Wednesday, October 24, 2007

CFBA Tour this week: Illuminated, by Matt Bronleewe


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine


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. Illuminated, in stores now, begins 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.


Sometimes, after you've read a novel, you feel satisfied, warm and fuzzy, or tired from the frantic pace and can succinctly explain what made it so good. When the book is awful, you can usually tell someone exactly what the author did wrong--where the plot fell apart or examples of shoddy writing.

I can't classify Matt's novel in either of those categories. Truly, it falls somewhere inbetween. Everyone who knows me knows I'm a huge suspense fan. And there was a lot of hype about this book. So I probably came into it with high expectations. I really wanted the book to be a blockbuster. It wasn't for me.

I can't say exactly what was "wrong" with it, only that it perhaps left me wanting more depth in the characters, more believable situations (like, how many people can have a complete historical conversation while running full-speed from bad guys through a building?), a better portrayal of the broken relationship between the main character and his estranged wife, and a few other things.

The plot made for a great idea, perhaps even the stuff of movies. Something was lost, though, from concept to finished product. It pains me to even be honest because I know what time and effort went into writing this. It's not bad. It's just not one of my favorites.

Go buy it and be your own judge.

The Book Link

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Persecution in Chicago has reached the Flashpoint.

In the year 2036, all nations are run by a one-world government.
The One State has but one threat: Fundamentalist terrorists.
The One State has declared that Bible believing Christians are now terrorists.

But the One State has not yet encountered
Calamity Kid and
e-girl . . .

When peacekeepers bust a home-church in Ward-Six of the Chicago Metroplex,
brother and sister, Dave and Jen Williams, are the only members who evade capture.
Their only place to turn? A Christian ‘terrorist’ cell known as the Body of Christ.

In their shattered world, Dave and Jen adopt codenames and slip between the
Underground cracks of the Chicago Metroplex. They must save their home-church
before their parents, brother, and neighbors are all brainwashed by the One State
Neros or worse.

Calamity Kid and e-girl fearlessly walk the valley of death, because He is with them.
But they’ll need every molecule of their re-formed faith to face down peacekeepers,
gangers, One-State neros, and fallen-angels, in America’s dark Post-Modern Humanist

Hopefully, you've already seen my previous review of Frank Creed's novel Flashpoint. He's definitely an author to watch.

Unfortunately, I don't have anything new or original to add, but there's lots of cool info out there about this book and there are other places you can go for the scoop and some laughs, too. Try some of these nifty blogs:

Fantasy Thyme
Write and Whine
Hoshi to Sakura
Wayfarer's Journal
BlogCritics Interview
Daniel I Weaver
Disturbing the Universe
Grace Bridges
Queen of Convolution
Virtual Tour de 'Net
Christian Fiction Review Blog
Yellow30 Sci-Fi: Review
Yellow30 Sci-Fi: Interview
Back to the Mountains
MaryLu Tyndall
Cathi's Chatter

Frank's website:

Books of the Underground site:

Buy the book here: Purchase Flashpoint at

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

CFBA Presents: Crimson Eve, by Brandilyn Collins


Carla stared at the gun and David Thornby—or whatever his name was. Her mind split in two, one side pleading this was some sick joke, the other screaming it was all too real.

“Please. You must have the wrong person. There’s no reason for someone to want me dead. I don’t have any enemies.”

“Then you’d best rethink your friends.”

Realtor Carla Radling shows an “English gentleman” a lakeside estate—and finds herself facing a gun. Who has hired this assassin to kill her, and why?

Forced on the run, Carla must uncover the scathing secrets of her past. Secrets that could destroy some very powerful people...

Brandilyn Collins fans and reviewers are saying Crimson Eve is her best book yet:

“Collins tops herself by creating a suspenseful nonstop thrill ride … Truly the best Christian Fiction suspense title so far this year.”
– Library Journal, starred review

Crimson Eve is Collins at her very best. It left me feeling as if I’d climbed Mount Everest without oxygen … I didn’t think Brandilyn could outdo herself after reading Coral Moon. She did.”

“I’ve never edited a more tightly crafted, deftly woven, compellingly written book.” –a Crimson Eve editor, with 20 years experience

“This is your best book! I could not stop reading!” – one of many readers with similar responses

Read about Violet Dawn and Coral Moon, books one and two in the Kanner Lake series.

Do you know someone who’s never read a Brandilyn Collins novel? Surely no such person exists. However, should you scrounge up such a friend—someone who enjoys suspense—here’s a special offer from Brandilyn. Be among the first 50 people between now and October 21, 2007 to e-mail her assistant at with the person’s name, e-mail address and street address. (Due to exorbitant overseas mailing costs, United States residents only, please).

A signed copy of Crimson Eve will be sent to your friend—free—along with an e-mail from Brandilyn announcing the book is on its way, courtesy of you. (Don’t worry. Brandilyn won’t spam these email addresses. She just wants your friend to know who to thank.) No worries that this story is third in the Kanner Lake series. Each book stands alone. Brandilyn is convinced your friend will so love Crimson Eve, he/she will surely reciprocate with expensive chocolate.


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…® ” She’s so well known in the industry there’s actually a club for her non-readers. That’s right. The Big Honkin’ Chickens Club (BHCC) members are proud of the fact that they’re too wimpy to read Brandilyn’s intense fiction. Now and then one of them tries. Bribing works pretty well. (Just ask Deb Raney.) Somehow they live to tell the tale.

Brandilyn writes for Zondervan, the Christian division of HarperCollins Publishers, and is currently at work on her 17th book. Her first book, 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:
Seatbelt Suspense

And her blog:

Forensics and Faith

The Book Link

And now for my review:

Collins is back in full force as her characters face murder, fear, and secrets from the past. Third novel in the Kanner Lake Series, Crimson Eve packs a wallop in what I think is the best yet in the series. And while I recommend reading the first two books in the series, this one is a stand-alone—you don’t have to read the others to understand and enjoy it.

Carla Redding, Kanner Lake realtor, shows recently-passed Edna San’s sprawling home to a dapper English gentleman. But things go south when he makes it known he’d like her dead!

Who would put a contract out on such a sweet, harmless lady? As always, things are not as pleasant as they would seem on the surface. Carla runs for her life, while events she hasn’t thought about in years bubble to the surface.

This felt more like a mystery or psychological thriller, mixed in with a womens’-issues plotline. Doesn’t make sense? Oh, it will. No matter what you guess, your mind will not be able to spoil every surprise. Collins always has another up her sleeve just when you think you’ve figured everything out.

I give it an “A” for character development and plot. Scaryness? Well, maybe a “B-”. ‘Course, I’m not scared easily. And there weren’t spiders or snakes or Satanists in this one!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One of my Very Favorite Authors on CFBA! Creston Mapes: NOBODY


Not everything that happens in Vegas has to stay in Vegas!

They said, “He’s a nobody.”
They were dead wrong.

When reporter Hudson Ambrose hears an early morning call on his police scanner about an injured person at a bus stop on Las Vegas Boulevard, he rushes to the scene to get the scoop.
His world is blown off its axis when he discovers a murdered homeless man with a bankbook in his pocket showing a balance of almost one million dollars. Should he wait for the police, knowing the case will get lost in reams of red tape, or swipe the bankbook and take the investigation–and perhaps a chunk of the money–into his own hands?

With sirens bearing down on the scene, Hudson makes an impulse decision that whisks him on a frantic search for answers, not only about the mysterious dead man, but about the lost soul lurking within himself.

Uncovering bizarre links between a plane crash, a Las Vegas pit boss, a dirty cop, and a widowed Atlanta business mogul, Hudson is forced to find out: who was Chester Holte, what was he doing on the streets, and why are his homeless friends convinced he was an angel in disguise?


“Nobody was absolutely riveting from the opening scene to the final page. With compelling characters, a plot that surprised me at every turn, and a subtle, yet profound message that moved me to tears, this book goes straight to the top of my highly recommended list.”
- Deborah Raney, author of Remember to Forget and Within This Circle

“A taut, entertaining novel of mystery, intrigue, and spiritual truth. Creston Mapes delivers a winner in Nobody.”
- James Scott Bell, bestselling author of No Legal Grounds and Try Dying

“Nobody had me fascinated from the first paragraph and kept the surprises coming to the very end. Somehow, as the pages flew by, it also managed to convey a beautiful picture of faith the size of a mustard seed. From now on I’ll read anything by Creston Mapes the instant it hits the shelves.”
- Athol Dickson, Christy Award—winning author of River Rising and The Cure


Creston Mapes is a talented storyteller whose first two novels, Dark Star and Full Tilt, made him a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year awards and the Inspirational Readers Choice awards. Creston has written for major corporations, colleges, and ministries, including Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, Oracle, Focus on the Family, and In Touch Ministries. Committed to his craft and his family, Creston makes his home in Georgia with his wife, Patty, and their four children.

He's been married for twenty-one years to the girl he first loved way back in fourth grade. They have three lovely girls and a boy in a very close-knit family, spending a lot of time together - watching old classic movies, going on outings, and taking in various school and community events and activities. Creston loves to go for morning walks with his dog, read, paint watercolors, meet friends for coffee and Bible study, watch hockey, take his wife on dates, and spend time in God's Word.

(What a great guy!)

I've met Creston before, and he really is a wonderful human being. I'm so thankful that God is using him in fiction and in the world at large. I pray God's richest blessings on him.

And now, for my review:

Truly this author has a gift, one wrapped up in paper, hundreds of pages of paper, that have the potential to wrap up the reader in wonder. A gift that he has shared with the world, one that all of us should receive with thanks. (No, I received no money for the previous sentences. LOL.)

I don’t know why Creston Mapes isn’t more popular, hasn’t sold more books, hasn’t been lauded with more accolades. But I do know that his reward is in heaven for listening to the Father’s voice and writing the Father’s heart. In no book of his has this been more evident than in Nobody.

You can read back cover copy for a teaser and many other places for a summary or synopsis. I usually begin my reviews with one, but I don’t think I need it today. Just know you will enjoy the book. Period.

I learned from and was challenged by many different characters--sacrifice from Chester, the dangers of legalism etc. from Scribe, the importance of a good witness from Holly, and lots more.

Of course, the plot is my favorite part of a book and Nobody had it all, including an especially good reveal at the end about why Chester was killed. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it again.

Creston himself has qualified this as a sort of psychological thriller, but I see it as more of a mystery. Regardless, it’s a grand read.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Zero G, by the prolific Alton Gansky

Does this guy ever stop writing? Thank God the answer to that is: "No."

And now, for a humble yet stimulating review by moi. :)

If the last time you had flown into space, a disaster of mass proportions happened to you and your team, what would it take to get you up there again? How long would it take before you were mentally and emotionally able to lead another mission? And even if you were ready, would NASA let you pilot again?

These are the questions Ben “Tuck” Tucker must face. Former space shuttle commander for NASA, he is one of the most celebrated pilots in recent history. Unfortunately, his rise to hero status involved a terrifying calamity involving faulty dermal patches. Instead of helping astronauts deal with the effects of microgravity, they dealt a fatal blow.

At a time Tuck least expects, multi-millionaire entrepreneur Ted Roos approaches him with a proposition: pilot the first commercial spacecraft for his new company. Despite his reservations, it’s an offer Tuck can’t refuse.

A mysterious adversary bent on vengeance seeks to destroy Tuck and anyone else who gets in his way. Tuck must find the faith he lost long ago in order to save innocent lives.

Gansky creates quite a complicated plot system, though some aspects are a bit predictable. I do like how the reader doesn’t find out why the bad guy is doing what he’s doing (aside from the fact that he’s off balance) until near the end. It kept me wondering, engaged, and on edge throughout the entire story.

Another interesting aspect is Tuck’s relationship with his family, despite a lack of communication and real understanding. Tuck’s family worries about him when he’s space bound, and wish he would never go up again. Not comprehending this, and being absorbed with his own problems, Tuck keeps them at arm’s length unknowingly. But misfortune has a way of clarifying priorities and strengthening faith. They all learn from their trials and wind up closer than ever.

Suspense fans who enjoy the combination of astronauts/space travel (vaguely reminiscent of Randy Ingermanson and John Olson’s Oxygen and The Fifth Man) and biological scientific research (an element that can also be found in Gansky’s Finder’s Fee), should enjoy Zero G. I recommend it as heartily as I have every other Gansky novel I’ve read, which has been all of them.