjoyed Garrett's previous book, Dark Hour. She's a great writer and I look forward to having the time to read this.


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

In The Shadow Of Lions

David C. Cook; 1 edition (September 2008)

by

Ginger Garrett



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ginger Garrett is the critically acclaimed author of Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther, which was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA, and Dark Hour. An expert in ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women.

Her newest release is Beauty Secrets of the Bible, (September 11, Thomas Nelson) based on the historical research that began in her work on Chosen. The book explores the connections between beauty and spirituality, offering women both historical insights and scientific proofs that reveal powerful, natural beauty secrets.

A frequent radio guest on stations across the country, including NPR and Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, Ginger is also a popular television guest. Her appearances include Harvest Television, Friends & Neighbors, and Babbie's House. Ginger frequently serves as a co-host on the inspirational cable program Deeper Living.

In 2007, Ginger was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award for her novel Dark Hour. When she's not writing, you may spy Ginger hunting for vintage jewelry at thrift stores, running (slowly) in 5k and 10k races, or just trying to chase down one of her errant sheepdogs. A native Texan, she now resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.


ABOUT THE BOOK



"I am the first writer, The Scribe. My books lie open before the Throne, and someday will be the only witness of your people and their time in this world."

So begins the narration of one such angel in this sweeping historical tale set during the reign of England's Henry VIII. It is the story of two women, their guardian angels, and a mysterious, subversive book ... a book that outrages some, inspires others, and launches the Protestant Reformation.

The devout Anne Boleyn catches the eye of a powerful king and uses her influence to champion an English translation of the Bible. Meanwhile, Rose, a broken, suicidal woman of the streets, is moved to seek God when she witnesses Thomas More's public displays of Christian charity, ignorant of his secret life spent eradicating the Bible, persecuting anyone who dares read it.

Historic figures come alive in this thrilling story of heroes and villains, saints and sinners, angels and mortals ... and the sacred book that will inspire you anew. Fans of Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury will love Ginger's intriguing combination of rich character development, artful settings, and inspiring historical insights.

If you would like to read an excerpt from In The Shadow Of Lions, go HERE


The Book Link

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Broken Angel, Day 3: My Review

I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog tour. Here is my review:


Caitlyn is not your normal girl. But it is not your normal world. A future America divides itself according to religion or lack thereof. Appalachia is inhabited by fundamentalists whose leader will do anything to keep the Outside out and his people in. The dangerous Outside teems with tolerant sinners. And scientists. Those like escapee Jordan Brown, Caitlyn’s father.

But he can’t bear to tell Caitlyn all of his secrets. Not what happened before she was born, not why she is the way she is. He just wants to save her life, to give her a chance to be free. As free as she can be.

There are others who search for Caitlyn, not to save her but to capture her. They will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Can Jordan and Caitlyn make it safely back Outside before men bent on power capture them?

This dystopian tale is part sci-fi part mystery part suspense. The characters are so rich, you forget the pace of the book and just let it carry you along to its stunning conclusion. Caitlyn endears herself to the reader through her innocence, trusting nature, and frail strength. She is indeed the backbone of the story and one can’t help both applauding and pitying her.

Themes of scientific research gone awry and severe extremes in religion can also be seen throughout the novel. It explores what may happen to people when these circumstances control their lives.

It has been a few years since I’ve read any of Brouwer’s work, and I’ve decided that’s too long. Out of the Shadows and Crown of Thorns were excellent mystery novels filled with cultural secrets and history. I’m glad Brouwer delves into the sci-fi realm here--and this isn’t the end. Book two is coming. I will definitely be picking up that one as well.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Broken Angel, Day 2: Interview

And now for my interview with Sigmund Brouwer:

Q: You write in several different genres. Do you have a favorite?
A: I'm going to give a weasel answer here and say that I don't have a favorite genre, but justify it by adding when I write, I don't feel like I'm in a genre, but just focused on a story. Characters and their problems are paramount; genre is just background.

On the other hand, genre is a reality, so it's silly to pretend otherwise, and in the end, I think I like best what perhaps isn't classified as a genre yet -- visionary suspense. Broken Angel can fit in science fiction, but hopefully readers will enjoy a roller coaster ride as if it's a thriller too. If someone ever described my writing as Harlen Coben meets Michael Crichton, I'd pretend to be embarrassed by the acclaim, but you can guess otherwise.


Q: How have you grown and changed as a writer in the years since your debut as an author?

A: Any growing and changing is not the result of writing, but because of the wonderful influence of my wife, and our children, who came along after I'd been published for years. I'm a typical guy, and have to fight the temptation to use this genetic wiring as an excuse for excessive golf, tardiness and all my other weaknesses. But becoming a daddy has changed the core of my life, and I hope this is reflected in everything about me, including my writing. I see it, looking back, in Broken Angel too, a story about a father and daughter. I'm going to shamelessly plug brokenangelsong.com, because the music video there (Beautiful Bird, reflecting the theme of the book -- freedom) has my wife and our daughters.

Q: Where did you get the idea for Broken Angel?

A: I was asked to write a future-based story on genetics. Before our daughters came in our lives, I'm sure the story would have been much different, but as a daddy, I began to wonder about the consequences of experimenting on humans, and what would happen if you felt the guilt of hurting the child you loved, and were willing to sacrifice everything to protect this girl.

NOTE: (I asked Sigmund about some of the loose ends at the end of the novel, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone who has not read it. So suffice it to say, he told me he was working on a sequel. Sweet.)

Q: Did you model Caitlyn in any way after a real person?

A: Although I'm so focused on story when I write that I rarely think about metaphors and themes, I've come to realize that Caitlyn's life is each of ours.

We're each born into mystery and tragedy -- life is a mystery, like the questions about eternity that come with our existence. Tragic? As the only species aware of our mortality, we are doomed to know that each joy we have and the loves in our life will be extinguished by death.

We have a destiny beyond comprehension, once we leave the prison of our bodies.

Life is harsh, and tries to break us.

Even as life tries to break us, we have a sense of longing for the beyond, and we instinctively fight to soar.


Q: What do you want to write in the future?

A: In the future, I'd like to keep writing about the future, and tackle ideas like using evolutionary science to trace a genetic code back to the Adam and Eve and the first moments of human consciousness in all of history, or memory transfers that give defacto immortality, or a carnivorous fungus that grows computer-generated intelligence or. . .

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Don't miss CSFF's August tour novel: Broken Angel, by Sigmund Brouwer

You heard me. Don't miss this book! And don't miss my posts, either. Tomorrow I will feature an interview with Sigmund himself. Then Wednesday, my review.

Ready for a multi-sensory experience? Sigmund is married to Christian music artist Cindy Morgan. She has written a song called "Beautiful Bird" that goes with the book. You can see the video here.

If that's not enough for you, visit Sigmund's website and read about all the other things he's into besides writing for adults and kids here at coolreading.com.




And, as always, you can buy the book here.








Listed below are my fellow posters for this month's tour. Check 'em out!

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Mark Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Magma
Margaret
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Sean Slagle
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Laura Williams

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Today I feature another book I haven't had time to read!

CFBA's latest feature:







ABOUT THE BOOK:

A mysterious book with a dangerous secret.

An evil brotherhood out to conquer the world.

One man stands between them . . . with his family in the balance.

In the twelfth century, Henry the Lion collected the rarest relics in Christendom. And to protect his most precious acquisitions, he encoded the whereabouts in a gorgeous illuminated manuscript called The Gospels of Henry the Lion.

The manuscript has been showing up and disappearing ever since. No one knows where the relic has been hidden . . . or its ultimate power.

Only one man holds the key to the mystery.

He's carrying it in his briefcase at his son's school for show-and-tell, and he thinks it's a fake. But he's about to find out just how real it is.

Because the wolves are rapidly closing in. And if August Adams can't decode the secret in time, the world's balance of power will forever be altered.

A mysterious book with a dangerous secret.

An evil brotherhood out to conquer the world.

One man stands between them . . . with his family in the balance.

In the twelfth century, Henry the Lion collected the rarest relics in Christendom. And to protect his most precious acquisitions, he encoded the whereabouts in a gorgeous illuminated manuscript called The Gospels of Henry the Lion.

The manuscript has been showing up and disappearing ever since. No one knows where the relic has been hidden . . . or its ultimate power.

Only one man holds the key to the mystery.

He's carrying it in his briefcase at his son's school for show-and-tell, and he thinks it's a fake. But he's about to find out just how real it is.

Because the wolves are rapidly closing in. And if August Adams can't decode the secret in time, the world's balance of power will forever be altered.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Matt Bronleewe is a recognized producer, songwriter and author. The former member of the band Jars of Clay, has earned numerous awards producing and co-writing albums that have sold a combined total of over 20 million copies. His songs have recently been recorded by Disney pop sensations Aly & AJ, American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke, and more. Bronleewe has worked with Grammy Award-winning artists such as Michael W. Smith, International pop singer Natalie Imbruglia and Heroes star Hayden Panettiere.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bronleewe was raised on a farm in Kansas, where he lived until he left for college in 1992. At Greenville College in Illinois, Bronleewe formed the band Jars of Clay with his dorm roommate and two neighbors, and the group soon found success. Though Bronleewe opted to leave Jars of Clay early on to pursue an academic career, he soon found himself in Nashville, co-writing, producing, and playing music professionally.

To add to his list of accomplishments, Bronleewe has expanded his love of story telling beyond music into authorship. He is currently penning a 5 book series for Thomas Nelson Fiction. His first book Illuminated began the adventurous series about rare manuscripts and the mysteries within.

Bronleewe currently resides in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and three children. He continues to write and produce music, and he also volunteers through his church to help disadvantaged youth in the community. Bronleewe enjoys reading, taste-testing good food and watching sports, as well as indulging his interests in art, architecture, design and science.

The Book Link!

Monday, August 18, 2008

CFBA tour presents: Merciless, by Robin Parrish

Hello, blogosphere! My post will have to be short today, because it's my anniversary and I have lots of other things to do.

I didn't receive this book from CFBA, but I do have it via a website I review for. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to it yet. Robin's first two books in the series were very interesting and I have reviews for both in the archives of this blog.

So go visit my CFBA friends and read what they have to say.

Happy reading!






ABOUT THE BOOK:

The world as we know it has ENDED.
DEATH and CHAOS creep across the globe and only the POWERLESS can RISE UP to stop it.

But can anything stop the onslaught of the DARKWORLD

From the earth's depths crawls a figure with skin like granite, flames for eyes, and the face of Grant Borrows.
Oblivion has arrived.

Every clock around the world has stopped. Time has frozen.

The Secretum have fulfilled the prophecy, unleashing on earth the most powerful being to walk the earth in thousands of years. His name is Oblivion and his touch is death.

He can't be slowed.
He can't be stopped.
And he can't be killed.

But as long as any live who trust in hope and love and freedom, the fight is not over.

They have only one chance before he brings forth the Darkworld.

Oblivion is: Merciless

"Robin Parrish is the kind of writer who understands how to entertain from the word go. His stories are sure to shape fiction for years to come."
~TED DEKKER, author of ADAM






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Parrish had two great ambitions in his life: to have a family, and to be a published novelist. In March of 2005, he proposed to his future wife the same week he signed his first book contract.

More than ten years he spent writing for various websites, including About.com, CMCentral.com, and Infuze Magazine, which is a unique intersection between art and faith which he also conceived of and created.

One of his more "high concept" ideas for Infuze was to return to his love for storytelling and create a serialized tale that would play out every two weeks, telling a complete, compelling story over the course of nine months. That serialized story eventually came to the attention of several publishers, who saw it as a potential debut novel for Robin Parrish.

In 2005, Bethany House Publishers brought Robin full circle by contracting him for the rights to not only that first book, Relentless -- but two sequels including Fearless and Merciless. A trilogy that unfolded in the consecutive summers of 2006, 2007, and this year, 2008. One massive tale -- of which that first, original story would form only the foundational first volume of the three -- spread across three books.

Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about pop culture for more than a decade. Currently he serves as Senior Editor at XZOOSIA.com, a community portal that fuses social networking with magazine-style features about entertainment and culture. He and his wife, Karen and son live in North Carolina.

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

Buy the book here

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Review of The Bell Messenger, by Robert Cornuke with Alton Gansky




Ask anyone who knows me and they will say that I do not like historical fiction. In fact, I haven’t touched it since I was in high school, and the only ones I read were Eugenia Price and Catherine Marshall, if those even count. Now and then I’ll read good biblical fiction from authors like Ginger Garrett and Alton Gansky.

A copy of The Bell Messenger came to me, and honestly, the only reason I cracked it open was because the prolific Alton Gansky contributed (and also because it involved archaeology--I’ve always enjoyed that).

I was pleasantly surprised by the complex plot and emotive prose. The main character is really a bible--one that has been passed down through generations of people--and not necessarily the kinds of people one would think.

The first owner is a young Confederate preacher, involved in the Civil War not as a soldier, but a messenger of God. He bequeaths the bible to the man who shot him-- a man named Jeremiah Tate who is jaded against the government and God.

Somehow (we learn how as the book continues) Gary Brandon, a recent college graduate, comes to own the bible in 1980. He does his own research to find out who has written notes in the bible’s margins and what certain letters mean that were tucked away in its pages.

I couldn’t help but marvel at the way God’s purposes are portrayed in this book. God uses all kinds of people to further his work and even the toughest end up making sacrifices they never would have dreamed about before. There are so many rich and varied characters--the reader will enjoy getting to know each one.

Indeed, God’s word does not return void if people speak it and live it boldly. This is an excellently crafted story that will be enjoyed by lovers of faith, archaeology, mystery, and historical fiction.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What a deal!




Great news from one of my very favorite authors, Eric Wilson. Any of you who like supernatural thrillers must read Field of Blood.

I will have a review here on this blog soon, hopefully including an interview with Eric.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

CFBA book of the week: Try Darkness, by James Scott Bell

I read Try Dying back when it was released and enjoyed it. Although I haven't had the opportunity to read this one yet, I plan to soon. Make sure you go read what others are saying about this book. James Scott Bell truly is a phenomenal writer.







ABOUT THE BOOK:

Ty Buchanan is living on the peaceful grounds of St. Monica’s, far away from the glamorous life he led as a rising trial lawyer for a big L.A. firm. Recovering from the death of his fiancĂ©e and a false accusation of murder, Buchanan has found his previous ambitions unrewarding. Now he prefers offering legal services to the poor and the underrepresented from his “office” at local coffee bar The Freudian Sip. With his new friends, the philosophizing Father Bob and basketball-playing Sister Mary Veritas, Buchanan has found a new family of sorts.

One of his first clients is a mysterious woman who arrives with her six-year-old daughter. They are being illegally evicted from a downtown transient hotel, an interest that Ty soon discovers is represented by his old law firm and his former best friend, Al Bradshaw. Buchanan won’t back down. He’s going to fight for the woman’s rights.

But then she ends up dead, and the case moves from the courtroom to the streets. Determined to find the killer and protect the little girl, who has no last name and no other family, Buchanan finds he must depend on skills he never needed in the employ of a civil law firm.

The trail leads Buchanan through the sordid underbelly of the city and to the mansions and yachts of the rich and famous. No one is anxious to talk.
But somebody wants Buchanan to shut up. For good.
Now he must use every legal and physical edge he knows to keep himself and the girl alive.

Once again evoking the neo-noir setting of contemporary Los Angeles, Bell delivers another thriller where darkness falls and the suspense never rests.

“Bell has created in Buchanan an appealing and series-worthy protagonist, and the tale equally balances action and drama, motion and emotion. Readers who pride themselves on figuring out the answers before an author reveals them are in for a surprise, too: Bell is very good at keeping secrets. Fans of thrillers with lawyers as their central characters—Lescroart and Margolin, especially—will welcome this new addition to their must-read lists.”
—Booklist

“Engaging whodunit series kickoff . . . Readers will enjoy Bell's talent for description and character development.”
—Publishers Weekly

“James Scott Bell has written himself into a niche that traditionally has been reserved for the likes of Raymond Chandler.”
—Los Angeles Times

“A master of suspense.”
—Library Journal

“One of the best writers out there, bar none.”
—In the Library Review




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JAMES SCOTT BELL is a former trial lawyer who now writes full time. He has also been the fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine and adjunct professor of writing at Pepperdine University.

The national bestselling author of several novels of suspense, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles. His first Buchanan thriller, TRY DYING, was released to high critical praise, while his book on writing, Plot and Structure is one of the most popular writing books available today.

The book link

Sunday, July 06, 2008

All Worthwhile

My youngest daughter's birthday is July 4th, so it's an extra celebration for us. She's always so excited to get fireworks on her birthday. This year a friend of ours offered to take us in his boat to the Cape Fear River, where fireworks would be shot off of the U.S.S. Battleship North Carolina.

We traveled quickly south down the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway), wind ripping through our hair and clothes. The salt spray got us a few times as well when our boat crossed another boat's wake, causing the boat’s bow to slam up and down against the water.

A landlubber, I'm not fond of choppy waters and fast speeds, so when we reached the mouth of the river and had to make a right turn in order to come inland, I got a bit nervous. Thankfully, our friend slowed down for me.

It took about an hour to reach our destination, where we were among at least 30 other boats and thousands of on shore spectators. We were trying to set anchor when the display began. I've seen fireworks everywhere from Washington, D.C. to Germany to Disney World, but there's nothing like sitting directly under them when they explode. The sound was deafening and I had to shield my eyes several times because of the brightness. But the feeling of being a kid again, oohing and ahing, trumped any discomfort.

Finally, the show ended and we began our trek home. Now, of course, it was totally dark. The river current was against us, so it took longer to get back to the waterway. Thank God for GPS and depth finders, because we nearly hit a few of the unlit markers when we strayed too close to the boundary of the safe range. I felt so helpless, not being able to control the water or the boat or where the markers were in the almost pitch black. The red and green flashing signs and the GPS were the only things there to guide our friend in the right direction. Thankfully, he was very experienced.

Finally, about two hours later, we arrived back at the marina. I was never so happy to see good ole terra firma! I thanked God silently and our friend aloud for the safe and fun trip. Even though parts of the experience were nerve-wracking, the fantastic show made it all worthwhile.

Isn't that how our lives are sometimes? God is the captain of our boat. He alone knows where the channel is, where the signs are, where the dangers are. He slows down for us sometimes when we're scared. But we have to cross choppy waters--it's inevitable in the journey he's taking us on. But he's faithful. His promise to be with us when we pass through the waters remains a hope for us. And at the end of the journey we will look back on the joys and the trials and see that it was all worthwhile.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

CSFF Tour proudly presents: The Begotten, by Lisa T. Bergren



Check out and buy this great book here

Visit the author's website

MY REVIEW:

Medieval Italy--home of Roman Catholicism, burning of heretics, fierce arguments concerning icons and illuminations--the setting for one of the most creative fantasy novels I’ve read in a long time.

The author’s premise is this: What if the lost, uncanonized letters of St. Paul to the Corinthian church were found and kept secret for centuries until the appointed time? What if, in those letters, there was divinely inspired prophecy about a group of people with spiritual gifts that would amass and become a force to be reckoned with?

Father Piero, a Franciscan monk, has been entrusted by his teacher with a portion of these letters. His documents contain illuminations that picture some of The Gifted. He knows that he is one of these gifted because his likeness appears in the pictures. Somehow he must find the others depicted and gather them together for the cause of Christ. Other than that he knows little and must rely totally on faith for the rest.

Lady Daria D’Angelo, Gianni, Father Piero, and an odd band of friends follow God’s leading as events that they never could have imagined unfold. Shadow and deception threaten to take the town of Siena in their grasp unless right can overcome.

I have not studied in depth this period of history as it relates to Christianity and Catholicism, but the author obviously builds upon mindsets and power struggles existing during this time period. She sets the stage plainly for a good-and-evil battle of immense proportions. The most poignant point she makes is that “the Church” may not be on God’s side after all, but on the side of darkness. Scary stuff, but so goes the way of religion in history--it’s not all piety and charity.

I found this novel engrossing and very well-conceptualized. The danger was palpable and the reader is put through a wide range of emotions. The author delivered her story through expert character formation, plot, dialogue and conflict to create a thoroughly enjoyable tale. I highly recommend it and have already ordered the next book in the series, The Betrayed.


And finally, check out the other blogs on this tour for more goodies:

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Jill Hart
Michael Heald
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
Rachelle
Steve Rice
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

Thursday, April 17, 2008

CFBA features: My Soul to Keep, by Melanie Wells

Melanie is one of my favorite authors. Below the obligatory info I've listed a link to my review of the book and an interview with Melanie (done previously a month or so ago). Enjoy!




ABOUT THE BOOK:

As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year…graduation day. And her little friend Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seen to lead nowhere.

The police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces of a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.


“Like water rising to a boil, My soul To Keep’s suspense sneaks up on you…before you know it, you’re in the thick if a frightening drama…Superbly crafted.”
---ROBERT LIPARULO, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes A Horseman


“Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
---K. L. COOK, author of Late Call and The Girl From Charmelle






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A native of the Texas panhandle and the child of musicians, Melanie Wells attended Southern Methodist University on a music scholarship (she's a fiddle player), and later completed graduate degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies at Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

She has taught at the graduate level at both OLLU and DTS, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

When the Day of Evil Comes is her first published work of fiction, and the first of a three-book series. The second work, The Soul Hunter was released in May, 2006. Melanie lives and writes in Dallas.

The Book Link

Link to my review on the Suspense Zone

My interview with Melanie on the Suspense Zone

Monday, April 07, 2008

CFBA book of the week: Amber Morn, by Brandilyn Collins

I haven't read this book yet, but if it's anything like the others in the series, it's sure to be a show-stopper. Here's the rub:





ABOUT THE BOOK:

The whole thing couldn’t have taken more than sixty seconds.

Bailey hung on to the counter, dazed. If she let go, she’d collapse—and the twitching fingers of the gunman would pull the trigger. The rest of her group huddled in frozen shock.

Dear God, help us! Tell me this is a dream . . .

The shooter’s teeth clenched. “ Anybody who moves is dead.”


On a beautiful Saturday morning the nationally read “Scenes and Beans” bloggers gather at Java Joint for a special celebration. Chaos erupts when three gunmen burst in and take them all hostage. One person is shot and dumped outside.

Police Chief Vince Edwards must negotiate with the desperate trio. The gunmen insist on communicating through the “comments” section of the blog—so all the world can hear their story. What they demand, Vince can’t possibly provide. But if he doesn’t, over a dozen beloved Kanner Lake citizens will die...

Amber Morn is the climactic finale to Collins’ widely read Kanner Lake series. All first three titles in the series, Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, and Crimson Eve, were bestsellers. Library Journal placed Crimson Eve on its Best Books of 2007 list, and hailed it the “Best Christian suspense of 2007.”


A few early reviews of Amber Morn:

“… essential reading … a harrowing hostage drama.” – Library Journal

“… heart-pounding … breakneck pace … satisfying and meaningful ending.” – RT Bookreviews

“This cataclysmic ending left me breathless … Kanner Lake is the Best Suspense Series of 2007/2008.” – deenasbooks.blogspot.com

“Collins has saved the best for a last .. a powerful ensemble performance.” -- BookshelfReview.com

“… a staccato tempo … Sometimes you just have to close the book in order to come up for air.” – Dale Lewis

“…a masterpiece of page-turning suspense with a cast of dozens.” – Peg Phifer





ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline

“Don’t forget to b r e a t h e …®”

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 19th book. Her first, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows.

She’s also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons), and often teaches at writers conferences.

Brandilyn blogs at Forensics and Faith. Visit her Website to read the first chapters of all her books.

The Book Link

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

CFBA presents: Betrayed, by Jeanette Windle




ABOUT THE BOOK:

Fires smolder endlessly below the dangerous surface of Guatemala City’s municipal dump.

Deadlier fires seethe beneath the tenuous calm of a nation recovering from brutal civil war. Anthropologist Vicki Andrews is researching Guatemala’s “garbage people” when she stumbles across a human body. Curiosity turns to horror as she uncovers no stranger, but an American environmentalist—Vicki’s only sister, Holly.

With authorities dismissing the death as another street crime, Vicki begins tracing Holly’s last steps, a pilgrimage leading from slum squalor to the breathtaking and endangered cloud forests of the Sierra de las Minas Biosphere. But every unraveled thread raises more questions. What betrayal connects Holly’s murder, the recent massacre of a Mayan village, and the long-ago deaths of Vicki’s own parents?

Nor is Vicki the only one demanding answers. Before her search reaches its startling end, the conflagration has spilled across international borders to threaten an American administration and the current war on terror. With no one turning out to be who they’d seemed, who can Vicki trust and who should she fear?

A politically relevant tale of international intrigue and God’s redemptive beauty and hope.






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As the child of missionary parents, award-winning author and journalist Jeanette Windle grew up in the rural villages, jungles, and mountains of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones. Her detailed research and writing is so realistic that it has prompted government agencies to question her to determine if she has received classified information. Currently based in Lancaster, PA, Jeanette has lived in six countries and traveled in more than twenty. She has more than a dozen books in print, including political/suspense best-seller CrossFire and the Parker Twins series.

A NOTE:

This will be my last CFBA post for awhile. I've left the Blog Alliance for several reasons, one of them being I'm not crazy about all of the books that are being featured and another that my life has gotten crazy busy and I need a breather from some internet things.

MY REVIEW:

I must admit I had never heard of Mrs. Windle before this book. From the first page I could tell that she definitely had a way with words, with describing a scene and making me feel as if I was there. Her familiarity with South American landscape and way of life is evident. The Guatamala government's depiction was just plain scary and hopefully not as accurate as it seemed!

I enjoyed the way the author created such a realistic storyworld, inserted fantastic elements, and threaded God's love and purpose through it all. Worth the read.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

CFBA presents: ADAM, by Ted Dekker




He died once to stop the killer...now he's dying again to save his wife.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has become famous for his well-articulated arguments that religion is one of society’s greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn’t know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as “Eve” is about to end abruptly with an unexpected death-his own.

Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by the loss of memory of the events immediately preceding his death.

Daniel becomes convinced that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes during which he alone saw the killer’s face. And the only way to access them is to trigger his brain’s memory dump that occurs at the time of death by simulating his death again…and again. So begins a carefully researched psychological thriller which delves deep into the haunting realities of near-death experiences, demon possession, and the human psche.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the details of ADAM are stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."










Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. Dekker's body of work encompassing seven mysteries, three thrillers and ten fantasies includes Heaven's Wager, When Heaven Weeps, Thunder of Heaven, Blessed Child, A Man Called Blessed, Blink, Thr3e, The Circle Trilogy (Black, Red, White), and Obsessed, with two more...Renegade, and Chaos to be released later this year.

MY REVIEW:

To say that this novel is a psychological thriller is an understatement. The human psyche is deeply explored, as well as more about spiritual forces than may at first appear. Abuse, fear, evil, victimization, freedom of choice, religion, triumph over evil, truth over lies, courage, and love all have a part in the whole. But the whole is definitely more than the sum of its parts.

What might happen to someone who is severely abused as a child in the name of religion? Is it possible to escape that evil, or must you succumb to it at some point in your life? Can good triumph over evil? Will it always? How much can one person endure before they break? Are demons real? Can they really overtake someone who gives them access? Don’t we all have the capacity for evil inside ourselves? Dekker explores answers to these questions.

I usually preface my Dekker reviews with the disclaimer that I may be a bit too passionate when it comes to his books. I’m a huge fan and he never ceases to flabbergast me. Adam is no exception. Dekker continues to up the ante and churn out gale-force plots with gargantuan spiritual oomph. Hence my admiration.

Do I have anything negative to say about this story whatsoever? Not remotely. No doubt, thriller lovers everywhere will find merit in this newest offering. If it sounds like I’m still holding something back, well, I am.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what stole a bit of my fascination from me regarding this book. Recently, I reviewed another excellent thriller by a relative newcomer to the Christian fiction scene, Steven James, called The Pawn. In fact, it had only been a week or two since I read it when I acquired Adam. See, The Pawn was arguably the best thriller (and even the best book of any kind) I’ve ever read, and I couldn’t help but compare the stories since The Pawn was also about a serial killer. It scared me to think that someone could supersede Ted’s place in my heart and knock him gently to #2 just from one book.

But never fear. I can’t be swayed so easily, especially considering Ted’s track record and deep spiritual diving. His writing has always been spot on, but I can see his growing maturity not only in his words, but in his themes. Do not miss this one. I’m sure it will be talked about for quite a while.


The book link

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CFBA feature today: Fallen, by Matthew Raley



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page.

Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.



The Book Link

MY REVIEW:

Jim is the chairman of the local Baptist church and a bank manager. One day while at work, he looks across the street to the Bean, local coffee hangout. To his surprise, he sees Dave, his pastor, step out of a beautiful woman’s car, dressed nicer than he does in his church office on a workday. What could the explanation be? Is this woman his sister, an old friend, a counselee, a friend of his wife’s?

When Jim confronts Dave, Dave admits to a small impropriety, but brushes it off at first. Then, as Jim continues to dig, Dave confesses his marriage is rocky and he started confiding in an old high school friend. Jim is not convinced that this relationship is as platonic as Dave makes it out to be.

What Jim uncovers is bigger and more infuriating than he ever would have guessed. Can he do the right thing for his church and his pastor? And himself? Will the church survive this latest upheaval and be able to move on?

The subject matter in this novel is something that needs to be dealt with. Though fictionalized, I know that scenarios like this happen in real life to real people in authority. The author has rightly brought this to our attention so that we will be aware and ready to deal in a godly way with people who have fallen into sin.

I had a great interest in seeing how the story played out, so I began reading in earnest. However, it was really hard to get into. Long stretches of backstory and/or flashback had me skimming as well as long sections of rather stilted dialogue between two people. Both the narrative and dialogue seemed to stretch on and rehash some of the same ideas over and over. Often, I felt nothing was really happening except Jim questioning himself and questioning Dave.

Yes, the point was made that pastors should not be islands, shouldn’t be all-powerful. Some do take advantage of trusting parishoners and get away with a lot. On one hand we should not be overly judgmental, but on the other hand they should, as leaders, be held to a higher standard. I applaud the author for bringing out the fact that even pastors can fall into sin and be oblivious to the fact that they need help. And the lesson “there but for the grace of God go I” holds its own. In the end, some redemption did occur--the last few chapters were by far the best writing of the whole book.

I have always wondered whether a book like this would ever be published by a Christian publisher. In fact, I’ve toyed with the idea for years of writing a similar novel, one that exposed hypocrisy in the pulpit and worked to help maintain accountability in the pastorate. Because, you see, I’ve seen it up close and personal.

Several years ago, the church my husband served as Worship Pastor went through major upheaval because our pastor had, like the pastor in this novel, had an affair. Only in our case, it was with a woman from the congregation. A woman that had come to him for counseling because of her rocky marriage.

As time went on, his deceit went further. His affair led to a pregnancy and to an abortion that he paid for. Imagine our shock when my husband and I saw the young lady at a restaurant in town and she openly confessed this to us. She said he promised he would leave his wife and children for her when the time was right.

The man preached good, solid, sometimes fiery sermons. He lived the total opposite. How could such a thing happen? How would the church ever recover from something so huge, so blatant, so shocking? The sad fact is that that church has never fully recovered. Each subsequent pastor has stayed a brief year or two and attendance has dwindled to a mere fraction of what it once had. All because a pastor refused accountability, presumed himself to be a one-man show, thought he could handle everything himself. He fell and made a mockery of the Christian life.

Of course, these things can be redeemed. He can be forgiven and can change with God’s help. All of us sin and all of us are in need of God’s transforming power. The church, with God’s help and the people’s willingness, can move on and become a force for good in the community. But it is a long, tough road when a trusted leader betrays you. Those scars run deep and you never forget those events.

So when I read this novel, old emotions came over me and made me remember things I’d rather put away forever. I pray my experiences in such a church keep me always God-focused so I will not fall into sin and try to cover it up, so I will be aware of masks and secrets we all have. So I will be truthful but gracious when I run across something similar in the future.

God help us all.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


First of all, I have to say that I am ruined. Mr. James has totally ruined me. It’s like I have just finished off a bar of the best imported German chocolate. How could I ever go back to Nestle? Why would I want to? Will any suspense or thriller ever grab me and shake me and not let me go like this one? Will I ever feel this pulse-pounding, fingernail chewing, sickening, exciting feeling while reading a novel again? I just finished the book today and I think I’m going through withdrawal. I can’t believe the last page is turned and it’s over. I’m sad. What a shame it had to end.

What is all the hoopla about, you ask? Patrick Bowers, an environmental criminologist for the FBI, is consulting on the case of a lifetime. A brilliant serial killer is systematically murdering young women, leaving a chess pawn at each crime scene. But as piece after piece of the puzzle become available, nothing seems to fit. The sicko is always one step ahead of the good guys, taunting them and raising the stakes. Patrick’s recent widower status, estrangement from his stepdaughter, and having to work under an unpleasant former acquaintance escalate his stress level and create additional interest to the story.

The Pawn has a killer plot—complex and riveting, it had me guessing, reeling, sweating, and hanging on for dear life at the end of every single chapter. There is nothing not to like. My only warning is for the squeamish--the book contains several vivid descriptions of victims’ torture as well as post mortem details. The stark realism captured me and brought me totally into the story. I felt as if I was in peril myself, frantic for resolution.

And yes, Virginia, there is a spiritual element. The quest for faith and love run deep within the pages, and not only for the main character. At first glance, this may seem a plot-driven novel, since everything that happens is so paramount to the story. But you will definitely root for Pat, his daughter, and the other law enforcement officers. You will discover that even in the midst of certain evil, there is a God who exists and cares. One that will overcome evil, if not in the next few pages, ultimately.

For you suspense lovers out there, this frenetically paced drama will have you drooling for more. The Rook is the second book in the series, due out in a few months.

(This review has been cross posted on the LGG blog, and has been submitted to both The Christian Suspense Zone and Dancing Word Writers Network. Many will hear about this novel if I have anything to do about it.)